Kindness is the Captains’ Order of the Day Posted on Tuesday 31 January 2023 Yesterday we were delighted to welcome back all of our students to the College. The day commenced with an outdoor leaders’ induction assembly that recognised our senior leaders for 2023 including College Captains, Deputy Captains and House Leaders. We congratulate all leaders on their appointments and wish them every success for the year ahead. Below we share the two speeches made at the opening assembly by our College Captains, Lola Ogunbambi and Aidan Velten. Kindness was certainly the order of the day; a salient subject our students were encouraged not only to consider, but to carry out in their daily actions throughout the year ahead. They were also reminded of the value of gratitude and the importance of embracing every opportunity they have had the privilege of being afforded with. Good morning, everyone, I would first like to extend a warm welcome to those of you who are joining us this year. Seeing you all come into the College makes me think back to my first day. I remember the welcome I received. My year 5 and 6 mentor, Ms Buntine’s friendliness and kindness set the tone for the rest of my time at the College. To the year 12s, coming into our last year together and seeing how much we’ve grown, I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to do so as a cohort. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come and can’t wait to see what we’re going to achieve. In every aspect of life here at St Leonard’s I continue to discover how fortunate we are. In some ways I envy those of you here on your first day. There’s something magical about the overwhelming feeling of meeting new people, getting lost and opening doors to new knowledge and opportunities. The things that we learn, whether they be in class or otherwise, will have a profound impact on the people we become. It’s so easy to forget just how lucky we are. Because, in 2019, over 100 million children were not receiving an education. And girls were disproportionately affected. Yet here we are, not only with access to an education, but one of the best. We are surrounded by opportunities, in our teachers, facilities, classmates and extra-curriculars. So, we have a responsibility; to make the most of it. For me, coming into this year as a leader, responsibility has taken on deeper meaning. I’ve been thinking a lot about what leadership means to me. So I promise, I will always be there to encourage you, to advocate for your needs, and most importantly to listen. I’m honoured to do this for such a wonderful group of people. I think that the defining characteristic I see in this community, is kindness. A few Christmases ago, my parents gave me a book. It was titled ‘The Art of Kindness: Caring for Ourselves, Each Other & Our Earth’. At the time I refused to read it, figuring that it was a dig at my year 9 attitude, which I’m still pretty sure that it was. But slowly, I started flicking through it. It explains the little steps we can take to create a kinder world; this is the type of environment I aim to be a part of. Here is a quote by the author, Meredith Gaston, which particularly stood out to me, she writes, “How profound it is to see kindness as an option we possess in every moment; to see that each day we have the power to make a positive difference in our own lives and the lives of others. Indeed, every thought, every action, every person, every moment, every feeling and every belief can be transformed by kindness. We too often undervalue our ability to bring peace and joy to others and to ourselves. We forget how gently we can change the world.” So, today, I set two challenges for the College in 2023. The first is to be aware of our privileges and responsibilities. Today being my final first day, it feels like my school days have passed by so quickly. I encourage you to get involved in everything you can and make the most of your time here. Find something you’re passionate about; for example, I’ve loved debating, theatre, netball and much more. Try new things! It might sound scary, but you will not regret it. I encourage you to get involved in social action programs too, because if there’s any way to use this privilege of an education, it’s to help and understand others. My second challenge, is to ask ourselves, every night, “Was I kind today?” Lola Ogunbambi, College Co-Captain I began my time at St Leonard’s in year 7. I came from a school with less than 20 children in my year 6 cohort, and knew absolutely nobody at St Leonard’s. I was petrified. And to top it all off on my way to school that very first morning my chain had fallen off my bike. Now for most, this would not be an issue. Except for the fact I absolutely had no idea how to put the chain back on. I was stuck. Stranded. 3km away from school, with anxiety overriding my body as it dawned on me that I was going to be late for my first ever day of high school. All until I had a random St Leonard’s student only a year above me pulled over, fixed my chain and got me back on my bike, nothing more than a “no worries” and “have a good day” exchanged between us. It wasn’t until 5 years later that I went up to this student and thanked him. To my shock however, this student had no recollection of this act of kindness, an act of kindness that to me at the time meant the world to me. Looking towards the year ahead, I’ve decided to relay something I have been told myself. Show gratitude. We constantly talk about the things horrible within our lives, myself perhaps the most guilty. Instead, we must thank. Be grateful. Tell our friends, our family how much they mean to us. Acknowledge the random acts of kindness in our lives. And remind ourselves and those around us to show gratitude for the things we have rather than the things we don’t. With this in mind, moving forward into 2023 we want to create a culture at St Leonard’s underpinned by kindness and a community in which everyone can be truly and unapologetically themselves. Finally, I ask that when you see me around the school, as cliched as it may sound, please do not be afraid to come up and have a chat. I’m always excited to meet new people, or at the very least come up and ask me how to put a chain back on a bike. Aidan Velten, College Co-Captain Well done Lola and Aidan – such brilliant messages for our students to receive on their first day back at the College.