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Published on February 6th, 2015 | by St Peter's College


Address from the 2015 School Captain

I will set the scene for you. The Prospect Pirates Cricket Team are playing their first trial game for the year and after a shaky start we are trying to recover.  The odds were staked against us.

I’ve walked to the crease at number 6, my pads and gloves are haphazardly buckled, we’d lost early wickets and I was in a lot earlier than expected. Our star number three batsmen was at the other end. It’s a 40 over match. Drinks are scheduled for the 20th over.

At the end of the 18th I meet mid-pitch with our other batsman to confer about our strategy for the remaining few overs. “See it through until drinks?’ I question.  The coach of the time Gary (or Mr Grosvenor when on school grounds) who was also present quickly dismissed my suggestion. “Never bat for drinks” he said.

Good afternoon Headmaster, ladies and gentlemen and boys. Firstly can I thank the Headmaster for his words of encouragement to Alasdair and I on our appointment as Captain and Vice-Captain and for this wonderful opportunity he has given us. We are truly honoured to serve Saints this year and we are excited at the prospect of the opportunities that lie ahead.

Well, here I am standing before you today with the opportunity to provide some words of wisdom and encouragement before you begin what will be a very busy 2015.

I’ve never been much of a speech writer so I thought if I structure this as if I were writing a debate, devising a clear team split – or line of argument that contains three points with evidence to support my proposition.

So, when Mr Grosvenor (Head of Short House) passed on those words, they stuck. He was right, batting for drinks in a one day game is exceptionally foolish, but I don’t think that’s why they stuck. The true message requires further analysis.

Any debate starts with the affirmative team defining the topic. This is St Peter’s College and so given we accentuate the positive; I have adopted the affirmative side. In analysing Mr Grosvenor’s comments “never bat for drinks” I think his underlying message was a warning about being complacent.

Complacency arises when we become too comfortable in our current situation and miss the opportunity for change and development. This does not necessarily mean we constantly have to try new things; it could simply consist of changing a mindset towards a particular task. This is summed up perfectly by the French novelist Marcel Proust when he wrote, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” Proust recognised that it is our attitude more than anything else that defines how we react to a task.

The next job of the affirmative team is to create a model. A plan with detailed steps that outline how we are going to avoid complacency. It is all well and good for me to warn “avoid being complacent” but more supporting evidence needs to be provided so that we can all achieve this. In creating a model it’s vital to consult the other members of your team. I firstly spoke to Alasdair McCall whose key message was:

•    complacency comes when we don’t aim high enough.

Edward Verco was next. His main message was:

•    do not lose sight of the goals you set yourself.

Finally I sought out Mr Jeremy Mitson who, when I found him between classes said, “In all seriousness Beersy, just do not stay still: change!”

A trinity of advice from these three gentlemen provided the basis for the model and therefore the points for our debate.

1.    Aim high because it’s the journey that matters not the end result
2.    Remain focused on our goals, so that each small success keeps us motivated to achieve our major aim.
3.    keep active, to ensure we remain open to new ideas and opportunities.

Now onto my substantive matter.  As first speaker I will expand each proposition to form our case.

1. My first point: why is aiming high so important?
This revolves around the idea of success. Being successful and achieving what is set out is obviously the aim, if however the original aim is too low, have we really succeeded? In 2015 I urge each and every one of you to act without fear of failure because as 2014 School Captain Darcy Kraljev said in his valedictory address “failure is not the problem, it’s how you respond to failure.”

If you aim high and fall short you may lose the first match of the season, or face a long night correcting the first draft but you have learnt more about yourself and the effort required to achieve success in the future. It is the journey that defines the occasion not the end result. Continuously setting low standards for ourselves creates a façade of comfort but is underlined with complacency, because we are not testing our boundaries.

Each one of us is unique. In the entire world there is no other young person exactly like you. As Dr Suess said:
Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
You might become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything!

We will never fully understand this capacity if we remain in our comfort zone. Testing the boundaries at St Peter’s, aiming high and challenging ourselves are keys for success. What did Beethoven do for us?  He revolutionised music from the classical to the romantic period. Beethoven took a risk and began composing from his heart rather than how society told him he should compose. He was successful because he was daring and set high standards for himself.

2. My second point: remain focused on our goals
Persistence or tenacity defeats complacency. Because it ensures that initial failure does not force us backwards to a point of becoming comfortable in lesser success. Persistence is difficult. The easier option, especially when we aim high is often one that falls short of the desired mark. This is where we need to use the people around us. Friends, family, teachers, mentors, sports coaches, music conductors the list goes on.

Mentors are in your life because they care about you and want to see you succeed. Seek them out and let them help you, because becoming complacent is much more likely when we try to do it on our own. There is no way I would have made it through year 12 without the support of my teachers. Never forget that each of them want you to do well. Do not be afraid to seek help. Even when it seems everyone else has grasped the concept. Asking that one extra question may well provide the answer that brings it all together and allows seemingly out of reach goals to become possible. Persistence is vital in avoiding complacency because it keeps us focused on the overall aim but do not for a minute think that you have to do it on your own.

3.    Point 3: keep active.
Although keeping active and not physically “staying still” is important I think Mr Mitson’s message is more about keeping your eye on the ball and open for opportunity in all aspects of life here at Saints.

We become complacent when we stop looking for change. Throughout history leaders of exceptionally powerful nations have fallen victim to complacency:

•    Nicholas the Second failed to respond to the rise of Communism in Russia
•    Adolf Hitler remained in denial to the surge of attacks from both sides on the German Empire in World War Two.

These two men grew complacent because they were either scared of change or refused to believe it was necessary. We must continue to be the change we want to see in the world. We must strive for new opportunity because it is out there and ready to be taken.

I do not need to remind you of the endless opportunities that are present in this school but what must not be forgotten is that it does not last forever. I remember sitting where each and every one of you are right now and listening to Charlie, Jake, Oli, John, and Darcy like it was yesterday.

The opportunities here at Saints are endless but the time we have to grasp them is not. You have to throw yourself into the opportunities to serve others. The best way to avoid staying still is to be constantly occupied in tasks that engage you, many of which will take place during your time at Saints.

I still remember Mr Grosvenor’s warning for me not to bat for drinks in 2009 as if that moment was today. He summed up not only how I should approach the next two overs in that match; but how we should approach my time at Saints.

1.    aim high,
2.    remain focused on our goals
3.    keep active.

The only thing that remains unanswered is why? Why should we set goals and not sit comfortably in what we know? Look around, at your peers and teachers. Relationships will be crucial throughout your life and becoming complacent halts the opportunity that you have to form bonds with those around you. I challenge you to meet new people, new people bring new opportunities and as we established that is where avoiding complacency lies.  Now look at the room in which you sit, and as you walk out the back door look at the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Service should, and at saints can, always sit at the forefront of your mind because we all have the opportunity to use what we have and help who we can. In 2015 avoid complacency not only for yourself but for those around you they want you to succeed and you can help them succeed.

Thank you

Sam Beer
School Captain 2015

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