Posted on May 19, 2020 / Middle School
It is with a sense of excitement that I sit down to write this edition of Aspectus following the announcement of our plan to return to school in the coming weeks. Despite the enormous growth and development our boys have been through whilst adapting to the online learning environment, it is still comforting to know that in the not too distant future, we’ll be back at school and teaching and learning face-to-face with our students.
Throughout the last two weeks of school our boys have been kept busy, not just by their academic pursuits, but also by other key activities such as our GEM Day 2 and House Strava competition. Our GEM Days (Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness) are interspersed throughout the year to support our pastoral program and provide our students with an opportunity to strengthen their understanding of themselves, their mental and physical health, and their overall well-being.
GEM Day 2 provided the perfect opportunity of our boys to enjoy a mental health and well-being day during this time of remote learning by taking them out of their regular classes and engaging in a variety of different activities. Our Year 7 boys created gratitude walls at home with some students using chalk to illustrate their driveway, others using the more traditional means of paper and coloured pencils. Our Year 8s created time capsules to remember their experiences during COVID-19, wrote gratitude letters to our emergency services, exercised, and completed a variety of “home tasks” off a Challenge Matrix which included things such as learning how to fold clothes, make a coffee for mum/dad, tie a Windsor knot, plus lots more. Our Year 9 boys participated in an exercise session in the morning before rotating through a sex education session from an external provider and participating in the Great Biscuit Bake-Off. The sex education session was conducted over Zoom and provided a wonderful platform for our boys to engage in the conversation actively and safely, allowing a wonderful stream of questioning to be brought forward for clarification and discussion. The degree of anonymity that the meeting platform provided gave our boys the confidence to be asking questions that they “really” wanted answered. The Great Biscuit Bake-Off was the other challenge and this saw our boys competing Master Chef style against each other to bake and present the best-looking biscuits. There were many wonderful biscuit design and presentations from tools, to animals, to The Three Bears. However, in the end it was Daniel Feng who took out the overall prize with his biscuits beautifully encased by a sugar/toffee style birds nest.
Our House leaders continue to push our House Strava Challenge which has our boys and girls competing to see which House can accumulate the highest number of kilometres of walking, running and cycling during the month of May. Alongside this, our challenge as a whole school is to see if we can combine the kilometres to collectively make our way across to Perth – a total of 3420km. This has proved easier than we thought with this challenge being met before half-way, so subsequently we are now endeavouring to return to Melbourne before May 31. A huge thank you to all boys and girls who are involved.
On Wednesday 13 May we held a Heroes Day at school where we were asking our students to dress up in costume reflecting what or who they believe to be a hero to them. The tag line of “not all superheroes wear capes” was designed to encourage our students to recognise that as much as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc are traditionally seen “superheroes”, the current situation of COVID-19 has provided the opportunity for us to recognise the amazing work our current medical practitioners are doing on the frontline, as well as our emergency services, plus many others. It was wonderful to see on the screen so many firefighters, nurses, doctors and even parents – there were a number of boys who dressed up as their dad or described their mum as their hero.
With our return to school now imminent it is crucial that our boys understand and follow the guidelines that will be in place upon their return. Guidelines around hygiene, physical distancing (where possible), sport and physical activity, plus more will be in place, aimed at helping to keep both our students and staff as safe as we can when at school. I look forward to welcoming our boys back on site on Monday 25 May.