With Melbourne again thrust into lockdown, the initial thoughts turned to how students, parents and staff would navigate and indeed cope with online learning, home schooling and no students in the physical classrooms – for the fourth time.
However, this concern was only short lived, with students thriving under the direction and tutelage of a well prepared and innovative staff. All of our educators were prepared to create memorable daily opportunities for students to sing, dance, quiz-off and, of course, engage in in-depth meaningful learning opportunities both within the English and maths domains and across all specialist subjects. But the enthusiasm and commitment came from both sides: the students arrived without fail to morning conferences, prepared to engage and share aspects of their learning and stories of how they were keeping busy, active and positive.
The two-week instalment of online learning was gone in a flash, but not without it culminating in a Winter Wellbeing Day last Thursday. The day was befittingly welcomed with one of the coldest and most Winter-like days we have experienced this year. What better way to beat the Winter Blues than with a 15-minute morning dance. Students onsite as part of the Iso School program warmed up by moving and grooving in Metcalfe Hall, and students from home posted videos of themselves and their families dancing and exhibiting a real sense of joy and positivity – despite some videos showcasing some dubious dance talents! Across the day, students engaged in activities designed to calm the mind, energise the body and, most importantly, give to others. The most popular student choice activity was the ‘pay a hot chocolate forward initiative’ where students would walk to a local café, purchase a hot chocolate to support local businesses and buy the next person in line a free drink. No less than 80 families participated in this generous act which was sure to warm the hearts of others in the community.
The return to onsite school on Friday saw smiles, positivity and joy on all faces and opportunities to reconnect were created for students and their classmates. Recess had never been more energy-filled and students resumed as if never missing a beat. We hope this will continue throughout the final two weeks of term, with camps resuming for our Year 4 and Year 6 classes in the last week of term, internal APS sport recommencing and the annual Year 5 Market, which will see a host of individually made products on sale on Thursday for all to purchase.
As we head into the holidays for a two-week break at the end of next week, we also pause to say thank you and farewell to Libby Russell, who will head into retirement from Carey after 12.5 years of distinguished service to the School. There are many students who started at Carey in the ELC and have now graduated from Year 12 and Libby saw these students from their first day at School until their last. When I bumped into a group of 2020 Carey graduates on the weekend and asked them of their fondest memory of Mrs Russell, they all recounted different stories, from their Prep Art lessons, SRC meetings, the Year 3 Garden to Table program and assemblies when Mrs Russell would fondly speak of her time with husband Pete on the farm. Her impact is unquestionable and the contributions she made to the physical structure and the fabric of the Junior School will be a positive legacy for decades to come. I am sure in another seven years when many of the current Junior School students finish Year 12, they will have similar memories – but I am sure they will also remember the time Mrs Russell swam in the staff relay team in the 2021 House Swimming Carnival!
I wish all families a safe and family-oriented holiday period. May your travel plans, if you have any, be fulfilled and positive.
Deputy Head – Student Wellbeing