We don’t assemble. We Muster.
Muster is a great term. If you had asked me two years ago what muster meant, I would have probably referred to the idea of mustering enough strength to achieve something. The word means something more definitive to me today, but even that broad definition relates well to what muster means at St Peter’s College.
I know of no other school that refers to mustering as we do. There are schools who ‘assemble’ – that is, that have a regular assembly – but, at St Peter’s College, we ‘muster’ as a Senior School on a weekly basis and we acknowledge that the concept of a Muster carries so much more meaning.
The definition of a muster has a military connotation, which promotes the idea that we are preparing for something significant – and we are. The military theme also pays fitting tribute to the names of the fallen who adorn the walls of Memorial Hall, the place we meet, as a Senior School, every Thursday, at 1.30pm.
The theme or agenda or message varies from muster to muster. Last week, there was a showcase on languages, the week before was the presentation of Intercol teams, other musters involve a musical showcase, a sports report, a debate, a personal reflection or rant. In all musters, we acknowledge the land of the Kaurna people. Through variety, we also acknowledge that diversity is a fact, inclusion is an action and belonging is an outcome.
You can tell the best musters when there is no fidgeting or shuffling or sound in the audience. When you can hear a pin drop, that’s when you know the message has struck a chord. This week’s muster was one of the best musters of the year. Like a good novel, it all came together in the end.
The Muster started with Father Theo skilfully weaving the RUOK message with a notice about scratches on the newly polished chapel pews. In line with our commitment to understand behaviour, Father Theo is keen to ask the student who made the marks, “R U OK?”
Next to the lectern was the courageous Evan – in Year 8 – who outlined his charitable plans to give back to the Children’s Cancer Association. Evan explained that his own chemotherapy treatment had ended on 18 August this year and (less than a month later) he is active in raising funds to ensure that other children can access the same high level of care. This was when the students in the audience really leaned in. Indeed, I see respect in our student body most visibly when a fellow student is prepared to share their story.
Following Evan, Colours and Symbols were awarded for co-curricular activity, with students being recognised by the School and their peers for outstanding effort and excellence. There is formality to this ceremony but, as strongly, there is an invitation to every student to be aspirational in their chosen pursuit.
The Headmaster tied it all together perfectly. He noted that you make your mark at St Peter’s College, not by engraving your name on the underside of a desk or chapel pew, but through seeking the best in yourself, through respect broadly and through service to others. These messages are resonating nightly at the House Dinners, where each Year 12 student is honoured for their contribution to their House. In his address, the Headmaster stressed the importance of correct etiquette for the toast masters at House dinners, providing an example to the students how to perform a toast with meaning. He asked the School to stand and join him in a toast to – Evan Nguyen.
Musters are an important feature of St Peter’s College. A Muster here is no apathetic assembly of sweaty bodies, late from lunch. At a Senior School Muster, SPSC boys turn up switched on with blazers on. Musters can also take other forms across the School; we have Year Group Musters, House Musters, Sports Musters and more. Overall, we pay attention to the gathering of our community, and we aim for purpose and meaning each time.
Deputy Headmaster/Head of Senior School
Evan and his team will be selling gold laces, gold lapel pins and more each lunchtime next week. Students are invited to support this initiative and the Children’s Cancer Association more broadly – https://childhoodcancer.asn.au/