Dux from the Class of 2020, Maya Wilmshurst achieved an ATAR of 99.95. Returning to Ruyton in early February, she spoke to the Senior School students at Assembly about life as a Year 12 student and what lessons she learned from the experience. An abridged version of her speech is below.
‘While I’m so grateful and honoured to have the opportunity to stand here on behalf of the Class of 2020, I know that my one voice nowhere near captures the success or knowledge of every single girl in my year level, my one voice doesn’t even come close. Because, even as one very new Old Ruytonian stands here at the start of each year at a lectern speaking about her journey through VCE, every girl who walks out of the gates of Ruyton for the last time at the end of Year 12 has an incredible success story.
Throughout my years of high school, I’ve always been someone who’s quite hard on myself. It’s not just that I wanted to do my best, to score those higher marks and do “well”, it was that I would be upset and angry with myself if I didn’t. Tests in Year 7, assessments in Year 9, and especially SACs and exams in Year 11/12. My first Specialist Maths SAC last year ended in a lot of frustrated tears as I realised pretty much as soon as I’d gotten home, the mistake I’d made on the second last page which cost me the many marks that followed.
Now I’m not saying don’t be disappointed. When we fall short of what we’d hoped, and what we’d put in the work to achieve, it’s hard not to be. We need to be able to, of course, learn from our mistakes, as we’re constantly told by our teachers and parents and memorably Grace Wang last year, but also, and maybe more importantly, we need to be able to forgive ourselves; to recognise that a less than hoped mark on a test or a slower cross-country race doesn't determine our self-worth and should never crush our hopes of doing better in the next test, the next race, of achieving what we want to achieve. Forgive yourself and know that you are capable, no matter what the letter grade is on the page or the time is on the race clock.
Another thing that I think is super important to remember is that you’re surrounded by people who want you to do your best and want to support you to get there. While VCE can feel like a somewhat solitary endeavour at some points - I know that school in general probably felt like that for a lot of us last year - and everyone always talks about it being a competition, a ranking, the showdown between you and the rest of the state, it’s really more of a team sport. The girls sitting next to you right now, and who’ve sat next to you for the past few years, are the team-mates that you can, and should turn to for support and help - trust me when I say that I definitely did. Nothing I did, and nothing I achieved in my last years of high school came down to me alone. If I was able to finish the year proud of what I’d achieved, it was by standing on the shoulders of everyone who supported me throughout. Everyone who finishes VCE at Ruyton is standing on a similar little human pyramid of their own: buoyed up by the support of their friends, family and teachers.
Reach out to the girls sitting beside you and be the person who supports them as they reach for their own goals too.’
Ruyton Girls' School