From the Head of College, Graham Leddie
In our 115th year, we welcomed all 1450 students from Years 5-12 at our start of Semester 1 assembly today. The assembly began with an ancient Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custom known as a ‘smoking ceremony’. Some believe that the ceremony has cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits. For others, it supports the beginning of something new and a sign of respect for people past and present. I also believe it is an incorporation of First People’s culture and customs into an important signpost moment for the students, the start of a new school year of learning, reflecting and developing.
The assembly set the tone for the year for all students with four non-negotiable school behaviours discussed:
1) Learning community
Every student and teacher has the right to an environment that is conducive to good learning. Students who interrupt the class or someone else will be challenged. Learning is seen as a lifelong process.
2) Safe, respected and valued
One of our touchstones is inclusive community; do not put others down to make yourself feel better. Some individuals excuse derogatory comments as ‘banter’, but you never know how resilient another person is feeling, so if it is not positive, do not say it or post it online.
We are all neurobiologically driven as humans to want to feel connected. In fact, our drive for connection is more important to us than shelter and food. Extend the hand of friendship and if you see someone on the fringe, invite them to your table.
4) All the small things count and mean more than you think
Why do you wear your uniform properly? You wear it properly because it tells people you respect yourself, you respect others and you respect the College. The uniform also represents every Waverley College Old Boy over the last 115 years and by wearing it well, you also honour them.
Further to these four non-negotiable behaviours, all College policies and procedures regarding academic and student wellbeing matters can be found in the College Diary A-Z of student wellbeing and A to Z of studies. I encourage families to have a good understanding of the College’s expectations and policies.
I was reminded over the holidays of the importance of gratitude. I am sure many of you were too, whether it was a beautiful summer’s day down at the beach, holidays away, spending time with family and friends at Christmas, or just having food on the table.
My reminder was 38 minutes long and started at 8:30am on 13 January. I was in Hawaii and my daughter alerted me to a text she had received, which said:
“BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER THIS IS NOT A DRILL”
The same message was on all of the local TV and radio stations and outside our room everyone in the resort was running into buildings. Sitting on a volcanic rock in the middle of the Pacific with an inbound nuclear missile on its way I prayed that my children’s lives were not going to be cut short and reflected on life and its gifts.
The word gratitude derives from the Latin gratia, which, depending on the context, translates either as ‘grace’, ‘graciousness’ or ‘gratefulness’. We were all very grateful in Hawaii that it was human error and that someone had pressed the wrong button. But gratitude is deeper than this, it is the recognition that the good in our life can come from something that is outside us and outside our control, be it other people, nature, or a higher power.
Positive psychologists see the benefits of embracing gratitude in a world with rising anxiety and depression rates. Gratitude encourages us to experience joy, tranquility, awareness, enthusiasm, and empathy, while removing us from anxiety, sadness, loneliness, regret, and envy, with which it is fundamentally incompatible. I will certainly be encouraging my two children to remember what it means to be grateful and I encourage you to do the same.
Applications for extended absences from school
Please note that the college has made a change to the protocol parents are asked to follow for seeking leave from school, as follows:
- Applications for absences of four days or less should be sent to a student’s Head of House.
- Applications for absences exceeding four school days should be sent to the Director of Student Wellbeing or the Deputy Head of College.
- At Waterford applications are to be made to the Director of Waterford.
- Absence from compulsory events: It is expected that students will be present at all compulsory College events including: college sport, co-curricular activities, CAS swimming and CAS athletics carnivals. Refer to the bookmark in the college diary for details on all compulsory events.An application for exemption to compulsory events must be made directly to the Director of Co-curricular two weeks prior to the date for any anticipated absences. Medical certificates must be supplied for illness. School disciplinary procedures will apply to students whose absences are unauthorised.
Board Chair Mark Davies awarded OAM
Warm congratulations to the Waverley College Board Chair, Associate Professor Mark Davies, who was awarded the Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division on Australia Day 2018. Dr Davies’ award was for service to medicine, particularly to neurosurgery. The award recognised many years of distinguished service to the community.
Dr Davies is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery at St George Hospital as well as Chair of their Clinical Council and Supervisor of Neurosurgical Training. He is on the Medical Advisory Committee of St George Private Hospital and is Visiting Medical Officer at a range of hospitals, including Sutherland Hospital, St George Private Hospital, Sydney Children’s Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital.
Dr Davies is Conjoint Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales and is a past President and Executive Board Member of the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia.
He is Chairman, Surgical Education and Training Board in Neurosurgery, since 2016 and Member since 2014 of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
Dr Davies’ awards and recognition includes:
- Recipient, McLagan Prize, Masters of Law, Med Law and Ethics Program, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 2013.
- Best dissertation, Masters of Law degree, University of Edinburgh, 2013.
- Recipient, Peter Leech Prize, Annual Scientific Meeting, Hobart, Neurosurgical Society of Australasia, 1991.
In November 2017 the college announced the appointment of Dr Davies as the College’s new Board Chair. He has been Deputy Chair since 2014 and a Board Member since 2011. Dr Davies is a Waverley Old Boy of the Class of 1981.
I wish all members of the Waverley College Community a great start to the year.