32nd Annual Founders' Day

Founders' Day Speech by Charley Ellwood, College Captain

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of speaking with Mr Alan Rickard, Foundation Chair of the Board. Besides the shared remarks about the glorious weather that day, we began speaking about education and the importance of its continuous development. Now that conversation only lasted a matter of 20 minutes, but it only took that brief moment for me to understand the philosophy on which this College was built. One of dedication, of ambition, and a philosophy centred around service to others.

Good morning Board Chair Mr David Tanner, Board Directors, Principal Ms Joanne Sheehy, staff, parents and students.

I wanted to use this speech as an opportunity to give messages to three groups of people. Messages that I hope encourage reflection of how far we have come as a College but also ignite hope and excitement towards what we look forward to in the future.

And so it got me thinking a little bit deeper, casting my mind back to the Senior Induction in which I gave a speech on the opportunities that lie within risk, a notion that became a fundamental aspect of our vision as outlined in our senior quote, “Be brave, take risks, go for the kaboom.

It is often the case that an organisation is started after countless hours in board rooms and years of consultation, but the establishment of A.B. Paterson College was slightly more homemade. Over a nice dinner in 1989, our Founders discussed with each other the prospect of their children’s education. They wanted a school that celebrates the essence of Australian Heritage. One that was traditional in its Australian values of mateship, resilience and spirit, but revolutionary in the way it designed its curriculum. A school that challenged its students to think critically, to be respectful and supportive of those who gave to them, but above all else to dare the student to be bold in their achievements. And so A.B. Paterson College was born.

Starting any business is always risky and carries with it, innumerable hours of stress and hard work, but starting a school comes with its unique set of difficulties. Ensuring that you provide resources for children to learn in. An environment in which students can flourish, but most importantly, a direction and vision that parents can trust in. Criteria to which this College has passed in flying colours.

Firstly, I say to our parents and friends. The vision of A.B. Paterson College could not have been possible without the help of the amazing community that supported our Founders. These families entrusted in you, dedicated their time and money because they believed in your vision and had faith that you would shape their children into exceptional young people. A culture that was first developed in 1991 but has grown and evolved and still works to this day as we see countless College alumni achieve remarkable accolades. Without your support, the volunteering hours, the early morning drop offs, trusting them during times in which the College has been put to the test, or the picking up of sticks from ovals, our College could not be what it is today.

I say to the students who gather here this morning, the sacrifice of these Founders, more than 30 years ago, and the support from thousands of people, has created a College in which the opportunities offered are unrivalled. The responsibility now lies with you to take advantage of these opportunities. Leaving today’s assembly, I encourage you all to reflect on the vision of our Founders, to appreciate the endless commitment shown since our foundation, and to remain ambitious in all you do, just like our Founders did more than 30 years ago. For our year twelve cohort of 2022, as we continue to work hard on our academic endeavours, I ask that you utilise the incredible community that surrounds you and make it your mission in your last year, to ensure that culture grows. To our younger students, although the journey in front of you may seem long and I assure you that feeling goes away very quickly when you get to my age, I encourage you to explore the endless opportunities that surround you, and relish in an environment in which you can grow.

And finally, I say to our Founders, your vision cannot be described in one word much like the success of our College today cannot be defined by one aspect of excellence. Your refusal to be slowed down in the face of adversity or frightened by the unpredictable path that lay ahead is nothing short of admirable. The students that sit before you today, who are uniquely diverse in their skills and passions but united in their pursuit of excellence, are a testament to your bravery in embarking on this journey. A journey that established a remarkable educational institution yes, but more importantly fostered an environment with excellence, care, and commitment at its core.

The College may look very different to how the Founders ever envisioned it, with world-class facilities surrounding us, and the student population growing each year. But one thing remains constant. The vision of these men and women, and the dedication they showed has created a spirit that is now engrained within the heart of each student that enters our community. They embarked on this journey cognisant of the risks attached, but knew that if they persisted, and with the support of the families who gave so much, they knew they could create something remarkable, and so they have.

A College that was born from an idea shared over dinner with friends. An idea that not only became reality, but has gone onto shape the minds of thousands, instilling an unrelenting drive for excellence, unconditional support and love for community, and most importantly in my opinion, a daring ambition to change the world.

I use words said by Ms Sheehy, who has played her own part in the development of our College. We sit by fires we did not light, in the shade of trees that we did not grow, and everyday we build on the foundations that we did not lay. Thanks to the unconditional devotion of these men and women, we can stand confident and tall, and be given the opportunity to develop our own vision, one that inspires us and dares us to change the world that we live in.

On behalf of the student body, I want to express how eternally grateful we are for all those who have given to our development and continue to support us in all that we do. I wish the happiest of birthdays to our College, to our wider community, and to the ever-evolving environment that remains at the core of all that we do. Happy Birthday A.B.


A.B. Paterson College wishes to recognise and thank the following staff for their dedicated service and contribution to this community:

10 Years' Service Awardees:
Joanna Carter, Ursula Lindeberg, Lucy Littlely, Karen Milburn, Bernelle Sole, Kathryn Sweeney and Elisa Valade

15 Years' Service Awardees:
Christine Braniff, Peter Brookes, Sonya Hayes, Elizabeth Lee, Tennille Mitchell, Cheyne Sandercoe, Robert (John) Thomas, Cheryl Wheeler, Magdalena White and Jaron Yates

20 Years' Service Awardees:
Amanda Alchin, Rachel Newcombe, Melissa Presland and Lucy Silveira-Marquez

25 Years' Service Awardee:
Ric Cashman