From the Head of Senior School

We all know that the journey from childhood into adulthood represents, in many respects, a beautiful but undeniably painful struggle. And there’s no doubt that it’s hard – finding our own voice, forging our own path, learning to be when we’re desperately seeking the approval of others. Sometimes this tension creates a disconnect between what we say and do, and who we are; and our most profound moments of growth can occur when we engage with and seek to understand that tension. The various forms of social media for instance, can provide an unfortunate outlet for this conflict when, in the absence of an actual human face capable of expressing hurt, sadness or fear, we can wilfully deny the humanity of another and, in doing so, lose something of ourselves along the way.

Nurturing that ‘being’ becomes vitally important for when we deny its significance, we risk becoming a little lost. And when you’re young and at the mercy of ‘status’ updates and ‘profiles’; sexualised images and objectified ‘likes’, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Therefore, our duty as parents, teachers, mentors and coaches must be to help nurture that inner being so that it becomes capable of encountering and transcending the oftentimes perplexing parameters of life. Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mocking Bird said as much 56 years ago when he reflected on his role in defending a young African American man wrongly convicted of rape. ‘They’re certainly entitled to think that,’ he told his daughter Scout (about the townspeople gossiping about him), ‘and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” Once we learn how to truly live in union with that inner being and its voice, we will know ourselves to be truly free, for what matters most is what we say and do when no one’s watching.

And as I reflect on a jam-packed Term 1 here at Senior School – the commencement of another academic year and the gently contemplative nature of the House Chapel Services; the playing of APS summer sport in the gradually fading sunshine and the carnival-like atmosphere of House Swimming and Activities Days at Bulleen; the wildly successful run of the Senior School musical, Les Miserables and the sheer excitement of being on the river at Nagambie for Head of the River; International Women’s Day and Founder’s Day Assemblies; back to back Swimming Finals in the dark at MSAC and early morning orchestral rehearsals; dissections in Biology class and guest speakers in English classes; animated conversations with peers in the Quad and quieter discussions with mentors…

I trust that you will see each of these as I’ve come to do – as beautifully distilled moments in time when our young men and women might be given the space to grow; the time to think and the courage to find and respond to their inner voice.

Natalie Charles
Head of Senior School