Thursday 17 June 2021

A Formal Conclusion to the Term

The formal conclusion to the term has been somewhat disjointed, made so by the intervention of the long weekend, one bookended by boarders’ travelling days to enable families from rural, remote and overseas destinations to spend time together. Two short weeks in succession mark the end of what has been a very intense but rewarding term, one punctuated by the ever-present threat of COVID-19 that saw a number of events modified at various stages to accord with requirements from NSW Health and government agencies. That accepted, we can look back with enormous satisfaction and gratitude for all that has transpired across a busy nine weeks of learning, formation, growth and achievement.

There was an urgency early in the term to retrieve several events which were postponed in Term 1 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Among others, they included a number of House Masses, New Parent’s Dinners and community functions which had been the casualties of sporadic infections that prevented them from being conducted in the early months of the year. Thankfully, each and every one of these gatherings, so important to the fabric of community at the College has been undertaken. In addition, a number of Boarding Expos (pictured left) and outreach functions have also have taken place in various country locations including Young, Bathurst, Griffith, Wagga Wagga and Canberra, with others still calendared over the coming term.

We have been blessed and fortunate to conduct a number of school events based around issues of central significance to our nation and our spirituality. Early in the term, the boys gathered for the first time as a whole school in over a year to celebrate ANZAC Day, before re-convening a fortnight later to commemorate the importance of Reconciliation Week (pictured right) and the Feast of the Sacred Heart. There is an inherent power in events such as these – they shape school culture, speak to a faith context, build respect and generate a deep sense of communal understanding about a school and a nation that cares for its past, its present and its future. Add to this the significance of the Friends Listen Assembly, and we have a formula that enables the College to tap into the very essence of itself and its context to educate our young men, in the very broadest and richest sense of the term. To have the capacity to come together as a whole school for common purpose is a great gift and one that is not taken for granted in the current environment.

Service programs, liturgies, Reflection Days and the very first virtual immersion to Cambodia – speak to a faith life and a spirituality that is on the rebound after being so very distant during the intensive phase of the COVID-19 conundrum. During the term, Fr Tom reminded us of the significance of the Ignatian Year, which commemorated the 500th anniversary of St Ignatius being injured by the cannonball in the Battle of Pamplona. During the 12 months ahead, we are invited and encouraged to consider the life of St Ignatius through three lenses: as a pilgrim, as a patient and as an ascetic. We will have the opportunity early in the coming term to focus more closely on this, as we celebrate St Ignatius’ Day on July 31st and then move into perennial service activities in pursuit of a ‘faith that does justice’ in the world.

The teaching and learning calendar has been intense throughout the term. NAPLAN, Standardised Aptitude Testing (SAT) for international universities and applications for Early Access Schemes (EAS) to local universities has also featured, complemented by a busy assessment regime. It is envisaged that all Semester 1 reports will be completed and made available by the end of the week, so I encourage families to take the time to review these documents for the way that they outline the progress that has been made and where areas of improvement lie over the coming semester.

Among other things, this term has seen a great deal of energy devoted to a variety of important matters. They include:

  • Some outstanding work in the theatre, particularly the Year 9 and Year 12 Plays, not to mention the extraordinary success of Shrek the Musical
  • A robust winter co-curricular program, which saw 1,500 students don the blue and white each weekend in a spirit of healthy competition, fitness, skill development and community building
  • The five-year New South Wales Educational Standards Authority Registration cycle, which saw the College unconditionally re-registered until 2026
  • The Waratah Award for Excellence in First Nations education, in conjunction with the schools also involved in the success of this highly regarded program
  • Much work to review the ‘respect and consent’ curriculum, resulting in calibrated learning experiences for the boys over the coming months and years
  • A final rush to support the Bursary Program, as personal and company commitments are formalised to complete the financial year over the coming fortnight

We have indeed been blessed in all that has transpired across an intense but deeply formative period. I thank all who give so freely to the mission of the College to make Riverview the place that it is. And we give thanks to a benevolent God who guides and informs our work as we enliven the words of the Gospel in the hearts and minds of our young men.

Dr Paul Hine