Founders Day Speech – Principal, Mr Dale Bennett

Embracing Humble Relationships

Thank you, Reverend Pickering for this opportunity to preach on this important day of celebration and to Ms Stewart and Yasmin for sharing with us the bible readings which guide our thinking today.

Today, we come together in celebration of Founders’ Day, a time when we reflect on the vision, sacrifice, and values that our founders instilled in the very fabric of our school community.

As we commemorate this special occasion, we turn to the wisdom found in Scripture, to explore the virtues of humble relationships. This is a concept that holds immense power and beauty but is often overlooked.

In a world that often encourages self-promotion and individualism, the call to embrace humility in our interactions with others can be challenging, yet it is a virtue that can transform our lives and relationships.

As we heard in the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul writes to the church in Philippi, urging them to embrace the attitude of Christ. He begins by saying, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”

Here, Paul emphasizes the importance of unity and selflessness. He reminds us that our common bond in Christ should lead us to be of one mind, united in love, and compassionate towards one another.

As students, staff and community, we have the incredible opportunity to cultivate a culture of humility within our village. By embracing humble relationships, we can foster and strengthen an environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

Paul continues by presenting the ultimate example of humility – Jesus Christ himself. He writes, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Jesus, the Son of God, willingly set aside His divine privileges and humbled Himself by taking on human form. He embraced a servant’s heart, washing the feet of His disciples and ultimately sacrificing Himself on the cross for our sake.

Jesus taught us that true greatness is not found in power, status, or achievements but in serving others with humility and love.

In Psalm 127, we are reminded that unless the Lord builds the house, our labour is in vain. The psalm highlights the importance of recognizing our reliance on God’s grace and guidance in all aspects of our lives. In the context of relationships, this means surrendering our pride and allowing God to shape and strengthen our interactions with others.

Our Founders recognized the importance of humbly acknowledging our dependence on God, recognizing that our efforts alone are insufficient.

They understood that the success of our school is intricately connected to aligning ourselves with God’s purpose. Laying the foundation of humility upon which we stand.

Our school motto Nisi Dominus Frustra emphasises to us Unless the Lord is with us, our labour is in vain.

Humility is not about thinking less of ourselves, but rather thinking of ourselves less.

It is about considering the needs and interests of others above our own. When we embrace humility, we open our hearts to true connection and understanding.

We begin to see others as equal partners in this journey of life, each with their own unique stories, struggles, and triumphs.

Likewise, we are called to embrace humility by seeking God’s will in all that we do so that we may flourish as a community.

My hope for Grammar is that we continue to be a community where people genuinely care for one another, where everyone is quick to lend a helping hand or offer a word of encouragement.

Such a community is not built on competition and self-promotion but on humble relationships grounded in love and compassion.

So, how can we practically cultivate humble relationships?

First, let’s practice active listening.

When engaging in conversations, truly listen to others without interrupting or thinking about what you will say next. Seek to understand their perspectives and experiences, showing genuine empathy and respect. Meaningful relationships are built on open and honest communication.

Let us cultivate humility by actively listening to one another, seeking to understand different perspectives and experiences.

You are all different.

By fostering an environment where all voices are heard and respected, we cultivate a spirit of unity and cooperation.

Second, let us celebrate the successes of others.

Instead of feeling envious or competitive, using put downs or making others feel worthless let each of you rejoice in the achievements of your peers. Offer words of encouragement and support, knowing that their victories contribute to the well-being of the entire community.

Conflict is inevitable in any community, but how we handle it reveals the depth of our humility. Let us follow the example of our Founders by extending grace and forgiveness when misunderstandings occur.

As we seek reconciliation, we create a culture of humility and restoration, strengthening the bonds within our school community.

Finally, let us draw on our past to inform our future and the importance of service as our purpose at Grammar

It is not lost on me that we are 177 years old today and we have grown from a small boys school to a multi-campus school that educates students from 3 years of age to 18 years old.

It has been a fascinating journey and unfortunately time restricts all that I would like to reflect upon about this great school. But there is one aspect that I will highlight this year.

In 1846, 800 pounds (that’s the equivalent of 15 million dollars today) was raised for the establishment of a Church of England Boys School in Launceston. The funds were raised through the Church in England and Tasmania. And so began our School.

In 1973 the School officially became CoEd. It is wonderful that we are able to acknowledge that 50 year milestone today.

At the time there was no doubt some disquiet and conflicting views and ultimately through humility these differences were reconciled. This decision proved to be perhaps the most important decision to be made since our founding because it changed the way we went about our schooling.

The question of how young people best learn was now, not restricted to a gender, and it opened our eyes to how we cater for different types of learners and thinkers. A far more engaging approach in any classroom.

The significant decision to amalgamate Launceston Church Grammar School with Broadland Church of England Girls Grammar School in 1982 strengthened our commitment to coeducation. Australia’s oldest girls’ school was now a partner and the essence of what it is to be Grammar was strengthened.  An Anglican, coeducational boarding and day school with an ethos of inclusion and purpose to serve.

And when I think of the amalgamation between those two great schools, I wonder what it is that enabled them to come together.

To help me answer that I have a simple story to share.

Helen Sutherland was a visitor to our Junior Campus earlier this year. Helen is a Broadland graduate. After her visit I asked Helen if she would mind sending me a reflection on her time at school.

I have asked Poppy Loanes to share with us what she wrote:

What I took from the School:

It was a privilege to wear the School uniform and to learn the importance of making a good presentation of oneself within society through dress, speech and demeanour if one was to be respected. To achieve one’s goals in life, I learnt from a young age that a good education was inevitable and to make the most of it one needed to study consistently and be flexible and tenacious when faced with set-backs such as health problems.

We were fortunate at Braodland House to have very good teachers and three in particular stand out in my mind. Mrs Hargreave who was very gentle and supportive, Miss Street who could be rather strict at times and, Headmistress Miss Rooney, who I felt, was rather remote. I will enlarge on just two occasions that stand out as particularly significant in teaching me the importance of showing compassion.

When I was in year four of senior school at Broadland House I contracted rheumatic fever and, missed several weeks of schooling during the winter mid-term. At the time there was no heating in the school and, the weather was particularly cold. When I returned to school, my mother bought me a beautiful mohair rug to take to class to keep me warm. One day, I forgot to take it. I was surprised when Miss Street came into the class-room with a lovely warm rug and wrapped it around me. I was very touched, and tears flowed into my eyes. To this day, I have never forgotten the feeling of warmth and caring I experienced from this “one kid act”. I trust I act with compassion whenever I have the  opportunity to “wrap love and kindness” around a person in need and, thus expand “one kind act”  around the world.

When I read the reference Miss Rooney wrote for me dated 19th December, 1957, before the results of the Schools Board Certificate external examination were released, I became quite upset. I thought she expressed little faith in my ability to succeed in passing the exam and was preparing future employers for my failure. After the results were published, I received a beautiful “caring card” from Miss Rooney dated 17th January, 1958, in which she said how pleased she was with my results and wished me all the best for the future. I thought it was a noble act on Miss Rooney’s part for which I was grateful because it helped me to expand my self-confidence. It taught me the importance of humility in acknowledging that one has misjudged a situation and is prepared to, (put in simple terms) “heal a hurt”.

Broadland House provided a very good environment for the fostering of friendships. I am glad to say, friendships I formed with students there are still enhancing my life today. I cherish them greatly, keep in touch and arrange to see them whenever I can.

So what does Helen’s recollection tell us about what enabled two great schools to come together?

It is obvious that both schools valued the importance of student teacher relationships, each valued a culture of care and humility, and each through their Anglican identity emphasised the importance of exemplary service to one another. That as you may remember is core to our purpose.

We are challenged by those who have gone before to purposefully look for opportunities to help and uplift those around you.

Both in school and beyond into our future lives.

Acts of kindness, no matter how small, can have a profound impact on someone’s day.

Remember, even Jesus, the Son of God, came to serve and not to be served.

Good people of Grammar, embracing humble relationships is not always easy, but it is a virtue that can transform our lives and communities.

May the words of the Apostle Paul echo in our hearts: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4).