Friday 21 November 2014

Widened Opportunities

With just seven teaching days remaining until Speech Day, the dusk of the year begins to loom large. Behind the scenes, teachers are finalising results and constructing reports in readiness for the distribution of end of semester reports early in December. There are generally few surprises in the end product, provided the boys have worked with care and purpose across the semester and have prepared well for the examinations. Those whose performance have been particularly meritorious will be publicly acknowledged on Speech Day, which will be held in the Ramsay Hall on 3 December. In anticipation of a year that concludes in a little over a week, I encourage all who are involved in the delivery of the educational program to maintain the intensity until the final minute of the final lesson, for that speaks to a fundamental ethic in Jesuit education.

A number of activities and events that form part of the broad educational program are approaching their end. Last Friday evening the Junior Rep Team competed in the Grand Final of Theatresports at Newington College with eight schools and took Second Prize in a high quality field. On the same evening the Catholic Schools Debating Association held Grand Finals at Holy Spirit College at Lakemba, debating the affirmative position: That sports stars are positive role models. The confidence, reasoning skills and oratory of the boys were exceptional, however in a split decision on adjudication, the Riverview team was awarded Second Prize. Congratulations are extended to coach, Daniel Kent, and to a spirited team that represented the College throughout a long season. Both Theatresports and Debating have concluded their programs for the year, collectively accounting for the engagement of over 500 boys, each of whom have gained appreciably from their growth and development.

One of the final social events of the year saw the Memorial Hall pulsating with life on Friday evening when the boys from Year 8 hosted girls from five schools – Mercy Catholic College, Santa Sabina, Loreto Kirribilli, Queenwood and Ravenswood, for their Inter-School Social. Much colour, life and energy (not to mention very loud music!) featured throughout the evening as the boys mixed freely, developing social skills, confidence and maturity through the event. It was particularly valuable to see the SEIP boys enjoying themselves; young men who have such an important place in the Riverview community and who integrate into each and every element of the educational program.

The culmination of 12 months of intensive work in the instrumental program on the Regis campus was presented to an appreciative audience in the Ramsay Hall on Tuesday evening, and what proficiencies the boys have reached in such a small amount of time. Indicative of the breadth of the program was the ambitious range of genres, from the theatrics of percussion to strings and brass ensembles, and, even the classics – the orchestration of Les Miserables in primary school! It was indeed an impressive evening, one supported by hundreds of proud parents and friends. Congratulations are extended to the boys whose discipline and commitment to excellence was so abundantly apparent and to the music tutors who prepared the boys so well for performance. Special thanks are also extended to Ms Kate Moore who celebrated her 10th year as Music Coordinator in grand style.

On Wednesday evening a sizeable crowd gathered in Therry Hall to hear the priorities associated with the expansion of the House system to Years 7 and 8 in 2015. The rationale for the change to the existing structure was presented together with an explanation of how the system will operate on a daily basis and how cura personalis, that is the individual care and response to each boys’ needs, will be enhanced.  There was a discernible air of expectation from parents, particularly as peer-mentoring programs were explained along with widened opportunities for student leadership. While each new initiative in the College takes a little time to settle, the College Executive is very confident that the gains from the new system will be real and realisable early into the new year. Next Tuesday evening, another important parent forum will be held to discuss the findings of the iPad survey that was undertaken in the Middle School. All parents are welcome to attend.

Indicative of just how rapidly time marches on was the forum of over 200 families in the Ramsay Hall on Monday evening to speak to the enrolment cycle for 2017. While the current year has its own pressing imperatives and priorities, the College is already making preparations for the boys who will arrive in Years 5 and Year 7 – those same boys who will graduate in 2022 and 2024, respectively. A distinct air of excitement and anticipation pervaded the evening as a mixture of new and existing families came together for the first time, many of who will make their own significant and valued contribution to the affairs of Riverview into the future.

Every weekday morning before school the sacramental life of the College is lived out. On Mondays staff gather for morning prayer in the Dalton Chapel, while on Tuesdays mass is celebrated on a class basis at the Regis Campus, Wednesdays in the Therry Chapel and both Thursdays and Fridays in the Dalton Chapel. It is always a delight to see parents at the Regis Campus at class masses and the invitation is extended to any parent who wishes to attend morning mass, either on a sporadic or regular basis, to do so. Apart from the liturgy of the mass, the homily often provides the basis of theological and spiritual reflection, in itself a moment of inspiration and renewal at the beginning of the day. For those who have the opportunity by way of time to attend, mass begins at 8.10am and is normally over by 8.30 am. All parents are welcome to attend and celebrate the Eucharist as part of the life of the community.

Dr Paul Hine