KWS presents 'a Speech Day like no other'
4 December, 2014
Two very special guests ensured the 128th annual KWS Speech Day was, in the words of School Council chair Tony Cheney, “a Speech Day like no other”.
Dr Charlie Kemp, an electrical engineer and computer scientist from Georgia Tech university in the USA, and Henry Evans, a Stanford MBA graduate and quadriplegic, inspired everyone present with their story and their drive to make the world a better place.
Following a stroke-like attack five years ago, Henry became a mute and a quadriplegic. Despite his physical limitations, Henry continues to live an active and involved life by utilising a range of modern technologies.
Together with Charlie he is now working on a project called Robots for Humanity to help severely disabled people like himself become more self-sufficient in their homes.
Henry’s personal motto was the theme of this year’s Speech Day: “If you want something, you look for options; if you don’t, you look for excuses.”
Henry joined KWS Principal Brian Kennelly and council chair Tony Cheney on stage via a Beam telepresence robot and even flew a drone inside the Derek Pigot Auditorium – all from his home in San Francisco and using eye-tracking technology.
Charlie was also ‘beamed’ into the auditorium via Skype and called on all present to work together to change the world for the better.
The pair’s ‘presence’ in Orange was made possible by the vision – and bravery – of Principal Kennelly and the commitment of a 30-strong team that included the KWS ICT department, eight collaborators in the US, and supporters from a number of ICT-related organisations and companies in Australia.
Henry and Charlie’s inspiring message was the perfect complement to a Speech Day filled with examples of students and teachers willing to work hard and look for innovative ways to achieve their goals.
Among those recognised on the day were teachers Catherine Litchfield and Peter Whiting, who were presented with the Teacher Excellence Award and the Principal’s Initiative Award, respectively.
Retiring teachers and School Council members were also recognised, before it was time to congratulate our outstanding student award winners for 2014.
Among those recognised were the top academic performers, outstanding sportsmen and women, high achievers in other co-curricular pursuits, and those individuals who made special contributions to the life and spirit of KWS in 2014.
As well as addresses by Tony Cheney and Brian Kennelly, the gathering enjoyed musical performances by the KWS Orchestra and the Chamber Choir.