18 June 2018

By the time you read this I will be in Tanzania on the College's service trip. Two of the College's core values are service and stewardship. It is for this very reason that I have chosen to participate in this trip. Along with staff and students from Scotch and PLC we will be delivering service through the work we do on the school buildings in the village of Matipwili. The village has a finite level of resources; as such the work we do is based upon the long term stewardship of their resources and maximising the outcomes for the children and adults in the village. I look forward to being able to share our experiences when we return at the start of term.

This term has passed by so quickly and there has been much to celebrate and admire across the three sub-schools. The individual talents and level of commitment by each boy is on show at all of our assemblies and through the work produced in and outside of the classroom. This term has also seen a lot of capital work take place. Over the last few weeks we have been astounded by the changes at the Middle School building site. This project is progressing very well and the whole area is taking shape. We look forward to being able to use our new facilities once they are complete.

One of our strategic goals is to increase the level of interaction with our community through developing meaningful strategic partnerships. One such example is the move to develop and increase the use of our swimming pool. You can read more about this initiative below in the All School Matters section of the Thistle and also on the College website. While community engagement is part of the project, the main goal is to provide the boys with an enhanced swimming programme and the chance to develop their core skills.

Whether the boys are staying around home or travelling, it is important that they find time during their break to relax, get outside and take advantage of the great climate and environment in which we live or visit. It is a chance to balance the social media frenzy. In getting ready for my own service trip I spent a lot of time trying to organise a way to write and/or send photos in real time on the Tanzanian trip. When it became clear that ICT challenges in the remote parts of Tanzania would make it too difficult I decided that I would simply do this on my return. Call it serendipity, but in the 27-29 June Weekend Financial Review I came across an article about Travel Social Media which has some good messages for all of us. The journalist, Craig Tansley points out a classic trap. He reports an experience which he encountered: "When I looked around my travel companions were nowhere to be seen. They were all holed up inside the gas station on their laptops, iPhones and iPads; they'd found free Wi-Fi connection (with much excitement) and were using the opportunity to post home, telling the world about how wacky life is in a small Colorado community: despite the fact they we missing it entirely. We used to travel to escape from our lives; now we know more about our friends and family when they are on holiday than we do when they are at home. Social media has left us guilty of over-sharing and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter hardly gives us time to filter and supply just our favourite memories." I believe the message for all of us is to enjoy the authenticity of the actual experience and look forward to sharing them in person; something I will now focus on myself in Tanzania.

Finally, I would like to thank and say farewell to two long serving staff members, Ms Jan Skidmore and Mr Bernard Kerr. Ms Skidmore has decided to retire after 14 years at Scotch and 42 years in education. Mr Kerr has accepted a new role leading the Middle Years Programme in an IB school in Jakarta. Both of these staff members have given years of dedicated service to the boys and the wider Scotch community. The passion they have shown for their chosen areas is to be commended. On behalf of everyone I thank them both and wish them well as they enter a new phase of their life.

I would like to sincerely thank the whole community for their support in ensuring that our boys continue to receive a balanced and holistic education. I look forward to seeing everyone next term.

A J O'Connell