Friday 22 May 2015

Past The Halfway Point

Wednesday signified the ‘hump’ of the term so we are now on the other side of the home run with just nineteen schooling days remaining until the mid-year break. A term which is notoriously short and compressed by an intense examination and assessment schedule, it is timely for the boys to take stock of the revision schedules that will see them well placed to confront the rigours of what lies ahead over the coming weeks. Teachers are assisting the boys to undertake systematic revision of key concepts and course content over the weeks ahead; however, this needs to be augmented by structured and coherent study programs that are factored into homework schedules.

It was an absolute pleasure to host the students from Jarjum school, who visited the College late last week to access various facilities for a day out, including the pool, the basketball courts, the boarders’ dining room and various activities that are not available on a land-locked site in Redfern. A Kindergarten to Year 6 school for Aboriginal students, Jarjum was opened in 2012 to provide tailored educational experiences for twenty-five students with special needs and both teachers and students have done a magnificent job over recent years. Jarjum is an Ignatian school – the most recent in Australia and quite possibly in South East Asia, that has been approved by the Society of Jesus to adopt the charism of the Jesuits along with other partnered schools around Australia. It is hoped that this initial visit will grow into multiple visits across the year to build bridges of understanding between an established and resource-endowed school such as Saint Ignatius’ Riverview, and other less fortunate schools in Sydney and beyond.

 

Students in Year 6 participated in the Garate Service program; an activity which produces appreciable gains for the boys and for ‘those without a home’. The parish of St. Canice’s in Kings Cross strongly supports the works of the Society of Jesus in a myriad ways from the Soup Kitchen through to Jesuit Refugee Services, both of which provide much needed relief and support to the local community. An important interface between the College and the works of the Province, it is hoped that the boys reflect on their experiences to ‘see, feel and hear’ the plight of those who are part of Sydney’s daily but often invisible reality – and, that they can from the earliest years of their education at Riverview associate with the call to action that is part of it. In the case of the latter, student volunteers in Year 7 and 8 meet on Tuesday afternoon to make sandwiches and toiletry packs that are distributed by Year 11 students on the Night Patrol Van, all a part of an integrated program to ‘conscientise’ students to the faith in service program that lies at the core of the educational program.

I was fortunate over the weekend to participate in a Jesuit schools retreat that was conducted by the Province in Sevenhill, South Australia. This was a time of discernment for Principals, Rectors, Chairs and Members of School Councils, to consider and reflect on those issues pertinent to governance and the long-term strategic directions of each respective school. As much as the insights gained from the forum are valuable, so is the power of convocation as the schools come together only once in every two years for this purpose. It was also a time to look closely at Ignatian spirituality in a contemporary context and to see how each of the schools are formulating and facilitating experiences for their students which are authentic, meaningful and relevant. Following the retreat, five Ignatian schools met in St Ignatius’ College Adelaide to consider issues relevant to the vitality and effectiveness of the schools, ultimately aiming to bring the best by way of educational provision to the students in their respective educational programs.

While the Heads and Rectors gathered on the other side of the border, the AAGPS Athletics Dinner held in Ramsay Hall on Saturday evening gave demonstrable witness to the satisfaction that the athletes gained from a season of commitment to fitness and training. Some of the highlights of the season were a point of focus, as were the disappointments: the former a corollary of the exhilaration that comes with success and teamwork and the latter the character-building element of competitive sport that promotes resilience and resolve. Across a demanding season the athletes did themselves and their school proud and for that they deserve our collective thanks and commendations.

While one season came to a close another launched into full swing with the first round of the GPS season major trials against St. Augustine’s and Newington, involving ten sports and over 1,300 students alone in the three codes of football: rugby, soccer and AFL. Around the fields activity abounded, as it did in various other facilities that hosted Fencing, Tai Kwon Do, Mountain Bike Riding, Volleyball and Cross Country Running. It is always uplifting to see the boys engaged in gainful activities that promote fitness, teamwork, skill acquisition and a deep sense of community. And, on Friday evening the Independent Schools Debating Association (ISDA) involved twenty-four teams and approximately 200 students who tested the best of oratory, communication, reasoning and argument skills under the pressure of public performance. It was one of those weekends that saw activity dominate from the moment school finished on Friday to the latter stages of Sunday; bookended by Debating and AFL with so much in between.

 

The wider Riverview family added their own dimension to the strength of community during the week. Last Friday the OIU, the P&F, Past Parents as well future parents, gathered in Cova Cottage as part of the consultation process for the Master Plan. This was by no means a light-weight affair: three hours were spent considering the full implications of the template the school has developed over the last twelve months in response to facilities provision and deployment that lies ahead over the coming years. While the Master Plan moves in a forward direction, the Nostalgia Mass and Lunch held on Thursday looked back over very rich and memorable associations of past parents and students. It was indeed a time for nostalgia, one that produced rich and vivid recollections of past times and experiences, some of which extend back into the middle of last century and others which relate to grandchildren and events of today.

Very best wishes for a busy and enriching week.

Dr Paul Hine