From the Principal – The Challenge

July 24th, 2020

Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,

It is great to welcome you all back for the start of another term at Whitefriars. Last Monday I wrote to our staff expressing my concerns and apprehensions about what we were coming back to. I told them that… there was a moment when I despaired at what may lay ahead for us this term. No amount of positive platitudes or mindset is going to change the fact that there will be many challenges ahead. But then I lifted myself out of my malaise when I thought about the opportunity we have to bring a little light and comfort to the young men and broader community we serve. I genuinely could not think of a better place to be right now, doing the work that we have been called to do. And this is true! It is true because I have come to know in a short period of time the passion, dedication, generosity and thoughtfulness of our staff, founded on a firm desire to serve the needs of the young men of our College within our Catholic Carmelite context.

Like all of us, our staff are human beings who have their own struggles and hurdles to overcome. Family and personal circumstances are real for all of us, at the best of times. These circumstances are amplified by the strange conditions in which we find ourselves. Each of us has to try to find ways of reconciling our personal needs and the broader needs of those around us, which is easier said than done. That is the tension for all of us – staff, parents, students and even Principals.

For each of us in the Whitefriars family, there is great opportunity in the midst of this challenging time. The opportunity to do what we can to support each other. To offer understanding and empathy and acknowledgement of the individual circumstances and views of each member of this community. To reflect on how each of us can play a significant part in keeping our community safe. To reach out in solidarity and support of each other in and beyond our community. At this time more than ever we need to be patient with each other, accepting of each other and understanding of each other as Mary was.

Speaking of Mary, last week we celebrated the Feast of our Lady of Mount Carmel. Some may say that there is little to celebrate in the world at the moment. I believe though that this is the perfect time to give thanks to Mary for the ultimate example she is to us, about how to live fully in these difficult times. Last week, to mark this significant occasion, we were blessed to receive a video message from the Prior General of the Carmelite Order, Fr Miceal O’Neill.

Fr Miceal told us that Mary was the perfect model as to how we should live in these times of challenge. He said that Mary was a contemplative prayerful person who pondered all things that were happening in her world and instead of despairing she made the decision to take them into her heart and bring light and love to the world. Mary reminds us of the need to stop, to ponder, to contemplate, to pray and try to make sense and meaning of what is going on around us. Mary too was a woman of strength and of action. A person who would take a leap of faith not knowing what was to come, who would drop everything to be with another in need of support and comfort and who would stand firm at the foot of the cross in love and solidarity for her dying son.

This is a tough ask, in a time when our human nature is driving us towards a focus on the self rather than the other – just look at the supermarket shelves! These are extraordinary times, so what better time than this to be extraordinary, to be like Mary.

Lastly, on behalf of the Whitefriars community, I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to the Hammerton family (James, Year 8) following the passing of James’ grandfather Denis, after a long battle with cancer. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hammerton family at this time of sadness.

Mr Mark Murphy

Principal

Schooling in 2020 – A Hybrid Model

July 24th, 2020

The second week of term has brought new learning opportunities for our students. Our hybrid model of school is different and evolving with VCE and VCAL students on campus and our Year 7-10 students embarking on a second experience of the Home Learning Program.

For all teachers, the shift to Home Learning again meant a rapid change to alternate modes of learning and teaching. Staff are better equipped and resourced to ensure all students in home learning receive the best education they can during these challenging times. Media has reported the significant workload and time staff are needing to put in to plan and deliver effective teaching as well as deal with personal situations associated with a new COVID environment. Whitefriars staff are no different, working extremely hard to provide the curriculum; I am very grateful for their work.

Additionally, almost three-quarters of all school teachers express concerns about the remote learning negatively affecting students’ emotional wellbeing . For many families, this has been a challenging time with teacher, parent and student wellbeing raised as serious concerns. We continue to provide the best care for each student whether they are on campus or studying at home.

Some students thrived academically at home, particularly those who can self-regulate their learning whilst enjoying the independence, quiet learning spaces and parental support. On the other hand, others require more support, opportunities to seek teacher instruction and feedback and peer collaboration to learn. Likewise, a student may experience internet issues that influences attendance and class participation.

Reference: https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/being-a-teacher-during-covid-19

 

H.E.R.O

The Learning Team recently reviewed research about Psychological Capital (PsyCap) in the context of supporting staff by drawing upon the H.E.R.O within. H.E.R.O is an acronym for Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism.

With uncertainty and disruption at home, school discussions then centred on how students can engage in learning and remain connected to others in our community using H.E.R.O.

 

Hope – having an expectation of a positive outcome and a set of thought to being successful a) goals b) pathways thinking to plan how to meet goals.

Students can extend their expectations beyond what they believe is their ‘potential’. They must set goals and then believe that they can achieve these by developing plans and working to the best of their ability. Despite today’s context posing many great challenges, the mission and message of Jesus instils a hope and possibility for each person. Learning brings forth this hope – a hope that is based on the experience of God’s love and care for all.

 

Self-Efficacy – believing in one’s capabilities to execute a task

Students who exhibit self-efficacy use the resources available to them (teachers, peers, technology, library, texts). They are self-efficacious and are goal and task oriented. Utilising curriculum resources on Whitefriars Teach and accessing teachers through online technology, Whitefriars students continue to develop their self-efficacy in their studies. A pleasing aspect this year is the large number of Senior Years students attending the Academic Study Centre to improve their learning.

 

Resilience – responding to pressures quickly, adaptively and effectively

Resilient students are flexible and adaptable when challenges arise. These students use creativity and problem solving to find alternate ways forward. Students look to learn from their experience and exhibit a growth mindset rather than avoid or blame others. Our students have demonstrated that they are very resilient; adapting and pivoting a number of times throughout the year with bushfires and COVID.  Looking for opportunities to respond successfully or learn from challenges.

 

Optimism – associated with cognitive processing (thinking, knowing, remembering, judging) of expectations and making positive choices about succeeding now and into the future

Students who are able to shift their thinking to view the world from a positive perspective, will amplify positive emotion and acquire skills in doing so. They will discover strengths which will enable them to adapt. Subsequently, they will develop a purpose beyond themselves so that they are able to serve others (i.e. chores at home, helping others in the Academic Study Centre). Our boys can continue to develop optimism by being grateful for one’s blessings whilst tackling negative thoughts and beliefs head-on, in order to find the positives.

 

Mr Mark Ashmore
Deputy Principal – Teaching & Learning

The new normal

July 24th, 2020

I never thought in my wildest dreams that when I decided to become a teacher, I would be greeting students in the morning with hand sanitiser and an infrared thermometer. As a community, we have been confronted with many challenges due to this insidious virus. We have had to change the way we learn, the way we communicate, the way we gather and the way we interact. Unfortunately, the challenges continue.

As you would be aware, on the advice of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, the Premier of Victoria announced that as of Wednesday 22 July at 11.59am, the wearing of face masks or face coverings will be mandatory when you leave your place of residence. In a school setting, this applies to all staff and students (over the age of 12). For the time being, this will be the new normal.

In a recent article by Clinical Psychologist, Andrew Fuller speaks about the most common response to challenging situations – RESILIENCE – and how we can create it. He talks about:

The piece of advice which resonated most for me, is the idea he refers to as creating beauty.

“Beauty is an antidote to hopelessness. It lurks in the small details of life: the smile from a stranger, the wag of a dog’s tail or a sunny morning. Search for these details and also intentionally create more beauty in your world for others to discover. Cherish what you can.”

I sincerely appreciate the support parents have provided their sons and the College in these challenging circumstances and once again, we are calling on the whole community to support this new wave of expectations. The safety and wellbeing of our staff and students is always our number one priority.

Stay safe.

Mr Mick Lafferty

Deputy Principal – Students

 

 

Friars Hivers Beekeeping Club

July 24th, 2020

The Sustainability & Environment Team welcomed the latest College enrolments during the holidays – the Queen Bee and her bee colony!

Whitefriars College Friars Hivers Beekeeping Club have worked tirelessly to have a beehive on site and are grateful to the Principals Leadership Team and other staff for supporting the club.  Ben Moore, a registered professional beekeeper from Ben’s Bees, installed a single hive in the College bushland and will be responsible for running a beekeeping program at the College. The program will be offered to students who are keen to gain knowledge and skills regarding the health and wellbeing of a bee colony, ethical practices relating to bee farming, the importance of bees in ecosystems, food safety and hygiene practices, basic working and craft skills and harvesting and selling honey, honeycomb and wax products to the College community.

The hive is located behind the maintenance shed and top oval score board in the bushland, which is an out of bounds area for students. The Queen bee is of an Italian strain, which has a calm temperament and sets the tone of the hive. The bushland is an abundant food source for the bees.

The 2020 Friars Hivers Beekeeping Club Policy was developed over fourteen months and reviewed by Principals Leadership Team three times before approval. The policy includes a comprehensive risk assessment list and is available from the College upon request.

The main points to highlight that focuses on reducing risk for bee sting allergy staff and students include:

The Sustainability & Environment Team are thrilled to have a beehive on site and the many learning applications and skills interested students will gain. Friars Hivers Beekeeping Club will be very happy to harvest the honey, beeswax and honey comb towards the end of the year.

 

From the Principal – ‘Big game players’

June 19th, 2020

Dear members of the Whitefriars family,

It is wonderful having all the young men of Whitefriars back among us. Finally, our community feels complete and life is returning to some level of normality, albeit with new restrictions, processes and protocols to keep all in our community safe. I have spent a lot of time among the young men of our College, over the past few days and there is a general sense of excitement about being back at school. Most tell me though, they miss getting up a bit later as well as having the fridge and the pantry close by during the day!

On Friday, we staged our first ever “virtual” assembly during pastoral care. Our students and staff watched the assembly from the comfort of their pastoral rooms via webinar. The assembly was beautifully and expertly led by our Senior Leaders and concluded with a video created by Trent Collins (Director – Middle Years), which provided a visual timeline of the experiences of our students during the Home Learning Program. The backing track to the video was provided by one of our talented music students, Joshua Hannan. I would like to thank Mick Lafferty (Deputy Principal – Students) and our College Leaders for their thoughtful leadership of this important gathering of our community.

At the assembly, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak to our staff and students about my reflections on this strange and challenging time. The following is an extract from my presentation.

The question I am hearing most as we re-enter life at school is… what did you miss? I think the answer is pretty easy for most of us. We miss people. We miss our mates, our colleagues, our teachers and other staff who support us each day. I think though, the more important question to ask and answer at this time is… what did you gain? I asked this very question of a group of Year 7 boys I met the other day. One of these young men provided me with a very inspiring response. He said that he had gained a level of maturity and independence that he had not had before. Even though he had great support around him from teachers, classmates and parents, still he needed to stand on his own two feet like never before. He had to become a problem solver, a critical thinker, he had to organise himself without having someone constantly looking over his shoulder. Basically, he said, he had to grow up fast!

As people of the Carmelite tradition we are naturally reflective, contemplative souls. I want you all to take a moment to reflect now on what you have gained or learnt through this time. Because you see if we didn’t learn something and if we don’t take what we have gained and nurture it and grow it and take it into the future, then we have lost a valuable opportunity. People will often rise to a challenge and do remarkable things in moments of great difficulty, tragedy, challenge or crisis. Sporting commentators would call these people, “big game players”. The trick is then to continue to present that way in the ordinary, mundane routine days of our lives. That’s real growth, sustainable growth.

 I have witnessed moments of adaptability, patience, kindness, community, courage and solidarity over the last couple of months. These are the qualities of the “gentle man” that we hear about here, that we aspire to here. Don’t let that go. Don’t slip back into old ways. Show the grit, maturity and determination that I have witnessed and heard about during this time. Let us all move forward in a new way with a gentle and compassionate heart, a strong mind and a faithful soul as we take our great school forward to new and exciting places. Mostly, as young Carmelite men, reach out in service to those in greatest need in our community everyday as Mary would, as a caring loving mother would – Almae In Fide Parentis.

So, my question to all of us is… what have we gained and learnt. It could be as simple as becoming a more competent user of IT. It may be as life changing as adopting a new rhythm of life. Personally, this time has helped me to reflect on and take stock of all the wonderful blessings in my life and how I have often taken them for granted. I have become a more grateful person during this time. I pray that I will not allow this feeling to dissipate, to get lost in the milieu of the everyday. Whatever we have gained or learnt lets all try to hang onto it, nurture it and grow it, not just for our benefit but for the benefit of all in our community.

 

Mr Mark Murphy

Principal

Reflection

June 19th, 2020

Semester One has indeed been like no other previously experienced for schools. Upon entering the year, we were all challenged by the bushfires in Victoria and New South Wales, with some families in our community impacted by this traumatic event. By the end of Term One, Victorians entered into isolation and our Home Learning Program was activated to ensure the continuity of learning and wellbeing for our students.

Our Mission and Values aims to provide a Catholic Education for boys where excellence is valued and all are challenged to achieve their best. Whilst some of the familiar aspects of a Whitefriars education were unable to proceed in the Home Learning Program or since our return, our boys have been extremely well supported in their learning through the use of technology; the learning for many boys has continued as expected.

With one week of Semester 1 remaining I look back at the semester and provide some learning for Term 3 and beyond:

  1. Gratitude – an appreciation for things we take for granted has taken place during the semester. Gratitude for family, community, the opportunities to learn new skills, and for our students the chance to discuss and question the curriculum with teachers have all been gratefully appreciated. Colleagues during Home Learning Program transformed their practice within one week and continue to improve their teaching practice from home. Many students and parents have expressed their gratitude to the extraordinary work our teachers have done to support student learning and wellbeing. Likewise, the teaching staff are grateful for the parent partnership, a crucial aspect in the success of the Home Learning Program.

 

  1. Relationships – isolation has highlighted the importance of relationships in our lives. Family connections have been strengthened, patience has been fostered, friendships re-established as people reconnect with one another returning from isolation. Our staff and boys have relished the opportunity to have discussions with one another and spend time sharing their stories. This time together has developed the sense of belonging within our community and fostered positive, supportive relationships.

 

  1. Communication – working from home has forced us to consider new ways to communicate with students, teachers and parents. Using Zoom, One Note and Whitefriars Learn/Engage has ensure communication has provided clarity during times of uncertainty and provided reliability in delivering an online curriculum. Communication has ensured we continue to nurture and celebrate the diverse gifts and unique contributions of each individual as well as valuing collaboration.

 

  1. Skills – our students and staff have transformed themselves in how they use technology to communicate and collaborate. The development of these skills has challenged us all; it has reminded us that learning is not meant to be easy and that there are times of struggle required in order to embed skills, knowledge and understanding. Understanding the learning process, reflecting on how to effectively study, using alternate forms of technology, and fostering independent habits are skills for lifelong learning.

 

  1. Problem solving – students working from home have gained confidence in the way they learn as they have had to increase the manner in which they work through and problem solve challenges. Students have had to solve problems themselves instead of immediately going to the teacher for help. Critical thinking has meant students have constructed meaning and become more responsible for their learning. Students have been creative in the way they have learnt from home to achieve learning outcomes.

 

  1. Reflection – a key part of the learning process is to be reflective. In discussing the Home Learning Program with students many have taken the time to think about strategies they implemented during this time that can support their learning in the classroom for the remainder of the year. A Whitefriars learner is asked to use resources and develop their talents to achieve personal excellence. It is important for every student to ask, “Have I achieved this in my studies this semester?” “Have I reached out to my peers, subject teachers, House Leaders and any of the resources that Whitefriars offers in order for me to achieve my best?” ”What can I do to improve my learning?” With Semester One Academic Reports being released next week, reflecting critically by asking these questions and setting new goals for Semester Two is an essential process for every student. around reports and re-setting of goals for Semester 2 over the holiday period.

 

With this being the last article for the semester, I encourage you to take the time to rest and reflect during the upcoming holidays. Thank you to our students, parents and College staff for their wonderful work and open approach during Semester One, particularly during the Home Learning Program.

 

 

Reading and book news

June 19th, 2020

Read a Million Words House Challenge

Students have been adding ‘words’ enthusiastically to their reading logs for the Read a Million Words House Challenge. The Read a Million has been running since 28 March and finishes on 5 August. Thank you to the parents who have encouraged and supported their sons to read widely for the challenge, especially during the Home Learning Program. Students embraced the Shortis Library’s eBook collection once they ran out of print books to read. Congratulations to the following students who earned bonus points for their house by writing book reviews, now published on the Library Blog:

Keegan Lim, Year 7 Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Demigod Files by Rick Riordan

Noah Mendez, Year 7 Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Zander Downie, Year 7  The invaders by John Flanagan

Minh Nguyen, Year 12 A Twisted Tale: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell and Words in deep blue by Cath Crowley

 

Book Club

Book Club continued online during the Home Learning Program with Mrs Cass Andison taking the Year 7 and 8 students through the first book of the Tomorrow, When the War Began series (John Marsden). With the release of the new book in the Hunger Games series, Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes (Suzanne Collins), a very special book club event was held, an online Hunger Games Kahoot. Books and other prizes were awarded – congratulations to the following students:

James Dorrat-Sims, Year 7 – 1st

James Fennell, Year 8 – 2nd

Thomas Kelly, Year 7 – 3rd

 

Honourable mentions and other prize winners:

Hayden Rujak, Year 8

Samuel Ng, Year 8

Elian Deeb, Year 7

Julian Pruscino, Year 7

Hayden’s Helping Hands nominated for awards

June 19th, 2020

Hayden Rujak (Year 8) and his sister, Stephanie, were nominated in the Victorian Young Achiever Awards for the work they do to create change through their charity Hayden’s Helping Hands and have now been selected as finalists in the category of ‘The Bridge Create Change Award’.

The Bridge Create Change Award recognises young people that are driving activities, programs and initiatives that promote or create change. Their selection as finalists, reflects the work they do, to support people experiencing homelessness, to enable other youth to volunteer and make a difference, and to raise awareness of the needs of the homeless via visiting local kindergartens and schools and presenting. Hayden and Stephanie locally have created a ripple effect among young people through outreaches every weekend since the beginning of 2015, fundraising and goods gathering. That effort has resulted in over $100,000 of relief provided up until June last year and significant more since that time.

COVID-19 has seen the need for their support service grow. In addition to supporting the homeless, Hayden’s Helping Hands has also been called on to support struggling families in the north/north eastern suburbs with food hampers, toiletries and food vouchers worth over $14,000 since COVID isolation began. But it has not been easy, with COVID transmission concerns meaning Hayden, Stephanie and their core team shouldering much of the load with both volunteering and fundraising activities on hold.

So, they now need our help. One opportunity they have to fundraise has been presented to them from the Young Achiever Award ‘People’s Choice Award’. The Finalist, who receives the most votes in this award, will receive a voucher for a 2-night luxury midweek stay at the Linden Gardens Rainforest Retreat in the heart of Mount Dandenong. If they are lucky enough to win, the prize will be auctioned as a fundraiser to help provide more relief for those who need it. You can vote once a day, every day between now and the awards in September – at awardsaustralia.app.do/vicyaa20

Of course, there are many other ways as well that you can support them. To find out more have a chat to Hayden or visit his website or Facebook page. (haydenshelpinghands.org/ facebook.com/HaydensHelpers/ )

What a wonderful example of care, compassion and servant leadership – congratulations Hayden and Stephanie.

 

Mr Mick Lafferty

Deputy Principal – Students

World Environment Day

June 19th, 2020

World Environment Day was celebrated by the College by participating in the Sustainability and Environment Team’s invitation to “Take a Plant, Leave a Pledge” activity. A variety of wattles including Juniper, Spreading and Myrtle wattles were taken by staff and students in return for a sustainability pledge. Below are examples of the pledges made.

I pledge to…

Grow as many trees as possible, plant natives, continue recycling, problem solve compost issues, make a veggie garden, blow bubbles – not balloons, respect mother earth, recycle soft plastics, support Whitefriars sustainability actions, collect rubbish in the College grounds, waste less food, re-use building material and limit household waste to landfill, eat less meat, don’t buy plastic bottles, use less Palm Oil, use public transport more consistently and reduce my carbon footprint.

The wattles were sourced from the local Friends of Warrandyte State Park Nursery (FOWSP). This group, mainly run by volunteers, gathers local indigenous and native seeds and propagates them at the nursery. The nursery is open to the public, but please check their website for details as restrictions are in place fowsp.org.au. A big thank you to Tom W (7) and James D-S (7) who planted the unclaimed wattles in the bus turning circle garden last week.

International Compost Awareness Week was acknowledged during the Covid-19 home learning program. The Sustainability and Environment Team sent out a daily compost quiz.  Staff and students who answered the quiz correctly each day, collected their prizes this week. Congratulations to Mr Wood, Jordan H (8), Mr Murphy, Lukas M (8), Mrs Ciavarella, Roger L (11) and Mrs Kelly.

Robot wresting challenge

June 19th, 2020

On Wednesday 10 June, the STEW club facilitated a ROBOT wrestling challenge using the Sphero Ollie. Students competed against each other using Sphero Ollies controlled by an app where they needed to knock their opponent out of wrestling triangular or square ring. The competition was fierce. Danthen Seneviratne was crowned the champion.

 

From the Principal – Horizons of Hope

June 9th, 2020

Dear members of the Whitefriars College family,

It was with a great sense of joy and anticipation that we welcomed our senior students back to Whitefriars. Their presence brought life back to our school and it was wonderful to witness the renewing of relationships between students and staff as these young men moved from the virtual to the real classroom environment. We are thrilled today, as we welcome back our Year 7 to 10 students.

The return of our staff and students has reminded me of the importance of relationship in education. Learning to know requires being known and that can only truly occur through relationship. At Whitefriars, each boy is well known here both as a learner and more broadly as a person. This does not happen by accident or left to chance. There is a great deal of work, grounded in research, process and program which assists us in understanding who these young men are, there learning and wellbeing needs and most importantly how to engage and connect them to learning.

Every staff member at Whitefriars, no matter what their role, supports this educational mission. I would however, like to point out one group of people, who every day walk with our young men as learners, particularly those in greatest need. I speak of our Learning Diversity team and in particular our Learning Support Officers. Our teachers have been acknowledged for their extraordinary dedication and efforts in support of our students during the period of our Home Learning Program, and rightly so. Our learning Support Officers too have been there supporting teachers in the virtual classroom and working closely with students who may have found this time more difficult and who have particular learning needs. Our Learning Diversity department walks with boys across the entire learning spectrum to ensure they can reach their learning potential in a supportive setting. On behalf of all of us, I wish to thank our Learning Diversity team for the valuable work they have done and continue to do in support of the young men of Whitefriars.

It is one thing to say we know our boys as learners, it is another altogether to back this up with hard data and quantitative evidence. Many of you will know that in the past few years all schools have adopted the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) process and methodology in determining the individual learning needs of students with a disability.

Where once we relied on external agencies in consultation with our own learning diversity departments to discern the level of support individual students should receive in schools, now educators are called upon to provide information and evidence based on their individual and collective understanding of the needs of students in our classrooms and our school.

In many ways the NCCD represents an evolution in the way schools report the adjustment and support provided to students with a disability. It is part of a broader suite of national reforms aimed at improving the lives of people with disabilities including the National Disability Strategy 2010-2020 and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). It has been clear from the outset that this change in the way we collect data provides a more comprehensive and specific understanding of the learning needs of our students.

As people who choose to work in a Catholic school in the Carmelite tradition we support the view that each of us is made in the image and likeness of God. Each person brings his and her own gifts and each brings their own needs and all are given equal dignity in this place.

These ideas well represented in the Horizons of Hope documents developed by Catholic Education Melbourne. This document tells us that…

 

Catholic schools were founded to proclaim Jesus’ message of God’s love for all. Our Catholic faith calls us to embrace the contemporary world with a Catholic imagination, and a particular hope-filled view of the human person and all of creation. Catholic educators invite students to make sense of their world and their lives within a faith community that is faithful to the mission of Jesus.

 

The NCCD and its processes reflect what it means to be an educator in a contemporary world. It goes to the very heart of our work as Catholic Educators in ensuring that each individual is supported to become the best version of themselves. Pope Francis calls this the search for holiness.  “The important thing,” Pope Francis explains, “is that each of us discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts God has placed in their hearts”. It is our mission as educators to support our young people to do just that.

I would like to acknowledge the dedication, skill and hard work of all our staff who are currently involved in putting forward information and data which will assist in providing our students with the future support they need with regards to their learning and wellbeing.

Mark Murphy

Principal

What have we learnt since returning to school?

June 9th, 2020

After two months working from home, the Whitefriars Community is now beginning to resemble some type of familiarity as Year 11 and 12 students officially returned to school just over a week ago.

School buses slowly arrived to a recognisable, yet slightly different welcome. Our Principal, Mr Murphy, along with Leadership Team members, now welcome our students each morning. Wishing our boys a good morning as they sanitise their hands and are reminded of practicing social distancing as they begin to head into class – the first visible sign of how life has changed for us all in recent times.

To say that our returning students have happily returned to school on site is understatement. Their excitement to see their friends, their positive attitudes and enthusiasm to be back on campus has been incredible to watch. Teachers are commenting on how these qualities are already beginning to reflect in their application towards their learning and their interaction with fellow students and teachers alike. A feeling of appreciation about the opportunity to finally be back in a physical classroom environment and how learning together with their fellow students is an opportunity that is not the being taken lightly, has been experienced by many staff members.

So, what have we learnt since returning to school?  Although early days, we are learnt that our Senior Years students are independent, resilient young men who have developed an appreciation of their school environment. Feedback from students and teachers has highlighted the boys’ are relishing the ability to ask questions to clarify information as well as collaborate with their peers to resolve questions. The students undertaking practical classes has also allowed for learning opportunities to be developed with face-to-face instruction.

Whilst there have been personal challenges for some over this time which is to be expected, support and assistance will continue from the College as it always does for our student’s wellbeing and academic studies. As they continue to move towards the end of Semester 1, the Home Learning Program experience and recent return back to onsite to school has proven that our young men here at Whitefriars are more than capable to meet and work through whatever may lie ahead for them. We warmly welcome our Years 7-10 students back to school today so that they too can continue their learning.

 

Mr Mark Ashmore

Deputy Principal – Teaching and Learning

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