A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school on Kaurna Country, Adelaide, South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

From the Principal - Edition 16 - 2020

Every year when we commence Term 4, we farewell our Year 12s as they leave their timetabled classes behind to prepare for their examinations. At many schools around Australia, the last day of school has sadly become a competition where final year groups try to ‘up the ante’ by being more outlandish, often resulting in a lack of judgment and consequently, respect. I am pleased to say that Westminster is very different. Our celebration of the graduating class is a positive yet emotionally charged affair where gratitude is expressed in a far more appropriate manner. Over the course of the year, the Class of 2020 has helped create a cohesive community in a time of great uncertainty and complexity. Our School is our community and I am proud that the students in the Class of 2020 have been positive role models through their actions. They have repeatedly and collectively shown servant leadership. Adapting the words of former US President John F Kennedy, so many through their actions have not thought about what their School can do for them, but rather what can they do for their School.

In preparation for 2021, we have chosen School Captains, School Leaders, House Captains and Vice Captains. While there is great excitement around the appointment of our next leadership group, for some students it can be a disappointing and challenging experience. Some are not certain in their abilities so don’t nominate, while others nominate but are not appointed. Of course, these feelings of apprehension are understandable but they are a part of life and learning for all of us. Our response is that not everyone needs to wear a badge or have a title to be a true leader. All of us can be a leader through our actions, the way we treat others and lead our lives. Every one of us, appointed leader or not, is far from ‘perfect’ and will make mistakes in our lives - hopefully, we all learn from them.

In School and in the workplace we have leaders. They may be formal leaders, appointed with titles and positions, charging up a committee or captaining a team or perhaps something more informal. When a community is thriving, the formal and informal leaders are in accord, moving in the same direction with unity and a sense of purpose. While we have leaders, we must also have good team members – those of us prepared to work in conjunction with leaders to achieve a common goal or purpose. When any one of us misses out on a leadership opportunity, the temptation can be strong to measure yourself against those appointed. The need to attribute why someone else succeeded and you didn’t, can become consuming. This can be unhelpful and it is important for any one that subsequent actions don’t inadvertently undermine the community we set out to serve.

School is a place for learning on many different levels - a safe place where situations can change unexpectedly and plans may not eventuate. Equally, it is a place where our students have the chance to show resilience and the determination to go on, even when circumstances seem to go against them. As we move into 2021, we have a new group of School Leaders who will need to draw on their courage and the support of those around them to build their leadership skills. Furthermore, our new leaders, through understanding the value of mindfulness and being able to respectfully listen, will learn to appreciate what style is appropriate to the situations they will encounter. As a community, in our experiences and vast collective wisdom, we have a great resource to offer our students as they aspire to become truly effective leaders.

Simon Shepherd