Friday 13 March 2015

Strengthening Study Skills

Study skills are featuring prominently at the present time at different levels across the College. As part of a new initiative to strengthen learning at the senior secondary level, Elevate Educate has been seconded to deliver a three part program to Year 12 students that begins early in the year, reaching a high point in the aftermath of Trial Examinations in Term 3. Key elements of the program will focus on study skills, revision techniques and examination preparation in a structured and focused manner. Based on ten years of research into habits and techniques, the workshops are delivered by recent high achieving HSC graduates and will be followed up by ‘In-class Kits’ for teachers to reinforce key emphases. The first of these sessions began on Monday and the feedback was exceptional:

“I rate this program very highly as it clearly lays out study methods in a coherent manner that everyone can relate to”.

“Great techniques which I realise already can make a difference”

“We need more of this – inspirational”.

At the other end of secondary, students in Years 7 and 8 undertook the first of a facilitated study skills workshop on Wednesday, drawing on the themes of organisation, quality time provision and consolidation of study patterns. At the start of junior secondary, each theme is important in preparing the students for the demanding years ahead. The newly appointed Deputy for Teaching and Learning, Mr Russell Newman, in conjunction with Heads of Faculty will be developing this program as the year unfolds with the deliberate aim to formalise the best study routines at respective levels along the secondary education continuum.

On a day that oscillated between some asphyxiating heat and foreboding clouds, the splendour of the Head of the River unfolded at Penrith last Saturday. School spirit was on display in abundance as war cries, chants of support and orchestrated choreography took their place on the banks of the river, most of which were led by House Captains and of course, Iggy the Moocher. Out in the middle the boys pitted themselves against their rivals as they have done for the last 122 years, reaching a crescendo to the season that has seen so much by way of dawn training and hours of strength work in the gym. St Joseph’s College won the day in the seniors but the Riverview boys across each age and division demonstrated tremendous commitment, teamwork and sportsmanship. Congratulations to all on a memorable day.

Every term Year 11 Student Leaders from Loreto Normanhurst, Loreto Kirribilli, St Aloysius’ and Saint Ignatius’ College come together to discuss issues of contemporary concern and to share their wisdom on a wide range of matters. The venue for the first meeting in 2015 was Loreto Normanhurst and the students consulted a variety of topics for the coming year including gender discrimination; social media and interpersonal communication; climate change; domestic violence; ethically responsible behaviour; and global citizenship. If the aim of education in the Jesuit and Loreto tradition is to give voice to young people; to own considered opinions and to triangulate them against others; to be the voice of provocation in a world that is very much in need of it, then one can be proud of these young men and women who devote time and commitment to symposiums such as these. Each are fine ambassadors of their schools and demonstrate a disarming ability to challenge, critique and interpret their world.

Each Friday during Lent there is an Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the Dalton Chapel. This custom dates back to the 12th Century, when the elevation of a consecrated host in mass was given special reverence during times of liturgical celebration and observance. The host is placed in a monstrance on the beautifully restored altar for public viewing during devotion and prayer; a practice which takes on special significance during the Lenten quest for renewal and spiritual growth. And, not without surprise, a few of the boys find themselves in the chapel in prayer, seeking discernment and guidance about all manner of decisions and considerations in the otherwise crowded and busy lives of our young men. If reflection and prayer resonate in very particular ways with Ignatian spirituality, then the opportunity to step backwards and inwards, even if briefly, is to be encouraged and supported.

Three other events of significance were important over the course of a busy week:

  • The inaugural House mass and dinner was held for Romero to celebrate an historical moment in the life of the College. Students and parents gathered for the first time to participate in the Eucharist in the spirit of Oscar Romero, whose life was forfeited in supporting the cause of the poor and marginalised in El Salvador.
  • Over 200 students from 20 schools – primary and secondary, single sex and co-educational, gathered in the Ramsay Hall on Wednesday morning for the Earth Hour Breakfast. It was an indication of the commitment that many young people have towards environmental stewardship – arguably one of the most significant issues that the global community confronts in the 21st Century. And, it was instructive to witness the hospitality and the warmth of welcome given to the visitors who no doubt developed very positive impressions of the College through the boys.
  • First Field came alive on Thursday with the secondary Athletics Carnival. Operating under the auspice of four new Houses in addition to the twelve from previous years, and as a totally integrated secondary school, it was wonderful to observe the spirit displayed on a House basis and to see the interactions between the older and the younger boys. Elite athletes excelled in their disciplines and won selection for chosen events in the AAGPS Athletics that will be held at Homebush early in the second term.

 

Best wishes for the week ahead as the latter stages of a busy term come into view.

Dr Paul Hine