Senior School Report

May 13, 2022

by Director of the Senior School, Mr Hamish McCrum

The warmer weather has lingered later into autumn this year than usual.  I have been enjoying this, but I think winter is not far away.  I think the length of the cold winter in Ballarat means most of us enjoy the warmth all the more when we have it.  It is good for the soul to be grateful for the small things.  As I write we are preparing for our re-scheduled Edmund Rice Day (Monday, May 16). It is a day of celebration and a chance for students to enjoy each other’s company and the company of their teachers in a relaxed setting.  It is also a day when we donate some money to various charitable organisations, some local and some global.  This gives the students the opportunity to be doing something of value for those less fortunate.  The benefits to the students who embrace this are: the fostering of their empathy – very important if they are to become socially constructive adults and are to go on to enjoy positive personal relationships; the feeling of self-worth that is gained by helping others – “if you want to feel good about yourself, do good things”; and finally the gratitude for your own life situation that can come from considering life from the perspective of somebody less fortunate.  Some students seek donations or tap Mum or Dad for the suggested $40.  I would hope that those with a part-time job would consider others less fortunate and make a significant part of the donation out of their own disposable income, after considering their own lives and the lives of those less fortunate.  Developing empathy is very important.

Our Year 10s will experience their “One Night of Homelessness” on Thursday, May 19. In this they will learn about the scenarios that can lead to homelessness and gain an appreciation that it is rarely all the fault of the individual, experience some of the discomfort of sleeping rough (without the lack of safety which makes the experience less real), and Friday they are free from school to recover.  Even with the physical discomfort, this is typically an enjoyable and memorable night.

On Wednesday John Maher came and spoke to our Year 12s about the importance of road safety.  He lost his youngest daughter Carmen (18) to an accident when she was undertaking a short drive close to home while fatigued.  He talked passionately about the lasting impact this has had on their extended family and friends and urged our boys to never do this to their parents.  He is a great fan of the power-nap.  Usually John talks to our Year 11s and will be back later in the year to do this.  He made a special trip to see our Year 12s as COVID prevented him delivering to this cohort last year.  John has now written a book called “Carmen’s Legacy” which tells of this ordeal and the aftermath.  Should you want this for young drivers it can be found by putting “Carmen’s Legacy” into google.  The most dangerous time for our boys on the roads is the first six months when they are driving by themselves, and getting them to 22 safely is no certainty.

It appears unlikely that schools will be locked down this year, but COVID and other illnesses will have an impact on attendance.  It is important that students at all year levels are conscious of steadily acquiring the content knowledge and skills to improve in each subject, and developing the habits and behaviours which will allow them to be successful into the future.  The best way of doing this is by getting to school, ready to learn at all those times when you do not have COVID or the flu.

A student who has fallen behind will often state that they need to work harder, and we will agree with them.  Then with the best intentions they are unable to sustain their efforts.

Some basic hints to all students would be:

  1. Make a start on a big task, you will be glad you did. It is then easier to continue.
  2. Don’t wait until you feel like doing your homework – very little will get done. Instead, allocate time as you would to a part time job or sport training, set aside the time. Make a reasonable schedule and stick to it.
  3. Don’t kid yourself that you can be effective studying while also giving some of your attention to your phone or laptop – unless directly related to what you are doing, put them in another room.
  4. Understand that you and your time are valuable. You are investing in your future.
  5. Do practice questions rather than just reading and highlighting.
  6. Appreciate your progress. If you are better at something today than you were a week ago, give yourself a pat on the back and see if you can be even better next week, or have improved in something else. This is much more productive in the longer term than trying to beat another student.
  7. Get 8 hours of sleep each night.
  8. Avoid computer games and social media apps. These are designed to be addictive. A little bit of heroin is not OK.

God Bless.