Brave Boarders. We salute you!

Sunday, 29 January 2023

There is so much to love about the new school year.

Mid-January brings the buzz of returning staff, sharing holiday pics peppered with energetic exclamations of new ideas they will trial in classes.

Soon our students will arrive. Sun kissed feet will slip into laced up shoes, alarm clocks will be set, and the anticipation of new friendships, new classes and new opportunities will quicken the heartbeats of teachers and students alike.

As parents sweep up the last of the holiday crumbs, whisper joyful “hoorahs” that washing cycles will soon reduce and eagerly await the stillness of the household in the coming days (at least during the hours of 9 and 3); spare a thought for families for whom the impending sound of silence represents a farewell they have been fearing for weeks, if not years.

Thousands of students will resume or start their Boarding journey in schools around the nation this year. At Methodist Ladies’ College (MLC) we will welcome many new and returning Boarders from all over Western Australia and farther afield. For us at MLC, our Boarders are the heart and soul of our College.

There is so much we can learn from those who join us from remote and regional communities.

Regional and remote Australians understand the importance of country, connection and community; they know how to look out for each other when times are tough, banding together to support a family in need, and dropping everything to chip in when a crisis unfolds. They help without being asked. In times that can move from drought ridden to flood ravished, the enduring spirit of regional and rural communities is strengthened by people who give their all to support one another. They are just as fervent when celebrating victories too as any grand final win will testify!

Our Boarders enrich our schools with a deep understanding and dedication to community and they model to all of us what it means to be strong and brave. Strong to embrace the new friendships, academic opportunities, co-curricular activities and independence that Boarding life brings. They are brave because they achieve all this and more away from their parents, siblings, pets and the comfort of home.

As our Boarders courageously adapt to a new way of life, so too must their families whose own strength and bravery is acknowledged. I have seen the toughest of farmers wipe away tears as they farewell their children, knowing that life on the farm will not be quite the same as it was.

During the pandemic, the resilience of Boarders and their families was tested in ways we had never anticipated. Most international students who remained in Australia were unable to return home at all for more than two years. Anxious parents for whom Facetime was the only way they could see their children, were brave, reassured by the care and support provided by the dedicated staff our Boarding House are blessed to employ.

There is no denying the excitement that Boarding life brings to students and their families. As Independent Schools Australia supports, Boarding schools are a critical component of educational provision in Australia. Let us not forget though that the family farewell, both at home and at first school drop off is never easy.

To our brave Boarders and their families, we salute you. But more so, we welcome you.

Ms Rebecca Clarke, MLC Principal