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A Sense of Belonging

One of my fondest memories of the school year so far is standing at the finish line, stop watch in hand, watching the relay events that bring our Track and Field House carnivals to such a dramatic and exciting climax. The frantic scene of 500 students lining the front straight, screaming encouragement as competitors from Burrows, Flynn, Penman and Taylor House sprint past them perfectly encapsulates the sense of belonging our College House Carnivals aim to create for its students and staff.
The emotions you can see on the faces are real, and what a thrill it must be for those students as they perform in front of their peers when their turn comes; whether it be in the pool, the track or the field. Certainly it is a wonderful thrill for me to watch it all unfold. As Director of Health and Physical Education and Sport, I have the privilege to play a very hands-on role at all our carnivals - Swimming, Athletics and Cross Country - at all our campuses throughout the year, and it is in the countless interactions I have with students at events like these that I find the most rewarding part of my job.
This is when our College comes alive. There is a buzz on the morning of our House carnivals, and as a staff member, you can't help but get swept up in it. But it is the students who create this special atmosphere with their energy - perhaps a nervous energy - as they eagerly come together, more like tribes than cohorts.
They form a sea of colour - yellow, blue, red and green everywhere - with their sometimes creative costumes and a House spirit that not only takes hold of each occasion, but continues to grow year after year as each student's connection to the College and their tribe becomes stronger. Our carnivals are purposefully scheduled at the start of the school year, because we have discovered that they are extremely effective in building those bonds and, particularly for the younger students, it is an ideal and supportive way to introduce them to the concept of competitive sports.
Fundamentally, what our carnivals promote above all else is team-work. The message to our students is that every point counts, so participation from everyone is not only of great benefit to the individual, in terms of their physical and mental health, but they are also contributing to a greater whole.
While not all students will compete in every event, time during our P.E and Sport classes is allocated in the lead up to give each student the chance to either qualify for events, or earn points towards the overall result - all of which are recorded and kept on file by our efficient Sport Administration staff.
At our Swimming Sports, the action is not just limited to the pool. The trophy for our 'Novelty Events' is as hotly contested as any other, comprising of all sorts of imaginative games that gets the competitive juices flowing for all students. For those competitors who have particular skill sets in running, field or swimming disciplines, these are special occasions; a chance to step into the spotlight and create memories of achievements that will stay with them long after they leave the College. We are fortunate to have a number of nationally and state ranked athletes at Christian College, and the chance to watch these young girls and boys showcase their talent is something I never take for granted.
It is inspiring to see the pure joy and determination with which these students attack their chosen endeavours, whether it be setting new records in the water, running 3-minute kilometres at our cross country, or jumping and throwing incredible distances in our field events.
Their achievements never cease to amaze me, and I know it is the same for their peers and our wider College community who come to appreciate their exceptional abilities just as they do the exceptional musicians, artists or academics that we have at our College. The privilege to watch is ours, but don't underestimate how satisfying it is for the athlete to have all eyes on them when they rise to that expectation. Even though many of them might perform on grander stages than our carnivals, for students of this age, there is nothing quite like achieving these feats in front of their friends - and thus the motivation to do so is most unique. Our carnivals also provide a very unique opportunity for our student leaders to take ownership of their House and display the character traits that made them the standout candidates for those positions. At our Middle School - Highton and Bellarine campuses, the student leaders play a key role in building the positive environments that ultimately motivate all our athletes to reach their best - and central to this are the 'House chants' that are devised by the students and perfected in the lead up to each event.
At our Senior School the responsibility on our leaders increase to reflect their growing maturity, as they play a key role in selecting the teams and, when it comes to our Swimming Sports, organizing and choreographing the elaborate synchronized swimming performances. This involves bringing dozens of students together from each House to produce a masterpiece of collaboration and physicality, all perfectly set to accompanying music and other elements. What it all means to the students after each of these carnivals can be seen in the celebrations of the winning House on the day, as they reflect on the hard work it took from the entire cohort to get them there. For some students, the carnivals offer the chance to be selected for the next stage of competition, whether it be at interschool, district or state level, and we wish all those students the best of luck as they go on to represent our College this year and say congratulations to those who have already done so.
As we reflect on a memorable series of carnivals in 2018, we now look forward with excitement to 2019 and the possibility of adding a new carnival to our schedule - one with a coastal feel - as we continue to embrace 21st century learning and seek to provide our students with new and exciting ways to engage with physical activity.
Andrew Richardson Director of Teaching & Learning - Physical Education & Sport

 

 

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