Growing Stronger and Wiser as a Community
I would like to thank all members of our community for your support, understanding, and expressions of goodwill during IDAHOBIT week. It was a trying week for us all. While the external noise was raging, it was so pleasing to feel to support within the community; from students, parents, and members of staff.
I am pleased IDAHOBIT was celebrated across the three campuses in a manner that is age-appropriate and meaningful for all students. Days like IDAHOBIT are integral to our embedded and integrated approach to wellbeing. In recent Messenger issues, I have spoken about the work of Dr Helen Street and the idea of ‘contextual wellbeing.’ This approach focuses on creating a school culture and environment where everyone in the community feels valued, connected and that they belong. IDAHOBIT is one of several great teaching moments on the international calendar where we can highlight and demonstrate inclusion, creating a sense that no matter how different we are, all students can find a safe space at Woodleigh. These are not strategies that can be delivered by a program or through an external organisation; these ideas must be embedded in everything we do.
IDAHOBIT is a chance to raise awareness of difference, and also to normalise difference to help eliminate fear from society. All of our students are different. If they see difference as acceptable, they are more likely to be comfortable with who they are and who they are becoming.
For senior students, this occurs through guest speakers, events held at school and encouragement from external support groups to find their voice and be vocal about celebrating the day. For our junior students, this is more difficult, as concepts such as homophobia are hard to discuss and very difficult for our youngest students to understand. However, this is where our culture of inclusion and belonging develops its foundations. For younger children, visible and tangible examples are required, visible difference that they can engage with, be curious about and ask questions of. While for some, Drag Story Time could be seen as controversial and provocative. However, it does provide a safe environment for all students to engage with difference, be curious, and ask questions.
Last year’s Drag Story Time was a huge success, with our students asking enlightened and well-informed questions that reflect our school culture of respect for others. I would like to thank and acknowledge those members of our community who supported the school during this day and the subsequent issues raised externally. I would also like to thank those members of our community who had concerns about this day and spent time with myself, and members of our leadership team working through their concerns. This proved to be a great learning moment for us all, as we develop understanding of others’ perspectives in a respectful and curious manner.
I was reminded of how deep the culture of respect is at Woodleigh at a recent SIS Senior Boys’ Football match that Craig Azzopardi and I coached. Last week, when Nazareth College arrived for the match, we realised that they only had 14 players, most of whom were recruited from other sports and younger age groups. They had been hit hard by COVID and other school events. Craig raised this with our team of high-performing athletes and without hesitation they offered to play for the other team, ensuring everyone had a positive and respectful game of football. Not only did they play for the other team, they encouraged, supported, coached and brought the younger players into the game. A positive experience for both teams. The scoreboard was irrelevant on the day as both teams departed as friends and better for the game.
Speaking to the Nazareth Staff and students after the game, they said they were amazed by the welcoming nature of our school, our staff, and our students. They said that there was an automatic sense of our culture upon arrival as our students randomly offered to help and to guide them to the oval. Staff volunteered to assist them to prepare, and our players deliberately assisted with their game to support the younger players. While this was no AFL standard match, and most of our players will represent their local teams in more serious games on the weekend, this was a fantastic experience for all involved and a great example of how well-being can be enhanced by the environment in which we learn and live.
I would like to thank all members of our community for your support, interest, and collaboration for the first half of the term. As a community we may not always agree on everything; however, I know that we can work our way through any issue and come out the other side stronger and wiser.
In Week 3, students in Years 7 to 12 pulled on the sweatbands and donned their Homestead colours to squeeze out a few kilometres in the name of Homestead Cross Country. For the athletically inclined, it was a 3km canter around the perimeter of Senior Campus. For the rest of the student body, it was a pleasant trot-walk between rain showers.
The Overall winners on the day were:
1st Homestead 3
2nd Homestead 4
3rd Homestead 2
Year level awards:
Year 7: Homestead 3
Year 8: Homestead 4
Year 9: Homestead 6
Year 10: Homestead 7
Individual results by year level:
|Year 7||1st||Juliette Edis||Ruben Charlton|
|2nd||Molly Barrett||Cooper Rix|
|3rd||Sibella Brancatisano||Finn Lawson|
|Year 8||1st||Moriah Elphinstone||Japhy Garnham|
|2nd||Remy Morris||Barnaby Jeffs|
|3rd||Alannah Dietrich||Izy McConnell|
|Year 9||1st||Tilly Boadle||Orlando Clark|
|2nd||Essie Foley||Harvey Bedford|
|3rd||Daisy Black||Toby Edis|
|Year 10||1st||Lily Lawson||Miller Virtanen|
|2nd||Amelia Bam||Sam Lewis|
|3rd||Lily Reynolds||Ajax Calligeros|
|Year 11||1st||N/A||Ted Meysztowicz|
|Year 12||1st||Millie Evenden||Rory Goding|
|2nd||Stella Sampieri||Hugo Brunton|
Congratulations to all students for their enthusiasm and involvement, and to the staff for pulling it all together. Best wishes go to the top 10 runners from each age group, who will now go on to represent Woodleigh at the SIS Cross Country on Wednesday 31 May at Casey Fields.
Director of Sport
Our Year 9s spent 7 days in the city at the beginning of Term 2, and have returned fresh with new perspectives and ideas for their MYP Community Project.
The MYP Community Project requires students to identify a particular community they would like to work with and connect with them to establish an area in which they could make a difference. Students then carry out an action that makes a positive difference to their identified community.
The City Bound Program serves as a launching pad for the MYP Community project. Students spend 7 days in the city hearing from and being immersed in the experiences of people from different communities. Some of these talks and experiences included visiting The Big Issue Headquarters and hearing from a person experiencing homelessness, listening to a Muslim speaker at a mosque in Carlton, examining public artworks that advocate for different people, hearing from a Sudanese refugee, and many more.
The purpose of this time is for students to broaden their understanding of the different communities that make up Melbourne and their needs. They are required to practice empathy, open-mindedness, and respect as they hear from others. Students also build their independence as they navigate the city and transport. They build their communication skills as they practice developing and asking questions of key presenters.
Here are some key takeaways from two of our Year 9 students:
What experience had the most effect on you?
I think the magistrates court visit had a really profound impact on me, it was my first time seeing the justice system working and I have a lot of motivation to go to law school after seeing it doing good in the community.
How would I describe it to my family and friends?
I would describe City Bound as a coming-of-age story. A week in the city with my friends has, for sure, given me more perspective on the world we live in and how people have to go through so much to get what I take for granted.
What is it about the City Bound experience that has had the most impact on you?
I think hearing the speakers, what they have had to go through, how they have come out the other side, and still being able to smile and share their story, that had the most impact on me. Some of them are even still going through it, like KJ still experiencing homelessness but still talking to us. Agum (a Sudanese refugee) who still has to find her kids but she is still smiling. On the day she spoke to us, there was a war in her home country, but she insisted on seeing us. They all stay so persistent.
How would you describe this to your family and friends?
I would describe it as a very informative, emotionally touching camp with pockets of fun sprinkled throughout the week, with lots of time to be social and grow closer to your peers.
During the Easter school holidays, the Woodleigh Field Gnats - a dedicated group of volunteer conservationists - visited Tiverton, a grazing property in Dundonnell, on the Victorian Volcanic Plains.
This unique property is the first regenerative agricultural operation in the world to combine sheep grazing with the preservation of threatened species. Here Eastern Barred Bandicoots and Eastern Quoll thrive alongside Merino sheep, in what is the largest feral-proof area in Victoria, with more than 1000 hectares behind a predator-proof fence. The diverse landscape also supports a variety of water birds such as Brolgas (which are vulnerable in Victoria) and the threatened Corangamite Skink. Since the property was established in 2011, the Field Gnats have helped in whatever way they can. Not having the opportunity to visit since 2018, the Field Gnats were extremely excited to return to Tiverton.
Only a small group of seven, made up of myself, Doc Simpson, Ms Taylor, Rani and Bec (Y10), Ava (Y11) and Milly (Y12), set off at 8:00am on Tuesday 18 April. Stopping in Inverleigh for morning tea, three and a half hours later we arrived at Tiverton to be met by Tim and his two dogs, Maya and Grace. Hungry after a long trip, we set to making sandwiches and wraps for lunch, as well as beginning to set up our bedding in the recently renovated woolshed. Once our bellies were full, we took a bumpy ride through the mud on the back of Tim’s old ute to the fence he needed help deconstructing. While it took a while to get the hang of, we completed it fairly quickly, before moving on to another section. After a long afternoon, we had completed twice as much as expected, so we headed back to camp to prepare for dinner.
After a delicious BBQ, we warmed ourselves by the bonfire that Tim had prepared in one of the nearby paddocks. Unfortunately, a short while later the rain hit, so we headed back inside to play a variety of card games, such as ‘UNO Flip’ and ‘Kabool’. As night fell, we all snuggled into our sleeping bags, keen to see what tomorrow would bring.
The next morning, we all woke from a hard night. The loud clicking and flashing lights from Tim’s battery system had kept most of us up, so we were all extremely tired. After some breakfast, we all seemed to have perked up a bit, ready to help deconstruct a long stretch of old barbed wire fence on the property. Once again, we surprised ourselves completing much more deconstruction than would ever have been expected of such a small group.
Lunch was leftovers from last night’s dinner, a scrumptious array of sausages, burgers, and salad ingredients. We then set to helping out in the remnant grassland area, by weeding and cutting down invasive species that had popped up. While it was tiring, it was a great opportunity to explore the property, particularly the wetlands area, which we hadn’t had the opportunity to see much of so far.
Once we arrived back at the woolshed, we started making dinner. Cooking pasta on a BBQ was a difficult business, but we persisted at it, and it ended up tasting brilliant! After wiping up the last of the sauce with bread, Milly treated us to a choc raspberry slice that she had made. We then headed to a huge bonfire, created by Tim, that warmed us all up nicely. While a few of us stayed to chat by the fire, others went frog hunting, or watched the stars while we lay on the rocks. The distinct emu shape of the Milky Way was as clear as ever, and remarkable constellations could be observed above. As the temperature dropped, we came together by the blazing fire. Due to our unexpected small numbers, Tim offered us the cabin to sleep in, so we could have a better sleep without the sound and light from the battery. Once we had all clambered in, we fell into a much-needed deep sleep.
The next morning, we woke early, and headed back to the woolshed to begin packing up and to have some breakfast. We were all very happy to report that we had slept well, without any disturbance. We took a quick visit to the remains of last night’s bonfire, collecting dry vegetation, to get it burning once again. We then spent the morning helping deconstruct one of the fence lines, weeding out invasive species to make room for the trees we planted later. After a productive final morning at Tiverton, we had some lunch and loaded our bags into the trailer, before filing onto the bus. We made the most of our remaining time together, playing road-trip games such as ‘Ping, Pong’, where you have to try to spot traditional windmills, and white horses, and be the first to yell ‘Ping!’ or ‘Pong!’, depending on what you’ve spotted. Two hours later we arrived at Queenscliff, where we jumped on the ferry for a change of scenery. An eventful ride home, we spotted a dolphin and a seal in the distance, as well as sharing the ferry with a pyrotechnics crew who were setting up a fireworks display. When we arrived in Sorrento, we hopped back onto the bus before arriving back at school half an hour later. While we were sad that our time at Tiverton had come to an end, we were proud of all the work that we had achieved.
Thank you to Doc Simpson and Ms Taylor for organising this trip, as well as my fellow Field Gnats, for making this such an enjoyable experience! We can’t wait to return to Tiverton in September!!!