Friday 20 March 2015

Summer Sports to an End

St Patrick’s Day provided an opportunity to commemorate the 150th year of the first two Irish Jesuits, Fr Lentaigne and Fr Kelly, who arrived and took up the ministry of education at St Patrick’s College in Melbourne. Just one year later in Australia, the tour de force of Jesuit education – Fr Dalton, arrived to found schools already altered in the educational landscape of Australia, with particular reference to Xavier College (established in 1878), St Aloysius College (established in 1879) and Saint Ignatius’ College, Riverview (established in 1880). Special homage will be paid to Fr Dalton in 2016, whose name is synonymous with the Chapel at Riverview and whose life significance and contribution to the works of the Society of Jesus is second to none in Australia.

With metronomic impact, the serious end to the term has arrived with Year 12 End of Semester examinations beginning on Wednesday. These assessments mark the first full suite of exams that provide summative information about progress to date, as well as feedback to assist in the process of formative understanding of course work and examination technique. It was pleasing to see the boys make measured and intense preparation for the exams over recent weeks as they progressively intensify their year of study in preparation for the HSC Trials and final exams later in the year. Behind the scenes, teachers are immersed in interim reports which will be distributed over the coming weeks. As of today, there are only eight schooling days remaining until the end of term – how quickly the affairs of the seminal stages of the year are taken up and how rapidly they progress from one season to the next.

On a morning that dawned fresh and crisp before giving way to magnificent autumn skies, the final round of the GPS summer sporting season came to a close last Saturday. The fields, pitches, courts and arenas came alive with the breadth of the Co-Curricular program producing some memorable wins (such as a premiership for Open B Tennis and undefeated status for two of the Basketball teams) and some disappointing losses (such as the Open VI Cricket team which lost on the last ball of the day!). Boys of all ages in codes as diverse as Tennis, Cricket, Sailing, Baseball – the latter which saw the very first ever played at Riverview, as well as Fencing and Basketball, participated with great endeavour and did so in accord with the spirit that has been part of GPS competition throughout its illustrious history. And, as the sporting fields were the centre of activity during the day, so were the function centres at night with End of Season Dinners to formalise awards and thank coaches and parents. So much an integral part of the educational program, the summer has seen the boys grow in their proficiency, fitness, team work and sense of community that brings so very much to the holistic education of young men. Sincere thanks are extended to the coaches, managers and parents who give so willingly to support the boys in their many endeavours.

A perennial highlight of the calendar is the T20 Cricket match, which supports Life for Koori Kids and the cause of Jarjum College in Redfern, as well as Colegio De Santo Inacio de Loiola – a Jesuit school founded in East Timor, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. The beneficiaries of the funds raised from the match are in dire need of support: something that the Saint Ignatius’ school community has taken to heart over recent years. While philanthropy is a central aspect to the day, and a not insignificant one at that since approximately $30,000 was raised through raffles and associated activities, the richness of community is another. Many former stars of their field formed Invitational Team – John Eales, David Griffin, Michael O’Loughlin and other eminent athletes – giving up their time to commit to this very worthwhile event, one which took on carnival proportions between the rich ‘media’ commentary undertaken by Year 12 students, and the gallery of support that surrounded First Field. Many thanks are extended to all who gave of their time and generosity to ensure the success of the event, and particularly to Mr James Rodgers who coordinated and delivered another extravaganza. Bring on 2016!

Theatresports began in earnest on Monday evening with nearly 50 boys from Year 9 to Year 12 taking to the stage and giving the very best of stage comedy and creativity. Energising and uplifting, the antics of the boys who respond to spontaneous prompts in the public domain need to be seen to be fully appreciated. Gymnastics of the theatre meshed with improvised scripts to produce a memorable night that entertained a very appreciative audience, one that had the temerity to question some of the judges’ marks and adjudications!

The Hot Potato Shop, that forum which has given so much to free speech and causes dear to the social justice agenda of the College over decades, facilitated a wonderful presentation from Mick Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, last Friday. Mick is a descendent of the Gangulu people of central Queensland, and in his current role he advocates for the recognition for Indigenous rights and seeks to promote respect and understanding of these rights among the broader Australian community. What struck a chord with all who attended was Mick’s utter sincerity and deep humility. As a product of the Catholic schooling system in Queensland, Mick looked back on his own education with great affection and abiding appreciation, one that allowed him to graduate from law and lead causes of immense significance to all Australian – Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Among many issues that Mick challenged the boys with, was his fervour for constitutional reform in Australia, predicting that this will be the catalyst for the next referendum in a nation that is still struggling to find its expression of self.

Best wishes for the week ahead.

Dr Paul Hine