Deputy Headmaster and Head of Preparatory School

Mr Jeff Symms

Remembrance Day

This week we conducted our annual Remembrance Day service.  It is a special day in the Australian calendar and has a great deal to teach the boys about honour, sacrifice, selflessness, courage and respect.  I look forward to it each year.

As part of the service, we share with the boys the history of the day and the significance of the many symbols which surround them at this time:-  the poppy, rosemary, the cross, the time and the Catafalque party.  A story is shared, songs are sung and our nation celebrated, all the time while giving thanks for those who have served in our armed services.

It is always terrific to include the participation of some of our army cadets who make up the Catafalque Party – an honour guard for those who have fallen in combat.  Often these boys are former Preparatory School students and they always enjoy returning and playing a part in a service they so enjoyed when younger.

A huge thanks to Mr Rowe and Ms Matthias who so skillfully crafted a ceremony that caters to the interests of boys ranging from 5 years of age to 12, and to Ms Schinkel and Mr Robinson for their technical work on stage to ensure that all of the AV features worked so well.  Given COVID-19 restrictions, we had to rely more this year on audio visual presentations and I think they added to the overall presentation.

Ms Streten , Ms Ng and musicians Max Carr and Jin Lee did a wonderful job.  Thanks to  Mr Whitaker for playing the bugle and Mr Sten, Director of Cadets, for his preparation of the Catafalque party.

Ben Nichol (6S) performed as a vocal soloist beautifully and the Camarata Choir  sounded terrific.

But I also give my thanks to all of our teaching and corporate staff for the role they play in preparing  our boys for such a service.  I thought the boys did a great job of being attentive and conducting themselves respectfully, as befits such an occasion.  This demonstrates maturity and self-discipline.

I am always very proud of the boys when they recognise the importance of place and occasion, and manage themselves so well.

Year 6 parent attendance at events

On Wednesday all Year 6 parents were sent an email outlining each of the major end of year events and instructions on how to RSVP to each.  It is important that parents use the link in the email to RSVP to each individual event separately.  This is a COVID-19 requirement and parents may find they are unable to attend an event if they have not responded before hand.

It is also important to note that COVID-19 compliance also requires us to limit the numbers of people in each venue and so boys are only able to have two (2) guests at these events.  Siblings who attend TSS or St Hildas are able to attend as ‘extras’ to the two family members who are non-school age.

Presentation Assembly – Friday 20 November

The final Presentation Assembly for the year which will be live-streamed was previously advertised as commencing at 12.oopm.    This has now been rescheduled to 1.45pm on the same day – November 20.  Please note there is no parent attendance at this assembly due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Staff News

Mr Craig Newton (Year 3 and Stage 2 Co-ordinator) has resigned his position at TSS from the end of this school year.  Mr Newton and his wife are relocating to Canberra as Mrs Newton has received a new job opportunity.  Mr Newton will be taking up a position in a staff leadership and development role at Canberra Grammar School and we wish both Mr and Mrs Newton all success in their new ventures.  As a former Head of Canberra Grammar Primary School, I know Mr Newton is joining a wonderful community and his talents will be well utilised at that school.

Mrs Rebecca Kozned has accepted a teaching position at St Hildas from the commencement of next year. Mrs Kozned has been teaching in our English as a Second Language team and also in 1T, 3N and 6F whilst those teachers have been undertaking their Stage Co-ordinator roles.  Mrs Kozned is well known to our school community through her prior class teaching and relief teaching roles and she will contribute much to the St Hilda’s Pre-Prep program next year.

Ms Amelia-Rose Read, our Preparatory School Psychologist, has resigned her position with TSS.  In her time at the school Ms Read worked with many boys and their families and also delivered pastoral and personal development programs including Take5, Kimochis, Zen Zone and Friends Club.  Ms Read also provided support to our parent community through her leadership of the Triple P Parenting program.  We wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

Class requests

At this time of the year the pervading myth starts circulating:-  that parents write to Mr Symms to request a particular class or teacher.

My position on this has always been the same.  I cannot accept requests for particular teachers as the process of compiling the classes is quite complex and the teachers spend a great deal of time putting together class groups that will have a workable dynamic and are balanced across the academic and social/emotional spheres.  It is simply not possible to accept these sort of requests.

Having said that there may be a few genuine cases where there is significant information that can be helpful when putting the classes together and in those few cases, parents must email or write to me by Wednesday 11 November.

The truth of the situation is that in any given year I would receive fewer than 10 requests.  Parents at TSS understand that the teachers do know their students and will make insightful decisions regarding their placement for the following year.  Please trust their professional judgement.

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