From the Principal - Mark Geraets
Hasn’t Term 1 flown? But here we are on the brink of our Easter school holidays with a very busy and productive term in our wake and an almost “normal” Term 2 ahead. If you cast your minds back 12 months, you’ll remember we were in our first Covid lockdown and many of the activities we took for granted were halted. We had to modify our curriculum delivery and the way we ran our co-curricular program, many school events were run without parental attendance and our parent social events were put on hold.
Fast forward 12 months and we go into this holiday break with almost no restrictions on our school life. Our students have been on school camp this past week, we are planning to present our musical production of Matilda in mid May, and we are full steam ahead for our Whisky and Gin gala event in June.
Students, parents and staff are relishing the return to normal and I think it shows in everything we do. The vibe around the school has been wonderfully positive and I thank everyone for their contribution to our strong community.
We’ve had some fantastic media coverage this term highlighting various aspects of life at Scots; from Junior school participation in The Big Vegie Crunch and a focus on our Senior School timetable flexibility to coverage of my induction and the launch of Noelle Oke’s book about the history of the school. We’ve been on radio, on the television, in regional papers and The Border Mail.
This week we are featured in The Weekly Times, the orange-covered newspaper that claims to be “Australia’s biggest, best and most comprehensive rural news service across print and online by a country mile”. The story, which is on the cover of the Country Living section, highlights parental involvement in the planning phase and construction of the Agriculture Learning Space and talks to Year 12 student Laila Armsden about the benefits the space will provide for future generations of students. Congratulations to Laila on a fantastic interview - the future of agriculture is in safe hands with her at the helm.
Notify us if you travel to Covid-restricted areas
Even though we are relishing our freedom these holidays, we all know we are not out of the woods with Covid just yet. We bring your attention to the restrictions currently in place in Greater Brisbane and the Northern Rivers areas. Travel to these areas may mean you will need to isolate for 14 days or until you receive a negative Covid test on your return. Please monitor the situation during the holidays and comply with the Service NSW Covid rules. Restrictions change quickly, so please keep abreast of new information.
An extract from the restrictions includes:
Non-essential travel to Brisbane is not advisable at this time. In addition, a number of locations in NSW have been identified to be associated with a COVID-19 case. The full list of locations is available on the NSW Health website along with the instructions you will be required to follow if you visited any of these sites during the specified date and time. This means:
If a person has been to any of the close contact locations on the dates and during the times listed, they must get tested immediately and self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the time they attended the location. This means they will not be able to attend work or school for the full 14-day period.
If a person has been to one of the casual contact locations on the dates and during the times listed, they must get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative result. That means they cannot attend work or school until they receive confirmation of their negative result. Please monitor the NSW Health website for locations of concern over the coming days as changes may be made with new sites and locations added.
As an added precaution, we ask that anyone travelling to these or other areas of concern over the holidays notify us on 02 6022 0000 before attending School or the Boarding House in Term 2.
Exciting new venture for Alison Mitchell
It is with great sadness that I announce that Alison Mitchell will be leaving Scots at the end of Term 2 to take up the position of Deputy Principal at Macquarie Anglican Grammar School in Dubbo.
While I am delighted for Alison and wish her every success in her exciting new career direction, I know we will miss her at Scots, where she has been a powerful force for more than 17 years.
Alison joined Scots as a music teacher and Choral Director in 2004. She has held many leadership positions in that time, including Learning Area Leader for the Expressing Department; Head of Teaching and Learning, Equestrian co-ordinator and most recently, Acting Head of Senior School.
But music has always been her underlying passion and our music students have thrived under her guidance. Throughout her time at Scots, she has directed open and auditioned choirs for all ages, skill levels and voicings. She excels in HSC teaching and with Alison’s input, Scots’ HSC Music 1 has consistently scored 10-14% above the State average for the past 10 years. In the Class of 2020 HSC results, one of her students earned a score of 98 in music and another was nominated for Encore, a showcase of NSW’s outstanding HSC candidates. She has been involved in every Senior School musical since she started at the school.
While Alison’s influence is felt right across the school, she is also recognised at a State level by education’s leading body. On about half a dozen occasions, Alison has been part of an elite group of teachers from across the State selected for HSC marking by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA).
Alison and her family have been part of the Scots community fabric since she started. Her two sons, Jack (Class of 2015) and Harry (Class of 2017) attended Scots for all of their Senior School life and were involved in soccer, the productions and both played the piano. Jack went on to enjoy a soccer scholarship in the US and Harry, who was school captain in 2017, is studying economics at Sydney University.
Alison has many life-long friends among the teaching staff here. She has been a mentor to many younger teachers and her warm and genuine interest in her colleagues has endeared her to everyone. Many parents will be grateful for her compassion and skill, particularly those who have come to know her well through the choirs and equestrian program. They, like us, will be sad to see her go. But Alison will be with us for most of Term 2 so we have plenty of time to farewell her in style.
Change of pace for Neale Poole
The Boarding House and the broader Scots School community will deeply miss Neale Poole, who is stepping down from his role as Director of Boarding at the end of Term 3 to move closer to family in Euroa, Victoria. Neale and his wife Vicki are looking forward to a change of pace in familiar territory - Vicki grew up there and Neale worked there for 20 years before his time at Scots.
Neale has served at Scots superbly for 14 years as a Math teacher, wellbeing leader, footy coach, cadets leader and for the last three years as Director of Boarding. Scots will miss him immensely.
We intend to advertise Neale's position and have the position filled by the end of Term 2 to allow a lengthy handover period. Neale also will continue working on the new strategic plan for boarding and upgrade our policies and procedures in boarding before he goes.
I take this opportunity to thank Neale for doing an incredible job in boarding especially last year through bushfires, Covid, large capital works and an increasing boarding enrolment. You are amazing Neale! I wish Neale and Vicki well as they prepare for this big life change.
Pipe band performance was amazing
Yvonne and I travelled to Wangaratta last week to support the Pipe Band, which was performing at the 2021 Rotary International Conference. I was very proud of our band members as former Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, CVO, MC conducted a very special dress inspection before they performed to more than 300 guests.
The Scots Pipe Band has become one of the most iconic aspects of our school and I never cease to be amazed at its professionalism and skill.
Engineering and Robotics Camp at Scots
The Young Engineers are hosting an Engineering and Robotics Camp at Scots on Wednesday, 14 April, and Thursday, 15 April, for students in Years 1-8. Scots is one of only three schools in NSW hosting this event during the Easter school holidays and there has been strong interest, with most spots already booked up.
The workshops will be an exciting way for students to learn engineering and robotics in a hands-on and practical environment. Students will exercise the very important skills of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication.
During the Workshop, participants will learn theoretical knowledge in software and mechanical engineering combined with Mathematics and Science. Students will follow a design process and build a working machine using Lego®. They will also be able to program the machine to perform certain tasks. Students will be exposed to electronics components, building various electrical circuits using a range of options including sensors, LEDs and motors. This will also involve the use of renewable energy sources like solar panels.
Some of the older students from Year 5-8, will have the chance to experience virtual reality where they will dive into their own virtual space to explore different parts of the ancient and modern world.
Student Caught Doing Good
Recognition for a student who has “lived” our Respect Triangle by showing great compassion, empathy or endeavour is now formalised by a fortnightly award called Caught Doing Good.
The winner of this fortnight’s award is Year 11 student, Belle Antonello, who was recognised for showing compassion to a new student. Belle volunteered to be a buddy, contacted the new student through social media, chatted with her and allayed any fears she might have had about starting at a new school. Through her actions, Belle made a real difference to a new student’s initial experience at Scots. Previous winners are Joel Cook, Pippa Milthorpe, Baxter Golden and Riley McGillivray.
Winners will be announced at assembly, their photo will be displayed in the Senior School Reception area and they will be mentioned in this column. They also will receive a gift voucher from one of our sponsors. Thank you to Regent Cinemas Albury Wodonga, Monumental Ice Creamery and Harris Farms for providing the vouchers.
Winter uniforms are required from the start of Term 2. The winter uniform includes the blazer as a compulsory outer garment whenever students are in public. The jumper may only be worn in classrooms or underneath the blazer.
The Uniform Shop will open for extended trading hours during the school holidays so please see the separate entry in this newsletter for the times.
Matilda - showcase musical
The cast and crew of Matilda are entering the final phase of preparations to bring the iconic musical to life on stage at Scots in mid May. After a brief break over the holidays, they will go into Boot Camp on the final three days of the holidays. It will be the first time cast members from the Junior School and the Senior School will rehearse together and also the first rehearsal where actors and band members are together.
Tickets will go on sale early in Term 2 and I hope many from our school community will get along to support the students in their endeavours. We have had a heartwarming response to the call for sponsorship both from families and businesses from within our community. Check out their advertisements in the program and when you can, please support the businesses who have supported us.
Term 2 starts Tuesday 20 April
All students return to the classroom for Term 2 on Tuesday 20 April. On Monday, 19 April, the Junior School teachers will participate in professional development and Senior School teachers will be involved in Year 7-10 Parent/Teacher/Student interviews.
Parent/Teacher/Student interviews are an important avenue for discussion about a student’s progress and I encourage you to make your bookings early. Go on to Parent Lounge and select times to suit your needs from the three sessions which start at 11am and conclude at 6pm. These are meant to be a brief conversation and if you have specific concerns or questions, consider making an appointment with your teacher for a separate meeting.
Senior School camps
I had the pleasure of attending the Year 11 camp in Anglesea this week to be a part of the leadership activities. I must say, they’ve had a great time down at the beach and I’ve had reports from the other camps that students are revelling in their learning outside the classroom.
Our Year 10s are doing a water activity of a different kind - earning an open water diving certificate at Merimbula which will be invaluable throughout their lives if they have a love of the ocean. Camps are a compulsory part of our curriculum and a valuable facet of our learning journey so I’m pleased that there was a dramatic increase in attendance this year.
Design for Deep Learning
You will no doubt be aware that we are implementing the exciting and powerful learning framework called Deep Learning into our school.
In Term 2, a parents’ information session and workshop called Design for Deep Learning (DDL) will give us an opportunity to explain the rationale behind the program. Deep Learning integrates academic skills with personal and social capabilities and gives priorities to those capabilities and dispositions that support whole-school learning and living.
The seminar will be on Tuesday, 27 April at 5.30pm, so put it in your diaries to save the date.
Easter is a wonderful and welcomed time of the year. It is a chance for families to gather in friendship and to ignite the essence of who we are and our spirituality, while celebrating with greater understanding of why we are here.
I wish all our families a safe, happy and blessed Easter. See you all in Term 2!