Sonya Ryan Presentation

On Monday 18 June, Sonya Ryan presented to parents on the topic of “Keeping Children Safe in the Online Environment”.  As you may know, Sonya is the mother of Carly Ryan who was groomed online and eventually murdered by a 50 year old man. Following the parent presentation, on Tuesday Sonya addressed students from Years 6 - 10 in two different sessions, and provided information and strategies for them to be safe when they are online.

In the parents’ session, Sonya discussed a number of online communication platforms and how they can be used more safely by looking at the privacy settings and adhering to the age limits placed on who can download certain apps. Please follow the link to download the Parent Handout that was available on Monday night for parents to take home. I would strongly recommend that you update yourself and discuss this with your son or daughter. Sonya also mentioned a personal safety app called Thread that she has developed, and which can be downloaded free of charge.

If you would like to take action as a family, please follow the link to download the One Week Challenge flyer, which is a challenge for you to do as a family, and is a chance to provide some positive role modelling around technology use.

For more information about the Carly Ryan Foundation, or to obtain further information about cyber safety, please visit the Carly Ryan Foundation website.

Westminster is on a Mission to Mars!

Over the coming months, six Westminster School students will plan a Mission to Mars, as part of the University of South Australia STEM Innovation Experience (STEMIE 2018). On Monday 18 June, Alex Lake, Amy Liew, Ella Silvy, and Matthew Gatford took part in the Student Workshop at the UniSA College Maths and Science Centre at Mawson Lakes. They were introduced to the Mission to Mars scenario and given an overview of the tasks that they must complete as part of their tender to win the mission. Together with Claire Zhang and Rohan Whitford, the students must develop exercise routines for the astronauts, develop an environmental control system, design and construct a Mars rover vehicle and transit pod, and develop meal plans to cater for the astronaut’s nutrition requirements. Students will present their tender at a special Regional Showcase in October.

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Student Leadership

In the last edition of the eNews, I mentioned that Year 12 student, Zac Miller, gave a heartfelt talk to the Senior School students on brain cancer, and organised a video from Carrie Bickmore from the TV program, The Project. Zac and his brother Harry lost their mother last year to brain cancer, and the support the Miller family received from the rest of the school was outstanding.

At this week’s assembly, Dunstan House Captain Heidi Collins thanked the School for their support with these words: ‘Last week as a whole school we celebrated and recognised people affected by cancer, not only all over Australia, but especially for several incredible people here at Westminster, through the Year 12s Biggest Morning Tea on Wednesday and Beanies for Brain Cancer day on Friday. The Biggest Morning Tea raised over $1000, and on Friday we raised a phenomenal $4200! In addition to this, earlier in the year with Road Raise we raised $4300 for Canteen, which overall means we have raised over $9000 for cancer this year. It is unnecessary to say how absolutely amazing this is, and each and every person involved can be very proud of their effort. Thank you so much for your incredible support of this cause, and again proving the Westminster spirit is one of a kind."

These initiatives were student-driven, both in the Senior School and the Prep School, and they illustrate the strength of student leadership that exists at Westminster, and the opportunities that there are for students to display these qualities.

The Senior School Leaders prepared and presented the whole Senior School assembly this week. Their theme was “Celebrating Diversity”; it was for all of us to value the unique qualities that each of us has and to appreciate that it is these unique qualities that are essential for a strong and caring community. I congratulate all the Leaders for the quality of their presentation and for including students from across the School. They will also present this at the Prep School assembly next week.

While the students have led these highly successful events, I would thank Head of Senior Students, Mr Tony Ritson ('93), who encourages, supports, and guides the students to have the confidence to try new things, and to have the courage to address their peers on these important matters.

End of Semester

As the first Semester ends and reports are sent home during the holidays, it is always an appropriate time for staff and students to review their performance, which will often be measured against goals that had been set at the beginning of the year.

I encourage all students to assess whether they are achieving their goals and making the most of the opportunities that Westminster has to offer, both in and out of the classroom.  If targets have not been met, then the reasons why have to be investigated. The first place to look is in the comments from the teachers within reports, which often provide advice for improvement. Discussions with subject teachers, House Heads, or other staff can also be helpful.

Once the information has been gathered, it is then time for decisions to be made with respect to goals and how they are going to be achieved. Setting a long-term goal (whether it be a career, end of year results, making a particular team or band) is important, as people need a target at which to aim.  At this point short-term goals will need to be set to aid in the achievement of the long-term goal. These goals should be attainable but challenging, so that the achievement of the goals results in growth of the individual, and there is continued motivation to keep working towards the long-term goal.

Setting goals alone will not ensure success unless there is a strategy in place, much of which is linked to persistence and hard work, together with seeking help when required. Managing time effectively so that adequate time is allocated to academic study, co-curricular activities, and relaxing is critical and requires prioritising these areas of life. It is possible that the priorities of some students are not going to lead to achievement of the either short-term or long-term goals.

Short-term sacrifices need to be made in order to achieve long-term goals. With only 13 school weeks before Year 12 exams, the end of Secondary education is near for our Year 12 students. There is still time to make significant improvement, but only if a disciplined and positive attitude is maintained for the remainder of the year.

I encourage all students from Year 8 to Year 12 to spend some time during the holidays to reflect on their performance, and honestly assess if they are working as smart as they can and are taking advantage of the opportunities that exist at Westminster to be the best that you can be.

David Wallage
Head of Senior School