BGS Foundation Day 2020

Each Foundation Day, we commemorate and celebrate our School’s achievements, past and present. It is our opportunity to consider the students, staff and parents who contributed to 152 years of Brisbane Grammar School history. Some of the School’s most influential past teachers and leaders are remembered with the presentation of Old Boy scholarships.

This morning we heard from BGS Old Boy Arjuna Kumarasuriyar ’98 our guest speaker. He works at the cutting edge of biotechnolog​y in the field of genome sequencing.

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Arjuna gave an inspiring speech on the importance of persistence, school spirit or culture, and belonging. He embraced a non-linear career path and has demonstrated agility, adaptability and flexible thinking across a successful career.

For anyone born in the last century, the year 2020 has a futuristic ring to it. It doesn’t seem that long ago that ‘2020’ was shorthand, or a byword, for the future. Scientists liked to make predictions about the fantastic inventions we would all be using in the future. They thought flying cars and space travel would be routine by now.

Despite the rapid change of the last decade, and the technological changes still to come, the purpose of a BGS education remains constant: to enable students to become lifelong learners with the ability to understand complex problems and apply information to atypical contexts.

Consider this quote from the School’s ninth Headmaster Max Howell in 1967, who made a speech titled, The Challenge of the Future on Foundation Day:

“We want a boy to know how to think and how to express his thoughts, to grow as an informed person recognising that when he leaves school, he will not be an educated man but a potentially educated man. We want him to learn how to acquire new knowledge that will lessen his unfamiliarity and afford him ways of continuing his education for the rest of his life.”

To that I would add: critical thinking, entrepreneurship and cultural agility as skills that have boosted a BGS education in recent decades.

Another standout moment of Foundation Day today was the presentation of the Prince Albert Cup to BGS Old Boy Nicholas Salmon ’12 – the 25th Rhodes Scholar to attend Brisbane Grammar School. The cup was presented by the Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations, the Honourable Grace Grace MP.

We also presented major scholarships and bursaries both to students who recently graduated with distinction and to young men beginning their BGS journey.

The awards honour the service to the School of three men who did much to endorse and sponsor the qualities of character and learning that the School has always regarded most highly. I refer to Reginald Heber Roe, Arthur Stanley Roe and A. J. Mason. Between them, the three contributed a total of 120 years of service to BGS.

Congratulations to the scholarships winners:
  • Nicholas Miller – R. H. Roe Scholarship
  • Timothy Weber – A. S. Roe Scholarship
  • Noah Rosemann – A. J. Mason Scholarship

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We also honoured Joseph Gabriel Nowlan who taught on the staff for 37 years and worked for the Old Boys’ Association for 40 years. The winner of the J. G. Nowlan Bursary for 2020 performed commendably in the Scholarship Examination last year. Well done to Dennis Zhou.

Another historical award is the Frank Shaw Bursary. It is awarded to a boarder who performed well on the Scholarship Exam. Well done to Alex Prowse.

Finally, we presented the Trustees’ Scholarships for 2020. These young men have an important responsibility in setting an example of good scholarship. The Scholarship Certificates were presented by the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr Howard Stack. Congratulations to: Sebastian Hazzard, Jackson Leong, Benjamin Li and Anson Qiu-Tang.

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As we honoured this year’s scholarship winners, we also reflected on how we can continue the School’s legacy and make a difference to the world.​