From the Principal – Transition

Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,

I have been reflecting a great deal lately on the concept of transition, that process of changing from one state or condition to another. In my own family we are in a state of transition as the last of our five children moves out of home, leaving my wife and I as empty nesters. It seems like only yesterday that we were sending them off on their first day of school, or their first part-time job or their first day at university. At each of these moments of transition my wife and I have been both nervous and excited for them. These same two emotions have been the prevailing ones for many in our community at this time of the year.

Last week I stood with our graduating class in a moment of transition as they waited to be called into their English examination. The feelings of nervousness and excitement amongst them were palpable. Nervous anticipation at what they would find when the opened their examination paper, hoping to find a sense of the familiar. Excitement that they finally had the opportunity to put into practice the countless hours of study and show what they had learnt. I know that their parents would have felt these same emotions as their son walked out the front door that morning knowing that their son’s success was now all in his hands.

After the last of these boys had entered the examination room, I wandered down to our Science and Technologies Centre where I met a group of equally excited and nervous Grade 6 boys and their parents at one of our three Grade 6 student and parent transition mornings. This new initiative developed by Samantha Riddle (Director of Middle Years) along with our transition team, has been designed to further support students and their parents as they take their first tentative steps into secondary school life. Our hope for these mornings is that our students and their parents leave with an increased sense of excitement and diminished nervousness. I asked a number of parents what they had gained from our transition morning and the word which sprung to mind for most of them was reassurance.

But we don’t need to do anything as dramatic as an English Exam or commencing Secondary school to feel these two emotions. We all have moments of transition every day. So how do we navigate these moments of successfully? In my experience, I always look to those who have gone before me. Transition is something best shared rather than travelled alone. Successful transition requires communication, compassion, empathy and understanding. Whilst transition can be challenging and a little scary, knowing that we are not alone and knowing that we can draw on the support and wisdom of others and of our God can help to make the journey more exciting and less daunting.

One of my favourite poems which speak of this idea of transition comes from the famous English Poet Laurette Cecil Day-Lewis. It speaks to me of the joy, anticipation, trepidation, excitement and emotion of those moments of transition, to be enjoyed and savoured.


Walking Away

It is eighteen years ago, almost to the day –

A sunny day with leaves just turning,

the touch-lines new ruled – since I watch you play

your first game of football, then like a satellite

wretched from its obit, go drifting away

Behind the scatter of boys, I can see

you walking away from me towards the school

with the pathos of a half-fledged thing set free

into to the wilderness, the gait of one

who finds no path where the path should be

The hesitant figure, eddying away

like a winged seed loosened from its parent stem,

Has something I never quite grasp to convey

about natures give-and-take – the small, the scorching

ordeals which fire one’s irresolute clay


I wish you each reassurance, as you go from one transition in your day to day, as the next. And thank you for all the joy and excitement I am savouring watching all of this tremendous change.


Mr Mark Murphy