Posted: 9th February 2020
Posted in: School News
Below is the text if the Principal’s address from the first Key Parent Function of 2020, held on Friday 7 February 2020.
Here we are, at the start of another Academic School Year. The Year 2020.
We have started the year with parents who value our School, who understand the commitment that we have towards your children as we strive to educate them in virtue and faith, parents who are committed to making sacrifices, and I recognise that these are truly difficult sacrifices, because you will not accept anything but the best for your children. Every parent here this evening is exceptional, every one of you have come here through different channels and perhaps have had to overcome different challenges – whether it is financial, distance, relocation, and so much more, and the staff here at Harkaway Hills College recognise this and I stand here as their representative to guarantee to you that we are devoted entirely to working with you in the care and growth of your children in 2020.
We have started the year with cheerful and dedicated staff, who I must recognise especially this evening for the extra work they have put into not just the curriculum preparation for your children, but also the physical set up of the beautiful learning spaces that you will see this evening. Staff who have been praying for your children, and who value their role as partners with all of you, the primary educators of your children.
We are starting the year with happy children, whose big smiles over the past week have shown us how eager they are to learn, and how much they recognise the privilege of being at Harkaway Hills College. This year they will be exposed to exciting new learning opportunities, and in addition to the challenging and engaging programs we have in stall for them in their key learning areas of Literacy, Numeracy, Religion, Science, History, Geography, Art, Music, Languages and Physical Education – they will also be given opportunities to embrace even more extra-curricular activities than ever before.
Our first School musical production will take place mid-year, and all students will have an opportunity to be involved. Students from Prep-Year 2 will continue coding lessons as part of our IT program, which is aimed at demonstrating to students that they have an opportunity to be builders, not consumers of technology, and we continue to focus on constructive use of technology, limiting its use in the classroom and reserving it’s use for the growth of skills. Students in Years 3-5 will be taking things a step further this year and will be starting an Electronics program as they work towards a more comprehensive introduction to Robotics in the latter part of the year. Other extra-curricular will include an Athletics training program for Years 2-5, choir for Years 3-5, and fun Mathematics intensive day for students in all grades towards the end of the term. And this is just Term 1 – there is even more in stall that we cannot wait to share.
We have started the year with a Library. Yes a small one, but one that has been put together piece by piece from the love and dedication of our school families. It is a treasure that will continue to grow and bring joy in the years ahead.
We have started the year with three Masses a week, and even though we do not have a Chapel – a Chapel is coming soon, and it’s opening will be a highlight of 2020.
We have started the year with the biggest growth in numbers the school has seen to date, with two Prep classes, 50 new students and 25 new families, who we are delighted to welcome to the school community, and who have chosen to journey with us as we collectively build a positive future for the students at Harkaway Hills College. You are all very welcome.
We have started the year with the knowledge that by overcoming the challenges, and perhaps at times the doubts, that we may have already faced in the lead up to the school year, we are all working together to build something very unique and special for the future of your children, your families, and for Melbourne as a whole.
We have started the year exactly the way a school year should start – with the recognition that none of us are perfect, that none of us are in control, and yet none of us alone, that we need each other, that we should depend on each other, and that our children are so lucky to have such a strong community to lift them and help them grow in character, faith and virtue as they prepare to enter the world in the years ahead. If this community is sincere, healthy, positive, generous, faithful and kind, our children will grow to be sincere, healthy, positive, generous, faithful and kind.
The healthiness of this community has been made so evident during my time at Harkaway Hills College, and over the past few weeks in particular, and it has been moving to hear the very positive feedback from our new families who have already been welcomed so kindly by the current families and have passed on to me that they know they are in a school that is very special.
Most if you know that I am a graduate from one of Harkaway’s sister school in Sydney. As the second eldest in a family of 9, our family had the same struggles, doubts and challenges as most families, but they ultimately knew that the investment in a PARED education for their children was the best thing they could do for our family. The School was still small when I was a student. I am told, but I do not remember, that there were times we had to share resources, change classrooms halfway through the year, and make compromises. I don’t remember these things.
I do remember an excellent education, challenging academics, dedicated teachers and mentors, Religion lessons that were thorough, and more than anything- I remember the community. I remember the Mums talking after school when I was hungry and wanted to go home. I remember when they were congratulating each other, supporting each other, enjoying each other’s company. I remember when they were stressed, even if I did not understand why. I remember when there were problems, when they were worried. But most of all, I remember a healthy school environment, in which I was an individual who was encouraged to be the best I can be. I thrived from this healthy environment, as your children in this environment.
PARED graduates are not perfect. But we have been given something that is a real privilege. We have been given a nurturing environment from an early age, friends who share common values, and a love for learning as we were encouraged to seek what is good, true and beautiful.
Perhaps we did not have the same subject selections that a bigger school may offer, we certainly did not have a lot of the material things that other schools may offer as we were small and in the stage of growing. But when I look at my classmates now – doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, scientists, accountants, historians, producers, artists, performers, wives and mothers… I can see that we had the best education in Australia, because it was grounded in truth, with an understanding of the importance of academic excellence, and was supported by a healthy community.
At Harkaway Hills College, we too offer an education that is grounded in truth, we too understand the importance of academic excellence, we have a commitment to offering and delivering the best curriculum. And on top of that, we too are supporting students with a healthy community. There is no other school like this in Victoria.
The continued healthiness of this community as it grows, depends on each one of us. If we continue to be positive in our dealings with one another, our children will absorb this. If we support one another through difficult times, if we help other families in need and we are generous, our children will absorb this. The continuation of a happy, vibrant and healthy environment for your children – yes depends a lot on the school’s academics, ethos, culture, curriculum and staff – but it depends even more on the environment that surrounds the parent community both on the school grounds as well as outside school.
Each one of us is responsible for maintaining this positive environment, and how lucky are we, that this culture is so firmly embedded at Harkaway Hills College. But we need to be the ones that protect it. The community comes from all of us, and whether we are parents, staff or students – we have an equal role to play in the continued preservation of the incredible culture that we currently have.
Parents, I thank you for being exceptional. You are the most important people in the lives of your children, and we honour and respect that. Every year, as I stand before you at the first Key Parent Function of the Academic Year, I will recommit myself and the rest of our staff to you and your children.