On Tuesday this week, 25 April, we recognised ANZAC Day—one of Australia’s most revered national occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War 1.
ANZAC Day is a day of remembrance, a day of mourning and a day to acknowledge the many thousands of ordinary Australian men and women who have gone to war and faced many perils so that, as a nation, we can remain free. We came together to remember those who have served, those who have fallen and those who are currently serving. Since the First World War, 102,825 Australians have been killed in military conflicts. This includes 61,531 in WW1, 39,652 in WW2, 340 in the Korean War, 521 in the Vietnam War, 4 in East Timor, 42 in Afghanistan and 2 killed in Iraq, including Private Jake Kovco, father of Tyrie in Year 9.
To express the sorrow of a nation, Laurence Binyon penned his now famous poem:
For the Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Laurence Binyon (1869–1943)
At assembly at Garnsey Campus on Monday, St Anne’s Fellowship last Friday and Bairnsdale Fellowship today, our School commemorated ANZAC Day in a dignified and respectful manner. This included the Last Post, a minute’s silence and the Rouse.
In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call that signifies the end of the day's activities. It is also sounded at military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his final rest, as well as at commemorative services such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day. We remember those that have fallen during a minute’s silence; flags are usually lowered to half-mast to make way for death’s invisible flag.
After one minute of silence, the Rouse is sounded and flags are raised from half-mast to the masthead. Rouse and Reveille are used in the military to galvanise the soldiers for the day, or to wake them from their sleep. Today, they are strongly associated with the Last Post at all military funerals, and at services of dedication and remembrance.
On a happy note, I would like to thank the School community for the many well wishes received after Noah Cantwell’s accident on Monday afternoon. I am delighted to report that Noah is recovering well and looking forward to returning to School.
I send my best wishes to those students participating in tonight’s Year 11 Ball. I know that the students and their parents have been practising hard to ensure that everyone remembers their dance steps and the night is a great success.
The East Gippsland Field Days are on again this Friday and Saturday. Staff and students will be in attendance at the Gippsland Grammar stand. The Field Days represent a great day out for all, and provide a valuable opportunity for the School to interact with the broader community, as well as those families who are in the process of selecting an educational pathway for their children. We look forward to meeting them and many others over the next couple of days.
Welcome back to all students and families as we begin Term 2. I trust you had a wonderful Easter and enjoyed the superb Autumn weather. Like many, I took the opportunity over the holidays to catch up with family and friends; I hope you feel as refreshed and enthusiastic about the upcoming term as I do.
You may already be aware that Mr Colin Iversen relinquished his role as Director of Performing Arts at the end of last term, in order to focus on our accomplished strings program. As such, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Mr Matthew Goss as our new Director of Performing Arts. Mr Goss was previously the Director of Music at Dulwich College in Shanghai. He and his family join our school community after a busy term in China. Mr Goss is an accomplished saxophonist and brings a broad range of experience to the role. He is looking forward to engaging with our extensive band program across all three campuses, ever mindful of the role music can play in the cognitive development of young people.
There is much research to suggest that learning to play an instrument, performing and ultimately composing, have a great impact on the brain’s development and the ability to develop conceptual thinking skills. Gippsland Grammar’s music program offers students the opportunity to begin, continue or enhance their understanding and appreciation of music, as well as their musical skills and ability to perform and compose. Over the next few weekends our musicians will be attending music camp at Rawson Village, in order to refine their performance program for the Autumn Concert on Friday, 12 May in Garnsey Hall. I encourage you to attend if you would like to be entertained and enthralled by our students and their exceptional abilities.
We also welcome Mrs Sharyn Henderson this term, who joins our PE staff, as well as Mrs Jane Baker, who will be teaching science while Mrs Caithness enjoys Long Service Leave.
The beginning of Term 2 marks the launch of the Old Scholar’s ‘Be Your Potential’ Fee Raffle. The raffle is the major fundraiser for the Be Your Potential Scholarship Fund, designed to support students who would not otherwise be able to attend Gippsland Grammar. The Fee Raffle comprises just 500 tickets at $100 each. The winning ticket entitles the holder to a 2018 Tuition Fee for a nominated student - present or future. Tickets are available now from reception at all campuses. The raffle will close on 21 September and be drawn at 9am on Friday 22 September.
Finally, next week is Open Week at our Bairnsdale Campus. There will be a range of fun activities on offer, providing an excellent opportunity for members of the community to visit. Full details are available on our website. I encourage you to spread the word among family and friends, or invite them to attend with you for a great day out.
I recently read two articles that attempt to describe the true value of education, or what it means to be an educated person. The first speaks scientifically about achievement, growth and statistics; the second highlights the values of freedom, fairness and democracy. It also describes citizenship and decision making as essential skills for informed decision making. Both articles were thought provoking and compelling and prompted me to think about a Gippsland Grammar education and how we would describe ourselves.
My musings coincided with a busy fortnight where I was fortunate to be present and support many student led activities; a weekend in Geelong with our female rowers at the Head of the Schoolgirls Regatta, watching Sinfonietta and Schoir perform with Kirsty Bromley at the Stratford Courthouse, or walking with Year 10 and 12 leaders as they participated in the ‘Relay for Life’ challenge on the weekend. I have also been involved in many other wonderful events at all three campuses in recent weeks.
As a School we certainly value academic progress and recognise that learning is our core business. We spend a large amount of time working with teachers to refine their skills and support them to be the best teachers that they can be; however, we also value the broader opportunities that are available at our School and encourage all of our students to find their passion during their time at Gippsland Grammar. We encourage them to give their best effort in everything they attempt and to find their own level of personal excellence.
At each of the rowing, music performance and ‘Relay for Life’, I saw students represent the School superbly, interact with others in a respectful and thoughtful manner and demonstrate real passion about a cause. I was incredibly proud of their efforts but, most importantly, I was proud of the citizens they are and the values they display.
I would like to congratulate all of our students for their efforts this term. In particular, I would like to commend our Year 12 cohort for the manner in which they have started their final year of secondary schooling, and I thank all of our staff for their care, compassion and influence on the character of our students.
I wish all of our families a very enjoyable and safe holiday period. May you feel the hope of new beginnings, love and happiness during this joyful Easter holiday.
A final reminder that many of our events and activities can be viewed on our Facebook site, so please check in and like our page to stay in touch.
Over the past few weeks I have been highlighting aspects of our Strategic Plan for your knowledge and explanation. In particular I have used the newsletter as a means of unpacking some of the language or eduspeak we use as part of our goal setting process.
Our final sections for explanation are our business practices and resource development. The key points that I hope you can understand and take away from these sections, are the manner in which we operate the School to make a modest, yet essential surplus to help fund ongoing programs and capital development, our desire to build a new Year 3/4 centre at St Anne’s and a Performing Arts Centre at Garnsey and a strong desire to offer a learning environment for our students that is technology rich and where ICT’s play a positive role in the learning process.
4.0 Ethical and Responsible Business Practice
Our future financial framework will be designed to ensure that the School will continue to be successful well into the future. Our framework will work within the values of the School and be designed to support the key areas listed above. The Business of the School is to educate students. Everything within the Business plan is expected to support or enhance student outcomes.
In 3 years
4.1 To operate the School in an effective yet efficient manner that responsibly balances the needs of the School with controlled expenditure.
4.2 To create modest and sustainable surpluses each year, that enable the School to achieve its strategic aims and ensure that the quality of our educational offering and opportunities for students are not compromised.
4.3 To invest in sustainable opportunities that deliver positive outcomes for the environment and long term positive outcomes to our cashflow.
4.4 To develop regular and effective communication and outreach strategies for the School that will maximise enrolments for each campus.
4.5 To continue developing best practice recruitment programs to ensure we have the highest quality and most effective team members at our school.
5.0 Resource Development
As a school we aim to offer our students the best opportunities to enhance their learning. Any development in our resources must aim to improve student outcomes and to support student-centred learning. To achieve this we must continue to develop and implement the master plan whilst also look to reinvigorate older areas of the School, ensuring that we are offering a contemporary, technology rich environment, for our students. Where possible, sustainable building practices and strategies will always be considered as part of the design brief for our architects. This will be complemented by our desire to create a safe and hazard free environment for the entire community.
In 3 years
5.1 To have a clear strategic plan for the use and implementation of best practice technology. Students will learn, and staff will work, in a technologically rich environment.
5.2 To redevelop the Year 3/4 learning spaces at St Anne’s and begin a refurbishment process for the older spaces on this campus.
5.3 To continue to refurbish the older rooms at each campus and look to have a well-developed plan for the Performing Arts Centre. All of our spaces will reflect our educational model, Academic Care at Gippsland Grammar. They will be genuine learning spaces that promote thinking and engagement. They will also be collaborative spaces that promote engagement, motivation and positive interactions with others.
5.4 To continue updating and implementing our Master Plan. To ensure that we plan thoroughly for each stage whilst also ensuring our current assets and resources and maintained in a manner befitting the image of the School.
This week’s newsletter concludes my outline of the Strategic Plan. I encourage you to download the full version from our website and also to ask questions of myself either via email or in person. I am proud of the plan we have developed and I am excited about the opportunities it presents for our School and in particular our students. Whether at a Board meeting or at our weekly Executive meetings, strategic thinking and decision making always comes back to our students and what is best for them.
Uniform Update: It is with great excitement that we inform the School Community of some updates we are making to our current Sports Uniform at Gippsland Grammar.
We recognise that sometimes change can lead to uncertainty, and with uniform; concerns regarding cost. With this in mind, we will have a two year transition period for all of our students into the new pieces of Sport Uniform. The uniform changes will be for all of our students from Prep through to Year 12 from 2018 onwards.
We have consulted with a number of businesses who specialise in sports uniform to ensure that the changes we make will be not only functional but also comfortable based on the activities our students participate in. We are also conscious of the cost of each item and have endeavoured to source quality garments without significant changes to our current uniform expenses.
Our students have also had the opportunity to share their voice during this process with members of our Junior and Senior Campus SRC, or student leaders viewing options and possibilities along the way. Staff representatives from all campuses were also involved in this process which has been a 12 month process up to this point.
One of the most exciting changes is our move away from our current white sports polo shirt to a polo shirt that is predominantly green and made from a more technical fabric seen in many sporting teams and uniforms. We will also introduce men’s and women’s fit in these shirts.
The sport shorts will be updated to be made out of a more flexible stretch microfiber fabric allowing for ease of movement when participating in Sport and PE sessions. Again, these will be available in a men’s and women’s fit. They will be black shorts with our school crest embroidered onto them.
Our rugby jumper will be replaced with a jumper that is functional, wears well and is easy for students to put on and take off. Something I am sure our junior parents will appreciate.
Our track pants are also being updated in style and fabric. They will be warmer and more hardwearing than our current style. They will be black with a white crest also.
We will also be introducing an updated version of an outer jacket in place of our spray jacket which will be a fleece lined softshell waterproof jacket.
A sports cap will be introduced as an option for students to wear when wearing their sports uniform in place of the bucket hat.
Where possible we have worked with our suppliers to ensure retail prices will not differ too greatly from our current uniform prices. We have also chosen to work with a company who have a strong ethical business protocol.
In the upcoming months we will provide opportunity for students and families to see the final samples of these items to give you a greater understanding of the quality and design of these pieces.
Last week I was privileged to be given the opportunity to accompany a group of Year 9 boys on the Lake Tali Karng bushwalk. For many years the Year 9 bushwalk has been viewed as a ‘rite of passage’ for our Year 9 students as they bring together the skills and experiences of Year 7 and 8 to attempt one of the most amazing walks in Alpine Victoria and also one of the more challenging walks.
At this stage of their Outdoor Education, our students are competent in the bush, they know how to work together as a team and how to manage themselves through challenging situations; however, I felt that I needed to experience this challenge first hand to understand the feelings of triumph and satisfaction that our students feel every year when they complete the walk. I was also interested to know if this walk is too challenging. Are we expecting too much of our students?
Upon reflection, I found the walk to be amazing. This is truly one of the most beautiful places on our planet and, as a Gippslander, it was great to experience this in our backyard. I found the walking aspect to be challenging, particularly the Valley of Destruction; however, I survived with the assistance and support of the boys in my group. An ageing body was the cause of my pain and the young people around me completed the walk more easily than I did. It was beneficial to place myself on the journey that our students experience each year and understand the challenges that they face, before and during these expeditions. It was great to be part of this journey with them, to hear the way in which they encourage each other and how they manage the diversity of opinions and abilities within a group. To watch the way that they manage themselves when their tolerance levels have been reached and the group becomes a little bit niggly, usually when they are hungry.
Do we expect too much of our students when they attempt activities such as this. Do we expose them to too great a risk when they spend time in this environment? I know that many schools are withdrawing from such activities, as they feel they are too hard for the students and the Schools are becoming too risk averse. I strongly feel that experiences such as this are a deeply ingrained and positive aspect of our school culture. Yes, they challenge students, however, our programs are designed to support students as they meet challenges. To give them the opportunity to achieve great things and experience that sense of satisfaction and fulfilment that is only felt when we challenge ourselves and triumph.
I pushed myself to my absolute physical limits during the week and so did some of the boys in my group, yet we all survived and we all felt that exhilaration from finishing. We all now know what we are capable of experiencing and what we can achieve. Not all of the boys in my group will go on and become avid bushwalkers; however, they now know what their physical limits are and how to manage themselves when pushed to these limits. They are stronger of character and stronger of mind.
We have a very unique and very positive Outdoor Education program at Gippsland Grammar that takes our students on a developmental journey throughout their time at the School. This is a program that is much admired by other Schools. Throughout the program it is very pleasing to note the growth in skills, resilience and confidence within our students, as they complete each expedition.
I would like to thank Cass Booth for her vision for Outdoor Education and her commitment to developing young people in the Outdoors, Mr Ripon for enduring my endless whining throughout the hike and the boys in my group for supporting me and waiting for me to catch up.