Junior School Newsletter

From the Acting Head

Dear Parents

Whilst enjoying a week of quiet in the coastal town of Lorne over the recent break, I couldn’t help but reflect on the challenges that community faces with such significant fluctuations in the population from summer to winter time. It is estimated that over 13,000 people spend New Year’s Eve in Lorne, particularly with the attraction of the Falls Festival, and as many as 20,000 crowd the streets over the Pier to Pub weekend in January. That summer influx places enormous demands on the shop owners and accommodation providers of the town, with demand for employees and the provision of affordable housing emerging as key issues. But in winter, the population dwindles with the permanent population of around 1,100 and a few hardy holiday-makers left to sustain the community. But what was evident to me in my stay there last week was the way the local residents themselves take on the responsibility of supporting one another through these lean times. I was struck by the number of times we went out for a meal to find the local café owner dining at a restaurant with family and friends, the local hotelier making a daily trip to a café for his morning coffee, the Greek restaurant owner supporting the Argentinian venue, the staff from the café near the swing-bridge enjoying a winter roast special at the nearby farmhouse dining room. Whilst these people do not have time to themselves over summer, it was apparent that in winter there is a concerted effort to help keep local businesses viable and ‘ticking over’ as rents still need to be paid and a living earned. It was a great example of members of a community sharing the responsibility of supporting one another.

Our College community works in much the same way. Over the holiday period, Year 12 students supported one another in a most effective way. The Director of Studies, Mr Jones, called on students who had been very successful at a Unit 3/4 in Year 11 last year, to step forward and provide the benefit of their experience to their fellow students. Individual academic success was used generously for the collective good of the cohort. The student-led lectures were well prepared, detailed notes were provided and informative Power Point presentations were delivered. This peer-to-peer program reflects a community helping its own in time of need, when a long break from school might otherwise result in a loss of motivation and focus. It recognises that there is a responsibility to help if you can and to do so in a selfless and practical manner. It runs contrary to any sense of competition among the students and builds unity and respect. The program was the best attended of the six years it has been running and set a great tone for the commencement of Term 3 for the Year 12 boys.

Our teachers are also familiar with the concept of peer support. For some years now, under the direction of the Dean of Professional Practice, Mr Brad Carter, the coaching program at the College has encouraged staff to access the greatest resource for professional learning available, that is one another. Staff visit the classes of colleagues to observe and reflect on effective practice. Styles of teaching and engagement with students can be observed and learnt from. Experience is shared. The Classroom Observation Program for Semester 2 is underway. Teachers have been invited to undertake two full lessons of observations in any teacher’s class. The purpose is to focus on a key aspect of pedagogy, such as effective questioning or use of feedback, and to then reflect on what has been witnessed and to share those observations with the colleague. A Staff Conference in Term 4 will provide an opportunity for staff members to showcase their learning from these experiences with colleagues within their faculties and departments. The willingness of colleagues to have observers in their classrooms and to engage in this ongoing professional development, irrespective of their years of experience, is a great strength of the teaching faculty of the College. This practice unites teachers in a desire for improvement and growth.

The Family Support Group is a means by which our parent body reaches out to support other parents in a generous and practical manner. Family life brings with it many demands and the provision of home-cooked and lovingly prepared meals for anyone in our community undergoing a difficult time, does much to build the community spirit within our very diverse and widespread school population. There is never a shortage of volunteers, and support can sometimes be provided over an extended period of time if there is the need. Arrangements for the meal roster are completed with efficiency and discretion, and the menus are designed to meet the particular requirements of the family. Over the last few years, the delivery of weekly dinners for a family, the maintaining of a biscuit barrel for a student in hospital, the making of school lunches and the delivery of boxes of fruit and vegetables, along with bountiful hampers at Christmas time, have ensured that our parents have supported one another in a generous, empathetic and compassionate manner, building a strong sense of companionship and connection.

The strength of any community comes from within. Our preparedness to take responsibility for the care and support of each other ensures that our students, our parents and our staff know that they belong, are valued and feel connected to this large and flourishing family. Humanity is at the heart of who we are, and our relationships ensure that we prosper no matter the season.

We have much to look forward to this term, not least the return of the Headmaster next Monday! I know that Stephen and Kate have enjoyed this opportunity for time for themselves, and with family and friends. Stephen also continues to make a very good recovery from his knee injury and has been diligent in his rehabilitation exercises. I am sure that he will return rejuvenated and renewed in his extraordinary commitment to this College. I anticipate that there will also be many new ideas and concepts that can often flourish in the space of the Headmaster’s more relaxed mindset, which will emerge as the term unfolds. Watch this space!

Kind regards
Janet Canny

From the Director of Glendalough

Dear Community Members,

Let’s start the term with some well-intentioned advice. If you’re thinking of getting a beanbag, think again. If someone offers you a pre-loved, already filled beanbag, think carefully about the future implications. If you’re considering buying a brand new one and filling it yourself- think twice, then think again.

I wish someone had offered me this advice before I ventured off to the shopping mall where my adventure began. Beanbags seemed a practical and simple solution to a temporary need to furnish the GAP flat until a new sofa can be acquired. Someone suggested beanbags would do the trick. I accepted the suggestion with enthusiasm. I mean, how hard could it be to buy and fill three large beanbags? How hard indeed! I have forgiven the person who gave me the idea and let me tell you why.

Up two levels I go on escalators to the shop that sells beanbags. Do you know how many beans it takes to fill an adult sized beanbag? It takes three hundred litres of beans. Do you know how many litres of beans are in each bag of beans? One hundred. That’s three x one hundred litre bags of beans required to fill each beanbag.  And I was aiming to buy three beanbags. That’s nine x one hundred litre bags of beans. Do you know how many one hundred litre bags of beans fit in a shopping trolley? Two. Do you know how many trolley trips that is up and down the two levels of escalators to the car park? A lot. And I thought my biggest problem stopped there.

Eventually I make my way to the flat, relieved that none of the bags of beans squished into my little hire car had popped while I was driving. With all my beanbag paraphernalia safely indoors, I figured I should have this job done and dusted in thirty minutes- ten minutes a bag. I had what I thought was a logical and well organized approach to this task. An hour later I have filled just one bag, and am on my hands and knees chasing recalcitrant beans around the floor with a dustpan and broom. By this stage I figure one happy GAP Tutor out of three is an acceptable outcome. I can live with that. What I can’t live with is trying to fill the other two beanbags on my own.

This is not a one-person job. It requires an engineer, a fireman, a physicist, a psychologist, a physiotherapist and a poet (to capture the scene for future generations). Possibly a forensic expert to boot. Those little beans have a mind of their own. One minute they are free -wheeling individuals that defy gravity and all the laws of the natural world. The next, they are working together in devious little groups, plotting to drive me stone mad. The higher the level of beans rose inside the bag, the more chaotic the scene became. My slightest movement seemed to send rivulets of beans streaming out of the beanbag and when I made adjustments to stop this flow, the jetstream of my movement sent more shooting off into the stratosphere, or another opening appeared and started a new haemorrhage of beans all over the floor. And not just over the floor. Beans stuck to the wall, to me, to the underside of the discarded plastic bags.  As I struggled through with the patience of Job, (less Job-like as time went on), two sets of words kept ricocheting in my brain. The first were Sir Isaac Newton’s law of motion ‘For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ I wished like crazy that there wasn’t. The second set was the caution on the plastic bags ‘Do not overfill the beanbag’. Who are they kidding, not much chance of that! Why do they even call these things beans? They are not shaped like beans. They do not look like beans. They do not grow like beans. They do not act like beans. They behave like willful, wicked, self -centered brats. The Job in me was gone.

When I recounted my tale to the person who made the original beanbag suggestion, they said I should have filled the bags while standing in the bath, to reduce the spread of wayward beans. I replied, amongst other things, that the only way I’ll ever fill another beanbag is if it’s in a NASA research facility, and even then I’d be wary.

This whole experience made me realise how much more pleasant life is when things work together for the good of all involved. Co-operation is so underrated. In an era of stress and individual distress, co-operation is an oft overlooked balm. People working together to get the job done. People with their eyes on the same prize. Giving a little bit of ‘me’ in order to be successful as a ‘we’. As we face into Term Three here at Glendalough let’s work together to get the job done and to enjoy together the experiences that lay ahead for us. Let’s not confound, confuse or bring one another to our knees by venturing off into freewheeling ‘bags of beans’ behaviour. I can tell you from experience, there’s no fun in that!

The footnote to this story is that our three new GAP Tutors Mr. McIlvenna, Mr. Clair and Mr. Brooks worked together to fill the remaining beanbags. Perhaps to make me feel better, they say it was tricky even for a team of three. I take their word for it. I am not yet ready to go near a beanbag and won’t be for some time yet.

James Daly
Director of Glendalough

From the Ministry Team 

Giant steps still needed

In 1961, President John F Kennedy made a commitment to landing a human being on the moon by the end of the decade and ending world hunger in the same time frame. On Saturday, we celebrate fifty years since the achievement of the first ambition. The second, sadly, is further away from us than ever.

That is why we have Zimele. Zimele tries to respond to the enormous suffering in the world, especially in East Africa. At its heart is the annual immersion in which I took part last December.

On December 7th, six intrepid journeyman comprising two St Kevin’s staff and four Old Boys, (Michael McGirr, Vince Toohey, Andre Coten, Phil Borg, Hugh Flanagan & Nikhil Shah) set off on the 10th Zimele Immersion to Kenya & Tanzania. We followed similar paths and in the footsteps of over 200 previous participants and previous Immersions organized by Mr Tom Purcell. That legacy is a huge one which we came to discover in all corners of Kenya.

After a jet lagged first night in Kenya, we were up early for Mass at Embulbul which was a brilliant two hour cultural feast of sights, sounds, prayers, singing, music and moving homilies. The immaculately dressed Kenyan congregation gave us our first taste of Africa and one of its juxtapositions; the joy, religious conviction, earnestness and pride with which people carried themselves even though they came from over-crowded shanty town houses with dirt floors that are no bigger than the garden shed or laundry in most of our homes in Australia. The great beauty of Africa and its appalling multiple sadnesses sit virtually hand in hand in every facet of the country.

 At Mass, we would meet some of the families and children we would spend the next two days with at Br Beausang Primary and Secondary School. Here we would use all the sport equipment donated by the SKC parents, staff & students. Cricket, Touch Footy, Basketball & Soccer were our mainstays of the two day sports camp for approximately 30 boys and girls from Years 5, 6 & 7. Our brief from the unflappable Principal, Peter Shanahan, was to give some holiday respite to the parents, entertain their children, sponsor feeding the school community and for the kids to have fun. We also had great fun and our home visits to various shanty towns to meet the families topped off a wonderful two days and showed what powerful work the Br Beausang staff are doing to give children and adults a window to a better future.

This same pattern was repeated at every social justice organization we visited. Edmund Rice  run Mary Rice Centre in Kibera, Edmund Rice Foundation Education For Life (EFL) Centre in Eldoret and a Loreto school in Karen just to name a few. Here, we met people like Silas the 20 year charity worker taking our Zimele group through the Kibera slum, his childhood home. An Edmund Rice scholarship got him through school and now is helping him get through university to gain a teaching degree. We would also meet the incredible 80 year old Irish Loreto nun, Sr Mary Owens whose Nyumbani campus in Karen runs a wonderful school for children with HIV to give them the home, the education and medication they need to live a dignified life. Sr Mary is a 50 year veteran in Africa and holds the boast of teaching the current Prime Minister of Kenya. Lastly, we would meet the unstoppable Angie Obutu at EFL Centre in Eldoret; a similar dynamo that our Zimele work helps support each year. Her incredible work with an enormous community of HIV infected babies, children & adults; her adult work programs, micro finance work, her education work and her home visits has brought faith, hope, love, joy, work and dignity to that community. It was a privilege to witness all these amazing people in action.

We also had time to visit Iten, meet the famous Olympic coach Brother Colm, run with some Olympic hopefuls; get chased by Hippos in Lake Naivasha and saw the classic African wilderness landscape of  Tarangerie National Park in Tanzania. The African Immersion was a brilliant experience and I want to thank all the brilliant people in that country that made the journey so transformational. I would like to thank the generous support of the Headmaster, ERF, Tom Purcell, Zimele team and Mission Travel that helped us get to Africa. I also would like to thank the witty Michael McGirr, and our Old Boys Andre, Hugh Phil & Nikhil that all took three weeks out of their Christmas holidays to make the great leap of faith and attend the Immersion. Lastly, I want to thank the generous SKC families and staff that donated over 200 kgs of sport’s equipment and clothes that we took to Africa. They have all found good schools and homes on the other side of the Earth. Thank you all for helping us make a change.

On Saturday, the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, you might be tempted to listen to that famous song by the Australian Reg Lindsay:

Young girl in Calcutta

Barely eight years old

Flys 'round the market place

See she don't get old

Don't you know she heard it

On a July afternoon

Heard a man named Armstrong

Walk upon the moon

Mr Vince Toohey
Assistant Dean of Faith 

Please help

Please join the great spirit of Zimele by coming to the dinner on Aug 3. It is a wonderful community occasion. Early bird bookings close this weekend. Go to https://www.trybooking.com/BDFVQ

Immersion in December

 It is not too late for a small number of former students and parents to join us in Africa in December. It is a wonderful experience. Please contact
Vince Toohey: tooheyv@stkevins.vic.edu.au

Fullness of Life

  • Mr Jamie Brooks, Mr Max McIIvenna and Mr George Clair, the new GAP students from the UK, commenced at the College.
  • Kenny students with Mr O’Brien assisted with the preparation and serving of breakfast at St Mary’s House of Welcome.
  • Year 9 students and staff prepared for the RICE Program.
  • McCarthy students with Mr Macfarlane assisted with the serving of dinner at St Peter and Paul’s in South Melbourne.
  • VCE Theatre Studies students attended a performance at the Comedy Theatre.
  • Year 10-12 McCarthy and Kenny students, staff and families enjoyed their House Masses and Suppers.
  • Year 5 and 6 APS Sports Trials were held.
  • Brother Geoff Whitefield spoke to Year 10 students.
  • St Kevin’s hosted Round 5 of the DAV Debating Competition.
  • Cusack students and Mr Harris assisted with the Breakfast and Sports Program at Trinity Primary School in Richmond.
  • Year 5 and 6 students enjoyed a Mathematics Incursion.
  • Friday Morning Mass was held in the Chapel of St Kevin.
  • Dr Mark McGee was the Year 12 Guest Speaker.
  • Year 10 students enjoyed their Dancing Class.
  • Kearney students and Mr James assisted at the Kids Kaboom Club in Richmond.
  • Rahill students and Mr and Mrs Wallace assisted with the Fitzroy Reading Program.
  • The Year 5-6 Father Son Camp was hosted by the Fathers’ Association

Mr Ted Guinane
Director of Administration 

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