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The Principal’s Commissioning Service

Feb 29 2024

Last Friday afternoon was a very special occasion for our School. Dr Julie Greenhalgh was formally commissioned as the ninth principal of The Illawarra Grammar School. The ceremony was attended by students from Years 3-12, staff, parents, friends of the School, local clergy, and Dr Greenhalgh’s family. A special guest was The Most Reverend Kanishka Raffel, Archbishop of Sydney. The archbishop is the President of the School Council, and it was a real privilege to have him preside over the service.


There were many highlights. The Chair of the School Council, Professor Tony Okely, gave a moving address which highlighted the experience and expertise of Dr Greenhalgh. Professor Okely noted Dr Greenhalgh’s ability as an educational leader to draw the very best out of the students and schools she leads. It was genuinely exciting to consider how The Illawarra Grammar School might go from strength to strength under Dr Greenhalgh’s leadership. Archbishop Raffel spoke eloquently about true greatness from the Gospel of Mark. The archbishop drew a contrast between some of the dominant views of greatness in our culture and the Bible’s notion of greatness. The archbishop pointed out that, according to the teaching of Jesus, true greatness is defined by sacrificial service. Jesus Himself embodied this greatness in His death on the cross for our sins. Archbishop Raffel exhorted Dr Greenhalgh to be a great principal as defined and exemplified by Jesus. It was a stirring talk.


As is often the case in formal occasions such as this, our students’ talents were clearly on display. There was a unique performance of Waltzing Matilda by a string sextet comprised of students from Years 8-11. Dr Greenhalgh admitted she was a little nonplussed when she saw this item included in the program. Following the performance, Dr Greenhalgh said she will never hear this piece in the same way again. It was an astonishing rendition. Equally moving was a choral arrangement of the Aaronic blessing from Numbers chapter 6, performed by the Cantilena Singers and the Senior Strings. The words of the song enabled us as a school community to call upon God to bless Dr Greenhalgh in her leadership of the school in words ordained by God himself. It was a poignant moment.


In Dr Greenhalgh’s response, she noted the sheer audacity of the School’s founders to establish a Grammar School in what, at the time, was predominantly a steel city. With the changing face of the Illawarra over the past twenty or so years, Dr Greenhalgh sensed an almost prophetic impulse in the school’s foundation. The Illawarra is ripe for a Grammar School. And Dr Greenhalgh is a leader for the times.


The goodness of God’s provision of Dr Greenhalgh was a persistent thread running throughout the service. We are truly blessed to be gifted with such an outstanding leader who has a clear vision for our School and the ability to bring that vision to fruition. Thanks be to God!