Reflecting upon the character of strengths
As we reach the end of Term 3, we reflect with gratitude and appreciation amidst the challenges brought about by COVID-19 restrictions, and the need for sacrifice and compromise in order to keep our state safe during this current outbreak. We have this term reflected upon the character strengths of persistence, resilience, patience, humility and gratitude, and explored their relevance for our current circumstances.
Earlier this week, the US Open saw both Australian tennis superstar Dylan Alcott and Deide De Groot of the Netherlands achieve the “Golden Slam” – winning titles at the Australian and French Open, Wimbledon, an Olympic Gold for each player in their respective events, then topping it all off with a US Open win. What persistence, perseverance and resolve must these sportspeople have had to cultivate and demonstrate in order to reach the very top of their game in the world? How many times must they have thought that the journey ahead of them was too difficult, too long, or too arduous? How many times in their sport must they have had to re-commit to their goals, re-focus on the future after a disappointment or loss, strive and persist through difficult conditions or injury? It is inspiring to see such positive role models of the human spirit,
We also very much enjoyed the video message shared by School for Life this week, a school we are closely connected with through Old Girl founder Annabelle Chauncy OAM. Girls in Uganda sharing their experiences of learning from home during COVID highlighted the significant work of School for Life in supporting girls’ education and was a powerful exercise in perspective for students and staff alike.
Frensham students have persisted and persevered – particularly Year 12 in their final week of classes - and are finishing the term strongly and positively after a couple of challenging months. We recognise our student and staff determination to finish well, to reflect upon and recognise the lessons we have all learned over the course of this term. Year 12 are often told that their final year is a marathon, not a sprint - and this year there seem to be a few laps added by stealth at the end. We know Year 12 can do it, and they will strengthen and grow through the process. We look forward to being able to farewell and celebrate you in person next term. For now, we say thank you – and keep going – and we will be here with you, as your team, cheering you on.
We reflect with gratitude on the term that has been – for everyone’s efforts under trying circumstances, for our health, safety and access to education when so many in the world do not have the same. For the technology that lets us keep connected with friends, classmates, teachers and family members around Australia and around the world. For the sustained efforts of our teachers and staff, who have continued to pivot and flex at very short notice and have toiled in a most extraordinarily committed manner.
Our term concludes this afternoon with the induction of our Student Leaders for 2022, where we will gather in a virtual space via Zoom instead of the usual Service format in our beloved Clubbe Hall. We invite all families to join us for the Leadership Induction Service which commences at 2.00pm on Zoom and requires attendance from all students. It is a formal recognition of Year 12, 2022 student leaders and is an important occasion, recognising and celebrating the role that these girls play in the leadership of the School in the year ahead. All students are required to wear their full Winter Uniform for this service and we ask for those attending to be online at 1.55pm to enable us to commence promptly.
It is with great anticipation that we look forward to the return of students to campus during Term 4. Whilst it is not possible to confirm exact arrangements at this time, given the ever-changing status of LGA restrictions, we will be continuing to plan across the upcoming holiday period for the term ahead, in light of anticipated updated information and guidelines being provided. A draft schedule will be posted on Schoolbox today, along with a survey designed to provide the opportunity for feedback and suggestions for our planning. As the government announced earlier in August, school staff will be required to be fully vaccinated by 8 November and we encourage all families to pursue vaccinations for students aged 12 and above to assist us in keeping safe as a community and being able to return to full campus operations as soon as possible.
We wish all students, staff and families a safe and restful vacation ahead.
Term 3 2021, with most of our community isolated at home, will be remembered as the term where we were unable to enjoy those powerful elements of the Frensham culture that are so reliant on us all being together on campus. One of the most memorable and most affected of those elements is our coming together for singing and music making, and yet, despite these challenging times, students and staff continue to make and enjoy music together.
While Morning Prayers on ZOOM regularly features Mr Spencer playing the keyboard and singing the daily hymn, musicians from Years 7-12 have also sent in videos of themselves playing their instruments for the “Processional” and singing the hymns. Similarly, the School Services for Years 9 and 11 featured video compilations of singers from those year groups delivering the hymns for us to enjoy, and currently, singers across the school are sending in videos of themselves singing the School Hymn for the Leadership Induction Service on Thursday.
Choir rehearsals and performances are always the first to be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions but, this term, the Madrigals achieved something they have not done since 2012; filmed at the close of Term 2, they submitted their videos and won both their sections in the Sydney Eisteddfod and then went on to be named Australasian Choral Champion for U/19 Choirs.
It was a sad moment for Frensham’s HSC Music students when they were told that they no longer needed to practise for their final performance examinations, as these were unable to be held this year. Despite this, our community was still able to enjoy their performances, filmed at their Trial Examinations at the beginning of the term, via Vimeo: 2021 HSC Music Performances.
While ZOOM is not ideal for musical sound, individual Music tuition has continued online again this term, reflecting the great goodwill and commitment of Frensham musicians and staff alike. We all look forward to coming out of lockdown and being able to enjoy the fruits of our musicians’ labours in person once more.
Mr Michael Spencer, Head of Music
Visual Arts and Design & Technology
A major focus for both Visual Arts and Design & Technology during Term 3 has been to reach the best possible outcomes for Year 12 students completing major projects in these subjects. During the term, both students and teachers had to navigate their way through changes made by NESA to the parameters of submission of both Visual Arts Bodies of Work and Design & Technology Major Design Projects. In normal circumstances, these projects are submitted by approximately mid Term 3; this year, the submission dates moved closer to the end of term.
While there have been some significant challenges for all in terms of resolving major projects, I would like to focus on things we must celebrate. Firstly, beyond the actual work, it is imperative that we acknowledge the resilience and determination of all students during this process. When faced with limited access to specialist materials and equipment, actual physical separation from their work, delays in sending or receiving packages of work, and of course, live one-to-one discussions with their teachers, our students stood tall. With the support of staff, every student took some personal responsibility for solving whatever issue they faced in terms of resolving their work, and in doing so, demonstrated great strength of character. One element that put our students in a good position to deal with the challenges of Term 3 was the sustained work undertaken throughout Semester 1 which meant that broadly, the essential frameworks of projects were in place.
Taking into account many unavoidable barriers which negated full resolution of projects for some, I would like to commend the students for the outstanding collective standard of work produced in Year 12 Visual Arts and/or Design & Technology. Present in the major works of 38 students are exquisite skill, diversity, cleverness, sensitivity and refinement.
Presently, the faculty is exploring ways to be able to share these projects with our wider community. Clearly, any physical exhibition under current restrictions appears to be problematic and therefore unlikely. Discussions at this point revolve around exploring effective ways to potentially share the work in a virtual format.
Pivoting has become a familiar term during 2021, and subjects with a significant practical component have needed to pivot substantially. Many planned making tasks have needed to be adjusted or postponed to suit an online environment. In Visual Arts, Design & Technology and STEM classes throughout Years 7-11, we have adapted tasks where necessary to embrace or extend digital processes. Practical work in both Design & Technology and STEM is often underpinned by computer-based technologies, so much of planned Term 3 work has been possible. In Visual Arts, we have consistently used parts of the Adobe suite (particularly Photoshop) extensively as a tool to develop compositions for painting, printmaking and drawing. While many students possessed a good skills base with this software, moving to a making environment where programmes like Photoshop have been used not just as a tool, but as a way to make a resolved artwork, has been an opportunity, not a hinderance. It will be interesting to see whether we see an uptake in the exploration of Photomedia and Graphic Design as Expressive Forms in the HSC in 2022 and beyond. For some students, employing this software more extensively may well have opened a creative pathway for them moving forward.
Mr Phil Alldis, Head of VA & DAT
How will people remember the dramatic chaos of the Class of 2021? Through the poofy moustache of the Lorax bouncing onto the stage? Through the frustrated blehs, ahhs and stutterings made during truly intense scenes as the lines slipped our minds? In the dent made by Ms Shannon in the cupboard from a very believable session of method acting, or in the small dent in the drama studio floor made by a girl performing a very passionate monologue with a cricket bat? Or will it be through the notably attractive faces of characters in top hats, leather jackets and fake-male jawlines? Though the pandemic may have cast a shadow over the light of performers around the world, it certainly has not dimmed the legacy of our time here at Frensham. Now, at the conclusion of our final Act, the drama students from the Class of 2021 can take our bows and reflect on the rollercoaster of our experiences:
Scene One - Year 7: Zip, Zap, Zop!
Where it all began. As we stepped into the Drama Studio for the first time, there it was. The stage, clear. The lights, bright, and a room full of possibility. What we did not know was that we were now stepping into the place we would see as a second home for the next six years, a place where we felt most comfortable and a place, we have made some of our best memories. From our class games and story book staging in Year 7, this was the perfect introduction to a world of drama. Collaborative and creative games was the ultimate way to immediately get our interest and gave the best opportunity for all of us to get to know each other in a fun and exciting environment.
Scene Two - Year 8: Footstools and Foliage
Our starring roles in our first Junior Production: Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, were as large as footstools and the letter L in the word ‘love’, learning the importance of the ensemble in creating theatre. We longed to escape our roles as props in the End of Year Musical, only to play the forks, napkins and pepper shakers in Beauty and the Beast, a rather interesting experience playing a singing spoon, but one of our favourites so far.
Scene Three - Year 9: Green Eggs and Ham
This was even bigger and better as we were now the older ones in the junior productions, and suddenly had gone from looking up at the main parts to being luckily enough to take them on. As we tackled the masterpiece and all engaging works of Dr Seuss, we all worked together to our strengths to put on a funny, warm, and great show, and I think was perhaps a valuable time when we saw how worth it long practices and regular rehearsals truly are.
Scene Four - Year 10: To Life!
We formed unbreakable bonds as we sang Amazing Grace and acted out our worst nightmares using Brecht, making Mrs Hannah cry, and having us all reaching for the tissues. We performed our first monologues to Jasper Jones. We nervously auditioned for our first lead roles and danced as Russians in the unexpected joy of Fiddler on the Roof, forever yelling out ‘Tradition!’ as we counted the steps; one, two, three, stop!
Scene Five - Year 11: Did Someone Say M@cb3th?
Now in our senior years, we started to find ourselves fully absorbed by the genius works of playwrights Chekhov and Brecht in class as we took on more challenging, and more absurdist pieces. As well as this we found ourselves absorbed by none other than Shakespeare himself, learning lines and doing table reads of his famous Macbeth. However, with a modern twist. This was our first time entering the world of a senior birthday play, where we would get to perform to staff, parents and girls for a once-a-year special event and the birthday of our school. And yet, the curse of the Scottish play meant that our access to the stage was limited, surrendering out first roles to the radio play and looking instead to our End of Year Production. Grease was an experience we will never forget, from fighting over who would be the five singers in each song, to flipping off cars to a screaming chorus, we will forever be grateful for the way this musical brought us closer and sparked joy in our peers during a time of COVID.
Scene Six - Year 12: ...and yet.
Hope. A year spent hoping. We hoped for opportunities as we organised musical theatre concerts and theatre sports competitions. We hoped until it hurt that I Have Five Daughters could go ahead without any pandemic hiccups. We hoped we would remember all our wordy lines about it being “prodigious hot”. We hoped our families would be able to see our Major Works. In vain we struggled against forces we could not change. A struggle which, at times, made it hard to keep a polished twinkle in our eyes. And yet we conjured lots of “oohs and ahhs” as we told stories to our friends, we fostered smiles which for a moment lost sight of the rising cases, we made hope in places where hope was hard to find. In a time of theatrics, we created hope through theatre, we made our own opportunities, forged our own paths; we organised film festivals and laughed as we tried to remember what happened to Scar in The Lion King, attempting to tell the story to our peers.
We became living proof that no matter how dismal life becomes, art will always create an ‘and yet’.
To conclude what has been a rollercoaster of six years, for us, there are perhaps very few words to describe drama at Frensham that could truly capture the infinite fun we have had, memories we will cherish forever, and lessons we have learnt as our passion for performance has only grown each year.
It has certainly been one of a kind and we have loved every minute.
So, to all the young stars, keen musical theatre singers and stage dancers, as your high school years continue, we hope that drama at Frensham can bring you just as much joy and fun as it has for us.
Georgie Hill and Eleanor Swan, Heads of Drama 2021
Mrs Sally Hannah, Head of Drama
- Recent award recipients: Iris – Grace Lewis, Eleanor Swan, Jessica Billet, Madeleine Mulligan (All Round Excellence); Girdle – Alexandra Crawford (Academic Excellence), Sophie Rodwell (Sport), Georgia Hill (Academic Excellence and Service to Drama), Sophie Perkins (Service to Music).
- Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award recipients: Silver – Lara Kyriazis (Year 11), Darcy Maple-Brown, Edie Staniforth (Year 10); Bronze – Gracie Hindmarsh, Monique Andersson (Year 10).
- Gib Gate Tournament of Minds (TOMs) Team was awarded Primary School Honours at the recent online Ceremony.
- Gib Gate students as they said farewell to Year 12, 2021 Gib Gaters. This year, the annual celebration was held via Zoom.
- Ms Janene van Gogh, Director of Studies, will be taking Long Service Leave during Term 4.
- We welcome: Mrs Katelyn Williamson returns to Gib Gate in 2022, as Maternity Leave cover for Miss Stefanie Klauer.
Ms Sarah McGarry
Head of Frensham
Head of Frensham Schools