Principal's Message T1 W4 2021


This week marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the season in the Christian Church leading up to Easter. Traditionally during Lent people give stuff up. It is generally a time of denial, of reflection, of considering how tough Jesus had it as he made his way inexorably to the cross.

As I sit and write this reflection it is Ash Wednesday, yesterday was Shrove Tuesday. On Tuesday the tradition is that we have one big last feed before we head into the time of austerity. In the olden days people would dig out all the last bits of flour and the like in their cupboards and cook up a big feed of pancakes as the last hurrah, thus the tradition of having pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

Then on Wednesday they would take ashes from their hearths and use them to make a mark of the cross on their foreheads. Ashes are often associated with mourning, with grief.

It’s a sombre tale and somewhat lost in antiquity, these days some churches still practice these traditions, but most kind of just get on with it, many of the seasons of the old-fashioned church have kind of slipped away.

So, what has that got to do with schools and our kids? As I reflect on it, I reckon there are some good lessons there. It is easy in our polished, 21st Century lifestyles to think that we shouldn’t have to endure hardship. That the road before us should be well paved and easy to navigate. We remove the obstacles, expect our kids to have a smooth run through. Okay we have mortgages and have to work, we have to pay fees and taxes and buy the car and so on, and that’s hard. But we don’t like the idea of suffering very much.

As kids go through school, they will mix with other students who are tough to be around, they will have teachers who they really click with and others who are a bit stricter or who maybe don’t float their boat. They may not get picked in a sport team or may not get as many certificates as other kids on assemblies. Life in school is a roller coaster. Along with the good times there are tough times, times when we need to paint the ashes on our foreheads and realise that sometimes, well, it is just hard.

But the momentum is always upwards. Ash can fertilise our gardens and bring life and balance to all that grows there too.

Shane Altmann