As the curtain call for 2017 beckons, there is so very much to be thankful for. In each domain of school life there has been so much endeavour, so much achievement and so much reward. The end of year is a time of reckoning when one looks back, and in the best of the Ignatian tradition, enters a period of discernment about the events that have transpired across a busy year of teaching and learning, and engages in some prudent planning for the future. This is the parlance and the practice of ERA – Experience, Reflection and Action. The experience has already transpired; reflection is meaning that is derived from that experience; and action is what lies ahead in light of the meaning and lived reality that has accrued. Not to be dismissed, it is the essence of the Ignatian way of proceeding, and accordingly, I encourage each and every boy, each and every family, to engage in this process across the summer. It may be while serendipitous moments present in a quiet setting, when reflecting on some literature (perhaps the Riverview Reads initiative for 2017/18 – The Narrow Road to the Deep North) or when engaging in considered planning for the year ahead. The wisdom of the Ancient World maintains: the unexamined life is not worth living. The time for examination has arrived and may it be a fruitful and rewarding one. And above all else, may it be a time to express thanks to all who have provided the blessings for a rich and rewarding year.
As is normally the case, the final few days of term compress themselves into a great deal of activity. The boys in the SEIP unit held their annual Christmas party and many acknowledgements and thanks were forthcoming. Prior to the gathering, the boys assisted to prepare the food and parents and caregivers were the beneficiaries of the boys’ increasing proficiency in the kitchen. A new Year 7 boy, Angus Holmes, was awarded SEIP student of the year, not only for his dedication and commitment to all his work, but for completing 67 hours of service in his first year at the College. This may be something of a record. The artwork of Jack O’Donnell was also on display, whose freehand depiction of Sydney artist Brett Whitely (pictured right), shows Jack’s extraordinary talent and skill. As a school that embraces inclusion, it was wonderful to be with the boys and their parents on this very special day.
The many and varied achievements of the boys who have excelled in the educational program were publicly acknowledged on the occasion of Speech Day. Despite a crushing media schedule, Geraldine Doogue accepted an invitation to provide the Occasional Address and shared some prudent and timely reflections with the boys. Those sentiments will not be lost as the boys carry them over the summer break and ponder their significance in light of their own discernment about the highs and the lows, the achievements and the disappointments of a busy year of teaching and learning. Special congratulations are extended to the boys who have been acknowledged for their fine achievements and for the commitment that they have made to excellence. In a very direct way, these young men are the carriers of the culture for they strive to activate their gifts and talents, and in the process, create benchmarks for others to aim for and emulate.
As a postscript to the world record which was established a few weeks ago, the students from Colegio de Loiola and Instituto de Brito have formed their own human map in the shape of the Portugese word for thank you – Obrigado. This gesture recognises the importance of gratitude as a core element of Ignatian spirituality, and also speaks to the bond that has been established by schools on opposite sides of the world. Young people, despite vastly different circumstances of life, have a common interest in acknowledging and supporting each other and they do so as part of an international network of schools that owe their foundation and their vision to St Ignatius of Loyola. This is truly something to celebrate and be thankful for.
As our final edition of Viewpoint goes to publication, and as the curtain comes down on 2017, I offer a statement of sincere thanks to all who give generously to the affairs of the College. There are too many to list but heartfelt thanks are extended to the staff, parents, Old Boys, Past Parents and all who give of themselves to the works of the Society of Jesus and to the educational affairs of this extraordinary school. And, I specifically wish to thank the boys for their energy, idealism, enthusiasm and their good cheer which makes this such an enjoyable place to be. Best wishes for a safe and restful holiday, and it is with great confidence and optimism that we look forward to all that lies ahead over the coming year.