St Mary's School

St Mary’s School Prize Giving 2022: Speech by Maya, Mary Ward Girl 2021

Hi, St. Mary’s! I hope you’re all doing well – it’s great to see you again. For those who don’t know who I am, I am Maya, the Mary Ward girl of 2021.

To be honest, the prospect of writing this speech and reading it out in front of the entirety of upper school gave me a bit of a fright. But, the more I began to think about it, the more I remembered: my friends, the teachers, the memories and the personal growth.

The first thing that came to my mind was the great friendships I have sustained throughout the years at St. Mary’s and beyond.

When I began in Pre-Nursery, just short of my third birthday, I could only speak Spanish and Turkish, which made it very difficult for me to communicate with others. One of the girls in my class, Blanca, took me by surprise when she came and introduced herself fluently in Spanish. Consequently, this occurrence led us to become inseparable friends and slowly helped us to make other friends.

Not only has St. Mary’s given me many friends, but it has also taught me how to treat them and appreciate them. I use the St. Mary’s Way everywhere and with everybody I can. “Treat others as you would like to be treated” and “Listening to others” are two of the ways I like to use with everybody I interact with. This has helped me to make new friends and build on my current friendships. These ways that I learned over my years at St. Mary’s make my friendships strong and loving. Even living in a different country couldn’t ruin the bond I grew and made with Blanca nearly 10 years ago.

And that, for me, is what the School represents. A friendly and nourishing community that treats everybody with the respect and kindness they deserve. This school and all the people in it helped me become who I am today.

Covid had a significant impact on us during school as it disrupted our daily routines and prevented us from participating in some of our important school trips. However, our teachers always indulged us with fun lessons and extremely competitive Kahoot quizzes. A special shout out to my previous Year 6 teachers who added the most random questions to the quizzes. Did you know that a single person can produce two litres of saliva per day? Well, I didn’t at the time…

The School’s perseverance through this period is truly admirable, and I thank everyone very much for giving us the best experience possible. The School had to keep changing the date of the Prize Giving because of Covid, and they worked very hard to provide us with the opportunity to have this event in person. It didn’t help matters that more than half of Year 6 caught Covid near the end of the school year, but it all worked out in the end. We were able to complete both our Year 6 play and our Prize Giving in person and these are memories that my classmates and I will treasure forever.

My most unforgettable and funny memories of my time at St Mary’s were during our Year 5 trip, which luckily happened prior to the pandemic. On this trip, we visited Skern Lodge, an outdoor activity centre where we could participate in a variety of fun activities such as kayaking, archery, rock climbing and raft building.  In particular, the raft-building activity is the highlight of the trip and pretty much of all of my school memories. It quite literally is a vivid representation of the lyrics from one of the songs by the Chainsmokers, which says: “If we go down, then we go down together.” I will leave the rest of the story up to your imagination…but, let’s say there were a lot of drenched children involved.

Year 6, going to senior school will not be a piece of cake. There will be some changes that you will have to adapt to. But, you must remember that you are a St. Mary’s girl at heart. Be resilient and make it through the first load of homework and the rest will get easier. Also, be a risk-taker and try new things. You may find that you develop a passion for things you never thought you would like. With all this in mind, I promise that you are more than prepared.

Before I finish, I would like to briefly touch on the very important topic of new friendships. You may not initially like everyone you meet, but you still must treat them with respect, including teachers. Keep an open mind as you will find friends in the most unlikely places – I met one of my closest friends yet in the school bathroom during my induction day.

I wish you all the best in your future journey through life and a joyous start to secondary school. And, remember, don’t worry about it – you will be just fine. Year 5, good luck with your exams next year and remember not to overwork yourself.

On that note, now is my time to say goodbye. Thank you for listening and have a great summer!