The Year 12 Graduation is a wonderful experience.

I’ve shared with our Year 12’s many times over the years that I’m both their Principal and concurrently in my private life, a dad. I have three children, my youngest is 22 years of age.

When one of my sons dropped over for tea last night, I asked him what he would have wanted to hear for the Year 12 graduation, knowing what he knows now. All my children have experienced graduating from school.  They are also young enough to remember.

He said I now realise the importance of having goals, knowing that you can achieve things if you choose to. I smiled and said I’d already spoken about goals at the year 12’s last assembly. I had shared wellbeing-related research that had been done with young people their age, at the University of Michigan. Students were invited to identify their goals for the year. The researcher put them into one of two categories, depending on which goal was dominant: ‘Achievement Goals’ and ‘Contribution Goals’. The achievement goals were things like being very popular, getting the highest assignment score, being picked as captain for the team, getting a job with the highest income, or focussing on getting the end of semester prize. Contribution goals were doing things that could help make a difference to others. For example, joining an association or group, becoming active in a service club, engaging in a task that will help someone else’s quality of life.

The researcher measured the student’s health and wellbeing during the academic year, including whether they caught a cold, the number of headaches, missed classes, were elected to teams, got along with their room-mates, felt well or unwell. Academic results were also measured, as well as social factors. On every single measurecontribution goals trumped achievement goals in predicting performance. It’s what the participant’s contributed, more than what they received. In the field of Positive Psychology, it is a known phenomenon that it is better to give than receive. People who contribute to the welfare of others experience higher wellbeing, including better results. The field of Positive Psychology is only approximately 20 years old. Jesus himself said: “It’s better to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). His observation was recorded over 2000 years ago.

The message to our year 12’s

‘If you too want to experience success and wellbeing, look around you. There are men and women supporting your graduation who we can all learn from. Local politicians like Mr Reece Whitby are people with contribution goals. Mr Whitby and others uphold the amenity of their local residents. For board members; current and past; their contribution goal is for our students to experience an excellent education. Mr Trevor Darch heads up the college’s property staff. His contribution goal is for our students to experience a great learning environment. Mrs Scott wants you to know you are unconditionally loved and valued. Mr Scott wants you to be people of integrity. Ms Thomas wants you to experience high aspirations and great results. Mr Trimble is an ex-student, and a widely appreciated prize winning academic. He wants you instinctively aspire to do your best, and Mr Oates has used his Science insights to combine with the College Architect and Mr Darch, to help South Coast BC build arguably the best STEM facility in the state. ALL SCBC staff are typically focussed on contribution goals.

Then there are the people in your life supporting you tonight, who have made sacrifices to put you through South Coast. They have lived an ongoing contribution goal of helping you get to Year 12 and be present here for your graduation. Their success is evident in your presence here this evening. As for the college, we’ve drawn our inspiration from God’s son, a person who is known to have given His life, the ultimate contribution goal, so that we can get to know God in a direct, personal way.

Be rigorous in your approach to life and show compassion to others. Not only will you function well and feel good, but you will also make your community, our community, a God honouring, a better place for us all to enjoy.’