2023 Head Boy Sami Lightfoot Reflects

Six years ago in 2018 I walked through the iron gates of IGS with four others from Clovelly Public School to start Year 7 at what was a new school for me. I remember looking up at the board of head boys and girls that hung proudly above me in the hall and wondering: Was it possible for someone who hadn’t been at IGS for their whole school life to become head boy?

Six years later, I now know the answer to that question I had asked myself on that day and I stand here tonight as head boy with immense humility, gratitude and honour.

When I arrived at IGS in Year 7, I was unaware of the life-changing years that lay ahead. The invaluable experiences IGS would offer me, the meaningful friendships I would develop and the profound impact teachers would have on me.

But my journey to understanding the privilege of attending IGS had a rocky beginning. Throughout Year 7, I struggled to connect with my peers and find my place within the school community. I felt lonely and disconnected. So I sought to integrate myself within IGS by embracing opportunities and involving myself in as many co-curricular activities as possible. It was because of this, coupled with Ms Blacker’s strong support, that I was able to find my ground amongst my peers, and to begin to feel at home at IGS.

There is a particular story from that year that tells you a lot about the culture of IGS. Shortly after beginning Year 7, ArtsFest was on the horizon. It quickly became one of my favourite days at IGS, and still remains so to this day. During that first ArtsFest I experienced, my Year 7 self took the courage to step up on to the stage and perform my first of 6 monologues at ArtsFest: “Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk that caught the cycling craze, he turned away the good old horse that served him many days…”. At the end of my performance I distinctly remember multiple people from various year groups coming up to talk to me about my recital of this Banjo Paterson classic. As a new student with few friends, the support and encouragement I received from my fellow Kuyalians at that critical moment in my life, had a significant impact on me. This memory demonstrates the essence of IGS: we are an uplifting, supportive and encouraging community.

For anyone sitting here in the audience tonight, new or old, who’s feeling a little lost as I was, like you haven’t quite found your place yet, my story from that first year I came to IGS is a reminder that you are never alone at this School. I want you to know that if you embrace opportunities and involve yourself in the school community as I did, you will start to find your place here at IGS and the dreams you once never thought possible will begin to be within reach.

Every year I spent in the corridors of IGS, I grew more fond of the school, and became passionate about IGS. It had become a school I loved. At IGS, we are privileged to be able to partake in so many opportunities, and each experience IGS has so generously given me has taught me many lessons beyond the classroom.

The most impactful of these experiences was in 2022 when my year group, the Class of 2023, was fortunate enough to undertake what was meant to be our Year 10 Sage trip to Tasmania.

(The pandemic of course had upended that trip but our teachers worked hard to ensure that we could go in Year 11) I found myself in the Three Capes group, dreaming of hiking through stunning scenery. And yes, as I had dreamed, we hiked along the magnificent cliffs of south-eastern Tasmania with the wild Tasman Sea crashing on the rocks below. What I hadn’t expected, was the many valuable life lessons that I would learn on this trip. Together, with Mr Hunting guiding us, our group created the circle of trust, a space where each night, providing we were comfortable, we would take turns sharing our Triple H’s. Our hero, a hardship and a highlight of our lives. At first, we wondered: what was the point of the circle of trust? Mr Hunting had told us: to make real and lasting connections with others, we need to be vulnerable and open with one another. We soon realised that he was right, the level of trust and connection we built as a group sharing our stories in that circle was indescribable, we felt unbreakable.

IGS doesn’t just teach you from the textbook, only to get you through the HSC with no other life experience. The memories you make and lessons you learn at IGS on activities like this one outside the classroom, are invaluable and my emotional journey with the Three Capes group of 2022 will stick with me forever.

It is through these experiences, that IGS gives us a safe environment in which we are able to look into ourselves, and learn who we are as people. Most importantly, we discover that we are constantly learning about ourselves. Just when you think you might fully understand yourself, a crack in the surface will open and you will be able to peer deeper into yourself than before.

Throughout our years at IGS, we evolve into young adults, ready to navigate a world that desperately needs us to solve the ever-mounting problems that plague it. It would be easy to let the staggering amount of problems that our world faces overwhelm us. It can leave us feeling hopeless and powerless. But as IGS students, I know that these feelings will not discourage us. The perseverance, enthusiasm and skills that we as young individuals have built up during our time at IGS will prepare us to tackle these issues that our generation must face. As Mr Mandrini says: we are Australia’s future. But I will go further and say that we are the whole world’s future, and that is not a responsibility we can take lightly.

Our education here at IGS would not be possible without the countless dedicated teachers and staff. I’d like to thank all of my teachers who have guided me through High School, in particular Frau Trupke and Mr Nguyen, with whom I was lucky enough to spend 5 and 3 years respectively in the classroom.

I would like to thank my incredible mentor Mrs Duma, as well as Mr Dennehy and Mandrini, all in whom I could place so much trust, and who have guided me through this year. Their hard work everyday and dedication to our school is something that one can not help but look up to. To Ms Colnan, your vision equips us as IGS students to be world ready by allowing us to learn beyond the classroom, and for that we are ever grateful. Thank you for giving me the absolute privilege to serve as Head Boy.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of my friends and family. To my friends, every single one of you has made my time at IGS so enjoyable. To my family, thank you for being a constant beacon of support and love, and always pushing me to be the best person that I can be.

The world desperately needs us to be the best people we can be, and it starts here at IGS. So seek new experiences, embrace opportunities, never stop improving yourself, and remember that we never stop learning about ourselves or the world around us. Thank you.