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O’Connor House Report

Head of O'Connor House, Matthew Barr

Head of O'Connor House, Mr Matthew Barr

End of Year Wrap-Up

“It’s part of life to have obstacles. It’s about overcoming obstacles; that’s the key to happiness” – Herbie Hancock, 2014.

No truer words could be shared in a year such as 2020. Worldwide this has been a year like no other, it has been a year which has challenged everyone to think outside the box to find new paths and new ways to do the simplest and most practical of things and a year which has seen people experience great pain, loss, grief, success, and happiness. It was extremely evident that the concept of Growth Mindset was in action as students, teachers, and parents worked together to overcome obstacles as they arose. Whilst we continue to travel these uncertain and unprecedented times, the O’Connor House can look back on the year that was with great pride and gratitude for what they have achieved and the opportunities they have experienced, as Head of House, I certainly carry a sense of pride which is unique to any previous year.

Bushwalking at Year 7 Camp

Rewinding back to Term 1, our year began in its normal manner with our excited and eager Year 7 students heading off to camp at YMCA Yarramundi. The camp was a fantastic opportunity for bonding and simply spending time with new and old friends alike. The camp activities were bushwalking, swimming, a giant swing, archery, and reflection sessions, with all boys participating enthusiastically and developing interpersonal and team-building skills.

War Crys at the House Swimming Carnival

Towards the end of Term 1, the school went into isolation due to COVID-19, this meant big adjustments were made to the way we taught and learnt. O’Connor House stayed connected as House Assemblies and wellbeing classes were conducted through Google Hangout. It would be remiss of me not to mention the versatility most boys demonstrated in adapting to this new way of learning, rising to the challenge, and getting on with it.

O’Connor House once again raised money to give back to the community and constructed the Solar Buddies for energy in poverty-stricken regions. These were constructed during House Assembly time, allowing the students to work together to create the finished product.

James Nestor, Charlie Cooke and Adam Cutten constructing Solar Buddies

Like other Houses, we were unable to participate in many activities this year, however, the College and students were very grateful that the Winter Co-Curricular season went ahead. This was a fantastic opportunity many thought would not eventuate. It was especially meaningful to the Year 12 students to represent the College and play with their mates for one last time.

Whilst the restrictions sadly impacted the Year 12 Graduation Ceremony at the end of Term 3, fortunately, the College was able to organise a wonderful farewell to our departing students at the conclusion of the High School Certificate. Students were invited to the Year 12 Formal at the Australian Turf Club at Royal Randwick. Following this, students and their families attended a special Graduation Ceremony at the Sydney Cricket Ground. A unique and special event that will long be remembered.

The end of year camp was replaced with alternative programs for Year 10 students. The newly created Service Week was wonderfully engaging as students in O’Connor spent the week serving the community. Some of the activities included helping to prepare meals at Our Big Kitchen for the disadvantaged, supporting the Holdsworth Community, and preparing Christmas Hampers at the Exodus Foundation for homeless people across Sydney. The week concluded with a Reflection Day, led by Year 12 student leaders, where the boys were able to reflect on the life-changing experiences that had just taken part in.

Our Year 12 students made an excellent effort in providing strong leadership for the College in such different times. They were outstanding role models and inspired others through their enthusiasm and commitment. I would like to particularly thank the House Captain Ethan King and House Prefects Maksymilian Klimczak, Brock Preston, and Olli Rinder, who were instrumental in helping facilitate activities and competitions.

The year concluded with the College Presentation Assembly, recognising those students who had achieved outstanding academic results in 2020. Congratulations to the following O’Connor students:

Year 7 – James Peate
Year 9 – Hugo Morgan, Toby Neilsen, Jake Perks
Year 10 – Thomas Wilkins, Solomon Tuqiri
Year 11 – Bryn Parry, Finn Dixon, Jack Harris

The year 2020 will forever be etched in our memories and will always be a part of history as we move forward. O’Connor students have united, shown the maturity to adapt, and continued to remain positive to ensure the year was the best it could possibly be. I congratulate and thank all teachers, counselors, and mentors who have worked with the O’Connor House this year and finally the students themselves for rising above and continuing on. Take pride in what you have achieved and carry this into the future, see you all again in 2021.