Welcome to the second half of the school year, which has commenced on an extremely positive note with new and returning students well underway in both their academic and co-curricular pursuits. There is anticipation and excitement right across the School as so much happens in Term 3. Amongst many highlights were the ‘Green and White’ and Old Scholars’ Day in Week 1, and still to come is Music Night on Friday 18 August and our annual winter sports Intercol later in August.

Welcome to our new students and staff members

We have had 40 new students begin with us at the start of the second semester and with some staff on extended leave, new staff members have joined us as well. Many students have returned after the break looking forward to trying new semester-based subjects - different elective lines, teachers and classmates all add to the variety of an exceptional all-round experience. In our junior years, we have two new classes, which include our Early Learning Centre students who have now moved to full-time school in our Transition program.  Their transition has allowed another group of even younger students to commence their learning journey in the Early Learning Centre.

Green and White

I had the very great pleasure of welcoming senior students to the annual Green and White formal held Saturday 29 July in the Convention Centre. While it was a challenge for me to recognise some of them out of their ‘green and white’ weekday attire, they looked amazing in their finery. The effort that the girls had gone to in preparation for the evening with their stunning gowns and adornments was truly admirable, while the boys also took enormous pride in their formal appearance. Most pleasing for me was how mature and sensible all in attendance were in keeping with the significance and tone of the evening. Convention Centre staff had no issues with which to deal, the speeches were engaging and everyone had a very enjoyable night. I am very proud to report that we have received excellent feedback from all involved about the respectful behaviour and attitude of our well-mannered students who represented Westminster so well.    

Old Scholars’ Day

Last week we welcomed back the Class of 1967 as special guests for their 50 Year Reunion on our annual Old Scholars’ Day. Those in attendance had travelled from as far as Darwin and Sydney for the luncheon. A number of them had not been back to the School for 50 years, and were obviously delighted with how it had continued to develop over this time. At our Old Scholars’ Day Assembly Richard Bund (’96) was our guest speaker and he gave a very entertaining speech about what the School meant to him. He also shared his wisdom with the students about some of the characteristics that will help them succeed no matter what they choose to do with their lives in school or beyond.  Following the Assembly, more Old Scholars played current students in good spirited matches of basketball, netball, soccer, volleyball and football.  Sport and friendship were undoubtedly the winners. 

World Leading Schools Conference, Shanghai

During the holiday period, I was very fortunate to attend the World Leading Schools Association conference in Shanghai.  While it was set up to help some key Chinese education institutions establish links with the West, the Association now includes independent schools from every continent. Westminster was invited to become a member of this prestigious organisation and being one of only three Australian schools in the Association, there is no doubt that Westminster is a very highly regarded member.  I learned that one of the membership benefits to our School is that there are a number of processes and systems in place to support both staff and students interested in an exchange or an experience in China.

Having never travelled to China before, I also wanted to take the opportunity to visit two of the schools with which our former Principal Mr Bousfield helped us establish strong links, Hangzhou Greentown Yuhua School and Shanghai United International School – both of which currently have students studying with us. In fact, we had a group of 17 eager students from Hangzhou Greentown Yuhua visit us in the first week of Term 3. I learned more about the commitment Chinese schools make to send their students overseas after Year 9. With so many students at these schools, there are a number of streams of study with key compulsory testing completed by the end of Year 9. Students in the international stream are then encouraged to study overseas with Australia being one of the preferred destinations.

I also contacted Steve Bousfield who is now the Principal of a brand new school in China. The government own the land and build the school while the school itself organises everything else. As Principal, Steve has three months to have a school finished, ready to open its doors after their summer for 400 students in Years 1 to 12. He is very busy but enjoying the challenges of his new role.

Gratitude

While away in Asia, what really struck me was the fact that the people work so very hard. There are no government handouts or social security. People have to work doing whatever they can to feed their family and make a living. With so many people existing in what we would consider difficult circumstances, it struck me that many live a simple life, without many of the trimmings we take for granted, and seem very happy with and grateful for what they share. In this first week back, we have been contemplating gratitude across the School as part of our wellbeing focus. We live in nice homes in a clean city but maybe we can learn a lot from people who live simpler lives to understand and appreciate what we have.

We can be grateful for the many experiences we enjoy at Westminster, whether celebrating at a School formal; welcoming new students to make the most of an exceptional education; the continuing interest of our Old Scholars in seeing how we have progressed and are progressing; or for our excellent reputation as a world class school.

I sincerely hope that you and your family have had a great start to Term 3 and are set to enjoy the many activities and events planned for the second half of the year.

Grant Bock
Acting Principal