A wonderful start to the year

‘And now let us welcome the new year, full of things that never were.’ – Rainer Maria Rilke 

The beginning of the year can be a bit of a challenge to switch back into the ‘school routine’, although for many families it is definitely time to move back into a more structured part of the year. This summer has been a little unusual and challenging for many families with the devastating fires, weather extremes and the Coronavirus. In some ways, many students and families will welcome the stability and consistency of the school routine. The start of the year always provides a wonderful opportunity to start afresh and we are supporting students over the next few weeks to develop some good habits around uniform, learning behaviours and mobile phone use which will hopefully help set the tone for the year.

Clearly one of the big challenges for some students is the reduction of screen time and access to media and social media. Although this may be a difficult adjustment, we feel that having a balance in terms of accessing media and communication is a welcome opportunity with the beginning of the school year. The students have been reminded in assemblies that in Middle School, mobile phones are to be kept in their lockers throughout the day. This is especially important at recess and lunchtime when we would like students to focus on face-to-face interactions and being active. By and large, Carey students are very engaged in physical activity, music, library activities, catch-up study sessions, lunch conversations and many other activities; however, for some, we will need to keep reminding them of this arrangement.

The new term also provides students a great opportunity to begin with some good learning habits, such as being organised, communicating well with their teacher, getting outside and being active, getting enough sleep, eating well and setting aside time for learning in the evenings even when there is no set homework (there is always something that can be revised, read or remembered), while also being respectful of oneself, each other and adults. Throughout the term in assemblies, House sessions, Health classes and various other times, we will be focussing on these habits as well as our whole school goal this year of ‘Reflection’. I am acutely aware that this not always a smooth process and we will continue to work with students and parents to support the development of these helpful skills.

Over the first couple of weeks key events set the momentum in Middle School around developing and strengthening relationships, behaviours and successes. One of the really enjoyable events that happens every year at this time is the Year 7 Sport Morning which is designed to introduce the new Year 7s to the APS sport program. The goodwill, excitement, passion, sense of fun and anticipation witnessed at this year’s event was so fantastic. Mr Walter and Mr Joslin spoke eloquently about the importance and fun of the sport experience and the excellent lessons it provides, while Mr Coleman outlined why we have made changes this year to the Toona program.

Some other key events over the next couple of weeks in include our Leadership Assembly, where our Music and House leaders are introduced by Martin Arnold or their Heads of House and received their leadership badges. On Thursday we continue to strengthen our connections and build a sense of camaraderie in our Annual House Swimming Sports – this is always an exciting, frenetic, colourful and fun way to start the year. We are excited to welcome new staff, returning staff to Carey and staff from other areas of the school to Middle School and really look forward to working with them throughout the year. At Carey we are blessed to have such a diverse, committed and professional staff. I would like to also recognise the huge amount of work various staff put into getting the school ready for the school year. Administration staff, grounds staff, the Senior Management Team, cleaners, admissions, Community Engagement and many others work incredibly hard throughout January to make sure everything is ready for our return – their commitment and attention to detail is very much appreciated. There is no doubt that return of teaching staff and students creates such a fantastic buzz and it certainly doesn’t take long for everything to click into place.

Some important information to help with the start of the year

  • Meet the Mentor night is on Monday 24 February. The night provides an opportunity for you to meet your student’s Mentor (this year we are trialling students being invited to join the conversation) and share information with one another about your child’s wellbeing and learning. Further details about the night will feature in our next newsletter and you’ll also receive an individual email about the booking process. 
  • House Chapels take place throughout the term – Heads of House will be passing on details of dates or please check the calendar. 
  • The amended Year 7 Toona camps have published and thank you very much to all parents for their understanding and support – please contact the Outdoor Education team if you need any clarification
  • The Annual Commencement Service is on Thursday 13 February at St Pauls Cathedral and includes the Principal’s commissioning.

In a very busy and complex world it still seems that the happiest people seem to be those who have no particular cause for being happy except that they are so. It is clear amongst our community that the happiest people seem to also be our most compassionate, kind and empathetic – three excellent traits to continue to foster in our young people.

I wish everyone a wonderful and positive start to the year.

Michael Nelson
Head of Middle School