Dear members of the Whitefriars College family,
Over these weeks of home learning, I have been constantly amazed at the creativity, innovation and thoughtfulness of our staff, as they continue to provide opportunities for our young men to engage in learning on a daily basis. Since I last wrote in this space, there have been a variety of events and initiatives which have brought a bit more life and light into this time of isolation for our boys. For instance…
I attended the Lisieux House assembly, hosted by Minh Nguyen and Lachlan Callander, supported by House Leader Amanda Hourigan and her able assistant Russell Melenhorst. It was a wonderful opportunity to bring our boys and teachers together to celebrate the great Lisieux House and the efforts and achievements of our young men.
I also attended a lunchtime concert presented by Susan Neilson and our highly talented music students. We heard from many of our passionate musicians across a variety of musical genres. Thanks to Susan and all of the music staff for providing another moment of joy in our week.
Last Monday, I attended the Read a Million Words presentation event hosted by Cassandra Andison. Cassandra and Jenny Corbin, along with the Library team, have been a driving force behind this wonderful initiative. I was inspired by the passion for reading, displayed by our boys, and the looks of pride and joy on their faces when they were recognised for their literary efforts. It was wonderful to see our staff involved in the competition as well. There is nothing more powerful than when we model worthwhile learning behaviours to our students, and there aren’t many more valuable learning behaviours than reading.
On Tuesday evening, I hosted a meeting on Zoom with a group of families who are attempting to work out where their son should go to secondary school in 2022. That’s a pretty tough challenge when you can’t physically visit, nor get that feeling in your gut about the right place. However, our secret weapon that night gave these families a sense of who we are and what we are about – Toby Brown, one of our two wonderful College Vice Captains! I wish you could have heard Toby speak with such passion and deep love for his school. He spoke about the community here at Whitefriars and how they had walked with him and inspired him throughout his journey. Toby’s presence was a testament to his loving and supportive family, and our staff, who have worked in partnership over the past six years to assist him in becoming the gentle man he is today.
On Wednesday and Thursday night, we held our historic Student Parent Teacher Conferences via Zoom. The feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive. It takes skills to conduct an interview under normal circumstances – when it’s via a screen it takes more! It takes a relationship and it takes confidence, knowledge, mutual respect and understanding, which transcends the technology. It also takes a bit of a leap of faith, which frankly, all of us have had to do a lot of this year. In making these comments, I pay tribute to both parents and staff who each engaged in equal measure to ensure the success of these important meetings.
Last week, my lack of science knowledge was exposed by the challenging questions Daniela Carboon (Learning Leader of Science) and her team put together for Science Week. I have to say though, I did look forward to the science quiz each morning and I know many of our young men with a passion for science would have looked forward to it, as well along with all the other creative and fun activities. Another glimmer of light in the week for our young men!
We heard about the incredible success of our Chess team, who finished in second place in the ACC Online Chess Tournament – only 1 point behind the winner! One of these amazing young men, Jacob Sanderson, won an incredible 7 out of 7 games – now that’s discipline. I encourage you to read more in Chess Captain Hayden Menzies report. In the words of Hayden… A massive thank you to Ms Powling for organising our place in the competition, providing us with resources to continue to practice chess while Chess Club cannot meet, and keeping us up-to-date while the technical difficulties persisted.
This week at Whitefriars, Health and Physical Education Week was led by our Katherine Smith, Jo Menzies and our enthusiastic PE staff. Our boys participated in a variety of challenges and activities throughout the week. These included everything from Skills and Fitness Zoom sessions, cooking a sustainable meal, to growing their own food and just taking some time out. Students even had the opportunity to take on our Principal and College Captain in attempting to set a new Guinness book of World Record for pea-eating with a toothpick!
In these challenging times we could be forgiven for not wishing to look to far ahead. At last week’s Course Advice Day, that is just what we asked our Year 9 and 10 students to engage in. Our staff supported our boys to reflect on what they liked and what they had an aptitude for, as they discerned their courses of study for next year. I am very grateful to our staff who provided a great service to our boys as they discerned a bright future during this challenging time.
How lucky are we to be in a place that brings us so much light and life in times that are not so bright and light? I hope you all have a great week. And remember, reach out to each other. In this place, I know you will not be disappointed.
Mr Mark Murphy