I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms Henry and the Year 12 Prefects for organising the Gippsland Grammar Drug and Alcohol forum. This was an outstanding event organised for our senior students and parents on Wednesday. I encourage all members of the community to read Ms Henry’s article in this week’s newsletter for a full outline of the day.
June is always an interesting time in schools. The weather becomes cold very quickly, the days darker and often this is a time of sickness for many. In schools you can also add to the list, report writing and endless marking. It can be a time to tread carefully through the staff room and also a time to lighten people’s burdens. I, like most of my colleagues, have spent many late nights reading reports and looking for inspiration to write at the end of each report. A word of encouragement, congratulations or motivation. It is a long process; however, I enjoy gaining a small piece of insight into the academic lives of our students.
As a school we have devoted an enormous amount of time towards preparing our Semester One reports and I hope that students and families find these informative, personal and directive, in terms of goals for Semester Two. For all of our students I urge you to read the reports carefully, take note of your strengths and the things that you do well and also note the areas in which you would like to improve upon in Semester 2. An old technique that families can use to analyse the reports, is to sit down with a piece of paper and divide the paper into 3 sections. Label the 3 sections plus, minus and interesting. In the plus area write down your strengths, things that went well and positives mentioned by your teachers. In the minus, write down your weaknesses and areas that require improvement. In the interesting area, write down comments and outcomes that you weren’t expecting and that are interesting, for example, a hidden talent in music or an ability to help other students. From your PMI analysis most students should be able to set some clear goals for Semester Two and beyond.
I am looking forward to our final week of the Semester and the sense of positivity and fun that this brings. In particular, the Garnsey Cultural Festival, next Friday, is one of my highlights for the year. I am looking forward to watching what our bright young dancers, singers and musicians can bring forward as they compete for their Houses.
I wish everyone a happy long weekend.
Greek mythology provides us with many wonderful metaphors and allegories with which we can help to unpack some very deep and at times confusing concepts. At a meeting on Wednesday I was introduced to the Ancient Greek story of Ariadne’s Thread and the Minotaur and then proceeded to participate in a wonderful discussion about the role of teachers in the thinking and consequential learning process.
The story of the Minotaur starts with Minos, who became king of Crete when Poseidon sent a great white bull out of the ocean as a sign Minos should rule. Minos had promised to sacrifice the bull to Poseidon, but broke his promise when he saw how beautiful the bull was, and sacrificed a lesser animal instead. Poseidon was angry when Minos broke his promise, so he punished him by making his queen, Pasiphae, fall in love with the bull. Out of this union the Minotaur was born.
Minos instructed the great architect and engineer, Daedalus, to build the labyrinth to house the Minotaur. It was famous for being unnavigable; once in, anyone who entered was doomed to be eaten by the Minotaur. Minos had recently conquered Athens, and he demanded as tribute that every year Athens would send seven maidens and seven youths to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. Theseus was a son of King Aegeus of Athens.
Theseus' story is a long and complex one, and he is one of the great heroes of Greek mythology, so I’ll share with you the portion of his story that involves the labyrinth. Theseus volunteered to join the band of youths who were to be sacrificed. He traveled to Crete, and as soon as he arrived Ariadne, King Minos' daughter, fell in love with him. She offered to help him conquer the labyrinth and kill the Minotaur if he would marry her and take her away from Crete. He agreed. Ariadne gave him a ball of red thread, and Theseus unrolled it as he penetrated the labyrinth, which allowed him to find his way back out. He found the Minotaur deep in the recesses of the labyrinth, killed it with his sword, and followed the thread back to the entrance.
The role of Ariadne in this story is similar to that of a teacher. As teachers we aim to encourage our students to think, this in turn promotes learning and understanding. Ariadne provided the thread to encourage Theseus to tackle and eventually solve the problem. The solution was very creative and innovative and involved great risks. The labyrinth could be considered similar to a Neuron from the brain responding and growing to stimulus, focus and attention. As Theseus negotiates the labyrinth the thread increases in length and grows in the same manner as the Neuron, yet Ariadne always remained attached and able to guide Theseus to safety. Through his efforts, Theseus eventually conquers the labyrinth and the Minotaur and his brain has developed through the experience.
At Gippsland Grammar we are aiming to ensure that our students grow through the learning process, that they understand where they are in the learning process and where they strive to be. Through the introduction of the SOLO taxonomy to our classes, we are looking for a shared language of learning and a shared understanding. We will encourage our students to identify where they are with regard to their learning, using the taxonomy as a guide. Like Ariadne, our teachers will encourage our students to take on the labyrinth, find the Minotaur and return home safely.
In August this year, our Board and Executive team will meet to begin establishing our strategic direction for the next 3 years. This is an incredibly positive and exciting process that will produce our new strategic plan for 2017- 2019. As a primer for this process, the Board have been regularly discussing our current situation as a School by reviewing marketing data, LEAD survey data as summarised in the 2015 Annual Report and other internal indicators available to us at this time. Before the planning weekend, we will also review, in more detail, our external environment. In particular the strategies of our competitor Schools, the economy, local demographic data and the impact of the ever changing political landscape. Ultimately the strategic weekend will highlight where we are currently and where we would like to be. What is our long term strategic direction and what strategies will we utilise to achieve long and short term goals.
When thinking strategically, it is more useful for us to break down our strategic direction into categories and set goals within each category to help us achieve our long term strategic goals. The categories we use are;
- Academic Care – teaching and learning, wellbeing and curriculum.
- Resources - what capital expenditure and minor capital works do we need to plan for?
- People and culture
- Ethical and responsible business practices
These categories have been modified slightly from our current Strategic Plan; however, we need to be aware that each category is intrinsically linked to the other categories and we must ensure that our strategies are integrated.
An aspect of our current plan that will not change, is that our students will always be at the centre of our decision making. Our primary and core function as an organisation is to educate our students in a manner that ensures that they can achieve their absolute best and holistically develop into to outstanding young men and women of character. This is why we exist as a School.
I am looking forward to engaging our School in this process and I look forward to your input.
In recent weeks we have heard news of the changes being made in the Dairy industry as two of the major processors of dairy products in Australia, Fonterra and Murray Goulburn, decided to lower the price they are prepared to pay to our farmers for their milk and to fix this price retrospectively- therefore automatically adding a debt to farmers that did not exist three weeks ago. Whilst many of our community are broadly aware of this situation and we are concerned for our fellow Gippslanders, who are dairy farmers- I don’t believe we truly understand the gravity of this situation and the impact it is having on many of our farming families and the impact it will eventually have on the entire community. One of our farming families passed on the following link this morning to help me understand what is occurring. It is a clip from the Channel Ten current affairs program ‘The Project’. In this clip Waleed Aly explains what is happening to our dairy farmers and also the impact this will have on their wellbeing and the wellbeing of our community. I found this clip to be quite disturbing, especially the emotive impact this situation is having on families and I also found myself feeling angry and frustrated that this has been allowed to occur with little mention or explanation in the political sphere. I did; however, feel slightly better knowing that there are some small things that we can all do to assist the dairy industry and our dairy families in particular. Once you view this clip, please contact your local member and express your concerns and remember to buy local milk and cheese. If you are a dairy farming family and need the assistance of the School, please contact me as soon as possible.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate Colin Iversen and the Music Department for the Autumn Concert. This was an outstanding event and I was amazed by the high standard of performance produced by our students and staff. I am incredibly proud of our students in many aspects of their School lives; however, the feeling of joy we all experienced on Friday as we watched and participated in this concert, was overwhelming. I congratulate all of the students and staff for their efforts and I would also like to thank Stephen Taberner, our Lorna Sparrow Fellow in Residence, for inspiring all of our staff and students to enjoy singing and to believe that we can all sing. If you haven’t attended an Autumn or Spring Concert, I urge you to be part of the audience later this year. You will not be disappointed.
Please note that a remembrance service for Caitlyn Fischer will be held on Saturday 4 June at 10.00am. The service will be held at Stephen Baggs Funeral Directors- 613 Main St, Bairnsdale followed by a reception at Gippsland Grammar’s Bairnsdale Campus. All members of the community are welcome to attend.
Suggestions on hosting and attending parties
Growing up in our complex society today is no easy matter. Young people have more temptations to face, including drugs and alcohol, more opportunities to exercise their independence with cars, mobile phones and credit cards, and more exposure to anti-social behaviour from television and videos. Today’s young people find life’s choices are more perplexing and tantalizing than any previous generation did.
Our School shares with parents the responsibility for the development of our young people and their ability to make sound choices. If either avoids responsibility then the other becomes relatively powerless to provide effective influence. Our experience indicates that parents and guardians are not uniformly aware of the issues and problems and consequently, we have prepared this statement in the hope that it will be helpful.
The media and the police regularly report on incidents of parties getting out of control often with serious consequences for hosts and guests. It is for these reasons that we would like to share these suggestions with you.
Advice to parents who are giving a party
- It is natural to be concerned about having a party for young people, but this does provide a good opportunity to talk to your young person about how to conduct a party safely.
- Clear agreement on limitations and expectations is an important initial step.
- Keep the size of the party manageable and restricted to a confined area.
- Invitations should be issued in writing to a particular person and numbered, with a clearly stated start and finish time.
- Advise your children not to give the impression among friends that their party is to be an “open house”.
- Include the name and phone number of the host on invitations to encourage other parents to seek further information.
- The party should not be advertised publicly or on the Internet.
- Gatecrashers should be asked to leave immediately. Call the police if they do not leave.
- Provide only one entrance or exit and you may consider hiring a licensed security person.
- Responsible parents must be in attendance and exercising supervision. (Older siblings are not sufficient).
- Guests should not be permitted to leave the party and return later.
- Young people should be delivered to the door and collected personally by parents and not left standing on the footpath or disturbing the neighbours.
- If the party is to be held in a public hall or sporting facility, inspect it beforehand. Avoid facilities with close public transport access and avoid buildings with multiple entrances.
- If alcohol is to be permitted at the party, discourage guests from bringing their own. This will enable you to control to whom it is distributed and how much they have.
- A mix of older and younger children at a party makes the control of drinking very difficult.
- Ample quantities of non-alcoholic drinks and food should always be available.
- You can inform the police of the details of the party. They may then patrol the areas that night.
- Advising neighbours about the party can avoid problems with parking and noise complaints later.
- Emergency contact numbers should be readily at hand.
- It is now against Victorian law to serve alcohol in a private home to anyone under 18, unless their parents have given permission.
- Adults who break the law face fines over $7,000 - the same amount a licensee would be fined for selling alcohol to a minor.
At Gippsland Grammar we strongly recommend that parents do not allow underage children to drink alcohol.
REMEMBER that this is YOUR party it is YOUR right to set the standard of acceptable behaviour and to see that it is maintained. You also have the right to ask people to leave. Be aware that you may be legally responsible for any injury or damage that occurs at your party.
Have at your disposal the phone numbers of local police, ambulance and taxis and use as your first resort. Remember you can register your party with the local police.
Advice for parents before allowing their children to attend a party
- Establish a policy with your children about your expectations of their attendance at parties or sleepovers. This may include always contacting the host, being clear on starting and finish times and the nature of the party.
- Networking with the parents of your child’s friends can establish a consistent approach, ensuring easier parenting.
- Establish whether alcohol will be available or consumed at the party- this may influence your decision.
- You may wish to leave your phone number and contact details with the host of the party. Make sure that you have the name, address and telephone number of the hosts.
- Make sure your child can contact you in an emergency, or if they feel uncomfortable at the party.
- Be aware that your child might be exposed to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. They should be aware of the consequences of their consumption.
- Ensure your children are aware of the alcohol content in different types of drinks. A VB stubby has around 4.9% alcohol, while spirits like Bourbon contain 40% alcohol.
- Ensure your children are aware of the future health consequences of smoking and drug use. It is OK to say “no”.
- The law prohibits the so-called soft drugs as well as hard drugs. Many parents do not appreciate that drugs are often easily and freely available at parties. First-time users of marijuana usually do not pay. Marijuana is often called a ‘gateway’ drug as initial consumption often leads to the use of and addiction to more damaging drugs, such as ‘ice’.
- Attending parties with alcohol increases the likelihood of risk taking behaviour.
- No function will be arranged in the name of the School without the School’s formal approval.
- “Deb parties” are not endorsed by the School and the association of the School’s name with such functions is a misrepresentation.
- Ensure safe transport to and from parties and make your children aware of the often fatal combination of driving and alcohol.
Gippsland Grammar’s prefects will be conducting a drug and alcohol forum at our Garnsey Campus on Wednesday 8 June. Year 11 and 12 students will participate during the day and parents are invited to attend an evening session at in the Chapel of St Anne, McGhee St Sale from 7.00pm.
Please follow this link to further reading