Maharishi School, Reservoir: Newsletter #16

Principal’s Report

Dear Parents and Students,

Over the next two weeks, the students will be very active with our own Walkathon – a “Walk to School Month” initiative and the resumption of Maharishi School’s After-School Sports Program.

Please note that in two weeks we have an extra-long weekend with Monday 31st October and Tuesday 1st November, being Curriculum Day and Melbourne Cup Public Holiday respectively. No students are required to be at school on these days.
Students will resume that week on Wednesday 2nd November.

School Grounds
Last week as I was looking out over the newly- grassed area of the school watching the line-marking taking place, someone said to me, “You look like a proud dad!” I stepped back and thought, “You know what, that’s not as silly as it may sound.”

One of our school’s many key achievements this year has been the establishment of that new play area for our
students which now gives them so many more options for the activities and games they wish to play during their breaks. It was heart-warming on Friday to watch up to 20 students playing together in a friendly soccer game and tak-ing delight in falling on the grass. Precious!!

Our Student Leaders have also begun to plan lunchtime games for the students such as soccer and football. You will see in the photo that we have marked the area for games of football, soccer, hockey and athletics. Our students were also involved in the assembly and installation of the goal posts.

In keeping with the “active” theme, did you know that October is “Walk to School Month”? This Wednesday, we’re using the grassed area for an activity to promote walking and its benefit as a legitimate form of exercise for people of all ages. The students will be participating in a type of “Walkathon” where they will be completing laps of the
newly-painted running track (running, walking, skipping, etc.) and having these laps recorded by their teachers. It is our intention to promote greater physical activity for our students so that they can choose from a greater range of ac-tivities during snack and lunchtimes.

Following the Walkathon, The City of Darebin will be hosting a Morning Tea for the children with mini-muffins and fruit. Gluten-free food will also be available.

Parents are most welcome to join us for this event. You can assist the teachers with recording the completed laps, you can participate with your children or you can help serve the Morning Tea. The more the merrier!!

After School Programs
This week we begin our after-school activities.
On Wednesday 19th, the students will be at the Keon Park Tennis Club between 4.00 – 5.30pm to play tennis.
On Thursday 20th, the students will be participating in Hockey with a coach and equipment supplied by Hockey Victoria. This will be at Maharishi School between 3.30 – 4.30pm.
In each case, please carefully note the finishing times as you MUST be at either venue on those days to pick up your child(ren) on time.

Maharishi School Alumni
In the lead-up to our school’s 20th Anniversary in 2017, we are working towards establishing the Maharishi School Alumnus where all current Year 6 graduating students and past students have been invited to join the group and reconnect with the school. Our first event will be this Sunday 23rd October for an Alumni Breakfast.
Parents of these students are also welcome to attend the event.

If you are interested, or know of someone else who may be interested in joining us, the Breakfast will be held on Sunday 23rd October at Maharishi School in the Multi-Purpose Room, beginning at 10.30am.

Launch of New School Website (7 Nov 2016)
Prior to our next School Newsletter, we will have launched our new school website. Please take the time to look through the site. We consider it a work-in-progress and plan to review this important marketing tool for our school on an ongoing basis. Any feedback form parents and friends will be welcomed.

Term 4 Class Captains
At our Monday Morning Assembly this week, we thanked our Term 3 Class Captains for their efforts over the past 10 weeks and then proudly introduced our Term 4 Class Captains for the Pearls and the Diamonds. This week we will have our first SRC Meeting together.

Looking Forward – 2017 and Beyond
Maharishi School is in a wonderful position to move into the future with the setting of a strong foundation for
consolidation and growth. Your ongoing commitment to this school in 2016 has shown that. I am sharing this with you
because of the importance I feel is required for you to maintain your support and ongoing commitment to the school which you have already displayed so strongly this year.

The school was always going to go through a period of rebuilding and regeneration after 2015 but I am thrilled with what we are achieving together in 2016. I believe that our achievements are gaining traction in the wider community too through word of mouth, our website and our promotional activities. The pride you display for your child’s school should not be underestimated. Listen to anyone who speaks with passion about something and you cannot help but be drawn into that yourself. I believe this has contributed to a sharp increase in the level of enrolment enquiries at our school, especially in the past month. The school has been active with our enrolment strategy for future growth but it should be reassuring for everyone at the school to know that we are more than able to sustain and enjoy our current level of enrolment without any compromise to the depth and breadth of education and school facilities we offer to our students and our school community. Maharishi School has an incredibly exciting future as more and more people discover the “gold beyond our fenceline”.

Maharishi School is a small school. For most of its 19 year history, its enrolment numbers were around the same as they are now. Smaller schools can often raise questions in parents’ minds;

– Is my child disadvantaged by being in a small school?
– How will they cope if their year level has only a few students
– Are there enough boys/girls in their class
– Are they receiving a good education if they’re in a multi-age class?

Let me answer these questions and perhaps many others that may be in your thoughts and give you a context for doing so.

Did you know that there are 208 Independent Schools in Victoria?
45 of those schools have enrolments of less than 100, catering to 2632 students. That’s an average of 58 students per school.

18 of those 45 schools, of which we are one, have enrolments under 50. There are 560 students in those 18 schools. That’s an average of 31 students per school. So, in fact, we are above average in that category. My point is that small schools exist for a reason. These reasons vary, as there are independent schools with cultural foundations, religious
affiliations, distinctive teaching and learning methodologies (Steiner, Montessori, etc.) or unique approaches to the
holistic development of a child (like Maharishi School).

My questions to you are……
Do you believe that the 2632 students who are in these smaller schools are disadvantaged by being there?
Do you believe these schools would continue to exist if parents did not believe in the benefits their children are receiving in these schools?

I have become aware of so many “success stories” involving Maharishi School students from years gone past – when the school was even smaller in number than it is today. The common traits and qualities of these children are: individuality, confidence, positive self-esteem, knowing of self, positive outlook, socially adept, able to handle adversity, resilient,
articulate, empathy and care for others, persistence, calmness and well-balanced in thought and emotion. There are so many more traits, of course, that reflect each person’s individuality. The advantage of having these traits is that they are most of the key elements that we, as adults, recognise as forming the strong foundation that young people need as they move through the most important stages in their lives – from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. The published and credible evidence of the benefits of a “small community” or school in raising a young person is undeniable. Just as a healthy and mature tree developed a strong root system when it was a sapling, an adult who succeeds in all aspects of life can have this traced back to their formative years when a strong foundation was laid by family and school.

We all love our children for who they are. Having a happy, well-rounded and balanced child should make any parent beam with delight. It is these children who, as research and anecdotal evidence have shown, are more likely to succeed in life, presuming we all agree about how we should define “success in life”.

I’m proud to be part of a school community that values the holistic development of their child. There is, in my opinion and experience, too much emphasis today on measuring success by a child’s reading level, their NAPLAN results or eventually, the ATAR score they receive at the end of Year 12. These aspects of learning are undoubtedly important but they do not define us. What should define us all is who we are as people and how we contribute to our world in our own personal and professional capacities.

So let’s look at one of these key aspects of a child’s development in their school setting, and particularly at Maharishi School – Socialisation.

Parents often worry that their child does not have enough friends to play with or that there are not enough children in the school. I sincerely believe that children adapt to the situation they are in. If there are lots of children, that can be a positive thing but it does not automatically mean they have lots of children with whom they can play. If there are fewer children, then children learn incredibly important skills about cooperation, give and take, working with different personality-types and those with different learning styles. They are put in situations of experiencing so much more across both genders as well as across ages from Prep-6.

In addition, we should also consider the opportunities we give our children with out-of-school activities and the friendships made and socialisation that occurs within many of these activities. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that school is the only avenue for developing friendships and social skills. Diversity and variety in the people with whom we mix should not be undervalued.
In recent weeks, there have been several shocking and distressing examples in our society of young men and boys vilifying women and girls. As parents and teachers, we need to do as much as we can to develop friendship, respect and cooperation between boys and girls, especially at such an impressionable age.

Boys and girls naturally segregate themselves, especially at school, because of the games they play or other activities they have a preference to do. There is an opportunity at school for girls and boys to mix in different situations, both in and out of the classroom. There is also a place for both single and mixed-gender activities.

Over the years, I have heard parents say that they worry about their child not having enough of their own gender in their class. A few years ago, I was at a school that had only 2 boys and 7 girls at Year 6. The parents of these children were naturally curious/worried about what this would mean for their children, especially the boys. My answer to them was that I actually saw it as a great opportunity. I imagined if it was my son who was one of the boys and how wonderful it would be for him to work with and develop friendships with girls. The friendship, respect and admiration that developed between these children was so valuable for them. Boys respecting and valuing their relationship with girls is more likely to develop into men respecting and valuing their relationship with women.

It is a heart-warming experience to watch our students play at school during their breaks. What we see is interaction between children of all ages, from Prep-6, and the care that exists between them. I see no disadvantage at all. What I see is happy children.

As you look forward to those wonderful years of watching your children grow into young adults, stay true to the
reasons you chose Maharishi School to play its role in that important journey. You have chosen us to partner with you to give your child the valuable experiences and skills needed to establish that strong foundation for their development. You chose this school because you want your child to be part of a happy, caring and nurturing environment. You chose this school because you value how important it is to “preserve and celebrate the innocence of youth”.

Steve Charisis

Today in Australian History, the Emeralds had a visit from Minh-Tam’s mother, Quynh-Tram. The Emeralds are conducting Units of Inquiry into Migration in Australia, and all have to interview a family member about their experience as a migrant to Australia. Quynh-Tram told the Emeralds all about her life as a child in Vietnam, and her family’s journey to start new lives in Australia after the end of the Vietnam War. She inspired us all to do our best and to try to have more understanding for all in our community. What an amazing person!

Samantha Russell
Year 5/6 Teacher