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24
August
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 24/08/12

The Infants Shakespeare Festival, which saw each class give two full dress rehearsals and then three performances over a fortnight, was a triumph of organisation, creativity and shear hard work from all involved – parents, teachers and children. Profound thanks and congratulations to all involved.
The Shakespeare Festival exemplifies the two fundamental elements which we believe will give children the tools to develop themselves into fine young men and women:  first, the company of truthful, emotionally mature teachers; and, second, giving them the best possible input.
Shantananda Saraswati, who recommended this approach said, the children should be in good company; and be provided with good material.
Of the good material, such as Shakespeare, he says:  “If they take it, they will be good enough to look for what they need and build their character accordingly.”  In other words the individual child has a role to play here.
The adults who love and care for the children – their parents and teachers – should, and do, give as much fine input as they can, and set as good an example as possible.  But ultimately it is the child, and all too soon, the young adult, who will have to take what they can of this rich, stimulating and creative mix of influences, and build their own character and life in their own completely unique way.
That’s the part that no one else can (or should) do for them.

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

24
August
2012

Chess success

Hello Chess Enthusiasts,
I have some wonderful news to report.  Yesterday (Thursday 23/8) Brigitte S, Ashleigh E and Mi Mi P came 2nd in the Rookie division of the NSW Interschool Girls Teams Chess Challenge 2012!
A huge CONGRATULATIONS to these Girls!
Many thanks to Marina B for transporting the girls to and from Strathfield for the competition.
-          Heather B, Chess Coordinator

Categories: Chess & Clubs, John Colet

22
August
2012

To the Fish Stall!

A play in Latin

The senior Latin students were snapped this week rehearsing a play, all in Latin, about the goings on during a shopping expedition for a family dinner.
The four minute play, called "To the fish stall!" will be performed on 4th September for the delight and entertainment of two classics teachers who are visiting John Colet School.  One of them is Emily Matters, the head of the Classical Language Teachers' Association.
Proud parents will be welcome to come and watch too!
Students who have completed the Spelling course study Latin.  These senior classes are taken each week by the Headmaster.  Linguistically, Latin underpins much of English and is therefore an excellent additional subject.  As it doesn't involve a different alphabet and has a simpler grammar than Sanskrit, the students find it relatively easy to learn.



Categories: Writing & Speaking, Shakespeare & Drama, John Colet

22
August
2012

Meeting Mark Greenwood, author

Senior school incursion on storytelling and writing

Last Friday, 3rd,4th,5th and 6th classes got to meet an amazing author called Mark Greenwood.  He writes about myths and legends.  They were extremely exciting.  He told us his stories and journey.  He wasn't just an author, he was a bit of a traveller.  Mark Greenwood wrote a story about Lasseter, a man who found heaps of gold.  Lasseter's family was in a poor state, but he didn't want to go to the gold out in the desert because he nearly died there last time. But eventually he went out and found the gold, unfortunately his camels ran away so he died.  But not before leaving clues to the gold. 

Mark Greenwood studied all these clues and followed them to a cave and dug and found Lasseter's diary and gold.

That story was our favourite!  It was a fantastic incursion, we enjoyed it so much.
Written by Brigitte and Jaanavi.


Categories: Writing & Speaking, John Colet

22
August
2012

From the Stage Coordinators: 24/08/12

Happy, but weary, the Infants cohort can now look back on yet another successful Shakespeare Festival, and of course for the Lower First it was the beginning of what we hope will be a seven-year courtship of Shakespeare.

Parents are to be thanked for their usual indefatigable support of the event (there was an extra one this year due to the small size of the space), which includes providing and selling food and tickets, as well as making costumes, doing hair and makeup and being a wonderful, enthusiastic audience.  The latter is of course the most important aspect!
Primary are full steam ahead with preparation for their Festival at Glen Street Theatre in November, and they have been inspired by the performance of the younger children.
 












Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

22
August
2012

What the Primary Choir is up to - Part 1

Speech Night preparations have begun in earnest by the Primary Choir. So soon?.... I hear you ask!  Each year all the choirs perform twice. The Infants Choir at Open Day and at the Christmas Celebration concert and nativity play. The Primary Choir and John Colet Choir both perform at Open Day and at Speech Night in December. We start the preparations for Open Day at the beginning of the year and for Speech Night at the beginning of term 3.

The first step is to learn all the notes and parts; just like learning lines for a play but it’s a musical part with notes. We take care at this crucial stage to ensure the notes are learnt accurately because music is so powerful that if notes are learnt incorrectly, they get in so deeply and quickly that it’s very difficult to fix it up at later rehearsals. The note learning stage is the foundation of the performance you hear and see on stage but it’s not that exciting to do. The primary children have been excellent in rehearsals. They bring a book or their Shakespeare script with them and if their part is not being taught, they read quietly or learn their play lines while they wait their turn – a win win!

We aim to have all the notes and parts learnt by the end of term 3. This allows them to be completely absorbed in their Shakespeare play for the first half of term 4 without the stress (on the teacher’s side) of also trying to learn Speech Night parts. Once the Primary Shakespeare Festival is over at the end of week 4, the rest of the term’s choir rehearsals are given over to consolidating, refining and polishing for Speech Night since all the parts have been learnt. The performance always includes solo items by the Head Chorister and often other children too.

The Speech Night concert program aims to expose the children to some of the finest and greatest choral music. We rotate around a four year program of Purcell, Vivaldi, Handel and Mozart. Last year was Handel’s Messiah and this year is an all Mozart program.

Look out for the next blog post on the Primary Choir with more details on the program itself.
- Mrs Mane

 

Categories: Chess & Clubs, John Colet

17
August
2012

Excursion to Casula Powerhouse

On Wednesday 15th August, 5th and 6th class went on an excursion to Casula Powerhouse Museum.  We learnt that many different plants can be weeds when they grow in the wrong place, and we learnt how you can create art with them.
We also did a worksheet about maps and learnt about the different types of symbols on
maps.
As well as all that, we learnt about the history of the Casula Powerhouse Museum , and that a lot of people died there when it was a power house. They told us stories about how people know there are ghosts there.
Overall we had lots of fun and learnt a lot.
Eloise and Ellie, 5th class

Categories: Writing & Speaking, John Colet

17
August
2012

From the Stage Coordinators: 17/08/12

The big event this coming week is the Infants Shakespeare Festival, which is the culmination of many hours of work by teachers, children and of course wonderfully helpful parents.
Everyone is very excited, and the dress rehearsals put on for the Primary School, went very well.  The Primary children were delighted.
The venue, despite early reservations, has proved to be excellent for an Infants performance, being contained and somewhat intimate, and the young voices were more easily heard.
Teachers have voted to keep the “Secret Service” practice going for another while, as it has been so very successful, and they have noticed an increase of kindness amongst the children.


Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

17
August
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 17/08/12

Well, the Infants’ Shakespeare is upon us!  This week the children have given two dress rehearsals for the Primary children (and the Headmaster), and I can report that they are excellent.  The fire has skewed all of the school’s activities around, not least the infants Shakespeare Festival; and it is minor miracle that we have been able to bring it off at all...
The teachers have worked extremely hard with wonderful support from devoted parents.  They are all to be warmly congratulated.
And of course the children have really stepped up and are living examples of those core school values of giving their best, caring for others, serving themselves, their classmates and the audience and, with Shakespeare’s words in their mouths, really telling the truth. 
Because Shakespeare is not only vastly entertaining, he is not only a poet for the ages whose appeal never dims, he not only encapsulates the full range of human experience on every level; but he is also a font of limitless wisdom:
All the world’s a stage.
Hold a mirror up to nature.
The quality of mercy is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.

These are just some of the lines from next week’s plays.  With these words learnt by heart and etched in their memories the children develop a broad vocabulary of timeless wisdom.

As one of the children said many years ago:  Break an egg!






Categories: John Colet

10
August
2012

Infants' art for Tears in the Jungle campaign

Our youngest students are really getting in to helping Daniel and William Clarke in their bid
to raise $1million for buying land for protected orangutan habitat.
The photos below show how their canvases are coming along. 

Categories: Lower First news (Kindy), Art classes, John Colet

10
August
2012

6th class shakes up Shakespeare

Their performances aren’t until the end of October, but our senior students are well underway with rehearsals for their Shakespeare Festival.
6th class students have been learning their lines since just before the holidays.  They’re now rehearsing script free, four to five hours a week during class time. 
This year, they are doing a 90 minute version of Twelfth Night, with each student having around 60 lines each.  This, their final Festival, will showcase all the skills they’ve developed over seven years of Shakespeare productions. 
By this stage, the students are making a lot of the decisions themselves: who plays what part, what the theme should be, what music to use, what props and costumes.   Two girls are even choreographing the dance routines.

Class teacher Diane Renshaw and specialist drama teacher Zoe Emanuel are focusing on getting everyone really engaging with their lines, and aiding the story telling through inflections, mannerisms, timing and actions.  For example, the 70s theme requires looser, less classical gestures, and a somewhat more modern tone to the original lines. 
The photos below show a typical rehearsal up the front of the classroom at this stage of the production timeline.

   

Categories: Shakespeare & Drama, John Colet

10
August
2012

Write a book in a Day

Some of our senior students attended a ‘write a book in a day’ session.  Judging by 5th class student India Parson’s report, the day was an enormous success...

“Write a book in a Day” was the most extraordinary day in my life. 

I’ve always wanted a chance to be an author and then there was the chance and I grabbed it.  And I am so glad that I did because it was the most fun being there, with your friends and doing something you love.  And to achieve the book and get it printed is just the best feeling in the world and I want to do it again and again and AGAIN!


Categories: Writing & Speaking, John Colet

10
August
2012

Our place in Space

How big is the solar system?   4th class travelled to the oval for science recently to investigate the size of our solar system.  The necessary tools were balls of different sizes (a hula hoop was the sun) marker flags and a trundle wheel to measure the distance between the ‘planets’. In our model it was 89.94m from the sun to Neptune.
By Ryan Berlee, 4th class
 

Categories: Science & Maths, John Colet

10
August
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 13/8/12

When I took up the job as Headmaster in 1989, I had a vision for the school which included establishing it squarely in the fine tradition of education in the English speaking world; a tradition that has always had at its heart the rigorous teaching of classical languages.
There is an erroneous idea floating about in education that what the children learn should be “relevant”.  I have mentioned before that the idea of relevance is a red herring, simply because, in a world where the audio cassette is a museum piece, and the CD and the video store are on their way out as well, no one knows what the world will look like in ten or twenty years.
The things a child needs to learn which will be relevant are things which don’t change like the ability to think and attend; honesty, resilience and compassion.  I was recently asked to deliver an after dinner speech at the Classical languages Teachers Association.  In it I listed some reasons for teaching Sanskrit and Latin, which make these subjects very relevant:




Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

10
August
2012

From the Stage Coordinators:13/8/12

The gods were definitely on our side on sports day and everyone was commenting on the benign weather which helped to make the day such a pleasant and successful one.
Another aspect that contributed to the success of the event was the attitude of the children.  At Assembly on Monday the Headmaster asked the children about good sportsmanship and many of them spoke of courage, honouring each other’s performance, cheering each other’s houses and giving full support to those children who are not quite so sporty.  The event is an end in itself and can be enjoyed by all, winners, losers and spectators. 
This is an ethos which will hold the children in good stead as they get older and it should be totally encouraged.  An enormous amount of work goes into the organisation of this and a “technological first” should be noted – Mrs Layton recorded results directly onto the computer! Many thanks to Mrs Dunn and Mrs Layton.
The next major event is the Infant’s Shakespeare festival beginning this week with full dress rehearsals staged for the Primary.

Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

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