Friday 11 September 2015

A Consuming Aura

Year 11 Examinations have produced their own consuming aura around the College as we head for the final days of term. The boys are learning the demands that senior secondary imposes as they progressively move into Year 12 courses of study over the weeks ahead so far from thoughts of coming to a break, the boys are taking one day and one subject at a time. It is the only way to approach an assessment regime that summatively tests core concepts and key skills over an extended period of time, particularly as these examinations simulate the HSC that the boys will confront as they move into their final year of study over the coming months.

On Monday evening I had the pleasure of accompanying Trey Peterson, one of our senior Indigenous boys, to the Admiralty House for a dinner with the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC. The dinner profiled the cause of Clontarf and the importance of Indigenous education in Australia, particularly the gainful futures that young Indigenous Australians are pursuing through quality education, tertiary courses of study, traineeships and partnered cadetships. As always, Trey represented Riverview with great distinction, mixing easily with other students and feeling very comfortable in the company of Vice Regals and dignitaries.

Congratulations are extended to Willaim Bainou who was awarded the Archbishop of Sydney Award for Student Excellence during the week. The award recognises and commends the leadership and example young people have given in their schools as part of the broader mission of the Church to preach the gospel in a 21st Century context. William has been an exemplary member of his graduation class and he, along with winners from other schools, thoroughly deserves this public honour and recognition.

Adding breadth to the co-curricular program, the Speech and Drama Recitals are underway. Students involved in the private tuition program in Speech and Drama presented the first of their work in the O’Kelly Theatre on Tuesday evening, calling on a diverse and entertaining mix of monologues, duologues, poems and speeches. This year Darth Vader even made an appearance, as did scenes from Tim Winton’s Breath. There is an abundance of talent in Speech and Drama, as will be progressively revealed over the weeks ahead as the boys perform their polished scripts to audiences that have a deep appreciation for the theatre.

A magnificent day of spring weather provided the backdrops for the final round of GPS sport on Saturday, which presented its own share of highlights and disappointments. The Mighty 7ths (pictured below) pulled on the blue and white for the last time and won their second game for the season after some resounding losses. There was much jubilation in the air, particularly as the boys take with them a valedictory victory on the sporting ground and many rich and fond memories of their sport over the years. The Open Soccer team registered a draw out at Newington to remain undefeated for the last three years, while a titanic struggle – one of the very finest I have had the privilege to witness, was played out as the Riverview and Newington Open Rugby teams faced each other for the last time. With less than 30 seconds remaining Riverview was in front by two points but a final lunge at the line in the dying fractions of the game saw Newington victors by three points. By any standards, it was a weekend to remember for all those who were involved, particularly the graduates who have come to the end of their time in the co-curricular life of the College. Many thanks are extended to the coaching staff, parents, Old Boys, officials and administration staff who are responsible for the integrity of the program and to the boys for the manner in which they represent the College.

The last of the 18th birthday celebrations were held in the Mushan household during the week for the boarders who reach this milestone during September. As the boarders are not with their families for this significant birthday Neil and Melissa generously open up their home and provide a healthy T Bone steak, some delicious salads, and a celebratory beer (just one, and, with parental permission of course!!) to toast the occasion that enables these young men to vote, to have full legal status and to enjoy both the privileges and responsibilities that are endowed through adulthood. As always, the cake and candles are part of the occasion along with the distribution of a present that has been supplied in advance. These gatherings speak in a very deep and symbolic way to the strength of community that is part of life in the boarding school, one that aims to promote and strengthen the cause of cura personalis in residential living. Sincere thanks are extended to the Mushan family who open their home with such warmth to the boarders and their families.

Prospective parents joined the College community during Week 8 to tour the grounds and glean insights into the educational program. Student ambassadors from Year 9 escorted families around the precincts of the school and answered all manner of questions from parents who are considering Riverview as the educational option for their son. Fortunately, the College is highly regarded in the broader community so there is strong competition for places at the enrolment table. This has been brought about by the wonderful work of the Jesuits and lay staff who have worked assiduously to build the educational program at the College, but it is something which should never be taken for granted. Our task is to ensure that best practice in all areas of the school’s operations is pursued and that a discerning process of strategic planning is entered into on a regular basis.

Best wishes as we confront the final week of term.

Dr Paul Hine