This weekend marks the arrival of Advent – the liturgical season that celebrates and prepares us for Christmas. One of six liturgical seasons in the Church, Advent has a Latin derivative meaning ‘coming’; in Christian parlance, the coming of Christ. Vestments change in colour from green to violet, one so extravagantly displayed on the Jacaranda trees that act as the backdrop to the Rose Garden in front of the Main Building. It is ultimately a season of hope and of longing, of joyful expectation and of peaceful preparation. The timing of Advent is complemented by the Pope’s recent message on Twitter: It is not enough to experience God’s mercy in one’s life; whoever receives it must also become a sign and instrument for others. As we enter a new liturgical season over the coming week, it is a timely reminder of the centrality of the Christian message as we juggle the many other activities that preoccupy daily routines.
Year 8 was treated to an inspirational presentation from Justin Jones at the ‘Men in Conversation’ forum last Friday. Justin, with his best mate from his school days paddled the length of the Murray River, crossed the Tasman Sea in a double kayak and skied unassisted from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. The key messages for the boys were framed within the T.S. Eliot quote “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”. The boys heard, amongst many things a great deal, about:
- The crucial importance of planning: proper planning prevents poor performance
- The need to consult widely when considering such adventures
- The importance of risk mitigation
- How teamwork breeds success
- Overcoming physical hardships through mental strength
- Inner motivation
The student motto for 2017, ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ resonated clearly throughout the presentation. Despite setbacks and struggles, the fears and tears of their treks, an unshakeable bond of friendship was the bedrock of inspiration that carried them through.
At the STEAM Exhibition last Friday afternoon, a multidisciplinary study of Maths, Science, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, which has occupied the boys each and every week over the last semester, was on display. In many ways it represents an alternative paradigm of education, drawing concurrently on different traditional disciplines to respond with creativity, innovation, problem solving and critical analysis, and, in a collaborative and mutually supportive environment. One of the other less emphasised but important process driven elements of this program is imagination: thinking outside of the square to come to a novel approach to issues that don’t follow the established norms. The range of projects that were the object of discussion were testament to the diversity of thinking and the degree to which the boys have embraced their learning – something that the many who found time on a busy Friday afternoon to visit the exhibition could attest to. The teachers who have developed and responded to this program need to be commended, as do the boys who have embraced it with alacrity and insight.
Riverview in Canberra was held over the weekend and it drew a wide constituency of Old Boys as well as current and future parents. The most senior statesman, Frank Long (OR 1946) joined Old Boys from every decade in the second half of the 20th Century to experience that inimitable sense of community that is part of the Riverview story. So rich is the association with Canberra that two boys from Cooma (prior to Canberra existing as a Territory) formed part of the original class at Riverview in 1880!! This is the final expo and boarding visit for the year in the aftermath of very successful gatherings at Bowral, Dubbo, Moree, London and New York – the latter testament to the diversity the enduring relationships that bring Old Boys and families together despite time and place.
The Year 9 Challenge continues unabated. Last Friday evening, in a different part of the city, the boys treated the parents to their cooking and barista skills at Ryde TAFE. At different stages along the Challenge path, some boys are facing the physical challenges of the ride and the paddle while others undertake life skills and personal development programs. Now half way through, the benefits of the experience are beginning to emerge and these will intensify over the coming fortnight. I commend these young men on their fortitude and their willingness to embrace the many aspects of the program and thank the staff and the parents who are supporting them along the way.
As premature as it sounds, the enrolment cycle for 2019 – yes 2019, is underway. Parents who have expressed interest in joining the Year 5 and Year 7 cohorts, respectively, gathered in the Regis Hall recently to be informed about the enrolment process and key emphases in the educational program at the College. There was a palpable sense of excitement about new beginnings, even though they are two years away. Enrolment applications need to be submitted by January 9th 2017 in preparation for the assessment and interviews that will occur over the early part of the year. All offers will be made by late May or early June before the formal process of transition occurs in the latter part of 2018. It was a cogent reminder of the fact that we deal in extravagant futures for the young boys who walk through the gate in 2019 and who will become the graduates of 2024 and 2026, respectively. And so, the Riverview story rolls on unabated with a community that continues to see this College and Jesuit education as the preferred option for their sons. And, over those years we hope to provide the infill to the emotional core that will enable these young men to make the critical decisions at the right time, informed by conscience, compassion and reflective practice.
There is much to look forward to.