The Brisbane Grammar School Foundation Day assembly was held on Friday, celebrating the School's 148th year, and featuring inspiring words from guest speaker Old Boy ’01 Dr Michel Bonning, a senior medical officer with the Royal Australian Navy and social policy maker in public health.
The occasion also emphasised the School's historical commitment to scholarship, by recognising the accomplishments of three outstanding graduates from the Class of 2015. As well as acknowledging those in Years 7 who entered the School on trustees' scholarships, or have received a bursary to assist them with their first year at the School.
Foundation Day Scholarships
The awarding of these scholarships reminds BGS boys of the pioneers from the School’s past: the longest-serving and most significant head R. H. Roe; the first Rhodes Scholar A. S. Roe; and A. J. Mason who taught at BGS from 1889 to 1940:
Jack Eadie – R.H. Roe Scholarship
Sam Eadie – A.S. Roe Scholarship
Tom Fitzgerald – A. J. Mason Scholarship
All three graduates will commence undergraduate degrees at The University of Queensland.
Guest Speaker – Dr Michael Bonning
During an inspiring speech Dr Bonning’s key message was of the triumph of character over talent. He challenged the current generation of BGS boys to:
- Make school an opportunity for self-improvement.
- Be an advocate, remind yourself of what matters in life.
- Practise empathy and altruism, they make society better.
- Remember character is more important than talent.
Dr Bonning finished his speech optimistic that BGS boys would continue to graduate as respectful, and confident young men of character, who contribute to their communities.
“I am optimistic that in valuing contribution and building character, the future will be of Australia as a great country and allow us to shed our moniker as just a lucky country. This optimism stems from the service, social responsibility and empathy that you and young men and women around the country demonstrate. Grammar has a long tradition of service to the community and I challenge you to grow that legacy and build a society led by character, knowledge and compassion.”
Headmaster Anthony Micallef
Headmaster Mr Micallef spoke about BGS’ first, second and third headmasters, Thomas Harlin, Reginald Heber Roe, and Frederick Bousfield, before focusing on the story of Old Boy Victor Grenning, considered by many as the quintessential Grammar all-rounder.
Harlin, Roe, and Bousfield were influential men who shaped this School’s philosophy and crafted its values. Those of us who have followed strive to bolster and consolidate those time-honoured tenets and canons. We value their labour and respect their place in the fabric of this school.
Victor Grenning, who started at BGS in 1913 after winning the Lilley Gold Medal for the best result in the state scholarship exam, excelled academically and on the sporting field. He was dux of the lower school in 1914 and dux of the school in 1917, found time to edit the school magazine, and was a strong advocate for his peers on the student representative committee for three years.
In sport Grenning excelled, a member of the Firsts rugby side for four years and Firsts cricket team for three years, he also won the shooting championship in his senior year.
After graduating from BGS he went on to graduate from The University of Queensland, before earning a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, to study forestry. Ultimately, Grenning established an international reputation for his work in forestry and was instrumental in leading the plantation of 40,000 hectares of forest in Queensland, and lobbying government to include islands within the Barrier Reef National Park estate.
Grenning retuned to BGS as a school trustee from 1942 to 1968 and Chairman of the Board between 1946 and 1952, and gave many years of service to the place that shaped his attitudes during those formative years.
Today he is remembered with great affection for his unfailing courtesy, kindness, patience and good cheer. Victor Grenning’s story is but one of thousands of young men who have traversed this backdrop and have gone on to do remarkable things for their communities.