We were very fortunate to have one of Australia’s sporting greats, former Australian Wallaby Captain and one of the select few to win two Rugby World Cups – John Eales, as Special Guest at the Co-curricular Assembly during the week. A graduate of Marist College Ashgrove and a former parent of Riverview, John has an intimate knowledge of catholic schools and the values upon which they rest. His address to the boys resonated deeply with the Ignatian story, as he exhorted the boys to embrace their co-curricular life in a way that produces appreciable gains for the team and the community, beyond the singularity of the individual. In one particular reflection, John encouraged the boys to be the best for the team, as distinct from the being best in the team. Well versed in Ignatian terminology, John asked the boys to be men for others in all of their endeavours, be they in the classroom, on the stage, in the sporting arena or in public oratory – to aspire towards excellence, to practise hard, to honour the code of conduct at all times, and to do with a deep and abiding humility. Words from one so tall in the sporting world were not lost in an auditorium of boys who passionately embrace their own interests and pursuits.
The cadence of life around the College has settled quickly into its familiar rhythm early in the term. With NAPLAN testing next week, Year 11 End of Semester Examinations following the week after and other assignments and assessments creating their own demands across other year levels, the intensity of teaching and learning is abundantly apparent. The winter co-curricular program, which began in earnest on Saturday, brings with it a momentum of its own. Subsumed within the myriad activities that are part of the formal calendar, the service program is being animated across the school in a variety of ways. Houses continue their fund raising for the Jesuit school in Timor Leste, bringing education to many who would otherwise be denied it. Weekends see boys serving meals in soup kitchens and relief centres, particularly as the colder weather begins to bite and produce exponential hardship for the homeless. Other agencies and institutions, from hospitals to aged care, from disability and relief centres, are the beneficiaries of the boys’ commitment to service and a tangible expression of a pragmatic Ignatian spirituality which undergirds the school.
Under the glory of magnificent autumnal skies, the winter co-curricular program began over the weekend. With the fusion of the GPS and CAS competitions over the early part of the season, Riverview was matched with Knox for a Gala Day, which saw dozens of sides across a variety of codes compete for the first time in over a decade. The better part of 1,600 boys, some for the first time, pulled on the Blue and White and represented their school in Soccer, Rugby, AFL, Swimming, Martial Arts, Winter Tennis and Chess, participating fully in the breadth of the educational program. I was particularly pleased to receive a phone call on Monday morning from a member of the public who attended the 1st XV Rugby at Knox on Saturday afternoon, who made contact to commend the Riverview boys on their outstanding behaviour, demeanour and deportment throughout the course of the day. It is indeed gratifying to hear that the boys conducted themselves with such grace and poise in the public domain, outside of the immediate supervision of the teaching staff.
Significant stages of the Therry Building, Stage 1 of the Ignis Project, were registered during the week. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, the formwork for the Western Node was completed, as were the columns on the third floor of the building, both of which were poured through a convoy of trucks that made their way into the College at regulated times. Attention now turns to the infill of the lower floors and the formwork for the North East Node. In the case of the latter, this is the building block of the substructure which will hold a commanding aspect over First Field and be the very public face of the project. I am pleased to report that after the wet weeks of March, when significant time was lost due to rain, the program of works over the dry and sunny weeks of April has caught up and the building is now tracking according to schedule.
In the aftermath of the Royal Easter Show, the staff and students in the Agriculture Program should be very proud of their efforts. In addition to being awarded Second Prize in the Heavyweight Division of the Steers, other commendable credits have been forthcoming since. In livestock, Riverview was awarded the Bronze Medal winning carcase in the Heavy Weight Division and First Place in the Open Steer Case ‘Virtual Taste Test’. Sam Phillips (Year 11) was awarded First Place in the Junior Judging of Merino Sheep and will represent New South Wales at the National Championships in Melbourne later this year. While these awards are a vindication of the work that has been conducted in the program, I was delighted to receive correspondence from the Country Women’s Association of New South Wales which praised the staff and students of the College at the Castle Hill and District Agricultural Show held in late March:
The executive and members of the Castle Hill Branch of the County Women’s Association of NSW would like to congratulate all the students from your college who attended the agricultural competitions … Our branch members who helped at the CWA kiosk during the show were very impressed with the student’s behaviour and manners and were especially impressed with those who jumped in and helped, unasked, when they saw our members carrying heavy stock from cars to the kiosk.
To our boys who often labour tirelessly out of the sightline of other more prominent activities, they did themselves, their families, their team and College proud, as did the staff.
Best wishes for the week ahead.