Friday 12 November 2021

The Business End

The Ramsay Hall, one of the locations of HSC examinations which started this week 

The arrival of the HSC Examinations brings a very distinctive biochemistry to the school grounds. The ‘Business End’ of the year has arrived, one that senior students have not only been preparing for over the last 12 months, but for many successive years. The campus shifts into a different gear as movement becomes very measured and orchestrated, examination procedures are attended to in minute detail, signage is set up to inform all of boundaries and requirements, facilities are screened off and a prevailing atmosphere of anxious apprehension takes effect. Thus far, the daily procedures have gone well, but each day brings with it the potential for a COVID transmission, so all are on high alert. We wish our seniors well as they embark on these very significant assessments, ones that will be the primary determinant of their future over the immediate years ahead.

The assessment program has also been in full swing across recent weeks, aided by the boys’ return to the campus. Some year levels had assessments withheld until it was possible to consolidate them into a block and in the physical confines of the College. Others have been a little more fragmented based upon their own curriculum requirements and the return to school program. Many of the assessments have been conducted, although as Year 11 students are aware, they have formally shifted into their HSC courses of studies and the tempo has increased. Over the coming weeks teachers will be constructing reports in preparation for the submission of the necessary documentation to the New South Wales Education and Standards Authority (NESA).

As we formally move into the latter weeks of the year there is a great deal on the calendar. It was a high priority to retrieve as much as possible of the Year 9 Challenge, the first stage of which went into effect in the early part of the week. A series of ‘incursions’ were undertaken as part of the growth and formation experience, including STEM, Indigenous and cultural educational perspectives, pastoral care and reflection activities, as well as some very specific input from Your Choicez associated with respectful relationships and consent. The latter has seen a great deal of work conducted at the school level over the last two terms, resulting in a number of augmented activities that will find their way into a modified curriculum and complementary provision into 2022. These will be reported on separately over the coming week.

One of the greatest challenges of COVID in a Jesuit school has been the difficulty of providing meaningful service activities for the students, ones which are central to the appropriation of Gospel values and ones which serve to ‘educate’ – in the broadest and richest sense of the word, about the plight of others. During the week, Year 10 students worked with Matesabroad in their Religious Education classes to create virtual learning experiences for students in English language, which have been customised for use in Khmer schools in Cambodia. Students are encouraged to be creative and to consider how these modules can assist young people to access a new language in a country where English proficiency is an agent of social change as it provides admission to a range of occupations and careers that can lift individuals and families out of poverty. As much as some quality resources were produced, seeing students work in groups to understand the importance of language as a means of social advancement has been very instructive and fully in accord with the higher order imperatives of Jesuit schools.

On Tuesday evening over 100 Year 11 students participated in virtual Mock Interviews, which were held in conjunction with the Old Ignatians’ Union (OIU). The program aims to provide the boys with insight into resume writing, practice at improving interview skills and assisting them to respond to real life interview processes with specialists who are well placed in industries that the students are interested in pursuing. The interviews were conducted for a duration of 30 minutes and formal feedback was provided to the students about their strengths and areas for improvement going forward. These experiences are timely and formative as they assist our young men to develop understanding of, and confidence in exploring the many vocational aspects of the post-schooling world.

Among other things, the Blue and White Café started up last week, much to the delight of the students in the Inclusion Program and the staff. Not unlike a number of businesses during the pandemic, the Blue and White Café has adopted its own creativity with ‘Takeaways on the Terrace’, maximising the upgrades to the paving and the outdoor furniture that occurred during Term 3. The Café is an important training opportunity for the younger students in the Inclusion Program and provides a range of skills for the boys including front of house and hospitality management, taking orders, developing inter-personal skills, attending to service, working the Eftpos terminal, cleaning tables, and the list goes on. Barista coffees, milkshakes, brownies and Anzac cookies are adding to the delights of lunch time, as they are to the skill development and confidence of the boys in the program.

We are certainly at the ‘Business End’ of the year. The weeks ahead have their own momentum as we round off what has truly been one of the more extraordinary years in the College’s history. Let us remain focussed on the business that needs to be completed, pray for the resilience to attend to it in robust fashion, and support each other and those in need in our community as part of the process.

Dr Paul Hine