Deans of Boarding
The Boarding School seeks to build on the holistic care provided by the day school. Being a boarder provides students with unique opportunities for development and growth and communal living can enhance tolerance, resilience and resourceful thinking in young people. Hugh Mackay, social researcher and commentator, in his recently published book, The Art of Belonging, highlights the fact that as social beings we need to belong to a group to help shape our identity. “Like most species on the planet we are social beings, we’re hopeless in isolation, we absolutely depend on social groups and communities to nurture, sustain and protect us. We do need each other. Because we are social beings the only identity that makes sense is the identity that’s related to where we belong and where we fit into the networks we belong to.”
During the recent Community Weekend in boarding, the sense of connectedness was palpable. Gathering around the fire pit, staff and students relaxed and enjoyed one another’s company. A small group of girls enhanced the experience by making delicious ‘johnny cakes’ for the entire boarding school population. One of the most pleasing aspects was that every year group was represented in the making of the ‘johnny cakes’ and every girl came out to the fire pit and spent time with their fellow boarders. This vignette of boarding school life is representative of Mackay’s beliefs around connectedness and community.
While it is vital to nurture relationships within the Boarding School, it is also important to look beyond our community. The Boarding School is always looking for opportunities for staff and students to engage with the local and extended community. The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) commissioned Associate Professor Lucas Walsh, and Dr Rosalyn Black of Monash University, to conduct an evidence review of Youth Volunteering in Australia. Among the findings, in a number of studies, young people identify considerable benefits of their involvement in volunteer activities including acknowledgement, appreciation, and a sense of being socially engaged.
Each year the boarders support a number of initiatives – Exodus, Run2Cure and the SAN Fun Run, as competitors in either the 5kms or 10kms or acting as volunteers. Last weekend 20 boarders were fortunate enough to reap either physical fitness or social engagement benefits of being part of a community event, simultaneously connecting with nature, one another and the wider community.
As we look to the future and imagine the new Boarding School, there is an understanding of the need to create more open spaces where families, boarders and staff can gather and nurture connectedness with one another and the natural environment. However the key will always remain the cultivation of already strong relationships.
Three Year 12 boarders, Lucy Hassall, from Holbrook, Bridget Downes, from Moree, and Paris Sharpe, from Black Head, reflecting on their time in boarding, commented on the strength of relationships in boarding.
“The inclusiveness of the Boarding School is something that I have recognised and it extends right through from Year 7 to Year 12. There are always activities and initiatives for everyone, from rec programs in Year 7 and 8 to the accumulating freedom as you get older such as city leave in Year 10; however nothing beats the skipping in the DRC on a Friday night with the whole boarding school.”
“I am grateful for the strong bonds I have formed with the girls I have met during my time in the Boarding School. The Friday night movies screenings and endless study partners are irreplaceable and I will miss these things when I graduate”.
“The sense of community at Loreto makes our home away from home a really special place to live.”
Mrs Joanne Hallinan and Ms Suzanne Leahy
Deans of Boarding