From the Head of Senior School

Year 12 Graduation

Last Sunday was our Year 12 Graduation Service at Costa Hall and it was a tremendous afternoon. Our guest speaker was Jon Hoevenaars, an Old Collegian and a man of deep faith. His message was inspiring and I have included his speech below:


Thank you, Graeme. And thank you all for welcoming me to share in this special occasion.

“All the way through school I planned to go into the Arts, but I ended up going into Science; this was after ripping up my textbook after my last Science class in Year 10.” - Praia, Class of 2007.

“I left university early, didn't finish my degree, which at the time seemed like a big deal. I left in order to work, in order to get married. But I realised the path I had set out didn't necessarily pay the bills.” - Jonathan, Class of 2003.

“I had fear of letting down friends and family from not achieving my goals, fear of not enjoying life without achieving my Music goals, fear of the 'what-ifs' thrown up by changing career, fear of being lost in life.” - Nathan, Class of 2005.

“I worried that administration didn't feel like it would be much of a ‘career’ in comparison to teaching or nursing.” - Teagan, Class of 2004

“I wanted to be a performer or a conductor. And it was totally terrifying to realise that wasn't what I wanted to do after all. It felt like I didn't know who I was anymore, and I had to figure out my identity all over again.” - Elizabeth, Class of 2007.

“I was constantly questioning myself with every decision, ‘Is this what I want to do?’.” - John, Class of 2002.

These are the reflections of former students of Christian College, whose lives didn’t turn out the way they’d originally planned, who have worried about their futures, who have doubted their decisions, who have feared failure, who have even questioned their identities.

And I’ve been there too. I know it didn’t come across in the bio that Graeme read earlier. But the reality is that the past 13 years of my life have taught me many hard lessons: about success and failure, about relationships, and about my identity. Sometimes it’s painful to look back on past experiences. But as Rick Warren writes in his book 'The Purpose Driven Life', “We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”

Thirteen years ago, I was a 17-year-old walking across this stage here to receive my graduation certificate. I was excited, but I was also worried about a lot of things: my VCE results; what I’d be studying; moving to Melbourne; where I’d be living; making new friends. I had made the mistake of placing my destiny ahead of my identity; I’d been so caught up in the question of “What will I do?” that I’d forgotten to consider the “who am I?”.

You know when you’re at a party or something and you meet someone you probably won’t meet again but you make conversation anyway? If you’re anything like me, it usually goes like this: 

Hi. Nice to meet you. My name’s Jon.” 

Nice to meet you, too. So, Jon... What do you do?”

Maybe you haven’t been asked this much before, but it must be one of the most common questions adults ask each other on first meeting: “What do you do?” As author Joshua Millburn writes, "What we’re actually asking is: How do you earn a pay check? How much money do you make? What is your socioeconomic status? And based on that status, where do I fall on the ladder compared to you? How should I judge you? Are you worth my time?”

I recently heard a talk from Ken Costa, the former chairman of one of the world’s largest investment banks. He says that identity comes before destiny: “So often we try to skip the first to end up with the second. We talk about our jobs in a functionally defining way, as if to say, 'This is my destiny and my identity rolled into one. But that is a mistake'.”

And it’s a mistake I’ve made many times in a number of different ways. Like the time in 2011 where I was feeling flat about my career as a sports reporter. The previous year, 2010, had been a great for me. I’d covered some big news stories and I’d been given some incredible opportunities. My highlight was being called up as match-day reporter for the AFL Grand Final replay. I couldn’t believe I was standing on the MCG interviewing the competing coaches as the teams ran out and then being in the rooms after the game.

But within 12 months, the opportunities were drying up. I had by this stage also accepted a part-time job in music and media at my church, and I felt like my media career was stagnating. I’d been overlooked for awards I’d hoped to win, and there were some younger reporters coming through who seemed more talented and more driven than I was. I recall telling some close friends about the fact I didn’t feel so important or worthwhile anymore.

Or, like the time I had a confronting revelation about how I idolised the approval of others - specifically, female others. One evening, after realising that a certain relationship wasn’t going the way I’d hoped, it dawned on me: I’d been investing virtually all of my emotional energy into winning people’s approval, and I had nothing to show for it. I remember flicking through my contacts trying to find someone who I could call to make me feel better, but I couldn’t find anyone. So I walked to my mates’ house a couple of blocks away and knocked on the door. My mate took one look at me and knew something was wrong, so he invited me in for a beer. We spent the next hour or so talking - mainly me downloading everything I’d just realised about myself. That was when I coined the term ‘approval addiction’.

In both of these instances, I had let external factors govern my identity. My self-worth was being determined by how many points I had on the board in regards to achievement and popularity. Well, maybe these aren’t issues for you. But consider for yourself: what defines your sense of identity? Is it your academic ability, your sporting prowess or your artistic talent? Is it the approval of your peers or your relationship to another person - a partner or spouse? Or maybe it’s your body image, your physical or mental health. There are many things that try to hijack our identity and we must be alert to them and call them out.

So where does our true identity come from? The Bible has a lot to say about this topic. It says that we are all created in the image of God. It says that if we accept Christ as our Saviour and Master, he makes us his children, with all of the privileges associated with that relationship. The Bible says if we accept Jesus, he will “set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts”.

So what does this mean for me? Does it mean that I no longer struggle with ‘approval addiction’ or kicking goals in my career? I think those will always be temptations for me. But what it means is that I no longer accept any image of myself that is not from God. I refuse to be defined by anything else: my emotions; my circumstances; my relationships; the opinions of others; my career, my income or my possessions. I am defined only by God because I believe he created me and I belong to him.

Rick Warren says: “If you don’t know who you are, then you’re vulnerable to other people telling you who you are. But the concrete, solid, gospel truth is that you are who God says you are, and no one else has a vote in the matter.” And this is who God says we are: we are made in his image and loved by Him.

Our society says that we are what we do. We start with a fantasy and then we work backwards to get there: We say, ‘I want to be such and such, so I’m going to do this and surround myself with this type of person’. Sure enough, those things replace our identity. And then if the dream doesn’t work out, we have nothing sturdy to fall back on.

In the words of Dr Wayne Dyer, “I am a human being, not a human doing. Don’t equate your self-worth with how well you do things in life. You aren’t what you do. If you are what you do, then when you don’t, you aren’t.”

If we start by embracing our God-given identity, it relieves us of the pressure to be someone we’re not. We can invest in healthy relationships, and we are free to do what we’re made to do, rather than what the world tells us we should do. Instead of the endless pursuit of physical beauty, material wealth and popularity, we can be content with our lives and secure in our true identity. Remember the former students, whose reflections I shared earlier? Here’s what else they said.

“I did a complete 180 basically overnight and have never regretted anything.” - Priya, Ecologist.

“You end up asking the question, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ but you realise it actually matures you. It helps you sort out your identity, which is not dependent on your title, but on who you are as a person.” - Jonathan, Financial Advisor.

“Fear brings about opportunity and a chance for personal growth and improvement, there is more than one right route in life, respect the moment and enjoy all the small things and don't sweat the big picture.” - Nathan, Farm Manager.

“I found, though, that there are a lot of pathways and options out there once you are experienced in a particular role.” - Teagan, HR Administrator and Mum.

“I learnt how to be me without having my career as my identity… Fortunately somewhere in there, I realised that actually God calls me to glorify him in all I do, which also means I can do whatever! So I don't feel the same stress about making the ‘right’ decision.” - Elizabeth, Teacher.

“The thought that in Year 10 that you have to make up your mind about what you want to do for the rest of your life is just ridiculous. I had support for every decision I made.” - John, Plumber.

That night when it dawned on me that I’d been striving for people’s approval, God spoke to me through the Bible. I spent the rest of the evening being reminded, page after page, of God’s incredible grace towards me expressed most fully in the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross.

One of the things I read was from the book Ephesians - a letter written by the Apostle Paul to first-century Christians to help them understand God’s purpose for them:

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

So, as you prepare to face the future unknown, remember: identity before destiny. And hear these encouraging words from Ken Costa that you can hang your hat on:

“Doubtless, we will all fail at something at some point in our lives. But we will never be failures. For that to happen, Christ within us would have to fail. And he won’t . What makes it so difficult is when we feel as if we keep on failing. American inventor Thomas Edison, faced with this frustration, asserted that he had not failed. Instead, he said, “I know several thousand ways that won’t work!” There’s a lesson for us here. Don’t linger on the inevitable failures. Do learn, but don’t look back, and certainly not in anger. Move on in confidence that you have God by your side.”

The award winners on Graduation Night were:


Accounting – Tiger Yang

Biology –  Sophie Chapman

Chemistry –   Cameron Chandler

Drama – Casey Reid

English – Cameron Chandler

Food Studies – Cian Foster

Further Mathematics – Tiger Yang

Geography – Fletcher Scott

Global Politics – Lily Di Sciascio

Health and Human Development – Cathy De Rosso

History: Revolutions – Amelia Lowe

Indonesian – Michael Little

I.T. Software Development – Charles Taylor

Japanese – Jaida Brunt

Legal Studies – Jaida Brunt

Literature – Fletcher Scott

Mathematical Methods – Cameron Chandler

Media – Lily Di Sciascio

Music Industry – Madelyn Horne

Music Investigations – Casey Reid

Music Performance – Riley Doran

Outdoor and Environmental Studies – Cian Foster

Physics – Cameron Chandler

Product Design and Technology – Materials – Aaron Fitzpatrick

Psychology – James Schwab

Religion – Fletcher Scott

Specialist Mathematics – Lachlan Gawley-Price

Studio Arts – Fletcher Scott

Systems Engineering – James Hurren

Visual Communication & Design – Sarah Ponsford

Year 12 VCAL Award – Gabrielle Barnes


Senior School Presentation Afternoon

Last Wednesday afternoon, Senior School held its Presentation Afternoon at Costa Hall where our 2018 College Captains were announced. They are Caelli Wood and Jude Cudmore. They both presented outstanding speeches outlining plans for 2018 as well as expressing their own values and morals. It will be an exciting time next year under the leadership of these two fine young people.

It was also an opportunity to farewell staff. Holly Randall is to leave us after two years as the Outdoor Education Assistant. She is to live in Tasmania and we wish her all the best for the future. Deb Hunniford is to leave to undertake a range of interests. One is to work in Cambodia. Deb has taught VCAL and English and has inspired many students. Her abilities are many and we wish her all the best for the future.

Greg Hawkins is retiring after 23 years of loyal service to our College - a teacher of Psychology who has also been a loyal member of Flynn House. Greg has taught at the highest level for all of those 23 years and we have been blessed to have him on staff. There have been so many students who have gone on with Psychology because of Greg’s teaching.

We wish him all the best in retirement and thank him for all of his work for our College.

Those who were presented with an award at Presentation Afternoon were:


Alyssa Jones – Year 10, 2017 and Mia Godwill – Year 12, 2017


Megan Heathcote – Year 11, 2017


Sophie De Rosso  – Year 10, 2017


Hayden Jeffries – Year 11, 2017


Charlie Dent – Year 11, 2017


Sarah Aquilina – Year 10 2017


Outstanding Sportswoman – Montana Jones

Outstanding Sportsman – Declan Hargreaves

Pierre de Coubertin Award – Tess Kirsopp-Cole

Outstanding Musician – Casey Reid

Outstanding Ensemble Participation – Cameron Chandler

Musical Production Award – Jack McPhail




Cathy De Rosso – Year 12, 2017



Merryn Hall – Year 12, 2017



Jackson Nelson – Year 12, 2017



Rosie Murphy – Year 12, 2016



Owen Barrett - Year 11, 2017



Eve Gower - Year 11, 2017



Briella Egberts and Cameron Chandler – Year 12, 2017



DUX OF YEAR 10 - Tess O’Neil – Year 10, 2017


7 Units – Teresa Madden and Peter Gill

8 Units – Sarah Aquilina, Kara Doig, Clare Jarecki and Kaylee Jones

9 Units – Matilda Ford and Jack Gray

11 Units – India Smith and Xavier Dickenson

13 Units – Tess O’Neil


6 Units – Claire Hewett, Taylor Morrison and Jane Simpson

7 Units – Tea Vanderstadt

10 Units – Zachary Devonish



Unit 3 & 4 Australian History – Jude Cudmore

Unit 3 & 4 Business Management – James Dat

Unit 3 & 4 Physical Education – Benjamin Lunt


6 Units – Sarah Jones

7 Units - Ruby Schaap and Tianne Zhang

8 Units – Owen Barrett and Benjamin Lunt

Year 11 VCAL Award – Hannah Wood


5 Units – Larissa Dixon, Lillyan Higgerson, Phoebe Howard, James Jirik and Rachel Webb

6 Units – Gabrielle Nitchie and Ruby Schaap

7 Units – Benjamin Lunt

Year 11 VCAL Endeavour – Ivan Botha




7 Units – Alexandra Caldow

8 Units – Cameron Chandler, Lily Di Sciascio, Lachlan Gawley-Price and Fletcher Scott


5 Units – Georgina Burchett, Jack Richards, Charles Taylor and Amber Thompson

6 Units – Tess Kirsopp-Cole

7 Units – Madeline Vines

Year 12 VCAL Endeavour – Tori Goulter




House Service – Riley Doran, Connor Firth, Isabel Hackett and Caelli Wood

House Medallion – Cian Foster, Merryn Hall, James Hurren, Sophie Manson and Nicole Mayes


House Service – Benjamin Lunt, Tayla Robinson, India Smith and Isabella Wakefield

House Medallion – Cameron Chandler, Nicholas Jordan-Hill, Tess Kirsopp-Cole, Christopher Lever, Amelia Lowe, Emily Moroney, Sarah Ponsford and Casey Reid


House Service – Charles Dent, Mia Godwill, Holly Peacock and Briely Wight

House Medallion – Sarah Arstall, Sarah Bastiaan, Joshua Crapper, Mia Godwill, Ronen Jafari, Harrison Mohr, Caleb Rock, Georgia Ryan and Alister Wight


House Service – Georgia Cambria, Bridgette Egberts, Phoebe Howard and Sarah Martin

House Medallion – Brydon Barnett, Lachlan Gawley-Price, Georgia Gordon, Declan Hargreaves, Nicholas James, Montana Jones, Michael Little and Jackson Nelson

DC Riddle Cup Winnners for 2017 are Flynn House



Mr Graeme Dent

Head of Senior School - Waurn Ponds


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