This year has been described as the longest short year ever! In a lot of ways it feels surreal that we are farewelling our students at the end of the year. It has been a year like no other, yet in a lot of ways it has defined us as a school. We pride ourselves on being an innovative, agile community that values a holistic education. Earlier in the year we certainly used plenty of innovation to operate our school remotely – we had to be agile to respond to the fast changing environment we were placed in via alert levels to ensure our students were still able to experience the many out of school activities they cherish so much. Focusing on the whole person has helped our community navigate much of the suffering in our community due to job losses and recession, as well as the terrible loss we experienced of our great friend, Mr Brad Milne.
I feel so proud of the staff, students and parents that make up our community, in a year full of challenge and adversity as a community we have stood up and navigated the uncertainty of 2020 with energy, empathy, and resilience. On reflection, the focus we have placed on a skills based integrated junior curriculum has come to fruition through the challenges of 2020, as well as the large increases in achievement we are reporting in the senior school. This is very pleasing and is the result of a lot of hard work and courage to change our curriculum in the direction we have.
The students we farewell at the end of Year 13 are a well-rounded young man, a man with an educated heart and an educated mind. This is what we pride ourselves on. To get to this end point is a journey and involves life fully lived by our students, often this involves positive and negative experiences that both come together to mould our young men into the person they become. We know that life has the good times and the challenges, our role is to support our young men to navigate the challenges they are confronted with, not to eliminate the challenges. We know boys of different ages need different levels of support; we also know that in challenge lies the greatest opportunity of growth. It is in this growth where we best prepare our young men to thrive in the world post school.
I would like to wish you all a restful summer, a time spent with family, and a time rejuvenating. I look forward to reconnecting in the New Year.
I leave you with this wonderful Christmas reflection from Most Reverend Martin W. Currie;
“In the hustle and bustle that leads up to our celebration of Christmas, many of us find ourselves asking, “What’s it all about?” We sometimes wonder in the rush, the stress and the hurry, whether we have somehow missed the real meaning of it all. I have been pondering that question myself as I prepare for Christmas, and I hope that some of my reflections might help you to enter more fully into this celebration of the birth of Christ, the Prince of Peace. Christmas is, first and foremost, about Love, God’s Love. How much does God love us? God loves us so much that God gave us the most precious gift imaginable, Jesus, God’s own Son. That’s the heart of Christmas. This great and wonderful love calls us to love one another. We share love in and through our human relationships. Love isn’t always a warm and cozy feeling; love is a commitment and a decision to stick by others, come what may, through thick and thin, when the going is easy and when the going gets more challenging. The love that we share in our human relationships is a reflection of the love of God, calling us to give of ourselves for others.
At Christmas, we remember that Jesus was born in poverty, in a stable among the poorest people and the farm animals. What does this mean for us today? You and I are called to look for the face of Christ in the poor, those at our own door and in places far from here. Love can look like a cup of coffee offered, a hand held, a smile shared, and a story heard. I firmly believe that, in the end, we will be judged by how we care for the poor. And Christmas is also about repentance and forgiveness. Love takes commitment and work, and sometimes we don’t get it right. We’re not perfect. But with God there is mercy and forgiveness, and second chances. And so must we offer those gifts to others. Christmas is a time of renewal, of fresh starts and coming together. We often hear the phrase “Keep Christ in Christmas” and we wonder how to do that. I think that Jesus himself gave us the best insight; if you want to keep Christ in Christmas, look around you, and look for Him. He is here. Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the stranger, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, and love your enemies. “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”