From the Principal
With Courage and Truth
In 1914, the weight of the First World War bore down on Walford as it did across the nation and the world. With few students or staff members immune from the fear and experience of seeing loved ones head off to war, Headmistress, Miss Benham and her Senior Mistress at the time, Miss Baker were determined to find a way to lift the spirits of the community, as well as to give girls a collective sense of belonging to their school.
The prefects at the time were encouraged to help design the School Crest which subsequently became the Walford badge, a powerful symbol today as it was then.
I encourage you to look at your daughter’s badge, or, if you are a student or old scholar, your own badge, before you read further.
Shaped like a Knight’s shield, the fleur-de-lis added to the heroic flourish of the crest, a symbolic reminder of the need to be strong, brave, kind and unselfish. The cross was chosen to highlight the ideal of Christian faith, love and service, whilst the open book of knowledge emphasised the firm belief and priority placed on learning – new ways of learning, thinking and expanding one’s mind and understanding of the world. Just as significant today.
The Latin motto Virtute et Veritate, with moral courage and truth remains as relevant today to us all as it was to the girls in 1917.
Stemming from the Latin word Cor, meaning “heart”, there is no greater quality than remaining true to your real and authentic self.
In Miss Benham and Miss Baker’s day, the motto no doubt inspired girls to remain hopeful and optimistic during a time of despair. It was deemed to be the “spirit in which all Walford girls are called upon to tackle the problems and difficulties of life, both at school and in the after days.” The impact of the War and the Great Depression that followed were difficult times and collectively, the entire community need to rally courageously to withstand the challenges faced.
Today, our time is vastly different. Yet the need to empower girls and young women to be courageous is just as, if not more, critical.
At Walford, we want our girls to develop the courage they need to be their true and authentic selves. To step out of their comfort zones, to stand up for that which they believe to be right and just, even if others around them disagree.
We are living in remarkable times for women and we certainly have our brave forebears to thank for this. Courageous women who stood up for their right to vote, to attend university, to have the same opportunities afforded to them as the men around them.
Yet more courage is needed – from us all – as parents and teachers of girls we wish to see bravely lean forward in a world that is exhilarating and complicated.
Today, the impact of technology and social media in particular can see girls feel pressured to convey a persona that isn’t real.
The pressure an adolescent girl feels to conform to group norms in order to be accepted can result in a feeling of loneliness in the most crowded of places.
The fear a young woman faces of “getting it wrong” of missing out, of failing, of being rejected, of not being “as good as” those around her, can hold her back. It can stop her from putting herself forward for new opportunities, from speaking up for what she believes in for facing things that are difficult in her life.
Our culture at Walford is built on a firm foundation of a community working together to uphold the values of the school so that we can help each student achieve her best. This is the message I will be sharing with each year level in turn as we visit our student support policies and procedures which exist to support the learning, safety and wellbeing of all within our community. I encourage you to view the policies your daughter has signed in the front of her diary and discuss these together at home. Talk to her about bravery and the persistence to never give up, especially during those moments of challenge she will inevitably face.
It is a privilege to partner with you as together we raise courageous, truthful, strong and resilient girls.