Friday 24 July 2015

Week 2

Sydney’s blast of arctic weather has made the return to school for Term 3 both memorable and intense. So much rain fell in the latter part of last week that sport needed to be cancelled for most of the teams on Saturday, allowing only the competition games at Senior level to be played. Despite the ravages of the cold and the wet, the boys have settled quickly into their studies and I am pleased to report that the groove of teaching and learning has become firmly established and is apparent at every turn in the early weeks of the term.

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The skies cleared on Wednesday to allow the boys from the Regis campus to pit their athletic skills against each other with the annual Athletics Carnival. It was wonderful to see these young men actively engaged in physical activity and to witness the strength of community that was alive and well. While some fine performances were registered across a range of track and field events, very much in keeping with the AAGPS competitors of the years ahead, a spirited Tug o War brought events to a crescendo at the end of the day.  All of the boys need to be commended for the spirit in which they approached the day and the positive gains that resulted from it.

Capitalising on the success of the Year 10 Service Program, a day of guided reflection was spent last Friday to process the important service learning that accrued for both the boys and the organisations that were the beneficiaries of their service programs. Capitalising on the theme of the day Learning to Serve; Serving to Learn, some of the boys reflections are worth sharing:

  • At Micah House I was put in an environment I was unfamiliar with and this allowed me to interact with people whom I normally wouldn’t speak to or even make eye contact with. I will never forget a man I met who was huge and covered in tattoos. He would normally be someone who I would probably shy away from or feel very uncomfortable around. After spending time in conversation with him, I realised how much he could teach me. D.B.
  • We sat in an English class where we found it very difficult to communicate with the students. One item a student showed me was a soccer ball made of socks. I was really shocked that this was all he had. M.C.
  • The first day I started volunteering with another man. At times he would become frustrated over small things that I was finding quite easy. My supervisor later told me that his wife had recently died and his disability makes everyday tasks a big challenge for him. This made me realise that you never really know someone’s story and you must have understanding and empathy when to meet others. A.O.

The boys in Year 5 had their own Reflection Day on Monday, for the first time formally taking up an extended reflection experience since they have entered the College. This will become one of many over the years ahead, remembering that these young men will form the graduation class in 2022!! One is always reluctant to prognosticate too far into the future but one wonders where the College and the world will be as we approach the quarter mark of the 21st Century.

House Masses continue as we move a little more deeply into the term with Campion House and Ricci Houses celebrating the Eucharist with their staff, students and parents. Such occasions speak to two key elements of the educational program; faith and community, the fusion of which has been emblematic of Ignatian education over centuries. One of the special features of these gatherings is the opportunity to acknowledge students in the graduating class, each of who is presented with a candle as a symbol of their time at the College and a memento of their education over the years ahead. Thanks are extended to the parents, particularly boarding families who travel distances, who make time to attend these gatherings and to the Heads of House and House staff who coordinate the many aspects of the liturgy and evening.

Parent Teacher interviews have been conducted over the first fortnight and they have facilitated important discussions between home and school. In the immediate aftermath of the examinations and end of semester reports, these forums enable open and constructive discourse about the degree to which each young man is applying himself to the learning program and how progress can be commensurate with ability at all times. That we are engaged in a partnership of significant proportions is evident, however the more that we collaborate on how that can best be achieved will be to the ultimate benefit of each boy at the College. My thanks are extended to all who give so willingly to the strength of the partnership we have entered into.

During the week I sent through an independent memo regarding the Master Planning process, which is receiving considerable attention behind the scenes. A small reference group is facilitating consultations with faculty and students as the design elements of Stage 1, which includes the reworking of the Therry campus, is being developed. This is a particularly intense process but we are confident that the outcome will be in due proportion to the time and energy invested along the way. Over the next three months it is hoped that the substance of the design and consultations will be completed so that the first stages of the development appeal through Council can be undertaken. In a very tangible way. This is such an exciting project as the best by way of contemporary learning environments are being researched and progressively incorporated into the design, fabric, spacial orientation and energy provision of the project.

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Dr Paul Hine