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With exams on the horizon, Beaconhills’ Head of Wellbeing, Yvonne Ashmore has put together some wonderful tips for students on coping with exam stress.
Many of these ideas are simple but truly effective if put in place early. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start.
I would like to wish all our students a restful holiday break and look forward to seeing you in term 4.
Yvonne Ashmore’s exam advice:
• Ask who can help me? Identify a person or people who can help and challenge you as you head toward exam times. This person can be a kind ear when you are feeling stressed and someone to push you when you are procrastinating.
• Develop a coping menu. Think through all of the things that help you remain calm and focused. Share these with your support person and encourage them to remind you to use these strategies. They may include writing a study plan, studying in a common family area away from your bedroom, regular exercise, mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
• What’s the point? Be clear about why you are doing exams. Consider more deeply the reasons you are putting time, energy and effort into your education. It is easy to say “I am doing it because I have to” however more significant reasons may include wanting to go on to further study, looking forward to a well-paying career, developing a sense of achievement. This is not about knowing what you want to be in the future, this is about how you grow and develop your skills for the future.
• Use your class time. Students have frequently said that the simple idea of using class time well to complete work and ask questions can significantly impact on lowering your homework load and keep up to date. So arrive on time, sit alone or with others that are working hard, bring your questions and appropriate learning materials and review what you learned and still need to know. This will make a big difference to future stress.
• Take care of yourself. You need about nine hours of quality sleep to ensure you can concentrate, absorb information and maintain positive mood. Eat well, exercise daily and create balance in your day.
• Practise mindfulness. A calm brain learns more effectively. Practise short mindfulness techniques that help your brain to calm and focus.
• Develop a study plan and share it with your family. This plan will help you and others to see when you are studying effectively
• Put in effort. With effort and practise you will improve and so the greater the effort, the greater the improvement
• Ask for help. At school there are many people such as counsellors who can help you to maintain positive mental health and teachers to help you with specific learning topics
The upcoming issue of our Lux Luceat magazine has a wellbeing theme, with more helpful information from our teaching staff about exams – and much more.
Our first leadership seminar for Senior School students held on Monday 28 August was a resounding success.
The half-day seminar was designed for current Year 11 students interested in pursuing leadership positions in the College for 2018, such as captain, House captain or co-curricular captaincy positions. Along with various sessions and group activities, students were challenged to think about their strengths and how they could be positive role models for other students.
Thirty-seven students from both campuses relinquished their student-free day on Monday to take part in the seminar. A wonderful response.
My address to students on the morning was around the changing face of leadership and future employment. I also emphasised my belief that strong future leaders will demonstrate integrity, compassion and work for the common good.
Today we farewelled our longest-serving staff member, Andrew Staindl – Property Team Leader. Andy leaves after 31 years of employment in the Beaconhills College maintenance team.
Andy has been ‘part of the furniture’ since he replaced our first handyman back in 1986, originally planning to stay for just one year. Many will remember ‘Andy’s shed’, which was a College landmark for many years.
Andy (pictured to the left with me at the Pakenham Campus farewell today) has seen Beaconhills College transform from a small, rural school to the magnificent College it is today. We thank Andy for his invaluable service and contribution to our College community and wish him all the best for the future.
Since Beaconhills College became the first school in Victoria to establish an on-campus, specialised Year 9 program more than 20 years ago, other schools have followed suit.
Various adaptations of Year 9 programs are now commonplace. But as we prepare to open our major new Year 9 Centre at our Pakenham Campus in 2018, I have been reflecting on what really sets our program apart.
Year 9 at Beaconhills is a ‘bespoke’ program. For the past 20 years, we have developed the key elements – Personal Best, Common Good, City Experience and the challenging Outdoor Education program – to really give students some unique and life-changing learning. Learning that matters.
This program was founded on research showing that around Year 9, young people tend to disconnect from their school work and families and focus strongly on their peer relationships. It’s a transitional time, where they’re learning about their own identity and place in the world.
At a time when young people can disengage from learning, what better way to re-ignite their interest than give them a term to develop a project that is their personal passion (Personal Best)? At a time when teenagers can become self-absorbed, what better to discover the joy of altruism and empathy by handing out small gifts to people on Melbourne’s streets (Random Act of Kindness), or raising money for a charity organisation (Common Good)?
Our newly-launched Year 9 website tells you much more about this program and the immeasurable benefits it delivers for students.
I am always in awe of the incredible talent of our performing arts scholars when I attend our annual Scholars’ Concert. This year’s concert was on Monday night at Beaconhills’ Pakenham Campus.
Whether their talent is in drums, dancing or drama, our scholars always present a spectacular show of their performance skills and creativity, underscoring the high level of integrity of our scholarship program.
Last year we had a total 172 applications for our broader performing arts, general excellence and academic scholarship program, from which we offered 20 scholarship places in 2017. With this annual scholarship program, both current and new students may apply.
We also have a separate scholarship program aimed at students from outside the College. This week we will invite interested students wishing to join Years 9-11 in 2018 to apply for one of our new Senior School scholarships.
This program is for students who would like to take up the opportunity of a Beaconhills College education. Assessment for these scholarships is based on a portfolio submission and an interview, giving students a chance to highlight their academic achievements and contributions to school life and community. More information will be on our website by Friday 4 August.
When it comes to mental and physical wellbeing, as a College we strongly believe it is important to “walk it like you talk it”.
Hence our Wellbeing Day for all College staff on day 1 of term, which focused on how each staff member could maximise their own wellbeing as well as strategies and ideas for teachers to share with students.
As part of this day, we had two excellent guest speakers. Dr Craig Hassed from Monash University’s Department of General Practice spoke at length on ‘mindfulness’ – essentially the practice of ‘living in the now’. Dr Hassed is an internationally recognised speaker on holistic, integrative and mind-body medicine. His presentation set out some of the evidence linking the practice of mindfulness to improved cognitive and academic performance, increased immunity and reduction in stress.
Hugh van Cuylenburg, founder of The Resilience Project, also spoke about his work in the area of mental health and resilience, sharing some practical ways to help build resilience. Volunteering in an underprivileged school in the Himalayas helped him discover resilience in its purest form and he has since developed and facilitated programs for schools, National Rugby League clubs, the AFL, Cricket Australia and the Australian Netball team.
I am including here some resources from Dr Hassed – a mindfulness description and useful daily mindfulness tips. Dr Hassed also has a free online mindfulness course.
Staff at a Wellbeing Day workshop
Imagine if your child’s report covered more than just academic results. What if it assessed commitment to community service, leadership or environmental stewardship? What if it painted a picture of your child’s personal growth after an outdoor education or overseas experience, through their own reflections?
I believe in a reporting system which gives the whole picture of each student, one that is multidimensional and reflects the learning that really matters to universities and future employers.
In the coming years Beaconhills College will be working towards a much more comprehensive reporting system which will go beyond just traditional ‘grades’. Beaconhills senior students recently completed exams and parents will soon be able to view their reports online to help track their child’s academic progress. However, it’s important to remember that exams are just one measure of the learning they will need beyond the classroom – and into their future lives.
The roll-out of the Federal Government’s national school funding plan continues, as the so-called Gonski 2.0 passed the House of Representatives this week.
School funding has been a political issue for many decades and one that is often difficult to understand due to the many complexities not always explained in media coverage.
At Beaconhills, about 50 per cent of our funding comes from parent fees and other 50 per cent from Government (predominantly Federal) funding, as opposed to state schools in our region.
Under the proposed Gonski 2.0, we will receive about a 4.2 per cent increase in Federal Government funding over the next 10 years. Historically, the cost of education rises each year significantly more than the CPI (Consumer Price Index) – and our costs to operate Beaconhills are rising at around 5 per cent each year.
However, the College is confident that proposed funding increase to us of 4.2 per cent will enable us to maintain our current programs with minimal impact on parent fees.
I believe it is important for our children to understand the injustices of our past in the treatment of the first Australians.
That’s why I am proud that Beaconhills College students are taking part in a series of events during these next two weeks to highlight National Reconciliation Week (27 May- 3 June) and NAIDOC Week (2-9 July).
This Friday 26 May also is National Sorry Day, which remembers Australia’s past policies of forced child removal.
Thanks to the efforts of our Head of Indigenous Initiatives, Lynette George, the College has a number of activities and assemblies spread across these significant dates. These include Reconciliation Assemblies, Indigenous cooking incursions, guest speakers, a ‘Connecting to Country’ activity day, fundraising for our upcoming Jabiru camp and Reconciliation Breakfast on Tuesday 30 May at the Berwick Campus (all welcome, bookings through the College Shop).
Our students have incredible opportunities at Beaconhills to learn about overseas’ cultures, but the upcoming events at our College give us the chance to learn about Aboriginal culture and history, as well as reconcile events from the past, present and into the future. It’s learning with Indigenous people – and learning from them. Learning together.
Artwork presented to the College by Wurundjeri artist Mandy Nicholson, a guest speaker at our upcoming Reconciliation Assemblies
The recent worldwide cyber-attacks are a significant cause for concern in all organisations, including our College.
Our IT department has worked hard to ensure that in the event of a cyber-attack, we have the ability to minimise the damage to our systems.
One area where we need to be vigilant is around our BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program for Years 9-12 students, as issues such as use of pirated software can jeopardise our College networks.
Here are some helpful tips from our IT department which may be useful to everyone:
• Do not open any emails that look suspicious and particularly be aware that attachments could damage your important data
• Never give your password to anyone
• Keep regular backups of your important data in a safe place, not connected to your computer
• Ensure that your operating system and anti-virus software is updated to the latest version
• Don’t use pirated software, it often contains malicious content that could damage your important data
• A good free anti-virus solution is available here https://home.sophos.com
Prevention is the best cure.
Timely advice for exam time
Senior School leadership seminar
Why Year 9?
Calling for senior scholars
Wellbeing in action
Reports that tell the whole story
School funding landscape clearer
Reconciliation Week and NAIDOC Week
Think before you click
Lunches with the Year 12s
Performing Arts at its best
Queen’s Scout Award winners
Beaconhills College dancers steal the show
Pet party at Little Beacons
Beacon Explorers explained
Care packages to help the homeless
It’s great to be grand
Stunning success at the SEISA Spring Sports Carnival
A GRAND addition to our Performing Arts program
To market, to market!
Year 12 Beaconhills College student Callum Porter taking the TAC Cup by storm
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Gate C, Syme Rd, Pakenham VIC 3810