Another busy week has ended and it seems that the end of the year is rushing towards us. With the Year 12 formal held this week, our graduating class have said their goodbyes to the school and are now enjoying a well-earned rest. I look upon our graduating students with a sense of pride and gratitude that we have been able to share in their journeys (some for more than 12 years).
When I draw my gaze back to our lovely Kindergarten children, I wonder what riddles we will have to solve together and what twists and turns our journey may take. Whilst it is wonderful to celebrate the lovely human beings who leave us in Year 12. the real enjoyment is in the journey we take together through the school years.
With this in mind, I ask that if you have any concerns about your child or any information you would like to share, please do contact your child’s teachers or guardians and have a conversation with them. We work best to support the children when we work together.
On another note, I have noticed that quite a lot of students are arriving late to school each morning. When a student arrives late, they miss the important morning verse and coming together of the class. They may also miss an introduction to a lesson or some morning circle activities. In addition to this, when a child walks into a class that has already started, their arrival disrupts the rest of the class (even when they try to enter quietly). Please support your child, and the rest of the class, by ensuring your child arrives at school on time each day.
We are now over half way through the term and there is so much happening around the school. HSC exams have now finished (thank you to the whole school community for your patience and understanding in supporting the ‘quiet zones’ throughout the exams). I am looking forward to the final Year 12 formal next week, when we will have the chance to celebrate and farewell our graduating class.
It’s wonderful to be back for Term 4. Last term ended on such a lovely high note with the graduation of our 2015 HSC students. Now the new term has started and we have just welcomed a new set of HSC student into their roles as the senior students in the school.
At the other end of the school, our Kindergarten children will soon start looking through the archway, towards their Classroom for next year. We are very pleased to announce that we have appointed Prue Ritchie as the Class One Teacher. Prue is an experienced and skilled Steiner teacher who is looking forward to taking the class on their journey through the Primary School.
Whilst we are on the subject of staff movements. I am sad to let you know that Joseph and Delaney will be leaving our school at the end of this year. Both Joseph and Delaney are very sad to be leaving our wonderful school, but both are leaving to take up exciting personal opportunities. I wish them both well, their expertise, passion and skill will be very much missed in the High School. We are now actively recruiting to fill these two positions for next year.
Recently a team of parents, teachers, students and administration staff worked together to develop and refine the school’s Mission and Vision statements. These statements clearly indicate our main purpose and what our highest ideal is as a school.
What a special week this has been for our school community! The Spring Fair was a wonderful community event with such a feeling of warmth, sharing and celebration. Congratulations to the Class Three parents for developing a vision for the Fair and then making it happen. Thank you to all of our school community for your work together to make the day so special. It was really wonderful to see the high level of participation from our High School student in almost every aspect of the fair. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how participation and communication are needed to build community and the Spring Fair was a lovely example of this.
The week continued in a lovely spirit with our Year 12 students celebrating their last days at the school. There has been such a feeling of warmth, gratitude, sadness and excitement from our graduating class. On Wednesday, a group of Year 12 students painted a beautiful mural on the wall of the D&T building as a thank you gift and then on Wednesday afternoon the students made a wonderful afternoon tea for the teachers to express their gratitude. Then yesterday the whole school gathered for the formal graduation ceremony. This was a moving event and a real celebration of the journey these students have undertaken. Several parents have asked for a copy of my address to the students and so I have included it in this bulletin.
I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable holiday break.
The beautiful land on which our school is built has a history stretching back to the beginning of the dreaming. We are privileged to have the use of it now. I would like to acknowledge that this ceremony is being held on the traditional lands of the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung Nation, and pay my respects to elders both past and present. I would also like to acknowledge the incredibly dedicated and caring team of teachers who have worked with our wonderful graduating class over the years.
To our graduating students, today marks a special moment in your lives. For thirteen years you have been at school. You have played. You have made friends. You have learned how to read and write and how numbers work. You have learned how to follow the rules and, later, how to ask questions about the rules and think for yourself. You have learned how to get on with others and be part of a group. You have learned about history and geography and art and music. You have discovered what things you are good at and you have learned how to work at the things that don’t come so easy. You’ve learned how to celebrate the passing of the seasons and how to be part of our school community.
Some of you have been at this school since kindergarten and some of you joined us a little later. Through all of this learning and growing, the most important things you have started to discover are who you are and what you believe in. The quest to understand these things doesn’t stop here, it goes on for the rest of your lives.
When I graduated from school there was no such thing as mobile phones, eftpos or ATMs (we paid cash), petrol cost 36 cents a litre and there were about 4 and a ½ billion people in the world. When you started school, 13 years ago, Apple had just launched a little music program called “ITunes”, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat did not exist and neither did the term ‘social media’ and there were 6.3 billion people in the world. Today, we carry personal computers, in the form of mobile phones, around in our pockets, a spacecraft has just passed the outermost planet in our solar system, robots work to complete jobs ranging from making cars to performing complex surgery on human beings, the world’s climate is becoming increasingly unstable and there are almost 7 and a half billion people on our planet.
Our world is changing and the change is happening quickly. It is almost impossible to imagine what it will look like in 2028 when today’s kindergarten children graduate. So what can I say to you today as you prepare step out into a complex, changing and challenging world?
I could tell you to go out there and follow your dreams – but I won’t as I already know you are going to do it, you are doing now. I could tell you that now that you have graduated, the world is yours – but I won’t because it isn’t.
Instead I am going to ask that you step out into the world with an attitude of kindness. That you walk gently and try to see, really see, what it is to be the other. Remember the story of Parzifal and be prepared to ask, “what ails thee?” Then have the courage to act out of this kindness. Do what you know is right, even when the doing might not directly serve your own wants and desires.
Go out into the world and ask questions. Stand up for what you believe in. Make strong, ethical choices. Care for others, even if you don’t understand their lives or their choices. Actively care for this magnificent planet and speak up when others don’t. Find happiness in the small things. Draw pictures, make music, plant gardens, write poems – be a creator in the world. Accept that you are not perfect and sometimes you will get it wrong, make mistakes – and then learn from them. Be prepared to wait and work for the things you want. Look for the music and the beauty around you (it is always there).
Class of 2015, we, your teachers, your family and your school community, are so very proud of you. Almost 100 years ago, Rudolf Steiner said “Receive children in reverence, educate them in love, and let them go forth in freedom.” We received you with reverence, we have educated you with so much love, and now it is time for you to go forth in freedom.
Your education at Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School has finished, my wish for you all is that you can go on to fulfill the highest, truest expression of yourselves as the wonderful human beings you are.
Hello everyone,The start of a new term is always exciting as the school bursts into life with teachers and students all happy to be back working and learning together.We are currently working with the Embedding Excellence Program, an AIS initiative aimed at helping us to evaluate our performance and then make plans for improvement across the school. The first step in this process is to work with the Vision, Mission and Values of the school. Our teaching staff participated in a workshop on the first day of term and we are now inviting parents to join in the process of developing a Vision, Mission and Values statement which accurately reflects who we are now as a school and what we aspire to be. Please see the invitation attached in this bulletin. I encourage you to join us and be a part of this process.
As a further part of this program, we will be surveying teachers, support staff, some year levels of students, and the parent community. Emails will be sent out next Monday with the link to the survey, please do take the time to complete the survey and share your thoughts and ideas about our school.
Winter has arrived and, whilst we do not have the experience of “Winter’s snow”, we nevertheless feel the change of the cold, crisp air, the clear winter night skies and the shorter days and longer nights. We can also feel the change of the seasons within ourselves. This is a more reflective time, a time when we can sense the need to “come inside” and experience our own selves in the stillness. It is a lovely thing to take the time to quietly consider what it is that spiritually sustains each of us through all of the year.
Throughout the school, preparations are underway for our Winter Festival. When I walked through the school this week there were High School children working away at making lanterns, primary school students practising beautiful festival songs and fire twirlers making their magic in the (empty) car park.
The celebration of festivals is a very important aspect of Steiner education. It is a wonderful opportunity for parents to take time to experience with their child a connection to the natural world and to give acknowledgement to something beyond busy every day activity. As they move through the school the children of all ages become familiar with the rhythm and certainty of the seasons and calendar of festivals. It brings certainty and security in a world of so much uncertainty. The beauty and traditions provide enrichment and allow everyone who participates to feel connected to the world and to each other.
We appeal to you to find ways to acknowledge the festivals through making the time to attend or being involved in discussions with your child about the meaning of each festival or season as it arises. Lantern making is a world-wide Steiner activity and the deeper meaning of bringing light into darkness is something that will live beyond the actual festival evening. Perhaps now is the time for you to start working on your own lantern to join our lantern walk during the Winter Festival.
I am writing this as we make the long trip back from the Year 7 camp at Bingara. We have had a wonderful week…… Incredible watching the students working and living together and pushing themselves to take on new challenges. We had the extra challenge of some rainy weather (and a short but intense storm), however this didn’t stop us from having an amazing time.
The learning that happens on camp is so very important. Every child (and teacher) comes back from a camp knowing a little more about themselves and how they can stand in the world.
The daylight hours certainly seem to be noticeably shorter and suddenly our thoughts are moving from Autumn towards the coming Winter season and, of course, our Winter festival. The weather is certainly quite changeable at the moment – with the much colder mornings being counterbalanced by some quite warm and sunny afternoons. At this time of the year, we always seem to find our lost property bins overflowing as children shed their many layers during the day and forget to take them home. If your child’s wardrobe is suddenly looking very empty, please do check our lost property bins.
Today a team of students attended the Regional Cross Country finals. Our team represented our school beautifully, showed wonderful sportsmanship and maturity and achieved outstanding results. Our school placed fourth overall and several of our students placed highly in their events. Congratulations to all of the students who participated and thank you to Ric and Lizzie for putting so much effort into ensuring the day was a success. It is important that our students have the opportunity to mix with students from other schools in a range of cultural, educational and sporting events.
This week, parents of students in Class 5 and 6 had the opportunity to listen to a presentation on cybersafety, provided by the Police Community Liaison Officer. Technology is not something we should be afraid of, however it is very important that parents understand some of the risks and dangers inherent in the technology available today, particularly in relation to some of the social networking applications. I note with interest that the Police Officer strongly advised parents to think carefully before providing primary school aged children access to smart phones (which are in essence, just portable computers).
Next week I will be joining the Year 7 students on their horse-riding camp. I am so excited that I have the opportunity to spend this time with our newest High School students ……. time to polish up the riding boots and pull out my swag in preparation.
The autumn weather is well and truly upon us, with chilly nights with beautiful clear skies and sparkling stars, damp and misty mornings and then days of warm sunshine. I like to think of this as the Goldilocks time of the year – not too hot, not too cold…. but just right for learning and playing.
Yesterday morning I tiptoed down to Kindy, drawn by the smell of cooking and also the faint but delicate aroma of something special being made for Mothers’ Day. It is always such a privilege to spend some time watching the serious business of play happening in so many different ways: cubby houses, kings and queens and a serious construction site in the corner.
I was glad I had had some Kindy time in the morning, as my afternoon was taken up with dealing with the very unfortunate article printed in the Sydney Morning Herald which misrepresented our school as being linked with cheating in the HSC last year. I feel upset and angry for our wonderful teachers and students that such a link was made. I have responded by doing an interview with ABC radio and also Katie and I have written to the Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. The text of our letter is as follows:
To the Editor,
We are writing in relation to the article “The many ways to (attempt) to cheat in the HSC”, published on page 7 of todays Sydney Morning Herald. This article was based on information provided by BOSTES about cheating in HSC exams last year.
In the centre of the article was a graphic and text box with a list naming the schools with the “highest level of misadventure applications (% of HSC Cohort)”. Our school, Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School, was listed second with a figure of 25%. To place this list in the centre of this article incorrectly links misadventure applications with cheating. BOSTES require a high standard of documentation and evidence to accompany any misadventure applications, with provision for special consideration being made in genuine cases to ensure students who have suffered misadventure are not disadvantaged.
We are a small, single-stream Steiner school. Last year we had a class of 24 students sit their HSC. A small number of those students unfortunately suffered misadventure and made application to BOSTES, with appropriate evidence attached. It is very unfortunate that your newspaper has chosen to represent this in such a way that it could be linked with cheating or malpractice.
Our teachers are extremely dedicated, our processes are very thorough and we are very proud of our students and their genuine achievements. Of our small HSC class last year, one of our students ranked 1st in the state in drama, 3 of our students were chosen to perform at the Encore performances at the Sydney Opera House (chosen as among the best music students in the state) and a number of our students achieved scores above 90% in their subjects.
Your article has incorrectly linked our school with HSC cheating and has potentially damaged the reputation of the school, our wonderful teachers and our dedicated students. We ask that you print an apology and make it clear that Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School has not been linked with cheating in the HSC.
Nerrida Johnson and Katie Biggin
Principal Deputy Principal
I want to be very clear to our school community that there is absolutely no link between misadventure applications and cheating. The NSW Board of Studies have not linked our school to cheating, nor have they linked the process of making misadventure applications to cheating. Katie and I absolutely stand by our teachers and students. If you have any questions about this media article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.
Hello everyone and welcome back to a new term. I hope everyone had an enjoyable term break. As always, it was wonderful to see our students bringing the school back to life after their break.
This week we welcomed a group of our senior students back from their trip to Vietnam. They all look tired, but are filled to the brim with stories of adventures, experiences and encounters from their visit to a country with such a different culture to our own. We hope to make this valuable learning experience available to students every two years. I am grateful to Rachel Knight and Katie Biggin for putting so much effort into organising this camp and for giving up some of their holiday time to travel with our students. I look forward to seeing some of their stories in next week’s bulletin.
Over the last few weeks I have enjoyed watching some of our senior primary students running around the school as they practise for the upcoming cross country running event. This event, shared with the High School, is an important part of our sporting calendar and a great opportunity for students to train and participate in a fun physical activity together.
Lastly, my visit to the Goetheanum to participate in the ‘Transitions’ conference was a a wonderful experience. The workshops I presented were booked out with participants from all over the world. It was a wonderful experience to spend time with educators, researchers and medical practitioners from the global Steiner community. I will be giving a version of the workshops I presented, for both parents and teachers, later this term.
Back at home, Teera and Katie have been working hard in my absence and managing all of those wonderful activities that come with the last week of term. It has certainly been a busy term with many camps and excursions, new teachers and students settling in, work towards the adoption of a new constitution and a BOSTES inspection. I would like to thank all of our wonderful staff and the school community for helping to make the school such a wonderful, enriching and nurturing place for our students this term.
Have a safe and enjoyable Easter break and we look forward to seeing you again next term.
“When autumn mists gather
and leaves fall gently down.
New strength in me rises
to bear life’s waiting crown”
What a beautiful autumn festival we experienced this morning. With the mist rising in the valleys and the dew on the grass, there was a gentle hint of autumn in the warm air. With singing and playing, verses and dances and reverent contributions to the harvest table, we celebrated the changing season with our lovely school community. Autumn is the time when we move from the outward activities of the summer towards the more inward, reflective time of winter. On the way, through the autumn months, we ‘come back to ourselves’ and this can feel a little unsettling. This is the time we are called on to find the strength to work through the grumbles and inner instability to be our true ‘better selves.’ Our students showed a beautiful example of this with their participation in the festival today.
Our Year 9 students have been sailing the high seas (well the bay at least) on their camp. I have heard that they had a wonderful time and there are some very tired and happy students (and teachers) heading for home as I write this. Next week, our Year 8 students finally head out on their camp. They have been waiting patiently since the camp was postponed a couple of weeks ago due to bad weather.
Finally, I would like to apologise for the ‘absent student’ text messages which were mistakenly sent out today to many parents. We have a problem with our administration software system which is causing the text messages to be sent out. We are in contact with the software support team and are attempting to rectify the problem and ensure this doesn’t happen again. We are in the process of transferring to a new system and hopefully will have no further problems in the future.
One of the things that still amazes me about our climate is the way Autumn just seems to arrive overnight. Whilst we are still getting warm days (sometimes even quite hot days), the nights are cooler and there is often dew on the grass in the mornings. With the change of the seasons, comes a change in our own beings as we “come in” from the summer experience of being out in the cosmos (think of the bbqs, parties, camps, travel and social life of the summer months). As we start the movement back in towards the quieter, more reflective times of winter, we often can feel a little unsettled as we “meet ourselves” again and have to deal with our thoughts and feelings, and reflections about ourselves and others.
As teachers, we often find Autumn a time when there are playground disputes and flare-ups and when social relationships between children can be a bit tested. The teachers in the primary school work with this by sharing stories with the children which demonstrate courage and the finding of strength and integrity to do what is right and good (the story of St George and the Dragon is a good example of this). As adults we can lead by example, trying to find our own courage, integrity and strength to deal with the issues that confront and unsettle us. This is truly an interesting, sometimes challenging time of the year and one that offers great opportunities for growth and learning.
This week I hosted a morning tea for our Year 12 students. It was lovely to spend some time with our senior students, chatting about their studies and their experiences as they move towards their last months at the school. I am struck by their maturity and the way they hold the lovely balance between confidence in who they are and uncertainty, excitement and determination as they move towards the end of their days at Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner School.