2017 Dux Callum Holmes, who posted the perfect ATAR of 99.95, was one of a number of high achievers recently acknowledged at Parade’s Term 1 Assembly in College Hall.

Together with his colleagues, Callum (who proudly sported his Old Paradians necktie) was presented with an Association lapel badge as a memento of the occasion, and duly addressed more than 1900 students of both the Bundoora and Preston campuses.

Callum’s mother Kathy, who with her husband David has committed her energies to the Parents of Parade committee, acknowledged her son’s dedication to his studies and commended the teachers’ support of her boy throughout his time at the College.

“I knew Callum had it in him. He’s a bright lad, but he put a lot of effort into it, and the family’s very proud of him,” Kathy said.

“He was born with a gift, he’s a smart boy, but he took that and worked it to the bone because he’s persistent and very self-driven.

“He had a fantastic time at Parade. He made the most of every opportunity, the teachers supported him all the way along and they’re really invested in all of the kids.”

Callum’s flawless ATAR comprised two perfect scores of 50 in Chemistry and Physics and 49 in English, with fellow classmates Aiden Hrup, Michael Barrese and Simon Rebellato posting respective scores of 99.7, 99.2 and 99.1.

Kathy said that Callum had realised his objective of gaining a University of Melbourne Chancellor’s Scholarship and will now further his studies in science.

Callum’s given middle names are ‘Carlyle’ (the name of his late paternal grandfather) and ‘Girvan’ - a throwback to Kathy’s Scottish ancestors the McMillans, who originally hailed from Girvan in the burgh of Ayrshire.

“There was a tradition in my family to use the name ‘Girvan’ either as a first name or middle name because that was where seven members of the McMillan family came from in 1854 in search of a better life,” said Kathy.

“And that’s what we’ve always hoped for Cal and our other boys – a better education than we had to help set them up.”

The following is Callum’s address to Term 1 Assembly:

Dr Moore, distinguished guests, teachers and staff, and both current and former students of Parade College before me today; Good afternoon.

I left this school, what, three months ago? – and already I miss this place. Parade feels so close to my heart, so coming here today as an Old Paradian is surreal, a trip down memory lane. You won’t believe me when you hear it gentlemen, but don’t take these glory days for granted; time flies.

It is a privilege and honour to be here as the College Dux of 2017, particularly in Parade’s 50th year anniversary at Bundoora, and 150th Year Anniversary since the Christian Brothers first arrived in Australia. But despite my accolades, I am indebted to many amazing people that have helped me along the way, without which I would not be here today receiving this recognition.

And so firstly, I give thanks to my parents. Often I have been a ghost at the house’s end and seldom interacted with another human soul. But regardless, you have always been at my side, providing me every chance to develop, the opportunity of an education, and the joy of life in itself. You deserve to know and be continually reminded that I respect and appreciate the sacrifices you have made for my sake, and for my brothers as well. As much as it would be protested, I could scratch out my name and write yours on these accolades, because my character and drive would not exist without you.

To the teachers who have taught me over the years - you have fuelled my passion to learn at every stage. You have endured my pestering, my questioning, and perhaps most difficult of all my handwriting; I think it is a great mystery what superhuman powers you must have developed to understand it.

And lastly, to my fellow classmates and fellow ex-Year 12s here today, it was fantastic to have worked and lived alongside you; you brought such a diversity of personality and talent to the classroom that I know I’ll miss these golden years. I sincerely congratulate you on your achievements, because you deserve every ounce of recognition that you get.

Now as is traditional of any Dux, I would like to share pearls of wisdom from my own experience. Firstly, this might be a bit of a shock, but the high achievers and I are not workaholics. In fact it’s mostly the opposite. Everybody must keep a sense of balance in our lives. We are not robots (although some people still think I am). Of course we had our weekends with parties, or those days we decided that video games were top priority. But when we had a test, we studied until we were absolutely assured we would do our best. It doesn’t matter how driven you are about anything; balance is critical.

Secondly. When you climb a ladder, where do you look most of the time? You rarely look up or down – in fact you mostly look where your hands are. Similarly, when you have a goal and ambition, do not let it overwhelm you like the ladder’s height, or the distance below. Break it down into simple, achievable goals, something we could do every day that would get us just a bit closer to the top. I initially saw the Year 12 year as overwhelming, but I focused on objectives, to get some mark on the next test or finish an essay in an hour, and planned my year ahead as a series of steps. Every time you climb one step, tackle the next one. And the next. And before you know it you are miles high, and you are amazed at how far you have come.

My last point is the most important thing to take way.

Do your best.

Now I get it - if we try our best we are risking failure, and falling off a ladder hurts a lot. But if you want to go up, you will inevitably fall at some point. As a certain College Captain once said, you have to ride the rollercoaster.

As a matter of fact, mistakes were actually my greatest tools. For every mistake I made in any subject, I would write it down and then review and memorise it until it was second nature. For me, failure was the fuel of success. And so I learnt that in doing my best, even in failure, I could become the best I could be.

I leave you with a quote from Henry Ford I have come to love. “Whether you think you can, or you think you cannot, you are right”. If you take your errors and disasters and let them motivate you, rather than bring you down; if you believe that you have the capacity despite opposition, then even the greatest error is but one step on a ladder.

Have a great year gentlemen.