Friday 2 February 2018

Up and Running!!

Mismam Kris and Russell Whap proudly hold up the Torres Strait Island flag

After the summer months of preparation and relaxation, the year is up and running: welcome to the 2018 school year and the rewards and challenges that lie ahead. We embark upon a new chapter of the unfolding history of this remarkable school as 260 boys take up their enrolment, the considerable proportion of whom enter Year 5 and Year 7. There will be a settling period as the boys begin to adjust to the cadence of a very fast moving school, as there will be for the 76 new boarders who take up residence at the College from different states and territories across Australia, as well as from some distant countries of the world. For the first time we welcome boys from the Torres Strait who have travelled from Thursday and Moa Islands to begin their journey at Riverview. I am confident that each of these young men will find a welcome and comfortable niche in the school, although in the early part of the week some expressions of uncertainty and apprehension across both campuses were evident. As part of the enrolment intake, 195 new families enter the College community, which brings its own excitement and anticipation given the range of opportunities that are synonymous with the breadth of the educational program. To one and all, welcome and may the year ahead be one where health, peace and prosperity prevail.

Over the summer break, a large number of school-related activities were conducted. Most prominent were the Immersions to different parts of South East Asia: two to Cambodia prior to Christmas, two to Nepal and one to India in the aftermath of Christmas. Despite the poverty of the slums in India, the confronting injuries that have been incurred by children through land mines in Cambodia, the deprivations of children in orphanages and marginal schools in Nepal, the boys were enriched through their experience of social justice and their service activities. They gave, in the words of St Ignatius, “without counting the cost” and they have by their works given much to the children, the aged, the infirmed and to the villages that hosted their visits. I particularly wish to thank and acknowledge the 14 staff who gave up much of their summer break to be with the boys and accompany them in their civic education through first hand experience in the classroom of the world.

In the aftermath of the break, I am saddened to report the untimely death of Patrick Rodgers (OR2011) while on service works in Cambodia. Patrick is the son of one of our most senior members of staff, Mr James Rodgers, and of Elizabeth, and brother of Michael (OR2014). Patrick’s passing is a salient reminder of the frailty of life that can be cut short at any moment. Patrick first travelled to Cambodia as part of an immersion in Year 11 and went back nine times in the five years since school. His was a passion to serve some of the most disadvantaged in Pailin, one of the final strongholds of the Khmer Rouge before the end of the civil war. In honour of Patrick’s memory, his spirit and his service, the College will commission a new award to be presented each year, The Patrick Rodgers Memorial Service Award, to an Old Boy whose service work beyond school is particularly noteworthy and in accord with the service Patrick gave so abundantly to Cambodia. May he rest in peace.

The College community can be very proud of the results of the graduating class of 2017. In the aftermath of 2016, when results were the highest on record, the graduates of 2017 cut new frontiers with their outstanding performance and achievement profile. A quick look at the graph shows that the number of Band 6 and E4 results increased from 349 to 413; an unprecedented improvement of over 15%. This is truly exceptional. Congratulations are extended to Charlie Hoffmann as Dux with an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) of 99.95 and to the Proxime, Jesse Gray, who secured an ATAR of 99.75. Other notable achievements include six boys who were ranked in the top five students in New South Wales in their respective subjects, 13 All Rounder Awards (for securing Band 6 results in 10 or more units of study), the 106 boys who secured an ATAR in the top 10% of the state (and by dint of interstate conversion, the nation), and the boys who were included in On Stage and Art Express, which are the finest works in Drama and Art in the state. While the boys are to be commended, I extend my thanks to the staff who worked assiduously to support the boys across the demands of their HSC and register a new watermark in Riverview’s results.

Over the course of the week, much has happened. New boys were introduced to the subtleties of complex timetabling structures, a whole school mass formally opened the school year, 14 new teachers joined faculties, the new chaplain Fr Joe Dooley arrived to take up his new ministry, and much more. The year is up and running and the energy and momentum of school life are palpable. Some of the apprehensions of the early days have dissipated with the familiarity of learning routines and acquaintance with buildings and school systems. It is the responsibility of the current students to induct, encourage and support the new boys, particularly those young men who have entered Year 7 as boarders and have left home at such a young age. To soften the blow, each of the Year 7 boarders was given their own Iggy the Moocher, that iconic wolf figure that has become an emblem of the College and the spirit that underpins it. This will accompany them over the next six years of the journey until, as highlighted by Iggy of 2017, Liam Hurley, they may lead their school in that capacity in their graduating year.

Very best wishes for all that lies ahead for 2018. And, may we take inspiration from an inimitable tradition and a culture that has been established at Riverview, one which invites all members of the community to embrace and enjoy.

Dr Paul Hine