Welcome back to a new year – we have no doubt it is going to be a productive and interesting one.
Over and above all the preparations the teachers have been making over the holiday period, the Staff have been in last week for some training, planning and personal development sessions. There have been some very inspiring conversations by the teachers of ways in which they have found it useful to inculcate the values to the children, to bring them closer to an understanding of who they are and how they can realise their abilities and talents. Child Protection and health and safety have also been addressed, particularly anaphylaxis and asthma, and further training in the use of the iPads.
In recent weeks there has been a continuing interest in John Colet, which has resulted in enquiries, tours of the school, and a number of new enrolments. In recognition of this and in the interests of the children, we have decided to split three classes that were already becoming large, rather than waiting for further enrolments and making changes later in the year. These classes are Lower First, Upper First and Third Class. This is far better for the children, teachers and other aspects of school management.
By-the-way, we have heard from Miss Marie White (former JCS teacher) regarding the overwhelmingly generous donations made by parents to her “Africa Collection”, and a large assortment of school equipment and educational toys is on its way to Africa. Many, many thanks to the generous donors. This term we will be looking at Respect, and of course this impinges on all aspects of our behaviour. Updates on that in the weeks to come!
What an overwhelming and generous response from parents, children and teachers to the Nativity Play charity collection for the Smith Family and the children in East Africa. It took five ladies making several journeys each to carry all the items up to Top House, where they are awaiting collection by Miss White, or delivery to the Smith Family Christmas Collection depot. A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL. Late contributions will be gladly accepted by Mrs. Donald!
Several end-of-year parties were held during the week, not the least was the beautiful luncheon and speeches at the 6th Class Farewell Lunch on Wednesday given by the children of 5th Class and their teachers. Picnic Day was a hot one, but fun was had by all, and the heat alleviated by frequent dips in the water, and the cooling breeze. The behaviour of the children was exemplary. The Ice Cream Van Man had a smile from ear to ear, as there was a steady stream of children eating his ices! We had four Lifesavers and a St. John’s Ambulance person, but no real call was made on them, except for vigilance. A very happy event, well organised by Mrs. Mary Layton.
Friday was “moving day”, not a favourite day with the teachers, when they migrate to their new rooms for 2016.
Reports are well on the way and will be sent out early next week. And then it’s Speech Night and it’s all over for the children for another year! Many thanks to all, and a special cheer for our wonderful teachers. Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday.
All children and their families are invited to donate a Christmas gift for those less fortunate than we: these will either go to the Smith Family or to an underprivileged school in Kenya
·The gift can be something second hand in good order;
·It can be something new;
·It should not be wrapped so that the Smith Family helpers can check what age is appropriate. They then wrap them.
·There will be a big treasure chest put outside the Assembly Hall for the presents to be dropped off.
·Late gifts can still be given to Mrs. Donald before end of term.
·This year we are also collecting for very poor children at the school in Africa where Miss White worked last year. They have almost nothing. Puzzles and writing and drawing equipment, games (not run by batteries please – they don’t have such things!); readers and picture books; old coloured pencils with a bit of life left: bring them in – there will be a separate basket for them. Miss White will be arranging for them to be sent to Africa.
The children at John Colet School are constantly reminded about and instructed in the real application of the school values, and this has been very much in evidence in the School this week in a very practical way. The Sports Carnival was a huge success and the courage of the children and their sportsmanship was very evident: highlighting our values particularly in relation to Inner Strength, Self Control and Right Action.
This is also what we hope to put across with Remembrance Day – which is not to glorify war, but to honour the courage of those who have gone before to ensure our freedom. It is to promote peace and conflict resolution.
A teacher reported to me that whilst on playground duty in recent weeks, she has seen several incidents where arguments have arisen, have begun to escalate, and where the children themselves have applied principles of conflict resolution, and have been able to resolve the problem in an amicable way, avoiding real conflict.
In fact this week in a Philosophy Class, children from 2nd Class described exactly such a thing. They told how they were helped by some 6th Class children to dissolve a conflict that was escalating and continue their play happily. They showed great satisfaction in having managed this. This is the practical application of the School Value: Courage, - Self control, Inner Strength and Right Action.
Two sounds have predominated around John Colet this week – one the steady pitter-patter of the rain and the other the angelic tones of children preparing their singing for the Speech Night Event. Both very beautiful, although I am sure I echo the teachers’ feelings when I say that a break from the pitter-patter would be welcome! We have all borne it well.
A sound that has been missing is the reverberation of Shakespeare rehearsals – that has all been put to bed after a most wonderful display of acting, courage and co-operation. There are so many related skills to the production of Shakespeare that it is difficult to measure them. Our new Wardrobe Mistress, Ms Roya Azanchi, is now looking forward to the costume “returns”.
It’s in-school Chess time and a record number of children are participating. Our thanks to Mrs. Pietschner, who is tireless in her nurturing of our chess talent.
It was a slightly damp “Mufti Day”, but nonetheless obviously enjoyed by the teachers and children alike. $643.65 has been collected so far for Lifeline from that and also from the Macquarie Market Day. A thank you to those parents and children who contributed, and thank you to 6th class for organising the Market Day.
Just repeating the request from last week for the donation of educational items and other gifts (the usual) to be collected at the Nativity Play. The former items are to go to very underprivileged children in Kenya, and the latter as usual to The Smith Family. Many thanks.
Oh and don't forget it's our school Athletics Carnival this Tuesday, for Infants and Primary students. Please have your children at school by 8am if they are going to the sports venue by bus. The bus departs at 8.05am.
The Annual Shakespeare Festival for the Primary at the Glen Street Theatre has been on – what an outstanding success, how the children rose to the occasion, how beautifully they were presented and trained with the support of Drama Teacher, Class Teachers and parents and helpers! One never quite knows whether to be relieved or sad when it’s over. Thanks are due all round.
At Infants’ Assembly, in the telling of the Legend of Theseus and his preparation to be, and then testing as, a hero, the children have been alerted to the fact that these ancient legends are really lessons for life, and we have discussed how to be a “HERO” in practical terms, and what in fact are the “ monsters” that we as heroes have to overcome. Vivekananda says
“The earth is enjoyed by heroes. Be a hero – always say ‘I have no fear.’
Our third value is Courage – Self Control, Inner Strength and Right Action”: practice of this is really what it is to be a hero!
Last year at the time of the Nativity Play (on this year in the morning of Tuesday 24th November) we collected gifts for the Smith Family – for children whose parents are experiencing hard times. This year we have in mind to collect for a Kenyan school visited last year by Marie White. Anything in the line of educational materials will be welcome – pencils, readers, colouring books, counters, puzzles, educational toys – second hand items will be most welcome. Perhaps you could begin collecting as you throw out things to make way for the Christmas gift harvest at home! Any educational items will be most welcome.
The School was treated to the dress rehearsals of the Primary Shakespeare Festival during the past week, using the small stage in the Hall. There are some real gems in store, plenty of laughs and perhaps even a few tears. The Primary children will be rehearsing at Glen Street Theatre this coming week with the performances on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 28th – 30th October. Hope to see you there.
A successful Working Bee on Sunday – many thanks to the parents and children who helped to clear debris and wood litter before the bushfire season. With the season for bushfires approaching, we will have another Bushfire Drill before the end of term. A large bed outside Top House was cleared at the Working Bee for use by the Gardening Club to grow bush tucker: that was quite a job clearing out the old growth, and we look forward to future harvests of native edibles. It was wonderful to hear that the Kidpreneur initiatives of 6th Class were so enthusiastically supported by the school, and the senior class raised $1,700 through the sales of the small items they made and brought to school for sale. A magnificent effort by the children, parents and teachers.
The Nativity Play on Tuesday 24th November is the occasion where we collect Christmas gifts for the less privileged in our community. Regular-type gifts will go to the Smith Family, but this year we have in mind to collect also for a Kenyan school visited last year by teacher Marie White. Anything in the line of educational materials will be welcome – pencils, readers, colouring books, counters, puzzles, educational toys – second hand items will be most welcome. Perhaps you could begin collecting as you throw out things to make way for the Christmas gift harvest at home! Any educational items will be most welcome.
The final Term of the year began with a very successful Teachers’ Day. We considered the School Vision Mission and Values and discussed the Value for practice this term – which is “Service and Care for All” Practice: Service
Am I giving full attention?
Is it beautiful, well-presented and pleasing to others?
Does this action benefit everyone?
Am I setting a good example?
Is my attitude positive?
These first few weeks we are focusing on the giving of attention, and the encouragement of the children to be attentive and mindful. We agreed that this value was of immense benefit in life, and that a person who can focus on the task in hand is more efficient and effective in whatever they do. Mrs. Tomicki and 4th Class have a Practicum student from Southern Cross University, who will be at John Colet for six weeks- Michael Godfrey. He is a second year Education student, and will be spending a little time with classes other than Fourth.
Week 2 will see the annual visit of members of the John Bell Shakespeare Company, who will come to see snippets of each class’s plays on Tuesday morning. A little bird told me that Gilbert Mane may also be coming: it’s hard to keep him away from Shakespeare, and he has been helping with one of the 6th class plays. The final performances will be in late October.
The School Campus has been remarkably quiet this past week, as it always is when the Primary classes go off on their three-day excursions. By all accounts, a marvellous time was had by all, and the weather was certainly co-operative. No reports of the finding of large and valuable nuggets on the goldfields!
These excursions are a great training ground for the children both educationally and socially, and the teachers are to be thanked for their work.
Thank you for the very positive responses to the new swimming arrangements for the Infants.
This is a reminder to ensure that the children have the correct footwear for swimming on the first Friday back next Term:
·Casual “slip-on” footwear (such as thongs, Crocs, “jelly” sandals – these not to be worn to school). The teachers will issue more detailed reminders in the first week back.
While on the subject of uniform: for Term 4, the first two weeks, the children may come to school in either summer or winter uniform, as dictated by their individual needs and the weather. After that, summer uniform, of course.
Another important item is the morning tea provision sent for the Infants Classes: under the aegis of our healthy eating policy, we would like Infants to bring fresh fruit for morning tea, and some other healthy items, if necessary, such as yoghourt, muesli bars, a small sandwich or cake. Processed and highly salted or sugared foods such as artificially flavoured chips, we would prefer you to avoid.
Mrs. Moor provides a variety of fresh fruits or vegetables for lunch, and as well as the hot food, the children are offered yoghourt and milk, unprocessed cheese and dried fruits. We went to some effort last year to introduce the Health Department’s “Crunch and Sip” programme to encourage children to bring fresh crunchy foods.
In Term 4 the Infants Classes will be going to the Killarney Heights Swim Centre for swimming lessons in preparation for the coming summer.
As we no longer have any male teachers on staff since Mr. Wakeford went to Thailand, we have an issue with the Boys’ Change Room: it is used by the general public, so no female teachers may go in to help the Infants boys change. As a result, we have made a slight adjustment to the swimming arrangements for children in the Infants School.
The Infants children will swim on Friday afternoons in Term 4, commencing Week 1 (9th October).
On Fridays they should come to school in their sports clothes and sport shoes bringing with them a swimming bag containing: (PLEASE, NAME ALL ITEMS CLEARLY). They will change at school:
·Casual “slip-on” footwear (such as thongs, Crocs, “jelly” sandals – these are not to be worn to school)
·Goggles for all and swimming caps for the girls
·Swimming costumes (boys could wear those and bring underwear for after swimming)
·Please ensure that every item is clearly named
To go to the pool, they will wear their sports tops over their costumes, with a towel wrapped round themselves, carrying a bag with goggles and caps (girls). The towels, footwear and sport top will be deposited at the poolside whilst they swim. After the lesson, they simply dry off, don sports top, footwear and wrap their towel about them, and then proceed to school, where they will change back into their full sports uniform for home-time. We hope this will be an easy and efficient way of dealing with this.
Other matters: The School will be very quiet from Wednesday on this week, as the Primary will be away on their annual 3-day excursions to Milson Island and Bathurst. Two gap students will be going to Milson Island to help “the team” – Julia Fuller, who has already been here for many months, and she will be joined by Sophia Wormold, a new gap student from England. Sophia flies in on Tuesday night and has volunteered to go off to Milson Island the next morning. We hope that all involved have a safe and enjoyable time.
Praise and comments have been rolling in this week about the Infants’ Shakespeare Festival and the amazingly high standard of performance, direction and production. Congratulations again to the children for the lines learnt, the qualities displayed and the love and enthusiasm they showed for the performance. Another outstanding feature this year was the universal support of the parents, and this showed itself particularly with the costumes and makeup, which were detailed, colourful and professional. Thanks to all. By-the-way, I couldn’t help noticing the lips of some parents in the audience moving whilst their children were saying lines on stage. Most endearing!
Primary have moved seriously into their rehearsals and we look forward to seeing their performances later in Term 4.
4th Class achieved second place in the Ryde Eisteddfod with their Recorder Consort. They came home with a cup and much praise ringing in their ears. Well done children, and also great work was done by Mrs. Miles and Mrs. Tomicki. We enjoy the fruits of their work at each Monday morning Assembly, when the Consort plays hymns and “marching out” music.
I will be on Long Service Leave for weeks 6 and 7: I am going to a Plato Conference in Delphi, Greece, where we will be studying “The Symposium” along with nearly 100 other students from all over the world.
Once again the Infants children and their wonderful teachers, including the dynamic Miss Zoe Emanuel, have joined forces with their parents (props, sets, costumes, hairstyles, makeup) to produce an amazing Infants Shakespeare Festival: it simply gets better and better every year.
A big thank you also to Geraldine W – Wardrobe Mistress, to the Administration team for background help, to Mr. Glen Miller for installing a professional sound system, Mrs. Sue McKinley for choreographing and teaching dances, and of course, Mrs. Donna Moor for accommodating the constant changes to her lunch operations with all the comings and goings. Thank you all. By-the-way, the Chairman of the Board came to the first performance and Mr. and Mrs. Mane attended all daytime performances, and were seen to be enjoying themselves thoroughly. The Infants classes watched each other’s plays.
Another noteworthy event was the Interschool Debating – this week John Colet hosted the Sydney Japanese School, The Galstaun School and the Alexander School, under the care of our new Debating Instructor, Mrs. Jasmine Crewe. John Colet (pictured below) won its round, and one of the comments made by the Adjudicator was about the style and manner of the presentation of all the John Colet children: they were consistent in their ability to speak out confidently and engage the audience, resulting in a strong delivery. Could this be due to years of Shakespeare? It must be mentioned that several children from the other schools also spoke well.
We had a lovely morning tea farewell for Sue McKinley after eighteen years of extraordinary service and friendship, and also said goodbye to Olivia Buchanan who has lived up to the high standards set by former Gap students – they seem to bring a breath of fresh air and are very responsive to all that is asked of them. Sue is moving to the Central Coast and Olivia is returning to the U.K.
A full and rewarding week past, and a full and rewarding week to come…….
The Infants Shakespeare Festival Dress Rehearsal for the Primary School was held on Tuesday – a whole week ahead of the event, and all-in-all it went very well, showing the promise of good things to come. We look forward to welcoming the parents and friends of the children to the “real” performances. Here is the schedule: please come along!
“The Merry Wives of Windsor”
U1st and 2nd
“Romeo and Juliet” – performance
Parents and guests
“The Tempest” – performance
L1st and 2nd
“The Merry Wives of Windsor”
Parents and guests
“Romeo and Juliet” – performance
Parents/guests L1st and U1st
“The Tempest” – performance
Parents and guests
This week we also had testing for 2nd and 4th classes by Robert Allwell Associates, and ICAS testing. There were wonderful results from the “Maths Challenge”, with one Distinction and many Credits gained by the John Colet participants.
And we had bumper turnout of keen students taking part in the Australian Maths Competition on Thursday. Mrs. Dunn was invited to speak about it on air interviewed by Mike Jeffries on 2UE on Tuesday night.
The school was “on show” too for the BOSTES Inspection, and the outcome was “recommendation for Registration.” Much praise due to all.
An update will be sent on the hunt for a Latin teacher for Primary Latin as soon as there is any news.
A full week as usual, beginning with a beautiful, moving and successful Teachers’ Day Ceremony. Some of the children’s written contributions to this have been put up at the School of Philosophy along with delightful photos. We had an Information Evening for new parents and 5th and 6th Class entered the Ryde Eisteddfod, coming Highly Commended. Infants children are on the stage every available minute and looking forward to a Dress Rehearsal at school on Tuesday, for the entertainment of the Primary classes.
As many of you will already know, our dear Sue McKinley will be leaving John Colet after the Shakespeare Festival for areas further north, where she and her husband, Howard, are establishing a new home for their retirement.
Sue has been at John Colet since 1998, working in particular for seven years with Luke W, who was confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. Sue even used to swim with him and run in races pushing the wheelchair! When Luke finished at John Colet, Sue was taken on as a Class Aide and then a Special Ed. support Aide. She has been a generous and efficient member of the team for 17 years, and will be sorely missed. Sue has also run the Dimensionz Dance School in Narrabeen, attended by several of our students. We wish Sue and Howard all the best in their new life in Nelson Bay.
Other Staff news: we welcome Jasmine Crewe to the Special Ed. Department, where she will be replacing Edmund Wakeford. Jasmine has specialised in Gifted and Talented Education and is also trained in Support. Jasmine has taught at Pymble Ladies College, Pius Chatswood, Greenacre Public, and Killara Public. She is still a Careers Advisor at Killara High one day week. Jasmine has three young children, her husband is also a teacher, and her other great love is dancing!
I am glad to report that the uniform has been very good this week, with only a couple of caps and blazers missing early in the week. More importantly, many children have been showing respect, particularly standing aside at doors, waiting for conversations to end before interrupting, and not walking in between people conversing. And as for standing up when adults enter the classroom – it’s been wonderful. Have you ever seen 25 Jack-in-the-Boxes! I have, and frequently this week.
On Friday we had a farewell morning tea for Mr. Edmund Wakeford who has taught at John Colet on and off over fifteen years. He began as a High School boy doing Work Experience, then he worked for a period during a gap year and finally as a trained teacher, both in the classroom and in the Special Education Gifted and Support area. He has worked quietly in the background supporting and extending children according to need. He is going to live in Thailand and has taken a class position at an International School outside Bangkok. He will join his Thai wife, Yo, in Thailand. We wish him all the best.
We also said farewell to Mrs Caroline Brehaut, who has been with us since the beginning of the year, and has been a shining light in the Primary Latin Department. She is going to teach at Queenwood, where she has been offered a position. A short, but happy association, Mrs. Brehaut is helping us to locate a replacement. More anon.
Teachers’ Day on Monday – Mrs. McKendrick will be back (if jet-lagged!) and we expect Mr. Philip Wolfers, Chairman of the Board, to join us for the celebration, which is taking a slightly different form this year – flowers and brief verbal offerings from the children. Parents are very welcome. I have read some of the children’s offerings and they are touching. A portion of the flowers will remain with the teachers in their classrooms, and most will be taken to the Wesley Gardens Nursing Home by Mrs. Tomicki and 4th Class and presented to the ladies and gentlemen there.