Thursday 2 April 2015

Time for Reflection

In the aftermath of a very busy term it is timely for all who belong to the school community to enter into a period of reflection: discernment about those aspects of schooling and life that have gone well in conjunction with those that need to be object of concerted focus for improvement into the future. This is the Ignatian way – something that has been at the forefront of Ignatian spirituality for centuries. Experience, reflection and action – a tripartite compulsion that captures the essence of daily life and one that is particularly valuable in the aftermath of a sustained period of activity.

Year 12 students spent the final three days of the term on retreat pondering the big issues: faith, family, friendships and futures. Rarely is time quarantined for this purpose and for the young men in Year 12 this opportunity will not present again until they enter the illustrious ranks of the OIU. Held in four different locations spread from Mittagong to Mount Victoria, the boys were encouraged to think deeply about the questions that give life meaning and balance, beyond the intensity of their studies and the demands of senior secondary. The boys need to be commended for the way that they entered into the spirit of the retreats and for their response to each and every activity across the three days. Special thanks are extended to the Heads of House and the staff who accompanied the boys and facilitated such a meaningful time of introspection and growth.

At this time of year the liturgical calendar gives prominence to the great Easter story; namely the death and resurrection of Jesus. A re-enactment of the passion was held in the Ramsay Hall on Wednesday and the liturgy sent a powerful message to the boys about the centrality of salvation theology in the Christian tradition. Lent has been a time prayer, penance, sacrifice and good works, a time of renewal and spiritual growth, and the coming days will see a consummation of that through the Stations of the Cross and various liturgies celebrated throughout the world.

On a classic autumn evening amid not a little fanfare, the Strategic Directions 2015-2020 document was launched in the John X Ramsay Boathouse against a backdrop of the Lane Cove River on Wednesday. Inspired by the Past, Embracing the Future is the title of this exciting era in Riverview’s august history, as the five key domains that have been the object of consideration and deliberation at all levels of the College for the last 12 months, are formalised. Action plans associated with Faith Formation & Ignatian Spirituality, Teaching & Learning, Pastoral Care, Community Participation, and Resource, Environment & Risk Managemnet will be developed on an annual basis and be the object of scrutiny by the College Council. Each family will receive a copy of the document over the coming weeks as part of the accountability of the administration in responding to the futures that have been identified.

Accompanying this significant development is the launch of the new College website and portal, the former of which became live at 4.00pm yesterday. The gestation of this project goes back to the late part of 2013 so it has been some time in the making but the product is one that the College is proud of, particularly the new functionalities that have been built into the portal – which will be operational in the early weeks of Term 2 and streamline communication between home and school.

Special congratulations are extended to the GPS Swimming Team who have again performed exceptionally well against some of the best schools in New South Wales. While the Junior and Intermediate Divisions were highly competitive, the Senior Division took out the GPS Premiership for the third time in succession. This is a remarkable feat; special congratulations being reserved for the boys whose disciplined training yielded such a fine outcome, and to the staff – Ms Prodinger, Mr Croker and especially Mr Webb as managers and coach, respectively.

While the holidays beckon there are myriad events and activities that speak to the breadth of the educational program at the College. A number of boys will gather at Canisius House over the latter stages of the break to deepen their understanding of, and response to their faith, through a Kairos retreat experience. The History tour will depart for Turkey, Belgium and France where highlights will include the inimitable experience of visiting ANZAC Cove on Gallipoli Peninsular, walking the now tranquil fields of the Somme and Passchendaele, and, traversing historic sites that attest to the atrocities perpetrated in Belgium. In addition, a number of sporting camps will be held in various parts of Sydney in preparation for the intense season of winter sport so many and varied activities will unfold before school resumes in mid April.

Term 2 begins with the intensity of Year 11 End of Semester examinations. Having seemingly begun their HSC studies only weeks ago, the condensed academic year in senior secondary means that the boys only have 18 weeks of schooling before they enter their End of Year examinations followed by the beginning of Year 12 courses of study. Hence, many of the boys in Year 11 will be busy with revision schedules and examination preparations over the coming fortnight, attesting to the speed with which the educational program unfolds at different points along the secondary continuum. Year 11 Parent Teacher discussions will be held on Monday 20 April which will allow boarding families to have access to teachers’ insights and feedback as they bring the boys back for another term, one that is contiguous to the examination schedule.

Best wishes for a restful, safe and grace-filled Easter and for some down time over the break. I look forward to the resumption of classes in anticipation of all of the opportunities that lies ahead over the coming term.

Dr Paul Hine