Thursday, 2 March 2023
Presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Old Andreans Association (OAA) held on 13/02/2023 at St. Andrews Cathedral School.
When Dr Julie McGonigle arrived as our 15th Head of School last year, she wanted everyone to know that “you matter”. There is an inherent value to all of us. At the heart of our alumni association is the idea that the relationships we formed at SACS matter. There’s a power to that in a world where relationships can sometimes feel fleeting or transactional.
When I was in primary school I went to an interview at another private school and I felt like I wasn’t good enough for them (I wasn’t, I didn’t get the place). Then I came to check out St Andrew’s where a man called Mr Crowe showed me around. Here, I felt something different. He cared about me. I mattered to the school. The OAA hopes to continue this feeling of value and connection for all alumni when they graduate.
It’s been great to welcome Dr Julie McGonigle to the school this year. The OAA is thankful for her encouragement. Also, many thanks to Lyn Jarvis and her team for their continued support. It’s been great to welcome Richard Hansen (OA2003) as the School’s Alumni Relations Manager. The support from the School has helped the OAA grow and thrive this past year. Thanks to Alex Lynch (OA2005) who represents Old Andreans on the School Foundation Board and to Ben Waterhouse (OA1999) who is our representative on the School Council.
It has been humbling to continue as President of OAA, and I consider it a joy to continue serving a community that has given me so much.
Working with the OAA Council last year, we continued with our aims: to connect alumni with each other; connect them with the school community; and support current students. After two years where many events were interrupted, several year groups had missed their reunions. The priority for the year was honouring our commitment to hold reunions for all years who missed out during the pandemic. I appreciate the patience of all members who had a longer wait to reunite with peers.
Here are some of our accomplishments from 2022:
• We held our one (2020) and five-year (2017) reunions at venues near Town Hall early in the year. Then, over six weeks, we held the three 10-year reunions (2010, 2011, 2012) at the School. Later, we held a reunion for three cohorts (2000, 2001, 2002) celebrating 20 years since graduation. We also held a 50-year (1971) reunion upon request in Chapter House. Having our 10 and 20-year reunions at the School gave graduates a chance to explore the changes and constants at the place where their friendships were forged.
• For the Old Andreans not experiencing a reunion, there were other opportunities for alumni to connect. There was a community night at the SACS musical, Annie for those involved in past productions. To help welcome the new Head of School, there was a Showcase pre-drinks event for alumni and Hessians (parents of Old Andreans). Many graduates across generations came to the Alumni and Archive Day, where Chapter House was transformed into a pop-up museum.
• Graduates gave back to the School in many ways. This included the judging of SACS Factor and speaking at events such as the Leadership Lunch for the newly commissioned student leaders.
• We welcomed 170 new Old Andreans into the community at Valedictory. Welcome aboard!
Looking ahead, 2023 promises another exciting year:
• We are due to run our fourth biennial Learning the Ropes: in conversation with career professionals, where industry alumni share their experiences with current senior students. The evening meets all our key aims by giving back to our school, connecting former and current students as well as allowing alumni to network.
• We are planning to hold the one-year, five-year, 10-year, 20-year, and other reunions.
• We will look to other initiatives we can start up or bring back. This could include engagement breakfasts, sport days, Choir Sunday, and chaplaincy events. Depending on the priorities and creativity of the new council, hopefully some of these (or other ideas) can be implemented.
It would not have been possible for this association to continue to grow without the creativity and collaboration of the OAA council. I appreciate their dedication as these volunteers managed other commitments in their own lives. Each member brought their own perspective, passion and gifts, but were united in their love for the community. Without each of them, the association would not have had our success. I thank them all for teaching me so much.
I cannot think of someone who has made as much of an impact on the OAA as Lynley Hurst (OA2013). Over the years she has served as Vice President, Secretary and Councillor. She has displayed a thoughtfulness in everything she has done and helped the Council become more organised, accountable and transparent. Her patience and generosity have been a tremendous encouragement to me. It’s no surprise she was in Canterbury. From taking meeting minutes to speaking in front of alumni and students, it’s been such a joy to see her grow over the years. She has made all on the Council better at what they do. As she leaves the Council, I thank her so much for her service and for helping lay a strong foundation on which we can continue to build.
When I started as President it was so encouraging to have the previous President, Mika Rosewarne (OA2016), stay on the OAA Council and offer support as I adjusted to the role. I thank her so much for everything she has taught me to make me a better President. She has worked on the Council with unwavering love for our community. The last couple of years she has served as Treasurer and ensured we have remained a financially viable association. Her management and diligence have served us well and allowed us to continue to grow. As she leaves the Council, I thank her for the enthusiasm and humility she brought to the Association. And for making sure our community stayed ‘SACSy’ (a vision she shared with me when we met).
Kathleen Thomas (OA2018) has served as Vice President for two years. Over that time, she has overseen reunion efforts, helped foster comradery in the Council and served wherever needed. She has displayed so much care for the people in this community. I have greatly appreciated her humour and honesty. As she steps down from the role of Vice-President, I offer my sincerest thanks. It has been a pleasure to lead alongside her and she has made me a better president. I am so glad she will be staying on the Council this year.
Allie Ghattas (OA2017) stepped into the role of secretary this year and took on the role with gusto. Her attention to detail and organisational efforts were a huge asset to the Association. She also offered support at reunions which was very much appreciated.
Chris Turner (OA2009) continued to serve as Public Officer. He remained such an important part of our Council making sure we met legal obligations and providing guidance on constitutional matters. I thank him for all he has done.
I would like to thank Layla Harris (OA2019) for continuing on the Council this year with grace and thoughtfulness. And it was so exciting to see Jack Toohey (OA2010) return to the Council with his passion and creativity. I thank both for all they have given.
I would like to particularly thank Andrei Cheng (OA2017) and Margaux Thwaites (OA2017), who are not staying on the council this year. Andrei’s positive attitude and service will be greatly missed. Margaux’s creativity and care will be a huge loss. Seeing them both come on the Council and contribute with fresh ideas and discernment has been so cool to see and help grow our Association. I thank them both for their service.
I also want to thank all our members who contributed to the life of the OAA this year. From those that came to an event to those that just reached out to an old mate from school.
The lives of those who make up our alumni community have had a year marked by both celebrations and tragedy. At our best we can encourage each other in the good times and support each other through the difficult ones. Because when the OAA embodies “the way of the cross”, we are a community where we all matter.
Matt Noble (OA2005)