The College’s ‘Valete’ evening is always one of the highlights of every academic year but that of 2021 was certainly one for the ages.
Outgoing Student President and one of this year’s Valetants, Ruby Yates, said that the Valete evening was not just for those finishing university but a night of celebration for the whole College.
‘We really look forward to Valete,’ said Ruby. ‘So much planning goes into it, so much anticipation, and this year was the best I can remember.’
Detailed preparations culminated on Saturday 30th October. The Dining Hall had been transformed, a delicious banquet prepared, everyone attired with formality and elegance.
The evening began with the traditional Valete Service for all students and staff of the College along with the parents of the Valetants and Members of Council. The liturgy this year was held in nearby St Laurence’s Church. Bailey Hamilton was the Valedictorian and he spoke movingly of the spirit of Aquinas and its people, and all that it had meant to him and his fellow Valetants in their three or four years at the College. The Chapel Band provided the music with its usual skill and panache, with its vocalists leading some robust congregational singing.
Coming back to the campus, it was the moment for the full College photo as well as photos of individual House and other groups, before canapés and pre-dinner drinks on the lawns.
Dinner followed, with its customary formalities and inclusions – a farewell to each Valetant, the Toast to the College by the Student President and the Rector’s Reply, the naming of the Aquinian of the Year, and the playing of a highlights video.
This year, due to COVID restrictions in public venues, it was decided that in place of an off-campus after-party the Dining Hall could be turned over to dancing at the conclusion of the formal Dinner. It proved to be a great success, with students, parents and staff enjoying themselves until the early hours.