A warm welcome to everyone for the term ahead. I especially want to welcome our language exchange students who have joined us from our European partner schools in France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
Welcome to Sydney and welcome to IGS!
We are particularly thrilled to welcome students from Lycée Aristide Briand, our new partner school in Évreux Normandy.
The fact that these students are here is such a cause for celebration, given that the closing of international borders over the last two and half years has prevented our exchange program from taking place in 2020 and 2021.
These students are far from home and I know that they have felt the warm embrace of our school community. They tell us that surfing has been one of many highlights of their time in Sydney so far.
We look forward to seeing IGS students go on life-changing exchanges in December.
We have so much to look forward to this term including our Musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which opens next week. The cast, crew and production team have worked so hard to bring this show to the IGS stage and I applaud their work in continuing to keep everyone as safe as possible, while also launching the talents of so many extraordinary young people. A school musical has the power to give children and young people a sense of belonging and engagement like nothing else and we are set to be blown away by this sparkling production!
Bringing back SAGE
This term Year 11 is heading off to Tasmania to “write the island”, as we bring back the IGS SAGE program which will take place for Years 7 to 10 next term. SAGE stands for: Student choice; Authentic learning experiences; Global relevance; and Exhibitions and celebrations of learning and we can’t wait to see the impact of this experiential learning program on the lives of our students.
Year 12 to ‘focus’ and reap rewards
This term we also say farewell to our much-loved Year 12s. These students have given so much to our School and we’re going to see them shine this term. What we’re also going to see is that with effort, focus, hard work and determination their development academically and as people will be astonishing. This development at this time happens each year and it’s one of the best things about being an educator and a parent for that matter.
We will have the opportunity to say farewell to Year 12 and to wish them all the very best for the future in the leaving week which is the last week of term. We have a very special week planned with so many events, including the traditional trip to the zoo with Kindy, House lunches, the Year 12 breakfast and the Graduation Ceremony in the Hall with Year 12 parents and carers in attendance as we remember and celebrate the journey of these students through our School. Head of High School Anthony Dennehy will be in touch with Year 12 parents and carers in the next week to provide an update about the leaving week.
Renaissance Centre takes shape
On the design front, we are on track to open the new Renaissance Centre at the start of 2023. Construction in the Fusion Building, on the corner of Mountain and Smail Streets begins in the last weeks of this term. Then, over Term 4, this space will be transformed into a lecture theatre. We’ll also have break out spaces for collaboration, a dance studio and dressing rooms as we introduce Dance as an Elective and HSC course next year.
About the space. When you step into it you’ll be surrounded by enormous images of great artworks by Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and Boticelli.
You’ll also see illustrations of Florence, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries and of the flourishing that characterised the movement that we know as Humanism. We’re looking forward to providing our students and staff with this beautiful teaching and learning space next year.
Our whole school goal for 2022 is to go deep and produce something great. There’s been a lot of that going on at IGS this year. Students are engaging, they’re working hard and achieving a lot. But it can mean so many different things. Recently I received an email from a mother-to-be who lives in the local area. The email was called, Polite Student. This is what it said:
Ms Colnan, I just wanted to let you know one of your students was very kind on public transport yesterday. She was sitting in an accessible seat while the light rail was fairly empty and when she saw me, a clearly pregnant woman, she got up immediately and offered me her seat. I saw her again today and she was one of only a few school-aged kids not sitting. Ms Colnan, your student was a wonderful example of how to behave on public transport.
As you can imagine, this message really make my day, as did the fact that this young woman took the time to write to me and let me know what had happened.
From my point of view, this student epitomises and embodies the spirit and the values of IGS. This student was empathetic. She had an appreciation of the other person’s experience. But how often do we see something and empathise, and then remain in our own heads about it and do nothing. She did more than that. She saw something. She empathised and then she demonstrated compassion, by taking action. I shared this story with high school students this week in assemblies and will be doing so with primary students in the next week or so.
Living through the last two and a half years of the pandemic has required a great deal of empathy as we come to grips with people being at the end of their tether and a bit more fragile than usual. But I think there’s also been a gentle spirit of kindness, compassion and solidarity that has emerged among us as human beings, as we go through this truly shared global experience. We’ve seen it in our school community too.
I ended my assembly addresses this afternoon with Leunig. In this piece, he writes about growing old in winter and the sometime bleakness of the season, but then in the middle stanza, he writes:
And yet, there in the cold and rainy street
A little smile as warm as toast
Appears upon a passing stranger’s face
For one sweet second there is grace
When eye meets eye we see the holy ghost.
A smile “as warm as toast”. We’ve all been the givers and receivers of such smiles. This term, we’re encouraging our students to continue to smile at one another, be kind, empathetic and compassionate. You just never know what that other person might be going through. Kindness and compassion just might make the difference today. My hope for us all is that smiles and simple acts of kindness continue to soften and warm what it means to come to this place, IGS, every day, and that our students do their very best and enjoy all of the learning that we have in store for them, in each and every lesson this term.
All the best for the weeks ahead.