Principal's Blog

Insights – applauding our true heroes

Not all heroes wear capes, but it seems that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them wear school uniforms. Throughout this extraordinary and, to employ the popular parlance, ‘unprecedented’ period, our students have risen to every challenge that has been thrown at them.

Monday should have been a sad day at the Senior School. It was the last day of on-campus classes for our Years 10-12s and the students were rightfully anxious and disappointed that they would be losing the semblance of normality that going to school had offered and would instead be homebound living through the toughest restrictions that Victoria has had imposed so far. Nonetheless, our students showed up to the morning’s health check with smiling eyes – the best they could offer given that they were wearing masks. They focused on all of their classes, joked with their friends and the Year 12s even exploded into ruach (spirit) filled dancing at lunchtime to liven the mood.

Time and time again over the last few months I have looked across at the extraordinary leadership and emotional intelligence that our students have demonstrated in such trying times with absolute wonderment.

All of us have been stretched during this period. We have learnt to worry about epidemiological studies, genomic sequencing and effective reproduction values. We tune in to daily press conferences and our emotions rise and fall in relation to the day’s number. We learn of new restrictions and of fellow citizens who outrageously flout rules or blow up at strangers at Bunnings.

And through all of this our students just keep showing up. They film themselves dancing or cooking in joyous “Tikky Tokkies” in the Junior School. They sign in for every Google Meet class and participate in the improvised online sporting and fitness challenges.

We continue to try our best to offer them a holistic learning experience but there is no denying that they have missed out on plenty of special moments. Camps have been postponed, the musical has been adapted, the VCE formal changed to an online fashion parade and meet up. We’ve had no opportunities for in-person assemblies or celebrations.

Nonetheless, our students have responded with gratitude and positivity to every innovation that our staff have presented. They have adjusted to online assessments and expectations and have responded to the rapid changes thrust upon them by simply getting on with it.

It is a noted aspect of childhood and adolescent development that perceptions of justice are heightened and take precedence over other matters. This is why so many young people are so troubled when they think that a parent or a teacher has been “soooo unfair!” Well this situation is unfair! It is not right that our children should have to be in isolation and having to deal with the emotional and practical impacts of a pandemic.

But our students keep bouncing back and respond to every new seemingly impossible obstacle that 2020 has offered up. They rarely complain and they make the most of what is on offer.

So as we move towards the end of the first school week of Stage 4 lockdown, I want to take this opportunity to applaud our true heroes – the students of KDS.