From the rector & principal of saint ignatius’ college riverview
From the rector & principal of saint ignatius’ college riverview
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Thursday 27 September 2018 | Dr Paul Hine
This week is the culmination of the academic year for the students in the Graduating class, and in many ways the consummation of their schooling lives. 245 young men, who walked into the College in over-sized khaki shorts as 10 or 12 year old boys back in 2011 and 2013, respectively, leave as men having completed the requirements for Year 12 and the standards associated with them. They have added their own distinctive chapter into the rich and unfolding history of the College and led their school with great integrity and commitment.
As the end of term looms on the horizon, we can look back on another week that enlivened the hearts and minds of the students. The first groups have already left for Year 10 Service Week whilst the remainder of the cohort will commence next Monday. We thank Jesuit tertian, Fr Rafal (pictured left), for sharing with the boys his personal experience of serving others, and we look forward to seeing these young men return having reflected upon their own experiences of service through a variety of contexts.
This week I attended the Year 11 Drama performance of Lord of the Flies, the grim, cautionary tale of how thin civility and morality can be. The performances were outstanding and it was a technically brilliant show. In particular, I was impressed with the amazing set design of Mr Kirk Hume. The reversal of the audience on the floor of the theatre and the players in the mountainous jungle set was truly brilliant.
In numerology 2020 is regarded as the Angel Number; one which promotes the cause of compassion, consideration and consistency in living a life that is devoted to the service of others. It may be seen as a metaphor for the education provided at Riverview as it carries with it deep undertones of a spirituality where the energies of the individual are committed to the benefit of the collective.
Late last week, Sydney’s 76 days without rain, thankfully, came to a close. The earth drank deeply of the moisture, as did the parched landscapes that have become denuded from the fringes of grass that lined their periphery, along with the trees and shrubs that have been bent and shrivelled from dehydration over a protracted period.
The Rector and the Principal were fortunate to spend time with some of the youngest members of the College community to begin the final week of term. Boys on the Regis campus who have made special efforts across the term in leadership, service and endeavour were acknowledged and thanked for the gifts that they bring to their school community and for their desire to live out Ignatian values in a meaningful and wholesome manner. These are magis boys, the ones who make the extra effort to contribute to their school and their community, and at the tender age of 10, 11 or 12.
The very first Rugby clash between Riverview and Joeys is etched into the history books back in 1907 and the Alma records ‘The game was fast and fearless, and played from start to finish in admirable spirit.’ In a match that was a portent for the future, it ended in a draw – 11 All. This wonderful tradition was continued under magnificent autumn skies at Hunters Hill last Saturday in front of a crowd of approximately 6,000, and the descriptor of its historical counterpart was as relevant as the clash was 109 years ago. While the contest contained a fierce but fair competitiveness on the field, the pageantry and theatre of the war cries that have echoed for a century resonated with emotional impact off the field. Chants of RRIIIVEERRVIEW were countered with the Sub Tuum; the latter synonymous with Marist schools throughout the world. It was one of those gala occasions, like the perennial Gold Cup and Head of the River, where the entire community became involved and the spirit of both the GPS and the respective schools was on abundant display. It was a salient reminder of the rich tradition that exists in schools such as Riverview and Joeys along with the rallying cry of the community to produce such a wonderful contest and a memorable spectacle. Congratulations to all, the boys on the field who got over the line after a titanic struggle, and, the many who supported the occasion.
The freshness of the holidays has already been folded into the routines of classes and study. There is a palpable sense of purpose about the school and this is obvious in the intensity with which the boys are approaching their assessment regimes, which loom large over the weeks ahead. While some of the exciting initiatives in STEM continue to evolve across the Regis campus, the boys in Year 12 are processing their End of Semester Examination results and what that means for future consolidation of core course principles and priorities. Term 2 is characterised by little down time and at the end of the second week it is clear there is much to be accomplished over the coming weeks in preparation for examinations and major assessments.
A veritable flurry of activity has rounded off a busy but very rewarding term. The final fortnight was bisected by Riverview in Bowral, which provided the opportunity to re-connect with generations of Old Boys and their families who have had long term associations with the College, as well as spend time with a number of current families who have boys in boarding. One of the more interesting revelations on the weekend was that one young man – Charles de Lauret (OR 1882) from Goulburn in the Southern Highlands, was one of the original 26 students in the first class at St Ignatius’ in 1880, and that tragically, he was the first student who died while on holidays on his family property at Wynella in 1882. One senior statesman, Dr John Roche (OR 1944) attended with his wife as part of the Roche dynasty whose enrolment over many generations spanned 1891 to 1996. As is always the case on such occasions, the sense of community was palpable and it was memorable and enriching to spend time with the boarding community and their families in their own regional context. Special thanks are extended to Christine Zimbulis who coordinates these functions and to Cathy Hobbs, the College archivist, whose meticulous work enables Riverview to draw on its rich past.
We are reminded in Ecclesiastes that ‘to everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven’. Perhaps the relevance of that maxim is no more applicable than at the present time as we move into the Easter story; the theology of the passion, the crucifixion of Christ and the resurrection that signals new life beyond death. This will be symbolically celebrated on Sunday with the eggs that have become synonymous with this time of the year, those that have the potential to subjugate the Christian significance during this period of renewal and growth through the challenges and rewards that the Lenten period provides. And, there will be some days of respite and rest over the break prior to the latter stages of the term, which will no doubt be filled with its own intensity and momentum. May it be a time where families can share in the gift of each other, the joy and hope of the season and a spirit of optimism, as we move ahead into the final days of the term.
Schools like Riverview have the rare yet distinctive capacity to present magic moments at unscripted times, one of which surfaced in the yard on Friday at lunch time and captivated hundreds of boys. It was through the agency of ‘gorilla busking’, musical entertainment provided by two senior students – Zac Roddy and George Goodfellow, which aimed to raise funds for Colegio Santo Inacio de Loiola in Kasait, a Jesuit school in Timor Leste. On a day when the sun shone brightly the boys gathered round in a carnival atmosphere, not only appreciating the musicianship, but expressing felicitous applause for the staff and students who approached the busker’s guitar case and threw in their dollars. It was a unique celebration of community, music, fun and philanthropy, which yielded some very appreciable gains: $565 in just 30 minutes!! These funds will be added to the thousands of dollars that are sent from five Jesuit schools across Australia each year to a project in one of the most impoverished nations in South East Asia, funds that have progressively built a school for over 300 children over the last three years who would otherwise not have access to education. And, the work goes on as construction begins on a teacher training institution contiguous to the school, which will take the best graduates and place them in undergraduate teaching degrees in order to redress the educational lacuna in East Timor. The importance of this project cannot be underestimated, but, it was the spirit of goodwill, the generous commitment and a vibrant sense of community that erupted in the grounds that combined to produce a poignant reminder of how wonderful it is to be in schools and to work with young people.