My first day at Girls Grammar was different from anything I have ever experienced. Within ten minutes of entering the school I had not only been introduced to my entire cohort and both English teachers, and had the amazing realisation that everyone had name badges so it was impossible for me to get their names confused, but also been told that I was pretty and literally dragged into the group of friends I still had when I graduated. I was the only new student that day and felt like a shiny new toy in the best way possible.
By my second day, I thought I had everything sorted, except it was sports day; the one day when nobody wears a name badge. Determined not to let anyone realise that I’d forgotten all their names, I stuck to the one person whose name I could remember and somehow, despite being outwardly against any form of sport, ended up in every single event. As I sprinted the end of the 1500 m (despite being anti-athletic I was still fiercely competitive), I experienced the moment which summarised Girls Grammar for me; despite having not so much as spoken to any of the other year levels, they had all learnt my name and cheered me to the finish line. That was the moment when I knew I was home.
Before being at Girls Grammar, I had been at a school with an entirely different approach to learning. Despite having been one of the brightest students, and multiple complaints being made, I had been told to bring a book to class in lieu of doing any form of extension work. Conversely, within two weeks at Girls Grammar, despite having joined in Term two, I was boosted up a full grade in Mathematics and offered extension texts in English. The teachers never drew attention to this, most of my Year level never even knew, but for the first time in my schooling life I felt that the teachers were teaching me, rather than merely teaching a group of faceless students.
By the time I reached Year eleven, I had almost forgotten the girl I had been before. Instead, I felt valued and confident and, most importantly, like I was worthy of whatever I got. That might not sound like something world changing, but for a person who had previously been belittled by teachers and led to believe that she wasn’t smart enough, it changed my outlook on life.
I graduated Girls Grammar as the Dux of the school and the top or equal top student in five of my six subjects and as one of two OP 1 students and I owe that in no small part to the passion and determination of my teachers, but that is not what I feel I graduated with. I graduated as someone who had previously been terrified of public speaking but this year stood up in front of all Year 11 and 12 students to compete in the Valedictorian competition. I graduated as someone who had once considered herself unworthy of authority, but stood for and was awarded a Prefect role and loved every minute of it. I graduated as someone who used to come home every day angry or upset but who hadn’t had a truly bad day since 2011. So, thank you Girls Grammar, not just for helping me to reach my academic goals but also for allowing me to change from who I was into who I wanted to be.