What a Term!
What a term, what a first semester!
2020 has certainly thrown all of us challenges we never expected. I wrote at the start of the term about the complexities that this pandemic has brought to our lives. Prior to this pandemic we yearned for a simpler life, where we had more downtime, time to reflect and enjoy each other's company; where our sons would get off their devices and talk face to face. But when COVID-19 happened and gave us that downtime in the form of isolation, no longer being able to visit people, attend events or social gatherings this also caused fear, anxiety, and perhaps even despair at times, as we now yearned for more complexity in our daily lives. Technology then became the only way for our sons to communicate with their friends and engage in their learning. How were we to manage this?
I suggested we use this pandemic to reset, to see COVID-19 as an opportunity to turn to our beloved Savior in trust and complete abandonment so as to rest in His merciful hands. To rest in the hands of God means we are secure, despite the uncertainty of life. It means we are free to love God and others, despite the challenges we face. It means we raise our eyes to Heaven, rather than look down in fear.
As we now slowly creep towards what we consider normality, I suggested that we now must seriously question what is normality in our lives and is there a new way to think about it. Is there a new normal? And what does that mean for us as Marists?
We as a school community have been attempting to answer these questions throughout Term Two. There have been many learnings from this pandemic and it has been a profound time for reflection and analysis about the way we do things at school. We have set up many committees to explore what we do and how we do it, all with one focus - what is best for our students moving into the immediate future. This has meant a review of current College policies that encompass our pastoral structures, learning, assessments, conduct, and commendations. We are also reassessing other policies that will ultimately benefit your son's wellbeing and academic successes. Our review has been timely, as the review into the NSW curriculum has also just been handed down and we have found that many of the changes we are aspiring to implement are also being recommended to the State Government (NESA Curriculum Review).
Semester Two will bring in the initial phases of change at Marist as we prepare for an improved way of educating our students. We are thinking outside the square, looking at what is possible and this means that we won’t be doing things the way we have always done them. Change brings a period of adjustment that is understandable. Some of our students will not be happy, some will take it in their stride. That’s okay. We’re entitled to feel the way we feel. In fact, we encourage your son to take the time to process these changes and understand the benefits that will be infused into his daily life at the College as he joins us in this vision for his wellbeing and education.|
Change is difficult, it’s uncomfortable but as Marists, we know that Mary did not shy away from change - she was most certainly fearful when she found herself in the presence of the angel but, we must ponder how she responded at this time. There was no disdain, no anger, she did not run and hide; she listened, she had her faith and she believed she could be part of something miraculous that would change the way people saw the world and each other.
As we travel the path of change in Semester Two, I kindly ask parents to reserve judgement and fall forward on this journey. That is, join our enthusiasm and positivity for where the College is headed into 2021 and encourage your sons to experience the change for themselves. In doing so, you create and allow a gentle space for them to decide for themselves.
Let them talk it through with you, listen to them without opinion as they learn to process change - this is very much a life skill. Nothing ever stays the same, we must prepare our boys for this; we must trust their resiliency and nurture an excitement within them.
I would like to support you in taking this time to reflect on how we each respond to these new changes. Do we become paralysed or do we see the opportunities and new adventures that come with this change. We must always be mindful of the presence of God and Mary in our lives, especially in such moments of difficulty and trial as we ponder what challenges and opportunities we may encounter on the road to our new normal.
I take this opportunity now to acknowledge Mr. Duncan, a wonderful man who embodies for us all here what it is to be Marist. Your wisdom, patience, and sense of humour will be greatly missed, but this is not goodbye because we plan to farewell you at the end of the year with the boys and with the parents. A farewell will be organised for parents, hopefully in November, so you can all express your appreciation for an excellent school leader.
Words really can’t sum up what this semester has been like, so please enjoy this video of our boys and staff and their experiences.
I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday. Please come back to us strong and healthy.