There was a certain degree of uncertainty among the Year 10 cohort as they arrived in their House Groups for the Year 10 Retreat Day at the University of Queensland. In the university lecture hall, presenter Michael Fitzpatrick began some initial activities designed to relax and instil confidence in both the individual and the group and the journey of self-discovery began. For those of you unaware of Michael, he is a most experienced and charismatic facilitator of presentations for Catholic School students and has worked across Australia for 25 years.
As the day unfolded the boys spent time and shared information and experiences with eachother, engaging with boys who they may not have interacted with prior to the workshop. Activities were designed to empower students in the emotional, social and spiritual domains of wellbeing, leading them towards beings confident, resilient and purposeful people. These workshops also let them feel affirmed in their own dignity. The boundaries of friendship and communication were explored and there was much laughter and joy in the room. Michael’s unique ability to make the group feel trusted and to trust one another was a delight to observe and surprised even the boys. The Year 10 group deserve to be congratulated on their excellent behaviour and attitude. They participated with uncomplicated enthusiasm and candour revealing impressive integrity and insight in their observations about themselves and the cohort.
Part of the day offered us an opportunity to have lunch and stroll around the beautiful grounds of UQ surrounded by the imposing sandstone buildings. In a pleasing sign of a growing maturity and readiness to embrace responsibility, the entire group punctually returned to the lecture hall, eager for the final afternoon session. During this final period the focus was on affirming the group and setting the challenge to them of carrying the spirit, already evident in the room, forward into the year ahead. Since the retreat, there has been a most positive and tangible shift in the boys attitudes. We can all look forward to the fruits of this valuable day in the months ahead, working with the Year 10 groups of all Houses.
Head of Connacht