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Year 13 Speech Day: Wellington says goodbye and good luck

07 June 2017
With a great deal of celebration tinged with a little bit of sadness, Wellington said farewell to its first ever group of year 13 leavers during their assembly on Thursday 25th May. The ceremony allowed the leavers’ parents, teachers and younger peers to come together and look back on their time at Wellington with pride, while at the same time happily looking forward to their bright futures. As the occasion was the first of its kind at Wellington College International Shanghai, Mr MacMahon made the point that this year group were vital in helping the College form a clearer sense of itself during its early years: “It’s natural that a school should shape and inform the identity of its pupils, but due to the relative newness of the College as well as the unique and admirable personalities of our first set of year 13 pupils, they have actually helped shape and inform the school’s identity in turn. For that, we are extremely proud and grateful.” Elisa Dalle Piagge also made her final address as head of college. Her speech was thought-provoking yet also humorous, as she emphasised the extremely tightly-knit nature of this first year 13 group. One of the perks of being such a relatively small year group is that Elisa was able to make a short but special mention about each and every one of her twelve peers. She complimented their perseverance, honesty, kindness and innate talents in various subjects, before wishing each of them well in their future studies and careers: “All that remains is for me to wish every one of my fellow pupils the very best of luck with all of their future endeavours and to thank all of the College staff members who have helped us get to this moment.” In his role as head of sixth form, Dr Jacobi also made an address to the leavers; reflecting on their time at Wellington, congratulating them on their achievements and finally advising them to take a moment to appreciate that they that were no longer schoolchildren, but adults: “As adults, you will be free to do more but, quid pro quo, more will be expected of you. You should want to leave school, not because you haven’t enjoyed your time here, but because you are eager to go out and meet the new set of challenges, goals and ambitions that will mark the next stage of your adult lives. However, we hope that when you look back on your time at Wellington, it will be with fondness and appreciation.” As well as the sound advice and formal speeches, Ms Prescott, Mr Shaw and Mr Hayward-Bradley lightened the atmosphere by performing a short and charmingly funny skit. Mrs Mulliner also added a lovely moment of poignancy by singing Dido’s Lament, ably accompanied by Mr Mulliner on piano and several pupils on strings. The leavers’ assembly was concluded with a ‘passing out’ ceremony. This tradition dates back to the foundation of Wellington College in the UK and its connection to the Royal Military Academy of Sandhurst. For the first time at Wellington College International Shanghai, the year 13 leavers marked their transition from being Wellingtonians to becoming Old Wellingtonians, from schoolchildren to adults, by individually leaving the stage with a brief salute of acknowledgement to the College’s Master, thus officially concluding their time as Wellington pupils. With the assembly’s closing, the year 13 leavers then hosted an informal and light-hearted drinks reception for their parents and teachers in the Wellesley courtyard. After swapping stories, raising toasts, accepting many congratulations and posing for celebratory photos, the reception ended and the College’s first year of Old Wellingtonians were well and truly finished with their secondary education. Later that evening, the year 13s enjoyed a leavers’ dinner at POP where they were able to celebrate in style one last time as a year group. To echo the sentiments of both the College’s Master and its head of college, all that remains is to congratulate all of the year 13 leavers for their many achievements and wish them well with their forthcoming exam results, university studies and everything that follows. We will miss them hugely but no doubt we will see our original Old Wellingtonians again.