Today at Senior School assembly, the 2018 School and Harlin House Prefects were inducted. The occasion provided Headmaster Anthony Micallef with the opportunity to examine the topic of leadership and the important role senior students play in developing the culture at BGS.
This year's School Captain Marcus Ray then delivered an address, revealing his vision for the Class of 2018. The speech received a standing ovation. Read the transcript below.
2018 School Captain's Address - Marcus Ray
Beneath the stained-glass windows of The Great Hall lies a story rich in history and profound in significance; it tells the story of BGS and its 150 year journey. For over a century, The Great Hall has borne witness to the growth of the school, to its triumphs and heartbreaks and successes and failures, and to the many students who have sat on its pews and admired its undeniable beauty. It is there that most begin their BGS journey, and it is there that all BGS journeys end, with the final walk beyond the oak doors signifying a definitive transition into the next phase of life.
Good morning Headmaster Mr. Micallef, deputy headmasters, staff, students, and special guests, and welcome to the 150th year of Brisbane Grammar School's existence.
I hope that you've all enjoyed a refreshing and rejuvenating break, and that you're at least somewhat eager to begin the 2018 school year – eager to learn new things, make new friends, acquire new skills, and overcome new obstacles.
On behalf of Harvey, Elliot, Andrew, Hugh, and the prefect body, I would like to reiterate that we're grateful and honoured to have been entrusted with our responsibilities, and we pledge to serve our school and our community with the utmost pride and diligence.
150 years ago, Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, laid down the foundation stone to commemorate the school's official opening. 149 years ago, the first BGS students entered the School gates and started their BGS journeys. A meagre cohort of 94, they navigated the hardships of colonial Australia and laid down the foundations for successive year groups, establishing the culture of academic excellence and the pursuit of all-roundedness that BGS has become synonymous with today. They were the true pioneers – they were trailblazers, forging a path that had not been trod before. And though they long since departed The Great Hall's oak doors, their imprints live on in our own BGS journeys, on our own BGS paths.
Our time at BGS is very much a journey, and just like our walk through life, there's our walk through BGS. There are challenges we must face and overcome, there are successes that will be achieved (and there will be equally as many failures), there are dreams and hopes that will be fulfilled – and many that won't – there are unexpected events that we cannot avoid, and there are many invaluable and treasured experiences that will be acquired – experiences that make us better students and better people.
If life is just one long journey, then it's our time at BGS that largely determines the future path that we will take – it's from here that we'll launch into our disparate destinations. It is this thought that has inspired the school vision for Brisbane Grammar School's 150th year: walk the path.
'Walk the Path' is a vision that celebrates our rich history. Over the course of 2018, we hope to walk back along BGS' timeline, from its inception in 1868 to the present day, and witness the events and the people that preceded us on this long and winding road.
It was these people – the overwhelming majority of whom will remain unknown to us – who walked the BGS path and laid down its firm foundations. It is their footprints and unsung stories that help guide us on our own paths and that provide inspiration for our own journeys. Therefore, BGS' 150th year anniversary isn't so much a celebration of our school's longevity as it is a recognition of all the students, staff, and parents that have come before us.
I believe that in our 150th year – a momentous landmark that will engender a momentous year – it's essential that our school's history is accentuated, explored, and celebrated. We must look to our roots and take inspiration from past achievements and accomplishments; but most importantly, we must be thankful to the BGS pioneers and to the generations of students that have preceded us, and we must know that it is our actions and decisions that determine the future trajectory of Brisbane Grammar School.
At its core, 'Walk the Path' is a symbol for community. Here at BGS, we come from all corners of the Earth: we speak different languages, eat different food, play different sports, enjoy different interests – and yet, we're all connected; it is this school that unites us. Think of BGS as one great, long, straight road connecting the past, the present, and the future. Then think of the small trails that offshoot from the highway: these are our journeys – they represent us; however, despite this, we never lose sight of the main road.
All of us – each and every one of us – are connected through this school, whether we've just started Year 5 or will soon be graduating from Year 12. The School is what binds us together and provides a medium for our paths to intertwine. In 2018, I challenge you to embrace this special community, to foster the links that join our paths together, and to assist your fellow travellers as they attempt to undertake their own journeys.
'Walk the Path' is also an allegory for life – BGS itself is an allegory for life. Life's tough. On our paths, we have to traverse rugged and winding terrain; we have to climb large mountains, combat inclement weather, and pick ourselves up off the ground and continue when we think we can go on no longer.
When the road's straight and flat, it's easy to be a Grammar Man – it's easy to embody BGS' five core values: learning, leadership, community, endeavour, and respect. But life isn't like that. It's when our path is steep and rocky, it's when we don't know what's around the corner that our mettle and our virtue is truly determined. The mark of a great man – the mark of a Grammar Man – is not his actions when all's well, but it's his decisions when he's lost and exhausted and battered and bruised.
So in 2018, I challenge you to embrace your obstacles and your winding paths. We grow as individuals as a result of the challenges we face, and it's only through these trials that we can truly embody respect, leadership, community, learning, and endeavour – qualities that transcend time and social mores, and that has served as a benchmark for every one of our BGS predecessors.
Finally, I implore you to make your own mark. Everyone has a footprint, and when we depart BGS, what remains of us is a distinct and intangible imprint interwoven within the very fabric of our school. We join the tens of thousands of other BGS Old Boys who have benefitted from a BGS education, and who too have forged their journey along the BGS path.
What that path represents, what our uniforms, the buildings that surround us, and the education we obtain embody, is the culmination of 150 years of footprints – thousands upon thousands upon thousands of distinctive imprints that shape who we are as a community and define what it means to be a Brisbane Grammar School student.
Unfortunately, in the not so distant future, you and I will become unknown and nameless, swept aside by the arrival of new and younger students. But through our footprints, our actions, and our journeys, we will shape the future identity of Brisbane Grammar School. So this is where I challenge you: make your mark in 2018. Leave behind something you're proud of and a path for future students to tread.
You don't have to be in the A team, you don't have to be the best runner, or achieve a general merit, but you must give every activity your utmost effort. Focus on accomplishing your objectives, on navigating your obstacles, and on forging your footprint. Every hurdle you conquer is a stepping stone in the right direction of our personal journey and another cobblestone to add to the collective BGS path. The seniors of 2018 – my fellow peers – this is your last opportunity to make your mark on the light, dark blue. Make us proud.
In closing, whether during your time at BGS you take the side-paths, the roundabouts, or simply the road less travelled, we are all bound to move in the same direction beyond the oak doors to our respective destinations. Having trod the BGS path, we will be well-prepared for anything that lies ahead.
Good luck for the upcoming year. Make the most of 2018. I wish you all the best, and I eagerly look forward to walking the path alongside you. Thank you.