Below, we share College Captain Rob Amendola’s Valedictory Speech.
“When I first enrolled at this school, I looked up to the senior boys with their blazers overflowing with badges, standing in the priority access lane at the Canteen. Now, five years later, I’m the kid with the annoying number of badges on his blazer, who constantly talks about his “experiences”. I have come to love this school and what it has brought to me and my family this year. Even with the challenges I have faced, the feeling of belonging has stayed constant.
The most notorious challenge of COVID-19 provided obstacles for everyone. In a time full of so many questions, there are so few answers. During the first lockdown, I remember looking for some motivation, when I came across a Latin phrase from German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. “Amor Fati” translates to ‘a love in fate’. An “Amor Fati” attitude relates to treating each and every moment, no matter how challenging, as something to be embraced, not avoided. To not only be okay with it, but love it and be better for it, so that like oxygen to a fire, obstacles and adversity become fuel for your potential. This not only resonates with me and my experiences; this is the mindset of the cohort of 2020 and the rest of this school. As only when we accept what happens to us, and understand that certain things, particularly bad things, are outside our control, we are left to love whatever happens to us and face it with unfailing cheerfulness and strength. This couldn’t be more apparent in our school. The unwavering support, joyfulness and fortitude present in the corridors, in the classroom and over the countless online calls and Facetime chats has been something that gets me quite emotional. It has been an absolute honour to represent the College, and something I will never take for granted.
The bottom line is that COVID-19 was, and continues to be, a tough complication. It challenges our ability to be persistent and remain connected. However, even in this strange time, there is reassurance that some things truly never change; for example, Dean Wu’s sleeping schedule, or the size of Joseph Curtis’ biceps.
I share great sympathy for the boys who listen to me today, who have spent extensive time at home, not being able to relish the feeling of walking through the gates at the end of Savio and Bosco Streets, not being able to wear the Salesian crest, and not being able to share moments with their friends and teachers. However, one thing that stays present even in times of a pandemic is the belonging and dynamism that lives on through the actions of all of us.
I would like to commend all the efforts of our teachers and staff, and their persistence to help in any way possible. This is the foundation that makes Salesian College the school it is today. Not only did our teachers continue to strive to improve our studies; more importantly, they provided much needed comfort and reassurance. Their dedication towards our learning is truly unmatched. Their ability to deal with students’ inconspicuous array of broken mics and dodgy internet will surely go down as a sign of the times. A special thankyou to all our Year 12 teachers who have worked agonisingly hard to keep us on track, even through all of the challenges we have faced this year.
To Ms Bradley; you have got to be one of the purest hearted people I’ve met. The way that you have been able to assist us in any way possible has been monumental, and I know for a fact that there are some boys listening to my speech right now that owe a lot of their growth and successes to the efforts you’ve made. To my Oratory teacher Ms Tilley, thank you for the chats we have, and for making me smile on days that were initially glum. Thank you to both you and Mr Azar for guiding my leadership this year, and for providing me with countless moments of laughter.
I would also like to extend my thanks to Mr Brennan. You have been our Principal for our entire high-schooling period, and we would like to congratulate you and the rest of the College Leadership group on the commitment and devotion that you have shown to making this school a better place. We wish you all the best on your next chapter.
To Mr and Mrs Beurs, thank you for the relationships you have built with us boys. The ability that you both possess to ensure we all feel welcomed and jovial is a credit to the people that you are. To all of our year level coordinators who have led us since Year 7, thank you for all your teachings and the memories we’ve shared.
Many thanks to Jacob and Adam for being amazing College Captains alongside me. It has been an honour working with such amazing young men, and I couldn’t have done my role without your support, along with the rest of the Student Leaders.
To my eldest brother Michael, thank you for instilling in me a passion for this school at such a young age. You are a fantastic older brother and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. To Daniel; the best Amendola who still awaits senior school. I’m so proud of how far you’ve come and I know how capable you are. Thanks for everything you’ve taught me. To my parents, thank you for everything you do. You have done nothing but be supportive this year. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the nurturing I have received. You both work so hard for me, and all I’ve tried to do is make you both proud. I will forever be in debt to you. I love you so much.
On behalf of the graduating Class of 2020, I would like extend my thanks to all of our parents and guardians, family members and friends for their endless love and support throughout our schooling lives. Your company when we were stressed has not gone unnoticed. Thank you for your ongoing support and guidance. We are forever grateful for the countless sacrifices that you have made for us. Our successes will forever be a testament to your hard work and persistence. Thank you for raising us to be the men we are today.
To the Year 7s, I understand the year has been anti-climactic, but I encourage you to get involved when things go back to normal. Remember that this school is a special place. It will bring you hard times, it will bring you good times, and most importantly it will mould you into the man you become. My advice is to grasp any opportunity that arises. Go for class captain, join the band, play a sport you’ve never played before and get out of your comfort zone, as the moments you make for yourself will determine the extent of happiness you achieve at this school.
Year 11 students; I’d like to bring you back to the start of my speech. Amor Fati. Be present in your experiences, control what you can control and work hard. Embrace the moments, embrace your friendships, embrace your teacher relationships and embrace this school. To the future Student Leaders, I encourage you to learn, be open to new ideas and be approachable. Enjoy your last year at this school, and I wish you boys all the best in your future endeavours.
To the 2020 cohort. This experience has at times separated us physically, but oddly enough it has brought everyone closer together in spirit. COVID-19 has showcased just how powerful our Salesian brotherhood is. Our ‘it is what is it is” mindset got us through the tough times and unprecedentedness. It would have been easy for us as a year level to succumb to the pressures of the limitations that were set upon us, however our perseverance is something that will live on as an example at this school for years to come. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of each of your lives here since we were Year 7 students in 2015. There are so many aspects of school life that I will miss; the conversations and comradery in particular. It feels like only yesterday that we were settling our start of year nerves with a passing remark of “It’s only Year 12, she’ll be right”. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all you boys as I know that you are all capable of doing amazing things. We always have a home here at Salesian, and whilst our paths may not cross again, the Salesian spirit will always be embedded in the people who we are.
Good luck to all the boys from Years 7 to 11. Soon you’ll be finishing your time at Salesian, reminiscing on where the time has gone. Congratulations to the entire Class of 2020. Work hard and celebrate the good times. Once again, I am so humbled by the opportunity given to me to be this year’s College Captain. It has been an honour leading you all and I hope I’ve done each of you proud. Remember that we will always be side by side with joyful pride, Salesians true.”
2020 College Captain