2016 College Dux Speech by William Abbott
"I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction."
The previous passage from Anthem by Ayn Rand is one of the reasons I am here. In the present day, society is so jumbled, with so many unnecessary things being brought into our view. People, especially young people, can get caught up in it all and we lose focus of what we are all here to do. We are all here to do what we do, whatever makes us happy and, we feel will bring more joy into the world. We can search and stare at other people, celebrities, for what to wear and how to act but really we are just letting them take away our personal meaning. However, what the College has done for me and many students, has been to pull our focus back to what we can do to help others. This spirit is something that I saw as soon as I walked through those gates years ago, when I was about three feet tall. Haven't grown much since but still I'm here finishing up Year 12.
It feels strange standing here, it seems not long ago at all that I first walked through those gates. How things have changed.
To the class of 2017, I won't be the only one to tell you this and definitely won't be the last. This year will be over before you know it. All those long nights of studying and stressing will be worth it when the year is out. The best advice I can give you is to ensure that you have something other than school that you can put your effort into whether that be a sport, playing an instrument or reading a novel other than the million you will have to read for Literary Studies. There is no getting away from it, this year will be your hardest to date and there will be times you might think of slowing down but that is the point that you need to work even harder and trust me it will pay dividends. This year is also a good time to start those habits that will stick with you and help you in the future. The organisational and prioritising skills that you will learn here will become invaluable in later years. Even when the year is done and results come out, they shouldn't be the basis on which you judge your entire year. Look back on all the new friendships forged, or old ones that grew stronger. Have you developed into a good bloke, one that St Paul's, your parents and most importantly you, yourself would be proud.
At this stage of my presentation, I probably should have gone through at least 20 different motivational quotes. I know that people throw quotes around these days to the extent that they have lost some of their effect, some of their meaning. But just this one phrase by Joseph Conrad will always stay with me. "We live as we dream". This jumble of words isn't even explicitly motivational. It relies on the knowledge that every single person has their own individual dreams and aspirations for the future. Whether that future be the satisfaction of knowing you did your best after a test, or five seconds after taking that leap of faith, or ten years down the road it is of no consequence. The challenge is for us to realise that we need to actually have the dreams to achieve before any action can be taken. The only way to live an amazing and fulfilling life is to aim for it in the first place. I could fill this speech with motivational quotes from start to finish, enough to make your head burst. But as much as you don't want to believe it, the best motivation lies with you.
The best piece of advice that I can give, is one that I don't think would be regurgitated every year. One practice that definitely helped me in achieving my goals is daydreaming. Although probably not in the middle of a lesson or when a teacher is asking you questions. It may be strange to say but whatever your goal is to imagine yourself in the future, revelling in the happiness of achieving it. If it's winning a Nobel prize, imagine yourself standing at the lectern, holding back the tears of joy and thanking everyone who has helped you along the way. Acknowledge all the hard work that you have done. This makes it real and will be all the motivation you need. If it's winning the grand final in A grade footy, think about the feeling. Words might not connect with you but the feeling of happiness and pride of achieving your goal definitely will.
To start off my acknowledgements I'd like to thank every teacher I have ever had throughout my entire schooling for listening to all my questions even when the answers were clear, and for putting in the effort when they weren't. I think I speak on behalf of all of the students when I say thank you for all the witty comebacks and jokes that kept us sane throughout the year.
Thank you, Mr Belton, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk not only to me or the leadership group but the whole of the Year 12 cohort. The one thing I know, Mr Belton is a simple man, you don't need to do a lot to impress him: give 100% at all times, listen and really just be a good bloke. I hope this year Year 12 group and the ones to follow all share that same goal of developing and becoming a good man.
I'd like to say a special thank you to Mr Jacobs for putting up with me in Year 8, and then offer a pat on the back to myself and everyone else in my Maths class for coping for another 2 years. Mr White, you might want to look at that! But seriously, thanks for the effort and time you took to get to know every one of your students; I know they definitely took something away from the experience.
To Mrs Scherwitzel and Mr McCulloch, oh and Mr White, don't worry I didn't forget you this time. Thanks for being there for students when they needed someone to talk to and a great help to the prefect group as I'm sure they would all agree. To my captain Ben Rogers, thanks for doing most of the work and taking it like a champ. Special thanks also to all of the other prefects for leaving a legacy at St Paul's College that will last forever. Finally, a huge thank you must go to my family for dealing with me at my most stressed which was most days.
So as my final address from this lectern concludes and you all check your watches to see how long it has lasted there's not much to say really. I wish I had a meaningful quote to finish with, some miraculous piece of advice to inspire everyone. But really, when you stand in my position, leaving St Paul's College, you come to realise that without this College there would be essential and fascinating knowledge missing. But with this knowledge comes the insight that there is, even more, to learn and whole ideas yet to be discovered. Just imagine what we can achieve when we know so much more. The only thing that could alter this reality is for you to not realise the immense power you all have. You all have the power to do whatever you want so use it wisely now, and in the years to come.