For our Year 12 Veterans, students who have been at Mentone Girls’ Grammar since ELC or Prep, our “school by the bayside” is all they have ever known. Indeed, it was a bittersweet moment when Hannah Gover, Christina Chislett, Audrey Michael, Chania Lobo and Sue-Li Kendrick stepped on stage at the Rose Assembly on Valedictory Day to ring the Prep Bell for the second and final time since 2005.
We know 12+ years is a long commitment, so we asked them about their favourite memories and experiences at Mentone Girls’ Grammar.
1) What is your first memory at Mentone Girls’ Grammar School?
Hannah: I have been part of the Rose Assembly for 15 years and I still vividly remember giving my first rose to a Year 12 girl in Prep. It felt like forever until I’d actually be the girl up there and I honestly didn’t think it would happen, but it did and that in itself is a memory I’ll never forget.
Christina: I generally don’t remember kinder very distinctly, but snippets of my experience in the ELC have stuck with me. I still remember things like the mats we slept on during naptime and that nobody ever seemed to sleep during naptime, the friends I made, the songs we used to sing as a class, and the intense feeling of ruthless ambition to be ‘Star of the Week’ each week.
Audrey: I remember in Prep that we raised Monarch butterflies. We watched them grow from caterpillars, cocoon and then into beautiful butterflies. When my Prep teacher passed away from cancer, we released them into the wild and planted a tree in memory of her.
2) What was your favourite year level?
Sue-Li: My favourite year level was Year 8 because we got more accustomed to being in the Senior School and were able to embrace the opportunities available and find our interests.
Chania: My favourite year was Year 9! I loved all the fun opportunities that we had, such as City Cite and going on camp to China! I liked how the year focussed on being good citizens and gave us opportunities to volunteer and learn new skills.
Audrey: Truthfully, Year 12 was my favourite year level because I think it’s always the year everyone collectively has enough of a grasp on who they are and what they want from their education. It makes learning a smoother and more efficient process because everyone has finally perfected the art of working together to make our school a positive environment.
3) Who were your favourite teachers?
Christina: I think people’s favourite teachers are always the ones who consciously respect the individual potential of each student because people are most willing to learn when they instinctively feel the people guiding them believe in them. I think in the later years I’ve had the most teachers who I felt carried this into their classrooms, like my English and Literature teachers this year and the last: Ms Boyle, Ms Phillips, Mrs Frost and Ms Hanlon. Other teachers I’ve had in earlier years who made an impact on me were Ms Marton, Mrs Banks in Year 2, Mrs Wallace in Year 3, Mr Burch in Year 5 and plenty of others in Senior School, such as Mrs Wiber, Mr Motteram, Mr Bosworth, Ms Jiang, Mr Gasperino, Mr Gleeson and Ms Wearne.
Hannah: I honestly couldn’t choose, I love them all so much but a special mention to Mrs Freney who has been by my side through my high schooling years. She is such a wonderful teacher, always knows how to make me laugh and never fails to be there when I need her most. Mentone Girls’ Grammar is extremely lucky to have such a special teacher and I know the class of 2017 are extremely thankful for all her hard work and support this year.
Sue-Li: One of my favourite teachers was our Junior School Principal, Mr Kenny, as he incorporated laughter and fun into learning and encouraged a supportive and vibrant community.
4) What will you miss about Mentone Girls’ Grammar?
Chania: I will miss the supportive teachers who have always been there for me and helped me. I will also miss the closeness and familiarity of the school and being able to see all my amazing friends every day.
Christina: I will miss the simplicity of school where everyone’s goals are shared and straightforward, making it an environment where friendships blossom easily and freely without effort.
Audrey: I will miss seeing my friends every single day and I will miss going to my classes and creating great memories.
5) What advice would you give to the current Preps who’ll graduate in 2029?
Christina: I think the idea of advice implies there is a right and wrong way to go about things, which would be the opposite of what I’d attempt to convey to them. I think my Prep self-thought there was an objective way to measure what is good and what is bad- a concept that I’ve now learnt to see as misleading and would make everyone’s life purpose redundant. I think I’d tell them that there is nothing that can’t be doubted and that one source of information is never truly more credible than another, so it’s up to you to decide what you see.
Hannah: I would tell the current preps to embrace every single moment they can because your time at Mentone Girls’ Grammar is over before you know it. Take every opportunity you can and make the most of it. Never be scared to seek help, it’s okay to make mistakes and there is no point in aiming for perfection as it’s impossible to achieve, but instead wake up each morning and aim to be the best version of yourself. Most of all, do not give up, stay strong even when times may be hard because I promise you it only gets easier.
Chania: I would encourage them to take all the opportunities that the school gives and participate in all the co-curricular activities such as music and sport. I really enjoyed playing GSV and going on music camp and I encourage them to try all these new things, no matter if they are good at them or not.
6) What are you most excited about for the next chapter in your life?
Audrey: I am excited for being able to do something that I love, which is photography, as well as meet new people and create new experiences and memories.
Sue-Li: I am most excited for is to be able to travel to new places and for the opportunity to study abroad in different countries.
Christina: I’m excited to see who myself the people around me become, and what I might learn from them.
Hannah: I am excited for the change that is heading my way and can’t wait to embrace the big world out there. I also look forward to hopefully learning more about myself and finding my place in this world.
Chania: I’m excited to go to University, meet new people and expand my knowledge.