Senior College Graduation Dinner 2019

December 02, 2019 at 4:15 PM

As their final year of schooling drew to a close, our Year 13 students gathered for one last time with parents, staff and invited guests at the Year 13 Graduation Chapel and Dinner, to mark the end of their time at Saint Kentigern, as they prepare to move on to life beyond the College gates

With a record 820 attendance, Reverend Smith’s service was held in Elliot Hall, with every seat taken. While guests filed in, photos streamed on the big screen - a reflection of a final year well spent in the company of friends, playing, performing and achieving.

Year 13 student, Christina Middelbeek-Harrison, was called on to open the service in song with When we were Young’ (Adele). A little later, fellow Year 13 student, Venice Qin followed to sing ‘Amazing Grace,’ with Christina finishing the service with the sung blessing. Both these girls have powerful voices and have regularly contributed to Chapel over the years - the congregation was clearly moved. Head Boy, Ben Shepherd gave the final Bible reading for the year.

The recurring theme throughout the night was that of our Vision Statement, that our ‘Graduates will Serve and Lead with Distinction.’ Reverend Smith asked, ‘What might this look like?’ He said, ‘To ‘Serve and Lead with Distinction’ involves humility and empathy and the recognition of the place of others in our lives. It entails the need to treat others with the same respect and dignity that we would expect ourselves. It involves the rolling up of one’s sleeves and the understanding that the fulfilling of our responsibilities always comes before the assertion of any rights. And it requires a willingness to keep ‘listening to’ and ‘learning from’ - even from those whom we lead.’

The culmination of the students’ secondary education was recognised with the presentation of their diplomas by Senior College Principal, Mrs Suzanne Winthrop, Chairman of the Trust Board, Mr John Kernohan, and Head of Saint Kentigern, Mr David Hodge. As the students crossed the stage, proud parents looked on, undoubtedly wondering where the years had gone! The guests were then piped to the Sports Centre for dinner - the last time for a while that the students will hear the sound so synonymous with Saint Kentigern.

The Sports Centre had been amazingly transformed by the Parents and Friends with a mass of balloons in House colours. Deputy Head Prefects, Molly Saker and Beck Robson did a sterling job as MCs for the evening, keeping everything moving, as well as offering anecdotal insights into the strong bonds between this cohort. Before dinner was served, the Grace was offered by Jonathan Twyman.

At each Senior College assembly throughout the year, the prefects take it in turns to share their ‘Last Word.’ Sam Clarke’s was saved for the Graduation Dinner and was a powerful reminder of the importance Saint Kentigern places on the value of service to others. Sam said, ‘It is the duty of those of us who have the most, to help those who have the least.’

Head Prefects, Ben Shepherd and Alex Hynds also spoke one last time. Above all, there was an air of gratitude as they offered thanks to their parents, teachers, tutors and other mentors within the College. But their final words were left for Senior College Principal, Mrs Suzanne Winthrop, to acknowledge her service and commitment as she prepares to leave Saint Kentigern.  They said, ‘Mrs Winthrop has been a truly inspiring leader in our College community, since beginning here in 2002. She epitomises what it means to live by the ‘Saint Kentigern Way.’ Her selfless commitment, undying dedication and love of Saint Kentigern has provided us all with opportunities for which we can be thankful for. Mrs Winthrop was the first female leader of Saint Kentigern, and part of her role when she began at Saint Kentigern was to assist with the transformation into a co-ed school. She has been a very empowering female leader.  We are all deeply saddened by her departure from the College, but wish her all the best for the future.’ Mrs Winthrop was given a standing ovation.

Mrs Winthrop thanked the parents for believing in Saint Kentigern and entrusting their children to our teaching and care.  She told the students to remember the fortunate grounding they had been given and encouraged them to give back by serving others.  ‘Many of you will become leaders in various spheres of influence in NZ and overseas.  Be strong, compassionate, humble and grounded people who lead as examples of excellence.’ She left them with the quote, ‘You only have one life, make it a life that counts.’

The sentiments expressed throughout the night of thankfulness, friendship and pride in having attended the ‘world of opportunity’ that Saint Kentigern offers, confirmed that these students will go on to great things. We wish them well in their future endeavours and thank them for everything they have done to extend the Saint Kentigern legacy.

‘God, as a hugely significant journey ends, a new road beckons.’
Rev David Smith

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