Today marks the final day of term and we finished in our usual manner by gathering (virtually of course) all girls from Kindergarten to Year 12 for the end of term assembly. This is a special time for us to celebrate the fact that we are a Kindergarten to Year 12 community, all together on one campus, and I usually delight in watching the older girls respond to the young voices of the girls in Blinkbonnie House as they all sing the School Song together. It is hard to replicate this experience via livestream and zoom, but today the girls were united through the Lowther Bear that each one of them is given when they join our community. More than 200 students from across Kindergarten to VCE sent in photos of their bear participating in a favourite school activity and these photos where shared with the whole school as we all undertook some challenges to find bears playing sport, studying various subjects or practising their musical instruments. The activity was a lot of fun, but also a reminder of the bonds that are shared between Lowther girls, young and older! Thank you to the many parents who facilitated the involvement of girls in the early years. The full video is available on LowtherLink – I hope you enjoy watching a little of it as much as I did!

Part of the reason I was so touched by the take up of the “Lowther Bear Challenge” was because it spoke to the willingness of our girls – and indeed many families – to invest in our community. I know that many of my principal colleagues around the state have found the disconnect that has resulted from COVID very confronting. They have found it difficult to maintain school culture and a sense of connection between girls and staff. Some have spoken of the fact that they haven’t “seen” their students for many months because despite the technology of platforms such as Zoom, students are resistant to turning on their cameras. When I share with these school leaders the fact that our girls turn up for remote school every day in proper uniform (the parts I can see anyway!), with their cameras on (because they respect their teachers and classmates and know that this is the appropriate response) and that over a quarter of them participated in a voluntary activity to send in a photo for their bear (and often went to great lengths to capture the perfect shot) my colleagues can’t quite believe it. This is what makes our community so special. We value everyone working together for a common good and this, in turn, promotes participation, inclusion, action and an understanding that if we buy in, everyone in our school will be better for it.

So as we come to the end of term, I would like to particularly thank everyone for your ongoing support and encouragement throughout what continues to be a year of disruption and disappointment. Your willingness to walk the journey with patience and understanding alongside the staff, to assist and encourage the girls in their remote learning, your preparedness to have faith that we will still provide the very best experience we can for our students, means a great deal. It is a continued blessing to be part of this community. I will be in touch during the term break once we have an indication of how things will look for Term 4. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the change of rhythm that will come with the non-instruction period.

Ms Elisabeth Rhodes