Friday 17 July 2015

A Time of Discernment and Planning

Welcome back!! It is my hope and prayer that families return to school with a healthy spirit of reflective discernment in the aftermath of the break, and are poised to confront the rigours of the term ahead.  With the space that holidays have afforded it is worth appraising the way that the first half of the year has unfolded, and, what that means for the next ten weeks of teaching and learning. It is, by any standards, a busy schedule – between the timing of the Trial HSC Examinations in just 15 teaching days, an intense GPS sporting calendar, the Art and TAS Exhibitions in Week 6, all of which will culminate in the senior secondary with Valete and Graduation in just under nine weeks time. Rather than be pulled like centripetal force into the momentum of these events, it is prudent to approach the intensity of the schedule with measured purpose and system in order to emerge with optimum opportunity and efficacy.

In the final week of the second term the boys in Year 10 attended to their service programs with much commitment and considerable integrity. As is always the case, the College was contacted by all manner of agencies commending the boys on the way they produced such appreciable gains for various causes – in aged care facilities, homes for the intellectually and physically disabled, institutions in support of homelessness, refugees and abandonment. To quote a few:

  • The behaviour of your students was impeccable … they made an outstanding contribution to the various areas of the school – as class volunteers, kitchen hands, bus assistants and playground supervisors. Business Manager, Yipirinya School, Alice Springs
  • I need to commend the outstanding behaviour, attitude and engagement of your Year 10s this week. Principal, St Mary’s, Bowraville

The service element of Ignatian education which has featured so prominently in Jesuit schools and organisations over four hundred and fifty years, continues to resonate so strongly in the here and now. Congratulations young men on responding in such a forthright and wholesome manner; something the entire school community can be proud of.

While the holidays enabled time away from formal classes for many, a wide raft of activities was undertaken that produced their own important outcomes for boys at many different levels. Foremost was the life changing experience for those – staff and students, who spent time on immersion in Cambodia and East Timor, working with the poor, the indigent and the most marginalised. Not dissimilar was the growth in understanding and appreciation for the boys who continued the annual relationship at Borroloola, bridging the physical, cultural and geographical gap with reconciliation initiatives of the highest and most far-reaching educational value. That some have returned a little less rested for the term ahead is evident, but they arrive back richer in the repertoire of life experience and very much citizens of their nation and their world.

In addition, Theatresports and Debating featured prominently over the break. Both the Senior and Intermediate Theatresports teams were among only eight schools to make their respective final from over sixty schools. The results were superb with the Senior Team taking out First Place in the State Final and the Intermediate Team coming in Third. To have two teams in the finals was an extraordinary achievement, and for both to have podium finishes was remarkable. Congratulations to the boys involved and to the teachers – Lara Rosenthal and Belinda Clark. Replicating this level of excellence was the Open Debating Team, which won the Ignatian Schools competition from among the competing schools across Australia and also took out the prestigious Charles McDonald S.J. Cup by defeating St Aloysius in a closely contested final. To four fine orators – Mark Rothery, Liam Donohoe, Ben O’Dea and Xavier Eales, we extend our collective congratulations.

The staff of Riverview and St Aloysius shared time together to consider issues pertinent to contemporary Jesuit education. Facilitated by Fr Jose Mesa SJ, who is responsible for Jesuit education throughout the world, this time of convocation and formation focussed on the most current trends that are being adopted and deployed by Jesuit schools, colleges and universities across the globe. Over the coming weeks, the College Executive will be considering how these can be incorporated into the strategic futures that have been the object of major discernment over the last twelve months to ensure that St Ignatius responds to the challenges that are consistent with best practice throughout the world.

 

The return to school saw the commemoration and acknowledgement of Refugee Week, so powerfully amplified by Hadi Hosseini’s statement to the College community at Wednesday’s assembly. Recounting his life experience as a refugee on Christmas Island, Hadi educated the student body about the plight of those who are born into circumstances of conflict and violence, those that force them to make very brave and often dangerous decisions to leave their homelands and seek refuge and life opportunity in foreign lands, requiring inexplicable readjustment and adaptation. Fr Aloysius Mowe, Director of Jesuit Refugee Services, spoke with great passion and insight about the refugee situation, not only in Australia but throughout the world. It was also fortunate that Fr Jose Mesa was at the College and was able to share some compelling insights into Jesuit spirituality and the work being undertaken in Jesuit schools.

Finally, another event of significance occurred over last weekend, namely, Riverview in Mudgee. The connections between the College and the town date back to the late 19th Century, when the first Mudgee boy – Edward (Ned) Loneragan (OR 1889), graduated following the completion of his secondary education. Since that time, dozens of boys over multiple generations have strengthened the link, one of whom – John Clift (OR 1941), attended our gathering at an evergreen 90 years of age!! Sincere thanks are extended to Christine Zimbulis who coordinates these wonderful celebrations and to the local community who make every effort to welcome us.

As we go into the next 45 days of teaching and learning I extend best wishes to all as we make new inroads into teaching and learning, and, provide the best by way of support to the boys.

Dr Paul Hine