From the Principal – The gift of performance

Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,

Often when I ask a person how they are or what they have been up to in their life the response is invariably the same, “I’ve been really busy” or words to that effect, is generally the answer. Some of you may remember years ago when computer technology was just taking off. The catch cry from promoters of this new technology was that we would all have so much more time on our hands. I think most of us are still waiting for that to kick in! The busyness of life is increasing. Newtons third law of relativity tells us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In this case the equal and opposite reaction of busyness could be a lack of time to stop and reflect on who we are, where we are in our lives and where we are going. How often do any of us take time to stop and reflect on these bigger questions of life?

I had cause to reflect on these ideas recently, following a conversation with one of our Year 7 students. As I passed this young man in the yard, I asked him about his day, and he told me that he was just returning from an instrumental music lesson. We spoke about our shared love of music, and I questioned him further about what he enjoyed most about playing his instrument. He said that the best part was that sometimes when he plays, he gets so absorbed in what he is doing he “gets lost in the music and can lose an hour or two.” Some would describe this young man’s experience as a moment of mindfulness. I see it more as a gift to this boy that will be of great benefit to him throughout his life.

This week I witnessed a group of students who. for an entire day. were able to put aside the busyness of life and to lose themselves in their passion for the Performing Arts. On Monday, over 80 students from Sienna College and Whitefriars spent the day in the Whitefriars Performing Arts area collaborating on the inaugural Sienna/Whitefriars Concert Project.

These talented and creative students were challenged with the task of creating, producing and performing a music/theatre concert in a day which would lead to the presentation a variety of music and drama performances for their parents at the conclusion of the day.

As I wandered around the various practice rooms throughout the afternoon, I was amazed at how these students were able to learn music pieces and dramatic performances in such a short period of time. More than this, the students were able to adapt quickly, to build collaborative relationships with each other, and form cohesive and productive groups which led to harmonious and entertaining performances under tight time constraints.

The value of the day was partly evidenced through the delight and happiness these actors and musicians brought to the many friends and family who came along to support them. The students will tell you though that the extra value for them was the essential skills of life they developed, the friendships they formed with like-minded people and mostly the sheer joy of sharing the gift of music and drama, which is good for the soul.

The lessons for us all here are do not underestimate what you can achieve in a day, collaboration and commitment always leads to worthwhile outcomes, and we all need that one thing which nourishes our own soul, whilst being a gift that nourishes the hearts of others.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of Siena who came in support of their students and the Whitefriars staff who led these students with great sensitivity and skill through this daunting process, especially Matt Frampton, Learning Leader of Performing Arts and teachers Natalie Fox, Claire Benne, Nick Fitter and Matthew Balassone. I would also like to thank Siena Principal Elizabeth Hanney for her presence on the night and her support of this program. Finally, I wish to thank the incredibly talented and dedicated students from Siena and Whitefriars who brought open minds and generous hearts to celebrate Performing Arts at our two great schools.

Mr Mark Murphy