In the tropical humidity and almost monsoonal conditions of last Friday, we started the year with our Induction of School Leaders service, inducting our School Leaders from Year 12 and Year 6. Thank you to all of who were able to attend. I hope you enjoyed the morning as much as I did.
Having our celebration of student leadership and a terrific theme of ‘Being Useful’ for the year is a wonderful way to start.
During the service, our students, especially our student leaders, were challenged to identify this picture:
It is a tree blaze, a mark cut through the bark and into the heartwood of a tree to indicate the trail. In this case, it is a survey tree too. Cutting blazes into trees to mark trails was, of course, the job of trailblazers. Our students are encouraged to become trailblazers. Ralph Waldo encouraged youth with the words below:
“Do not follow where the path may lead - go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
He also challenged the purpose of life:
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
At a school like ours so many students achieve more than they thought possible academically. We must go beyond that. We must help them learn humanity so when they do continue their lives beyond our School gates, they can live with purpose. And through having purpose, by being useful, they will have fulfilled lives. By being kind and grateful, in conjunction with useful, we will have young people who are happy; who will most likely stand out in society and make themselves successful in whatever walk of life they chose to engage in.
These are some deep philosophical thoughts for the start of the year and ones that if we can all act on, even just a little, will help make the world a better place. Even yesterday the ABC announced that researchers are studying scientifically the impact of being kind and the implications that this can have on how we live and interact with each other.
Perhaps the notions of being kind, useful and grateful are particularly worth remembering as we deal with the individual, state, national and global response to the novel coronavirus. I hope that despite this challenge we are facing at the start of 2020, this year continues to be a fantastic one for us all at Westminster. Looking at the calibre of our students and student leaders, it seems there is little doubt that it will be.