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The message of its walls and fields

One of the things that struck me when I first arrived at St Peter’s College is that the pews in the Chapel face inward. I found this significant having previously taught at a school with a cathedral as its assembly point, in which the pews – in the vastness of the nave, at least – face forward. In our school Chapel, students face each other during their weekly spiritual reflection. I am keen to convey how remarkable and relevant this is. Imagine a congregation of boys looking into the eyes of others each morning. In facing each other, the students are reinforcing principles – simultaneously – of both unity and diversity. It was absolutely fitting in the baptism and confirmation service held on Tuesday, that Bishop Denise Ferguson shared in her sermon that, “We don’t do this alone”. This is exactly what we want all students to feel on arrival at school each morning, and I have learned it is exactly what is promoted when pews face inward.

There was also cause for reflection this week in the final Year Level Muster for our most senior students. As Memorial Hall is being transformed in preparation for the much-anticipated and galactic-themed Blue & White, the entire Year 11 and 12 cohorts packed into Da Costa Dining Hall to receive some final messages of the term. Acknowledging the growth and journeys of all young men around the room, I took the opportunity to thank our Year 12 students for their influence. As they sat on benches, shoulder-to-shoulder, and lined the panelled walls, there was a palpable sense of unity (regrettably matched only by the trademark body odour of a muster after lunch). With some significance, it was important to acknowledge the impact of COVID-19 on their past three school years, as well as the impact of reaching a point in their schooling when they know they are doing things for the very last time and experiencing the ‘last’ of everything.

Term 3 never fails to provide this poignancy for Year 12 students, but also never fails to be an eventful one, this year both within the walls and fields of St Peter’s College as much as in the wider world. In equal measure, we have marvelled at the talents and efforts of our own students in a range of settings, as much as we have been impacted by news from further afield. In this term alone, there have been both new beginnings and ends of eras. In his first address as King, Charles III described his mother’s ‘abiding love of tradition with the fearless embrace of progress’. Wonderful words for a Queen who reigned for seventy years, but also words that resonate for a school of one hundred and seventy five. On this note, I must shine a light on two unique events from this term that have jointly shaped the future of the School and celebrated its history. In years to come, I will be proud to say that I sat at a table with five former Headmasters of St Peter’s College at the SPSC 175 Gala Ball, and equally proud to have seen – alongside my colleagues – the completion and re-opening of the magnificent Big Quad development – evidence in plain sight of an abiding love of tradition with the fearless embrace of progress.

In signing off for this term, I would like to report on a successful meeting that took place in reviewing our program for indigenous students and planning further education to develop cultural awareness. Our focus is fixed on nurturing an inclusive and supportive culture, knowing that an investment in this, offers the greatest returns on the wellbeing of all in our community. On this note, I am immensely grateful to all staff across the School for their ongoing care and support of our students in what has been a full and momentous term. I wish your family – and theirs – a restful break, and I look forward to seeing students return to campus on Tuesday 18 October.

Marcus Blackburn
Deputy Headmaster / Head of Senior School