Students Commemorate 50 Years

Close to 600 students filed into the BAC Multi-Purpose Centre this afternoon, seating themselves in neat rows and crisp uniforms. It was a different picture 50 years ago. Mount Gravatt Adventist Primary School, already established and thriving, allowed a brand-new Brisbane Adventist High School to locate their demountable classroom behind the Primary campus, near the banks of the Bulimba Creek tributary that now splices our College campus into Primary and Secondary. The students who filled that classroom in 1973 were the first to graduate from high school, five years later.

We are celebrating those intervening years today (Friday, 18 August 2023) and tomorrow. The sound of hundreds of voices raised in song and backed by our Secondary Chapel Band was awe-inspiring. It prompted comparison with what it must have sounded like to hear that single class of young voices raised in song inside their demountable building 50 years ago. Today’s gospel song, The Goodness of God, went like this: “All my life you have been faithful/All my life you’ve been so good to me… With every breath, I will sing of the goodness of God.”

Guest panelists, who represented different decades and roles over the years at BAC, were invited to reminisce and speculate. The panel included retired Bible teacher Mr Bruce Myers, Class of 2023 student Sanuka Ranatunga, alumni and former school captain Pastor Richie Reid, and current principal of Secondary, Mr Bruce Dever, who first taught at BAC as a young maths-teaching graduate in 1995.

Pastor Richie surprised us all when he pointed to his Year 1 teacher in the audience, Mrs Leanne Weir, who currently teaches Year 2. “This place is a spiritual, sacred place to me,” he said. “The goodness of God remains here. My prayer is for BAC to continue impacting young people’s lives. Not just in providing excellent education, but in introducing them to Jesus.... The secret to chaplaincy for me is what I learned here, and that's people.”

Mr Myers reminisced about the days he worked as a chaplain and, later, senior Bible teacher. Responsible for many spiritual programs over the years, he was always involved in setting up and pulling down the chairs and equipment in the very building we sat in today; back then brand-new and called the Student Centre.

Sanuka reflected upon his time at BAC and what he wanted his legacy to look like: “It’s the community here that I appreciate most. I hope that our work to set up the SRC this year will be our legacy—and that it lasts a very long time.”

Mr Dever talked about what he valued most in his career as an educator: people. He then addressed the current student population, specifically: “You might think we only remember when you get in trouble, but the truth is that we love watching you grow.”

Secondary teacher and Head of Physical Education Mr Martin Rutkowski—a second-generation alumnus whose own children now attend the College—introduced guest speaker Mr Jack Ryan. Mr Rutkowski spoke of the leadership of his former principal when he himself was a student and later a teacher (2006-2014), and how he is now Education Director for Adventist Schools in South Queensland.

Mr Ryan spoke of ‘Plutarch’s Puzzle,' a dilemma posed by Plutarch about the stories of Theseus, a legendary hero from Greek mythology. As the story goes, the ship on which Theseus sailed had been storm-damaged and was in need of repair. After many days, Theseus's sailors had replaced every plank. Not one part of the original ship remained, from stern to bow. Plutarch’s Puzzle is this question: When Theseus and his men reach their destination, was the ship they were sailing the same one they set sail in? Or was it a new ship? Plutarch’s audience, many audiences since, and our audience today, considered what it is that creates 'identity.' He pointed out that so much of what BAC was like at the beginning has now developed and changed. So is it still the same school? Does an entity's identity consist of the pieces that it was made from, or is it the people and purpose through which it operates?

Mr Ryan then drew lessons from the great Steinbeck novel Of Mice and Men, which deals with questions of power. Through his story, he encouraged us to think of each person as a contributor to our BAC environment. For instance, our College needs the youngest and most senior members of our community, our students and teachers, our parents and staff... our cleaners and curriculum coordinators.

People and purpose constitute the identity of BAC. Every person who was ever part of our College contributes to who we are. We may have replaced the ‘boards’ many times (teachers, students, board members, principals, and parents, have come and then left), but 'we' are BAC and will always be BAC. “And it’s all because of the people who worked and learned here, and our purpose.”

We’d like to thank our guests today for joining us in commemorating this significant milestone.