Year Coordinator’s Graduation Ceremony Speech

Last night Mount Stromlo High School celebrated the graduation of the class of 2014.

For those students and parents that could not make it, here is a copy of Julia Gale’s speech to the class of 2014.

Good evening, members of the official party, Dr Kindler, students, parents and staff. I would like to thank you all for coming out tonight to attend the very special Mount Stromlo High School Graduation Ceremony. It is an honour to be here celebrating the achievements of the Year 10 class of 2014.

Year 10, I think that 2014 will always be an important year for you. It has been a year of amazing achievements and lots of good times. When you look back on your time at Mount Stromlo High School, I hope that it will be filled with great memories of your time spent here.

But 2014 was an important year for another reason. It was the year that Malala Yousafzai became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and inspired ordinary people all over the world to have the conviction and the determination to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

On the 9th December 2012, Malala was shot by the Taliban as she rode home on a bus after taking an exam in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The masked gunman entered the bus and shouted “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all”. And, when Malala identified herself, he shot her.

Malala was hit with one bullet, which travelled through her head, neck and ended in her shoulder. Miraculously, she survived the assassination attempt.

Malala, a young 15 year old Pakistani school girl had stood up to the Taliban and showed that she was not to be intimidated or cowed. In fact, it was this barbaric act that spurred her on to become a tireless campaigner for the right of every child around the world to receive a free and quality education.

On the 12th July 2013, Malala spoke to the United Nations and the rest of the world to call for children to have worldwide access to education. She ended her historic speech with the words, “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”

Malala has touched the lives of so many young people because she is just like you. If you lived in Pakistan, you could have been Malala. It could have been you sitting on the school bus that day, chatting to your friends and feeling relieved at having just completed an exam.

She is the same age as you. She has devoted parents and two younger brothers. She loves the ‘Twilight’ books. She attends her local school in Birmingham, England where she enjoys unrestricted access to education. She is looking forward to finishing her exams and graduating from school.

So, why fight for education? Why is access to education so important? Education gives us potential. It gives us the potential to achieve whatever we want to in our lives. It opens up new possibilities and as we learn about the world, we also learn about ourselves.

In leaving Mount Stromlo High School and moving out into the world, I encourage you to embrace Malala’s beliefs.

Be ambitious – Always work hard to achieve your goals, no matter how out of reach they may seem. Ambition is made up of 95% hard work and 5% dreams for the future. No ambition can be realised without a level of enthusiasm and passion and a strong desire to succeed.

Be courageous – Remember to challenge yourself to do things you never thought you could do. Always try to conquer your fears and have the courage to follow your dreams. Sometimes, having courage is as simple as taking that first small step into the unknown, or trying new and different things.

Value education – Learn new things every day and make the most of all the opportunities that come your way. Remember that you cannot learn everything in a classroom. Getting an education is not just about being at school. Learn new things every day from your family, friends and by being part of your community.

I am standing here tonight in front of potential doctors, tradespeople, scientists, politicians, sports stars, campaigners, educators, musicians and small business owners, just to name a few of the hundreds of possibilities. Whatever your potential is in life, do not waste it. Ensure that it is fulfilled.

And if you are sitting there thinking that you are too young to make a difference, just take a look at what Malala has accomplished at such a young age.

This does not mean that you need to win a Nobel Peace Prize. It just means that you should be the best person that you can be and do the best that you can do. Inspire others with your actions (no matter how small) and have the conviction to always stand up for your beliefs.

For most of you, the next step is college. Others are going to CIT, starting apprenticeships or are entering the workforce. Some of you are moving interstate or overseas. So, as you leave Mount Stromlo High School to whatever the future holds for you, know that this is the first step in unlocking your potential.

Thank you, Year 10 for being such a wonderful group of students. It has been a pleasure to watch you all grow into the confident young adults that sit before me.

I would like to finish with a quote from Malala, who said. “I told myself, Malala, you have already faced death. This is your second life. Don’t be afraid – if you are afraid, you can’t move forward.” Year 10, be brave and go out into the world and make it yours. Thank you.



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