Tuesday 10 April 2018

Betwixt and Between

As we approach the final days of the term, there is a prevailing sense that we have come a long way since the academic year began, but there is still much more to accomplish despite the paucity of time remaining. Year 12 End of Semester Examinations conclude today and the boys who have been studying under the compress of the examination regime over the last three weeks will move into their retreats next week. These will provide an opportunity to think deeply about the momentum of the year to date, and to consider all that lies ahead as the graduates confront the final two terms of their schooling lives. There is much to discern in context of the big questions: faith, family, friendships and futures. In many ways for our seniors, they are betwixt and between the first major frontiers of their young lives – the security of school and the open-endedness that comes with undergraduate study, travel and professional careers that stem from both beyond 2018. There is both indecision and excitement about horizons which lie far ahead, but the exigencies of the educational program impels that short term goals take priority over the months ahead.

For the rest of the school, Interim Reports that capture progress across Term 1 have been constructed over the last fortnight and were released via Inside View in the latter part of the week. These are timely documents as they summarise the learning and the attitude that the boys have demonstrated towards their courses of study since the beginning of the year. More than clinical statements of progress, they are the means by which the boys and their families can assess strengths and weaknesses and consider action plans going forward. Strengths are an opportunity to celebrate and affirm; weaknesses provoke reflection for the way that current shortfalls can be redressed. And, with the term break looming at the end of next week, there is space to act on those in the immediate rather than the distant future. At this time of term, I am reminded of the words associated with Jesuit scholarship: In all its endeavours, Jesuit education is distinguished by intellectual excellence and academic rigour… Because of this the schools set demanding standards for both students and faculty*. Any institution that calls itself Jesuit shuns mediocrity, so this time of term is one that provides the impulse for introspection and reflection, allowing for growth and achievement in areas where it may not be manifest to the degree that it should.

Beyond the immediacy of the classroom and the assessment cycle, the co-curricular program is in a position of abeyance. Betwixt and between the summer and winter seasons, training programs for Term 2 sports have begun and run from the early hours of the morning until the 5.00pm curfew each day. Oars, cricket bats and basketballs have been replaced by other balls – footballs, rugby balls and AFL balls. CIS Football is already underway, as is the Rugby 7 competition. Over the coming weeks, winter Swimming, Tennis and Cross Country will also feature in preparation for the intense winter season that will traverse the middle two terms of the year.

Enrollments interviews for the many families who have submitted applications for their boys to enter in 2020 have been conducted in earnest over recent weeks. Over 300 families have been interviewed by members of senior staff who will assess applications and make recommendations to the Enrolment Committee about the families whose values are most in alignment with the College. With many more applications than places available, this can be a demanding and time consuming process but it is one that is essential in order to make informed decisions about the families whose congruence – both philosophically and temporally, accord with the values that reside at the heartland of the educational program. Final decisions will be made by early May with offers of acceptance to be formalised by the end of May. This process necessarily needs to be responsive to those families who submit applications from overseas and seek consideration on an equal basis with those who reside in Sydney, across new South Wales or in the different states and territories of Australia. All families anxiously await the outcome of the enrolment process and until then, they are very much betwixt and between futures which are hopeful but uncertain.

And in the aftermath of Easter and in context of a spirituality that is informed by the magis – a theological depth and richness implicit to Ignatian endeavour – we are betwixt and between who we are and who we need to be. Earlier in the term, Fr Jack asked some important questions as part of the Lenten spirit: Who do we desire to be? Where is it that I need to be? What are the landmarks I can use to guide myself there? Am I grateful for the things and people I find along the way?These are important questions to consider as we move towards the Feast of Pentecost, that time in the liturgical year when courage and hope enable us to go beyond our current selves into the people that God wants us to be. And let us not be so naïve to believe that such an exercise is easy. But, as a community committed to human values that are articulated in gospel teaching, we may use this time to consolidate on what Easter has begun by way of transformation and renewal.

Dr Paul Hine