Posted on December 9, 2019
The year has come to an end! It’s amazing how quick this all goes when it feels like only yesterday that we welcomed our 2019 Year 7s into our Middle School, helped to settle them into life at the secondary school level, as well as introducing our 2019 student leadership team. It’s now mid-December and those fresh-faced Year 7s are right at home, our Year 8s have taken up the leadership role of the Middle School (with an eye to 2020), and our Year 9s have begun their transition into Senior College.
The year has seen many wonderful activities and achievements by our boys. They have grown through opportunities in class, on the sporting field, on the stage, behind the microphone, at the farm, internationally, plus lots, lots more.
Academically our boys have excelled this year, especially in external competitions that assess areas such as Mathematics, English and Science. We have had many boys placed in the top 10%, and even a number of them placed in the top 1% of students for competitions such as the Maths Talent Quest, Australian Mathematics Competition, Science Talent Quest, ICAS (Reading, Writing, Maths & Science) and Geography Competition. It is great to see such a large number of our boys being recognised for their academic achievements and capabilities.
We have seen many boys involved in enrichment opportunities in the Horizon program where they have published their own story in a book, studied anime films, looked at astronomy, trained for RoboCup 2020, plus lots more.
On the sporting field our boys have had a fantastic year. Competing in the EISM competition we have secured a good number of flags including Tennis A and B, Table Tennis and Badminton at Year 8/9 level and Indoor Cricket with Year 7s. We have had many boys succeed in individual or small team events in athletics, swimming and cross-country and it has been great to see many of them training early in the mornings even through the cold winter months.
This year, we have seen the introduction of after school training for some selected sports: football and basketball. The football training ran during the football season and was wonderfully supported by our boys (and girls) as well as Joel Pearce-Schmidt (School Captain) and Jai Van Der Wert (Year 12 House Captain) who helped to manage and coach the students. Mrs Petchell and Miss Vine have begun our elite basketball squad training over Term 4 this year with this increasing in regularity next year as we aim to select our squad to compete in a number of external basketball competitions outside of the EISM in 2020.
As always at this age level, we have seen a massive growth in our boys both physically and emotionally. I have mentioned many times about the challenges they face in this age bracket and how it’s important that as parents and as a school, we team together to help guide these young men through adolescence and equip them with the skills they’ll need for success in the wider world. Our pastoral program, aided by a fantastic group of pastoral staff including Year Level Coordinators and Pastoral Mentors, continues to go from strength to strength. We have adopted The Resilience Project and begun introducing the principles behind this. We have partnered with groups such as SALT (Sport and Life Training), Tripod and The Man Cave to deliver age and stage programs that help our boys navigate their way through puberty and their adolescent years, and we have provided other growth opportunities through activities such as Night of the Notables, The Smoothie Bar and our Becoming a Man Program.
This year was the first year we ran the Middle Years’ World Challenge and it was great to see the number of boys and girls that were able to participate. The experience they had in Vietnam was an amazing one; from learning about different cultures, to lending a hand building roads and buildings for disadvantaged communities, to trying different foods and a new language, were all amazing experiences for these students.
A key component of Middle School is our camps program that begins early in Year 7. Emma Lowing, our Head of Outdoor Education and Head of Camps, has an amazing program sequenced from Year 7 to Year 9 that builds up many skills in our students as they go through the Middle Years. From snorkelling with the seals, to hiking the top of Mount Buffalo; from skiing Mount Stirling to white water rafting down the Mitchell River – the program helps to build many competencies within our boys, especially resilience and independence. They hike, sleep under tarps or in tents, cook on trangia stoves and learn to work both independently and in teams to ensure a successful and rewarding experience that they can draw on when faced with challenging times in the future.
Other key areas that our boys benefit from are our music and performing arts department, and our school farm. The music and performing arts section of our school is very strong and is an area that many of our students utilise for their own personal development. I have mentioned many times about the benefits of being involved in these programs for social connections, as it provides our boys with opportunities to connect with other students outside of the Boys’ Middle School. The farm also provides a large number of our boys and girls the opportunity to follow an area of passion or interest, whether it be through the subject Agriculture in Year 7, or if they become members of our Young Farmers group, or if they just visit the farm at different times of the year to enjoy the peacefulness and the animals.
At our recent assembly I put to the boys the challenge of reflecting over the coming holidays around three key areas:
- Personal achievements
- Social development
- School participation
For personal achievement the boys need to reflect on their academic efforts this year. They need to use their school reports (both Semester 1 and 2), their grades on other assessments as well as, and probably most importantly, the behavioural indicators from teachers that talk about effort, participation, etc.
Social development was them reflecting on how they have been with their peers this year. Have they been a “good friend”? Have they broadened their social network? Could they have done more to help someone else? All little things aimed at connecting the boys with each other a bit more.
The final area was school participation; for this I focussed on co-curricular involvement. Again, I have mentioned this many times throughout the year, but school enjoyment and connectedness correlates highly (in my opinion based on 20 years of teaching) with their involvement in, and enjoyment of, co-curricular activities. I have challenged them to involve themselves more in activities such as Chess Club, RoboCup soccer, sport training (before and after school), Dungeons and Dragons, Young Farmers, etc., to even begin their own club with a group of friends – anything that has them enjoying themselves at school and looking forward to the day these activities are on.
I wish everyone a fantastic summer holiday and a very Merry Christmas. I wish our graduating Year 9s all the best for their Senior College journey and I look forward to seeing everyone back next year. A reminder that our new Year 7s and Year 11s and 12s begin on Thursday 30 January, whilst our Years 8 – 10 start back on Friday 31 January.