Year 12 Graduation: Dispelling the ‘Hollywood’ Image

Year 12 Graduation: Dispelling the ‘Hollywood’ Image

Thursday, 26 November 2015  | Karissa - Assistant Principal - Secondary
Last Friday night was the MECS Year 12 Graduation. I don’t know about you, but when I think of a Year 12 Graduation, the mental image that appears is based on my own experience as a student, or by a very ‘Hollywood’ view of what it might look like: a group of graduands sitting in the front rows of an auditorium and as each one is called to accept their certificate, there is the customary handing over of the degree and the moving of the tassel. The student’s name is called, they walk on the stage, shake hands with a dignitary and then walk off stage. Done. Little recognition of the student, beyond their name, is given.

MECS’ Graduation does not fit this image at all. Friday’s event had a wonderful, intentional, community feel, created through people seated together around tables; the students seated together in the middle of the room, surrounded by table upon table of their biggest fans, strongest supporters and firmest advocates.

There was no valedictory speech, or students speaking to encourage their peers. Rather, in keeping with the MECS tradition and philosophy, every student was acknowledged and celebrated in a speech prepared by his or her devotions teacher. As I listened to each speech, a number of things were apparent: our teachers know their students, love their students, and have a passionate desire to see their students come to know God. The teachers honoured each student by acknowledging their contribution to the community over the past one to thirteen years of schooling, and presented each student with an intentionally selected book. Effort and consideration was put into ensuring that the unique ‘flavour’ of each student was brought through: have you ever previously heard a speech made up of One Direction song titles for the 1D fan? Or a speech made up almost entirely of puns? It was clear that these teachers have had authentic relationships with, and understanding of, each student.

The message that was clearly conveyed throughout all the speeches was that these Year 12 students are a wonderful bunch of young people. They are a selfless, passionate, giving and faithful group, many of whom are keen to find ways to have a positive impact on the world - evident in their career choices and/or the fact that some were leaving the following morning on their ‘Schoolies Revolution’ mission trips. What a joy it is to know that students have learnt so much more than ‘head knowledge’, but that they have been convicted by ‘heart knowledge’ also.

The students had the opportunity to speak of Mr Colin Youl, as this night was also his ‘graduation’. They spoke of his love, wisdom and knowledge and how this has made an impression on each of their lives.

And finally: our parents. Whilst the evening is set to honour our students and what they have achieved, it was made clear that the school recognises that little of this is possible without the partnership of our parents. Paul Gallagher (a MECS parent for the past 16 years) spoke of his gratitude to the school community and what the partnership has meant for them as parents. The 23 families whose youngest child has now finished at MECS were given a plant as a symbol of their journey at MECS.

I had the privilege of being able to close the night with a blessing for our students:

May your years ahead be rich with friendships, abundant in joy and overflowing with compassion for those around you.
May you be earth-shapers and kingdom-builders.
May you stand up for what you believe in and speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.
May you be stretched and challenged beyond what you perceive is possible, and in that place of vulnerability, may you grow in strength and resilience to face life’s journeys ahead.
May God walk before you as you seek to step into his footprints. May He hold you tight during times of trouble and surround you with His peace that passes all understanding. 

And in the words of Paul in Ephesians 3
“When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvellous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

So thankfully, the MECS Graduation did not quite fit with the ‘Hollywood’ mental picture. Instead it was abundant in love, joy and authentic Christian community. Our students were honoured, and God was honoured. What a joy to be part of this community that sows the seeds of Christ’s love right to the very end of our time together. 

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