My Turn To Say, "Welcome Back!"

It's my turn to welcome you all back to Woodleigh to start the 2022 school year! In particular, I extend a warm welcome to the families who are new to Woodleigh.

It has been wonderful to see our students back onsite, refreshed and ready to learn. Walking around the School, there has been a sense of genuine excitement to be back for Term 1. It's created a wonderful atmosphere on campus. Staff and students have been busy establishing connections and getting to know each other face-to-face for a change!

Grateful to be at School

I was reflecting on this same time last year as we were about to enter our first COVID lockdown and remote learning phase for 2021. 2022 feels different, and I couldn't be more grateful for everything happening around us at school. After a terrific start, I am grateful that we have been able to return to some 'normality' in our day-to-day curriculum and programs, and most importantly, our lives. At Woodleigh, we are well-known for our community and pastoral focus and our welcoming, supportive nature. Students, staff and parents often say it's one of the main reasons they choose our School. We know that feeling a sense of belonging is critical for students to flourish. Whether with classmates, as a member of an ensemble or with their teachers, the relationships forged during our school years can be lifelong.

Activities, Sport and Coming Up... Camps!

Although we've started the year with some trepidation, it's fair to say we are back. A variety of learning opportunities, community sport on the calendar and a welcome return to our Activities Programs where students are encouraged to follow a passion haven't been taken for granted. I have really enjoyed watching our skaters, aviators, divers and many other groups out and about.

The Year 11 Outdoor Education students kayaked their way across to and around French Island in picture-perfect weather. Our Year 7s appear to have settled quickly at Senior Campus and were terrifically excited to take possession of their new Macbook Airs. School photos have been shot and are currently being processed… it's been such a different start to last year!

The Year 12s recently had an engaging session with well-known Australian author Cate Kennedy, albeit over Zoom. Cate writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry and is the recipient of several prizes for her work, including the Queensland Literary Award for her short story collection Like a House on Fire, the NSW Premier's 'People's Choice' award for her novel The World Beneath and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for her poetry collection The Taste of River Water. Her short fiction collections on the VCE syllabus, and she was shortlisted for the inaugural Stella Prize. We were extremely lucky to have her address our senior students.

Preparations are well and truly underway for this year's school production, 'Almost, Maine', and it is great to see the regular rehearsals building momentum after School. It was also fantastic to be part of the Homestead Swimming Carnival at The Pines Aquatic Centre this week. Well done to Ben Davenport, his team and the Junior Homestead Coordinators for the set-up and organisation of such a successful event. And finally, Homestead 4 is about to be unveiled to our School community. Although a little behind schedule, the much-anticipated opening of our new Homestead space is upon us, with the Homestead 4 family champing at the bit to move in. There is sure to be much excitement and plenty of happy faces as the space comes alive next week!

Mask Rule Change

Friday's change to mask rules means that masks are no longer required in classroom situations or outdoors. However, they do remain as a requirement when travelling on Public Transport. The twice weekly surveillance RAT testing remains in place for the rest of Term 1, and I am incredibly positive that camps will go ahead as planned. Rest assured, our students are getting excited! I want to share some initial comments from students at Senior Campus about what they have been grateful for upon their return for 2022.

Grateful Students

After returning from lockdowns I've really come to appreciate seeing my friends every day being back on campus. Whilst personally I found online learning in the short-term manageable, I am especially grateful to be back on campus as I find it easier to learn, ask questions and get work done before I go home. These past few weeks, I've been really thankful to be back at school socialising with others face-to-face and once again making great memories with my friends. I also think it's great being back in the community and doing things together like sport and clubs again, and homestead, camp and year level activities at school.

Zoe Y9

Coming back to school, we have felt so thankful to be able to go to such an amazing campus with lovely people and teachers. To be able to go to very fun sporting events such as the swimming carnival and soon cross country is great too. We are so delighted and grateful to be privileged enough to go to Woodleigh and Homestead 2.

Charlie, Owen, Ben, Kobi Y7

I am grateful for all of the opportunities that Woodleigh has offered over my school years, as these have helped shape me into the person I am now. I am also grateful for Woodleigh's ability to treat older students as adults, as it creates a better environment between students and teachers, which essentially benefit students' learning.

Nathan Y12

I am grateful to see all my friends again, learn more things, and start High School!

Maia, Remy, Nick, Jai, Ralph and Hugo Y7

As 2022 began with a flourish, the student body must have breathed a collective sigh of relief in learning we were back on campus and here to stay. Yet another year of isolation and awkward zooms was a nightmarish concept for most, especially for the year 12s anxiously watching their final year loom ever closer.

If there's one thing I'm grateful for, it's been watching the thriving Woodleigh community cautiously come back to life. A welcome return for many of us, but also what I hope is an exciting opportunity for our younger students, who have started their Woodleigh experience in one of the worst possible ways. Regardless of your year level, I can't recommend enough that you explore the countless extracurriculars on offer; from service to music, from sport to leadership, there's certain to be something which piques your interest. Make the most of this year – I promise you won't regret it.

Bridget Y12

We are grateful for the warm involvement from the teachers in ensuring we are doing okay and welcoming questions. We are also grateful for reconnecting with our school community and friends. We are grateful for having vast numbers of new opportunities to be involved in and give back to Woodleigh.

Summer and Eliza Y12

Since being back at school we have noticed how grateful we are for being able to spend so much time with my friends. We are also grateful for the umbrellas that provide shelter at lunch and the new tables. We are grateful for the support our teachers have provided for us during classes.

Charlie and Hunter Y12

We are Thankful for… Having lots of new opportunities and experiences in high school, Meeting new people, Enjoying new and exciting activities, Learning lots of new skills and further improving our ability to be independent, And overall just being able to be in the presence of others!!! Kind Regards,

Maeve, Charlie, Gracie and Rhiannon Y7

COVID Safety

The following provides an outline of our COVID safe practices and some reminders:

  • It is important to talk to your child about personal hygiene practices – continuing to wash their hands regularly, socially distancing and coughing into their elbow.
  • Please do not send your child to school if they are unwell.
  • Masks are required on buses and any public transport.
  • Sanitiser dispensers are located at multiple sites around the school.
  • We will encourage our students to use space, get outside and socially distance.
  • There will be environmental cleaning during the day.

It has been wonderful to witness Senior Campus re-energised for 2022, and our community approach everything with enthusiasm. We continue to remind students that they will only get out of school what they put into it. Constant reminders that they are in control of mapping their learning journeys and the choices they make along the way is an important message, both at School and from you as parents at home.

Wishing you a safe and successful term.

NAT McLENNAN Deputy Principal – Head of Senior Campus