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Last week at the Senior School, we had an outdoor assembly on the Bellarmine Lawns. One of our guests at that assembly was Old Ignatian Olivia Savvas (’13) who has just been elected to the House of Assembly in the SA Parliament.

As one of the youngest members ever to be elected, her achievement is quite remarkable. Olivia’s speech to our students was very generous and affirming and, with her permission, I include extracts from it here.

My name is Olivia Savvas, and it is my great pleasure to be speaking with you all today. Just over two weeks ago I was elected as a state Member of Parliament at the recent election. It is my great privilege to represent 25,000 or so electors in the seat of Newland in the north-eastern suburbs.

I graduated from Saint Ignatius in 2013. It was certainly not too long ago at all that I was sitting in the Dennett Centre as a student at a Senior School Assembly just like you. I recognise the majority of teachers in the audience today, having been taught by some, and having been classmates with others.

I won’t name names, but there are actually teachers here who not only taught me at the College but taught my father here too in the class of 1987. I think it’s incredibly important to ask the question − why are those teachers still working at the same place, and why do so many parents and grandparents, like mine did, continue the tradition of sending their children to a place like Saint Ignatius?

The answer for me is an obvious one − there’s no place quite like it. There are of course other schools with equal academic rigour and extra-curricular success, but in my mind and the minds of many others, hardly anywhere with a heart quite like this one.

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have attended a school like this. My parents were not well off by any stretch of the imagination − and I truly believe that any achievements in my own life have been guided by the privilege of my education.

When I was 17, I made the decision to join a political party. I attended a speech by the former Member for Newland, Tom Kenyon, who was also a graduate of Saint Ignatius. He spoke about his difficult upbringing and the struggles faced by his siblings and his cousins. He felt, despite his circumstances, that he had been given not only a gift, but a heart for service. As a result of that gift, and his skillset, he believed he had an obligation to serve.

I’ve been involved since that night. For me, I was given the privilege of a quality education. I was given drive, and intellect, and attitude, which sometimes gets me places and sometimes doesn’t. We were not well off, but I was given a roof over my head and the stability that one needs, in order to achieve. My cousins, conversely, were taken away from their mother and put into residential care with no foster carer and social workers raising them around the clock.

For me, and for them, that night, I decided that becoming political was not a want, or an interest, but an obligation put on me. Why? Because I could.

Each and every one of you has the ability to do something in your lives, not just for yourself, but for the good of others. You have been given the toolkit to do so − a combination of academics, social skills, faith, and a heart for social justice. To be given that toolkit is a privilege, one I hope you use wisely.

I ask you, in your lives as you progress, to not only acknowledge your privilege to be educated here, but the obligation that comes with that privilege − in whatever field you were destined to succeed in.

Our language at the College refers to character and virtue among other things, and to our students being men and women for others. I think Olivia’s words and actions provide us with a wonderful example of this.

In introducing Olivia last week, I referred to my belief that those who offer themselves as a candidate in politics do so out of a desire to serve the needs of others. As we commence a six-week-long federal election campaign, I hope that a desire to serve, as Olivia articulated so clearly, is not completely lost amongst spin, slogans, and superficiality.

Unrelated to the above, in this last week of the term, Holy Week, I take the opportunity to wish everyone a relaxing and enjoyable term break. There is no doubt that this term has been a challenging one for all.

I express my great thanks to our staff for their work in prioritising the needs of the students in their care and for their support for one another. I also commend and thank our students, and through them our families, for their commitment to their studies and school life.

Our daily student absences across the College peaked at just over 300, and have hovered around 200 for much of the term. This is reflective of what has been happening in SA this year but, when combined with staff absences, it really has been a difficult time.

Having acknowledged this though, events elsewhere in Australia with flooding and overseas with war remind us that we are very blessed and fortunate still.

As we contemplate Easter, I pray that it is a peaceful and restful time for all and that our ‘lessons’ from this term help us to continue to become the people that God calls us to be.

Deo Gloria

Mr Peter Coffey

Photo below: Olivia addressing the assembly audience

OREMUS (Let us pray)

We remember all in our College community. May our prayers comfort those suffering at this time. May God’s blessing be a source of support in their sorrow and loss, and bring courage, patience, and hope.

“Ask and you shall receive … knock and the door will be opened unto you.” (Matt 7:7)

If you would like someone to be remembered by the College community in prayer (even anonymously), please provide details to the Rector, class or Mentor Teacher, or House Leader.

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