For several years, Term 3 has been a time when the Year 11 students from each House prepare and present all the Senior School Chapel Services each week for the whole of the term. The themes for each week provide a window into what the Year 11 students see as important, and their use of music, prayer, readings, and thoughtful reflection present a powerful message to the rest of the School. I would like to acknowledge the support and energy the students receive from Chaplain Rev Phil Hoffmann and their Year 11 House Tutor in this process. I believe this high level of student engagement in Chapel allows students to be comfortable to reflect on the values they and the School believe are important.
The quality of this experience has increased over the years, from initially being one where students felt uncomfortable in the first couple of years to where each House embraces the opportunity and the rest of the student population values the input by the Year 11 students.
I thank and congratulate the Year 11 students for their thoughts and efforts in presenting the Chapel Services during Term 3.
On Tuesday 23 October, our Co-curricular Dance Concert was held, involving students from the Preparatory School through to Year 12. This evening highlighted the success of the Dance program here at Westminster and the growth that has occurred over the years. There were many stand-out pieces during the concert, however I would like to highlight the addition of the Indigenous Dance group to the program for the first time and congratulate the dancers on their performance.
I would like to congratulate all the dancers for the high quality of the dancing, which made for a very enjoyable and entertaining evening. We are very lucky to have such skilled and creative Dance teachers in both our Curricular and Co-curricular programs. I would like to congratulate Ms Carolyn Obst for her leadership of the Dance program and Miss Sophie Wilson for all her management of the Co-curricular program.
On Friday this week, we say farewell to the Year 12s as they leave to go on swot vac and then sit their final exams. There will be some students who, by the nature of their subjects, will have completed all their assessment tasks at the end of this week and so this week marks a significant moment in their lives as they begin the transition to life after school.
In the five years that most of the Year 12 students have spent in the Senior School we have seen them develop from nervous Year 8 students into mature, confident and independent young men and women who have the skills to function at a high level in the society in which they will work, live and play. I strongly believe that such personal development of an individual is not something that just happens, but is the result of the diversity of opportunities and experiences that a student is exposed to in an ordered and supportive environment which Westminster students experience across the school.
With respect to the Senior School, this process begins in Year 8 with the special Pastoral Care program delivered by the Head of Year 8 and the Year 8 class teachers. I am encouraged by the responses I get from new Year 8 students when I ask what they are looking forward to in the Senior School. The common response is to meet new people and try new subjects and activities. It is clear that while they may be a little anxious about what lies before them they are looking forward to the challenge and excitement that comes from achieving new things.
Year 9 students benefit from the Wellbeing Program, which provides values, information and discussion opportunities regarding matters that relate closely to Year 9 students and the stage of life they are going through. This can at times be challenging for all involved, but with support and guidance, they begin to make sense of their world and accept that diversity is to be celebrated.
In Year 10, Westventure is the highlight for most students. It involves two weeks of challenges, physical and mental, which are designed to develop an understanding of the importance of trust, getting outside of your comfort zone, responsibility, and teamwork. For many this is a turning point in their lives and the lessons learned during their time at Westventure remain with them for life.
Years 11 and 12 is where the School places a higher level of responsibility to develop leadership and provide positive role models for the younger students. They begin, through their House, to take a risk and be responsible for an activity, whether it be organising a fundraising BBQ, year level sporting teams, or a House Chapel. They begin to understand that their actions can have an impact on others. It is also a time where students see teachers as partners in their learning and are more willing to seek help out of class time.
Westminster’s broad curriculum offering and the large variety of co-curricular activities that are available to students allows students to find their passion and work at developing it further. It has been pleasing to see many of the Class of 2018 take advantage of what is available to develop their interests and talents to be the best they can be. I hope this attitude of having a go and being involved in such activities after school is maintained and they continue to take ‘positive risks’ to develop as individuals and contribute to the community in which they live.
I wish all Year 12 students the very best for their exams, SACE Results, and for the years ahead, and thank them sincerely for their contribution to Westminster School.
Head of Senior School