As the sun sets on the term, it casts a burnished glow on a multitude of activities and events that have produced much growth and development across the summer months. 248 young men walked through the front gate for the first time 11 weeks ago and are now ensconced in the educational program and very much enculturated into the ways of College life. At the other end, 242 Year 12 boys have chalked up the half way mark of their academic year before they confront the rigours of the HSC in mid-October. The daily regimen of teaching and learning has permeated the school, bringing with it a pulse around which aspiration and commitment revolve, asking each and every young man – whether undertaking theoretical physics or life skills programs, to give of their best. And for those new to the College, they have begun their apprenticeship in service, which will see them engage in many hours of social justice activities over the years of their enrolment. In all, we have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to as the holidays come into view.
For the boys in the Agriculture Program, the final week has reached something of a crescendo as they parade the steers on the public stage in Easter Show Competition. It is a time of excitement and apprehension as the boys go into the ring, some for the first time, along with the best of their peers in other schools and agricultural programs. Behind the scenes over a long and at times very hot summer, the boys have toiled with great endeavour to feed, curate and train the steers for showing. As part of the preparation they have had to counter volatile temperaments, groom hides, treat infections, clean sheds, calibrate feed and respond to myriad circumstances that are often left out of the textbooks and the curriculum documents. Tomorrow, the boys compete in the Royal Easter Show out at Homebush with the largest number of steers ever shown. This particular program relates to the foundational culture of the College, where for the first 43 years, Saint Ignatius’ was exclusively a boarding school for rural families, with no day boys in attendance. Best wishes are extended to the boys as they face the high point of their program over the coming weekend.
Among the litany of events to conclude the term, the following spoke to the breadth of the community and its many diverse and engaging activities:
- Year 12 headed off for their Retreat Program to various destinations in and around Sydney to ponder the big questions: faith, family, friendships and futures;
- The boys on the Regis campus, completed an extended collaborative learning experience and made preparations for their first and no doubt memorable trip to Armidale over the break;
- The collective rush to complete a number of programs and assessments before the arrival of the holiday period;
- A final liturgy to commemorate a term of community living in boarding, particularly for the 45 boys who left home as teenagers early in the year to begin their schooling at the College;
- The P&F Charity Morning Tea in support of the Cana Community attracted a large number of parents at the Boathouse – not unexpectedly – in support of social justice and inclusion;
- A luncheon for the Older Ignatians’ Union, which treated guests to a lengthy personal statement by past parent and internationally renowned media personality, Mike Munro. Mike’s story was inspirational: a boy from very disadvantaged circumstances who conquered the challenges to achieve success in his personal and professional life.
Let us not forget the importance of Easter and ANZAC Day over the break, both signified by public holidays: both important to the religious and cultural significance of the nation. In the case of the former, an Easter liturgy was held in the Ramsay Hall on Monday for the whole school, which spoke to the message of hope and salvation in Christian theology. It represents the culmination and the consummation of the Lenten period that sits at the heartland of the liturgical year. ANZAC Day is commemorated as a national day of remembrance and will feature prominently in many civic and community events in the second week of the holidays.
As the sun sets on the term, it is a time to step back and give thanks for all that has transpired across a busy eleven weeks of teaching and learning. It has provided that heady mix of growth and development, aspiration and at times – disillusion, success and its counterpart – disappointment. This is the engine of human development, particularly in a school which asks young men to reflect deeply on the travails of life and look with vision and optimism towards the future. The holiday period provides the space to engage in that deeply Ignatian impulse of reflection and discernment about those elements of lived experience that will enable future growth for each and every boy – for themselves and for the communities that they serve.
My sincere thanks are extended to those who have contributed in so many ways to the diversity of activities and events that makes this a special place to be. Best wishes for a well-earned break over the coming fortnight.