Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College


(November, 2003, address with images to the Glen Waverley Campus Senior College Assembly announcing Prefects for 2004, subsequently published in the Campus Newsletter.)

One hundred and one years ago, this man, Mr L. A. Adamson - photographed here [left] in 1902 - became Principal or, using the title of the time, 'Headmaster' of Wesley.

He remained in that position for thirty-one years before retiring in 1932 - pictured here
[right] in his study in May of that year.

L. A. Adamson, in 1902.

L. A. Adamson, in 1932.

Adamson is one of Wesley's greatest leaders. He is shown here with his last group of student leaders, the 1932 Wesley College Prefects.

L. A. Adamson with the 1932 Prefects of Wesley College Melbourne.

Our focus in this Assembly is leadership - leadership, not only by those appointed to be our 2004 Prefects but, also, leadership by us ... each one of us in the senior class of 2004.

Our reading this morning is from a transcript of a final speech made by Mr Adamson that has been preserved on audiotape.

It was spoken to a school, that only boys could attend, in the language of seventy-one years ago - a time when your grandparents probably hadn't reached their teen years or, for some, weren't even born.

For those of us who listen thoughtfully here today, strong messages come down through the years ...

L. A. Adamson, from a 'one copy only' etching by James Flett.

"Now I want to emphasise these points.

"A gentleman will never give needless trouble to those who serve him.

"Win decently; and lose decently. Remember what Bishop Crossley said of us: 'Here then, said I, is the secret of this peoples' success, that in the hour of victory they think of past defeats and in the hour of defeat they look forward to a confident tomorrow'.

"Chaucer sums up chivalry as truth and honour, freedom and courtesy. But he leaves out religion. Yet, unless the Lord build a house their labour is but lost that build it.

"For myself, at the end of the long years, I should like to be able to think of the future as Newbolt puts it: 'Their voice to us who sing of it, no more its message bears; but the round world shall ring of it, and all we are be theirs.'"

 I believe that you - all of you - are called to be the student leaders of the Glen Waverley Campus, and of Wesley College, at the very beginning of a marvellous period of time in the College's history.

You are a new senior class, with a new Principal and a new Head of Campus. You will set the tone and the pace.  Right now, here, reflect on this moment.  Draw together and make a commitment.  Resolve to underpin your leadership with Adamson's values regarding character ...

Place no stumbling block in the progress of those in the rest of the school who you will lead ... nor, indeed, in the way of your fellow classmates. Encourage their progress; help to make their way clear.

When things go right for you, graciously accept your success, remembering when things went wrong for you; and on the other hand don't dwell on failure but move forward, purposefully and optimistically.

Be truthful, honourable and courteous.  Act with the freedom of knowing that you are all these things.  Nurture that freedom for others.

And, through all of this, come to understand that this school exists to help you - whoever you are - to be the very best that you can be; for you to be truly human; for you to fulfil your potential through the use of your unique talents for the sake of others.

You have been given a superb opportunity to lead this school with character.  As your Year 12 closes at this time next year, I hope that the Year 11s, and all the other year levels at Glen Waverley who have followed your lead, will say ...


"Their voice to us who sing of it, no more its message bears; but the round world shall ring of it, and all we are be theirs."



To hear Adamson's entire recorded Farewell Speech, click ...

Farewell Speech by Mr L. A. Adamson, M.A.  (Duration 0.03:13; 3MB digital copy of original 78rpm recording)

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