Welcome to our 112th St. Clement’s School Closing and Graduation Ceremonies. Welcome to our students, staff, parents, grandparents, alumnae, Board members and friends.
This is a time to which the community looks forward. Each year we gather together to celebrate the achievements of our girls, both young and old. We see our youngest Clementines move into Grade 2, our incoming Graduates dance their way to their final year and finally our most senior girls celebrated and ushered on to their next phase of life. I believe that having this opportunity to celebrate these groups as well as the accomplishments of all our students and staff allows us to appreciate the continuum of learning and leading that we experience at St. Clement’s.
We have worked very hard on a number of initiatives this year and are pleased with the progress of our School as we continually focus on learning and improving. With our branding process complete and our messaging being honed, comes a renewed energy and confidence about who we are, what we believe, and where we are going.
There is nothing better than strengthening confidence; in fact that is what St. Clement’s School is about.
Our School and its community share a vision. It is our vision that our girls and young women acquire and develop the skills and confidence to stand out as women who are intellectually curious, courageous and compassionate.
And confidence is something required in a world that is ever changing and, many would agree, increasingly complex.
As our School continues to evolve we remain committed to providing the best educational experience for girls. Academic rigour coupled with experiences that challenge each young woman to be the best person she can be must be done in a conscious and intentional way. In providing a program that instills confidence we must also consider what it looks like.
Confidence is not simply feeling good about one self or speaking up within a crowd. It is also having the trust and belief in one’s powers and abilities regardless of the situation. It is interesting to me that confidence is often perceived by many as being something that secures the perfect result, the best response or the top achievement. I believe that confidence is really about not what we do but how we do it. It is about how we respond to events, challenges and unexpected situations whilst dealing with the regular day to day things on our plates.
There is so much about which to be proud when it comes to our girls. Just a week ago I was laughing with some staff members after one of our Grade 1 students waltzed right up in the middle of our conversation to let us know what she was thinking about. We joked about being careful what we wished for in nurturing confident girls. There is no question that our girls feel comfortable in our environment. However, the additional measure of confidence is how one manages when faced with a crooked path.
Wendell Berry once said:
“It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work.And that when we no longer know which way to go, we have come to our real journey.The mind that is not baffled is not employed.The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
Our role is to ensure that our girls leave us as young women who are ready to shine despite the roadblocks put before them and despite the crooked paths they will travel. Our role is also to ensure that not only do our girls shine, they embrace divergent perspectives and welcome challenges despite discomfort; we must ensure that our girls know that regardless of the ups and downs, they will come out the other end stronger and even more confident.
As we work through our strategic plan that sees us focus on our program, our local and global relationships and the sustainability of our community, it becomes increasingly evident that research must always inform our decisions. Research comes to us in so many ways, however some of the most poignant and helpful research has come from those with whom we work. During third term this year Mr. Hill, our Head of the Senior School and I met with our grads over a series of lunches. We did so to seek their perspectives and insights about all aspects of our School. Our Grads have lived the St. Clement’s experience and they are ready for their next phase of life- and thus were ready to speak with even more openness. Our girls are wise, involved, and thoughtful and they provided us with a plethora of sage advice. What struck me most was their candour and their feedback about the need to let them stretch and to stumble should they start to fall.
Mr Hill and I left those series of lunches with excellent ideas and suggestions. However even more importantly, I left with a sense of comfort and pride. When we sat at the table our girls did not hesitate to share their opinions, they did not hesitate to question each other’s ideas, and they did not hesitate to listen and consider. They did not hesitate to be themselves.
Grads- I know that many of you sit here with mixed emotions about leaving St. Clement’s. I also know that some of you are very ready to go. But I also know that you will leave us with the skills and confidence to succeed in whatever it is you want to do. And that, for us, is a great feeling.
We will always be here for you. Thanks to your advice, we will be reaching out such that you can guide our future grad, as I have the confidence that your insight will be just as helpful for them as it is for me.
At this time I want to thank our staff for their dedication and relentless hard work to ensure our girls’ exceptional experience. And to you, our families, thank you for your support of the School and our important work and directions to ensure your daughters’ preparedness for the future.
On behalf of our staff, I want to congratulate our newest St. Clement’s alumnae and all of our Clementines on a most successful school year.
Grads- we will miss you, but as I said to you at lunch on Tuesday, you have made a hugely positive impact on our School and for that we are so very thankful.