Life is like a puzzle.

Without all the pieces it’s not complete.

At Illawarra, the puzzle table sits at the centre of the house. Flanked by comfy sofas it is where many of the boarders congregate after school, before dinner, before prep and at times before bed. Each term, we successfully complete two large 1000 piece puzzles. Parents, boarding staff and visitors also enjoy trying to fit a piece and as one Year 11 boarder commented “I love coming home and seeing the progress of the puzzle or doing my bit to fix the picture”. Our current puzzle, called a ‘Destiny Puzzle’ is quite challenging as there is no picture to follow – you have to use your imagination and the clues listed on the box. 

During the last two St Catherine’s Christmas Fairs, our families have raised money to spend at Illawarra. Initially, the girls were the recipients of a number of board games and sporting equipment. Many a game of LOGO, Scrabble, Cluedo and Guess who?, have been enjoyed and it certainly provides girls of various ages the chance to enjoy their favourite games together.  Last week, we were very excited about the arrival of our new treadmill and exercise bike. They have both already have been well utilised. The boarders are very grateful for this new equipment and would like to warmly thank the parents for their generosity. I am sure that when the Year 9 boarders return from Fiji next week they will also love using the new sporting equipment. 

Each term at Illawarra, we either have a theme or a new activity that sets the tone for the Term. This Term, I have initiated ‘Conversation Club’. Initially started on a Thursday evening, its aim is to provide a forum where our students whose first language is not English, have an opportunity to talk and listen to boarders who have spoken English all their lives. This idea came from my recent travels to China where I was the one who did not understand the language and had to rely on translators.  I have also been talking to some of our Chinese boarders and their guardians and felt that we could really help the girls develop their oral language skills. At the first session in the Illawarra Library we had 12 girls from Years 10-12 attend and the topic was ‘describe your worst travel story’.  All the girls participated and were willing to share their stories and there was much laughter in the room. It seems it doesn’t matter where we come from – we have all experienced lost luggage and missed flights! 

We are very proud of our place in the School’s Wellbeing Program and our motto of weShare certainly encapsulates the atmosphere of the boarding house. Recently, I asked some of the girls for comments about Illawarra and they replied: 

The time after school is nice because everyone hangs out and catches up” 

“I love how welcoming everyone is, there is a great support system in the boarding house” 

‘It’s a big, happy family” 

“Sunday nights, the house is full of laughter and noise as everyone catches up on the weekend!”

Mrs Sue Collister

Director of Boarding Services   

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