Friday 23 October 2015

Planning for 2016

Although only in the early stages of the term, much by way of planning has been entered into for 2016, all consistent with the second year of the Strategic Directions 2015-2016 Document that was released early in the year after considerable discernment and consultation. Taking the form of School Goals for the coming year, these are designed to build upon the restructure of the pastoral care system, strengthen teaching and learning via the use of measurement data, increase accountabilities through asset management and risk management, while at the same time, maintain and develop the distinctive Ignatian charism that lies at the heartland of the educational program. Some new initiatives are also being introduced, including:

  • Advanced pathways into undergraduate study programs for HSC students at university across a range of subjects and disciplines
  • New subjects at senior secondary including Legal Studies, English Studies and Catholic Studies
  • The introduction of teaching internships, in partnership with Sydney University, the University of New South Wales and the Australian Catholic University
  • A Memorandum of Understanding with Sydney University through the Health Care Centre, as a training placement for students in the Bachelor and Master of Nursing programs
  • A Jesuit student exchange program with Fordham College in the United States
  • The finalization of design in preparation for building of the first stage of the Master Plan in November 2016 which is centred on learning environments in the Therry precinct

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In addition to new initiatives that have been identified, those that have been the object of formal review in 2015 such as the First Nations Program and the Ignatian Centre present their own strategic futures going forward. And, as is always the case in the latter stages of an academic year, the replacement of staff who have accepted positions in other schools and institutions is a time consuming but necessary process, in order to ensure that the best personnel are attracted to the College’s many operations and portfolios.

Each of the goals for the coming year will be the object of formal review by the College Council, which met for the second last time for 2015 during the week. Led by Chair, Mr John Wilcox (OR 1975) and ably supported by a group of talented and informed administrators, the Council play a decisive role in approving long term futures, finance and policy that will enable the College to continue to take its place as one of the most respected providers of Catholic education across the nation. While this small group gather and deliberate outside of the sightline of the College for the most part, they provide the expertise and advice that ensures that Riverview will forge ahead in an educational environment of constant change and renewal.

Year 11 Service Conversations are being held in Religious Education classes to reflect on the service programs in which the boys have been involved during the year. Since Year 7, the boys have aggregated over 70 hours of support for those most in need, whether that be in homes for elderly, schools for the disabled, serving meals to homeless and disadvantaged, or visiting the sick and those in rehabilitation. Central to the education program, the boys are challenged to consider what values they have learned from serving others and how that will affect their decisions, choices and actions into the future as emerging citizens of their world.

One of the many prisms of the Music Program, the Solo Recital Concert, was held late last week and showcased the many and varied talents of the boys. Eight separate concerts were held on the night, seven of them running simultaneously in different venues around the College. In all, 195 students performed with high standards of musicianship in guitar, percussion, brass, strings, piano and woodwind being registered across the board. These were complemented by some fine voice performances in two concerts in the Dalton Chapel, giving witness to the boys’ talent and the hard work that has been entered into through hours of practice and refinement. What was particularly pleasing was seeing some of the less experienced boys take the stage and perform so very well, gaining confidence and stagecraft through their repertoire. There are over 600 students in the music tuition program and 22 music ensembles in the College; a sign of the vitality of music in the College. As music and art are two key disciplines of significance in Jesuit history and endeavor, it is heartening to see this tradition alive and well and so strongly supported by the boys. Many thanks to the staff who have assisted the boys to reach the level of proficiency in their chosen fields and for developing the passion that will see these young men retain music as an important part of their lives beyond school.

The Year 10 students in co-curricular drama performed a dazzling performance of The Birds, a Greek play written by Aristophanes in the Ancient World, with extraordinary skill and passion. This production challenged all disciplines of the theatre including a script that drew on the fantasy, mimicry and satire of the Greek gods, extraordinary costuming that enhanced characterization and performance on stage, lighting, set design and painting that captured the imaginative aspects of the script, and of course, the acting of the boys who worked so hard to present this magical comedy. Congratulations are extended to all who brought this high-energy production to life, particularly those who spent hours in the background ensuring that all went smoothly on the night. Special thanks are extended to Mr Conrad Page, who coordinated all elements of this remarkable play.

The latter stages of the HSC are coming into view after the intensity of the first fortnight. Thus far there have been few surprises with the boys generally indicating that the Trial HSC papers set by the College were more difficult, which has prepared them well for the final examinations. Please keep the intentions of these boys and their families in your prayers and thoughts over the coming week as they undertake those assessments which conclude this demanding regime.

Dr Paul Hine