“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” – Nelson Henderson
In my office, there is a small watercolour of the building we know as Phelia Grimwade, painted in 1942 with a small tree in the foreground, an important memory for our community. Our grand and noble pin oak tree nestled close to Phelia Grimwade Reception, which was deemed a dangerous tree late last term, has now been removed. Many staff members, alumnae and Grammarians who watched it felled cried. It was a sad farewell. We have kept some significant timber from the tree which, once cured, will be crafted into a baptismal font for the Chapel of St Luke. This significant tree has been part of our Merton Hall landscape for close to a century. As a deciduous tree, it has provided shade in the summer months and allowed sunlight throughout the winter for our community. This very loved tree can be seen in historical images of our School inclusive of many generations of alumnae and over time has sheltered many animals, birds, and insects. Our School archivist and historian, Pip O’Connor is gathering images of the tree throughout the years, so that we might celebrate it. I know our Grammarians will be saddened by this loss and our teachers will be looking for teaching moments to weave a farewell into their curriculum.
It is strange that as I write this first edition of Messenger for Term 2, I reflect on the fact that it is also my last for Term 2. With the world slowly coming out of a pandemic, it is time for MGSS to lift its gaze on the global stage and reconnect with international alumnae, our sister schools, and other exemplary educational organisations. I am fortunate that our School Council has provided me with a period of Sabbatical Leave, which I will take from Friday 6 May. Term 2 is the ideal time for this Sabbatical Leave, as the school year has started well and May to June is known as the quietest period in the academic calendar when the rhythm of the programs has been established and the daily and weekly routines have settled in. This Sabbatical will allow me to travel to the UK, to pursue a course at Cambridge University, visit the site of the original Merton Hall and go to see Newnham College, walking in the footsteps of our School founders, Emily Hensley and Alice Taylor. Whilst in the UK I will be hosting an alumnae event, visiting various exceptional educational establishments, and visiting our sister school, Godolphin, Salisbury. From the UK I will travel to the US, where I will host an alumnae event in New York, again take the opportunity to visit innovative schools, and then travel to Boston to attend an international conference on girls’ education. During this conference, I will connect with the principal and senior staff from our Canadian sister school – The Bishop Strachan, Toronto. This Sabbatical will be a time of further study, connecting, networking and engaging with many leading educators and schools and institutes across the globe.
There has been a buzz and hum around the School this fortnight, with Grammarians sharing stories of travel and adventures over the Easter period. Our new Executive Director, Middle Years, Ms Kerry Oldman has settled in well and is actively meeting with all of our Wildfell and St Hilda’s Grammarians. Although I will be absent for seven weeks of Term 2, MGGS will be in the very capable hands of Mrs Lynn Broadway as Acting Principal. She will be well supported by a highly experienced and collaborative Executive Team. Should you wish to reach Mrs Broadway in her capacity as Acting Principal, please email email@example.com and your query will be responded to accordingly. Mr Luke Francis and Ms Sarah Gill will be Acting Deputy Principals during this time and will retain their positions of responsibility as Executive Directors of the Senior, and Junior, and Early Years sub-schools.
Over the last few years, rowing at MGGS has gone from strength to strength under the leadership of our Head of Rowing, Mr Angus Sellar. I am delighted to announce that our first VIII squad have been officially accepted into the main draw for the Prince Philip Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, UK. There are just under 50 days until our Grammarians depart for the competition which will take place from Wednesday 29 June to Sunday 3 July. Whilst it feels a long way off, the event is fast approaching and our Merton Hall Rowing Club is right behind our Grammarians to send them to Henley. As a community, we will be fundraising to support our athletes in their pursuit of international experience and success. Please join me in congratulating Georgina Gough, Amelie McComb, Eloise Faulks, Isabelle Balding, Olivia Nairn, Lola Dahan, Zoe McKernan, Hannah Glover, Alexandra Williams (cox), Isabella Ross (emergency) and their coach John Kloufetos who will be fine ambassadors at the Henley Royal Regatta.
Last week you will have also received a letter from the Chair of Council, me and the Executive Director, Marketing and Communication asking for contributions to our Annaul Giving program. As many in our community will be aware, the focus of this program is on scholarship and our programs cover academic, music, boarding and indigenous scholarships. I encourage you all to contribute in a way that is appropriate for your family at this time. Collectively, donations from our parents, Grammarians and our staff over many generations demonstrate the support and strength of our community in helping MGGS realise its vision by providing opportunities to students who can benefit from the gift of education at a school such as ours. Should you have any questions regarding Annual Giving, contributing to our Building Fund or Henley Rowing trip, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, all Grammarians should now be in full winter School uniform. Students, staff and parents share the responsibility in ensuring our Grammarians look the part each day. Uniform signifies that our Grammarians are members of a well known and respected school and that they are focused on their scholarly pursuits. Collectively, they ‘are Melbourne’ and the way they wear their uniform, not just in the sporting arena, reflects their pride in their school and sustains our enviable MGGS reputuation. With the same commitment we will continue with rapid antigen testing every Monday and Wednesday and be as COVID safe as possible.
As I watch the School during the Term, from afar, I look forward to returning at the beginning of Term 3 with new learnings and networks that will support the strategic visioning of MGGS as an international destination of educational excellence.
Be safe, be well, be kind.
Yours in learning,
Dr Toni E Meath