During the Term 3 holidays many of our families took the opportunity to shrug off the chills of a Melbourne winter and head north to the warmth of Queensland. I am sure that some will have ventured up to Far North Queensland, where our magnificent Great Barrier Reef provides one of the great natural wonders of the world.
One of my great passions is the sea, and I love many of the activities that the sea can offer. Kayaking, swimming and surfing are all aspects of the ocean that I thoroughly enjoy, and I know many of our community feel a similar connection.
In particular, I love to snorkel in the ocean. It is a wonderfully relaxing and very interesting pastime, and having the opportunity to explore the world beneath the waves for me is a great joy. Snorkelling has led me to explore many wonderful underwater places, including coral reefs. The diversity and splendour of a pristine coral reef is truly a thing of great beauty. There is such an abundance of life and such a variety of colour that abounds beneath the surface of the ocean.
It is fascinating to consider how a coral reef is formed over many hundreds of years. Millions of tiny sea organisms living together in a community provide the colour and spectacle of the reef as we currently see it. However, the structure and basis of that reef is the product of the countless more millions of organisms which went before, and then left a part of themselves for the next generation to build on.
As Scotch celebrates its 160th birthday, I think in many ways our school is much like the coral reef. Over the past 160 years thousands of boys have passed through the school, and vast numbers of parents have been part of their sons’ lives during their time at Scotch. Similarly, there have been hundreds of teachers, groundsmen, secretaries, accountants and managers who have all been part of Scotch.
All who have been part of the Scotch community have had an impact on the school; and, just like each organism on the reef, have left something for future generations to build on. Our school today is the result of the contributions of all those people over 160 years. The traditions, the structures, the programs and the way of life at Scotch are the net result of all who have been part of it. These are things that make our school what it is, and we need to ensure that we value and uphold them in the years to come.
In my first year at Scotch, what has been particularly evident is the wonderful sense of belonging to the Scotch Family. I was told of this before I began, but it has only been when I have been part of it that I have been able to come to truly appreciate what people were talking about. This is not something that can be easily manufactured, and it has taken 160 years for it to evolve into what it is today.
In a similar manner, what it means to be a Scotch boy is the result of 160 years of development: the way our boys approach school and the challenges and opportunities that are on offer to them, the way they conduct themselves both in and out of school, the way they look out for each other and the way they demonstrate empathy for others less fortunate. These are all aspects of Scotch that had their basis 160 years ago and have been developed, reinforced and strengthened over the decades since.
Another connection between the coral reef and Scotch is that those who have gone before have left a legacy for future generations to build and grow on. The foundations were set way back in the 1850s and have served the school well ever since. Along the way many have generously given back to the school for the benefit of those to come, hence the magnificent facilities we enjoy today. I am sure those who are here when the school turns 200 will be grateful to all of the current-day boys and their families for the legacies they leave behind, and for the fact that we have all upheld the traditions of Scotch.
Just like the reef, our school today is an amazingly wonderful, beautiful and complex organism that is the product of all who have gone before!