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FROM THE PRINCIPAL: Term 1 2023 Update

Learn some of the latest news at Preshil from our Principal, Josh Brody.

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Dear Preshil Families,

We are quickly rounding the bend and heading towards the last weeks of Term 1. In addition, we find ourselves now firmly into both Autumn and Iuk, or Eel Season, according to the calendar of the Kulin Nation. One of the most noticeable signs of the season is the flowering of the Binap, or Manna Gum tree. Along with finding lots of Manna Gum blossoms, my family and I recently had the good fortune to see an intriguing eel while hiking along one of the beautiful rivers in Victoria.

We welcomed in the new school year at Preshil with a Whole School Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony. The first day of the school year is an important day for all of us as we enter as a community together for another year of learning. We collectively recognised the importance of that first school day by participating in an important Wurundjeri ceremonial cleansing, for students, staff, and parents alike.

In all areas of our school, we value student agency. We see our students as agents of positive change both within the school community and outside of it in the larger society. We are grateful to Minna Merkel who has chosen to focus her personal project as part of the Middle Years Programme (MYP) on an extremely important topic that supports Preshil‘s reconciliation efforts. Students get to focus on an issue that they are passionate about, with the support of a faculty advisor. Please see a description of Minna’s Personal Project in her own words by clicking here.

We thank Minna for exemplifying with her personal project the way students can connect their learning to things they care about and in the process have a very real and positive impact on the world around them. 

A new program at BK this year, the Changemaker Program, is designed to support students to identify what matters to them and then ask what they can do about it. The Changemaker Program for students in Years 7 to 10 provides a flexible and dynamic learning space that caters to their diverse interests and enables the development of key skills across different year levels.

In Term 1, the curriculum facilitation has effectively exposed students to a range of successful changemaker case studies and encouraged them to reflect on innovative social practices they can engage in to make a positive impact on their communities.

During Week 5, the Year 7 and 8 students in our Changemaker Program enjoyed a special presentation from the Beehive Design Collective, which included storytelling and a hands-on art-making activity. The Beehive Collective is a volunteer-driven, non-profit Arts Organisation from North America and they are doing incredible work on their tour here in Australia. This workshop was a great opportunity for our Changemakers to witness the power of art and activism. The Cage at BK was decorated with a series of large-scale murals created by a group of artists in collaboration with the Beehive Design Collective. The workshop centred on one mural entitled, ‘The Cost of Coal.’ This artwork included a visual timeline that describes the impact of colonisation, industrialisation and climate change on our environment. Students were invited to identify and comment on animals or scenes within the mural and describe what they thought the imagery meant. Students (and teachers) were particularly excited when presenter Darius finished with a rap that described the events depicted in the mural.

As we move into Term 2, students have expressed their desire to put their changemaking ideas into action, highlighting the need for a practical application of the program’s theoretical concepts. 

We have passionate students who are determined to make a positive impact in their community. For example, a group of students in Year 7 students are eager to help animals in need. They have already reached out to the RSPCA and Hawthorn Tennis Club to get things started! Their plan is to support the recreation and comfort of rescue animals by bringing used tennis balls from the Hawthorn Tennis Club and old towels received through a towel drive to the RSPCA. We are proud of our students for not just identifying what they are about, but then also taking actions big and small. taking action on issues that are meaningful to them. As students go through the program, they will be encouraged to look for root causes for societal issues and figure out how to make an impact in increasingly sophisticated ways.

We’re committed to expanding our network and resources for the Changemaker Program, and we’d love to have parents and families join us in this effort! If you have expertise or resources that could support our students in their changemaking activities, we invite you to get involved. Maybe you have connections to experts in relevant fields, or perhaps your business could engage with our students. We welcome any and all contributions, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Changemaker Program Coordinator, Jason Shulman (jason.shulman@preshil.vic.edu.au).

Students at BK are helping to support students across campuses to bring awareness to important days and themes throughout the year. This is a newly-formed student group within the Changemaker Program whose focus is to promote and foster various celebrations and awareness weeks that align with values of inclusivity, social justice, and environmental stewardship. The group represents students from a variety of year levels and backgrounds to ensure a broad range of perspectives and ideas. We thank all involved in supporting these young changemakers as they work towards supporting a globally-minded and empathetic school community.

They have already been busy this year with whole school celebrations around Epilepsy Week, Cultural Diversity Week and Harmony Day.

Their first celebration for Epilepsy Awareness Month took place recently, and Preshil students Kiran, Archie, Khai Xuan, Neve, Sammy (and Rosie the Puppet!) have been busy busting myths and raising awareness about epilepsy. Students sold purple merchandise, hosted a stall at the Family Picnic, and organised various activities such as a bake sale, guess the lolly jar, trivia, temporary tattoos, and their purple parade. Additionally, our students provided information to the community through puppet presentations and poster statements.

At our Whole School Meeting earlier this term, the students presented a cheque to a representative from the Epilepsy Foundation for $1,119, raised by students across both our junior and senior campuses. They were also thanked publicly online!

The success of this initiative was largely due to the passionate leadership of our student committee, who shared their insights with the rest of the School. It was particularly inspiring to see two committee members who have experienced epilepsy since childhood, leading the charge and contributing to a greater understanding of the condition.

During the preparations for this year’s Cultural Diversity Week, the student group came together to discuss the importance of exploring our school’s multiculturalism. They recognised that while many of us may appear to share similar ancestry, the diversity of our backgrounds is often hidden in the history of our families. As a result, they committed to this year’s Cultural Diversity Week theme of celebrating and reflecting on the contributions of Victoria’s multicultural communities, under the banner of ‘Our Past. Our Future’. By exploring our past, we can better understand and appreciate the richness of our cultural heritage, and work towards building a more inclusive and diverse future. Stemming from the work of these students, all Year 7 to 10 students have explored the concept of cultural diversity during their Homeroom times and each individual has completed a profile about themselves and their ancestors.

Another component of Cultural Diversity Week is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on Tuesday 21 March 2023. In Australia, this day is also Harmony Day and at Preshil we decided to celebrate both days on Friday 24 March 2023 with a number of student-led activities, including a special Whole School Meeting.

On Thursday 9 March 2023, we welcomed back six alumni to speak in a panel discussion, reflecting upon their journey during and after Preshil. This special Life After Preshil event was organised by our Parent Education Committee so that current students and parents could learn more about experiences alumni have had and the connections they make between their current endeavours and their Preshil experiences. We were grateful to have on the panel alumni representing a wide range of professions and life experiences, and are all at a variety of life stages. Please follow the links below to see some highlights and takeaways from the evening:

During this event, we met Pascal Babare (Class of 2004) who fondly reminisced about his time at our Arlington Campus, and how this space fostered an expansive possibility for play and experimenting – not just with music, but with anything!

We met Dr Ben Cleveland (Class of 1992) who since his time at Preshil, he has used his experience as a student in Preshil’s beautiful campuses as a lens to explore the connection between student agency (a social and behavioural construct) and the physical learning environment. He talked about human geography, and how the continuity and fluidity of access and movement between our Arlington and Blackhall Kalimna Campuses benefit student learning outcomes.

Former Teacher, Bill Cleveland, elaborated upon the precious and enduring relationships that were created during his 25 years as a Preshil Secondary School teacher, and how at the heart of progressive schools like Preshil is the profoundly collaborative and respectful relationship between student and teacher

We welcomed alumni and current parent Tom Birch (Class of 1994) who discussed entrepreneurship being a different form of creativity.

The panel were asked to define the broad term of ‘success’ and generally agreed that not only is it doing something that you enjoy and finding that sense of purpose, it is also being adaptable and having both agency and the courage to give things a go.

Recent graduates, Audrey Robinson (Class of 2020) and Poppy Phillips (Class of 2022) were asked to share their thoughts and experiences on the first years out of school, and how prepared they felt for their next steps. Poppy shared how academically Preshil prepared her for different ways of thinking and learning. Do what interests you and channel that interest during your secondary years was the key message Audrey delivered to current Preshil students thinking about their next steps. Curiosity is key and, whatever you do, don’t get bored – it’s a waste of time.

At the beginning of this year, Preshil introduced a new Long Day Care format for the Kindergarten program. We also decided to bring our Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) program in-house. I’m pleased to share that the transition has gone smoothly.

Please find an update from our Director of Kindergarten and OSHC, Stewart Thorn, by clicking here.

To begin the school year, our Secondary School families braved the torrential Melbourne rain to attend our BK Back to School Night and we warmly welcomed our Prep to Year 6 families to the Back to School Night by the Fireside at our Arlington Campus. Families had the opportunity to hear from teachers about the school year ahead around broader school-wide themes in addition to class and course-specific curriculum updates.

During the year parents and guardians can follow their children’s progress through learning platforms such as Seesaw and Google Classrooms, through newsletters and updates such as the Arlington Argus and the BK Broadcast, and at campus-wide and school-wide events such as the Celebrations of Learning taking place towards the end of terms.

I also want to thank staff, parents and students for all of the work that goes into making parent-teacher-student conferences successful. These conferences just wrapped up at BK and were held a few weeks ago at Arlington and are a crucial part of the partnership between families and school to support students and their ongoing growth.

And we look forward to the upcoming Celebrations of Learning events in the near future! 

Announcing The 2023 Preshil Production… 
Lovingly ripped off from the classic film comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT retells the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, and features a bevy of beautiful show girls, not to mention cows, killer rabbits, and French people. Did we mention the bevy of beautiful showgirls? The 2005 Broadway production won three Tony® Awards, including Best Musical, and was followed by two successful West End runs. The outrageous, uproarious, and gloriously entertaining story of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake will delight audiences as they search for the Holy Grail and “always look on the bright side of life.”

Auditions are currently underway and we look forward to sharing more information with you soon!

We are excited to announce our next book for the Preshil Book Club ‘Parental As Anything’ by Maggie Dent. This book offers practical advice and insights for raising resilient, healthy, and happy children.

Our Parent Education Committee is thrilled to host the next book club meeting on Friday 5 May 2023 at 9.00am in the Arlington Library. This is a fantastic opportunity to connect with other parents and engage in meaningful discussions about the joys and challenges of parenting.

We believe that continuous learning and sharing of knowledge are essential to supporting our children’s development and well-being. By joining our book club, you will gain valuable insights and perspectives that will help you navigate the triumphs and tribulations of parenting.

We encourage all parents, guardians, and members of the community to join us for this engaging event!

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I look forward to seeing families at the first Celebration of Learning Event at Arlington tomorrow. 
Enjoy the rest of Term 1!

All the best,

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