For some time this year, the end of 2021 seemed a long way off, but following the return to school in Week 5, time has flown and what a hectic end of year we have had. Major school events that we thought wouldn’t be able to take place have been squashed into the last few weeks and our boys have embraced the hectic nature of this term with ease.
During Week 8 our Year 10 students participated in ‘Transition Week’. Those students who have decided to leave to go to other schools or take up trade and employment opportunities were farewelled on the Friday in a commissioning ceremony. For the students returning for their senior schooling, they participated in a variety of workshops throughout the week that included:
- Preparation for the HSC and Senior Schooling
- Elephant Ed (Positive Relationships and consent)
- Man Up (Exploring men’s mental health and stereotypes that can be damaging)
- Mental Health and Wellbeing
- Goal setting
- Peer Support leaders training
The students were highly impressive during the week, demonstrating maturity, engagement and cooperation with each of the sessions.
At the end of Week 9, we welcomed Year 7 2022 with their Orientation Day. Students were welcomed openly by the Year 12 prefects for 2022 who did an outstanding job greeting the students and assisting staff during the day. The Year 7 2022 students were introduced to their homeroom groups for next year, got to experience what Embark classes are like; participated in STEM activities and finished off their day with a BBQ and House games. Hopefully some of the nerves for next year have been eased.
This week we farewelled Year 12 with their graduation ceremony. Thankfully a large percentage of our parents were able to attend and share in a fitting send off for the Year 12 students after what has been a very trying year. In a relatively new tradition, the Year 12 students completed the day by partaking in their Graduation Walk through the yard in front of the remaining student body. They finished off in style by chanting the College War Cry in front of their parents, staff and students.
Finally, we ended the year with Prizegiving ceremonies. Unfortunately, ceremonies needed to be conducted in individual Year groups and parents were not able to attend, however it was important that we were able to still publicly recognise the achievements and outstanding results for a large population of our students.
The return from lockdown has seen some noticeable differences for some of our students regarding their behaviour and engagement, however overall, the boys have embraced the return, the socialness of school again and have tried their best to get back into a routine of face-to-face learning. Teachers and students have had to re-establish rapport and find their classroom routines again. Being able to focus for the length of an hour-long period has taken some getting used to, as has some of the social interaction skills that our students have missed for a long period of time. Tolerance, patience and resilience have been tested, but this is to be expected considering how long our students have missed opportunities to put these skills into practice. Now that we are going on six weeks holidays, it will be important in the new year to re-enforce some of the expectations with these skills in order for our students to have a positive return in 2022.
During the holiday period, it is important for our parents and families to keep an eye out for our young people who, along with members of their families, have been through a very challenging and in some cases traumatic year. Our young people have proven to be very resilient in the face of this pandemic and for many children they remain unaffected. However it is still important to regularly ‘check in’ with kids and their thoughts and feelings around COVID-19 as for some young people, they will experience continued anxiety provoking thoughts about the pandemic.
This year has proven to be a great year for learning – learning resilience and patience through adversity; learning to change how we do things and how we communicate; learning to be more tolerant and patience in our own households; learning about our own strengths, weakness and how we manage our emotions, personal events and relationships; and learning how each individual responds to major events in very different ways.
With Christmas approaching, it is a time to remember the spirit of the Christmas season – one of giving, love, family time and reflection on the birth and life of Jesus. May all our families have a safe, holy and restful Christmas holiday season and return safely to a New Year in 2022.
Acting Director of Pastoral Care