Wednesday 31 March 2021

Looking Back

We come to the end of a very busy term. Looking back, there has been much accomplished, from the enculturation of 257 new boys who walked through the gate for the first time 10 weeks ago, through the completion of a consolidated period of teaching and learning. It is worth noting that 63 of the new boys who entered the College on Day 1 are boarders, the youngest of whom joined the Regis campus in Year 6 at just 10 years of age!! These are the moments of new beginnings, moments to savour as new boys and new families join a community to which they will make their own important contribution over the years ahead. For the many blessings and endowments across all that has transpired, I extend a sincere statement of gratitude to all.

The apprehensive weeks of uncertainty that were apparent early in the year gave way to the removal of restrictions associated with the pandemic, allowing for the reinstatement of most aspects of the educational program by the latter weeks of the term. That the first of the House masses has been conducted and that community events are back on the calendar is indicative of the optimism that abounds at the present time. The likelihood is that a full and unfettered winter co-curricular program will be conducted over the coming term, barring any unforeseen contingencies over the Easter break. What a joy that will be, should it continue to unfold in the way that it has.

New friendships and new relationships have been forged that will be consolidated further over the years ahead, some of which will be life-long. As the tapestry of community is knitted together on a daily basis through the formation of new Home Rooms, induction to House procedures, engagement in sporting, cultural and artistic pursuits, so the familiarity of the daily regimen takes effect. The speed with which this all takes place is something to behold and instructive to watch. Seeing House routines in the secondary school being established on a daily basis, the structure of boarding come into effect within days and the comfort with which the boys move into the rhythm and the cadence of the weeks, is a well-established perennial cycle. The boys receive their mid-semester reports this week, those that capture the progress that has been made across the term. These documents need to be the object of close consideration over the break, particularly for the way that they inform areas of growth and consolidation over the coming term. While there is a favourable impression about the way the boys have approached their study over the last 10 weeks, there is always room for a constructive view of where there is room for improvement and how that can be approached.

At the other end of the spectrum, the boys in Year 12 – who have undertaken their final retreat this week – have only two terms to go. The momentum of the HSC is relentless, and the timeframes synonymous with a demanding assessment regime need constant review. It has been a very solid start from the boys at the top end, but there is no space to back away. The coming break will be a chance to step out of the cycle of the daily timetable, but importantly, provide opportunity to revise core concepts and to consolidate on key skills and processes. Bulky aspects of major assignments, be they practical or theoretical, can also be significantly advanced to enable the young men to return refreshed, but also well-prepared for a term of some intensity before the challenges of Trial HSC Examinations and the rigours associated with graduation. As much as it is about looking back, it is also about ensuring that the future is understood and properly accounted for.

As we come to the break, let us be mindful of Easter and the importance of the liturgical season. I was fortunate to attend the student liturgy in the Ramsay Hall last week that spoke to the death and the resurrection of Jesus. It was pleasing to see the boys so positively engaged in liturgy. This is the centre piece of the Christian story, one which consummates the teachings of the synoptic gospels and provides hope and confidence for life beyond death. It is that which we are being called to at this time of year, the place where prayer and faith reside amid the commercialism that can otherwise abound. Let there be space to commit to the theological centrality of the Easter story over the coming days.

Our term comes to a close. I extend my sincere thanks to all who have given so much to it – the boys themselves, the teaching and support staff, the parents, the OIU and the wider community. We have much to be thankful for as we enter a period of rest, one that will see some tired spirits rejuvenated in readiness for what lies ahead.

Very best wishes for some special time over the coming fortnight.

Dr Paul Hine