Primary School Open Day

Reading in the Financial Review this week that 38,618 cases of CoVID have been reported in Australia in the past seven days made me stop and reflect on how different my thinking about the pandemic is from this time last year. The main difference is that CoVID occupies significantly far less headspace than it used to - I’ve kept my immunisations up to date and consoled a few friends who have recently been infected, but other than wearing masks and staying at home whilst infectious, I know that for many people the fear and threat of infection is less than it was last year and CoVID rarely enters their mind.

It’s not difficult to remember the restrictions and the precautions we lived under not so long ago and how these really had an impact on what we were able to do as a school. My decisions and worries a year ago centred around RAT tests and ventilation, how we were going to cover lessons when significant numbers of staff were ill, and the practicalities of mask-wearing. I talked to parents who didn’t want their children to wear a mask and those who were cross that students in a class had taken theirs off. I dealt with people genuinely fearful of infection and those who believed it was a fictional invention. Parents shared their thoughts on vaccination protocols, online learning and the validity of reporting CoVID test results. But amongst all of that, one of the hardest things was not being able to open up our school as much as we wanted to – restricting access to the campus made it really challenging to highlight what we do and involve families in seeing and hearing the amazing things that our students accomplish.

Happily, this term we have been able to invite families to many events, to share with our school community the wonderful learning that is going on at Carmel.

The Year 2 siddur party was well-attended and a lovely celebration in which the children impressed us all with their singing, their Hebrew and the way they followed the siddur and were always on the right page at the right time. Their speed of reading still outstrips mine, but I’m working hard on this. A thought-provoking address by Rabbi Kitay was perfect for the Year 2 audience and I loved the idea that page 500 in the children’s siddur (they searched for it for a while!) is the place for their own personal prayers. I am confident that the siddurim the children were presented with will become precious to them. I know that my siddur is already very special to me; a version with thoughtfully provided transliterations to help me follow along.

In the Primary School, we celebrated the children’s learning with our inaugural WA Day Open Day. It was a fabulous success, with brilliant singing from the choir, great music from the Year 6 scholarship band and huge numbers of relatives joining us to share in the occasion. Watching parents and grandparents accompanying their little people to class and hearing the children teach the adults was both heart-warming and impressive. Some adults were disappointed to discover that they are evidently not ‘Smarter than a Fifth Grader’, but they hid their feelings well and looked visibly impressed at the level of knowledge and understanding that they witnessed in their offspring. The canteen did a roaring pizza trade and delicious food was enjoyed by many.

In the High School, the Year 5/6 showcase evenings highlighted the excitement of the different learning areas and students and parents alike played musical instruments, viewed insects under stereomicroscopes, participated in a particularly competitive Spelling Bee and enjoyed an escape room experience, amongst a wide range of other activities on offer.

In my role, being able to welcome families onto our campus has the added advantage of being able to show off the excellence that is an everyday part of working at AVѧԺ. It is no secret that in all the events I’ve described above, it’s our teachers who put in the time and effort to make the difference for our students. I thank them for the dedication and skill they show every day and acknowledge their special contributions. If you can, please take the opportunity to thank a teacher this week, as they continue to make the magic happen.

Shabbat shalom.

Julie Harris