Last week we held the Year 11 Ball at the Memorial Hall in Sale. This is usually a wonderful event that is the highlight of the year for many students and their families. After attending the Ball for many years as the Principal, this was the first time I attended as a father as my oldest daughter participated.
I would like to congratulate all of the students involved this year, for the manner in which they prepared themselves for this event, their commitment towards their preparation and the way they carried themselves on the evening. Much hard work, sweat, tears and the occasional laughter goes into an event such as this.
I am thrilled with this event for many reasons:
- I am very proud of the young people who participated in the Ball. I have developed a strong sense of respect for them as a year group and I have enjoyed the small snippets of rehearsals I have seen of the past few months. I particularly enjoyed their full rehearsal, watching the intense concentration on their faces as well as the wonderful way in which they all interacted with each other.
- I also feel that the importance of occasion and rites of passage have been somewhat diminished in today’s society. When that occurs there is always a risk that other less desirable rites of passage will replace events such as the Ball. All of our students have understood, prepared for and presented themselves magnificently for an important occasion and they will remember the night for the rest of their lives and they all now have a very well developed sense of occasion.
- I am very happy that such an important night is shared with families and friends. To see so many supporters attend on the night to celebrate this occasion. In particular I love the fact that they are able to prepare for a dance with mum or dad or that significant person in their life. This year’s group of parents were magnificent.
I would like to thank all of the staff and helpers who assisted with this year’s Ball, in particular the Head of Year 11, Mrs Bullers, the Year 11 Mentors and Mrs Gerardene Caldwell, our School Event Co-ordinator.
For some time now the School’s Executive have been working hard to ensure that our School meets every standard with regard to Ministerial Order 870- the Child Safe Standards and managing the risk of child abuse in Schools. The Ministerial Order is a key part of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other non-government organisations. As a School we welcome this Order and the certainty that is provided by the seven standards and three principles. We are also thrilled that many aspects of the Order are currently in place in our School. I look forward to reporting our progress as we move towards compliance by 1 August.
Last week we commemorated ANZAC Day with ceremonies at both St Anne’s and Bairnsdale whilst our senior students were fortunate enough to hear from Wing Commander David Houghton at Chapel on Wednesday. Mr Yeowell kindly asked me to speak to the students at St Anne’s.
When I was thinking about my presentation, I started to recall my own recollections of ANZAC Day and what it was like for me when I was at School.
My first memory of ANZAC Day was as a student at Primary School- we all lined up in the yard, the Principal spoke and we listened to stories about the war. In particular I remember listening to recordings of old men talking about storming the cliffs at Gallipoli. These scenes would be dramatised with the sound of gunshots and war in the background. I remember thinking that the war was not long beforehand and that these snapshots were fairly recent. We would stand for a minute’s silence and then sing “God save the queen”- the national anthem at the time. For me the whole thing sounded like a bit of an adventure and we would play war games recreating Gallipoli on the oval for months afterwards. I remember going to my grandparents’ house and meeting veterans from the First World War and Second World War. The older diggers always wore hats and smelled of cigarettes and beer. They were very grumpy and I was scared of them. The Second World War veterans seemed so much younger and worldly. I wondered if their war had not been as bad as they were not as grumpy and they didn’t wear dark suits and hats. Nor did they smell of cigarettes and beer. The Second World War veterans often had a funny story to tell.
There are no more First World War veterans, they have all passed away. The Second World War veterans are smaller in number and much frailer in appearance. The Vietnam veterans did not attend many services when I was younger and the media did not make such a fuss about the day.
I used to enjoy watching the ANZAC march in Melbourne on the TV and listening to the commentators as they told stories about each regiment and regaled their history and their heroes. As an older student I used to carry the banner for the units when they marched. I wore my cadet uniform and we practiced drill for hours preparing for this honour. I was always very nervous and worried about making a mistake.
I remember going to the football on ANZAC weekend, there were no games on ANZAC Day when I was young. There would be a minute’s silence and a catafalque guard would march across the oval. Someone would always yell out before the end of the minute.
ANZAC Day has changed a lot since then- there is much more information available through the media and in some ways, people seem more interested now. The old men are now the Vietnam veterans. Veterans from East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan are now represented by young men and women, many still in uniform. The services are more professional and much more serious and there is a real sense of reverence. I often wonder why people are more interested today- I think we all have a stronger desire to be connected to our past and our history and I also think ANZAC Day brings out feelings of pride and nationalism- it is more about our Country.
A positive to come out of the modern ANZAC Day is the recognition of those who are currently serving our country both at home and abroad. This is a day to thank those who have put on the Australian uniform and made a commitment to defend the ideals of our country with pride and honour.
It is on this day that it is important to remember the every day Aussie who went to war to do what they thought was the right thing and as a result, experience horrors beyond belief; however, we must also use this time to support the living members of the Defence Force, especially those who are overseas and do what we can to support them upon their return. This is particularly true in a town like Sale where so many members of our community are currently serving and have served overseas with the RAAF.
ANZAC Day is a day to remember those who made and are still making extreme sacrifices for their country and a day to denounce war and promote peace. I will remember the sacrifice made by members of my family and I hope that my children will do the same for future generations.
I was fortunate enough to attend three very special events this week that ensured that, once again, I was reminded of the wonderfully talented and exceptional students we have at our School.
On Friday, I attended Grandparent’s Day at Bairnsdale. As usual, this is well attended by many proud grandparents and special friends who are so proud of their grandchildren and love the opportunity to spend time with them in fellowship and in class. Walking through the classes after fellowship, it was impressive to see these wonderful children confidently leading their grandparents through the class activities that were planned for the morning. It was a wonderfully positive environment and a special moment for all involved.
On the weekend, I attended the final afternoon of the Annual Music Camp and then on Monday, attended the SEISA drama/music and visual arts festival in Warragul. Once again I was very proud of the students who performed at these events and my colleagues from the other SEISA schools were equally amazed at the standard of performance Gippsland Grammar were able to produce. Our students shine at these events.
At Music Camp, along with many parents, we watched a mini concert from both the Senior and Intermediate bands. The music they produced was outstanding and it was great to see so many smiling faces in the process. The final part of the weekend was the Camp Choir led by Stephen Taberner. As usual this was amazing and the sounds produced by the students were spine tingling. I encourage everyone to attend this year’s Autumn Concert and experience first hand the amazing talents, commitment and enthusiasm of our Performing Arts Department.
I would like to congratulate the VCE Theatre Studies class for their production of the Laramie Project. This was a thought provoking and intense performance. Well done to Ms Petersen and the Theatre Studies class.
It is great to welcome all of our families, students and staff back to Term 2. All three campuses have begun the term in a positive and enthusiastic manner and it was great to participate in Rev Rich Lanham’s first Chapel service at Garnsey, Garnsey parent-teacher interviews and Grandparents’ Day at Bairnsdale.
I would like to welcome Rev Lanham, Mark Dolbel and Alison Fraser who have joined us at Gippsland Grammar this week. They may be familiar to some of you already from their previous involvement with our School community.
This week I have the opportunity to spend time with staff and students to hear about their holidays and the wonderful adventures they had. It is amazing how many of us use the Easter break to get away, go camping and enjoy the wonderful Autumn weather and the amazing Gippsland countryside with the many delights offered to us on our doorstep. As I mentioned at this time last year, it is a time to enjoy the weather, enjoy time with family and also to appreciate all that we have and the lifestyles we lead.
At parent-teacher interviews on Wednesday evening, I was pleased and reassured to hear conversations around learning, challenge, resilience and growth. These terms are embedding themselves into the language we all use when discussing learning and in particular thinking. Our students are beginning to embrace a common understanding of learning and as this progresses, they will also become more familiar with a common language of learning - the SOLO taxonomy. Our Executive members all observed classes at the end of last term and as we reflect on our journey and development, it is particularly exciting to see teachers who are passionate about the science of teaching or pedagogy. It is reassuring to see classes engaged and challenged and I am thrilled to hear conversations in our staff rooms that are focussed on thinking, understanding and learning.
As mentioned earlier this week, we were devastated to hear of the sudden and tragic death of Martin De Jong on Sunday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the De Jong family as they come to terms with their loss and their grief.
I would like to wish all of our families a very happy Easter and I hope that you can enjoy time with family and friends. This has been a very busy term, primarily because we have condensed all of the normal Term 1 activities into a shorter term. It has been incredibly successful and I congratulate all of our students for their efforts and all of our families for their ongoing support of their children and the School.
There are far too many highlights to mention and it would be remiss of me to miss any events. I do know that our students are tired and looking forward to the upcoming break. At our Garnsey assembly today, I encouraged our senior students to ensure that they have some down time during their holidays and then ensure that they are recharged and prepared for Term 2. In particular our Year 12 students have made a magnificent start to the year and are tracking well.
At this assembly I also farewelled Rev Taylor who leaves us today and Mrs Yeowell who will be leaving us at the beginning of Term 2. Both will be sadly missed and we wish them well as they move on to new adventures and challenges. We were also able to announce the appointment of Rev Rich Lanham and Mr Mark Dolbel as their replacements. We are thrilled that both Rich and Mark will be joining our community and I know they will both make a very positive contribution to the culture of our School.
I know that many members of our community enjoyed the wonderful STAGGFAIR last Sunday. It was a great day and I am very thankful for the efforts of the STAGGFAIR Committee and their leader, Sharee Johnson. An enormous amount of time and effort went into this event and it was great to see so many people giving up their time to come and help out. It was a successful day and raised a generous amount of money for the School. It was also a great day of friend raising.
Have a great break. I look forward to seeing all of our wonderful students in Term 2