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Insights – dawn of a new school year

Dear Community,

Last Friday, I indulged in one of my most favourite annual traditions. I attended the Prep orientation session and then immediately dashed to the Year 12 orientation. This is one of the great blessings of my job – to be involved in guiding our students, regardless of age and stage, through their school journeys.

The Preps were a delightful picture. Serious faces, swimming in over-sized uniforms, lugging school bags that they could practically live in. There were far more smiles than tears, and even those were predominantly amongst the parents who seem less equipped to cope with separation than their children!

And the Year 12s – their uniforms seem to have an inverse issue, but their nervous energy is palpable too. They are also excited and emotional at the prospect of starting their final year at our school.

I told the Year 12s that I had just come from the Preps and explained that while everyone was telling the 12s that they were up for the biggest year of their schooling, that this was not true. The reality is that the learning curve in Prep is far more significant. Our Preps will go from having minimal knowledge of letters to being able to read this year. Their numeracy will jump from recognising numbers to being able to add, subtract and manipulate number patterns. They will gain access to a whole wide world of literature and maths that was not possible previously. The good news is that of each of our Year 12s had already conquered this challenge!

This, of course, does not minimise the significance of the year for our 2020 graduates. We wish them b’hatzlacha for what we hope proves to be a rewarding and meaningful experience.

We are at the dawn of a new school year in a new decade and, for many in our school community, at a new campus or a new school. The school year has gotten off to a tremendous start. When I have walked the corridors, I have seen happy and engaged students busy getting to know their peers while focused on learning new things.

I have stood at the gates and seen the students walking out in groups with huge smiles, buzzing with the energy of a great day. I hope that the hard work and dedication of our teachers and the great relationships forged, help to maintain this positive energy throughout the year.

I have been amazed by the variety of learning experiences our students are undertaking already. The new Year 9 Nitzan program began this week with our students learning practical life skills that will help them forever. They loved getting involved in the gardening, ironing, sewing, hammering, sawing, mechanics, electronics and tool work on offer.

The Years 6 – 8 Launch Week has also seen our students engaged in great fun, learning and social development opportunities. Students have been challenged with the 1000 step climb in the Dandenongs, have been on scavenger hunts across the School and have begun to forge new friendships.

At one of our opening assemblies, I asked our students to consider what their 2020 legacy would be. I reminded them that positive relationships are what we are so well regarded for. I explained that when we sit in enrolment interviews we often ask the students how they think their friends would describe them. I then extended on this question with our entire student body. How would they like their friends, their teachers, their parents and their friends’ parents to describe them? What are they like as a friend, as a student, as a daughter or son? What adjectives would they like to add to the list during this school year?

In this first week I have been reminded that we truly have something special at our school. It is so clear that we have a unique and powerful pull of community, infinite respect for the individual and an offering of a genuine sense of belonging and connection. This is no accident – we all work hard on building the community that we wish to be a part of. That said, we must not take it for granted and have to focus on continuing to strive to welcome our newest members into the KDS family. So to all our families, I request that you take the opportunity to model the behaviour that we would like our children to exemplify. Please invite one-another in and make an effort to get to know our newest community members.

I trust that with all your help we will continue to be the place to belong in 2020.

Shabbat Shalom,

Marc Light


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