To Our Graduates: I Hope You Embrace The Challenges Ahead

Head of School, Sal Gordon

At this time of year, with our senior students fast-approaching their graduation and their next steps into the world as young adults, there is a glow of excitement and positivity in our school community. Of course, we want our graduates to celebrate their achievements as students and to be recognised for their efforts. However, my message to our Graduates has a slightly different theme.

Dear Graduates – I hope you are challenged.

In the immortal words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” We learn most when times are tough. We grow through challenges. We build skills and values when things don’t go our way. We only know who we really are when life isn’t easy. So, Graduates, I hope you have some tough times.

Graduates – I hope there are times when you get lost in a big foreign city. I hope there are times when money is tight. I hope there are times when you are in situations that challenge your values and you stand up for what is right against an ‘angry mob’ – either in person or online. I hope you sit in rooms with people you can’t understand and who can’t understand you. I hope your heart gets broken. I hope your passport gets stolen. I hope you find yourself exhausted and cold halfway up a mountain in some stormy weather. I hope there are times when your body wants to give up as you’re sailing across an ocean. I hope your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. I hope you’re forced to take a job you hate because there’s nothing else going.

2022 Graduates Presenting Their Greenstone

These are some of the experiences and memories that I treasure the most. These challenges have been more impactful than any of my ‘easy wins’.

The path of least resistance tends to lead us away from the risk of failure. We are educated in systems that reward getting it right – and ‘punish’ us when we fail. We are labeled by our success stories, when, in reality, it is what we do with failure that defines who we are. We are never taught to run towards challenges. Unfortunately, we have created cultures of ‘easy existence’ – instant information and communication, online shopping, …..

Let me be clear, dear Graduates – I want you to be safe and I want you to be happy. 

But I don’t hope that your life is easy. 

I hope your lives are full of challenges – where you are tested, where you are out of your comfort-zone, when the road is tough – because these are the moments that you will eventually appreciate the most. These are the times that will provide opportunities for you to reach your potential. And, as you step into challenges and step up your growth, the impact of overcoming these challenges will not only make you stronger, but make the world around you a better place.

Green School Students Planting in the Rice Paddy

In this fast-changing world and your increasingly complex and challenging future, my advice to you is to run towards challenges. Don’t be fearful of failure. Trust your skills and values. The smooth journey and the easy wins won’t help you, or our planet, make the changes we need to make to create a sustainable future. Whether it is personal, cultural, or environmental we are only just realizing the challenges ahead. 

Graduates – please embrace the challenges in your life.