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Congratulations to our students and staff for making it this far – there is only one week to go! Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of collaborating with students and colleagues regarding student leadership. In particular, these conversations have been focussed toward improving student leadership roles and opportunities across the school, creating further opportunities for student leadership development, increasing service-learning opportunities and elevating culture and standards through role modelling. One of these collaborations was between myself and educational consultant Ben Righetti. During this conversation, we discussed the difference between ‘Leadership’ and ‘leadership’. Leadership (with a capital ‘L’) has a focus toward official roles and hierarchal structures that exist within a school. Whereas, leadership (with a lowercase ‘l’) focuses on the ability each individual has to be a leader of self, and a leader of others regardless of their role or title within a school – this is the leadership we offer to others through our behaviours, actions and values.

Schools that excel in the area of student leadership are those that focus on the later – where each and every student recognises the important role they play as a leader within the school and their wider communities. To further these conversations, I led a session on Year 12 camp with our students on this very topic. I asked them to work in teams to create their own definitions of leadership. Some examples of these definitions were:

• ‘leadership is the ability to create positive change in a selfless manner, adapt to change and role model’
• ‘leadership is compassionately inspiring others to achieve’
• ‘a leader should be flexible, supportive and inspirational, and be able to admit failures and grow from mistakes’
• ‘leadership is the ability to be responsible and kind’
• ‘leadership is an individual or group of people who are driven and selfless, working to achieve a shared goal’

As you could imagine, myself and the other staff were blown away with the insightfulness of our students. It was interesting to see the differences in their views on leadership, but more importantly, the common threads that existed across all groups. When tasked with the challenge of describing how all students can be leaders (lower case ‘leadership’) they came up with the following:
There is a lot of learning that can be taken away from this activity, but there are two key take-aways. Firstly, all students at Gippsland Grammar can be leaders (leaders of self and leaders for others). Secondly, the most important trait of a leader (according to our students) is their ability to role-model. This highlights the importance of our students and the power they possess to create an extremely positive culture in our school. As such, I challenge all students at Garnsey to reflect on their year, and in 2024, challenge themselves within the area of leadership, not only to be positive role-models, but to allow them to develop into the best version of themselves.

I would also like to recap the wonderful celebration: Year 12 Valedictory. On Friday November 17, students, families, and staff gathered on our campus to celebrate the achievements of our Year 12 students. The evening began with greetings and photos prior to the commencement of our official service. Even at this early stage of the evening there was so much joy and happiness being shared. Our service commenced with a wonderful Chapel service led by The Very Reverend Keren Terpstra and our Chaplain, Reverend Dr Tim Gaden. We then listened to a heart-felt reflection from Head of Year 12 Ms Liz Bullers who spoke about the wonderful young people who made up this cohort. Our Year 12 students were then acknowledged individually, receiving awards for their various achievements this year (and throughout their time at Gippsland Grammar). We were able to farewell our departing families and listen to some final words from our School Captains, Emily Thai and Edward Courtier. Following this, we had a highly inspirational speech from Acting Principal Mr Henderson which captivated our audience and appropriately farewelled our Year 12s with purpose and direction. Following the conclusion of the service, our guests were able to enjoy themselves for the social part of the evening, and it was lovely speaking with families and reflecting on the fond memories we all have of these students. We would like to thank again our students, families, staff and distinguished guests for their attendance and making Valedictory such a special evening.

There have been so many other opportunities and celebrations for our students this term. Please continue reading to learn more about these fantastic events and activities as described by the leading teacher.

I wish all of our students and families a very merry Christmas, and hope you all have a safe and enjoyable New Year.

Student Exchanges by Japanese teacher and Japanese Program coordinator Masami Sugisaki
Year 11 student Madi Nicholas flew to Japan last night to spend seven weeks in Japan on exchange at our sister school, the Hikarigaoka Girls’ High School. Madi is looking forward to spending New Year with her host family and cementing the relationships she has already made through hosting a student in August and visiting Hikarigaoka in September with the school Study Tour.

Tomorrow, seven of our French students (five from Year 11 and two from Year 12) will travel to France for their exchange with our French sister school, Lycée Jeanne D’Arc. The students are taking with them a plaque that celebrates 17 years of our exchange program. The students will return on January 21st and we wish them all the best.

Japanese teachers are also very excited to be able to offer a nine-month exchange opportunity for 2024. Year 10 students are eligible to apply for this amazing opportunity to spend time at Hikarigaoka. Applications close today (Friday). In Term 1 we will be welcoming exchange student Riko Watanabe on exchange at Gippsland Grammar for a year. Riko has a bubbly personality and will join Year 11. We are looking for host families for Riko so please get in touch with Ms Sugisaki if you are able to host Riko throughout the year.

It is with sadness that we farewell our wonderful Language Assistant Koharu next weekend after her significant contribution to the school over the past nine months. Exchange student Hinata will also be farewelled tonight by her lovely host families and friends. They will both be missed by teachers and friends and we look forward to keeping in touch with them.

Year 7 Orientation by Acting Head of Year 7 Andrew Nicholas
It was great to see some fresh new faces during our orientation days here at the Garnsey Campus. Year 6 students from our Junior Campuses as well as some other school around the region came to Garnsey and had a chance to look around the campus and get an introduction to classes before next year. The students seemed to be happy and enjoying their time at our campus with many saying their favourite aspects of the orientation were Maths, English, PE, Wood/Art/Tech, Music, Humanities and the ISC session … so it’s sounds like there was something for everyone. Hopefully these days were fun and informative for all of our students and they are looking forward to coming back next year, and that all parents have been able to get something out of the sessions they attended whether a new or returning parent. I would also like to extend a big thank you to all Garnsey staff and support staff that assisted with these days, without a mountain of work from many people these days are not possible, so thank you all.

Debating Dinner by teachers in charge of Debating Zoe Hilliar and Rachel Patton
Our Annual Debating Dinner was held on November 14 at Avon Ridge Winery. Over 100 guests gathered to celebrate the 2023 Season and to acknowledge the hard work and camaraderie of all involved. All 10 teams were well represented with most of our 54 debaters coming along to share a meal, to reflect on the year that was and to be presented with certificates from the Debating Association of Victoria. Mr Jayatilake and Mrs Nethercote were able to chat with many of the debater's parents who so patiently wait for the debating bus to return from Berwick late at night after each round and support their children to participate. Thank you to families for coming along to help celebrate the year.

Year 12 Camp by VCE Coordinator Edward Wilson
In Week 8, our current Year 11 students headed to Forrest Edge to participate in their annual Year 12 preparation camp. Held over three days, the students participated in a range of activities that included: recreational activities, leadership development, careers, study skills, mentor group tasks, and team building activities (including crate climbing, river sledding and cage soccer). On the first evening, the students were lucky enough to listen Declan Fay (renowned comedy writer for ABC and radio programs) who shared the key message of: don’t wonder ‘what if’, and emphasised that our students should not be afraid to make mistakes – it is what they do after that matters. Building upon this, the students had the privilege to learn from Ben Robins (head of Mental Health & Psychology at Essendon Football Club). Ben joined our students and staff on the Wednesday evening to speak about mental fitness and how to navigate the challenges that they will face in Year 12 and beyond. We hope our students found these sessions transformational and enriching.

The final night ended with a theme night party, where each of the mentor groups dressed up in a theme of their choosing. It was a pleasure sharing this experience with our Year 11s and hope that they are feeling ready for the exciting year ahead.

Outdoor Education Camps by co-heads of Outdoor Education Cass Booth and Sarah Meades
As usual Term 4 has kept everyone extremely busy and our weather has given us some added challenges. We started the term with our Year 7s. After relocating to Wilsons Promontory, the Year 7 students had a wonderful three days on program. Students participated in a range of activities including paddleboarding, orienteering, bushwalking, sunsets at the top of Mt Oberon and much more!

We then headed to the high country to complete the pinnacle experience at Lake Tali Karng with our Year 9s. Over 3 days the students hiked 30km, crossed 15 river crossings, battled the Valley of Destruction, relaxed by the Lake, and completed an overnight solo experience in the Wellington Plains amounts the snow gums. Unfortunately, due to the high level of rain this week our second program has been cancelled.

Next week we will be working with the Year 9s to do some final preparation for their elective program that will be running in Week 3 of next year. We will have students canoeing the Snowy River, fly fishing near Bright, surfing at Wilsons Prom and scuba diving at Queenscliff.

Despite a range of differing weather for our camps this year, students came away with positive experiences. We look forward to working with these cohorts as they continue their Outdoor Education journey over the next few years. The Outdoor Education team would also like to take this opportunity thank the many parents the joined us over the term to help us out on the different programs. If you are a parent who is keen in coming on programs next year, please make sure to email us your expression of interest.

Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award by co-head of Outdoor Education Cass Booth
On Monday November 27, Acting Principal Justin Henderson and I were privileged to be witness of Grace Ng and Harrison Singer (Class of 2020) receiving their Duke of Edinburgh Gold awards. Grace and Harrison were two of just 80 students in the state to receive the award this year. The Duke of Edinburgh’s International award is the world’s leading youth development program for non-formal education, present in more than 120 countries and reaching more than eight million young people. I’m so proud of these students achieving their award. It shows a high level of commitment, resilience and determination to work consistently towards the three levels over such a long period of time. I appreciate how individual the award can be and was evident while and watching both Grace and Harry go through such different challenges and rewards throughout their time. I know that into their adulthood they will be rewarded from skills they have learnt from this experience.

Catch up on last week’s newsletter here: https://www.gippslandgrammar.a...

Rohan Jayatilake

Head of Garnsey Campus