Wesley College Melbourne Australia
Principal's Blog

Living Memory

7 September 2015

As everyone by now knows, our formally designated theme this year, to bring focus to our many activities, in and outside the classroom, is Living Memory.  I certainly intended that the emphasis be on "living" because memory, and how we use it, informs so much of what we do and plan.  I doubt whether I have been more aware and appreciative of this than in the first six months of the present year.  This has been most apparent in the remembrances we have observed for our students who fell in the Great War, and there will be further explorations of his particular memory as the year progresses.

Memories of Wesley also live on in the lives of those many present students whose parents also attended the school.  These students come armed with a certain knowledge (which newcomers quickly pick up on), and are often very proud of this previous association, the school has been alive for them before they begin living within it themselves.  It is a part of that sense of community and "family" that we talk so much about, and with such conviction. I was moved earlier this year when a Year 7 boy at St Kilda road, Ben Huntsman, spoke to his entire year group on two occasions - the Year 7 Celebratory Service at the Wesley Uniting Church in Lonsdale Street, and the Founders' Day Assembly at school - about the four generations of his family who has attended Wesley.  What a brave thing to undertake for one so young, but he handled his assignment confidently and proudly, a perfect example of living memory.  The truth and power of the school's traditions and pride were on display for all his peers to grasp and appreciate.  it was a wonderful way to illustrate the idea.

Girls Firsts’ Cross Country team, 2015 Premiers
Girls Firsts’ Cross Country team, 2015 Premiers

Memory, of course, is going to play a big part in our Wesley lives next year as we celebrate our sesquicentenary, a word so prominent in our vocabulary in the lead-up that even the Preps will be able to spell it before the year is out.  An article in this edition of Lion provides a taste of the many events that are planned to ensure that this anniversary gets all the attention it requires.  Our history is important to us, and how our values and principles have remained steadfast, and yet adjusting over time to social change, is crucial to our understanding of where we have come from, and where we are heading.  Later on this year, a calendar of "special events" will become available, but the celebrations of our 150th will mainly involve giving a particular focus to occasions already part of the Wesley year, which will take on a particular character in accordance with this significant historical moment.  I am keen to ensure that there is no disruption to our normal programs, and that we don't go overboard; after all, memory needs to be woven into our ordinary days to retain the importance we give to it.  We have been around since barely thirty years after the foundation of the colony of Victoria, and this in itself is worthy of acclamation.  As the Features Writer points out, we do enjoy a good clap at Wesley, to affirm our much admired togetherness. 

A wonderful display of saris worn by parents at the Gala Night
A wonderful display of saris worn by parents at the Gala Night

Leigh Roux, captain of the Girls’ Cross Country team is presented with the
            Premiership Cup by Tom Batty, Headmaster of Scotch College
Leigh Roux, captain of the Girls’ Cross Country team is presented with the Premiership Cup by Tom Batty, Headmaster of Scotch College

But time, let alone memory, isn't inert, and we have to keep pushing on with an eye to the future as well.  Since 2004, our current Strategic Plan 2014 - 2016 has set the directions for the current generation of Wesley students from early childhood through to Year 12.  Now a new plan is in development to cover the years 2017-2030.  During July/August this year we will be consulting with our community broadly to help us shape Wesley for the coming generation.  A consultation paper titled The Shape of Wesley to Come is available on our website at www.wesleycollege.net/theshapreofwesleytocome and I encourage members of our wider Wesley family to read it and respond should they wish to.  I hope many will.  the paper is purposely exploratory, intentionally through provoking, and establishes a very broad agenda.

The paper begins with a firm premise that both contemporary and historical Wesley has multiple strengths, and these underpin any vision of the school in the future.  We honour the legacy and contributions of pastgenerations.  All the key pillars have long been in place: excellent teachers, academic richness, exemplarypastoral care, diversity of the student population, APS sport and the performing and visual arts, Clunes, and Yiramalay, outdoor education, an international alumni network, and a strong engagement with social justice.  But the paper also deals with comprehensively with new factors crucial in planning our future, notably the accelerating changes happening around us in the world we are preparing students for.

I hope many of you will take time to engage with the consultation process.  Outside perspectives are frequently invaluable.  You might not agree with each remark or point of view offered, but this, too, is the point.

Garma Festival, August 2015Garma Festival, August 2015
Art Prize 2015
Art Prize 2015

In the meantime, I wish everyone a continuing happy engagement, in their own ways, with our vibrant community.

Helen Drennen

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