On three occasions each term, a student Mass is held on the Senior Campus. The boys have the option of attending Mass or pursuing private study during that time. During the week, a special Mass was facilitated by the boys in the Special Inclusion Education Program (SEIP), which packed the Dalton Chapel, leaving few boys in private study in classrooms. Following the Gospel, a student reflection was given by Jack Farhat, a young man who is highly regarded by his peers in SEIP and deeply respected across the school. Its contents capture so much of what the educational program at the College is trying to achieve:
“The theme for our Student Mass today is ‘Show Courage to Celebrate Who We Are’. This means to show courage in our hearts, to think about the people who are struggling to find something to do in their lives, people who are afraid to try something out. For example, if a student is lost and someone walks up to him and asks him where he should be, then takes him to the class and helps him out.
We are all different and this is a good thing because it is the way God made us and He wants us to have the courage to let our differences shine.
At school, we celebrate all our differences and who we are by trying out new things that you would like to. For example, I do Drama and I like it but I was very nervous on stage and if you think about doing it you need to get out of your comfort zone. Even when I was nervous I’m glad to be on stage because it is important to have courage and show people your different gifts.
The Gospel today calls us to “have courage”. In it we see Peter doing something we think is impossible – with Jesus’ help he walks on the water. But then Peter gets scared and starts sinking – he loses his courage. Peter can only do what seems impossible because Jesus helps him. However, Peter needs to have courage because when he loses his faith he starts to sink.
Last week we went on camp and had to ‘show courage’. The boys did an excellent job of getting out of their comfort zone at camp. Some of us conquered our fear of heights by doing the high ropes course. Others conquered their fears by riding a horse and engaging in conversation with the young ladies from Danebank. All of that took courage and faith.
In conclusion, we all need to show courage to celebrate who we are.” – Jack Farhat
There is such a profound message in Jack’s words, so much so that many of the boys were discussing it in animated tones during Mentor Group after recess. These are moments of pure gold in a school: a daily event that could be lost among the busy schedules associated with study and sport commitments, but one that speaks to the bedrock of values upon which schools such as Riverview are founded and thrive. I commend Jack on his courage, which saw him address a large gathering of the student body in the Chapel, and one which has had a resounding impact around the College.
Adding to the profile of SEIP during the week was the Blue & White Café, which was open for business on Wednesday. This is a valuable opportunity for the boys to build communication skills with staff and other students as they undertake practical training in hospitality – an employment field that a number of boys will pursue in the post schooling environment. With many options on the menu, the boys become familiar with food lines, coffee and refreshments that need to be delivered at the table in a timely, personable and effective manner. And in a distinctive way, these boys need to muster the courage to communicate in a business setting, something that they are very adept at, as so ably attested to by Jack during his reflection earlier in the day at Mass.
The spring weather has brought with it some magnificent sunshine in the aftermath of Sydney’s drenching rains last week. It is abundantly apparent that a new season has arrived: a season for new growth, as evidence by the rejuvenated landscapes and the verdant green of the grounds and gardens. The warmer weather also brings forth nature’s cycle, as two spring lambs in the Agricultural Program attested to over last weekend. Synonymously, the first day of spring – which was Fathers’ Day, saw the arrival of the lambs which have attracted their own share of attention around the College, particularly from the boys in the Agricultural Program and in SEIP. These are tactile and earthy learning experiences; ones grounded in the cycle of the seasons and the essence of nature. There is both beauty and mystery at the same time as the forces of cosmic transitions that affect the planet take effect. May we step back to appreciate and be grateful for this time, as we move towards the latter stages of the term and make the pleasant adjustment to the warmer months.