John Colet
02
November
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 5/11/12

Because of the lack of ready comparisons, we face the practical issue of monitoring how John Colet is delivering the academic, cultural and spiritual curriculum to the children.  We are not in any system of comparable schools so it is a bit hard to check ourselves against any benchmark.

So feedback from parents whose children have joined us from other schools is very helpful, and it is heartwarmingly positive.  Especially when the Shakespeare Festival is on, I speak to parents who are amazed at the level of performance which the children deliver; and this regularly leads into a conversation about the miraculous change that has come over their children since joining us.

This year’s Primary Shakespeare Festival is no exception.  The Infants performances set an extremely high bar.  The Primary plays have been wonderful. Together all the plays have been a massive credit to the teachers, parents and, of course, the children.  While the weeks leading up to the performances are sometimes always fraught, the children never fail to rise to the high demands we place on them.

It may not be politic for me to say this (because I love every performance from every child); but I can’t help feeling a swelling of emotion when I see a shy or awkward child who has struggled in past years, stride out confidently and begin to “own” the stage.  As well as immersing the children in the greatness of Shakespeare’s works, it is this – the building of inner strength and character – which makes the commitment to Shakespeare worthwhile.


 

 

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

31
October
2012

2W's little books

Second Class W were motivated to 'publish' their own little books of  their combined writing efforts this term, with accounts about people they admire, and syllable poems about animals.



Categories: Writing & Speaking, John Colet

31
October
2012

Exploring Indian art and culture

Our Lower First and Upper First (Kindergarten and Year 1) students looked at Indian art and celebrations last week.  The five day festival of Diwali was discussed, with children drawing the typical activities such as house cleaning, buying new clothes, lighting small lamps and creating footprints, pictured below, to lead the bad spirits away from a home and to welcome the good spirits in.  Lower First classes also decorated Indian elephants.
 

Categories: Art classes, John Colet

31
October
2012

Exploring Greek art

4th class students spent a number of weeks looking at art in Greece and discussed the use of tempera in the Monasteries.  The technique is still used today and artists are still trained in this field painting the various religious Icons.
So as a class we cracked eggs and separated the white and yolk, mixed with water and vinegar and set about painting a Greek inspired patterned boarder for our class combined artwork. 
Juli Allcorn
Art Teacher
Photos Barbie Hooper
 

Categories: Art classes, John Colet

26
October
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 29/10/12

I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.  Leo Rosten

It is a paradox that cruelty, bullying, violence and mean spiritedness are the actions of the weak; and kindness, justice, tolerance, compassion and mercy are the actions of the strong. 

Shantananda Saraswati was asked about tyranny and injustice in the world and he said that cruelty, totalitarianism and evil have the outer appearance of strength; but they are in fact fragile because they are based on fear and lies and, when, like Soviet Communism, they collapse, they can do so surprisingly quickly. 

On the other hand liberal democracies, with government with the consent of the governed, which have open vigorous debate, and which value free speech and the tolerance of divergent, even heretical, views, can have the appearance of chaotic weakness.  But, he says, they are inwardly strong because they are based on simple principles of mutual consent, freedom and truthfulness.

At school I often point out to the children the obvious fact that no one is hurtful or a bully or mean from a position of strength.  Strong and confident people have no need to be unkind or vicious.  And, further, the proper response by the strong to the weak is compassion and a helping hand.

 

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

26
October
2012

Preparing for their curtain calls

With exactly one week to their performances, our 6th class students, like the rest of the primary classes, are in a bit of a panic. Nothing serious, mind, just the madness of getting just the right seventies shirt or lace up boots, and then getting them to fit comfortably so everyone can focus on their lines and cues. 
6th class are doing Twelfth Night, set in the 1970s.  Katherine, a student in the class, has been in charge of choreographing the rest of her class to 'In the Navy", with plenty of marching inspired moves.

All the hard work and weeks and weeks of drama coaching has paid off, and all the Primary classes are ready to impress parents and friends at their Glen Street Theatre performances. 

For 6th class, it will be the end of an era.  As Katherine says, it's been really, really fun.

Categories: Shakespeare & Drama, John Colet

26
October
2012

From the Stage Coordinators: 29/10/12

John Bell, Founder and Director of the Bell Shakespeare Company, who is Patron of the John Colet Shakespeare Festival, came to the school on Wednesday to see a specially crafted programme of “snippets” from each of the class productions.  The children were excited to perform, and, as always, Mr Bell was delighted!  The Primary children were full of questions and John Bell was generous in his responses.

 
The Shakespeare Festival looms on the horizon and there is a general level of anticipation as last minute preparations of performance, costume and props are put into place.  We fully expect the usual excellence and enjoyment for and from the children and the audiences.    Have you bought your tickets??

The Infants will be going to the Sydney Symphony at the ABC, and have been well prepared by Mrs. Tefay.  Unfortunately this clashes with the Wednesday Glen Street performance, but the children will catch up and see a dress rehearsal at school.

Everyone should be in full summer uniform by now.  If we have another unexpected cold snap as happened last week, children should wear blazers and not jumpers to and from school.  Blazers are compulsory for 5th and 6th class.  Some laxity has crept in with headgear and unfortunately some of the older children have had recess detentions as a consequence.  

Photos:  Ann-Maree Moodie


Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

24
October
2012

Who killed Hamlet's father?

Pre-Shakespeare Festivities

At Tuesday lunch,  'Hamlet Rolls' were served to the children, and our wonderful catering parents ran a Shakespeare quiz for all:  Hamlet is the prince of what country? Whose ghost visits Hamlet at this castle?  What is Hamlet's girlfriend's name?  How does Hamlet's mother die?  Who killed Hamlet's father?
Thursday, it was 'Portia's Pasta' quiz day. The questions were even trickier.

Treats for the winners and plenty of excited Primary children all in groups brainstorming answers.

Categories: Lunch menus, Shakespeare & Drama, John Colet

24
October
2012

Hark the Herald Angels Sing!

Term 4 Primary Choir Update

The Primary Choir worked very hard throughout term 3 and learnt all their music for the Speech Night concert – huge round of applause! It’s a rich program of beautiful music by Mozart including a duet from the Magic Flute and two choruses from his one act comic opera Bastien and Bastienna with a finale in three parts featuring a solo from this year’s Head Chorister Luke McCrostie as Colas the wizard.

Learning all the parts in term 3 has meant that we can pace ourselves until after the Primary Shakespeare festival. Then we start a refining and polishing exercise. This is a process of working on the all important details such as dynamics (louds and softs), pronunciation, expression, tone quality, phrasing, clear entries, clean finishes etc etc. This requires finer listening and attention.

When you listen to the final performance on the night, it’s this attention to detail that transforms a good work-a-day performance into an excellent, uplifting experience with a certain je ne sais quoi. For the children, it becomes a hugely rewarding experience to have worked hard together and presented their best. Any perceived imperfections are just the joy of live music and can and do happen to any musician professional or amateur.

One of the many highlights of Speech Night is at the end where everyone – parents and children join together to sing a Christmas carol and the National Anthem. The carol is a shared piece with everyone singing the first and last verses and the Infants Choir singing a verse on their own and likewise the Primary Choir who learn their section in two parts and also a descant for the grand finale of the last verse. This year it’s “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” but don’t worry if you don’t know the words, they will be in the program!

Pictured is Primary Choir Director, Sarah Mane, working on the behind-the-scenes details for the school's grand finale performance of the year.



Categories: Chess & Clubs, John Colet

19
October
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 22/10/12

Care and Service are two of our core values.  As with all virtues (and vices!) they begin at home.  In other words we can advocate fairness, equity and freedom on a societal or even world scale, but if our dealings with ourselves and with those we actually meet day to day is marked by selfishness, jealousy and criticism, then our words will ring hollow; and our actions, infused with negativity, will produce precisely the opposite effects of those we advocate.

The best way to ensure nation- or worldwide justice, peace and tolerance is to start by ensuring we are just, peaceful and tolerant in our own lives. Then we see these qualities naturally expand when we take into account other people and creatures that we may never meet.  Practical effective action can then follow.

So at school we encourage the children to be benevolent, compassionate and just to those they interact with, and then we see their horizons expand beyond the particular and the personal.

A very good example of this is the Tears in the Jungle Orang-utan Project which is presently underway at the school, with the children learning about the threat to these engaging and intelligent creatures; and the wonderful work being done to help them.  And the children, teachers and parents are exemplifying the values of care and service by taking practical steps to assist. 

I warmly commend the enthusiasm and passion underpinning the school's involvement in this project.

Categories: John Colet

19
October
2012

From the Stage Coordinators: 22/10/12

At each Monday assembly we have gone through the school values with the children so that they learn them by heart, and in so doing these values may be available to the children as they pass through the vicissitudes of life.

The school values are presented to the children as:-

·         Stillness

·         Truthfulness

·         Care

·         Service

·         Respect

As mentioned last week, this term we are practicing care with an emphasis on giving attention and presenting things beautifully.

Excitement is starting to build up as the Primary Shakespeare Festival approaches.  Words of the Bard can be heard emanating from the classrooms of Shakespeare and Colet House, sometimes with some vigour!  The costume room has been frequently visited and things are beginning to take shape in the various productions.

The filming of the school and children has been successfully completed, and we look forward to viewing the final footage.  The filmmakers did warn the children that even if they have been filmed, they may not appear in the final rendition, as they film many hours’ worth but the completed version will only be about 6-8 minutes.

 

 

Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

12
October
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 15/10/12

We tell lots of stories to the children in Assembly, in Scripture and Philosophy classes; and all of them are intended to  be lively and entertaining.  Without wanting to be ponderous or heavy, we
also want the stories to edify.  We want  the stories to be captivating and therefore memorable; and therefore lodge in the children’s hearts, and so be available when the point or principle embedded in them is needed.

These stories are often directly about God.  Because God is compassionate, merciful and highly efficient, He comes to us in a myriad of ways, all designed to capture our attention and arouse our curiosity.  God can come to us externally in the guise of an invisible, loving parent-like figure with carefully formulated rules for living a good and fruitful life.

Or God can turn up in a more intimate form as an affectionate friend and intimate companion, usually embodied as a Jesus or a Krishna, whose human qualities excite our warmth and admiration, and whose God-like qualities excite our devotion and reverence.

Lastly, God comes to us in that still small voice of inspiration, conscience or insight which appears in us as a flash of light, or as a steady guiding lantern of moral or ethical values.  In this guise He is our own highest Self, readily accessible through inner stillness and meditation.

All religions speak of these three forms of God; and the stories we tell to the children cover all bases as well.



 

Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

12
October
2012

From the Stage Coordinators: 15/10/12

Always give of your best” is the aspect of our Values that we will give attention to this term, and we have distilled this to the word “CARE” for the children to remember easily.  This is reflected in the following questions:

·         Am I giving full attention?

·         Is it beautiful?

·         Is it well presented?

·         Is it pleasing to others?

Teachers will take this up in the classroom and perhaps this could also be taken up at home!

On the Teachers’ Study Day last week we had a very informative visit from Shelley Brennan of The Asthma Foundation, who gave us a full refresher on the care and management of asthma sufferers.

Please make sure that you keep your child’s teacher up-to-date on any changes or developments, if they are asthmatic.  This will help enormously with asthma management.

Also on the Study Day, we considered how we actually implement the special ethos of John Colet School, how we can evaluate this in an informal way, and how we can inspire the children to take this ethos into their life’s journey in a meaningful way.

Another session was held on an appraisal of writing and ways in which we as teachers can share our skills and experience with a view to enhancing the children’s writing skills.

 

Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

10
October
2012

From the Stage Coordinators: 9/10/12

We trust you have had a restful and refreshing holiday and the children are looking forward to a new school term with enthusiasm and gusto.  It will be short but extremely full.

With a film crew in the school in week 2, the Primary Shakespeare Festival in week 4 and Speech Night in week 9 the children will be kept well occupied.

John Bell will also be visiting the school, 6th class debaters have reached the finals of the inter-school Debating Competition and that will be played out, there will be an intra-school Chess Competition, the Art Exhibition for the Orang-utan Project and several excursions.

Our value for the term is Always Give of your Best and there will be ample opportunity to practise this.

We are looking forward to a most enjoyable and interesting term.

Categories: Coordinators' Comments, John Colet

10
October
2012

Headmaster's Weekly Comment: 9/10/12

Welcome back to a new term.  I hope everyone had a refreshing restorative break.  Many members of staff spent part of their break on a week's meditation and study retreat at the School of Philosophy.

This term we have several highlights to look forward to.  The School's annual cycle of special events and assemblies fulfil several purposes.  They give the school a regular pulse or rhythm which is repeated every year  and contributes to the "feel" of the school.  And each has its own special significance - at the Easter Assembly, for example, we concentrate on sacrifice, redemption and forgiveness;  on Anzac Day we remember the sacrifice of our fighting men and women and experience national unity; Teachers' Day honours the teacher; Founder's Day celebrates the life and work of Leon Maclaren and connects us to the history and founding principles of the school.

This term we have the Primary Shakespeare Festival, the Christmas Celebration - including the annual Nativity Play and Carol Service - and, wrapping things up for the year, our gala Speech Night at the Concourse in Chatswood.

Each of these annual celebrations is designed to lift our sights and raise our thinking beyond the day to day.  They all exemplify some significant principle -  so at Christmas time we focus on the joy of rebirth and the promise of freedom and salvation; and on Speech Night we not only celebrate the school and individual children's achievements; we also wish our graduating 6th class a warm and heartfelt farewell and best wishes for the future, with every confidence that they will continue to display the fine qualities and strength of character which make their parents and teachers justifiably proud.


Categories: Head of School Comment, John Colet

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