On Monday evening this week, I watched the ABC 4 Corners program that presented a troubling account of shameful behaviour at a Melbourne boys’ school. It gave me significant pause for thought during the week, particularly when, in my Year 8 Theology class on Thursday morning, we spoke about values and the way in which they inform our decisions and actions. When, on Thursday afternoon, I presented a Lowther Hall bear to a new Blinkbonnie House student, I thought about the way in which we value a sense of belonging at our school. Belonging is a positive and protective state that, at its best, serves to provide connection to something beyond self and draws on the collective power of the group. In order to stop from crossing over into tribalism and unhelpful rejection of those outside the group, however, belonging needs to be fostered within an inclusive, welcoming and outward looking environment. On Wednesday evening, we celebrated 10 years of relationship with our French sister school, La Malgrange Collège et Lycée Privés. This event provided an opportunity to remind ourselves of all that is gained through friendship across borders and cultures. Students (and families) who participate in the international exchange program help to develop understanding of those who are different – outside the group – and to appreciate the insights and perspectives that they can bring. So, as we come to the end of the week, and our Senior School students plan their fundraisers for organisations who are rehabilitating wildlife effected by the bushfires or providing education opportunities in Nepal, I am encouraged that our sense of belonging, being part of our wonderful Lowther Hall Community, is not pursued as an end in itself, but rather, as a vehicle to make us stronger as a group of people who can make a positive and proactive difference in the world.
Ms Elisabeth Rhodes