Posted on October 27, 2020 / Middle School
If my calculations are correct, it was 130 days from when our Year 8 and 9 students left for the Term 2 holidays until they returned to our campus for face-to-face learning this week. It has been such an incredible year and I know that everyone at school is excited to have all students back on campus and to finish the year in this fashion.
With all students back, it is important that we highlight the ongoing need to follow the many protocols in place around personal hygiene and safety. Regular hand washing and sanitizing, keeping socially distanced, and wearing masks are all very important steps to help ensure the ongoing safety of all of our community members.
Our Year 7s have had the Middle School to themselves for the first two weeks and have enjoyed the space and relative quietness that this provides. It has been great to see many of the girls and boys outside on the ovals and basketball courts, playing chasey around the school and also back into their very competitive games of “down ball.” They have been guided back into their day-to-day school life by their pastoral mentors and year level co-ordinators to ensure their workload and homework is scaffolded appropriately. They are also putting their finishing touches to their Night of the Notables presentations, which like many events this year, will be conducted in a virtual manner. Having seen some work from a couple of students already, I highly encourage all Middle School families to visit this online presentation when it’s available.
The theme last week in our Middle School assembly was leadership which ties in really well with our current Year 8s who are in process of applying for 2021 leadership positions in the Middle School. They are currently completing written applications for positions of interest and this will be followed up soon with interviews and speeches for certain applications. This process in itself is a great experience for our girls and boys as it mirrors what many of them will experience in the coming years when they applying for part-time employment. Working part-time, if possible for individuals, is a fantastic opportunity for them to not just earn some of their own money, but to really learn some valuable life skills around independence, organisation, communication and relationships. It is something that I would highly recommend to all students if they are able to do so.
Our Year 9s are verging on the end of their Middle School journey and is great to have them back on site to finish this part of their schooling. There are a number of activities that would be considered part of their “rites of passage” that we plan to still conduct, albeit some activities may run in different formats than usual. Our Summer Expeditions is one such event where normally our Year 9s would be currently preparing for a week of white water rafting, rock climbing, sea kayaking, hiking or even mountain biking in some of the most amazing and picturesque parts of our country. We would love very much to be able to send our Year 9s out on such adventures and with the easing of restrictions across our state, we do keep our fingers crossed for the ability to provide this opportunity. However, we also have a variety of alternative options available, ranging from day trip excursions to onsite life skills activities, that may be implemented instead. Ms Emma Lowing, our Year 9 Co-ordinator, has put many hours into ensuring that no matter what the situation, our girls and boys will still have a fantastic week as part of their transition into the Senior College.
On Thursday last week we farewelled our Year 12s in what was another modified event. Our Year 12s enjoyed a morning to celebrate and remember with a dress up breakfast, disco on the oval, presentation of gifts and then a farewell parade through a guard of honour of students from the ELC to Year 7, as well as our current Year 11s. I spoke to our Year 7s about the significance of the day and all that they can look forward to when it’s their turn to celebrate the end of their own school journey in 2025.
We have been invited to play in an invitational Year 8/9 Boys 20-20 cricket match against Mount Scopus (a fellow EISM school) in 2021 (restrictions permitting) and training for this began on Tuesday last week for our current Year 7s. It was wonderful to see 14 boys from Year 7 who were keen on trialling for the 12–13 member squad, with our current Year 8s joining them this week as part of their regular Tuesday afternoon training.
Global Youth Advocacy
Over the past 3 weeks, eleven Year 9 students have been preparing to take part in the Global Youth Goals Advocacy Forums run through the University of Melbourne and the Asia Foundation. The students are divided into two groups: Wellbeing and Equity, and Equality. Both groups have had to complete a range of pre-forum tasks, which focus on empathetic listening and exploring the stories of others who have experienced a different journey through life to themselves.
The Wellbeing group interviewed Charan and Sairan Sukumar, also Year 9 students and discovered the boys fascinating story about fleeing the civil war in Sri Lanka to escape firstly to New Zealand, then onto Brisbane and finally to Melbourne. The Equality and Equity Group interviewed Hope Duthie, (aunt of Lauren Spurr, Year 9) and were moved by her recount of leaving Vietnam as a four year old child on a people smuggler’s boat with 84 people in total, two of whom died during the passage.
Both groups were given the opportunity of engaging in one on one conversation with Year 11 students from Ritsumeikan Senior High School (Kyoto, Japan). The Japanese students were eager to share their personal views on lockdown in Japan, amongst a range of issues.
Upon completion of both international and local interviews, the students are writing up the stories as vignettes and they have been tasked with writing the stories from the interviewee’s perspective without judgement, comment or bias. These stories will be used as source material during the forum days on Wednesday 28 October (Wellbeing) and Thursday 5 November (Equality and Equity).
The experiences our students are gaining from this program are invaluable. They are developing their ability to connect and relate to others, and to show empathy to what others are going through, or have been through. I wish Mimi Coghlan, Natalie Young, Lauren Spurr, Ellena Glenk, Mia Qian, Alyssa Carter, Kiara Bakken, Meleah Byth, Ella Thompson, Raphael Taylor and Sean Harris all the best for the remainder of the program.