Deeply embedded in Jesuit spirituality is the concept of creative fidelity. It recognises that while the past is important there is need to be mindful of, and responsive to, the impulses and the conventions of the contemporary world. This concept was very much apparent at the Aspiring Leaders Program last Friday, which saw 12 teachers from St Ignatius’ College join a small number of teachers from St Aloysius College, in presenting action research projects that has been conducted throughout 2016 to investigate and improve aspects of the educational program from teaching and learning and pastoral care to inclusive education, behaviour management and child protection. In each of these fields there has been considerable research and innovation in recent years; each having its own contextual expression at Riverview.
As a Jesuit organisation that has a disposition
for the best in contemporary practice, herein lies the encouragement for staff to undertake their own investigation into existing arrangements with a view to school improvement going forward. And, this is a collaborative process that enables staff to draw upon similar and at times disparate methodologies to interpret their findings to enable creative responses to the present and the future. So, while there is a fidelity to the ideals that underpin the educational program at the College, there is a predisposition for adaptation and renewal, both words of which form the lexicon of the Secretary General for Jesuit education, Fr Jose Mesa SJ, who encourages Jesuit schools and ministries to be creative in responding to the signs of the times.
I am pleased to report that the first stage of the Ignis Project, the Therry Building, has been given final approvals by both the Australian Province and the College Council. The successful builder, Quasar, has been contracted for both the demolition and the construction phase of the project which will formally begin on December 9th. This will enable the heavy works to take place over the holidays, minimising the impact of the building program when the boys return for school in late January. The demolition and excavation phase is projected to be complete by January 25th, allowing a buffer in the event that delays occur before the resumption of classes on January 31st. Over the course of the coming weeks and months regular Electronic Direct Mail (EDM) will be sent through to update major stages of the building program as they are undertaken together with information that affects movement and building operations around the campus. A great deal of time has been invested to ensure that the Therry project will produce some of the very best contemporary learning spaces, and in the process, allow for the many concurrent elements of the educational program to run smoothly during the building process.
After four weeks of continuous activity, the Year 9 Challenge concludes today. InsideView contains a blog that profiles a colourful set of photos and accounts that have transpired over the last month as the boys have navigated their way across some of the physical demands of the program as well as experiences that has seen them cook and serve meals, visit religious sites, undertake STEM activities, rock climb, explore mathematics, visit universities and learn the basics of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). The latter involves life saving techniques which equip every person to know and undertake CPR, should the need ever be there. Along the way the boys have deepened friendships, learned new insights, appreciated beauty, forged alliances, discovered things about themselves and others, while navigating a set of circumstances that drew on so many aspects of growth. This far down the track we can confidently say that the boys have done themselves, the program, the school and their families proud. While commendations are extended to the boys, sincere thanks are offered to the staff who journeyed with them, particularly Mr Adrian Byrne who coordinated a complex but robust and engaging program.
On Monday evening the Year 10 English Enrichment Projects were presented in the Brennan Library and what a remarkable array of work was on display. Projects were modelled on the HSC English Extension Two Course, where students independently investigated an idea or text and then produced an original piece of work which took a variety of forms. The final product was imaginative, critical, interpretative or analytical in nature. Henri King (OR 2015) addressed the gathering about his experiences as a high achieving graduate in senior English, providing some inspiration and encouragement for the boys as they move into the HSC over the coming years. And the exceptional quality of the projects can be seen through Patrick Fucilli’s work, The Death of Libby Newel; one among many, which provided insight into the boys’ imagination and creativity.
A new initiative will be signalled over the coming week associated with a holiday reading program for the whole school – staff, students and parents. It is a program which has recently been introduced in a Jesuit school in Boston and one which has gained widespread support at the College. In short, it promotes the cause of literature and uses a text that resonates strongly with Jesuit spirituality to reinforce values that underpin the educational program. Songs of a War Boy, by NSW Australian of the Year, Deng Thiar Adut (and whose portrait was the ‘People’s Choice award for the Archibald competition), is the book chosen for the summer and specific information about this innovative project will be distributed over the coming week.
As we broach the final week for the year I am mindful that there is much to accomplish, from promotion of the Riverview Reads initiative to the Advent liturgy and Speech Day. Let us pray for a smooth end to what has been a rewarding, at times challenging, but enriching year of Jesuit education, and let us do so with creative fidelity.