Embracing Challenge Ensures Continuity of Education
This year, celebrating our 125 years has invited opportunity to reflect on St Catherine’s School’s wonderful history and the many stories that are shared through generations of St Catherine’s Old Girls and their families. In time, the School will recollect stories diarised in the archived annuals to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our School.
Knowledge of our history reveals stories are often echoed through time. In 1897, Founding Principal, Miss Jeanie Hood, recorded in her annual report, “during the recent epidemic of scarlet fever and diphtheria, we were fortunate in not having a singe case amongst our pupils”.
With the stillness of our lives brought about by months of COVID-19 lockdowns and a 9.00pm Melbourne curfew, Principal, Miss Ruth Langley’s reprimand in her 1932 annual report will bring a wry smile to teachers and parents alike, if not some sadness for the lost social times for students today: “No girl while at school should be at parties after 12 o’clock. Why are they so restless and nervy? It is not the school work that is to blame, it is because added to their school life, with its sports and its lessons (which means so much mental effort), there is the social life of bridge parties and dances, all too exciting for the girls, making the school dull and monotonous by contrast.”
Over the course of the past 12 months, I have received so many warm accolades on behalf of our staff for their brilliant adaption to learning online. Needless to say, engaging with students in the virtual classroom ensures the learning continues, yet our students are yearning to be together once again on campus. Of course, the manner in which the School adapted to the relocation to Warburton during the war in 1942, and the endeavour of staff and students at that time, represents the undeniable St Catherine’s quality – we embrace challenges and make the most of every opportunity with gratitude and kindness.
Past School Captain, Mrs Margaret Woodlock (‘56), and former Olympian whilst still a student, reflects on her journey as a small child in WWII – “5 years of curfew at sundown, total blackout in the streets, food rationing and clothes rationing. We came through it all together by observing the restrictions and supporting one another”. Margaret’s care for St Catherine’s continues today, when she shared this story with our Year 12 cohort, guiding with her words of wisdom, “be patient – these difficult times do not last, all will be well.”
At this time of global upheaval, I have sincere appreciation and gratitude for the strength people are providing to each other and to members of our School community. Across this
year, I have witnessed first hand a genuine sense of care, commitment and support. Despite the significant confusion, frustration and change brought about by COVID-19, I observe time and again, it is often the ‘routine’ of the School day, a familiar timetable, a teacher’s reassuring voice and the connection with subject matter that settles and calms students in our care. During this time, our teachers continue to learn to re-create a new rhythm for each lesson, most notably in an attempt to address the fatigue of lengthy screen time requiring intense concentration – but to importantly ensure a continuity of education.