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It is what happens inside them that matters.

If you ever take the time to look up, the galaxy rarely fails to deliver a unique meteoric spectacle in some shape or form. And, on just a few occasions per year, there is the chance to see not one, but a whole shower of brilliant, blazing meteors pass overhead. Last Saturday was one such night, when three meteor showers were active at the same time, at their peak over Australia. The ‘stars of the show’ were the Southern Delta Aquarids, Alpha Capricornids and Piscis Austrinids – all familiar, of course, to our Year 10 cohort, fresh from their 21-day journey and a night of stargazing in the Flinders Ranges.

I report on this cosmic event to draw a parallel with the service that took place in the Big Quad last Friday. There was a similar coincidence of remarkable events, as unique as the crossing of stars. The service simultaneously commemorated the opening of the new Big Quad development, Founders’ Day with acknowledgment of the School’s 175-year history, and the final engagement for the outgoing Chair of Governors, Mr Joe Thorp, having reached the statutory maximum six years in this significant role. As a gathering of all staff and students across the School, as well as the Council of Governors, former Headmasters and special guests, it was a muster of magnificent proportions.

Like most Musters, I was positioned looking out into the wide and hope-filled eyes of our students. On this occasion, their gaze was fixed on Big Quad South – with its glorious juxtaposition of old and new – and, when the Chair of Council approached the lectern for his final address, they were clearly listening. Mr Joe Thorp’s closing and inspiring words guided the students to appreciate that, whilst we can marvel at the buildings themselves, it is what happens inside them that matters – a line that I will refer to with all new and prospective students, whose first impressions on entering the school gates are invariably drawn to the expanse of walls and fields. It is what happens inside them that matters. This is an effective reminder too for all our boys, and an important life lesson, that it is people that make a place.

Early on Friday morning, I took some time to walk silently through the Memorial Arch – something that no staff or student has been able to do for almost two years. Given all that these years have thrown at us, this was a poignant moment. It had been some time since I had toured the development as a whole; back then a concert of noise and dust and hi-vis vests. But now, at 7.00am on this opening day, it was both pristine and meaningfully silent. With great anticipation, I made my way up to the Year 12 Study Commons, a new space that gapes with grandeur. To the north, our most senior students will oversee the heart of the School, the cloisters of Big School Room, the Jury Fountain, the gardens; to the south (my favourite feature of the whole development), an exclusive view of the Chapel – inviting, as ever, a silent, deep and necessary reflection.

The Founders’ Day service and the Big Quad itself have secured a buoyant start to the semester. I look forward to seeing you around these walls and fields in the term ahead.

Marcus Blackburn
Deputy Headmaster / Head of Senior School