Speech Night 2021 celebrates ‘vibrant and kind’ IGS family

The IGS community celebrated an extraordinary year at Speech Night in the State Theatre and livestreamed.

In his departing speech, IGS 2021 Head Boy looked back at his “IGS family” in gratitude.

“As I sat down last week to reflect on my time here at IGS, all whilst waiting for some cakes to finish baking in the oven, I couldn’t help but think about all that this School has taught me,” said 2021 IGS Head Boy Orlando Read.

“I’ve learnt what it means to be kind, to be morally courageous, to reach for the stars, to be bold, to learn, to be passionate, to be vibrant and to celebrate individuality,” Orlando said.

“I’ve built authentic friendships and connections with these people. I’ve developed a strong global appreciation for culture because of these people. I’ve uncovered my passion and found my voice because of these people. And above all, I have discovered exactly who I am because of these people. I am lucky enough to call these people my IGS Family. 

“This family calls 4-8 Kelly Street, Ultimo, home. While it’s gone through its changes over the years, now having its architecturally renowned Bibliothèque, world-class global learning centre, state of the art laboratories, theatre and sewing rooms, to me what hasn’t changed since I took my first steps through those big iron gates on 5 February 2007, with my crocs on the wrong feet and a bag that reached my toes, is the overwhelming sense of love.

“IGS has a way of not forcing its students into a mould, but rather helping them, guiding them to find what mould best suits them. This family nurtures tiny toddlers through to gentle giants to become authentic, vibrant and courageous global citizens, ready to take on any challenge they face. 

“As my time at this special place comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on all the valuable lessons my IGS family has taught me. I’d be here for hours if I mentioned them all, so I’ve narrowed it down to four.

  1. Learn: Life is best filled by learning as much as you can. Life will sometimes seem long and tough, and there will sometimes be happy times and sometimes sad, but it’s how you embrace these moments as an opportunity to learn, that is key. Be critical and analytical as you consume the world around you. Think deeply as you navigate your lives and your education. 
  2. Strive: IGS celebrates uniqueness and student talent and I have been so lucky to have been brought up in a school that celebrates each students’ individual passions. Life is all about striving for what is best for yourself, so if you are passionate about something and it brings you joy, then pursue it. In saying this, don’t stress if you don’t find “your thing”. Part of life is exploring what interests us and if at the end of the day you haven’t found what you thought you were looking for, just know that you have your whole life ahead of you to keep searching. Like archery, striving is about aiming for a target. Some days you’ll get a bullseye, some days you’ll miss. But then we pick up the bow and arrow, try again, and, with a bit of time and practice, we can hit the bullseye.
  3. Be morally courageous: Stand up for what you believe in and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong because you’re different or unique. Your moral compass will guide you, so listen to it. Be that person who takes action despite the adversity you may face. Standing up always prevails over standing by. Don’t sit back and watch the world pass you by. 
  4. Be Kind: What IGS has taught me most, is the importance of being kind to yourself and others. In the words of American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Let this be a reminder that no matter who you are or where you come from, you have a choice. A choice to be kind. The choice to decide whether you’ll remind that person that everything is going to be okay. The choice to hold that door open for a stranger or simply give them a smile. Don’t forget to also be kind to yourself. Embrace all your quirks, imperfections and flaws. These are what make you special and don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.” 

Orlando thanked the IGS educators, teachers and “encouraging and uplifting” mentors who showed him “nothing but support, kindness and generosity” and thanked IGS Principal Shauna Colnan “for giving me one of the best opportunities thus far in my life”.

“Ms Colnan’s vision, creativity, enthusiasm and drive has been incredibly inspiring and I can’t help but praise you for everything you have done for both past and present students of IGS,” he said.

“I will cherish all the memories made during SAGE programs, especially in Year 10 ‘Writing the Island’, which was a one in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. 

“Thank you to my friends, the class of 2021 for inspiring me every day, for showing me what true courage looks like, for smiling even in the toughest of times. 

As I say my final farewell to the multi-layered abundant universe, that is International Grammar School, a small village infused with German, French, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and countless other tongues, that has taken me on adventures around the world, I walk proudly out of those big iron gates as they close behind me, this time with my crocs on the correct feet, and an elongated grin from ear to ear, ready to embark the journey of life. 

For now, it is time to say goodbye, even though I know my IGS family will always be by my side in one way or another. Thank you.” 

Departing Head Girl Grace Truman said her final Speech Night, like all IGS Speech Nights at the ornate State Theatre, was “surreal”.

“Speech Night 2012, my first Speech Night in Year 3, I won the effort prize for German and I was beyond chuffed. 

“Not only was I winning a prize for my most challenging subject, I had somehow made it to a princess ballroom, palace, theatre, and I was going to be onstage! 

“I was entranced by this place that first Speech Night, and I still am now.”

Tragically, Grace spent her 2014 Speech Night with her late father in hospital.

“The Speech Nights of my life not only defined the year that was, they changed the course of the years after. 

“Since the announcement of Head Girl last Speech Night, I spent a year collaborating with Orlando as we tried to come with new ways to celebrate all the generosity, intelligence and creativity of IGS.

“I know there were a number of times where I felt challenged and extended, but looking back at the experience now all I remember feeling was a sense of awe. 

“I was inspired by you, the students, everyday. 

“Since receiving that Year 3 Effort Prize, I’ve just wanted to keep learning. 

Maybe that has had something to do with wanting to come back here again, but that’s a very small part, because mostly the effort hasn’t been deliberate. 

“It just seemed right to try and match the enthusiasm that my teachers brought to our lessons. Every teacher I have had made the joys of learning infinite. 

“And for all the times I went off on tangents, all the times at the end of lessons where I would pack up my things really slowly and ask one last question, they all listened and they were all more than willing to keep the discussion going. 

“There is no way to convey how grateful I am to have learnt from them. 

“And I really tried to find a way, but all I managed to do was rip through a box of tissues. I have returned to this building more times than Year 3 me would have ever dreamed, because of my teachers. 

“The only year I missed this was 2014. That night where I had to say goodbye to my Dad, who I had always imagined would be around forever. Nothing was ever going to be the same after that. 

“I could have gotten so lost, I was so lost. But not at this school. Not when Mr Bird arrived at my house straight from the 2014 Picnic Day to present me with the Speech Night award I missed receiving. 

“Not when I landed in Mrs Weir’s year 6 classroom the next year, a space where I felt so safe when life seemed so fragile and uncertain. 

“Mrs Weir, your thoughtfulness and care from the first moment I spent in your classroom and everyday since changed my life.

“Feeling understood and cared for in all aspects of school life is pretty remarkable, and that culture of compassion starts at the top. 

“It starts with the leadership of Ms Colnan, Ms Duma, Mr Dennehy and Mr Bird. Their support was always there, it never stopped. The response to any question was always ‘yes, how can we help?’ That has continued to astonish me.  

“But the thing I am most grateful for is how they and so many IGS teachers and students supported what I did well beyond the school gates, particularly my project to celebrate my Dad. They understood that for me there would always be someone missing. Right now, he should be sitting somewhere here, up the front, but he’s not, and I miss him so much. 

“It’s moments like these that you realise how much is wrapped around a moment. It’s amazing that each new moment doesn’t crack under the pressure. But, instead of breaking down, the moments continue, just continue. Ready or not, they’re here. 

“And they all have value, they’re all important, because moments are what we take with us and what we leave behind in the memories of others.

“How do we make the most of moments? 

“I think we’re all working that out for ourselves. Primary students, high school students, class of 2021 graduates, teachers, parents, everyone here tonight, we’re all making it up as we go along.

“Luckily we’re a part of a community where so many opportunities are possible, where we can all learn from each other’s experiences, where we can all lift each other up to be the people we’ve wanted to be but were never quite sure we could be. 

“So, my greatest hope, in this moment, is that you will use tonight amongst this incredible IGS community as your launchpad; a moment that propels you into years to come… 

“A moment that leads you to share more or learn more or appreciate more. Because there is so much right here and out there for all of us. Our next moment is the next big thing.   

“Thank you.”

We thank Grace and Orlando for their service to the School throughout 2021 and wish them all the best for the future along with our graduating Class of 2021 as they go into the world.

We also warmly congratulate 2022 Head Girl Zahra Moloobhoy and Head Boy Madiba Doyle-Lambert, whose roles were announced by the Principal during Speech Night, to cheers and applause.