Rituals Promoting Belonging and Connection
“Research shows feeling like you belong at school is linked to higher levels of student emotional and physical wellbeing and better academic performance and achievement. It is positively associated with optimism, self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-concept and sociability.” (Kelly-Ann Allen, 2021, 5 ways to boost students’ sense of school belonging, Monash University, 13 March 2021, (5 ways to boost students’ sense of school belonging – Monash Education)).
Throughout Term 1, the College hosted eight House Welcome Evenings for the new Year 7 students and their families. For each House, there was a celebration of the Eucharist led by our College Chaplin, Father Paul Sireh. The second part of the evening was the presentation of the House badges to the new Year 7 students. This ritual signified the boys’ initiation into their House, the place they will be connected to during their life and the College and beyond. As Mr Murphy, College Principal, relayed to the boys, “The boys next to you, behind you and in front of you are now your brothers for life.” The evening culminated in a supper where parents could meet their son’s Pastoral Care Teacher, a critical point of contact and mentor throughout the boy’s six-year journey at the College.
It is these rituals which galvanise the boys’ sense of belonging and connection to their school and each other; a key ingredient into the performance and wellbeing of all students. Furthermore, several parents commented to me about how well connected their son had become to the boys in his House. Most of these connections, as the parents explained, were with boys their son had only just met at school. As a man who attended a similar all-boys Catholic school to Whitefriars, I still have strong connections to a group of friends I met for the first time in secondary school. The bonds these boys are making, we hope, will be bonds for life.
Mr Mick Lafferty
Deputy Principal – Students