2018/19 Prefect Theme and Community Initiatives
Look up, reach out
I would like to start by giving a huge welcome to our Year 6s! We are so excited that you are here and can't wait to see you in the Senior School next year. I would also like to welcome everyone back to the final term of the year, hopefully you all had a relaxing break.
I think it is fair to say that everyone here is familiar with that 'I know you, but I don't know you that well,' smile in the corridor.
As iconic as the awkward corridor smile is, it's the deep, genuine connections with the people around us which give us a sense of worth and belonging. Human instinct is to build friendships with the people around you, people with the same interests and same values as you, but often this leads to us being confined to our own 'bubble' and no longer finding the need to make new connections.
It is with great excitement today that I introduce to you that our prefect theme for 2018/2019 is … Look up, reach out. There are two parts to this theme, the first being look up, meaning we have to look up from the bubble we tend to confine ourselves in and the second part is to reach out and be intentional with creating new connections.
It's easy to be content with the friends you have and to create excuses which prevent you from connecting with others, such as ignoring those who are different from you or labelling someone by their negatives rather than their positives, or it may simply be the fear of rejection. And other times, you might just be too consumed by a busy lifestyle and you don't even consider looking up and reaching out.
Looking up starts with counteracting these preconceptions of others you may have, by taking an interest in them. Think about it, you can make more genuine connections with people by becoming interested in them, rather than trying to make them interested in you. It is an action which you have to intentionally take to branch out beyond the friendship circles you already know. In order to genuinely connect with the people around us, we must break these judgements, stereotypes and negativity towards others by purposefully looking up from our own world and reaching out into the worlds of others. Building a connection with someone doesn't mean that they have to be your new best friend, but you have to make an effort to understand them.
We want to build a culture at Abbotsleigh where genuine connections span beyond both friendship groups and year groups and where everyone has the confidence to build new relationships by looking up from the world they know and reaching out to the people that they don't.
So, we challenge you to look for an opportunity to build a new connection, to look up and reach out.
Give a Hand Canvas Project
Clementine Hobill Cole | Vice Head Prefect – Houses
For our first initiative, I am excited to announce the 'give a hand' project. After Week 1 assembly, we organised for there to be a canvas and paint in the Assembly Hall Foyer. We asked each student to come and dip their hands in paint, place them on the canvas and show their support. Look up, reach out celebrates the constant moments of love and kindness that are seen every day here at Abbotsleigh. In the next year, we wish to challenge and help develop our awareness. We are calling all students to action, to constantly be looking up and out for others. The 'give a hand' project, allows us as a school to promise that when we see someone in need of our support, we are not afraid to reach out. We can't wait to see everyone getting their hands dirty and lending a hand.
Connect our Community 2018/2019 Service Project
Claire Luger | Vice Head Prefect – Service
Each year, Abbotsleigh participates in a Service Project, raising awareness and funds for a specific cause or charity. This allows us to develop our ability to empathise with new people we meet who may have experienced very different circumstances to the ones we face in our day to day lives. Being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes is a very valuable skill for forming real, meaningful relationships and helps us to reach out to members of our community who need a helping hand.
With that said, it gives me great pleasure to launch our Service Project for the year, Connect our Community. Our Prefect Theme for this year is all about creating meaningful connections with others, and Connect our Community will give us an opportunity to show our love for all the members of our local community right here in Sydney by sharing our time and resources with those who are in need.
We are all very privileged to be able to go to school and get a good education, to go home to our nice houses filled with furniture, games, technology, wardrobes full of clothes and pantries full of food. The stable employment and sufficient incomes of our parents, often means that we take these things for granted, as we just assume that everyone in our local community must experience similar conditions of contentment.
Unfortunately, though, there are many people in our local Sydney community for whom these simple things prove challenging to provide on a daily basis.
Approximately 15% of Sydneysiders are living below the poverty line. That amounts to approximately 800,000 people who are unable to provide food and financial security for themselves and their families.
It is one thing to just acknowledge these statistics or to witness the degrading consequences such as homelessness as you walk through the city, but it is another thing to see past the symptoms of poverty and see the beautiful and unique person these symptoms are plaguing.
It is my hope that through Connect our Community we might hear the stories of individuals, many of whom started off in the relative security and comfort we experience, and, through listening to individual stories, we might grow in our ability to love and care for people around Sydney who may be a bit different and who desperately seek the helping hand of a friend.
Imagine the difference we can make in the lives of individuals if we are able to recognise when someone needs a helping hand, and we willingly look out for them by taking time to listen to their stories and offer our support and friendship.
For some people in our community, Christmas can be a big struggle: trying to juggle the cost of electrical bills, rent, feeding families and still having leftover money to spend on presents and festivities of Christmas time.
This term we will be working with a program called Toys 'n' Tucker, who provide Christmas hampers and toys to those in need to make Christmas that little bit easier and more enjoyable. Christmas is a reminder of the love that God showed us, sending his son into the world as the ultimate gift, so it seems very fitting that through Toys 'n' Tucker we are able to model Christ's example of servant leadership by making some small, loving contributions towards sharing the joy of Christmas with our community.
So I really encourage you all to get behind the Service Project, to reach out and connect with members within our local community, to push past the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding those in need, and to serve them with love and generosity.