Friends and Family – Revelling in the SCOTS community

Looking back to the start of Term 2 in 2017, the College had an Open Morning on a Saturday, the third and final such experiment, before moving to the highly successful do-it-on-a-school-day alternative under Helen Bohm’s stewardship in April 2018.  Perhaps one of the contributory factors to the demise of ‘SCOTS Saturday Trading’ was an unintentionally whimsical performance by 4 members of the Executive in a 20 minute session for parents in our delightful Bandy Theatre.  You see, the issue was all 4 of us had been asked to speak, informally, for 1 or 2 minutes (this inevitably trebled because teachers shamelessly exploit one of Einstein’s discoveries in that time actually slows down when we talk before a captive audience!) on the subject of, ‘My 3 favourite aspects of life at SCOTS’.

Great idea; but as none of us had shared our intended pitch with each other, it was mildly embarrassing when all 4 of us included, ‘a sense of community’, in our short, well, medium-length presentation.  Reassuring as it must have been to hear this sincere refrain, over and over again, we did rather labour the point.

Given the opportunity to reflect once again on a topical matter in this Newsletter, and with the awkwardness of that session in the Bandy Theatre long since consigned to the ‘let’s not do that again’, folder, I would like to reflect on just how well SCOTS College does integrate within its wider community.  The last fortnight alone is what prompted me to return to this issue.  I would begin (only a teacher would begin 300 words into a supposedly 600-word article; it’s surely also something to do with the Theory of Relativity?) with the humble disclaimer that this is only my view of community engagement in action and I apologise for all the interactions I will surely miss.

So, in less than 5 minutes of concentrated thinking time, I noted that during the Jumpers and Jazz Festival, organisers from the Southern Downs Regional Council and other local groups contacted us on several occasions as, to quote the very kind Pam Burley of the Campfire Coop, ‘we know your students are so wonderful, polite and immaculately turned out’.  Pam was seeking Senior students to conduct surveys among the visiting throng, on both weekends of ‘J and J’; interviewing old and young in 2 hour shifts, toting iPads in recognition that while the Southern Downs may not be Silicon Valley, we comfortably hold our own in the Age of Technology.

Our Prefects, superbly marshalled by College Captains Anita Wu and Tom Winter, were a big hit and led to the J and J organisers sending a sizeable shipment of premium quality fresh apple and orange juice, manufactured by Groves here in our very own town, as a gift of appreciation.

Days later it was a joy to eavesdrop on students from our Duke of Edinburgh International Award programme exchanging yarns at the Akooramak Aged Care facility with residents aged from 88 to an impressive 102.  About mid-range in longevity, an enchanting lady of 97 years, Jess, asked for a microphone to address the large room.  Sharp as a tack, Jess recalled how her serviceman husband had once sat in the officers’ mess aboard a Royal Navy warship, towards the end of the Second World War, hugely entertained by a virtuoso pianist whose face looked rather familiar.  On enquiring as to who the gifted musician was, he was amazed to learn it was Phillip Mountbatten, the future Duke of Edinburgh himself!  I almost fell off my chair when Jess later revealed herself to be an avid fan of Liverpool Football Club, as I am, delighted at their pre-season form in beating Manchester United 4-1 earlier in the week!

And then there were the Athletics Carnivals, JAM and Senior, blessed with the presence of many devoted parents who escaped their other commitments for a few hours to cheer on their children and those of the same Clan affiliation.  Teachers chatted with students and parents alike, relaxed, over the white picket fence, with the earliest arrivals fortunate enough to have tapped into doughnuts sold by Kate McCarthy, Year 8, to raise funds to equip primary school classrooms in the Solomon Islands.  Our small reconnaissance party will jet off to the remote, tropical paradise during Week 10 to help firm up plans for a June 2019 group of 20-25 to journey to the villages of workers involved in the Australian government’s Seasonal Workers’ Programme, vital to the success of an increasing number of farms in our region.

Then today, as the drought tightens its stranglehold on vast tracts of eastern Australia, Ben Venz and Georgia Johnson, both of Year 11 and both new to the College this year, asked to meet staff to begin a concerted effort to raise much-needed money to support beleaguered farmers and rural communities.  Isabel Mauch and Talia Simmers of Year 9 have also been active in building awareness of the crisis and with such dynamic champions, imaginative plans are quickly turning into practical solutions; beginning with a $2 coin donation non-uniform day next Monday to coincide with a national day of drought awareness.  Students will be asked to wear as much green as possible, with hopes and prayers continuing for long overdue rains to return to the parched, beige grasslands.

We owe all ‘on the outside’ a debt of gratitude for allowing us to interact and share experiences beyond the confines of the classrooms, offices and corridors of SCOTS.  It helps enrich all our lives and we hope it does the same for you.  The Groves juices were much appreciated but as a renowned connoisseur of the 3 most important food groups, namely fat, sugar and cake, I hereby appeal for vastly increased doughnut supplies in 2019.

David Proudlove – Head of Senior School