Beyond the balloons and fairy floss

Ms Hazel Boltman, Head of Gibson House

Balloons, lights, bands and fairy floss are the outward trappings of Open Day at Girls Grammar. This is part of what we present to the public as we showcase our school, but is this what we are made of? Each year the School puts on a display to show the public and prospective parents what Girls Grammar is all about and each year seems to outdo the last. We showcase the breadth and depth of talent in our girls and the dedication and expertise of the staff. Girls Grammar is a special place, where a young girl of age 12 enters and develops into a mature and capable young woman, ready to face the world as she leaves the School. The process of education begins as we help each girl to realise her potential academically and to develop her talents in many co-curricular areas. To focus on these areas only is to miss the depth of what a good education is. An integral part of the education offered at Girls Grammar is to develop the depth of each girls’ character. This is done both implicitly and explicitly. There are programmes set up in the Ethics lessons and Year level assemblies designed to develop depth of character, and these are delivered from Year 8 to Year 12, but it is often the unsaid and unwritten lessons that have the most impact.

One of the great lessons of community occurs in the lead up to and on the day of Open Day. The Year 11 girls are charged with the responsibility of leading their Houses in the design, set up and running of their House stall. It is always heart warming to see so many young women take on this challenge without hesitation, secure in their belief in themselves and their abilities. As they organise themselves and begin to organise the younger girls in the House, they soon come to the realisation that what they are doing extends far beyond the self. There is no glory in it. It is a role of service to the School and to the charity they are supporting. They begin to look outward. The girls take their first steps in philanthropy, showing a desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed by the generous donation of money to good causes.

Each stall and activity may sparkle with an outward display of beautiful goods and showcase talents of individuals and groups, but what is of real value is the character of the students on display. The Grammar tradition is brought to the fore as the girls show initiative, imagination and integrity. Each girl is involved in many aspects of the evening, bringing to the public a taste of what it is that the School offers and showing a depth of character and an ability to reach out to others. The Year 11 girls step into leadership positions and experience their first taste of running a whole House event.

As the girls mature, the opportunities of giving to charity increase and develop. In their early years all of the charity work done in the school appears to centre on fundraising activities where the students receive a physical benefit for their dollar, the number of bake sales held annually are evidence of this. Is there a point when we reach beyond ourselves and expect no return? As the girls enter Year 12 they join in the Ecumenical Coffee Brigade, an organisation which assists homeless people with meals and coffee.  The Senior girls are also part of the Wonder Factory, and give their time generously. These and other activities afford the girls the opportunity to give without expecting something in return. As the girls make use of these opportunities they begin to develop a depth of character that is commendable.

As this weekend draws to a close, and Open Day is over for another year, it is good to reflect on the impact of the day. The community has experienced a taste of what Grammar has to offer. The staff have had an opportunity to showcase their particular subject area, sport, music or activity. The students have had the opportunity to let the world see who they are, what they can do, and how they contribute to their School and society. Most important of all, the Year 11 students have risen to the challenge of the day and have stepped out of the role of a junior student and accepted a leadership role within the school. The success of the day rests squarely on their shoulders, and in the history of Open Day at Girls Grammar, not once have they failed to rise to the challenge.

Well done Year 11, your leadership journey has begun, and next year is in capable hands.


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