Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,

I get a sense now, that the world is a fragile place. On the one hand, life appears to be returning to normal, particularly here in Australia. On the other, we know that our situation can change rapidly. In some ways the challenges of 2020 are behind us, but we also know that the impacts of that extraordinary year are still being keenly felt in our community and will be for some time to come. The disruption and distress of 2020 has had implications in education. Our school achieved amazing things and did heroic work in support of the young people we serve, particularly with regards to their learning last year. But there are some things we could not replicate in the home learning environment. I speak most particularly of the broader experience of school; physically, socially, spiritually, and emotionally.

It appears that all our students are playing a bit of catch up when it comes to their development as young people. Our Year 7 students never had the chance to truly experience all the opportunities and events of their Grade 6 year, and all the learning and growth which comes with that. Our Year 8s never truly learnt what it is to be a Year 7, and yet we are expecting them to behave like Year 8s. The same could be said for all year levels. My belief is that over time this situation will right itself and that the pendulum will swing back to its normal rhythm.

At Whitefriars, our staff are acutely aware of this phenomenon and are doing all that they can to support our students to bridge any gaps they may have with regards to their learning and their broader social-emotional growth. Our role, as a school and as parents, is to work with our boys with patience, kindness and understanding, whilst also challenging them to step outside their comfort zones, as they continue to grow and reach their full potential as young gentlemen of Whitefriars.

This phenomenon of which I speak, also applies to us all in different ways. One such example is our desire to feel part of a community. After the year we have had, many of us are craving opportunities to feel a sense of belonging and connectedness to others. One such example of this came in the form of our recent 2020 Valedictory dinner held at the Sofitel Melbourne. Many students and their families, along with supporting staff, from the Class of 2020, enjoyed a night of reflection, celebration and recognition of the efforts and achievements of these amazing young men. The prevailing theme of the night was one of thanksgiving. The boys spoke of their gratitude for all the support they received from their teachers and the College as a whole, and all attendees were incredibly grateful the occasion could take place at all. Full credit for ensuring the event took place, must go to our Director of Senior Students Greg Clifford who never gave up on his vision to hold such an event. Thanks also Josh Vujcich (Director – Identity, Mission and Service) and Fr. Paul Sireh, O’Carm. (College Chaplain) for providing us with the opportunity to reflect and pray together. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to Kelli Joiner, Officer Manager and Megan Jones, Receptionist, for their hard work in ensuring that all elements were in place for a successful and memorable evening.

As we continue through this important year of reflection, and celebration of 60 years of Whitefriars College, let us all remember to take some time to stop, to reflect, to be patient and to be kind to ourselves and each other and to give thanks for the wonderful blessing of the community which is Whitefriars College.

Mr Mark Murphy