Last week I took part in an important local ceremony, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of The JJ Cahill Memorial High School. I acknowledge my own personal bias when I say that this is a great school, which has served and educated a great community. JJ Cahill was in its first decade when I was a student there and now, four decades later, I’m going back to celebrate our school’s golden anniversary.
If it’s said that a school leaves its mark, its impression and its culture on its students, then I reflect the school. Whatever I have done and whatever I have become, it is because of JJ Cahill.
This Council has close and continuing associations with JJ Cahill. Apart from my years there as a student, Councillors Mitchell and Kondilios were also students, our esteemed colleague Councillor Anne Slattery seems to have been part of the academic staff at JJ Cahill forever and my friend and former Deputy Mayor David Jory was also a student.
The school was named after a great Premier of New South Wales, a man whose party loyalty I share. Joe Cahill was a builder of this State – and a man who represented this regional area. His greatest legacy, a building he conceived in 1954, was the Sydney Opera House. After the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House is the building that most symbolises Sydney. An important guest at last weeks event was Stephen Cahill, representing the Cahill family.
Education, learning, is what separates human kind from the rest of the animal kingdom and education is the greatest gift a nation, a state or a community can provide for its young. With education we can achieve anything, without it we, personally and as a community, are doomed to no growth, no prosperity, no future. Education, like health, is one of the fundamentals in our society but, without education, there is no effective health care because those who deliver health care do so because they are educated.
The legacy of JJ Cahill goes well beyond this local area, or this State or this nation and the alumnus of JJ Cahill are everywhere – we seem to multiply. To those involved with JJ Cahill today, I offer, on behalf of the community it serves and Council, congratulations for this golden moment and for all the years and decades ahead when JJ Cahill High School continues its vital and integral role in our community. It is a fitting acknowledgement of the place of JJ Cahill in our community.