As I pen this edition of Viewpoint, I look out of my office window in the Administration Centre as rain cascades from Sydney’s heavy blanket of nimbus clouds that hang low over the city. Dams are full and rivers have experienced the impact of the tides from the streams gushing from the land into the waterways. Landscapes have softened with the soaking and a deep green tinge has capped the ovals and gardens, lush with the combination of moisture and humidity. And, there is more on the way!
Penrith had its own deluge amid one of the most challenging days in the history of the Head of the River. Only once in the better part of 130 years has the event been cancelled due to weather, and were it not for the extensive preparations that had been entered into, it was very much on the abandonment list. However, stoic athletes manned the oars and took on the wind and rain, triumphing over the adverse conditions. The Riverview boys can be proud of their efforts, which were the consummation of an intense training schedule over the summer and many early mornings on the Lane Cove River. The boys in Year 10 had three podium finishes – one 1st and two 2nd places, while the Riverview boys were superb in the 1st VIII, pushing Shore to the line and narrowly coming second by a half a canvass. Courage, determination, persistence and the willingness to push the pain barrier came to the fore to result in one of the best profiles of rowing over many years. Congratulations are extended to the boys, the parents and the coaching staff on a very fine effort, one that will stay with those who gave of their very best on the day for many years.
Not unsurprisingly, the rain has impacted in its own way on the redevelopment of the Therry Learning Centre. The saturation of the ground has meant that, instead of building from the ground up, the schedule of works has shifted so that the canopy will be constructed first, allowing the enclosure of the lower sections of the building before the infill occurs. Form work for the slab on the second floor has been completed in the early part of the week, and the concrete to extend and enclose the structure was completed on Thursday. This involved 20 trucks moving in and out of the school, with the management plan centred on transport through Gate 2 at the top end of the property. In addition, the piers on the north-east face are in the process of being finalised before attention is turned to the western node early next week. The Property Manager, Mr Bob Marsh, ensured that there was no disruption to classes, either through the trucks moving back and forth or the use of concrete pumps on site. The early weeks of the term that saw the heat of summer and ambient noise and dust from the project, have diminished over recent times and we look forward to a period of consolidation of the building program over the coming months.
During periods of intensive rain in Sydney, much of the ground debris and litter are washed into the river systems which ultimately find their way into Sydney Harbour and then out into the oceans. While the rain is fundamental to the health of the ecosystems, it also flushes unwanted contaminants into the natural environment. At the most recent school assembly, the students were challenged with a new priority: to protect the natural environment by reducing litter and plastics. The students were shown confronting images of wildlife (which no doubt many of you would have also seen) – birds and whales which have died after ingesting the pollutants of their environments. These are serious matters, for they not only relate to a theology of creation, but also speak to the need for each of us to take greater responsibility for reducing our negative impact on the natural environment. I commend the students on their impressive response to the recent initiative of disposing of their litter, particularly their plastics, in a more responsible way. This campaign will be ongoing, and it is my firm intention to highlight environmental awareness and fitting responses to it over the months ahead. I look forward to working together with the staff, students and families of Riverview to empower our young men to act responsibly and embrace environmental citizenship to promote a more sustainable future.
So persistent has the rain been for the better part of a fortnight, that it was necessary to cancel the Athletics Carnival. Not only were the fields saturated, but it was impossible to mark lanes on the turf. And, many of the field events were rendered unsafe as loose subsoil held the possibility of risk for those who were involved in high jumping and long jumping events. A decision will be made and communicated over the coming weeks as to when this may be rescheduled, but the calendar is very tight between End of Semester Examinations, which began for Year 12 on Wednesday, and lead into the Year 12 retreat in the final days of the term. Notionally, it is likely that this will be relocated to Term 2, but the particulars will be disseminated as soon as they are known.
Let us not forget that rain is the source of water that gives life to all flora and fauna on the planet. In the best of the Ignatian tradition, let us give thanks for its abundance that regenerates the health of the waterways and oceans, that enables crops to be nourished, creatures to be hydrated and life in its many forms sustained.
Very best wishes for the week ahead.