Boarding Report – February 9, 2017

February 8, 2017

There is a palpable buzz within our boarding community at the commencement of this new academic year -“ and it is infectious. In a somewhat unprecedented occurrence we have had more new boarders start this year than returning ones. The added excitement that a new boarder brings as they set about those first days of a new school, a new experience, has been significant in creating such the positive environment. Our boarders join us from places near and far -“ with reasons that are varied. I have the privilege to interview all our prospective boarders and with each interview it is often very clear that the initial idea of boarding school can be one planted by our parents, our boarders and sometimes both groups with a similar understanding. Regardless of who instigated that initial conversation leaving for boarding can be difficult. Whilst, as boarding staff, our primary focus is on the boarders in our care, the decision and subsequent attending of boarding school can also be challenging for our parents and guardians. I have shared with many of you that since becoming a parent myself I feel that I now can fully appreciate the implications and experiences for all when attending boarding school. With that in mind and as many of my conversations in these first few days with our boarders revolve around providing coping strategies I offer some humble advice for all at this time.

It is very normal to have mixed feelings about leaving home (or for your son leaving home) to go away to school. It is exciting for our boarders to have the chance to be more independent, make new friends and have many new experiences. It is however also ok to feel a little scared, homesick or lonely. It is normal to feel nervous about leaving your familiar surroundings, however it is amazing how quickly we can get used to new places. Starting a new school can be pretty stressful, whether it is boarding or not, but with boarding school comes a few extra worries. We worry about the unfamiliar environment, we are sad that we are not able to spend time with our old friends, that we won’t have a group of friends and concerned about the enormous workload that confronts us. As a boarder we worry about the tiredness from the adjustment to living and sharing with others, to the lack of perceived privacy or time to ourselves and, on occasion, from the sense of loneliness that an unfamiliar environment can create. Again these are all very normal -“ challenges that we all face, with the only variation when we may face them.

For our boarders and families experiencing these my message is that you are not alone and comfort can be taken from the collectiveness that these experiences create. There are times when I wish I could wave a magic wand to rid the boarder or family from the difficulty of these experiences, however there is no fantastical remedy. Big changes often take time to adjust to, and there are not many bigger than moving away from home to boarding school for our boarders or their families. It is important that all take each day as it comes, on its own merits. Life does get easier as you become more familiar to your new routine and start to build new relationships. This time last year I wrote about opportunity, in particular the opportunities created by being at boarding school. Through a willingness to grasp these opportunities, being open to talk to anyone, no matter of any preconceived impressions, can help each boarder become more settled, more familiar.

Of paramount importance for our boarders and for our families is the knowledge that there is always someone to talk to. Always someone to talk about how you are feeling. We try to place a support network around each of our boarders -“ a network that is unique to each boarder, that may include myself, a housemaster, a member of the extended boarding team, school counsellor, pastoral teacher, classroom teacher, sports coach. There is no limit or restriction on who can be within our support network, however it is vital that each boarder has that network.

In a week’s time we shall all have the opportunity to come together at our first Boarding Community event. Our -‘Welcome To Community’ event that commences each new year is an opportunity for both our boarders and their families to become more familiar, to start conversations and build their own individual network.

Our boarding program continues to evolve, develop, improve. I have focussed our boarding staff with the words -If it works improve it, if it doesn’t get rid of it-. This has created a freshness to our offering as we hold ourselves accountable at all times. With this in mind if there is anything that we can do for your son/s or your families please do not hesitate to contact myself or a member of our outstanding boarding team.

Look after yourselves.

Mike Silcock

Director of Boarding

Phyland/Farley – House Focus:

What an incredible start to 2017 it has been! As the Housemaster of Phyland/Farley it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know the boys and their families over the past two weeks. The connected courtship between families and boarding is a fundamental necessity and it’s with great fortune that parents of Phyland/Farley have engaged with me in a positive and supportive approach – setting the boys in good stead for the year ahead.

For the boys; friendships have formed, classes are in full swing and sporting commitments have begun. The year is upon us and the boys are settling in extremely well, adjusting to the nature of boarding very quickly. Led by our boarding leaders; Phyland/Farley House Captain, Osmond Green-King and our Vice-Captain of Boarding, Charlie Pollard, they are living out the committed attributes of trust, respect, commitment and connectedness already. The engagement and support exhibited by the old boarding students has effectively enhanced a smoother transition for those who are new to boarding and judging by this great start, we can confidently ensure a positive progression through 2017.

Miss Shelly-Ann du Plooy

Housemaster, Phyland and Farley

The first weekend is often a hectic time for the boys and staff alike. Full of nervous energy and questions; the boys are trying to settle down and hopefully develop a sense of home. The staff challenged, to answer their questions and increase this development. What struck me as being particularly positive this weekend gone was the acts of leadership and protectiveness the boys portrayed. The house elected leaders and experienced boarders both going to great efforts to welcome our new boarders to the house. Older boarders walking with our new boarders down the street, showing them the sites of Ballarat being just one example. While our two boarding leaders, Osmond and Charlie also took it upon themselves to spend a lot of time with the new boarders inside the house. Introducing them to the ever constant and fiercely competitive table tennis and air hockey games. All are signs that we have a great boarding cohort already taking steps in becoming an extended family.

Mr Daniel Willey

Weekend Housemaster, Phyland/Farley

My vision for Phyland/Farley House is that it continues to be a warm, welcoming environment for the boys and staff members in the house. As House Captain, I see my role as making sure that everyone is settled in well most importantly the new boarders and hope that they are enjoying every bit of it. I look forward to the year and what it has to bring but whilst I’m still here I want to be able to maintain a great boarding experience for not just the boys in my house but for both houses.

Osmond Green-King -“ House Captain, Phyland/Farley

My name is Charlie Pollard and I’m proud to be the 2017 Vice-Captain of Boarding. Over my last three years at the college I have been presented with so many opportunities that I couldn’t have dreamt off before starting at St Patrick’s, the amazing people I have met and the encouragement they have shown me, has broadened my horizons. My key goal for this year and one I hold for my fellow boarders is to give back to the community that offers us as young men so much. I encourage all boarders to get involved this year with every opportunity presented. I’m excited for the challenges that lie ahead in 2017 and I hope all boys can enjoy their time at the college as I have and continue to do.

Charlie Pollard -“ Vice-Captain of Boarding

Kenny House Catch-up

Wow, what a hectic but wonderful first few days in boarding it has been!

I am sure the boys are still experiencing some information overload, but it is pleasing to see the boys finding their feet and establishing their own routines, including plenty of extra-curricular activities which makes for some early and quiet nights!

It’s also pleasing to see the individuality of our boys coming out and some of the boys growing in confidence with each passing day. I do believe that we have a wonderful group of boys that all seem to get along well, even though there have been a few heated table tennis matches!

It was wonderful to be able to spend some time with all of the boarding community at the Regent Theatre Friday night, watching the insightful Patriots Day. The movie offered us all a chance to partake in discussions around how times are changing, especially for the younger generations.

As I continue to emphasise to the students in Kenny, it is important that the lines of communication are continuously open. As staff, we can only help if we are aware of the problem. This may include day to day school issues, personal issues, or simple questions -“ our sole purpose is to be here for the boys.

The term has certainly started well and quickly, but I look forward to the many experiences, challenges and opportunities that will face the residents of Kenny House in 2017.

Miss Tamara Westwood

Senior Housemaster, Kenny House

I am so pleased to announce we have enjoyed a wonderful commencement to our 2017 Boarding year!- With more than 50% of our boarding cohort being new additions to St Patricks College Boarding we are experiencing an unprecedented sea of new faces. An exciting beginning indeed!- Our retuning boarders are enjoying the challenge of helping all our new arrivals as well as making great new friendships. In my time in Boarding I have not experienced so many new boarders at the beginning of a school year however I am thoroughly enjoying all of the new personalities that are emerging. The term began with the traditional cinema visit after an easy three-day first week of school. We look forward again to providing our weekend activities with Go Karting on the agenda for the coming Saturday. There is definitely an air of excitement that I haven’t experienced at the beginning of the school year before. Mike Silcock’s Housemaster team are thrilled with the new boarders and our returning boarders. We all are so pleased to again offer the best environment for the boy’s personal growth and strive to help them find the best in themselves as the year unfolds.- As always I will provide feedback every couple of weeks on our exciting journey that is 2017.

Ewen Larsen

Weekend Housemaster, Kenny House

Hello, and welcome to 2017 in the boarding community. Firstly, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Sam Pilgrim and I am the captain of Kenny House for the 2017 school year.

I would like to start off by saying how wonderful all the new and old boarders are settling into the school year. It is such an exciting and sometimes nervous time for the new boarders, making new friends as well as being on top of all school work, which as far as I can see, the boys are doing very well.

It makes me proud to be the captain of Kenny when I walk around the house of an evening, seeing all boarders talking and playing as if they had known each other for years, seeing the old boarders helping out the new ones with their day to day routine. I’m looking forward to watching the friendships between the boys continue to grow over the year. The boys are going to have ups and downs all throughout the year and that’s when true friendships are made.

Sam Pilgrim -“ House Captain, Kenny