Friday 14 May 2021

The Mid-Term Panoply

There is a veritable panoply of events that are part of the mid-term calendar, each of which speaks to the diversity and richness of life at the College. Thankfully, most have not been impeded by the recent community transmission of COVID, even if there has been some adjustment to the arrangements associated with the conduct of such events.

Late last week the Year 9 Reflection Day was held on the school grounds, utilising the beauty of environment and the opportunity to step out of the daily routines. This is quality time amid the mid-term crush for the boys to step back and consider those fundamental, existential and important issues in life: faith, family and futures. A full program saw the young men move to different sections of the property to engage in a number of reflection exercises that were focussed on the theme of ‘Companionship’. This aimed to bring students to a deeper awareness of the theology and the practical benefits of companionship as a core teaching of the Gospel, and the model of companionship provided by Jesus Christ. Opportunities for small group discussion were augmented by reflective journaling, both of which were facilitated by Year 11 Peer Leaders who are to be commended on the leadership they displayed. It was both instructive and uplifting to see the boys working together across year levels to deepen their understanding of, and response to, this challenging but compelling impulse in Christian life.

Community events have featured prominently, between the P&F Mass, House Masses, the City/Country Mothers’ Lunch and a litany of other functions over the last fortnight. While a number of House Masses have been celebrated since the term began, over the last week there has been some postponement due to the uncertainty associated with COVID. These will be re-instated over the weeks ahead. House Masses are central expressions of the faith life of the College and with it, the fabric of community. They involve large numbers of parents across a range of year levels that embrace the interface between city and country families. It is this diversity which is a distinctive element of College life and one which builds such a strong and supportive community that celebrates achievement, but importantly, consoles and assists in adversity. The latter is never to be underestimated.

Year 5, 7 and 9 NAPLAN testing has prevailed across a very busy Week 4, with on-line testing of Writing, Language Conventions and Numeracy, respectively. This has taken the boys out of classrooms for not insubstantial periods across consecutive days, results of which will be forwarded to the participants and the school in September. These will be reviewed closely by the College for any interventions that need to be made to improve outcomes over the years ahead. While NAPLAN has its own implied pressure, so too do the weeks ahead as the assessment regime for the semester intensifies and reaches its latter stages. There is no denying that this is a very demanding time of year, one that we expect the boys to commit to fully in order to provide the best opportunities for achievement over the years ahead.

The Summer Co-curricular assembly was conducted in Ramsay Hall on Tuesday, profiling the engagement and achievement of boys who committed so strongly in such a diverse range of pursuits. Myriad sports – Cricket, Tennis, Rowing, Basketball, Golf, Mountain Bike Riding and many more, were recognised alongside Drama and Music, acknowledging the boys who give so much to the breadth of the educational program. The life-giving benefits of these endeavours are widely known for the way that they increase proficiency in specific activities, provide connection and engagement, build teamwork and fitness, and importantly, contribute in a unique way to the integrated fabric of community. My thanks are extended to all who contribute so positively to this core element of the educational program.

On the academic front, SAT tests for entry to universities were conducted on site over the weekend for those boys who are looking to take up undergraduate studies overseas. It is that time of year when the horizon for Year 12 students begins to stretch out, as post-schooling options become apparent and the object of more expansive pursuit. Entry to universities overseas can be particularly competitive but those who prepare early and undertake the necessary preliminaries are well-placed to secure options later in the year. It is not without notice that graduates from 2020 accepted offers for undergraduate programs from the most prestigious and sought-after universities in the world including Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, along with a number of highly regarded universities in the United States.

Congratulations are extended to the boys who were involved in the Year 12 play late last week. The O’Kelly Theatre came alive with some classical renditions that embraced a wide diversity of performance from Charles Dickens to Rowan Atkinson, not excluding Banjo Paterson and William Shakespeare. In addition, Debating and Chess have resumed and form part of the Friday evening schedule for many boys. Behind the scenes, much preparation by way of rehearsal is being undertaken in readiness for the school musical, Shrek. Now only 12 schooling days away from the opening performance, actors and musicians are intensively polishing their performance.

The Saint Ignatius’ College Board, under the meticulous watch of Chair, Mr Greg Mackay, continues to fulfil their essential role of keeping school administrators accountable for the many school operations which occur on a daily basis. One, among many, is the process of School Registration conducted by the NSW Education and Standards Authority (NESA), which was undertaken on Tuesday 11th May. Behind the scenes, the College has been preparing for this since September last year, and I am pleased to report that all aspects of the inspection have been endorsed and approved.

From Reflection Days to community events, from NAPLAN/SAT testing to dramatic theatre and school governance, the panoply of school life is finding abundant expression. We give thanks for all that transpires so seamlessly across a busy period of term.

Dr Paul Hine