We are very pleased with the way that the girls have settled into the pattern and rhythm of their learning so far this year. I’d like to thank all the families who have supported us in following through with some of the changes we have instituted, especially in relation to the mobile phone policy. I understand that some parents have found it difficult to have limited contact with their daughter during the day, however, the change that has occurred throughout the College as a result of the new policy has been quite extraordinary. Some of the feedback I have received includes:
• the girls being far more attentive and focussed in class;
• students arriving for classes after recess and lunchtime calmer and ready to engage with the learning, not distracted by what they have been engaging with on their phones;
• students talking and interacting with one another at recess and lunchtimes – there is a level of energy and noise in the school grounds that is productive and life-giving;
• girls being more active during lunchtimes.
I would like to acknowledge the staff who have been consistent in their expectations of the girls as we grow accustomed to a new way of being together.
On Thursday, 21 February we welcomed and acknowledged our 2018 High Achievers, celebrating their academic achievements as part of their VCE or VCAL Programs, with their family and friends. In my address to the students, I encouraged each girl to find her light, and bring that gift to those around them, fulfilling the hope and promise that God has for all of us. I have included an excerpt of my address below:
Socrates was insistent that we should “know ourselves”, to be individually honest, to do what we know to be right, and not blindly follow the ideas of others, without really considering how they connect to our own values and beliefs. Not to hide behind the hatred of a group, the roar of the crowd, but to aim, hard as it might be, towards the ideal life. This is one way that you can be a light to the world – by discovering your true self and sharing this with others.
In one of his most famous sermons Jesus preached to the people who came to listen, this is from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl; instead, they put it on a lampstand, where it gives light for everyone in the house. In the same way, your light must shine before people so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven”.
So two incredibly wise men who changed the course of history in their own ways have invited us to be the light for the world. Perhaps what we can all do is to find at least one way that we can bring light to the life of others – a friendly word, a welcoming smile, acknowledging the good that someone has done, contributing to something that is not all about me – you will think of many more. This is our mission as people of Faith to heed the call to live our lives to make a difference to the other.
Our 2018 High Achievers today are being acknowledged and celebrated for their pursuit of academic excellence. We have seen their light shine. We will hear shortly how they plan to apply their talents in the pathways they have chosen beyond our school gates. Now, like Jesus and Socrates, and our own Venerable Mary Aikenhead, how will you apply the talents that are yours in abundance to enable others to find their light and also let it shine. I talked about the qualities of Mary Aikenhead at the start of the year – inspiring others to dream courageous visions, to have compassion for human suffering, to recognise and agitate against unjust structures which are the cause of poverty, to work with others to solve problems and to remain determined when faced with hardship. Remember she started the sisters of Charity so that she and other like-minded women could go out, reach out and be with people in the circumstances of their real lives. Imagine the poor in mid-17th century Ireland – in sub-standard living conditions, little food, illness and disease – and then the angels appear bringing food, compassion and hope. Imagine the light of God filling the homes and the hearts of the poor in Ireland when the first Sisters of Charity started their visits. When Mary Aikenhead was no longer able to share her light in this way because of her poor health, she sat at her round table and wrote letters, bringing her light – influence, imagination and creativity – to the people in a different way.
As you have already heard from me we believe that every student here has their own light, and your goal, with our support and encouragement, and the love and care of your families, should be to find out what that light is. To cultivate it, draw it and then share it with the world, on behalf of the world, not only for your own purposes but also for the glory of God in whose name we do all things.