‘Power is the accumulation of allies from one unique moment to the next’ – Latour
I used this quote as the only slide for a presentation in Washington in 2018. It is a simple yet powerful sentence. You may have heard me use these words at Speech Night, our whole school cocktail parties or at our Navy Blue Lunch, as I have woven this sentence into the narrative of MGGS. Latour’s quote reminds us that connection, association and affiliation provide the strength for individuals and organisations to forge strongly into the future. And it is this very power of connection and sense of network that we need to get Melbourne and Victoria back on track in this unique moment of COVID-19; we need to feel the sense of urgency as allies to each play our part.
As we enter our second State of Disaster for the year, the first with the summer bushfires and now this second, with a pandemic with numbers too high to disregard, we find ourselves as citizens of Melbourne in Stage 4 Restrictions. This morning, communications went out to our community explaining how MGGS will transition to this new phase. From Tuesday, all students will be learning off campus, excepting our small group of Boarders who remain at Merton Hall and our program for the daughters of essential health care workers which will run from Morris Hall.
At our recent well attended virtual Parents Association Meeting this sense of partnership and network was evident. Our President of the Parents Association, Ms Tammy Read, President of the Old Grammarians Society, Ms Trudie Horsfall, President of the Sports Auxiliary, Ms Jo Cain, President of the Arts Auxiliary, Ms Bec Wilkinson, Year 12 Parent Representatives, Mrs Mary-Lou Thorpe and Ms Jane Rose spoke thoughtfully and warmly of how we are supporting our community and our Grammarians to remember this year as one where they felt supported and cared for. It was an honest representation of the reality of the year and how close and connected we are as a School – a close knit group of allies.
2020 has been a year beyond all years in my lifetime, and in the role of Principal, I look to my allies for deep collaboration and support. One such trusted ally is Adjunct Professor Erica McWilliam and I look forward to our weekly conversations and exchanges about the world we find ourselves in and how our school is weathering this storm of a pandemic year. Professor McWilliam is our 2020 virtual scholar in residence and is currently researching and writing a history of the School in preparation for celebrations of our 130 year anniversary in 2023. It was agreed that the text of the book would read as a patient documentation of MGGS as a learning place for building intellectual capital and concomitant ethical and aesthetic sensibilities. I have been thoroughly enjoying reading the early draft chapters and learning about the jewels of ours and Melbourne’s curious past. Working in close concert with historian, Dr Mark Cryle and our School archivists, Mrs Pip O’Connor and Mrs Helen Moylan there have been many treasures uncovered. When you are writing the history of a school, I think you begin to understand it deeply and in our phone conversation last night she reminded me of Gilman Jones and D.J. Ross and how they navigated the School in dark times and it gave me great comfort. Her most recent paper titled ‘Hope, Optimism and Learning’ is written specifically for us and you will find it here.
There are many things unique about this moment of history. We want our community to continue to flourish despite facing the adversity that this pandemic brings, and words are important in assuring that ‘all will be well’. Just like the growth rings in a tree, 2020 will reflect the story of our lives in many years to come. We are all coping in our own ways with the unpredictable characteristics of 2020 and I wish you and your families health and good wellbeing. Take care, stay well, and keep safe.