This week, I have been thinking about who our neighbours are and the many and varied relationships we have with the community of Launceston and beyond. With Christmas upon us and our thoughts turning to the coming together of family and friends, it is also important to be mindful of those who enrich our lives and those whom we support to make a positive difference.
On Tuesday, it was a privilege to attend the New Horizons Christmas Party hosted at the school by Revd. Matthew Pickering, our student volunteers, and key community supporters Patricia Quin and David Jones. Our guests appreciated the hospitality, but more importantly, it was a time of being together and further cementing the bond between our two organisations. Service Learning in schools has evolved in recent years, and it is no longer just about volunteering. It is about authentic partnerships and a genuine meeting of needs for both parties. Revd. Pickering has this year introduced to me and, through the actions of students and staff, the concept of plésion, which as a Greek adverb translates to “near, neighbouring” and is embedded and explored in the stories of the New Testament. Matthew has used this concept to shape our Chapel messaging and to encourage me to think differently about our school and our role in the Launceston community and the wider Tasmanian regions. Indeed, one of the questions I often ask myself and have encouraged various staff members to reflect on is, “What would Launceston be like without Grammar?” This is by no means an indulgent reflection on our own self-importance; rather, it invites us to think deeply about how we contribute to our community, the many people, and groups that we share within this remarkable land of Lutruwita.
One of my other experiences this week was a meeting with Major Peter Williams (Retd), Secretary of the Launceston Returned Service League. Peter took me for a tour of the refurbished museum space, which is a source of great pride for members and a testament to honour those who have served. He then took me through the various programs offered to returning service men and women and the various ways in which this volunteer organization supports them, including attending to their wellbeing and life needs. We discussed ways in which we may engage in partnership, and there are many opportunities available to us to foster a deeper relationship. As a school with a proud and rich military service history, it is important that we honour this heritage beyond participating in ANZAC and Remembrance services. I am looking forward to the evolution of this special relationship. One easy way to support the organization is to hire their state-of-the-art meeting rooms, which come in various sizes and are well-equipped with technologies and easy access to catering needs. The small fee for hire directly supports RSL activities. I will be using the facilities for Leadership Planning Days in the future, and I encourage those of us in business to consider using the space for your next offsite meeting at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The school year is building to a crescendo, and my calendar is looking busy for the next two weeks as we celebrate, acknowledge, and bid farewell to many members of our close-knit community. Our students are ending the year well, and I have been impressed with the diligence of our Senior School students who have shown commitment to their learning in recent exams. This week Grade 9 have ventured to the East Coast for the Mt Cameron Outdoor Education experience. This is a significant logistical feat*, and our Head of Outdoor Education, Jen Tait, is nothing short of a miracle worker. I have admired the way in which our OE department has seamlessly moved between various programs, and each time I have seen our students return renewed and invigorated! The Carols Service on Wednesday evening was well attended and was an inspiring way to commence these final two weeks. I encourage you to take special note of the musical moments that will punctuate these occasions and to take the time to thank the performers and their teachers who work tirelessly during this time of year. I look forward to seeing our community coming together and thank you for warmly embracing our school; indeed, it is a school like no other. Have a wonderful weekend.