On Monday at Assembly we shall hold our Easter Service. For Christians, Easter lies at the heart of their faith, yet the central message is one that moves through many religions, beliefs and philosophies. The themes of sacrifice, renewal and hope within the Easter message, ultimately come into practice in loving our neighbour as ourselves. As a multi-faith school it is the unity of a common understanding and appreciation for universal principles that underpins our practical approach. Similarly within our commemoration of ANZAC Day next week, we pay our respects not just to our nation's fallen, but also, as a school representative of more than thirty nationalities, to all those that have made sacrifices in the hope of a better future for all. 'Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’. John 15:13
As we move into our final few weeks of school, we will be looking at our value of Respect in terms of how our actions reflect on ourselves, our families, our school and also on our nation. This links well from the personal practice of actively listening that we have been addressing, as well our renewed focus on pride when wearing our uniform. As we widen our perspective it is also relevant to discussions currently in the media on our national identity. This will also link to our commemoration of ANZAC Day later in the month. “Follow the three Rs: Respect for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all your actions” The Dalai Lama
We have recently completed our Parent Morning Tea’s from Upper First through to 6th Class, and I am looking forward to our final meeting with Lower First on the 3rd of April. It has been wonderful for Mrs Renshaw and I to speak informally with our parents and hear how the year has begun. It has also been a good opportunity for fellow parents to meet and catch up where normally they may not have had the chance. Our school is stronger through a connected and supportive community. One of the many events held by our Parents and Friends Association that helps build our community, is our upcoming Trivia Night on the 6th April. This was a great success last year and a lot of fun. I do encourage you to book a table if you have not already, as I am sure they will fill up very fast!
As we continue to explore our value of Respect this term, we are looking at the simple act of listening. Giving full attention to what someone is saying and really listening is an act of respect. Interrupting is akin to saying what I am speaking is more important than what you are speaking about.
However, it is not as easy as it ‘sounds’. When you are listening, quite often you are getting ready to speak yourself, coming up with something fitting to say, before even hearing fully what has been said. True listening requires patience and openness to new ideas. Also, encouraging others to speak can often be more flattering than compliments, and may actually lead to a closer more attuned relationship.
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway
Today, we had our follow up meeting with our artist in residence, Mr Philip Garrett. Our students have recently completed a short pictorial project on representing our School Values. These drawings were shared with Mr Garrett to give further background in preparation for our sculpture. We have been so impressed by the students' appreciation and expression that we are now looking at additional ways to connect them with this exciting project. At one point in the discussions today, our two student representatives were asked what Value they felt was most fundamental to them. Annica P, our Art Captain, spoke of the importance of the Value of Courage and how it is essential in putting into action all the other Values. Respect was chosen by Sophie R, who felt that this had been the most formative throughout her time at John Colet School. The openness of both these children together with all the students who contributed to our exploration of our Values is testament to how important our core principles are.
ur work on Respect, particularly on how our actions can benefit all and are a good example to all, is currently being explored. It is a particularly good time to study this area as we have many new students at play during our breaks, our school sport competitions have begun and we also have our swimming carnival next week. We are addressing what it means to be ‘a good sport’ and how positive encouragement, being humble and giving thanks, adds to the experience of competition. We look for action as a practical application of the development of our Values. Our sport teachers are aware of this focus and have been highlighting this within their programs. Likewise our staff, throughout the school, are on the lookout for evidence to celebrate both inside the classroom and at break times. I hope that if you attend our swimming carnival next week, you too will see this in action. Great comradery and pride within the Houses combined with support for other swimmers, whether they come first or just do their best.
L - R Julian Wilcock, Diane Renshaw, Annette Gadsby, Sarah Wulff (Board) Phil Garrett, Elizabeth Vincent (Board) Demetrius Condos (Templum Design Architects) and Tony Moran (project champion). Art Prefect Annica P and Art Monitor Sophie R represented students in today's session.
Today, we had the pleasure of holding our first meeting regarding the John Colet School Sculpture Project with our visiting sculptor, Mr Philip Garrett. Mr Garrett will be in Australia for approximately three months, predominately working out of a studio in Terrey Hills, while visiting our school from time to time.
Present at the meeting were representatives from the School Board, Executive, students, staff and our architect. It was a stimulating discussion as we looked to pay tribute to the man, the tradition that he represents, as well as the culture and ethos of our school.
No definitive design has yet been established, however, background research has begun in earnest. All students will be helping with the initial creative process next week by creating images that symbolise our School Values. We will keep you updated on the progress of this exciting project as it develops over the coming months.
Last year we took some time to review our Assembly Book that we use on Monday mornings during our whole school assembly. The entire book was reviewed, paying special attention to the Readings. A Reading is chosen each week to be recited by our Head Boy and Girl, which we then go on to discuss with our students. The Readings have been expanded to include a greater breadth of texts and separated under the headings of our School Values; Respect, Truthfulness, Courage, Service and Stillness. We are currently looking at Respect with our students and as an example, our Reading for this week was the following:
Tibetan Buddhist Prayer – The Four Immeasurable Attitudes May all beings have happiness and its causes; (Love) May all beings be freed from suffering and its causes; (Compassion) May all beings constantly dwell in joy transcending sorrow; (Joy) May all beings dwell in equal love for those both close and distant. (Equanimity)
I had the pleasure this week of dining with our Head Boy, Head Girl, Head Chorister and Art Prefect. As we were eating and discussing all manner of things, I was struck by the students' confidence, demeanour and overall positive outlook. We are focussing on the value of self-respect at the start of Term 1 and we should be rightly proud of our new leadership team and the example they set for our younger children. Our students are held in such high regard by many high schools throughout Sydney, not just for their academics, but more importantly for their character and the dignity in which they hold themselves. I am looking forward to having lunch with all our wonderful 6th Class students throughout the year!
“If you want to be respected by others the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky
It has been wonderful welcoming our students to school last week and catching up with them about their many adventures in the holidays. Our new students, including those in Lower 1st have settled in so quickly that it seems we have been together for a great deal longer. That being said, we do spend time in these first few weeks going over routines, expectations and explanations of some of our unique features, such as our practice of pausing during the day. New parents joining our school may also have questions at the start of the year and I encourage you to let your child’s class teacher know or pop by the office. We are here to help! 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 will be exploring Respect, and in particular over the first few weeks Self Respect. I do hope you can make it to our new welcome event for all parents this year, the Gathering on the Garigal. This is on the 15th of February directly after the class parent information sessions. Adults only I’m afraid as we will have grown up drinks, food and a jazz band!
Whether you have been enjoying the wonderful Sydney summer or roaming near and far, we hope you have had an enjoyable and rewarding family time together during the break! However, it is time to reset the body clocks and dust off the school bags as we look forward to welcoming you all back to John Colet School next week.
Our staff have all been busy in preparation for a great year ahead. The grounds have spruced up with some landscaping and the buildings have had a paint. Our teachers have engaged in some wonderful professional development on differentiated learning, our new school software system and our approach to the Philosophy and Values that our school holds so important. I am continually in awe of their commitment and passion towards education.
The strength of our school is centred on a community approach to learning and I do encourage you to become involved as much as possible.
I wish you and your family all the very best for 2019.
This is my final whole school message for 2018 and I would like to take the opportunity of thanking all of our students, parents and staff for a very successful year.
We had a lovely example of Service by our 5th Class students this week in their speeches to our graduating 6th Class. It was a wonderful acknowledgement of the impact they have had on our school over their many years at John Colet. There is no better practical example of the Values that we are founded on than these young men and women who will leave us to go on to inspire their new schools and communities. We look forward to hearing of their continued success.
I wish you and your family an enjoyable, safe and rewarding time together over the holidays and a fulfilling 2018.
Last week our Head Boy and Girl, together with our House Captains, spoke to our 5th Class students about their roles this year as nominations were taken for 2019. All six spoke from the heart and it was wonderful for our soon-to-be elders of the school to hear of the service they have given and how they had grown over the year. They provided a wonderful model to our younger students of leadership, yet also of the practical nature of living our Values.
The fine examples provided by our 6th Class were continued on Monday as our 5th Class students gave speeches to the Primary for next year’s leadership positions. There was very little to separate the children and it was inspiring to see such a depth of maturity and passion with so many seeking to give their time in these roles. It would be difficult to find better examples for our students of how the value of Service could be articulated in such a positive and relevant way.
As we address the Value of Service as a school this Term, I would like to make special note of the work our Parents and Friends Association do for our community. All the help that is received either formally or informally throughout the school year from our parents is greatly appreciated. However, two of the core committee are standing down this year and their dedicated service warrants special praise. Both Niki T and Lucy B have shown great commitment and passion over the years and their tireless effort has been the backbone of so many successful events.
I would also like to thank our continuing and new members who will be taking us through 2019. I hope you will join me in supporting them and their endeavours next year. President: Jenny P Vice President: Claire S Secretary: Tony M Treasurer: Glen M Events Coordinators: Manjula Ge – Walkathon & Movie Night Tanya H-Y – Open Day Paul W – Movie Night
Within our Value of Service we are currently exploring the question of whether our actions benefit everyone. This is an exercise in widening our student’s appreciation of their impact and the notion of collaboration and community. As young children we look for personal benefit, which I am sure you have witnessed in toddlers. As children mature with a good education they learn empathy and the need to take into account another’s perspective. This continues to grow as the scope widens to include the immediate family, community, perhaps ethnic or nation group and ultimately an appreciation for all.