Boarding Report – March 9, 2017

March 8, 2017

This weekend marks our first EXEAT weekend for 2017. For many of our boarders it shall be the first opportunity to return home since commencing the term in early February. For others it may be the first occasion they have left our -‘four walls’ to spend time with friends in other parts of the State. It is certainly the first occasion that our boarding staff have had to draw breath on what has been an extremely busy start to the year. These weekends are vital for both students and staff and I wish all the most enjoyable of weekends.

This past weekend I travelled to the Gold Coast in my role as Chair of the Victorian Division of ABSA (Australian Boarding Schools Association). I am privileged to lead boarding not only at St Patrick’s College but across the State. We met on the Friday for a quarterly board meeting, before our first national -‘offering’ -‘Taking The Reins’, a conference designed for those new into leadership positions within boarding, got underway on the Saturday morning. I started proceedings with a session titled -Well -“ what now?- -“ a focus on the immediate upon commencing your new position. In preparing for this I considered my own first days, which got me also thinking about how I felt when I started boarding and how my parents felt. As I said our EXEAT weekend allows for many of us to be reunited with our family for the first time in a number of weeks. I know many of our boarders have experienced moments of homesickness -“ however it is perhaps not known is the number of our parents who experience -‘childsickness’. Our attention will remain on supporting our boarders, however I thought I would share some advice for our parent/s on coping with their son/s at boarding school.

1. -‘Childsickness’ is as common as homesickness but you will get used to this feeling -“ remember it often does not go away, you just get used to it. Look at what else you can do to keep busy. Try to get support from other families of children at boarding school (The Facebook Group -‘Boarding School -“ Aussie Families is a great help).

2. Remember that your son/s many call you and -‘dump’ and that hearing your voice can sometimes cause emotions that aren’t always there. Have open and honest lines of communication with the boarding school and work together to manage the many ups and downs of early boarding life. Encourage your child to tell you three good things each phone call rather than dwelling on any negatives.

3. Speak to other parents and keep yourself busy.

4. Remember that you are still your child’s hero and the most important person in their lives -“ you hold the key to positively impact their boarding journey, so never lose sight of your importance in their lives.

5. Remember, if your child is struggling at school the boarding staff/Director of Boarding are a great help to parents. They can help you to contact the relevant teacher at the school or alleviate any fears you might have. Set up positive relationships with boarding house staff, knowing who to call when and about what is really important and will help you cope with -‘parenting from a distance’.

6. Offer your child support and listen to their concerns but don’t always rush in to rescue them -“ support them to develop their own resilience skills and help them to find solutions for themselves. Ask them how they might solve a -‘crisis’ before you solve it for them. They will usually surprise you with some great ideas.

7. Make coming home exciting but understand that your child will grow and change whilst they are away and so allow 24 hours for them to settle back in home routines and activities.

8. The whole family will take time to adjust to them being away and also when they return in the holidays -“ be aware of this. Keep up their contact with their siblings, perhaps one contact a week is just for the siblings to socialise. With social media this could be strong online communication.

Through all these pieces of advice I would ask you to ensure that you think carefully about who is within your support network and please remember that we are always here to help in whatever way we can.

Look after yourselves.

Mike Silcock

Director of Boarding

Phyland/Farley House Focus:

As week six draws to a close, as a boarding community we look forward to the EXEAT weekend, which is upon us. Friendships amongst the boys have formed and are solid, homework and extra-curriculum are set and happening at a steady pace; it is the time spent and connection with family and friends that is the missing link. With our minds and bodies needing a well deserving break – full of rest and rejuvenation, it’s the emotional connections with family and friends outside of boarding, outside of St Patrick’s College, that is calling out for unitedness. At the beginning and in the early weeks of boarding, for some, the realisation of being away from family and home life is exciting, for others it is a stressful and daunting experience and for many it’s a moment that is familiar to them, but as the term progresses the need to be connect with home, with friends, heightens for all. Time spent with family and friends is such a powerful, and often an unappreciative, stage in our lives – a period which some take for granted, until divided by separation, but it is the moments provided to a boarder, such as EXEAT weekends and term breaks, that gives meaning to why family and friends play a vital role in our lives and with this I wish the entire boarding cohort an enjoyable and safe break with family and friends.

Miss Shelly-Ann du Plooy

Housemaster, Phyland and Farley

Routines are now well established and the boys have settled into the weekend boarding habits; broken up by trips down the street and fierce table tennis battles. A popular conversation for the younger boarders over the last few weekends has been what they want to do when they -‘grow up’? Perhaps sparked by the college starting to organise work experience for the year 10s the conversation never the less entertained many over the weekend. With such a diverse boarding cohort their dreams for the future were unsurprisingly varied. A pilot, a farmer and a solider may sound like the start to a bad joke, but at Phyland and Farley the discussion over which is better is never ending. With their first English assessment this week the year 11 boarders have been working extra hard during study sessions. The boys showing a great ability for empathy as they place themselves in the position of a conscripted teenager being sent to Vietnam. I have been generally impressed this week reading through their drafts and am confident they have the work ethic required to succeed.

Mr Daniel Willey

Weekend Housemaster, Phyland/Farley

Kenny House Catch-up

As I write this, it is obvious that the year is fast flying by with March already upon us!

Now, more than ever, is an important time for our boys in Kenny to continue to develop effective time management skills, especially when it comes to their school work and the many extra -curricular activities that are offered to them.- A number of SACs, assignments and assessments have a way of creeping up on the boys at this point of the term so it is perfect timing that the EXEAT weekend is here to recharge and spend quality time with their families and friends.

I recently spoke to the Kenny boys’ teachers and requested feedback regarding their class work. It was pleasing to hear that many of the boys are managing the work load, were behaving courteously and respectfully. This process gives me a chance to speak to the boys individually regarding their feedback and to assist them where needed. One overriding comment that was made was that it is vital that the boys maintain communication with their teachers to ensure that they understand and are on top of the many assignments and work required in each subject.

I am really pleased with how the Kenny boys are looking out for each other and helping others through their days. As a house, we recently conducted an extremely beneficial meeting in which discussed the importance of adapting to living with other people and how we can make it easier for everybody.

It’s great to see all year levels getting along and making Kenny house the wonderful place is it.

Miss Tamara Westwood

Senior Housemaster, Kenny House

The distinctive smell of bacon and eggs cooking clearly states it is Saturday morning!!

We are over half way through the first term already!! Our Kenny House boarders’ continue to reach their academic and sporting goals with the fickle Ballarat weather as yet not hindering any outdoor plans. It is wonderful to see the returning boarders’ assist our new boarders’ by setting such a fine example with excellent behaviour and making all feel so much a genuine part of the Kenny family.

Our weekend boarders’ recently enjoyed 18 holes of golf in Ballarat. This past weekend they enjoyed a table tennis round robin in the gymnasium with many tables set up for fierce competition. No activity is on next week as the boys get the opportunity to have a long weekend with family or friends at the EXEAT weekend, it also gives the staff a brief opportunity to catch their breath before undertaking the remaining weeks of the first term.

Lastly we offer our congratulations to the St Patrick’s College 1st rowing crew for taking out the 2017 Head Of The Lake title!! More news to follow in a couple of weeks.

Ewen Larsen

Weekend Housemaster, Kenny House