Our school prides itself on actively teaching attention and focus skills to our students. We do this through a mindfulness program that has been in operation for over 30 years. We also promote this through our regular classes, the teaching of classical languages, choir, a specialist art program and chess. Our Shakespeare program is a fine example of the use of high levels of concentration, attention and focus. It is truly magical watching our students as they practice their plays, move from simple line recitations to giving their all, embodying the character and simply being there. Next week we will be holding our annual Infants Shakespeare Festival. These performances are a highlight within our calendar and are truly remarkable. During rehearsals, it has been wonderful to witness their confidence and passion. The plays encourage the commitment to the wider cast, empathy for the characters and a deeper appreciation of history and language. This above all; to thine own self be true – William Shakespeare
Within the Value of Truth that we are exploring this term, is the question; Is it uplifting? In other words, in our speech and our actions do we encourage and inspire those around us? At times, we all get caught in negative thinking, self-doubt and procrastination. Having an encouraging friend, parent or teacher to talk with can be of great benefit. A positive perspective can enable us to see the truth in a situation that may need addressing and a practical way forward. One of the defining elements of John Colet School is that we explore and embed our values as a whole school. We approach the learning of our values in a developmentally appropriate way which will differ depending on which age we are with, yet the core remains the same. This is just as valid for our staff and our supporting community. Our goal is that all may inspire!
This week, John Colet held our annual Sanskrit recitation competition and finals. Sanskrit instruction from Lower First to 6th Class is one of the unique features of our school that has been an integral part of the program since the school was founded. Our students benefit from learning this ancient classical language, which like Latin has influenced languages, literature and culture throughout history. The simple, clear grammar used in Sanskrit helps in the development of learning other languages, including English.
Sanskrit opens up our children to a greater understanding of language, its history and the interconnectedness of our society. For example the Sanskrit root da – give, Sanskrit word dana – gift, Latin word donum – gift, French word donner – to give, English words donate, dose, dedicate, etc.
As was shown during the finals, this language also lends itself to a beauty of sound and structure that when combined with some of the universal themes of spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health, produce work of the highest standard. If you missed the recitations this week I highly recommend saving the date for next year.
Amongst a few days of wild weather changes, we were very fortunate to have perfect conditions for our Open day! However, the fine weather was just the backdrop to what was a lovely community event. Thank you to all those who were able to contribute or lend a hand on the day, it was greatly appreciated. As we continue looking at our Value of Truth, below is something practical for the fridge you may find helpful...
Is it kind, pleasant and beneficial? This is what we are exploring presently through the Value of Truthfulness. Speaking the truth in itself should be promoted, however, the intention behind sharing and the form of communication should always be taken into consideration. Everyone likes sharing stories and news with their friends, however, it can become personal and also evolve through miscommunication and snowball out of proportion. It is a difficult lesson for students to learn to pause and think is this true, is it kind or is it beneficial; and make an active decision to question the facts and decide whether to pass it on. Taking a proactive approach to understanding the important value of Truth and its related application is a lifelong skill being developed at John Colet School. It will place our students in a stronger position for challenges they may face in the future. The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it – Stanley Kubrick
We are eagerly looking forward to showcasing our school next Sunday at our Open Day. There are some new attractions and performances, as well as many of our regular favourites for our community to experience and enjoy. Open Day is an opportunity to celebrate what makes this school truly special with our families and friends. It is also wonderful to welcome visitors from our wider community, so please feel free to invite neighbours and family friends. A special thanks to our Parents and Friends team, led by Mrs Tanya Hyams-Young, for all the hard work they have been involved with in preparation for Open Day. There are plenty of ways you can support this event, so please do sign up. Also, thank you to those parents and students who are able to assist in our Working Bee at school this Sunday.
This term we are exploring our Value of Truth. Every few weeks we will explore a different practical element within this value, all of which are contained in simple questions outlined within our Vision, Mission and Values Statement. Speak the Truth: Practice: Truthfulness
Is it true?
Is it kind, pleasant and beneficial?
Is it uplifting?
What would a wise person say or do?
In these first few weeks we have simply asked; is it true? Some good questions to spark debate around the dinner table include:
It has been wonderful to have the children back at school this week. Like our teachers, they have returned refreshed and energized for the start of Term 2. Today you will be receiving a copy of the 2018 Yearbook; The Eagle Eye. It is a wonderful example of the breadth and diversity of our program and talents of our students. Keep an eye out for an editorial appearing soon in the Manly Daily on our resident artist Mr Philip Garrett show casing his work on the sculpture of John Colet. The sculpture will soon move into the moulding and casting phase. We would like to pass on our thanks to all those families who were able to donate, along with a special thanks to Mr Tony Moran for initiating and promoting this project. We are still short of the fundraising target that was set, as a result donations are still very much welcomed. Sadly we had to cancel our Movie Night for this weekend due to the strong likelihood of rain forecast for both Friday and Saturday. However, we will look to determine a new date at our next P&F Meeting.
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.