21 Sep 2018

Legacy is in every action

Dale Schlaphoff (12/FL) reflected on six years at Newington, and what it has taught him about the importance of legacy, at the recent Prescott chapel service.

Tonight I would like to briefly talk about this service’s theme: legacy. Legacy is one of those terms that pop up quite frequently in assemblies and in the speeches of guest speakers, and its meaning has become slightly blurred. Despite this, as I reach the end of six years of secondary schooling, the idea of lasting legacy has become a very important concept that has prompted a great deal of reflection, reminiscing and thinking.

How have my many years at Newington impacted the community and how will I be remembered?

Tonight is a special night for me. It is my last ever chapel service. Having been a member of choir, it is my 48th service, and to say a lot has changed is an understatement. Many students and staff have come and gone, the pews have changed and sadly, the era of singing El Shaddai in chapel has long since been overturned. These changing factors highlight the true power and nature of legacy.

A legacy usually regards that which one will be remembered for, or the impact that an individual has had on the world, for example spurring on a political movement. However, most people make the mistake of classifying legacy only as major actions and change by one person. Every day in classes, we learn about the legacy of hugely influential figures like Einstein, Shakespeare, and Nelson Mandela, who each demonstrated the height of excellence and virtue in their respective fields. In weekly chapel recently, we have been going around the many great names in the room and recognising their legacy and influential impact on humanity. These people are, without a doubt, incredible humans and deserve every bit of respect that they receive. But for me, they grant the concept of legacy an overwhelming sense of grandeur.

Realistically, only a small minority of people go into the history books and are remembered for their actions and beliefs. This sad reality creates a great level of pressure to be the greatest and to obtain fame by any means necessary in the struggle to maintain a lasting legacy.

Yet, I think this perspective on legacy is limited and misleading. Legacy as a word is loaded with connotations of unobtainable standards. When these misleading connotations are stripped away, legacy is revealed simply as the handing down of something from a predecessor. In this sense, legacy is like planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.

Bringing this back to the realm of Newington College and the community around it, each of our contributions, in our school, co-curricular, external and family lives forms the legacy or fabric that holds our communities together and acts as a platform the next generation can improve and build upon. Regardless of who you are, or where you are from, your contribution to this legacy is essential as all actions have consequences and impact.  Even those quiet achievers who keep a low profile leave an important legacy.

If you take one message from this speech, let it be that you should not feel overwhelmed by perceptions of the imposing nature of legacy. Rather, focus on how your actions contribute to the true legacy of the community. Legacy is built by the impact of your actions, big and small, on the lives of your family and friends, and your effect on your community. Hunting for an idolised version of legacy can be all-consuming, making you lose track of what is really important in life; passion for what you enjoy, love, kindness, generosity of spirit and respect for those around.

Legacy is not about attaching your name to something but rather allowing your impact to grow and flourish. So tonight, take some time to reflect on your legacy and your impact on the community. Are you currently acting in the way you want to be remembered? How will the next generation and future students use your legacy to build an improved community?

And with those questions I will wrap this speech up and again welcome you to the Fletcher Chapel service. Thank you.


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