Farewell Ms Cooper

In this day and age it is rare in schools for a staff member to have the combination of length of service and reverence that Trevanna Cooper has achieved at CBC Fremantle. Forty years' service at one place is rarely going to happen again in any future workplace. But it is not Trevanna's longevity that is a marvel in itself, it is the way she has moved with the College, and with the times, not only remaining contemporary, but prescient.

It is not unusual for a person's personality to change as they get older. The dreams of youth can become the elderly's regrets. Family, health, the pace of life and a myriad other ailments become burdensome where they once were easily patted to square leg. In western societies we do not transition adults to elders, and their value is not fully utilised. For Trevanna, she has effortlessly and seamlessly passed through each year, decade, Headmaster and Principal. She has been a rock, a reference point, a receptacle of knowledge and wisdom.

As I write to you, it is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. On this day Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of God. Mary's model of motherhood has been taken on by Trevanna and she has played that role for thousands of boys. Whether as Miss Letizia or Ms Cooper, generations of CBC gentlemen have been blessed by their contact with Trevanna. This book contains 
just a fraction of those stories, but enough to see a clear pattern. Trevanna has always held each child as being formed in the image of God. Each boy she has taught, chastised, greeted, mentored and inspired has always come away with an everlasting inner glow.

And yet Trevanna has remained so humble, so gracious, so unassuming and expecting so little in return for her life's work. It took much negotiation just to have her accept the College's offer of a farewell afternoon tea. You see, this hasn't been a job for Trevanna, it has been a vocation. In the spirit of Edmund, she volunteers her gifts, talents, sweat and tears for others. Palma Virtuti – goodness is its own reward – is the motto of CBC Fremantle and the essence of Trevanna Cooper.

When I was a boy, I remember fondly the movie Goodbye, Mr Chips. Adapted from the novella, it tells the story of a beloved school teacher, Mr Chipping, and his long tenure at Brookfield School. As the years pass, Chips becomes a much-loved school institution, developing a rapport with generations of pupils; he teaches the sons and grandsons of many of his earlier pupils. Unlike Ms Cooper, Chips never has children of his own, but in the film's final scene, when he overhears his colleagues talking about him, he responds, "I thought you said it was a pity, a pity I never had any children. But you're wrong. I have! Thousands of 'em, thousands of 'em ... and all ... boys."

Who would have thought in the autumn of my years I would have the honour of the friendship and camaraderie of our own modern version of the Mr Chips character. Trevanna, you will be missed, forever loved, but never forgotten.

Goodbye, Ms Cooper.

Mr Domenic Burgio