From the Principal – Positive Risk-taking

Dear members of the Whitefriars Family,

Last week I was fortunate to attend the Year 8 Drama Performance of Murder in the Knife Room. This highly entertaining and positive evening showcased and celebrated the talents of a dedicated group of Year 8 students supported by an equally passionate and dedicated group of Performing Arts staff. The result was a wonderful gift of fun and frivolity to those of us present. Prior to the performance I ventured backstage to wish our budding performers the all the best for the show. I asked the boys if they had performed on stage before and was interested to discover that most of them had not. You would not have known that by their enthusiastic, skilled and confident performances.

As I drove home afterwards, I reflected on the concept of risk-taking. A risk-taker is a person who is willing to do things that involve danger or risk to achieve a goal. Often, we read in the media about the costs of young people’s risk-taking behaviours usually associated with negative outcomes. We read about young people driving too fast or other harmful behaviours which can deliver a ‘thrill in the moment’ but can lead to life-changing or life-ending consequences. There are, however, times when risk taking is a positive and life-affirming activity which is the type of risk-taking, I wish to focus on here.

Those Year 8 students who entertained us last week are wonderfully positive examples of young people taking positive risks.  Schools, I believe, provide an ideal setting to promote positive risk-taking. Within the classroom students can practice “academic risk-taking” or pursue academic goals (like solving a math problem) without fear of failure or embarrassment. Outside the classroom, they have opportunities for positive risk-taking through co-curricular activities and social events.

There are many great benefits from taking positive risks at Whitefriars. A positive risk-taker is someone who:


  • is always looking at opportunities to grow
  • stands out in the crowd for their confidence and courage to take on new opportunities
  • has a thirst for knowledge
  • is driven to succeed
  • sets a higher standard for themselves to be the best they can be
  • can change and adapt to new situations
  • is not afraid of failure.

It is this last dot point on which I wish to focus.

When the curtain went up and the bright lights hit them in the face, I am sure that among those boys there would have been a moment of fear and trepidation. “Will I remember my lines; Will people laugh when they are supposed to laugh?” Equally, in the minds of the backstage crew and those in the lighting/audio box they may have been thinking, “Will we get the cues right; Will everything work the way it is supposed to?” But then they would push past those feelings of doubt and failure and focus on the job at hand. And if things didn’t go according to plan, they would adapt, improvise and learn from their mistakes.

There are so many examples of positive risk-taking at Whitefriars because of the passionate staff who are constantly thinking of ways to provide those types of experiences to all our boys. I believe too that our College provides a very safe and supportive environment in which boys can take positive risks in a whole range of areas without fear.

So, my challenge to this community is to take a positive risk, try something new. It could be as big as stepping on to a stage, or picking up a new musical instrument, or trying out for a new sport, or signing up for a debating team. It could be as small as putting your hand up for help in class or reaching out to a teacher or a mate when you are in need or making a new friend.

So, take a positive risk. That goes for us all!


Mr Mark Murphy