A warm welcome to all members of the St Peter’s College community as we commence the academic year. A very special welcome to our new students and families that have joined our School for the first time in 2023. We look forward to sharing the journey of your son’s education through a strong partnership between home and school.
A sombre tone has been cast across our community over the past weeks as we acknowledge the sudden passing of Year 9 MacDermott House student Thomas Worrall. Thomas, a student of SPSC since Reception, loved his School – it was the centre of his life. I have been in regular contact with Thomas’ family to offer the School’s condolences and support in what remains a challenging and distressing time. The family would like you to know that they are still waiting for answers as to why their young teenage son went to bed healthy and did not wake up. Medical authorities have not yet determined the cause of Thomas’ death and as such the family are not in a position to make funeral arrangements. They expect answers in the near future, but this could be days or weeks. I anticipate that a celebration of Thomas’ life will be held here at the School and will share details of how everyone can pay their respects once this information comes to light. In the meantime, if you would like to offer your condolences to the Worrall family by way of a sympathy card, please drop it into Oval House Reception. Thomas’ parents have been most appreciative of the bundles of cards I have delivered over the past week. They have provided a great sense of reassurance at this incredibly challenging time.
A reminder that support is available through our Pastoral, Counselling and Chaplaincy teams and I encourage students and staff to access this support now, or as and when required.
As has become tradition over the past five years we began the School year with a special Smoking Ceremony conducted by Aboriginal leader Uncle John Lochowiak. The Ceremony not only provided an opportunity to recognise the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the land St Peter’s College was built upon in 1849, but to learn more about our First Nations’ culture and their deep connection to this land.
Ceremonies have also been held to commission our School Captains and Junior School leaders. Both were important occasions in which our community was reminded of our heritage, values and the role of leadership within our School. Our School Captains Thomas and Aidan have paused their immediate ambitions for 12 months to serve our community; to represent us, to advance us and to hopefully improve our community. It is a great honour for the boys and a superb opportunity in which they will learn so much about themselves through serving others.
You have no doubt been reading and hearing about AI-powered chatbot ChatGPT. As a school we need to form a view about how we can leverage this new technology for creativity, efficiency and understanding whilst minimising the risk it represents to assessment integrity and accuracy. Our students will be working alongside AI systems throughout their professional lives, so they need to learn how to live meaningfully with these tools.
Our Acting Deputy Headmaster has formed a number of taskforces with staff and students to discuss and agree on the best ways to approach both the risks and opportunities that these new technological developments represent. What a chatbot cannot replace is human interaction – the most important influence our teachers have on our students. And whilst there’s no doubt we have reached an information age, we are far from reaching an age of wisdom. Wisdom comes from the human interaction exchange that occurs when teachers interact with the young people in their care.
On Saturday Year 11 student Andrew Maenda broke a 19-year-old record with a 10.79 second run in the U16 100m. Congratulations Andrew and the four SPSC track and field athletes who have all recorded amazing personal bests in the past month.
It is wonderful to resume the year with a normal program of parent engagement. I hope you will accept my invitation to attend the annual Welcome Cocktail Evening next Friday 17 February – it’s your last chance to purchase tickets here.