End of Year Wrap-Up
As we both heard and read many times, 2020 was a year like no other. One in which the Brennan Wolf Pack truly demonstrated how strong, supportive, and resilient their bonds are in the way they rallied together throughout the year. Despite the challenges, the young men of Brennan House continued to find ways to innovate, challenge and apply themselves to their learning, just as they have with their Social Justice, Music, Drama, and Co-Curricular activities. Just like pressure turning coal to diamonds, the students of Brennan house have been able to flourish and grow under these, at times, challenging conditions.
The beginning of 2020 saw students return, eager to make a positive start to the year after a fire-ravaged Christmas and New Year holiday period. While it saw a return to classes, it also saw the beginning of the House competition with the Junior and Senior School Swimming Carnivals. Thanks to huge levels of participation and support from all students, Brennan was able to go back-to-back winning BOTH swimming carnivals for the second year running. The House spirit from all and the leadership of our House Captain Reid McNamara, College Vice-Captain Liam Andrews and House Prefects, Valentius Wirjana, Ryan Abbott, Jake Lewis, Will Cooley and Hugh McSweeny was outstanding and the goal has been set for a Brennan three-peat in the pool for 2021!
Early in Term 1, Year 7 students were fortunate to embark on their annual camp, this year to a new venue at Camp Yarramundi. Throughout the few days spent at camp our Year 7 students connected with one another, and learned what it means to be part of the Brennan Wolf Pack. They were also able to take part in cross-country hikes, the giant swing, and a range of team building activities. While the middle of the year saw many of the regular activities and camps cancelled, it was wonderful to see students being able to get back out and into experiences such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Year 10 Activities Week in Term 4. These experiences are vital to the overall development of our young men and it will be good to see a full return to these activities in 2021.
The year that was 2020 also, unfortunately, saw the cancellation of Brennan House’s annual Holdsworth Ball. An event where students plan, fund and cater a full three-course dinner and dance for the local Holdsworth Community. This is always one of the most rewarding Social Justice activities available to students and one which we will be bringing back better than ever next year. So keep your eyes and ears open for more information on this in the first half of 2021. While this was the case for the Holdsworth Ball, some other Social Justice activities were able to run in the last quarter of the year and the strong involvement of Brennan students visiting Jarjum and Wairoa, while also working hard to raise funds for organisations such as Best Foot Forward and the Matthew Talbot Kiosk was outstanding.
This year we were able to find alternative ways in which to further grow the Wellbeing Program of Brennan House and the College as a whole. During the short period of Off-Campus Learning, students were able to meet regularly with their Wellbeing Mentors who helped check in on students, guide them through some reflective journaling practices and also help the boys engage in some much-needed socialisation to keep them engaged with each other during this period. It was during this time in particular that the strength of the bonds in Brennan House was really seen. The way in which boys reached out and connected with each other virtually by creating study groups, social get-togethers over Google Hangout, or just asking each other how they were going helped many through a time in which it was easy to feel isolated.
In a return to some more normality Term 2 saw students again able to throw themselves back into their academics, co-curricular and creative pursuits. As a result of this, students were able to enjoy; the Junior School Walk-A-Thon, resumed House Assemblies, Year 10 Activities Week, Service Week and an adjusted Winter Sports season, and a full start to the Summer Sports season. Term 4 also saw our Class of 2020 able to hold their formal at Randwick Racecourse and enjoy their graduation ceremony at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground. This day was a highly deserved special celebration of the Class of 2020 following the challenges faced over the course of the year. Special recognition on this day also went to Hugh McSweeny, who was awarded Dux of the College. Congratulations Hugh on this recognition of your hard work and dedication to your studies.
As it does each year, Term 4 also brought about the beginning of Higher School Certificate studies for our new Year 12 cohort, the Class of 2021. It was also the beginning of their time as the new leaders of the College. While all members of Year 12 are always considered to be leaders, we welcomed our new House Captain and House Prefects for 2021. Congratulations to House Captain Nicholas Quinn and House Prefects Spencer Kapos, Jack Hickey and Finn Anderson on attaining these roles from a very strong pool of candidates. The leadership of Brennan House is certainly in a very strong position moving into 2021.
Finally, thank you to the wonderfully dedicated Brennan House Wellbeing Mentors. Their dedication and care for each of their wellbeing groups have made all students feel valued, safe, and welcomed at school each day. The Wolf Pack is fortunate to have such great role models and mentors for the young men of Brennan House. In sadder news, we say goodbye to one long-serving member of Brennan House, Ms Anne Fahy. Anne has been a kind and welcoming face for students in Brennan Seven for many years and I know I speak for all in Brennan House when I say we will miss her dearly and wish her all the best in her upcoming retirement. I look forward to seeing you all in 2021!