Year 10 student Eloise Struthers has recently been accepted into the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s “Student Climate Leadership Program” which Eloise says “has been nothing short of amazing”. As a young person passionate about climate change, Eloise took an opportunity to apply after seeing a Facebook post about the program, and with about 30 minutes to spare, as applications closed that night. She is one of 20 students to be accepted into this semester-long program for students in Years 8-12. There are fortnightly meetings and some full weekend workshops in which the students discuss climate justice, climate science, how to talk or write to an MP, leadership and campaigning skills etc. So far Eloise has only been to one weekend workshop and one of the fortnightly meetings but she has “absolutely loved it. I feel like I’ve learnt so much in this short space of time, not only actual climate facts but also how to communicate more confidently and be independent”. Definitely #likeasantagirl. Congratulations Eloise on your initiative as well as your passion. We look forward to hearing much more about the program.
Years 5 and 6 have been learning beyond the boundaries of Strathfield as each group headed off to Tallong for their annual camp. Apart from the physical challenges such as the flying fox, the students are learning about teamwork, problem-solving and moving out of their comfort zones – all while being very well fed by our gourmet Tallong chef, Jeff.
The athleticism and joyous community spirit were highlights of this year’s 6–12 Athletics Carnival. Records were broken by our top athletes as the rest of us looked on in awe. But all students make a great effort to contribute to house spirit through participation, dressing up, chanting till their voices were hoarse, and cheering on their peers and friends in all of the events. I could not resist the invitation to join the Year 12 graduating class in their 100 metres “event”, and so without a risk assessment in sight, I made my way to the starting blocks only to find out we had to commence the run with some aerobically demanding dancing. It was a special way to mark my last Athletics Carnival. Thank you girls, staff and Mr George Ayoub for a very successful carnival. Also congratulations to our Rugby Sevens who were winners of the intermediate championship at the Barker invitational match.
What has been evident in our community in the last fortnight is that our young people truly care about what’s going in the world, as well as in their school. Whether they be in Primary, Middle or Senior, students want to use their voice in positive and powerful ways, and we are committed as a College to provide the avenues for our students to do so. We saw that with the development of the Code of Conduct, the initiatives the Senior Leaders brought to us in response to Christchurch, the Lenten liturgies led by each House on Thursday mornings, the introduction of the Code of Conduct by the new leaders at Del Monte Assembly last week, as well as student participation in our Justice Journey 2019. As adults we need to support them as they negotiate the best ways to express opinions and divergent viewpoints. Learning to listen to each other with respect and generosity even when there is disagreement is such a hard thing to do – for adults as well. But what a difference it would make in our world if love, kindness and compassion were the “normal” way of being in the world. This is the gospel message after all, and the one that as a Catholic community we will continue to promote in and through tough times as well as good times. The following well-known passage from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians often used at weddings is apt for all times, particularly in our world now where hostility and hate either mindlessly or intentionally dominate political discourse and social media. Our children and young people deserve better.
“If I speak in tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
“Love never ends…..Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians, 13, 1-13
Dr Maree Herrett