Learning Beyond the Classroom
Over the three week Semester break many of our students continued their learning with a range of exciting experiences
It has been an enjoyable week talking to staff and girls in both the Senior and Junior Schools. Everyone certainly sounds very relaxed and refreshed after the three week break. While many were relishing holidays abroad and even locally, a number of St Catherine’s activities continued throughout the break.
Duke of Edinburgh – Gold
Over the course of the holidays, a select group of Years 10 and 11 students completed the physical challenge component of their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. Photos received back at School show the girls paddling the Whitsundays under warm, sunny blue skies which stirred some jealous emotions through the staff battling the chill of Melbourne.
St Catherine’s has proudly been involved in The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for over 40 years. Focusing on leadership, creativity, skill development, community service, physical activity and adventure, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is considered the leading international youth achievement program. The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award provides individuals with values and experiences that are highly sought after in the workforce. From the community service and volunteering completed to the adventures undertaken, the Duke of Edinburgh provides adolescents with a well rounded skills base that many employers are now seeking.
Today more than 140 countries have adopted The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program with over eight million young people having participated worldwide. Locally over 700,000 young people have completed the Award in Australia in the past 57 years, with on average 40,000 very diverse participants annually working towards achieving an Award. Students in Years 9 to 12 are eligible to complete their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award at St Catherine’s.
Global Young Leaders Conference
A group of our Years 11 and 12 students also travelled to New York to attend the Global Young Leaders Conference. This unique opportunity places the next generation of leaders together to exchange ideas with business leaders, diplomats, politicians and journalists as well as like minded peers from across the world. Year 11 student Mackenzie Leyden provided this reflection on her time at the Conference:
“When asked to reflect on my experience at the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC and New York, I can only summarise it as two of the most influential and eye-opening weeks of my life. On the conference, the seven St Catherine’s girls who boarded the plane in Melbourne were no longer just St Catherine’s girls, but became diplomats, representing four member-states of the United Nations: Russia, China, USA and Turkey.”
“However, what was undoubtedly the most incredible part of the trip, and what I will cherish the most from the experience, were the people. Whether it be learning phrases in Spanish, debating with the Americans about their federal policies, or sharing Australian culture with our new friends, the invaluable memories shared with the most diverse and interesting group of students from all corners of the globe are what made this trip truly incredible.”
Brexit, the Prime Minister, David Cameron resigning and a woeful Soccer result against Iceland certainly made for an interesting time for me in London. During my visit to the UK, I enjoyed travelling to our Exchange Schools, St Catherine’s School, Guildford, St George’s School for Girls in Ascot and Queenswood in Hertfordshire where six of our Year 9 students have been studying in Term 2. My conversations with each of the Principals provided me with an understanding of the British education systems, namely the GCSE and A Levels. A very exam focused program demands the girls’ attention to complete and compete in high stakes testing over a number of years.
Girls, as young as 10 or 11 years, often sit up to seven or eight entrance exams to gain entry into some of the inner London schools, with this schooling experience book-ended with the additional pressure to successfully gain a much sought after placement at one of the UK universities. As Principals, we shared dialogue about the emerging crisis of ‘perfectionism’ driven by girls who aim to participate and succeed at absolutely everything they undertake, with little tolerance for failure or a sense of learning along the way. Encouraging relaxation techniques such as Mindfulness was commonly adopted to assist in maintaining some equilibrium for the girls.
These conversations reminded of the journey faced by each our Year 12 girls this Term as they approach their final examination period. This is a time of relatively high stress for the girls as they attempt to balance an increasing level of subject revision with their co-curricular activities and personal commitments. As a School, we look to support the Year 12s this Term and encourage their focus and determination towards their study as well as raising their awareness of ensuring a healthy state of relaxation, exercise, sleep and diet is maintained.
Whilst in London, I also enjoyed attending the SCOGA London Reunion where I had the opportunity to meet 50 St Catherine’s Old Girls. This included Nil Magnum Nisi Bonum recipients Dr Edwina Thompson (’96) and Gallery owner and our generous host for the evening, Rebecca Hossack (’72). As a law graduate from ANU, Edwina has also achieved a Masters degree in Government and Rural Sociology at University of Sydney and Cornwell University, New York and more recently a Doctoral Fellowship from Oxford. Edwina has conducted frontline research on how money flows during conflicts and natural disasters. She is now recognised as a world expert on Middle East finance, her book Trust is the Coin of the Realm: Lessons from the Money Men in Afghanistan (Oxford University Press, 2011) and subsequent work in Somalia and Syria has made a significant contribution to the attempts of Western governments to fight terrorism. Edwina was nothing short of captivating to listen to and my hope is to invite her to St Catherine’s when she next visits home in Australia.