There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” For centuries, the greatest thinkers have suggested the same thing: Happiness is found in helping others.
There has been a clear and wide-reaching message about service in recent weeks, both in the celebration of the life of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and, of course, in our recognition and respect on Anzac Day. I would like to thank Mr Ray Pearson and the boarding team for leading a dawn service last Sunday. I would also like to thank Mr Andrew Chatterton, who not only conducts our school choirs but also leads the Adelaide Harmony Choir, and who led a beautiful concert on Sunday at the Wesley Uniting Church in Kent Town, entitled The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace.
We often make reference to the names of the fallen Old Scholars on honour boards that line the walls in Memorial Hall, a fixture that should never be overlooked by any student. To be part of a school with such a long and rich history is humbling, and it is easy to feel invigorated daily by being part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
There is a growing body of research in this area, namely studies that show that having a sense of purpose is an increasingly strong predictor of happiness and a powerful antidote to depression. Given our care for the wellbeing of students – and, indeed, all in the SPSC community – we should continue to pay close attention to the idea of finding purpose and the sense of belonging that often accompanies it.
Experience has taught me that a sense of purpose often sits at the junction between what we care about most and where we can contribute most to helping others in some way. This concept is not always easy to grasp for a teenager and needs our guidance. For some, it is front and centre, and the recent student-led efforts in supporting charities close to our community are noteworthy.
Indeed, following a recent audit of service-learning initiatives across the Senior School, it is clear that there are a significant number of projects that are providing students in all year groups with the opportunity to serve — whether alleviating a cause of suffering or providing support or assistance. Please ask your son about the contribution he is making in the lives of others. If his contribution seems somewhat superficial, please feel free to contact me to connect him with one of our many meaningful projects.
At the very least, your son should be able to articulate his capacity to support actively and daily the wellbeing and experience of his classmates; for culture and community, this must continue to be our minimum expectation on entering the school gates.
Deputy Headmaster/Head of Senior School