A Uniting Church coeducational independent day and boarding school in Adelaide,
South Australia

Early Learning to Year 12

Head of Senior School - Edition 16 - 2018

Transition Time

At the end of Week 2, the Year 12s celebrated the end of classes before they prepared for their exams and life after school. This day marks the beginning of the farewell process for the Year 12 students as they leave the safety and support structures of Westminster and venture into life after school. It is the end of a journey, which for some students began fourteen years ago. During that time, there have been many ups and downs, challenges, fun times and significant moments which have impacted on the decisions they have made and will make into the future.

To see the emotions that were expressed during the last day it was clear that while the students are looking forward to the opportunities that lay ahead many were sad to leave Westminster. While the farewells will continue until the Valedictory Dinner, the Class of 2018 will always be welcome back to share their experiences.

One of the items at the farewell assembly was a poem written and presented by Heidi Collins and Luca Sardelis, which reflected on their time at school:

Day 1 of 2535.
In we ran, with our piggy-tails and side parts,
bowl cuts and bobs.
Shoe laces untied.
We were scraped knees and
monkey bars,
Arithmetic, and arts
Our hearts, we wore on our
When the teacher clap, clapped
we would all clap back.
Like Mr Clickity Clane, we
played some silly games,
But then, we had to grow up.

The filler years separated the
stuff-ups from the suck-ups.
Our hearts racing with hormones
and bodies growing before our brains,
these years were a haze,
When “awkward” was our middle name.
These middle years taught us to
puddle jump,
From one club to the next,
One friendship group to the next.
We turned people into maps, as we tried to find ourselves.

But there comes the time when you realise, epiphanise,
That life goes beyond our teacher’s eyes
Our time lines, full of
walking a fine line
Between procrastination and ‘me’ time.
So, we start to philosophise,
What does it mean to be an individual in the Westminster way?
Full of every opportunity we made the most of our community but now we lose our unity
Because it’s time to grow up.

There comes the time when
you realise, epiphanise,
That we are more than what’s
perceived through our teacher’s eyes
More than bell curves and
SACE certs
More- than our winter kilts
and button up shirts
And so
Like tiny, little caterpillars, we metamorphose
shedding the school’s
chrysalis to grow wings of our own design
you- cannot be plagiarised
We- shall no longer be
The time for puddle jumping
is over and out we swim into the ocean,
We have reached our final destination.

So we start to say our goodbyes.
We get nostalgic and reflective – retrospective as we inch closer to the final farewell.

Day 2535,
In we run. With our cropped
shirts and short skirts
and smiles brighter than the
morning sun.
The best of our tears are yet
to come and our goodbyes have only just begun.
It has been the best of times, it has been the worst of times
But as all good things must come to an end,
dawn must go down with the day,
Nothing gold can stay.

Mrs Kate Johns and I have begun interviewing all students and their families who will enter Year 8 in 2019. These after school meetings have allowed Head of Year 8, Mrs Johns, and I to welcome students to the Senior School and emphasise how much we are looking forward to having them in Year 8 in 2019. When I ask the question about what they are looking forward to most, I have been impressed with the common response of meeting new friends and the increased opportunities that exist in a secondary school setting. Whether it is new subjects or co-curricular activities, it is clear that the students are looking for challenges and are excited by what lies ahead.

This interview process follows on from the Year 8 Information Night in Term 3 and begins to prepare the students for the Orientation Day held on Friday 7 December. This is the time when the Year 8s are allocated to their Year 8 class, and also get to meet with their Year 8 class teacher who will become a very important person in their transition into the Senior School.

The day involves a number of activities including orienteering around the School, meetings providing information about a range of areas within the school, and seeing next year’s School Leaders preparing lunch for the new students. There is also some numeracy and literacy testing of all the students to allow us to attain more information about their learning needs. The day concludes with a session with Kate summing up the day, answering any questions the students may have, and reinforcing what they need to do on the first day back in 2019.

We have found over the years that this day has reduced some of the nerves that are to be expected when a major change such as moving from primary to secondary school happens. By the end of the day they have met with the teacher and students who they will meet every day next year, along with knowing where their Year 8 classroom will be and also where some of the main facilities are located.

Parents are invited to the very short assembly at the start of the day and to remain afterwards for light refreshments to meet other parents and some staff.

Safe Partying

This year has seen changes to legislation around the provision of alcohol to minors at a variety of social gatherings, which have been communicated to students and parent at various times during the year. Police SA have produced a booklet titled Safe Partying which can be downloaded below.

Reflections 2017

After some significant delays, last year’s School book ‘Reflections’ is now being printed and is expected to be ready for distribution towards the end of November. A copy will be sent home via the youngest child in a family. If the ’youngest child’ is no longer at Westminster then other arrangements will be made for collection or delivery. Our ‘Reflections’ editor extends apologies for the lateness of this publication.

David Wallage
Head of Senior School