Friday 3 February 2017

New Beginnings

More than another turn of the page, 2017 holds its own unique share of challenges and rewards with new beginnings for many in the school community. We welcome 255 new boys to the College: 190 day boys and 65 boarders from various states of Australia and from different countries across the world. Of that number, 159 are families new to the school who will be entering a process of enculturation in a very large and fast moving school. In addition to the boys we welcome 29 new staff who will take up positions as teachers, administration, support and maintenance staff. Each and every person, staff, student or parent is welcome and as a College community we will work assiduously to support their full integration into the educational program.

Some exciting changes to the curriculum will see new integrated modules of STEM introduced in the junior secondary while the Regis campus will consolidate on the units that were introduced into Year 5 and 6 last year. It is obvious from the works on Gorman field that the Therry Learning Centre, Stage 1 of the Ignis Project, is well underway with demolition works completed and the construction phase pending.

There are a number of School Goals that have been determined for 2017 in each of the key domains of school life: Ignatian Spirituality and Faith Formation, Teaching and Learning, Pastoral Care, Community and Resources, Facilities and Environment. These will be disseminated over the coming weeks. It is clear that there is a great deal to look forward to as the dawn of the school year broaches.

Over the break many activities were conducted that saw the boys take their place in the community and more broadly in the world. The Ignatian Children’s Camp provided a wonderful opportunity for 35 disabled children to have a holiday and for their parents and carers to have a well earned break prior to Christmas. To add to the joy, Father Christmas visited the children at the conclusion of the camp. In all, five different immersions were held across the summer: two to Cambodia, two in the Himalayas in Nepal and one in India. These young men gave generously of their time and their talent to assist some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged people in the world. They worked in schools and orphanages, in impoverished villages and supported agencies, bringing the gift of service to those in most need of it. And, they did themselves and their school proud. A small contingent of students participated in the Language Exchange Program in France, spending most of their time in Toulouse and Paris. They come back renewed and refreshed with a passion for French language and culture. The Riverview story was taken abroad to different continents and countries across the summer, much to the mutual benefit of those involved.

High on the agenda at the beginning of any year is the HSC results of the graduates. It is very pleasing to report that 41% of our graduates in 2016 scored Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) scores above 90%, placing them in the top 10% of the nation. The graduates returned the highest number of Band 6 and E 4 results since the HSC has been conducted in its current form. In effect, the cohort eclipsed the performance of all who have come before them which is truly outstanding. As much as the top end of results was pleasing the profile demonstrated that fewer boys who have traditionally encountered difficulty performed much more strongly so the aggregated performance of the group was exceptional. Congratulations are extended to the boys on the calibre of their achievement. Particular congratulations are extended to Mark Rothery as Dux of the College with the highest possible ATAR of 99.95 and also to Max Mills as Proxime Accessit, who secured an ATAR of 99.9. And, the graduates have been awarded a range of scholarships in universities across Australia, while some such as Louis Stenmark have secured entry to elite institutions such as Stanford University in the United States. I extend a statement of sincere congratulations to the graduates on the calibre of their results and wish them well for the extravagant futures they will pursue. I also extend heartfelt thanks to the dedicated and hard working staff and their families who supported the 2016 graduates throughout their HSC journey.

A whole school mass was held in the Ramsay Hall on Wednesday to give thanks for the many blessings and graces that come into view as another school year begins. Some of the boys were a little overawed by the occasion, particularly those from the boarding community who rarely gather in such a sizeable forum to celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist. It is fitting, as a Catholic school in the Jesuit tradition, that moments of significance involving new beginnings are not taken for granted. And, it is pleasing to report that the boys responded to the occasion with great reverence and engagement: positive signs of their disposition as they return to take up the challenges that lie in store over the year ahead.

For those new to the College, particularly the boys and their parents from Year 7 to Year 12, they are invited to read the text which was promoted late last year to the whole community: Songs of a War Boy. While it is a compelling insight into the injustice, violence and corruption in many African countries, it is also a story of extraordinary triumph and resilience. The purpose behind adopting a common book under a program entitled Riverview Reads, is to strengthen literacy, cultivate an appreciation for literature and to educate the school community about social disadvantage and injustice. I commend those who took up the challenge across the summer to read Deng Adut’s life story and encourage all to find the time to join in Riverview Reads as the early weeks of the year become established.

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Dr Paul Hine