St Margaret's 123rd Speech Night and Prize Giving Ceremony

St Margaret’s Year 12 students and prize-winners gathered at QPAC’s Concert Hall on Tuesday 13 October for the 123rd annual Speech Night and prize giving ceremony.

More intimate than the usual Speech Night due to guest number restrictions, it was nonetheless a special evening recognising the achievements of students and staff throughout the year, a chance to formally farewell the graduating Year 12 students and also an opportunity to celebrate the school’s proud 125-year history. Prize-winners in Years 7 to 11 viewed the proceedings via livestream from the adjacent Lyric Theatre while the Years 5 and 6 students will be awarded their prizes at a ceremony in the coming weeks.

Special guests included Sister Gillian, The Right Reverend Dr Jonathan Holland, Chair of School Council Debbie Smith, St Margaret’s Foundation Chair Kylie Lamprecht and Kimberley Middlemis representing Corporate Sponsor Adrians. Sisters Eunice and Sandra viewed the ceremony via livestream.

During the proceedings, which were live streamed and watched by 750 viewers in Australia and around the world, Principal Ros Curtis gave an address which reflected on an essay written by a St Margaret’s student in 1919 during the Spanish Flu Epidemic. Ms Curtis highlighted the fact that young people in 1919 had risen above the difficulties brought about by the Spanish Flu and laid the foundations for modern Australia in the decade to follow, the 1920s.

“I have no doubt that we will see in the 2020s a similar period of development and growth and our graduating Year 12s will be a part of this process,” said Ms Curtis.

She concluded with these parting words to the graduating cohort: “I want for you to rise above your changing circumstances at every turn; no matter what life throws at you. The greater part of our happiness is determined by the lens with which we view our circumstances. That lens is determined by and you, in turn, continues to influence your disposition. You have the power to choose how you view the world around you or the circumstances in which you find yourself and for your long-term health, I encourage you to choose wisely.

Someone once said “I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Year 12 students of 2020, keep your goals firmly in your sights; do not be distracted by those who think life is hard or you should be stressed. Learn from the past, enjoy the present and plan for the future. You are Per Volar Sunata – Born to Fly Upward.”

Chair of School Council Debbie Smith gave an address reflecting on the year that was 2020 including the school’s 125th anniversary celebrations, COVID, online learning, the opening of the new sports precinct and the many achievements of St Margaret’s students and staff throughout 2020. She concluded by saying: “We don’t know what 2021 will hold; however, this year we have proved we can navigate even the most unchartered territory together and we will prevail for, hopefully, another 125 years.”

The guest speaker was Old Girl and television producer Tanya Weingarth (’00) who shared her journey in television news media since graduation as well as important messages for the graduating cohort about confronting fear, risking failure and facing challenges.

Tanya said: “Walk into this next chapter with more confidence than any seniors that have walked before you. It’s been a tough year for everyone but you’re coming out the other side. When times get tough, think about what you’ve achieved this year against all adversity. You should be proud. Embrace what’s just around the corner and say yes when you’re wracked with self doubt and want to say no. You could fail. You might not but if you don’t have a go you’ll never know.”

Award recipients included Head of Performance Brad King who received the Staff Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning whilst Gracemere Matia received the Staff Award for Service to the School Community.

Emily Pitt was awarded The Raymond Rees Award for Dux (internal) whilst Zali Fisher received the Proxime Accessit to the Dux (internal) as well as The University of Queensland Achievement Award.

Anna Dunning was awarded the prestigious Old Girls’ Prize.

Whilst the speeches and presentations gave an opportunity to reflect on the 2020 year, so too did the highlights video which captured many memories made throughout the year.

Guests also enjoyed performances by music ensembles showcasing the dedication and musical talent of many of our students.

St Margaret’s wishes to congratulate all of those students who received awards at the 2020 Speech Night.

To the Year 12 students, as the words of your senior year anthem Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield state: “Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten.” We bid you a fond farewell and wish you all the best for the journey that lies ahead.