This week is of course a very special one at John Colet School – it is the last week as Headmaster of Gilbert Mane, who is retiring after 25 years of service to the School, both as Head and also on the Board of Governors. Mr. Mane was involved at the very beginning of the school, when it was still in the concept stage, when he offered his legal services to the Board, as that was his current profession. He later took up the Headship and undertook studies in Education. The rest is history. He and his wife, Sarah, have worked indefatigably to lead the School to where it is today. Mrs. McKendrick will, of course, take over as Headmistress until the role is filled in a permanent way.
This coming week, the final of the term, will see a Farewell Assembly for Mr. Mane, put on by the teachers and children: parents are welcome but – A WARNING –there will probably be standing room only. Mrs. Moor promises us a lovely morning tea outside Colet House 1, under the Covered Outdoor Learning Area (COLA) facing the Garigal Quadrangle.
Focusing on Stillness: the children are being brought to understand that all actions begin in stillness (hence the pause before and after lessons); being aware of that is a great advantage: from stillness we can make choices rather than simply reacting – “ Is this in fact the right thing to do or say?” for example.
Courtesy: not interrupting adults, standing aside and saying please and thank you: all of this encourages care of others and teaches advertence and mindfulness.
Happy Easter to you all! And by-the-way, congratulations to the parents of Lower First and Mrs. McDermott, for a wonderful concert and Easter Bonnet Parade.
Congratulations to staff and children for the excellent academic results as highlighted in the outcome of the Naplan tests – a wonderful achievement, but as the Headmaster said in his interview with the Manly Daily where this success was reported (top Primary School on the Northern Beaches), this academic performance is the outcome of the overall approach at John Colet to the teaching of children. Our Vision Statement for the school is
“.. to make practical the school’s motto “Testare de Illa Luce” (Bear Witness of that Light - from St. John’s Gospel), by:
·Introducing the children to simple, effective techniques of self-awareness
·Building good character by giving children a moral and ethical framework for living
·Having dedicated teachers teach the finest content; nourishing the children physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; and preparing them for a happy, productive and responsible life.”
Our practice this week is Stillness: if we can step into any action or situation from this point of stillness, then we are far more likely to achieve a successful and pertinent outcome.
This week the Infants children began their Drama lessons with Zoe Emanuel: the prelude to commencing on their Shakespeare presentations for the Infants Shakespeare Festival in August.
And of course the coming week brings the Walkathon. More news elsewhere.
Congratulations to the Chess Club on their very successful participation in Wednesday’s Chess Tournament: two more such days to look forward to in the next couple of weeks. A big thank you to Miro, their Coach and to Simone Pietschner who is managing the Chess Club with much skill and enthusiasm.
Another great success you would have heard of was the Greek Day staged with immense inspiration and style by Mrs. Tomicki’s Fourth Class – much supported by several mothers – one of whom was seen – Medusa-like – insinuating herself across the Garigal Quad looking very sinister all in black with snakes on arm and snakes writhing out of her hair! We kept bumping into Greek Goddesses, maidens and heroes all day long. Most exciting.
Courage is still very much in mind, and the practices will be kept up, but his week we move on to Stillness – our first and underlying value. Know Thyself Practice: Stillness 1. Am I still? 2. Am I peaceful? 3. Am I aware of myself? 4. Am I awake and aware of others?
This value underlies all the others, and it is on the basis of inner stillness that we provide the space within ourselves to bring in responses and considerations based on the other values. The pause at the beginning and end of lessons is a practice that helps here. We also stop as a whole school at 11.20 each day and enjoy a moment’s quiet to remember ourselves and everyone else. You can join in wherever you are! It’s a subtle connection.
The Primary Swimming Carnival was a great success, and Phillip House won. It was a very exciting event – the children’s behaviour was exemplary – they demonstrated courage, enthusiasm, support for one another and good sportsmanship: what more could we ask for! There were slogans and banners, painted faces, cheers – the lot! The children went home tired but happy. Thanks to Mrs. Renshaw for her organisation of this event.
Our behaviour focus this week is the last aspect of Courage:
“Do I step up to protect those in need?” – otherwise known as “sticking up for your mates”. It’s very easy to be a bystander or walk away when a little word would make all the difference.
The Sixth Class have demonstrated this very ably in the playground where we now have shared Infants/Primary Recess: they have been asked to look after the younger children and help in whatever way they can. We are proud to say that this is what they have been doing.
This week the focus for Courage is Resilience: the dictionary tells us this means “Able to withstand pressure, able to bounce back”.
Isn’t this what we would all like? What a great and worthwhile trait to cultivate in the children! How do we deal with lack of personal success, or things that do not go quite the way we would like, or in fact go wrong? How do we deal with disappointment, loss, and how do we handle things that are a struggle. All of these require courage and resilience.
A welcome by the Board of Governors for the new parents of the school is on tonight (Friday 20th) at 7.30. Of course all parents are welcome, not just the new ones!
The event will be attended by some of our 2015 Office Bearers, who will assist the gap students in serving. We are sure they will shine. This event also includes brief speeches by the Chairman, the Headmaster, the Treasurer and the Parents and Friends to introduce various aspects of the Schools operation.
Courage to speak the truth and the power of forgiveness are still very much resonating around the school, with both staff and children enjoined to highlight these aspects of behaviour. Forgiveness is such a de-fuser, and in the end leads to a simpler and freer life.
POSTURE: this is one of my favourite hobby horses, and the children are constantly enjoined to “Sit straight and strong”. There are many psychological reasons for doing this, as well as the fact that it enables breathing and digestion to happen with less restriction. People look better too!
Early childhood is the time to learn this – it is a great habit, and one that was srongly encouraged in “the old days”!
To find out what the contemporary researchers have to say about this (hooray!), please follow this link and read a most interesting article which has relevance for every age.
We are moving forward with our practice of Courage, and this week emphasising the great gift of forgiveness. Do we have the courage to forgive others, and above all to forgive ourselves. Teachers and children alike are facing up to this one. It’s a very worthwhile effort. Shakespeare says it all when he speaks of Mercy: the same can apply to Forgiveness:
… It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
Chess is up and running again this week under the great guidance of Miro Nowak, and in the capable hands of Mrs. Simone Pietschner. A few new recruits from Lower First began Chess this week, and there is room for more. Chess has such immeasurable benefits in mental and social training, and is to be recommended.
The school has been very successful in Inter-School Competitions, and we are hoping to build up the teams for this year. There is a shortage of girls in the Chess Club .. come on girls – show your stuff!
Julie Fuller (pictured below) has joined this Term as one of our 3 gap students (aren’t we lucky?) and will be staying for the year. Julie comes from Birmingham in the U.K. where her family live: she is one of three children in the family. She is a member of the Yorkshire School of Economic Science (affiliated to the School of Philosophy). She was educated at Bournville Secondary School , Solihull College, (after a period of home schooling) where she studied Animal Husbandry, which is her great passion. She intends to take this study further after this gap year and do a degree in Alternative Medicines for Animals. Julie is also interested in horse riding and athletics, and hopes to do a lot more travelling.
She is being hosted by the Yagnik family, and is already finding her way about Sydney.
A wet beginning to the year, but many say that it is auspicious … It has been lovely to welcome the children back, all looking a little taller. Also a warm welcome to the new children and their parents. The new Head Boy and Head Girl, with other office bearers, have begun to take up their new duties, and the little ones made a good start.
At our first Assembly the Headmaster spoke to the children about the new place in our Values of Courage: this appears in our Vision Mission and Values statement as: Display self-control, inner strength and right action: Practice: Courage 1. Are my words and actions truthful? 2. Can I forgive others? 3. Do I meet challenges with resilience? 4. Do I step up to protect those in need? The accent this week is on having the courage to do what we know to be right and refraining from doing what we know is not right. Carrying this into the home gives it extra support and emphasis.
Welcome back – we hope the holidays were restful and rewarding, but we feel confident all the children will be looking forward to coming back for the new year, to seeing their friends and teachers and moving into their new grade! We have 25 “new recruits” in Lower First with Mrs. McDermott, and about 10 new students throughout other classes. A warm welcome to new students and their parents. During the Teachers’ Study Week consideration was given to the slight change in our Vision Mission and Values – the combining of Service and Care into Service and the introduction of Courage and its extended application in the daily life of the School and School community. It is interesting to consider all aspects and implications of this Value, which we will be doing during the coming weeks: physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual courage. Although it has always been there as part of our Pantheon, especially in relation to Honesty and owning up, it now takes a place of its own: Stillness, Truthfulness, Courage, Service and Respect.
Teachers were also working on aspects of Health and Safety, with modules on First Aid and Anaphylaxis (CPR to follow), and then of course their teaching content for the coming terms in this year of review by BOSTES (Board of Studies). Mrs. Sue McKinley is on Long Service Leave for the Term (enjoy !) and is replaced by a combination of Ms Lauren Russell, picking up Remedial Support, and Mrs. Kim Mann, helping among other things with the distribution of Home Readers. Mrs. McKinley will return in Term 2. Best wishes for the coming year!
What wonderful generosity in the gift-giving for the “First Seeds” and Smith Family collections. The Treasure Chest was overflowing, and I couldn’t fit all the gifts for the Smith Family into my boot! Thank you to parents and children for their contributions.
The Nativity reflected the same spirit of generosity, and was a delightful occasion, attended by a goodly number of parents and siblings. The children performed beautifully.
The Volunteers’ Thank You Morning Tea was another event demonstrating bounty and giving, and what a wonderful morning tea was prepared by Mrs. Moor. The School could not operate in the same way without the contributions and work of the parents. Schooling is a joint venture! Reflecting on thank yous – much gratitude to the P&F for the money raised by the tea towel sales which was used for some refurbishment in the Art Room. The “new look” Art Room is worth a visit with its wonderful coloured custom-built art tables and chest of drawers. These tables have made an enormous change to the appearance of the room, and somehow they draw the attention to the art on the walls. The Art Room now has a very integrated feel. Have a look!
6th Class have been placed in temporary accommodation due to the movement of classes ready for next year, and they have been much feted by their successors. Best of luck to them all. By-the-way, if you have an opportunity to look at their “Year Book”, please do. It’s a wonderful publication, beautifully put together by the class and parents.
Looking forward to seeing you all at Speech Night. Have a wonderful and safe holiday.
The end of the year really is in sight when we start moving classrooms for the following year. Many classes are moving location, but a few are staying put, and the Top House is being prepared for the "new batch"!
It's Nativity time, too, and 2nd Class are preparing an enactment with readings and carols. All are welcome to watch it this Tuesday 25th November at 8.45am in MacLaren Hall. The children traditionally bring a gift for the less privileged , as mentioned last week, and these go to the Smith Family and, if for a teenage girl, the First Seeds Foundation.
The Primary children and the JC Choir are rehearsing for Speech Night and will be travelling to Chatswood for an in situ rehearsal. And of course, there's Picnic Day ...
Throughout this busy and exciting time, the children are asked to remain mindful, and always give of their best.
What a week – there was a different excitement every day! We began with the Confectionery Portrait of the Bard, his 450th birthday cake! - produced by the Kitchen Staff, the Art Room Staff and the children: it looked good but tasted better. We were still eating it by mid-week! Watch the Manly Daily for some copy. Monday was also the occasion of the Mufti Day competition – children from throughout the school, giving persuasive talks at Monday Assembly about a choice of a charity for the Mufti Day Funds: The Team 'Edward and Maisy' carried the day with funds going to the Westmead Children’s Hospital Liver Unit. Well done all the participants: we had an interesting range. Tuesday was a highly successful Sports’ Carnival at the Narrabeen Sport Centre – the weather was more propitious this year, and the children did well. Thanks to the organisers and the many parents who came along. Phillip House won the day, followed by Macquarie House. Wednesday was Flinders Market Day (gold coin please) and the Mufti Day on Thursday. A few interesting sights, and some very generous donations. More news later about the total. Please plan your child’s gift for the annual Smith Family gift collection to be brought to the Nativity Play and placed in the Treasure Chest. Please label your gift with gender/age. Any gifts for teenage girls will be going to The First Seeds Foundation, and the others to the Smith Family. Many thanks in advance.
Judith Donald Infants Mistress
Phillip House members showing off their winning form at our Sports Carnival!
The Primary teachers and children have been basking in the afterglow of the Shakespeare Festival – a combination of “glory” and relief!
In-School Chess Competitions were held during the week, with Saurav H being the Infants’ winner and Ryan B the Primary winner. Thank you Miro, Mrs. Berlee and Mrs. Pietschner.
Last week we also saw the introduction to the school of next year’s Lower First cohort who had a half day with Mrs. McDermott, Mrs. Tomaz, Mrs. McKinley and many of the 6th class, who were wonderful helpers. We look forward to welcoming them next year.
On Monday we will have a special Assembly presentation from children lobbying for their favourite charity to be the recipient of the proceeds of a Mufti Day on Thursday 13th.
The Sports’ Carnival is looming for Tuesday, and we hope for more clement weather than last year. Off to the Narrabeen Sports’ Centre, and may the best House win.
It is traditional at John Colet School that every year, to coincide with the performance of the Nativity Play (25th November, at 8.45 a.m.), the children bring gifts to be donated to needy children through the Smith Family.
Second hand items in very good condition are also acceptable.
These gifts should not be wrapped (they have to be checked by Smith Family helpers) but should be clearly labelled with the age of the child for whom they would be suitable.
The Treasure Chest will be placed outside the Hall, and gifts should be placed in it on the day of the Nativity.