Scotch Vale

This is an edited version of the address given by Charles Kemp at the Year 12 Presentation Night on Monday 24 October 2011.

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While I have only been a member of the class of 2011 for one year, I feel privileged to have had this opportunity to get to know a remarkable group of Scotch Collegians.

If ever there was a class that has used its time at Scotch to build something quite unusual, I believe it is this year’s class. I have come to the conclusion that what defines this class is its respect for each other, and the empathy the class has shown towards classmates and to others. There was a spirit of respectful comradeship in this class that has enabled it to build towards a remarkable school spirit that has given something extra to every boy. It is no wonder that this group, this class, shows an absolute love and pride in this school.

Never have I seen such passion at a Head of the River as I witnessed this year, but combined with a determination to win respect for Scotch among all the other schools, and in the watching community. Never have I heard such a roar behind the goalsquare during the Cordner Eggleston Cup, and never have I seen such friendship and support for each other in the classroom or in the back quad.

Individuals who believe in themselves have the strength and the desire to reach out to others, to offer both leadership and compassion. This is a year which has developed a quiet confidence in itself and in what it can do.

How has this happened? Mr Batty and his staff – and specifically I would like to mention Mr Kong, Mr Brown, Mrs Westmore and Mr Byrnes – have been very good to me last year and most importantly this year, and all the other wonderful staff have given us a great experience here at Scotch. We have all learnt an enormous amount, both in the classroom and outside it.

But if I had to pick out the one thing that I believe Mr Batty, Mr Savage, our teachers and coaches have given us above all others, it is their trust. It is not easy to trust 240 yelling boys on a riverbank or sounding off their loudest war-cries alongside other schools, or to trust that students will do the work that justifies teaching efforts. But our teachers and coaches have trusted us, and the Class of 2011 has not let you down. We are all better for having found within ourselves the resources and the will to maintain the standards and the values that we know Scotch holds dear.

While reading through past Scotch Collegians, I came across an old poem written over 50 years ago by a Year 12 leaver describing his emotions on leaving the school, and while reading it I started to get a bit teary. It all seemed very familiar.

The poem is titled Scotch Vale, which means ‘Scotch, Farewell’. They understood Latin in those days.

On playing fields, white on green
The silence broken with a stroke
Another run, a victory
A hushed crowd waiting in the sun
The blinding freshness of the day
The breezes rippling o’er the grass
The tense cleverness of play
The scrambling packs, the cheering shouts
Behind the goals a mighty mass.

A school at play, intent to win –
All these I saw, and knew, and loved.
But days pass quickly, crowded quads
Soon fade, the years go speeding by
And laughing voices once you knew
Have passed you by.

And turn your steps, open the door,
And find yourself inside the Hall,
The old sun streaming through the panes
Lights the boards, the golden names
Shine in the dusk an instant.
Then darkness gathers in on high
And soon conceals them. Look again.

The seats where friends of yours have sat
Are empty, your steps echo on the floor.
The organ notes have faded now,
These you hear and these you saw.

Then turn, the heroes of the past
Surround you, leave the Hall, the quad
And down the drive, past reddened chapel steps.
Through rustling trees – no more.

Now at last, O Scotch, we leave thee
Fading in the closing day
Misting in the purple twilight.
Scotch Vale.

When I looked at the initials after the poem I realised it was written by my father when his Year 12 was coming to an end.

It is sad when good things come to an end, but this is truly also a time to celebrate and to look to the future. After all, we all know in our hearts that there has been a purpose behind all this. Our school, our mates and our families have given us the individual strength we will need to define and achieve our own missions in life, and have shown us the way to respect each other, and think of others as well as ourselves.

Now it’s time for the Class of 2011 to step forward and take what we have learnt and bring it into the world beyond the school. Graduation, while signifying the end of one stage of our journey, signifies also a new beginning, a time when we can show the world what Scotchies are made of.

While we will take off our cardinal, gold and blue ties, and hang up our Candy Coat in the wardrobe, those colours we once wore with pride will forever be inside us. Your brothers from your Houses, or even your brothers from McMeckan, School House or Arthur Rob, will remain with you for the rest of your life. And the boys who left Scotch years ago are there waiting to help us if we need it.

While the walls that educated us will fade away, and the teachers that guided us will be teaching new boys about the world we will be helping to change, the values we have learnt here will remain.

Last night we gave a toast to our parents. Tonight, at our final speech day, I again want to thank on your behalf, and on mine, those whose love of us has given us such a great start to the rest of our lives. Dads and mums, grandparents and guardians: thank you for every minute of the support you have provided.

If it weren’t for my own loving family I doubt I’d be standing here tonight. To my loving mother and father, and to my older brother, I would like to say: You’ve given me strength, courage and many words of wisdom which will stay with me forever. I can vividly remember the excitement of coming to Scotch to see Andrew, my big brother, debating, and it’s those moments which really defined what direction I wanted to take when I arrived at the Senior School.

And while I am thanking people I’d particularly also like to acknowledge Ash Vines who has been a great friend and an indispensable link to the Class of 2011. His passion for the school as well as his commitment to the Indigenous programme and to Gilray house has been astounding, and he’s been of great service in helping me find my place in the year level.

I also want to thank all the Prefects and the school officers for the way in which they have carried out their responsibilities, and with whom I have enjoyed working immensely. I hope you all have a great deal of satisfaction in what you have accomplished.

Most of all, however, I want to thank the Class of 2011. From the first day of this year they have all been extremely welcoming to me. They have all made me feel a part of this class, and I always will do so, and for that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Our school song tells us we have heroes with us yet. But well and truly among them are the boys who have given their all to each part of the school’s life, boys who have supported and helped their mates, boys who have not succeeded the first time, but have lifted themselves up and tried again. There are many different kinds of hero.

It has been an honour to be part of the Class of 2011. Always look back with pride and ahead with confidence. May you all achieve your dreams, and contribute your special gifts to the world you are about to enter.

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School Captain Charles Kemp

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With Vice-Captain Ash Vines

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With the Class of 2011 committee

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With the Pipes and Drums band

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With previous School Captains Nathan Su (’09) and Jack Fowles (’10) at the OSCA President's Dinner