Director of Boarding

Hello All,

We have had some wonderful events in the boarding houses this term.

I’ll work backwards from tonight – Valentines Day.  All day, across the boarding houses and in the day school, little gifts and cards with positive messages appeared on desks, in bags and on doors.  I watched as the wonderful Girls Boarding bus driver had a box of chocolates at the door as the girls entered this morning.  I told him he was the luckiest bus driver on earth to transport so many intelligent, witty, well groomed and beautiful girls. He agreed and the day started so well for everyone as we had a laugh and a chocolate before 8am!!!

Then tonight the equally intelligent, witty, well groomed (if Mexican hats, dress shirts with bow ties and boxer or rugby shorts achieves that adjective) and handsome Yr 12 boys serenaded the Yr 12 girls on my deck.  The songs they sang and danced to were traditional songs to belt out and the Yr 12s had a lovely night before many of them were transported to a touch footy game.  They were back in their respective boarding houses around 8.30 where they then did their study.  Oh to be young again.  All I can say is – only in Warwick.

Last Sunday, I took all the Year 12 boarders to Storm King Dam for a Leadership Day. As Yr 12s, I told the students that they have it in their power to leave a very positive legacy in all three boarding houses.  I spoke particularly to those students who did not receive prefect badge.  We all agreed that every individual in the room had the power to influence their peers and especially the younger students. Mr Thompson, Mr Stiles and Ms Reading joined me as we openly discussed policies and procedures in the boarding houses.

We looked particularly at the use and misuse of mobile phone and other devices and workshopped the existing procedures.  Everyone was in agreement with all the research that young people, IT and healthy sleep patterns don’t mix.  The students agreed with the procedures of all younger students handing in their IT (including phones) each night – Yr 6,7,8 at 8.30pm; Yr 9 at 8.45pm and Yr 10 at 10pm.

We then tackled the very difficult decisions around our senior students.  Mr Thompson and I were of the firm opinion that all students should hand all devices in each night with the exception of late night study or completion of assignments. We had a very healthy debate and the students argued strongly that yes the Yr 11’s should hand in devices at 10.30 but that the Yr 12s should be trusted enough to make use of the technology but be able to put it all aside in their rooms at a reasonable hour each night so they could sleep.  One young lady refuted my argument that they did not need their devices if they were asleep so they should be locked away with her rebuttal that if they were asleep they were not on the device so it didn’t matter where it was stored.

One of the arguments the students put forward was that, as the very senior cohort in the boarding house, they felt they had earned our trust and that the privilege of having their devices in their room was just that – a privilege and not a right.  They said that such privileges will be incentive for younger cohorts to step up and show that they too are trustworthy. Of course, they agreed that maybe not everyone in Yr 12 has the willpower needed to turn devices off at a reasonable time and go to sleep. They argued that, if the trust is broken, that person simply loses the privilege.  From the staff end, the condition of trying this system would be that the Yr 12s work with the younger students, particularly the Yr 11s, and really become leaders and mentors with the aim of ensuring that the next crop of leaders follow in their footsteps. This would be a win win for everyone.  Of course, staff will be heavily monitoring this to ensure that our Yr 12 cohort keep their end of the bargain and will also remain vigilant to ensure that technology is not being misused.

Our staff can write and put into practice any number of procedures around such things as the use of technology but parents must also be part of the successful implementation of such procedures.  If we store students’ phones each night, so they cannot be tempted to be on them when they should be sleeping and to ensure they are not on unhealthy social media platforms unsupervised at night. Our work is undone if a parent supplies their student with a second phone.  As a College we block such things as facebook, snapchat and the like but, if the child is provided with another source to be able to access these, again the child has unlimited availability of these mediums. We must work together to ensure that the emotional and mental well being of all our students are forefront in our minds as we formulate policies and procedures .  Our students have grown up with their technology and need our help to ensure that they control its use and that the devices don’t control them. They need uninterrupted sleep.  They need no access to the outside world late at night.  They need some time when they have no access to conversing or arguing with their friends.  They do not need computer screens or phones in their room when they should be asleep.

The Yoga / pilates sessions in the girls boarding house, to which the boys were also invited, were a success with most girls in the house on a Sunday morning participating.  Having done one of the sessions myself I was amazed at the physicality of the hour long class.  These sessions are good for both physical core strength as well as for relaxation and good overall mental health.  Unfortunately we cannot continue to run these classes without a contribution from the participants.  However, at the moment we do not have enough students willing to pay the required $7.50 so we are trying to work with instructor Jess to see if girls could go to her town classes.  This is a work in progress and I will keep you posted as to the outcome.

We are now nearing the half way point of the term and, for some new boarders, homesickness has returned. Others, both returned and new, have realised the workload that is required for them to attain the results they aspire to.  Staff are vigilant and available to these students to help them through these times.  Generally, our boarding houses are happy places full of great kids.  Laughter can be heard everywhere and we try to keep a balance for all students.  They are required to concentrate on their studies but, at the same time, they need time to be kids and relax and have fun with their friends.  Please let boarding staff know if you have any concerns about your child.

Regards, Mrs Michelle Brown