Friday 9 February 2018

Celebrating Success

One of the perennial highlights of the year is the Laureate Assembly, where students in the graduating class whose performance is particularly meritorious are presented to the College community. In all, of the 227 students who were enrolled during 2017 in the HSC and eligible for Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) scores, 46.2% of the cohort achieved a score of 90 or over out of 100, which by dint of interstate conversion, places them in the top 10% of the nation. While this is exceptional, equally impressive is the range of undergraduate courses that have been offered to our graduates from some of the finest universities both in Australia and overseas. Multiple entries into Medicine, Law, Commerce, Engineering, Actuarial Studies, Computing and a raft of other fields have been accepted by the graduates of 2017 who, over the coming weeks will progressively transfer their learning to the tertiary sector in preparation for gainful fields of pursuit beyond. As a school community, we can be very proud of the young men who worked so hard across an arduous year and have registered the finest profile of results in Riverview’s history. Their success at HSC level is a portent for all that lies ahead.

Out of the sightline this evening, the Kircher Collection – which boasts the finest compendium of work in Literature, History, Music, Art and Drama of the graduates of 2017, will be launched. Named after Athanasius Kircher SJ, a polymath of prodigious intellect in the 17th Century, the publication is testament to the aspirational scholarship that is alive and well at the College. The tradition of scholarship and the desire to learn remain deeply embedded in Jesuit education and the sophistication of the work contained in the publication is truly remarkable from young men who are relatively new to the field. It is not inconceivable that the contributors, in years to come, could reach the lofty heights of other illustrious alumni such as Robert Hughes, Alex Seton or the six Rhodes Scholars who have given so much to academic pursuit and artistic expression in their personal and professional lives.

Over the past week, many boys (and their parents!) have been adjusting to life – Riverview style. In the early weeks of the year the template is set for all that lies ahead and it is important that routines that are conducive to success are explored and established at the outset. Over recent years I have spent much time with many of our senior students who attest to the fact that the attitudes and patterns they developed in their upper primary and early secondary school were ultimately responsible for the success they experienced in their HSC. Over the break I caught up with Gianni Taranto (pictured right), Dux of 2014, who explained that he entered Riverview in Year 5 in 2007 and was ambushed by the expectation that was placed on him, coming from a much smaller school where the cadence of life was slower. However, Gianni quickly adjusted and developed a more rigorous work ethic, but still did not experience strong success in the early years. In fact, Gianni did not win any prize or award until he won a subject prize in Year 11; something that gave him the encouragement to dig even deeper. Little did he know as an HSC student studying three languages – English, Mandarin and Italian, that he would rank in state places and take the much coveted and highly regarded award as Dux of the College in his graduation year. This is not a story of recurrent recognition and achievement. Far from it. It is testament to what hard work and aspiration can bring and in Gianni’s case, is still bringing. Having won a scholarship to Berkeley in California, Gianni was recently awarded the title ‘Student of the Week’ for assisting others in their work and study. So, as the early weeks of the year are broached, I encourage all of the boys to make the most of this beginning by reviewing habits and establishing the routines at home that will see them attend to solid study and revision programs as they pick up the momentum of course and assignment work.

The youngest boys to arrive at the College spent the latter part of the week out on the northern beaches as part of the Year 5 Camp. An outward bound and activity-centred experience, the camp enables the boys to establish new friendships and form the bonds of community that will stay with them over the many years ahead. Coming from 26 different schools and systems, over the last few days and the coming weeks, the boys will weave their own bonds of community, and what better way to do it than respond to challenges requiring problem solving and team work. The highlight is always the flying fox and the big swing, although abseiling, rock climbing, laser tag, kayaking and orienteering were also popular with the boys, some of whom undertook these activities for the first time. And, the timing is not without significance. Right at the start of their induction to Riverview, the boys learn the value of friendships and community, along with values that enable them to understand and appreciate the priorities in Jesuit schools – those that are replicated across 3,500 schools in 45 countries throughout the world. It is an expansive organisation and one that we can sometimes lose sight of amid the immediacy of a busy educational program.

Both the Laureate Assembly and the Kircher publication give profound evidence of young men who began early in their schooling to set goals and work assiduously towards them. Such efforts pay off handsomely in the end, and ensure that those who enter into thorough and thoughtful planning and execution are engaging at the deepest levels in an endeavour that is conducive to success. May all be encouraged to follow suit.

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Dr Paul Hine