Deans of Boarding

Over the past two weeks our boarders have returned to school. It has been wonderful to see and speak to the girls and to witness their joy at reconnecting with their friends, both day students and fellow boarders, boarding staff and teachers. Greeting parents, as they return their daughters to boarding, and hearing their stories of life during this period of isolation, has been wonderful.

Many of the boarders have not only been attending zoom lessons, but have taken the opportunity to help out at home on family properties. We recognise that the experience of learning from home has been diverse and different for all our boarders and at times challenging. Upon return we have emphasised the importance of resourceful thinking and gratitude to our boarders. We are all slowly adjusting to a ‘new normal’;  mindful that reconnecting with friends and staff is an opportunity to be cherished. We have made changes to our routines in order to accommodate the demands of living in the time of COVID-19, being explicit to explain the rationale for these changes.

Our primary focus in boarding is always on the safety and wellbeing of our community. The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Podcast Series: How to Maintain Wellbeing in Secondary Schoolers, has some excellent advice for supporting teenagers in this time of uncertainty.  Namely, that parents and other significant adults acknowledge and validate the emotions of young people when they express frustration and disappointment. Additionally, as there will naturally be some anxiety about COVID-19, it is important to discuss fears and provide support and accept that at times there will be moments of boredom and that these moments are opportunities to try a new skill or activity.

With this in mind, the Boarding School, in partnership with the Sport department, are offering boarders the opportunity to engage in yoga sessions, fitness circuits and boxing classes after school and on Saturday mornings. These sessions are also a recognition of the important role of exercise in promoting and maintaining both physical and mental health. It is also important to stress that the easing of the lockdown period will be a process rather than a single event and that as a collective, we will adjust to a new normal.

This week also saw our boarders participate in National Boarding Week. This annual event aims to raise awareness and celebrate the unique experience of being a boarder. We have had to reimagine some of our boarding events in the current circumstances but nevertheless we are still part of a vibrant network of boarding schools. In recent times, these bonds have been strengthened.

At Loreto Normanhurst, the National Boarding Week events have been led by the Boarder Council and Boarder Representative Council. Boarders took part in the annual Pink Lady Fun Run; a movie night; a game of Family Feud via zoom and mindfulness activities.  As part of belonging to a wider community, the boarders also started knitting squares for the Wrapped with Love initiative.

While we are not able to maintain the physical connections we are used to, we have focussed on continuing to build on our relationships within our community and beyond. “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.” (Arundhati Roy, 2020)

Some of our boarders have written reflections and supplied photos. Read all about it in ‘Behind the Boarder’ here.

Mrs Joanne Hallinan and Ms Suzanne Leahy

Deans of Boarding