We're Back!

After what was meant to be a short, sharp 7-day lockdown, we have returned to school following 11 weeks confined to our homes. An occasional visit to a local supermarket, a chemist or a relished stint exercising outdoors became our physical connection with the world. This recent COVID-19 lockdown has been, for some, a tough ride. I have wondered why this particular stretch seemed different to the others. Was it that we had zero cases one day, and then the next, it completed shifted? Or was it that we thought it was going to be short-lived and it simply wasn't? Regardless, it felt all too familiar when we entered the sixth lockdown in Melbourne. Government restrictions came down upon us again to keep Victorians safe. A new variant of this virus threw us a curveball, COVID tracers became overwhelmed, and we won the unwanted title of 'Most Locked-Down City in the World'. What an achievement!

Woodleigh's Year 12 Reflection Service – Celebration, Anticipation, Remembrance

You may think my introduction brings a somewhat negative tone to the Messenger... and it does.

However, I have taken on the challenge to view our situation in a completely different way. I have had the opportunity to blend work and family life with a more balanced approach over the last 11 weeks. I am lucky to have a job and blessed to enjoy driving through the Woodleigh gates each morning. Yes, Woodleigh is a strange place without students, but I had the chance to think creatively and work behind the scenes on projects that will continue to strengthen our wonderful school. I was able to stop, make coffee and eat breakfast with my family most mornings instead of racing out the door. I was home to enjoy a relaxed dinner and even managed to switch off my computer and talk to my family much earlier than normal. I enjoyed chilly walks (even in the rain), laughed at the most ridiculous things at times and played board games. I couldn't hug my extended family, but I was grateful for social media platforms where I could 'Facetime' those a couple of suburbs away and interstate.

As I reflect on the last 20 months of navigating our new 'normal', COVID has undoubtedly changed the way we live. I have learnt that we still need connection to maintain our health and happiness. I am grateful for the genuine excitement last weekend when I finally saw my parents and friends and hugged them. My other 'take home' is that I have set a personal goal to be more mindful and have worked with a holistic coach to learn to meditate to manage my own wellbeing. I have continued to exercise but also enjoyed some good food and nights watching a movie with popcorn. My most significant reminder – connections are valuable.

Hugh van Cuylenberg and Martin Heppell from The Resilience Project talk about the need for developing gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. Their website defines these as the following:

What is Gratitude?

It's about paying attention to the things and moments we have right now, and not worrying about what we don't have. We practise gratitude by noticing the positives that exist around us, and by being thankful for things, places and people in our lives.

What does empathy mean?

Empathy and kindness are closely linked. So are empathy and compassion. To be empathetic is to put ourselves in the shoes of others to feel and see what they are. We practice this by being kind towards other people.

How to practise mindfulness?

Mindfulness activities help us to be present in the moment and often create a feeling of calm. We practice this through slowing down and concentrating on one thing at a time. This includes meditation, colouring in and flow states.

Over the last ten days, I have been grateful to see bright smiles walk through the gates of Woodleigh. Our Year 12 students have celebrated the last two weeks of their Senior Campus journey. The GAT saw all VCE 3/4 students arrive in masks to sit their exam. They tried their hardest to maintain a social distance but craved the connection of friends and memories. Individually packed donuts allowed them to share each others' company before heading home after this importance test. The Year 12s then returned to classes to revise for their upcoming assessment period and share their final days with us.

Last Tuesday, we celebrated the Class of 2021 in COVID style. A fitting reflection service, which you can view below, came after a lavish afternoon tea allowed the cohort to reflect on their time at Woodleigh.

I want to thank the following students for their recollections, musical items and tributes at the Year 12 Reflection:

Kazz Fenton, Noah Sahely, Liv Marshall, Ruby Broomhall, Ben Fewster, Harrison Robertson, Jordan Hammock, Amber Cooper, Aidan Bolch, Yuki Savage, Jess Cole, Charlotte Swayn, Grace Molloy, Nick Ireland, Sam Dupuy, Bella Gosling, Rupert McLorinan, Marnie Hosken, Wil Barrett, Jack Shalekoff and last year's Woodleigh Prize Winner, Gretel Friedlander.

I would also like to acknowledge the fine young people that graduated from Woodleigh this week. We wish you the very best for a happy and successful future.

Isabel Allen, Asher Baron, Wil Barrett, Dominika Bednarek, Aidan Bolch, Charlie Bond, Gemma Bond, Ruby Broomhall, Manty Buchanan, Jarrod Cameron, Harrison Carter, Casper Caskey, Seb Cleary, Bethany Clements, Jessica Cole, Amber Cooper, Blake Cooper, Harry Daniello, Chiara Davidson, Christopher Davis, Sarah Deng, Dylan Dowden, Samuel Dupuy, Chloe Easton, Kaitlyn Everett, John Faulkner, Kazz Fenton, Ben Fewster, Dan Fidele, Raia Flinos, Bella Gosling, Alexei Guy-Toogood, Jordan Hammock, Molly Harnett, Tucker Hazel, William Hazewinkel, Michael Hobbs, Marnie Hosken, Oliver How, Bhodi Hutchins, Nicholas Ireland, Laura Jarvis, Luke Johnson, Georgia Jones, Lana Kavanagh, Luke Kelly, Owen Kirschenberg, Marlon Lewicki, Thomas Lewis, Josh Macdonald, Asher Magree, Lachlan Marshall, Olivia Marshall, Jake Mccormack, Rupert Mclorinan, Grace Molloy, Ned Murdoch, Pia Murray, Archie Norman, Nick O’leary, Lui Oberman-Watkins, Talia Palmer, Ainsley Paton, Emily Pay, Joel Quick, Ben Reynolds, Harrison Robertson, Joe Roskell, Noah Sahely, Yuki Savage, Alyssa Schneider, Jack Shalekoff, Emma Sherrington, Jack Smith, Charlotte Swayn, Frank Taplin, Amy Thomas, Harper Tutton, James Ward and Orlando Willis-Gregg

It has been wonderful to see our Year 7 to 11 students return to campus and reconnect with Homestead, familiar faces and onsite learning. I look forward to working with them over the coming weeks and we head into the final stretch of the 2021 academic year.

Take care and stay safe.

Deputy Principal – Head of Senior Campus