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Happy 135th Birthday Wenona!

On the last day of Term 2, the Wenona community came together for Foundation Day to mark the School’s 135th birthday, made extra special with a heartfelt speech from alumna, Emily Scott (2009PY).

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As is our tradition, each year we come together on the last day of Term 2 to celebrate a very special event in the School calendar: Wenona’s birthday. Foundation Day felt extra special this year as it was the first time in at least 18 months that we’d been able to welcome our extended community on site.

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Our Community Engagement Team, Mrs Sonia Brennan and Ms Maryanne Lang helped to organise the event. Director of Foundation and Community Engagement, Mrs Sonia Brennan had this to say: “Given the current situation in Sydney, we were extremely fortunate to have been able to come together on 18 June to celebrate Foundation Day, particularly as it was also Wenona’s 135th Birthday.

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We were delighted to welcome 60 guests on site, including 37 alumnae. Some of them joined us for a cup of tea before the service in the new Cardio Studio. Alumnae couldn’t believe the facilities that are now available to staff and students, particularly the swimming pool and the gym equipment. As many of them remarked, the School has changed dramatically since their day!

The whole school then came together in the Big Gym for a formal service, which began with the processional. Our academic staff proudly wore their academic regalia as the student orchestra played in the background. It was great to be able to livestream the event, so that alumnae from near and far could also share in the occasion.

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Alumna Ms Emily Scott (2009PY) was our guest speaker. As the former CEO for Out for Australia, Emily was an incredible advocate for the LGBTIQ community and she continues to work tirelessly to raise awareness and understanding about mental health issues. So much so that she was recently recognised as one of the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence. In her speech, Emily shared her memories of her time at Wenona, as well as her subsequent experience of mental illness while at university. It was a lesson in resilience and the importance of reaching out to people you trust for the compassion, support and understanding you need. Emily’s speech resonated with everyone in the audience, particularly our young people, many of whom approached her after the service to talk with her. You can read Emily’s speech here.

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As is tradition, Emily helped to cut the ceremonial cake with the youngest student in the School, Remi from Kindergarten, who was happy to oblige but very keen to return to class afterwards, and her teacher, Ms Bouterakos!

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President of the Wenona Alumnae Association, Ms Luisa Horton (Brown, 2005) presented Eleanor in Year 12 with the Alumnae Association Spirit Award. This is awarded to a student who exhibits outstanding School spirit and epitomises the School motto Ut Prosim, that I may serve. Ms Horton highlighted Eleanor’s extraordinary commitment to environmental issues, both at School and beyond. Eleanor played a pivotal role in organising for Professor Tim Flannery to come and talk to the School about climate change, brought native bees to Wenona and has implemented waste-free initiatives across the School.

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After the service, guests moved to the West Commons area for a delicious morning tea, as well as the traditional generational photo featuring alumnae, their daughters and granddaughters, who are current students at the School. It was wonderful to see so many generations of Wenonians together.

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Across the board, our alumnae were thrilled to see The Athenaeum. For many, it was their first opportunity to walk around the building and they were blown away by the university-style study spaces, the kitchen area and the outdoor balcony garden.

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It was fantastic to hear so many stories from alumnae about their time at Wenona and celebrate the friendships formed here at the School. As Acting Principal Mr Mark Staker said in his opening speech, “We are all so different and yet, beneath our outward differences, we share a common bond. And that is our connection to Wenona and our shared values of courage, strength, grace and wisdom that have stitched us together for the past 135 years.”

Foundation Day was a truly special day, culminating in cupcakes for all the students. Happy 135th Birthday Wenona!”