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A Special Valedictory Tradition at Preshil

On Friday, our Year 12 students will enjoy the Valedictory Dinner, a long-standing tradition here at Preshil. Our Head of Campus (Arlington) recently shared her experience with us.

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On Friday, our Year 12 students will enjoy the Valedictory Dinner, a long-standing tradition here at Preshil. This dinner is gifted to the students, and their teachers, by the School Council, in recognition, and celebration, of the culmination of their school years. Current Council Chair, Emma Zipper, will welcome the attendees this year.


Class of 2020 Valedictory
(Held in April of 2021 when lockdown lifted, albeit briefly)
Kris Austin, former Year 12 Coordinator, shared with the graduates the tradition of getting up on stage to say a few words.

The Kevin Borland Hall will be festooned with bunting, paper chains, flowers, centrepieces and more, created by all the children at Arlington. As these creations come to life, we will talk together about what the Valedictory means, how the graduates won’t be going to Preshil any longer, and how the children of Arlington can look forward to preparing for this special night each year, and look forward to when they are in Year 12. As the Hall is set up with tables and chairs, and the children’s creations, many heads peek in, and excitement builds. Rob will finally turn on the fairy lights, and we’ll all collectively gasp at the beauty. 

The stage curtain designed by the graduates when they were in the Peppercorns (2016/17) will be rehung. This year, the curtain you will see is a patchwork of individual frames, each one depicting something central, and essential, to the child who created it, which will be viewed, on Friday, by the young adults they have become. As Michael Price recalls:

“This night in the Kevin Borland Hall is ‘theirs’, and very much the destination of ‘their’ Preshil journey; a journey that for some, began in the 5s (and possibly earlier in the Kinder), where they gave generously to others and this tradition, and for whom now, the dots are fully joined.”

A Sneak Peek of our Class of 2022 Stage Curtain

For many students, it is the last time they will spend with the teachers who have guided and supported them on their school journey, from Kindergarten through to Year 12, and is an event that places the enduring relationships, which are such a feature of learning at Preshil, at the heart of the night. As in years past, students have invited back teachers who were significant in their journey, and who are no longer at the School. There will be much hugging.

While the night has the gravitas of formality, in true Preshil style, there is a wonderful organic feel to the evening, perhaps because, like all things Preshil, it belongs to the students. Of course, none of the students attending on Friday have been to a Valedictory, and so it is a tradition which is held, and honoured, for them by the long serving staff, and every year it is realised anew in the way each student takes it on.

It is not really a Speech Night, but all students are given an opportunity to speak about their time at Preshil, long or short, and what it has given them. To do so, they don the hat and sit upon the chaise lounge, which is set up in front of the stage curtain. The things they say are uncensored, honest, and shared because they are in their community, amongst their people. Sometimes there are stories of hardships and challenges but they all share the same thread: Preshil was somewhere they felt safe, accepted, seen.

Class of 1988 Valedictory
This may be your Head of Campus, chatting with classmate Stephen Pam. Our fathers both attended Preshil in the 1930s, and we both went ‘right through’ from Kindergarten to Year 12. 

I was lucky to have experienced the Valedictory, back in 1988. I remember the speeches, filled with jokes we shared as a cohort, memories brought to light, and the specialness of being back at Arlington. I remember the gift that was made for me by my buddy in the Peppercorns and the surprise of seeing my friends in suits! But mostly I remember the courage it took to tell my German teacher, Rod, that he was my favourite, and that although I was not a model student, I knew he cared and that meant the world. We are still in touch. 

If I know Preshil, then I know that there will be many moments like this for the graduating class of 2022.

Special thanks to Head of Campus (Arlington), Cressida Batterham-Wilson.

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