Rylan Sanders-Wall, Year 11 Red, is a member of the Student Representative Council (SRC) and he spoke on Assembly about belonging. We thought we would share the message with our community here.

Hey guys, so ahh …my name is Marvin, I’m 3017 years old. You might have seen me around the school, I work days as the sandpit down on the oval. I thought it was important to clarify that we monsters are more than just stereotypes. You might be asking yourself, “Hey Marvin, if you’re really from ancient Egypt thousands of years ago, how are you speaking perfect English?”

And I’d say that I’m literally a cursed mummy wrapped in toilet paper so you should stop asking questions. But also, “thank you, I learned it on Duolingo”.

So I’m up here today to talk about something very dear to my heart.

Next week Hillbrook will be having nine new exchange students. They’re from Transylvania. I know what you are thinking. “Marvin, you’re trying to say you don’t support stereotypes yet you choose Transylvania of all places for a monster exchange?!”

In order to make them feel at home we are challenging everyone to make Hillbrook as spooky as we can. Cover your classrooms in cobwebs, carve pumpkins into horrifying grins, scare your friends and treat everyone to a good trick. We all need to come together to make a place for these very special ahhh, people! So whether you’re made of flesh, bone, flesh andbone or the infinitely incomprehensible, unknowable eternal, undead matter of an ancient Eldritch God … there is a place for you here.

There is a place for you here. How many times do you think you’ve heard that? Twice, three times? For some of the Seniors in the audience that number might be too high to count. But what does it actually mean?

Who is “you”? Is it you, the you hearing this now, the you who is you, or is it perhaps each and every one of “you” who sit by you in this assembly? And, for that matter, where is “here”? Obviously Hillbrook, but what is Hillbrook? A series of buildings and construction sites where students come to learn each day? Or is it a place of morals and spirituality which trains us all to be “adults”?

Or maybe Hillbrook is a community, independent of the concrete and soil it stands upon, with walls composed of loving faces and built on a foundation of understanding.

I could continue to ask you about every part of “there is a place for you here” and what it means, but even without questions you already know. I don’t need to stand here to tell you what it means because I’m sure every one of you understands, and I think that’s something pretty special.

After all, if you are a mummy who has to wrap yourself, you can know every detail of the bandages you use, but it’s up to you to put it all together. And each mummy will look a bit different for all of you, unique in every one of your ways. There is a place for you heremeans something to everyone.

Postscript – 1 week later

When I came to you all last week, I asked for your support for some people very special to me and very different to all of you. You came together in true Hillbrook style in so many ways. From the graveyard, spiders web and classroom nightmares of Year 7 to Mrs Mason’s haunted house or all the little details on the boards. You all went out of your way to make our Transylvanian’s feel welcomed.

You made a place for them here. I think it says something that on Halloween we can go so far in accepting ghouls and monsters who are so different from us. And if Hillbrook can make a place for THEM here, we can make a place for ANYONE here.

11 Red & SRC Member