A student at a prestigious Sydney school is making headlines worldwide after her very unexpected year-end speech.
Sarah Haynes from Ravenswood School for Girls decided to use her final school speech to raise awareness of censorship in schools — hers in particular.
In a speech that has been shared on YouTube, Haynes explained that she wanted to be “honest” and reveal how she has felt “let down” by the school, following an incident that took place with her sister.
She explained, “For a large part of this year I was hurt, betrayed and very much began to hate certain things and people within the school.”
Haynes went on to say that she had written two speeches (one that she handed to the teachers, and the one she actually delivered), and explained how her speeches were often “censored.”
“I’ve given a fair few speeches in my lifetime, but once I became school captain, everything I ever wrote had to be sent and censored by those higher up than me,” she said. “I was never trusted to say the right thing, which I found kind of silly because if I wanted to say something audacious, like I am today, I could always have sent someone a different speech.”
Censorship wasn’t the only aspect of the school that Haynes took issue with, as she also blasted Ravenswood School for Girls for the way that it is run.
“It seems to me that today schools are being run more and more like businesses, where everything becomes financially motivated, where more value is placed on those who provide good publicity or financial benefits.”
However, Ravenswood School Council Chair, Mark Webb issued a statement in response to Haynes’s claims, saying that the incident was “unfortunate” and that it “detracts from the Year 12 celebrations but… is seemingly unavoidable.”
The statement reads, “As this relates to a matter before the Courts, it is not possible for us to comment on the specifics other than to say this relates to a disagreement about disciplinary action taken against a number of students following an incident of alleged bullying.”
It continued, “We have deliberately limited any comment to the media as we do not want to compromise the girls, their families or the legal system. I wish to share with you the response that I made, at the time, to those present at the Secondary School Speech Day. Ravenswood has an overriding obligation to provide a safe and respectful learning environment for every student — and all our girls have the right to feel valued. This applies not only to the way girls behave towards one another but also to allowing their freedom to express individual opinions in speeches or otherwise.”