Friday 29 January 2021

New Beginnings

 

Welcome back to a year that holds its unique share of rewards and challenges. The COVID environment still stalks but thankfully in diminished proportion to most countries across the world. After weeks of lying dormant across the summer, the College came alive yesterday morning when the better part of 1,600 boys walked through the gate. There was a vibrant energy as the life-blood flowed back into the school. For 257 new boys, there was a palpable mixture of excitement and apprehension as they approached Day 1 at Riverview. Most of these young men enter Year 5 and Year 7, and they will go on to form the graduation classes of 2026 and 2028, respectively. Not without significance, 63 new boarders joined the College, a number at a young age who, over the coming weeks, will adapt to independent living in a residential context. Please spare a thought for two of these boys who entered Year 6 at just 11 years of age! What a portent these beginnings are for the future – such enormous opportunities for growth and development, formation and achievement. Is this not the essence of life in its fullness: those that generations before have traversed and those who are yet to come will encounter? To each and every young man and their families who join us, and to the 900 plus families who return to another year at this remarkable school, very best wishes for all that lies ahead.

 

The entire school community can be very proud of the achievements of the Graduation Class of 2020. While results since 2015 have seen Riverview as the highest achieving comprehensive boys’ school in NSW (that does not provide scholarships), the results of the 2020 cohort have eclipsed all others that have gone before them. A full profile is included in this publication under Teaching and Learning. Special congratulations are extended to both Duxes, Oliver Lenzner and Nicholas Leonard, who achieved the ultimate Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) Score of 99.95, and to Alex Hoffman who was awarded Proxime Accessit on 99.90. These scores represent rarefied academic achievement – among the very finest in the country. As much as all of the boys are to be congratulated on the highest number of Band 6 Results in the College’s history, I wish to acknowledge and thank the teaching staff who have worked assiduously to support these young men and facilitated such extravagant outcomes. This will be commemorated at the annual Laureate Assembly, over the coming week.

There is much to look forward to as another year comes into view. As outlined in some of the correspondence released prior to the resumption of classes, there have been major upgrades to the campus over the summer break. The grounds are prepared for action in the aftermath of the summer rains and significant rectification works have been undertaken on the Arrupe Building and to Third Yard on the Senior Campus. Plans are also well advanced for the next stage of the Ignis Project to be undertaken later this year. This involves the construction of a new STEMP facility, which will house the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and PDHPE on a fused curriculum interface involving problem-centred and creative-solutions learning. This project will take the College to the next stage of its very proud and distinctive history.


While a new year brings with it new opportunities for all, it requires thoughtful and considered planning to maximise outcomes into the future. An old maxim maintains: Quality is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. Informed choices and prudent decisions will realise appreciable gains over the coming term. To set the benchmark high and to aim a little beyond one’s grasp, is an ambition that will see goals realised that may otherwise not have been countenanced or achieved. It is not a time to diminish, for in my own experience, ‘as it begins so it shall continue’. I have little doubt that when the graduates of 2020 entered the College those years ago, they had any idea that they would go on to become the highest achieving cohort in this College’s history. The truth is that these men set goals, worked hard and made informed choices to secure the opportunities that they now have available to them.

As we begin a new year, let us be acutely mindful of the fact that we belong to a Jesuit school. When St Ignatius engaged in the heady business of founding schools – the first in Messina in southern Italy in 1548, he had little idea that his enterprise would finish up in other hemispheres of the world half a millennium later. Nor did he have any notion that approximately 3,000 institutions that attended to the needs of over 2.5 million students would eventuate in over 100 countries across the world. It was a faith-filled vision, and it remains as integral to the College’s mission today as it did when The Founder gave birth to it. It was a new beginning back in the 1540s, no less than it is a new beginning for those who participate in it the better part of 500 years later. A new beginning no less, but one that we all share in.

Best wishes for all that lies in store over the coming year.

Dr Paul Hine