Deans of Boarding
This week Loreto Normanhurst joins in solidarity with boarders around Australia for National Boarding Week. As an initiative of the Australian Boarding Schools Association, it is another opportunity for our boarders to strengthen and celebrate their relationships within their boarding community, the whole school community and with their boarding friends around the country.
Community connectedness has long been acknowledged as a protective factor for mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. A strong sense of community is built on supportive relationships that flourish as a result of explicit actions that demonstrate a genuine care and compassion for others. It requires all members to make a conscious decision to contribute through their words and actions. As a Loreto community, we are fortunate to have clearly articulated values that guide and inform our decision making and are manifest in everyday interactions.
Hugh Mackay, social researcher and author, in his 2017 Gandhi Oration at the University of New South Wales, highlighted the importance of personal responsibility and actions in developing community. His research reminds us that although “loss of community” is one of the most common concerns among contemporary Australians, societal fragmentation and individualism can be countered with a charitable disposition, an inherent respect for other people and a determination to be kind regardless of personal differences.
…when it comes to the character and the values of our society, it really is up to us. We can have a powerful influence on the state of the various communities we belong to…
The “us” that he refers to has particular resonance for those living and working in boarding school communities. We are challenged to cultivate environments that not only support our boarders but empower and encourage them to engage with all the communities to which they belong. To achieve this, our boarders first and foremost, must be in the right relationships with each other. Support from boarding staff, families and the wider school community is essential in assisting boarders to navigate the challenges of communal living and to recognise they have the power to influence their community and society in a positive and profound way.
Throughout this term our expression of community has taken place in a variety of settings. Our Boarder Council took the opportunity to invite leaders from other Sydney boarding schools to share a meal and discuss the ways in which they each build community within their context. Last Friday saw the staging of the annual Boarder Main Event. This student-led evening of light entertainment showcases the individual and collective talents of each year group and brings together our boarders, staff and their extended families in a spirit of felicity.
Lastly, the Boarder Representative Council together with the Boarder Council work continuously to provide social and recreational experiences that foster interpersonal relationships. This week they have been responsible for celebratory activities within the school. Pink ribbons, trivia, skipping and a boarder music playlist are just some of the ways the entire school community has come together to share in the experiences and identity of the Loreto Normanhurst Boarders.
Ms Suzanne Leahy and Mrs Joanne Hallinan
Deans of Boarding