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A Life Without Challenge is a Life Not Lived

I am always excited by a New Year. It signifies what is best about our world, as people gather together to draw to a close the year that was and become hope-filled for what can be. Amidst the champagne and revelry and fireworks, is the anticipation that our future holds something of value for us. Promise is a wonderful thing but hoping isn’t enough. For me, the New Year Period was a time to reflect on 2018.

Arguably, one of the biggest stories of 2018 was the rescue of 12 Thai boys from the Wild Boars Soccer Team, along with their coach, who became trapped in flooded waters after they went on a team building cave expedition. Indeed, this was a story of many ‘stars’. Firstly, there were the boys themselves, under the leadership of their coach, who remained trapped in the cave for 17 days; days without light, without food and without any real hope of survival. Theirs was a story of resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity – a lesson for us all really.

Then, there was the cacophony of stars who both boldly and brilliantly engineered what appeared to be one of the most impossible rescue missions ever seen. Hundreds were involved in the effort and too many to name all in this newsletter. However, of the multitude of dedicated professionals involved in the mission, it is pertinent to acknowledge the excellence and commitment of Dr Richard Harris who was instrumental in the effort and the last to leave the cave. An anaesthetist, Richard Harris’ job was to assess the medical readiness of the boys to make the dangerous 4km underwater escape. He determined the order and sedated the boys in preparation for the mission. Without his excellent credentials in both medicine and cave diving, not to mention his considerable personal sacrifice, it is hard to imagine what would have become of the boys trapped in the flood waters below the Earth’s Surface. Without such greatness, one might really question whether the same results would have been achieved in Thailand last July. I have my doubts. And so, what is the overall message for us at ATC. For me, it is quite simply this…

We must strive for excellence in all that we do. This may come at personal sacrifice. It might be hard. But a life without challenge, is not really a life lived. More than ever, we need people who are prepared to roll up their sleeves and put in the hard yards.

And so, I wonder who of our students may be the Richard Harris’ of our world? Who might be the students one day attributed to finding the cures for Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis or Motor Neurone Disease? Who will be the next Steve Jobs, Steven Hawkins or Steven Spielberg? Who in our community might land a mission to Mars or invent the world’s first flying car? Excellence is something we should all aspire to. Let 2019 be the year we can all be better. Excellence can be realised in all of us and the pursuit of it must start now!

Ultimately, organisation and preparation are key. This relates not only to the acquisition of stationery and uniform items but thinking intentionally about what one wishes to achieve and planning to follow through on those intentions. Being successful requires commitment and dedication. It requires goal setting and strategy. It requires honest checking-in to see how we are progressing towards the goal. It may even require partnering with other critical friends or reconceptualising the plan if it isn’t working. Fundamentally though, one has to begin with a dream to guide the action and the planning.

According to the ancient Chinese proverb, ‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ Sometimes, this journey is fraught with challenges as students face the unknown. As we commence the 2019 school year, I am sure there are a number of parents and caregivers who are wondering how best they can support their children in their path to life-long learning.

As partners, we share the responsibility for your children’s success and we will do our very best to carry out our responsibilities. This week for example parents of Year 11 and 12 students are invited to attend three-way conversations to enhance our academic mentoring project. Parents of Year 10 students are invited to attend a presentation on helping their son achieve success in the new Senior system, as well as study skills and upcoming opportunities to enhance pathways. On Friday, we will also celebrate our first Academic Awards Assembly, where we encourage students to value achievement, effort and improvement. These events are not ad hoc – they are part of an intentional plan to build learning culture, and in so doing, boundless opportunities for the boys.

We ask that you guide and support your child’s learning by ensuring that he:

- Knows that you have high expectations of effort and achievement based on personal excellence
- Knows what he achieved in subjects in 2018 and what he is aiming to achieve in 2019
- Attends school daily and arrives on time, ready for the day’s learning experience
- Has a good homework routine – completing set homework prior to dinner and study after dinner (in Middle and Senior School)
- Reads daily to develop a love for reading and to improve literacy skills
- Shares his assessment calendar with you so that you can help him keep track of upcoming assessments
- Is pro-active in seeking any assistance from teachers

I wish all students well for the upcoming school year.

Kath Little
Dean of Learning