Old customs and new traditions - Founders' Day

Posted 9 May 2019 12:30pm

As we move towards our centenary year, we find ourselves looking back to our history more than ever. Founders’ Day festivities this year took on a new sense of importance as we honoured old customs and created new traditions.

On Saturday we welcomed over 100 Grammarians back to the School. The Reverend Dr David Willsher started the day with a Mother Emily-focused Chapel service and the beautiful voices of The Gabriel Singers. The service concluded with an enthusiastic rendition of Jerusalem with Grammarians showing great pride in their School hymn. We were particularly delighted to welcome Dawn Waterhouse (Calthorpe, 1940 and her daughter Dr Jill Waterhouse (1962) who documented the history of our school in her book, The Light in the Bush.

Tours of the Senior School campus (ably led by Year 10 Boarders Abbey-Mae Byles, Emma Nason and Aisha Elsarrag along with staff members David Blue and Sally Wagnon (Maidens, 1991).  The guides certainly had their hands full with very excited groups of past students as they reminisced about the past and marvelled at the facilities our students enjoy today.

Grammarians then gathered in the Hall for lunch and had an opportunity to further muse over days gone by as they admired the collection of memorabilia our Archivist, Amalta Sahay, had painstakingly pulled together especially for the event. Principal Anna Owen spoke about our respect for the traditions of the school, respect for the people who have defined the school and our excitement for the future direction.  A particular highlight at the end of the lunch were the breathtaking performances by Year 12 students Annabel Mulcahy, Noa Zwikael and Grace Carter as they shared some songs from WICKED. During lunch, Grammarians celebrating 50, 60 and 70 year reunions were presented with a special badge.

This year we had the privilege of honouring Pam Yonge (Eddison) who graduated in 1939.  This was the first time we have presented a Grammarian with a badge to commemorate 80 years since graduation. While Pam was unable to visit the School for the official reunion gathering, Anna Owen, President of the Grammarians’ Association - Sanchia Glaskin and Alumni and Events Manager - Rebecca Turner met with Pam and her two nieces, Wendy (Prance, 1957) and Penny last Wednesday to present Pam with her badge, flowers, cards from students and a present.

Monday morning started with our inaugural Generations Breakfast at Yhuuramulum where we welcomed Grammarian mothers and grandmothers along with their children who are students at CGGS. Family and community are one of the values on which our school is built, so seeing three generations of Grammarians sharing breakfast together was a wonderful celebration of our School and all that we stand for. Thank you to all the families who attended and took the opportunity to compare stories of motherhood, sisterhood and life as a ‘Grammar Girl’.

Meanwhile, students were readying themselves for the annual Founders’ Day assemblies – a joyful and reflective occasion where we consider how far we have come since Mother Emily and the Sisters of the Church set out on a mission to bring their gift of education to Canberra. Our Emily Captain, Yiping Yu (Year 12) told both Senior and Junior School students about her role within the school and highlighted the similarities between her and Mother Emily. Our guest speak, Grammarian Sue Hart (Grant, 1972) spoke of her winding path from graduation to where she is now and encouraged all students, both Senior and Junior, to be kind, be brave and daring, aim high, dream high and live a life well lived.

Following the respective assemblies, students gathered to share currant buns – a new tradition based on an old custom which you can read more about on page 3 of the most recent Grammar Report. We trust this ritual will be something our students look forward to each year as we continue to celebrate Founders’ Day. Our youngest students in the ELC also took part in this new tradition and took in a short history lesson with Mrs Kate Columbine, Director of Junior School (ELC) and she recounted the story of the Sisters and currant buns.

Finally, a small group of dedicated Grammarians gather in the Visitors’ Sitting Room in the Boarding House where they shared cups of tea and plenty of memories.

Thank you to everybody who shared in the experience of our Founders’ Day events this year. In particular we are grateful to the following members of the Grammarians’ Association Committee who took the time to celebrate with us: Margaret Cornwell (1951), Sanchia Glaskin (1965), Liz Mulcahy (1981) and Sophia Notaras (1961). It is also wonderful to have the support of the School Board at these events, especially, Mrs Belinda Moss who took the time to attend most of the events across the two days.

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