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Be the Change You Wish to See in The World

I am not sure who said this, some sources say Gandhi, but it doesn’t really matter as it is a great thought. In fact, it’s more than a thought, it’s a challenge and a mind-set. I can only speak for myself, but I find it both inspiring and challenging! Last week was quite a roller coaster ride as we watched the situation throughout the world continue to unfold, and, unfold closer to home in Melbourne and Sydney followed by Brisbane later in the week. We are starkly reminded of the challenges that may lie ahead in the coming weeks.

But on Friday, Year 6 student Hamilton Holland, showed us in action the heart of the Gospel message which is captured in the challenge ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’. I was in ‘management mode’ last Friday, making decisions, communicating them and attending meetings when I was called downstairs in the Edmund Rice Building to see what Hamilton was up to. He had personally knitted a large number of beanies for sale in support of ‘Beanies for Brain Cancer’ day. What struck me as I was speaking with Hamilton was his joy and genuine appreciation that people wanted to buy his beanies! Amid the challenging news, concerning statistics and worry caused by it all, a child leads the way, in a simple, selfless act that reminds us all to be a community of faith, hope and compassion for others. Well done to you Hamilton and well done to all our ATC Signs of Faith who supported this day last Friday and who do simple acts of service and kindness in the ordinariness of every day.

2021 College House and Vice Captains

I was delighted to announce the 2021 House and Vice Captains earlier today. Congratulations to each of the following students who have accepted the responsibility and challenge of leadership.

Connacht House Captain: Jem Woolcock; Vice-Captains: Liam Barrie and Toby Norman

Leinster House Captain: Will Bosci; Vice-Captains: Xavier Johnson and Tom Lever

Munster House Captain: Will Matapo; Vice-Captains: Sam Jones and Tom Willsford

Ulster House Captain: Finnlay Bell; Vice-Captain: Charlie Henry and Sami Walsh

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Leaders 2021

I also congratulate the elected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student Leaders for 2021: Allan Currie-Saunders and Jye Duncan-Cope. Both Allan and Jye are active participants in dance, art and spirituality at ATC. They will act as positive role models for younger students while ensuring older boys are continuing to be ‘Men of Courage’. As part of the Clontarf Foundation, but more importantly the entire College, we look forward to Allan and Jye’s inspiring leadership.

Managing Expectations

The advice that Principals across Brisbane are receiving is to renew our community awareness of the possibility of increased management regarding the pandemic in coming weeks. I use the word renew as our awareness has always been there, but if you are anything like me, you will have been enjoying the position Queensland had gotten ourselves into and it is taking some adjustment to return to the immediate mindset of shared responsibility of managing the pandemic and our expectations.

A reminder to please inform the College if a student is being tested for COVID-19. This allows us to record this information and track it pastorally. Please do not send your son to school if he is unwell and, if he has been tested for COVID, do not send him until he has received a negative result on a test. Students must not attend school if they are awaiting the results of a COVID test.

Our teaching staff are meeting this afternoon in collaborative planning for the preparation of SEQTA in the event that we need to return to ATCLearns@Home in the future. This is quite different from a short-term spot closure as explained in the policy and practice document I shared again with families last week. There is a possibility that our community will need to manage a spot closure at some point and so our readiness is very important. A return to extended remote learning (which everybody hopes doesn’t happen of course!) is more complex and requires a considerable amount of co-ordination and planning. We have carried out reviews of our processes from Term 2, collected student feedback and worked with staff in gaining their insights in order to renew our ATCLearns@Home plans and continue to build on our learnings from Term 2. We adapted our approach in the three weeks of Year 11 and 12 remote learning and five weeks of Years 4 to 10 and grew during this time. In the event of needing to do it again, we will be in a better position for the experience as will our students.

In speaking with colleagues in Melbourne, the ‘psychology’ of the second closing down is very different of course. The impact of community transmission is more present in this second phase and the period of time required to manage it is much less clear than in Term 2. Managing expectations of our own well-being, our family well-being, our work and workplaces and our home and school partnership should we need to face this challenge again will be crucial. I certainly remain hopeful that our health authorities and wider community work together to control potential outbreaks, but it is also wise that we prepare mindfully and organisationally for potential changes in coming weeks.

Review committees are also analysing College events for the coming months and developing Plans A, B and C for a wide range of different student and community events. This is a challenging space as venues develop COVID safe plans and health authority directives are evolving. We are actively consulting, seeking advice and making decisions. The coming weeks will be very informative about what is and isn’t possible, these decisions will be communicated, and we will continue to prioritise the health and safety of our community.

Today, we communicated the disappointing decision that we cannot proceed with the Year 11 Sociable due to COVID related constraints. I spoke with the Year 11 students about this today and wrote to parents and caregivers. At this stage, we are remaining hopeful that the Year 12 Formal may be able to proceed with some parameters. I plan to speak with the Year 12 students about this during the week. As always, I thank the ATCommunity for your patience, understanding and support and wish all extended families the very best at this time.

God bless

Chris Ryan