Destinations and journeys…

As the school year enters a particular hectic period of examinations and Term 4 activities, it is worthwhile to take time and reflect on the remarkable journey that the Year 10s have experienced in 2017. In so many ways, the thinking and preparation that have occurred in this vital year create the backdrop of what lies ahead. I recently heard the wellbeing icon, Deepak Chopra, comment that ‘Good luck is opportunity meeting preparedness’. In contemplating this idea, we may conjecture many possibilities. For one, Chopra’s words suggest that at any given moment in our life, ‘good luck’ or a ‘lucky’ moment can manifest and is possible, if we are ‘prepared’ and if we are ‘prepared to make the most of the opportunity’. I wonder if this holds true.

So how have we prepared ourselves for what lies beyond Year 10 and what has been the significance of this whole Year 10 experience? Each individual student will take away her own story, her own highs and lows, the opportunities that she embraced and those that remain dormant, or are lost. This is a common human experience. We are the creators of our own narrative, our own story.

As Dean of Year 10, I can easily identify the tangible, educationally and pastorally relevant initiatives that our students have engaged in, constantly supported by their parents and families, form teachers, their subject teachers and the numerous individuals that form their network. Year 10 students started the year participating in Careers Day and the Morrisby Testing. Students were introduced to the world of responsible driving and participated in the VicRoads Keys Please Driver Education Workshop. We also spent time considering the importance of nutrition and positive health practices. Earlier in the year, the girls enjoyed the practical wisdom of Mr Adrian Puckering with insights into exam preparation and study skills. With the onset of winter and the greyer months, which this year seemed endless, we shifted our gaze inwardly and participated in a series of Mindfulness Meditation sessions, to find practical ways of coping with the stresses and tensions of every day life. Recently the Year 10 cohort have been reflecting on resilience and seeking deeper understanding of this concept in their own personal context of their lives, their families, their friends, their goals and desires in life; this is an example of the often intangible areas that we nurture as we progress through Year 10.

The growing awareness of the benefits of nurturing holistically healthy young adults, also saw Year 10 students participate in the information session focusing on Drug and Alcohol Education with Paul Dillon and, most recently, the Faculty of Health and Physical Education, under the auspices of Ms Debbie Thompson, provided an important Teenage Mental Health First Aid Training opportunity. I have been duly informed by many within the cohort that students are awaiting the end of the examination period and the upcoming Beyond Boundaries Outdoor Education experience. If past years are a guide, the girls will bond with their peers; forging and consolidating friendships that they will take into their senior years at School and beyond. This year, I am delighted that so many students in our wonderful cohort have decided to complete their Leadership Diploma. So many girls have been prepared to make the most of the opportunities offered.

From a well-being perspective, the above offerings have sought to tap into some of the issues that concern our students, whilst also allowing girls to flourish. It has not always been easy however, as we know, challenges are often the most useful learning tools. We learn from failure. This year was also the year that the majority of our Year 10s embarked upon completing a Units 1 and 2 VCE study and made decisions about their future study in Years 11 and 12.  I can report that it has been a process of self-discovery and honest, rigorous conversation. Unceasingly, students, families and teachers have conducted open conversations about subject areas of interest and future courses. We have spoken about strengths and areas for improvement and the need to develop organisational and study skills. This has seen students learning to consult with adults, which can be quite overwhelming. Indeed, this is a vital moment – approaching one’s teacher or an expert adult – and as an independent young adult, finding the courage to stand on one’s own two feet. Year 10 has been about finding one’s voice and embracing one’s own authenticity and truth. This is a crucial element in preparing oneself for adult life.

Often, in schools, the focus is on the much-vaunted VCE, representing the culmination of a young person’s academic schooling. However, reaching this destination does not occur magically, nor does it occur in isolation. Speaking in hindsight, we identify it as just another stop along the way. As I am writing this piece, the current Year 12s are sitting their first exam, the VCE English examination, whilst our current Year 10s are in the midst of examination revision and preparation for entry into VCE and their final two years of schooling. They are excited, at times daunted, in disbelief that ‘it’ (the swift and inevitable passage of time) is happening!

An image of a group of girls waiting to board a boat that will take them on a wonderful life-changing voyage comes to mind. Yet, amongst the apprehension and the great tumult of emotions, the girls do seem ready to take on anything and everything that lies ahead. How wonderful it is to be young and full of dreams and hopes! It continues to be our responsibility and our joy to guide our students when navigating their way, fostering care, empathy, gratitude and respect for humanity. Hopefully, they will be blessed with a wonderful journey, recognising that ‘good luck’, (whether this comes in the form of good examination results, VCE success, fantastic relationships, achieving that dream job, or whatever one’s aspiration may be) may simply be about embracing the moment where preparedness meets opportunity.

 Ms Vasiliki Spanos, Year 10 Dean