As the term draws to a close I would like to thank students, staff and families for their contribution and support to all of our programs during Semester 1. Each edition of CamNews highlights the many opportunities afforded to our students as we focus on their academic progress and development as a person, and there have certainly been many stories to share this year.
Our staff continue to provide outstanding education and opportunities for our students and I thank them for their work, enthusiasm and commitment this year. I would also like to thank the following staff who are leaving CGGS at the end of term:
- Ms Wiebke Kleine (part-time German teacher) who will be relocating to Germany with her family. We wish her all the very best for this transition and for the future.
- Mrs Marian Jenkinson (part-time Music teacher) will be attending a study tour in the south of England followed by a volunteer position at the University of Edinburgh collections area for a period of time. We thank her for her service to the School.
- Ms Kim Yeomans (Junior School Librarian) who replaced Jo Whiffin during her Long Service Leave for the past term. We thank Kim for her contributions to Ormiston’s Library programs.
I would also like to wish Mrs Meg Anderson, Ms Keira Lyons and Mrs Heather Scarff all the best as they take well-deserved Long Service Leave. Mrs Anderson will be taking leave during Semester 2, Ms Lyons will be taking leave during Term 3 and Mrs Scarf will be taking the first three weeks of Term 3. We wish them a very enjoyable break.
Our Counsellors often write on topics of interest and Ms Paula Kolivas would like to share some thoughts about friendships in her article below. Please do not hesitate to contact the Counsellors if you wish to follow up on any of the information provided.
Finally, I would like to wish you all a relaxing and safe holiday and I look forward to welcoming you back for a very exciting Term 3.
Thinking About Friendship
One of the most complicated issues for our young people to navigate is that of friendships, and recently I came across a series of articles written by Linda Stade, an education writer from Western Australia, providing me with the stimulus for this particular article on the topic of Friendship.
Linda’s commentary on Friendship helped me to reflect on how we talk to our young people about this topic. In particular, the discussions we need to have with our children and students to assist them to navigate the complex and dynamic nature of social relationships, including the conflicts which will inevitably take place.
Discussing the following points with the young people in our lives may help them develop essential social and emotional literacy, including skills in exploring and evaluating their friendships. It is important to note that the following points are not unique to adolescents and can of course be relevant even to us as adults.
Having realistic expectations about friendships
The idea or expectation that we will have a Best Friend Forever, who always completely understands us, offers us unconditional support and is always there to provide great advice is simply not realistic. In the counsellors’ room we are often confronted with this unrealistic perception from students who feel great disappointment when they do not experience this version of a BFF, and subsequently see themselves as a failure in establishing such a relationship.
We need to explore this romanticised version of a friend to help adolescents understand that in the normal process of our social and emotional development, relationships will change, that friends will come in and out of our lives, and that certain friends will have differing levels of importance to our wellbeing.
It is also helpful for adolescents to think about the differing functions of friends and to realise that one friend may not be able to fulfill all the functions. For instance, we may need friends to help us have fun, to relax, to share our emotions, to problem solve or offer us comfort. This is why it is important that adolescents have a number of friends from differing parts of their life – school, sports club, church, work and their family network. The belief that one person can satisfy all these functions, at all times, is again, not realistic nor productive.
In reality, most friendships do not last forever. And those friendships that last for a long period of time, change and evolve in response to our personal development, our needs at the time and stage of life. Adolescents need to know this in order to promote realistic expectations regarding their friendships and in order to cultivate functional and respectful relationships.
Conflict with friends is normal
The typical adolescent is impulsive, reactive and emotional. The adolescent brain is often described as being ‘under construction’ when it comes to the cerebral cortex – the cognitive part of the brain. As such, their ability to deal with a social problem in a systematic and logical manner is sabotaged by their emotionally charged reaction to the situation. And in today’s society, conflict resolution is further complicated by the 24/7 online nature of teenage communication through social media.
It is important for us to listen to the adolescent’s understanding of their friendship problems. However, as the adults (with the fully developed cerebral cortex), we need to teach our adolescents to pause, recognise their emotions and then think about their options and the possible consequences to these options. We need to control our own instinct to jump in and fix the problem, as this may result in us ‘saving’ them from learning. Instead we must encourage the adolescent to reflect on the situation, help them figure out what the actual problem is, to explore possible solutions and after examining the many possible options, allow them to undertake what appears to be the right solution for them.
Conflict, and a means of resolution to conflict, should not be avoided as the skills and processes are fundamental to respectful relationships. Helping young people understand that conflict in relationships is normal and encouraging them to problem solve helps them deal with other problems, builds their resilience and develops their ability to manage their reactions.
To have good friends, we must be good friends
We all need to acknowledge that there is no such thing as the perfect friend. We make mistakes, as do our friends. We need to be mindful of how we personally react to certain situations, and how these reactions can impact on others. This is where the golden rule of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ plays such a significant role.
Adolescents and adults need to be reminded that if they want others to be kind to them, they must show kindness; if they want understanding, they must display understanding; if they want to be included, they must be inclusive; if they want forgiveness they must show forgiveness and most importantly, we all need treat ourselves and others with respect.
Throughout our lives, we may say inappropriate things, overreact to situations and behave in a manner that is regretful. As the adults and parents, it is our role to help our young people reflect on their relationships. If a friendship is causing more distress than comfort, then we need to help them evaluate its purpose and value in their life. If it is not a useful relationship, then we need to help them problem solve and decide whether to maintain the friendship or to seek out new friendship opportunities.
Friendships and positive social interactions are critical to our overall wellbeing and an essential part of our personal development. It is important that we proactively discuss this topic to arm young people with an understanding that will assist them to resolve conflict and promote respectful relationships both now and in the future.
Dog Therapy @ CGGS: Introducing our Library Dog
At CGGS we are always looking for ways to support the wellbeing of students and staff. Recently, there has been a growing awareness of the immense benefits that come from contact with dogs. After considerable evidence-based research and consultation with other schools who have successful dog programs, we are delighted to welcome Ivy onto our staff.
Ivy will be in the Senior School Library one day per week from 8.00am – 4.00pm each Wednesday in Term 3 to provide an opportunity for students to experience the comfort, joy and relaxation of the company of a dog. She is a quiet and gentle ten-year-old West Highland Terrier, who will be under the supervision of Mrs Anne Devenish, Head of Library.
Ivy belongs to Mrs Devenish and we have chosen her because West Highland Terriers are one of the recommended breeds for Dog Therapy purposes, due to their calm nature and non-allergenic qualities. She has been assessed by a qualified Veterinarian as eminently suitable for this role and has passed all the tests asked of her with flying colours. At the end of the term, we will review the program, with a view to having Ivy in the Library more than once a week.
We believe the benefits of introducing Ivy into our community are many. They include the following:
- Dogs provide a powerful grounding, connecting and healing force in our lives. A dog is non-judgemental and can be a relationship builder.
- Therapy Dogs are being used increasingly in College, School and library settings to help overcome anxiety and feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- A dog can be a calming influence and increase well- being, quietly and gently connecting with students and staff.
- In a school library setting the presence of a dog may be helpful to assist with issues of anxiety, trust, shyness and friendship links.
- The School library already provides support for student growth, relationship development and wellness. Adding a dog into the library setting will enhance notions of empathy and compassion for others
- The Library environment provides a stable setting for the dog and a place that all students have access to before and after school, recess and lunchtimes.
Ivy will spend her day quietly in the Library and be available to all students and staff. Whilst initially there will be excitement and extra attention surrounding her, it is intended in the long term that the presence of a Library dog will instil a sense of calm and increased wellbeing amongst students and staff.