Within our Value of Service that we are exploring this Term is the question of whether we are giving our full attention. Listening with our full attention and giving all our focus to what is at hand is a core aspect of Service and also of Respect. We can practice this with our interactions with other people and also in the way we approach any task. Holding oneself within the present is not easy and can be fleeting as our minds are quick to be distracted and busy. Like a muscle working on a new activity or task it takes practice over time for this to feel more natural. This is particularly apt for our primary students as they take to the stage for our Shakespeare Festival next week. The performances are a wonderful example of what can be achieved over the many years of actively learning to attend. I am very pleased to announce that the amount raised for our solar panels has now risen above the $30,000 mark on our way towards the ultimate goal of $42,000! While we are not encouraging student donations, it was wonderful to see one of our Upper First students bring in sixty cents of her pocket money this week! The students are very keen to make this project a reality.
In Term 4 we look at bringing all our school values together as we focus on action through the value of Service. The word service comes from the Latin Servitum and the Sanskrit Seva, both involving work performed without any reward or payment. It can be taken negatively as in the role of a servant, however the positive aspect we will be looking at is when this action is by choice. We are encouraging students to help others without looking for a reward, payment, or even acknowledgement…not an easy task! Nobody should be taken for granted, however the need for recognition should not hold us back from acting in the right way.
Speaking of service to our community, our P&F continue to fundraise for solar panels for our school. I am pleased to announce that the amount raised has now risen above the $26,000 mark on our way towards the ultimate goal of $42,000! Every little bit counts.
This week we had the official opening of our new building Plato House and the G.S Mane Wing. Mr William Fox, member of our Board of Governors spoke to the students at assembly on Plato and his legacy within philosophy and education. Our Chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Philip Wolfers, celebrated the impact that our former Headmaster, Mr Gilbert Mane, had on JCS. There was a very entertaining and moving response from Mr Mane, who was touched to have our new wing named after him.
As one project comes to completion others are just getting started! Our P&F have raised over $22,000 so far towards our school solar panel project. Also, construction and refurbishment will begin over the holidays of Colet 2, in preparation for its use as our new school library. We have a number of landscaping projects also occurring during the break, including returfing of our playing field.
We wish all families an enjoyable and safe break and look forward to welcoming you back in Term 4.
Thank you to all those parents who were able to support the P&F fundraising Masquerade Party last weekend. All money raised from this event as well as from our Walkathon earlier in the year is going towards the construction of solar panels. We are roughly at the half way point of the required $42,000 to make this project a reality. The electricity that the school currently consumes results in 76 tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere annually. That is equivalent to 380 kg of carbon dioxide per school child per year. The proposed solar system will reduce the carbon footprint of the school by around 47%, nearly halving our carbon footprint. The reduced electricity usage will also be of financial benefit to the school, saving the school thousands of dollars a year in electricity charges. Every little bit counts!
Next week we have our Primary students leaving for camp. Our 5th and 6th Class will be visiting the goldfields in Bathurst via a stop in the Blue Mountains. 3rd and 4th Class are travelling to Milson Island on the Hawkesbury River. Both these trips are wonderful opportunities for our students to spread their wings, learn some new skills and get to know their teachers, friends and perhaps even themselves a little better.
This is always a special trip for 3rd Class as it is often the first time they have been away from Mum or Dad for an extended period. It is as much a practical lesson in resilience as it is an exploration of the various activities they will undertake. It is natural to be nervous without the comfort of knowing your family is nearby, yet personally affirming when they can persevere, trust in themselves and show greater self-sufficiency.
We wish our students a productive and enriching trip and their parents some added relaxation time in the knowledge that they are in good hands.
Having the pleasure of Gladys Berejiklian, the NSW Premier, visit John Colet School this week was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate literature and the Premiers Reading Challenge. She answered questions on her favourite books and the children had an opportunity to mention theirs, including one student in Lower First naming The Merchant of Venice!
Our students also asked a range of questions regarding service to the community, her rise to her current role and the leadership skills required. It was well timed with our current focus on resilience as there were great examples of the importance of keeping to your values, listening to others and not giving up in the face of challenges. It’s virtually impossible to hold both positive and negative thoughts at the same time. Therefore, by keeping optimistic and your mind positive you can interpret any difficult event as a challenge to be overcome as opposed to it being an insurmountable problem. As a female leader who governs over seven million people it was especially a strong and practical example for our girls on what is possible.
As we continue to explore our Value of Courage this term we are now beginning to look specifically on how we respond to change and difficulties that we experience. Life is a process and nothing stays the same for too long, having the tools and strategies at an early age fosters a growth mindset where obstacles become opportunities in determining our own path.
Mistakes are lessons to be learned from and we should ensure an environment of trust. Being resilient is about being in the present and appreciating what we have control over, yet also being committed to our beliefs and goals. Also, resilience can often be seen more as a set of behaviours or habits that need to be practiced rather than some innate characteristic. Acting with resilience is about putting yourself on the surfboard rather than being washed away by the wave.
It’s not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change - Charles Darwin
Science Week begins at John Colet School on Monday with a visit from Fizzics Education. This group have been regular visitors to our school and provide engaging activities for the children to fuel their interest in the scientific process. Science is such a powerful subject for children to engage with as it transcends the usual subject boundaries, requiring a combination of skills, knowledge and understanding of how the world works. It is also founded on a constant search for facts and can only really progress through sharing knowledge and collective effort over time.
As well as in-class science activities we will be holding some general competitions during play times.
Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science. - Edwin Powell Hubble
It has been wonderful welcoming our students back this week and learning of their adventures and travels. We were very pleased to be able to re-open our main entrance for the start of Term and we are very excited to be using our new reception from this coming Wednesday. The new classrooms will begin to be occupied during the coming month, with an official opening to follow soon after.
I had the opportunity during the break to attend a Heads of School conference which was held for schools with a similar foundation, education and ethos to John Colet School. Schools from Australia, Ireland, England, Trinidad, South Africa and New Zealand were in attendance. While the schools varied widely in structure there was a common thread throughout that reaffirmed the uniqueness of our program and the education we provide our children. It was also an ideal occasion to share best practice and ways in which our schools can continue to develop.
As you will see in our newsletter this week we have some grandparents who are interested in forming a team to enhance our native play area. This is a great opportunity for the ‘wise’ members of the community and a wonderful example for our students of service at our school. We are fortunate to have such a supportive community and this has been very evident this week with the preparation, catering and clean up during our Infants Shakespeare Festival, a parent science presentation in 2nd Class, and also our recent success in chess, which would not have been possible without the help of parents. Our P&F are now building up to our Gala Dinner, which is in support of developing solar panels at school. I do encourage you to lend your support to this worthwhile event and cause.
We hope you have an enjoyable break with your family and look forward to welcoming you back on the 25th of July.
Next week we will be holding our annual Infants Shakespeare Festival. These performances are a highlight within our calendar and are truly remarkable, particularly considering the age of our Lower First, that some of our students are learning English as a second language and also that some of our children are quite reserved. During rehearsals it has been wonderful to witness their confidence and passion.
The performances next week are a true example of the use of high levels of concentration, attention and focus. The plays encourage the commitment to the wider cast, empathy for the characters and a deeper appreciation of history and language. An education involving a strong Arts component promotes self-knowledge and empowers children to look beyond their comfort zone. These are powerful experiences that will be with them for many years to come.
Our practice of Mindfulness and of pausing throughout the day allows the children to focus, become still and centre themselves within the present. They practice letting go of thoughts and emotions tied up with the past while also releasing considerations or judgements of the future. It is a central part of our school. Apart from our regular pausing between subjects we also allow for a whole school pause at 10:55 each day. One of our Infants teachers asked her class this week what the group pause meant to them. One child thought about how all the adults were serving the children at this time, some thought about all the children who had been at our school in the past. They also discussed that just being still and quiet was an option too. Asking your child when they find pausing useful is a good opportunity to look at how it can be of benefit outside school too.
Media and the news have changed considerably since I was a child. It used to be the newspapers and 4 channels on the television. There was just one TV in our house, which actually ended up being one channel (the ABC, my parent’s favourite) as you had to physically get up and change the station! As we continue to look at Truthfulness this Term and particularly gossip at the moment, it may be a good opportunity to discuss with your children where they get their facts from and how they know they are indeed facts. This can lead to some very enlightening discussions!
Everyone likes sharing stories and news with their friends, however it can become personal and also evolve through miss-communication to snowball out of proportion. At school we continue to encourage the children to pause and think; Is it true? Is it beneficial to all?
The problem with facts found on the internet is that they are often untrue – Abraham Lincoln
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.
Our exploration of the practice of Truthfulness continues this term. We are now looking specifically at how we can be personally active in determining what is fact from fiction and ensuring that what we chose to share with others is beneficial for all. When we pass information on we are effectively saying it is true and therefore we need to pause and determine if this is in fact the case. Also, when sharing information we need to be aware of the impact of what we are saying, not just on the person we are sharing with, but also on the wider community.
Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth– Marcus Aurelius
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 great shape for our Open Day this weekend.
Our 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, 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 group for all the work behind the scenes that they have done to make this possible.