This week I had the pleasure of having lunch with one of our Lower First classes as they had raised the most money for our Parents and Friends Walkathon. The pizza, created by our Chef Mr Galloway, was delicious! However, the real pleasure was speaking with them about a variety of topics from extreme weather (a current class project), our local cheeky bush turkey, to why I need to have so many different ties! I also have the pleasure of dining with a different group of 6th Class students each week. It is a great opportunity, in an informal setting, to speak about whatever is of interest to them. Often this includes suggestions for school improvements, or discussions on high schools or just what is in the media of late. From Lower First to 6th Class, I am always impressed with both our students' willingness to engage honestly, and their fresh perspectives towards life and the future.
While we focus on one Value per Term, our Value of Stillness is addressed throughout the year, often in relation to the Value we are currently studying. This Term we have been looking at Truthfulness and next week we will explore our practice of pausing and how this benefits our approach to the truth. When bringing oneself to a point of stillness there is a letting go of thoughts of the past or future and often a release of the connection to ongoing thoughts that may cloud our judgement. Being mindful enables our students to begin afresh, operate with greater clarity, and act in a way that is beneficial to all.
Thank you to our entire school community for a wonderful Open Day. It was a magnificent example of the practical application of our school values through the actions of all involved. An event such as this is only possible through teamwork between students, parents and John Colet School staff. Our school was abuzz and this only occurs with a shared spirit of why we are here. I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking to many parents on Open Day and the positive mood was profound. One of the more memorable comments was from a lady in her 90s who commented on how moving it was to see such a diverse community in true harmony together.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
We are eagerly looking forward to showcasing our school this Sunday at our Open Day. There are some new attractions and performances as well as many of our regular favourites for our community to celebrate and enjoy. Open Day is an opportunity to demonstrate what makes this school truly special with our families and friends. It is also wonderful to welcome visitors from our wider community, invite back past students and allow our current students to perform and enjoy the fun activities of the day. A special thanks to our Parents and Friends team for all the work they have been involved with in preparation for Open Day. Also, thank you to those parents and students who were able to assist in our Working Bee last Sunday. There was some general touch ups, maintenance and cleaning along with some much needed gardening and fuel reduction. The school is looking in tip top shape! See you on Sunday!
As a school we are focusing on the value and practice of Truthfulness this Term. More specifically we have been exploring being honest with our friends, teachers and parents. This may be owning up to poor behaviour or an unwise decision or perhaps just that we do not know something. The first step in this process is exploring with the children the concept of self-knowledge. Considering our true motivations, acting with honesty and reflecting on our actions to gain understanding of self is a lifelong process. To encourage and enable this to happen, children have to be in an environment of care and trust.
Owning up, or coming clean about something we know to be untrue can be incredibly liberating. It takes a lot of energy and constant effort to keep in the front of our conscious mind a story that has to be maintained. The release of this burden in an atmosphere of trust, enables an openness that benefits all.
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. - Mark Twain
John Colet School has a tradition of offering a superb Art Program. Unlike many schools who hold Art lessons in a number of small sessions within a week, we schedule ours with an extended period between an hour and an hour and a half. Lessons are also often linked to other subject areas that our students are studying so that our lessons are given greater meaning, enabling a trans-disciplinary approach to learning. Furthermore, we are fortunate to have a range of Art teachers who are all practising artists themselves with great skill and passion for their subject.
The results can be seen through all of our students' work, however we have had some success stories of late that are worth noting. Our Year 6 students group painting was a finalist in this year’s Gallipoli Art Prize, which student representatives attended over the holidays. Elizabeth W in 6th Class has been awarded 3rd place in the Australia My Country Art Prize. One of our alumni, Sophia W was recently a finalist in the Mosman Art Youth Prize. Arnie H, also a former student of JCS, was recently accepted into the highly regarded National Art School in Darlinghurst. Our own Art teacher Mrs Allcorn was announced this week as a finalist in the Hunter’s Hill Art Prize for her watercolour and pencil on birch wood piece “Lost in the magic of the bush”.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. - Pablo Picasso
Welcome back to John Colet School for Term 2. We hope you have had an exciting and rewarding holiday with your children. Over the break our teachers have had some excellent training on planning for different student needs. The school grounds have had a general sprucing up, including the creation of a new garden club area and the library has had new furniture fitted. This Term is full of activity, including Chess Competitions, 6th Class Debating, Sanskrit Recitation Finals, our school Open Day and Upper First and 2nd Class Shakespeare performances.
Recently Mr Jonathan O’Dea, Member for Davidson, announced that parts of the former Belrose TAFE site adjacent to John Colet School are to be sold to Northern Beaches Council. Current indications are that this specific area will become sports courts with associated recreational facilities. The remaining bushland area is to remain untouched as it has been set aside for bio banking as a special environmental area. The school has been meeting regularly over the past few years with Mr O’Dea, local representative groups, state and local government officials to ensure a positive outcome for this land. We are very happy with this community focused result and we would like to thank all parties involved for their efforts to provide greater recreational facilities while preserving the very special ecology of our area.
As you will see below in Mrs Renshaw’s comment this week we are currently looking at Excellence within the Value of Respect and giving our very best to all that we do. Our Handwriting competition is currently underway and I have been fortunate to see some outstanding examples across our different classes as well as having the opportunity to award some pen licences in 4th Class. The keyboard has certainly taken some of the market out of communicating, however there still remains an important role for handwriting. Handwriting requires attention, promotes consistency of flow and is crucial in developing fine motor skills. While there is a standard form, a student’s handwriting does move on to take a personal aspect, allowing for the expression of individuality. There is certainly a place for keyboard skills (and perhaps even two thumb texting!) however it is wonderful to see this skill and art still being celebrated as it will remain with our students for life.
I visited one of our 2nd Classes this week where we explored how our school is also our home. In light of our Value this term of Respect we have been paying particular attention to our school environment. John Colet School is here for the children and the expectation is that they look after their school just as well as they do their home. The assumption here of course is that they keep home ship shape, which I am sure is the case 100% of the time! I am glad to say there has been a notable uplift in care across the school, from our bathrooms to our native bush play area. We are fortunate to have a school in such lovely condition within such a beautiful setting to call home.
We are halfway through our Parent Morning Tea’s that have been scheduled this term. It has been wonderful to have the opportunity to talk with our Primary parents and I am very much looking forward to our upcoming sessions with our Infants families. It is also a good opportunity to get to know your fellow parents and share the successes and challenges of this most important role. Our school is stronger through a connected and supportive community.
It has also been great to see a larger turnout at our Parents and Friends meetings this year. As you will see in this newsletter they are always looking for people to lend a hand with events, odd jobs or expertise. I do encourage you to become involved in helping as more hands the lighter the load….plus it is a lot of fun!
On Wednesday this week at our Primary Swimming Carnival I was stopped by an adult visiting the swim centre, asking about our school. She passed on how impressed she was at the behaviour of our children, particularly how quickly they fell quiet to hear announcements and also how loudly they cheered for their teams. The respect our children at John Colet School give to their fellow team mates and to our staff and parents can often go unnoticed and it is great to receive feedback to remind us how important it is that we focus on our values. A big thank you to our chief organiser for the swimming carnival Mrs Mackenzie, our supporting teachers, the swim centre staff and our volunteer parents for making the day such a success.
This term we are exploring the Value of Respect and in particular respect for one another. At assembly this week Mrs Renshaw spoke of Respect by the way of seeking harmony. Much like actors on a stage, a choir group or sports team, real harmony requires full participation, listening, unity and a bit of give and take. The group can fall out of harmony from time to time, however the goal is to reach a unity whereby you are working truly together rather than just in one’s own direction. We are looking forward to hearing from our students at assembly on Monday where this may have been worked on or found to be present.
With an eye made quiet by the power of harmony, and the deep power of joy, we see into the life of things. - William Wordsworth
The core Values of our school are Stillness, Truthfulness, Courage, Service and Respect. With our students and staff we work through these values in all that we do throughout the year. However, we do select a Value to concentrate on each Term, along with an aspect of that Value. This Term we have begun by exploring Respect and in particular Respect for our teachers. We obviously have many teachers at school, however in the wider context teachers are all around us. Teachers can be parents, friends, colleagues or our students or children. The greatest respect we can give to our teachers is to listen. Only through really listening without bias or a pre-conceived position can we appreciate what may be learnt.