Welcome to 2016
I would like to formally welcome you to 2016 at Southern Hills Christian College.
We have a number of new families starting with us. I would like to thank you for your trust in growing your children. To our existing families I thank you for your continued support and partnership and look forward to continuing developing strong relationships with you and your children.
One of our goals this year is to develop a culture in our students that values academic success. We are recognised as a school that values relationship, a staff that cares about young people and go the extra mile, and a campus that has a natural learning environment second to none.
However high achievement is not the only measure of our success. I wish our Christian education to be distinct in the way our staff interact with our students and families, and the way our students interact with the wider community.
I remember a number of years ago I attended an elite competition in which there were about 300 students competing in a highly regarded interschool cross-country event. I was there with a handful of students that were able to attend.
I was located about 400 metres from the finish line and observed a student from another college fall and injure her ankle. One of my students, who was running a little way behind, immediately stopped and helped her to her feet and assisted her from the track.
This was a significant event for me as the young lady from my college was a highly-competitive and gifted runner. At the time she was holding, from memory, eighth place. The message in this event for me was not the fact that she gave up her win to nobly assist another person, nor the proud accolade I could give our college while I watch others simply run past.
No. The reason this story often comes to my mind is because the girl stopped running because it was her natural reaction. The notion of helping others was an immediate response. The race failed to be a factor in her response to the incident.
A second story comes from a visit to Cambodia. My wife and I were training teachers in an organisation called Hagar, whose mission is to break woman and children out of the third-world cycle created the Pol Pot regime in the sixties and seventies.
I recall the then CEO of the organisation using Pol Pot as an example of the dangerous possibilities created by a great education without a connection with a Christian value system. Pol Pot became responsible for the murder of millions of people and destroyed his country. The effects of his values and education is still impacting Cambodia today.
Our challenge this year is to partner with you in building our children’s characters. Firstly, to train our students centred on a core of Christian values: to be ‘other-person centred’; to become resilient to criticism or ridicule for being counter-cultural; and to be persistent in their striving for academic success.
It is my vision to have our students strive to be exceptional in whatever field or area of expertise they wish to pursue in their careers, while confidently holding a faith position that loves God and loves others. Our staff share with me in this vision and we will continue to develop this same attitude and culture in our team as we seek to become experts in our fields.
Often we fall into the trap of polarising ideas. We can suppose that valuing Christian education may in some way diminish academic success. Similarly, I don’t believe that outdoor education must suffer at the hands of science or mathematics.
I ask that you partner with us this year as we challenge our students to do their best in whatever they take in their hand. I ask that we work together in encouraging them to see the value in God’s word. I ask that you join with me as we challenge us to think differently in 2016.