Friday 19 February 2016

Building Faith and Community

As the term consolidates over the early weeks of the year it is instructive to see key priorities and emphases in the educational program come to fruition. Boys in Year 11 participated in a ‘Reflection Day’, something which lies at the heartland of Ignatian spirituality in discerning and navigating one’s way through the ambiguity and paradox that life often presents. The boys are asked to reflect deeply on their giftedness, the richness of their opportunity and their relationships that propel them towards a higher ideal; namely, the service of others. In focussing on the Spiritual Exercises, developed by St Ignatius the better part of four and half centuries ago, the boys engage in an introspective and faith-centred response to the needs of those around them, and so build community and capacity in tangible and meaningful ways. It is particularly important at this time of the liturgical year, as we seek renewal and relationship both with God and with those who are part of our immediate and extended community. Many thanks are extended to Mr Tom Riemer, the Heads of House and the Assistant Heads of House who facilitated this important growth opportunity for the boys as they approach the early stages of their HSC, and with it, their seniority in the College.

Among other things, I had the pleasure of visiting the Year 5 Camp, which was held at Collaroy and involved an action packed program that left the boys (and some of the teachers!!) looking forward to, but sometimes apprehensive about, the next activity session. And, there were plenty of them. Laser Tag, the Giant Swing, Abseiling, the Flying Fox and Rock Climbing were among the favourites, but, they also provided their own challenges for those who were new to the experience of a camp and more robust physical demands. I am pleased to report that the boys responded magnificently, not only to the sometimes daunting prospect of abseiling down a vertical wall, but to supporting each other and to building the community that will travel with them through their education together over the next eight years. Yes, this will be the Graduation class of 2023 and they have embarked upon the voyage of 10 year old boy to 18 year old man. Their response to the activities on the camp is an indication they will be a tight knit group who will work to extend their own gifts and abilities, and in the process, develop those of the others around them. Special thanks are forwarded to the teachers who accompanied the boys and in their own way, contributed to the formation of the year level and all that lies ahead.

While community was very much a priority and feature of the boys at Regis, the parents of boys in Year 7 gathered for a Parent Evening to begin the year in the Ramsay Hall last Friday. Over half of the boys and their families are new to the College so it was a great opportunity to hear about the nature of secondary school, the key priorities that are part of the year ahead in the school, and, to spend time with other parents to build the fabric of community. While these are formative days in many ways, they set the parameters and expectations for what will follow over the next six years. And they do so in a spirit of mutual understanding and support. I very much wish to thank the families who carve time out of busy personal and professional schedules to attend these evenings and to work with the College in the partnership of education that is so important to the outcomes both now and years down the track.

Earlier in the week information was sent to each family in the secondary school about the Supervised Study Program, which is being considered for introduction in Term 2. A number of parents have indicated that there are significant difficulties in managing the demands of transport, training, study and meals during the week, given the busyness of personal and professional schedules. The proposed program has the potential to run from Monday to Thursday evenings, inclusive, between 4.00 and 7.30 pm. It will involve supervised study sessions in the Vaughn Building, broken by a short break for a refreshment before ending with a meal from 7.00 to 7.30 pm in the Boarders’ Dining Room. While there is a fee for service as part of the program, it is not a profit making exercise. On the contrary, the fee – in accord with the theme of this Viewpoint, is designed to cover costs so that the service can support families by reducing the need for transport during peak hours, providing a quality study environment and an appealing food option, and, strengthening the cause and effect of community at Riverview. Many details associated with how the program will operate are being considered, however the experience in other schools which have embarked on this initiative has been very positive and provided many gains for students and their families. Those who wish to enter interest are invited to do so by Friday 26th February so that the provision that needs to be made to accommodate families can be put into place over the coming weeks. And, it would appear that the demand is strong for 196 parents expressed interest in reserving a place in the program within 24 hours of the site being made live. More detailed information about the program can be directed to the Deputy of Teaching and Learning, Mr Russell Newman.

Very best wishes for the week ahead.

Dr Paul Hine