Head of House – Ward

Diversity is the magic. It is the first manifestation…of simple identity. The greater the diversity, the greater the perfection.

Thomas Berry

Mia Circosta, outgoing House Captain for 2020, addressed the House in her graduation speech saying: “Ward has always been a safe place for me, a place where I could be unapologetically myself and be appreciated, respected and loved.

One of the key messages I strive to nurture in Ward House students – from meeting incoming students on Orientation Day, to supporting them in those days before they sit the HSC – is to always be themselves. Never to pretend to be something they are not to please others; not to go along with acts they disagree with for fear of judgement; always to keep sacred their personal core values and what they stand for.

It is true that this way of being causes some challenges. Finding the confidence to say how you really feel – to share your own truths while trying to fit in – can be a very a difficult thing to navigate for anyone. Younger students often grapple with that idea of being an ‘upstander’ rather than a bystander; but as I chat with them throughout the year, during Conversations, or times of uncertainty, I always come back to the same message: You can only be you. And you are always enough.

I think one of the most valuable lessons I eventually learned as a teenager was that not everyone you come across will like you. People have widely different viewpoints, backgrounds and cultures. Some combinations just don’t work well in the chemistry of human connection. I do believe, though, that if you follow your own path, interests and passions, you will eventually find your people.

In this year of Verity, we have worked to really understand this value. It is not only your truth that matters. Verity doesn’t mean we get to speak our opinions without a thought for how others may feel. We must be true to ourselves, but we must also seek to understand other points of view. We must put ourselves regularly in the shoes of others, and always try to learn more while respecting differences.

Embracing inclusivity and diversity is one of the Student Council’s goals for this year. Ward’s new House Council, led by Jordyn Richards, planned enthusiastically during their Leadership Day. Creating a clear House vision was something Year 11 were all keen to be involved in, and how to embrace diversity was a major point of discussion.

One of our favourite activities this year was the whole-school experience of dadirri during Mental Health Month. The spiritual practice of dadirri (da-did-ee) comes from the Ngan’gikurunggurr and Ngen’giwumirri languages of the Aboriginal peoples of the Daly River region, Northern Territory. Dadirri involves deep listening and respect through quiet stillness and awareness. It allows us to reflect by “tapping into that deep spring that is within us” and “just continuously making yourself aware of where you’ve come from, why you are here, where you are going now and where you belong.” (To borrow the words of Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann, Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu; activist, educator, artist. NT State Recipient Senior Australian of the Year 2021)

It was also a real pleasure to witness Year 11 leading the House in learning our School song Cruci in Auslan recently. It was a powerful way to increase belonging and spirit, facilitating opportunity in the face of difficulty and raising awareness for our ‘Week Without Words.’

Mia left the House with these final thoughts as we farewelled Year 12 from their Ward family and I couldn’t put it better myself: “Try to remind yourself that you are yours before you are anyone else’s. Be kind to yourself, say your own name with confidence and be proud of who you are and how far you’ve come. I think that we are all born so beautifully and that one of the greatest tragedies is being convinced that we aren’t. Convince yourself day after day that you are enough.”

You can read more on dadirri  at the Miriam Rose Foundation website and this article from ABC. 

 

Mrs Emma Hughes

Head of House – Ward