Welcome to Term 3! I hope you had a wonderful break and had time to relax, rejuvenate and connect with family and friends.
I was lucky enough to spend three amazing weeks in New York with my two daughters and granddaughter over the break. New York is one of my favourite places in the world – there’s always people walking with a sense of purpose and it’s such a hive of activity. Yet, one day, while we were walking,I realised you can always tell who the tourists are, we are the ones looking up. Everyone else is looking down – at the pavement, or their devices or with headphones on to block out the world.
This got me thinking about the idea of connection. Do we only really connect with our surroundings when we feel relaxed and have the time and space to ‘stop and smell the roses’ as the saying goes? Or maybe these people with their heads down are ‘connected’ in a more modern sense - on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
While I appreciated my time away and reconnecting with my family face-to-face, I did think how lucky I am to be able to work in a relational environment and form part of a community that is all about connection. Not just digital connections, but meaningful connections between teachers and students, parents and teachers, parents and other parents,students and their friends, our alumni, old staff members and the wider community. These connections go beyond likes on Facebook. They are conversations at pick-up, celebrations at assemblies, one-on-one chats to find a solution to a problem. I thrive on these connections and believe we are teaching our students on how to make the most of each personal encounter they have through life.
An old saying by Herman Melville says ‘we cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibres, our actions run as causes and return to us as results”. I love how he captures the interconnectedness of community so simply.
Our connections as a school help us to flourish. They provide opportunities, lessons and long-lasting relationships.
I think of the connections our students make on camps,through service and on tours where their shared experiences create wonderful memories. I know our group of staff and students who recently went to China on the International Music Tour, the Indonesian Service Learning Tour and our HASS Canberra tour returned with stories, experiences and new connections.
Our many productions each year see performers spending time together, even on weekends, working on props, rehearsing and laughing at ‘in jokes’ that remain relevant for years. I’ve already started seeing this camaraderie and connection in our Primary School ahead of this year’s production of Wizard of Oz, which I’m so excited to see!
I see the connection of our staff members with our students each day and beyond with our alumni. In his new life as a celebrant, Mr Brian Plowman has married more than 50 people who went to St Stephen’s School (not necessarily to each other – though some have been!) and Mr Boyd Herewini is a huge advocate for alumni success, in regular contact with ex-staff and students.
This connection was obvious when St Stephen’s School’s first bursar and one of the School’s founders, Mr John McAlpine, sadly passed away recently. He will be fondly remembered.
Communities are all about connections. People and relationships are at the core of who we are at St Stephen’s School, in the past, the present and into the future.
‘For when two or three gather in my name,there am I with them.’ Matthew 18:20
Mrs Donella Beare