On Wednesday we held our commemoration of Anzac Day with a whole school service in our new Sports Centre. It was a solemn occasion to remember those who fought and died for the freedoms we now enjoy. Cadet Sergeant Eloise Radford told the story of Toowoomba Grammar Old Boy, Sir Henry Chauvel, who served in the First World War and eventually became Inspector General of the Army in 1940. Thanks to all those who assisted with the preparations of the service, particularly with the last minute change of venue. A special thank you to Yr 12 student Kate Osborne for playing The Last Post and The Rouse and to Mrs Bravery and the Middle Years Choir for their reflection song “Homeward Bound”. A photo gallery of the event can be viewed here.
Term 1 Chapel Service on Anti-Bullying Day
Last term I wrote about the ways in which, as a school, we recognised the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. At the Middle and Seniors Chapel that day I spoke to the girls about my own journey through school and challenges I personally faced. Many girls and staff have responded positively to this chapel talk however I know that a few of the comments I made have caused some hurt and upset amongst the girls and our community. I am deeply sorry for any offense caused by what I shared that day. My intention was to provide a context for discussing ways to improve how some girls were being treated by a very small number of our community.
Whilst it is true that I have not come across as many reports of girls being unkind to others in the other places I have worked, I believe that this is because the girls at Glennie feel confident and empowered to speak up when they feel they are being treated unfairly or unkindly by other members of our school community. In many schools, these incidents go unreported and therefore the school is unable to respond to improve the situation.
I do not believe that we have an issue with consistent or ongoing bullying at Glennie. But I felt on the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence that it was necessary to speak to all the girls about the behaviour of a few students and the impact that these comments have on others.
Heads of House and other school staff work very hard to follow up every report of bullying or difficulty that girls have. One of my main objectives of the Chapel talk was to empower girls to speak up for themselves and others when they see or hear thoughtless, mean or unkind words or actions. I gave them three steps to follow:
I spoke again on assembly the following week and stressed to the girls that the most important thing is that each and every person in our school community feels accepted, cared for and loved for who they are. We must celebrate and enjoy the richness that diversity brings to our community. Embrace one another, learn from those whose life experience is different from your own, genuinely ask each other to tell your story and really listen to one another.
I will be speaking with the girls again at Chapel next week to apologise to those girls who misunderstood my intentions or were upset by what I said and explain the intention behind my words. Often we wish we could rephrase our words, or choose a different emphasis and this is certainly one of those occasions for me. At the conclusion of the chapel talk, we reflected on the following words that form part of our school reading. St Paul writes that “you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.” I hope going forward that we can all work together to build on the positive, flourishing culture at Glennie where all feel loved, forgiven, cared for and accepted.
The Rev’d Sharon Mitchell