Oliver asks ‘what if …?’

Year 12 graduate reflected on IGS Founder Reg St Leon's dream in his farewell speech to IGS on behalf of the Class of 2022 at their Graduation Ceremony.

What if?

What if? Thirty-eight years ago Reg St Leon decided to give up on his vision for the International Grammar School.

That would mean no Artsfest, no International day and no Tutor Groups. But luckily he didn’t. In 1983 after being ignored by the New South Wales education system Reg St Leon himself contacted the Schools Commission for advice and advertised a language school to the public of Sydney that would not only educate the regular curriculum but, additionally in multiple languages for bilingual students. He embodied something which only few are gifted with… faith. Reg St Leon had a vision which he believed in as something successful before even creation itself. But, IGS was never about building the biggest and most successful school, the vision was about the present and was created to appreciate the beauty in different cultures. But the past wasn’t to be forgotten, instead, the values and reasons from the past were there to project us forward into the future. Reg knew what he wanted IGS to be.

When I think about the future I am always drawn back to the art of Tarot Cards which are quite remarkable once you realise that their purpose is only to advise you on what is possible, not to inform you on the irrevocable. I believe that if the cards for the class of 2022 would ever be revealed there would be, The card of Strength, which features a tranquil and gentle woman petting a lion, representing our ability to overcome any obstacle collectively. The card of Justice proves our belief in success for all. The connection we share and the harmony we achieve as a cohort. But in the end, In contrast to all the positives, there must be a balance, a yin and yang. Although we are perhaps ashamed to admit it, the card of The Moon symbolises our uncertainty about what lies ahead.

One lesson that everyone will learn here is that family is not defined by blood and this family, my family, the class of 2022 each individually have proven that they are capable of success whatever you may define that as.

The Card of Death is pulled but, don’t be fooled by the name or skeleton, for this card represents rebirth and signifies major changes in a person’s life. Year 7 can only be described as that and It is here that your Journey at High School begins. But I emphasise, this is only the beginning and the time for mistakes to be made to be implemented into the success of your future. Whether you come from IGS Primary or not, High School is a completely new world in which everybody enters blindly. But don’t worry, IGS specialises in creating an environment that is warm and welcoming for you.

After the rebirth, you become familiar with change and receive the card of The Star next to a card titled Temperance. Two cards which together signify the search for harmony, a vital life skill. In year eight you make your first decision on which subjects you will want to explore further for year nine. This is your first step towards finding yourself through interests and discovering what couldn’t be seen before. And here with what there is to offer, you’ll learn that the first step to success is trying something new. The most challenging obstacle of high school is self-growth. A pathway which can only be defined by yourself. The Tower and The Fool replace the positions of the previous cards quicker than you think. Contradicting each other in symbolising the journey it takes to be able to achieve the desired destination from the bottom to what you define as the top.

I think when reflecting on my mistakes here at IGS, the moment which can be described as the tower, the card of discourse, comes back to a habit I used to have. Every year I thought I knew what to expect for the next year to come but, really, no one ever has the same experience. But, “mistakes hurt so they don’t happen again” so, I advise you to just simply take a leap of faith into each year, especially into Year Twelve just like The Fool.

After one of the most compacted years of my life, I can only sum up Year Twelve into the card of The World which represents an ending to a cycle of life, a pause before the next step. After a global pandemic, we all learnt that it’s not about what we lost, it’s about what we experienced together. The closeness of being on screens with each other taught us the lesson of gratitude. After coming back to school with small alterations we were all happy to see the normal coming back to reality. And soon enough tutor groups were back to how they previously were. The boys in the courtyard went back to squeezing in their five minutes of playing handball before sacrificing themselves for a discipline ticket. We went back to coming together on carnival days and supporting each other except when faced against one another in the tug of war. We’ve survived the daily reminders for “room changes” from Miss Fajou. And fortunately, we can say that today, together, we did it, we made it.

In a reading, we frequently visualise the cards as individuals who represent the themes, characteristics, and symbols associated with each card. When interpreting community figures into the language of the card deck at IGS, it is fairly clear who is who. The Magician. He’s a man who achieves the impossible and always knows how to balance everything out. Where would we be without IGS’s very own magician Reg St Leon? The Empress her majesty, Mrs Colnan, Herself of course. The mother figure to all. Your hands of enchantment allow for youth to begin their journeys through IGS. Your incantations inspire us to achieve the impossible, the supernatural, things which can only be imagined. we are able to accomplish it. The card Judgement Which can only be associated with the IGS staff depicts dozens of palms facing the sky towards an angel whose intention is only to help and serve those below. The fundamental concept of teachers is that they devote their time, talents, and knowledge to those who are in need of it. One more quality of the staff at this school is their empathy for their students, the connection formed in just four terms is stronger than you may think. We thank you for having such faith in us and being devoted to allowing us to only move forward with our skills. I can’t begin to convey how much time you have invested in making sure we succeed, and for that, we are grateful.

You have helped us evolve with your love as well as making us understand that just like the mugs in the study space, it’s not about if something breaks it matters how you are going to decide to put those pieces back together or even explain to someone how it ended up flying off the countertop onto the floor.

How could I have missed the most valuable resource for knowledge and wisdom? The Hermit, a person who charms spectators with “discipline over motivation”. When you first take a step into Miss Doic’s year seven D&T class, she acts as if she is a gift from the angels above or, in other words, as your very own Nanny McPhee. “ When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.”

The Tarot deck wouldn’t be complete without our very own Emperor Mr Galea. The father figure to all and even though his presence isn’t so much physical anymore his spirit and legacy will never cease to exist. The connection between his ambition for including the infamous co-curriculars required by IGS and his initiative permanently engraves his name into the minds of the IGS community.

I finally pull my favourite card, a card which isn’t as subjective as the others. The Sun depicts warmth and positivity. When identifying a person as the sun, they embody these qualities. I want to dedicate this card to a student who deserves to be recognised for their presence. A student whom I feel epitomises what IGS as a school produces within their students. This person demonstrates kindness amongst all, beauty in and out, and the courage it takes to be their most authentic self. I ask everyone to applaud this student when I announce their name and for them to stand up to make their presence known. Can we all put our hands together and celebrate the effervescent:

Isabella Grace Turner!

Just like Isabella, Reg St Leon OAM was able to influence and inspire those around him. He commanded with the simple idea or stroke of genius from what would inspire greatness is now embedded in the curriculum, alumni, staff, and students of the IGS community. He managed to create what we know today as our school. And what we can take from that is how much change and enhancements have been incremented over time. Now we are fortunate enough to understand terms such as Artsfest, International day and Tutor Groups.

I ask you to please enjoy what is happening now, to stop looking at what could possibly happen, to have kindness for all and to have faith and patience for the future. As no one can forecast the future for what it will be, we must make the most of today. Even after your time here ends it doesn’t mean that it has expired. So on behalf of the class from 2022, we thank you IGS. We thank you for the lessons you’ve taught us, not only about the subjects which we have chosen but, mostly for the lives we individually will live. We thank you for allowing us the opportunity to choose our own destinies.

Oliver River Parry
IGS Class of 2022

All the best to our Class of 2022!