Mr Thomas' Speech Day Speech

Mr Thomas' Speech Day Speech


In September when I last travelled to India, I sat on the plane and I started to write my speech. My plan for this year’s speech was to speak about the history of Claremont, given that this year we are celebrating 135 years. I wanted to research and write about this history of Claremont College, so whilst sitting cramped up in Economy I started my work. I had not expected to get so caught up in the task. I ended up writing a book, this book which I am holding up.

Every year I give the children a gift at Speech Day, and this year I wanted to create a special gift for the children, a book about their school.


A focus of 2018 has been ‘connectedness’. Research[1] overwhelmingly shows that a child who feels connected to their school will have more positive outcomes across broad domains, including their learning, their academic achievements, resilience, well-being, especially in their teen years. I spoke of this at our Parent Information Evening back in February. This is why I have focussed on the idea of “I LOVE MY SCHOOL”.


At the recent conference I attended I was quite startled when it was stated that this present generation of children is “entering a world of unprecedented complexity”. Our world will experience more ‘change’ over the next 15 years, in comparison to what collectively has happened over the entire course of human history.[2] If this is correct, and I have no reason to doubt it, a school like Claremont College is very well positioned to prepare children for this unknown and uncertain future.

When we first embarked on our school transformation and refurbishment project back in 2012, one of our starting points was to articulate the Core Values of Claremont College. In the midst of rapid change we must stick to the heart and soul of our school. Our Core Values remind us about what is important to our school, and I know that it is because of these Core Values that our parents chose Claremont for their child’s education.

  • Engaging learning through quality teaching across the curriculum with innovation and creativity
  • Building a place of excellence with firm academic foundations
  • Growing and affirming the character, leadership and a sense of purpose for each individual child
  • Providing a nurturing school community through care and respect for self, others and the environment
  • Honouring the rich history and heritage of Claremont College
  • Having faith in Christ and following His word in our lives 

From my comprehensive reading of the history of Claremont, I have learnt that these Core Values have existed from the earliest of days. A great example of our long standing Core Values comes from, our Claremont’s Principal in 1982;

“ The many changes which Claremont College has undergone in the course of its long existence illustrate its transition from the era of gracious living during the reign of Queen Victoria, when it was founded, to the fast moving nuclear age of today.

The ability of any school to survive one hundred years must inevitably relate to its capacity to adjust to the changing educational needs of the community it aims to serve.

 Despite its changed educational role, the aims of the school remains as valid and necessary today as ever they were; to provide a soundly based education in the subjects of the curriculum; to seek to develop the ability and whole personality of the pupil to his or her maximum potential and, most importantly, to create an awareness and understanding of the basics of the Christian faith in the school atmosphere where a spirit of true concern, understanding and a desire to serve are always present and encouraged.

Having passed through periods of severe testing, Claremont College has emerged the better for its experience and in good condition to move forward and confidently into its second century of service in education. [3]

 As we move into this very rapidly changing future, we can take strength and confidence from two things. Firstly, as our society changes and education of course, changes with it, our school’s Core Values will guide us. These Core Values will not change, they will certainly steer us, and assist us to evaluate what is best for this school. Secondly, I am reminded that the God who we follow and serve, does not change.

“I am the Lord and I do not change.” Malachi 3:6

I am very mindful and aware that a number of families in our school community, many of you are here today, are doing things tough at the moment. It is a difficult season and it has been my privilege to help and support you whenever I have been able to. My prayers are certainly with you this Christmas, and my encouragement is to look to God, who never changes. He will be your anchor and strength in the midst of difficulty and uncertainty.

This year, we have reason to honour a very special member of our staff team who is retiring after 35 years of teaching and service to Claremont College. Mrs Patsy MacNamara commenced as a PE Teacher in 1982, during the year of our school’s Centenary, and she has been the longest serving member of staff in the history of our School. During her time, Patsy also taught as a Class Teacher, and more recently she has works as a Teaching and Learning Assistant. Patsy, we thank you for your dedicated service, and our prayers are with you for your retirement and future.


To answer this question let’s start with this short film that was produced by our Year 6 Media Team; (see school website)

 We love our school because we blessed to have such beautiful classrooms. Just last week I was delighted and excited to receive an award commending the design of our Kindergarten and Year 1 classrooms. This award, whilst not quite the words is like winning an award for “classroom of the year!”. Claremont College was the winner of the Learning Environments (Australasia) NSW Chapter Awards, for a Refurbishment Project under $2million. This award certainly deserves a round of applause.

We love our school because we have been blessed with an incredible Deputy Principal, Mrs Janelle Ford, who this year has essentially worked two jobs. I am so very grateful to Mrs Ford who commenced at Claremont College in 2008, she really has been my ‘partner in crime’. Thank you for the very long hours that you work, we all appreciate you so very much.

 We love our school because we have fabulous teachers and support staff, who are so dedicated and passionate in ensuring for the children’s safety, well-being, learning and success. Today we also hour and thank three other long serving members of staff who will be retiring at the end of 2017. Thank you Mrs Henry, Mrs Gellin and Mrs Bockos.

 We love our school because it is filled with incredible children. Girls and boys, you inspire me each and every day. It is such a privilege for me to work hard for you all. Last week I read this Bible verse to our Year 6 students at the their Valedictory Dinner. This verse, which is aligned to everything that our Core Values stand for, reminds us of how you can be successful in life and in the future.

 Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: Love others as well as you love yourself." - Matthew 20:37-39

 In this verse Jesus highlights what our priorities should be;

 Firstly, love God and put Him first.

Secondly, love people, love others.

Finally, know that when you do these things, you’ll be okay. You can be confident that you will be living according to God’s plan and purpose for your life. Be comfortable and confident in who He has made you to be. Don't compare yourself to others, don’t try to be someone else, just be you, and you will achieve success. This next verse has been included in our school’s Strategic Plan. It is there for a reason, because it speaks of your future and what I pray, will be the fruits of your education at Claremont College.



As I come to a close, I am excited that one of our students will sing this beautiful song, “Grace and Gratitude”. I love this song because it reminds us of what our starting point should be. It’s good to aim to improve, and it’s good to work hard and to plan for the future, but my travels to India have reminded me of a very important thing. We must start from a place of gratitude and appreciation. Let’s keep aspiring in hope to all that is good and better, but firstly, let’s be thankful to God, and let us also appreciate one and another and all that we share, not just as members of this wonderful school community, but as citizens of this beautiful part of this world and country.

All I have and all I feel Is all because of You All I reap is all I sow And love is our living proof

Thank you for life Thank you for everything I stand here in Grace and Gratitude

And I thank you ...

Seasons come and seasons go No matter what we choose A thousand names A thousand roads All lead to one simple truth

 Thank you for life Thank you for everything[4]


Girls and Boys, I hope that you love your gift this year. This is the story of your school, the school that we love. Thank you.

[1] Building resilience in children and young people: A Literature Review, (2015); Cahill H, Beadle S, Farrelly A, Forster R & Smith K: Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne

[2] Gus Schmedlen, Vice President, Worldwide Education Industry Organisation Solutions,

Mrs Merlyn Brown, Principal; Quote from Claremont College Centenary Program (1982).

‘Grace and Gratitude’ Olivia Newton John