Fire, Food and Friends

As the holidays approach and I sit and reflect on the (festival of) leaving our Year 12s recently experienced as well as our other students as they move into the next stages of their development as students at SCOTS PGC College, I cannot help but think, what is it we actually try to do at SCOTS? What do we truly want from our students?

I hear OP scores, VET pathways, apprenticeships, traineeships, and the list goes on and on. And yes, we want success for our kids, whatever that looks like. However, there is one common belief I have that signifies success for our students and our parents and that is the development of great human beings. Not necessarily perfect ones but really good, decent people.

I must confess that some of my thoughts now turn to my own family. In a year that has flown by quickly, I reflect on how quickly my girls have grown up and equally how quickly all our kids move through school to become young adults. Our Prep students will be graduating in 11 years’ time but that 11 years will go by in a heartbeat. I reflect on one of the Thompson girls’ birthdays held recently.  Interesting I hear you say, but why is he writing about that?

I believe that at significant points in time it is important to reflect on the things in one’s life, and the end of year has caused me to do just that, with my own kids as well as with the students at SCOTS.  This moment has allowed me the opportunity to reflect on our child’s journey through school and to the first couple of years beyond the security of an independent school’s walls.  It also allowed me to reflect on what it is SCOTS PGC truly does.

To recognise this milestone, our daughter decided she would like to host one of those ‘gathering’ things.  I believe they used to be called parties.  She actually spent considerable time planning the food and beverage (for the first time she realised it didn’t just magically appear).  She even managed to pay for some of it herself.  This was amazing!  Maybe she had grown up?  However, help was still needed from mum and dad, as the 12 party pies she purchased didn’t add up with the 17 guests (she was actually good at maths at school!).  Proof that even when our teenagers think they know everything, or think they are old enough to be completely independent, mum and dad are still required to guide, help, and support them.  This I know extends to all of our teenagers.

The challenge is to know when to let them spread their wings a bit further, when to be there to support or assist, or to still be the one that weighs in more heavily.  This occurs throughout school, but also beyond those years.  It was great to watch our daughter ‘growing’ during this time, the same as we had watched her ‘grow’ at other stages of her schooling.  It was also nice to be in the background helping more than she probably knew.

In spite of her purchases, mum and dad still contributed significantly to this event.  I was sent to get this, buy that, sort this and carry that.  I remember money going out.  I don’t remember any coming back… But I was excited at the prospect of seeing her friends and what they would be like.  It is easy as parents to not have the time to see who our children associate with.  Something, given the peer influence on teens, that is very important.

So the stage was set.  Catering sorted, fire pit alight (great work Dad! – Boys like fire!) and the crowd began to arrive.  The first three were Old Boys from another school, if 19 is old.  This is where my reflections began in earnest.  Each lad greeted me with a warm handshake and ‘hello’.

There was a brief hesitation when they weren’t sure how to address me, but this was quickly allayed.  Then the conversation flowed about what they were doing, how was the school, and even about how I was.  I could not help thinking ‘Wow! What great young blokes’.

Then the girls started turning up.  The same thing happened.  Warm greetings, easy, polite conversation.  Impressive.  Very impressive.

The ease at which these ‘kids’ conversed with each other and with us ‘oldies’ was worth further thought… No doubt parenting.  Also, no doubt where they were educated.  It was evident they had been truly educated, in more than academics.

My wife and I ran food all night.  Deli stuff, pumpkin soup, pies (more than 12) etc etc.  The hands down winner was the sliced chorizo cooked over the fire pit (Dad – genius).  These young people were polite, thankful, and getting on famously.  As parents what more do we want for our kids than this in their teenage years?

Great friends, respectful of each other and the adults, obviously young people with great values.

On reflection, this is what I invested in when sending my children to a values led independent school. And here I was able to see the investment paying off beyond the school gates.

Paying off in spades!  These boys and the girls had clearly been educated well, educated in life as well as academics.  This is why as parents we sacrifice to send our kids to such places.  They learn maths, english and a number of academic subjects.  They also learn manner and manners, they become great people.  They become great friends.  Our children are far more than a number and I believe our school demonstrates this and it is reflected in our students’ development.  This is where our investment in education pays off.

So, eventually, they left.  The farewells were equally as impressive.  Everyone thanked us and there was fun and engaging small talk.

Once left to the silence of a deserted house my wife and I could not stop speaking of how great these kids were and the connection this had with the schools they attended.  As we see every day at SCOTS PGC, the development of our teenagers can be fun, exhilarating, difficult and scary at times.  Watching our kids grow into young adults is special.

Knowing our young adults still need their older adults, whether they admit it or not, is also important.  It is also important as parents to recognise our kids’ development.  We need to enjoy their milestones sharing them from close and afar, especially through their school years.  There will be many milestones and chances to reflect on our students’ progress at SCOTS PGC.  I hope we share and recognise all of them as together we continue to develop great human beings.  Our investment, financial or otherwise, is worth it in spades.

In conclusion I would like to thank all the parents, staff and students of SCOTS PGC for their support over the last year. I wish everyone a safe and joyous Christmas and I look forward to seeing our boys and girls return to continue their SCOTS PGC journey next year.