I love the first day of school. There is a real buzz about the place. Teachers are keen to begin the year with their new students, students are greeting each other with hugs and high fives, parents are going through a range of emotions depending on the age of their child, and the atmosphere is full of smiles, laughter and a sense of anticipation for what the year may hold.
The first day back at school is when our community comes together after a long break from seeing each other, but in a digitally driven world, are we ever really apart? I know that we can all keep connected through Facebook, Instagram, blogs and other forms of social media and a lot of our learning these days (especially in tertiary education) is online. So, if we are still connected in this way, why does seeing each other in person bring out so much energy, excitement and joy?
In her book ‘The Village Effect’, Psychologist, Susan Pinker, outlines how face-to-face contact is crucial for learning, happiness, resilience and longevity. From birth to death, human beings are hard-wired to connect to other human beings. Face-to-face contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives and make us happy. Looser, in-person bonds matter too, combining with our close relationships to form a personal ‘village’ around us, one that exerts unique effects. Not just any social networks will do: we need the real, in-the flesh encounters that tie human families, groups of friends and communities together. Most of us have left the literal village behind, and don’t want to give up our new technologies to go back there. But as Pinker writes, “we need close social bonds and uninterrupted face-time with our friends and families in order to thrive – even to survive.”
We were created for community. It is actually built into our mission statement at Cedars. We intentionally build a sense of Christian community in everything we do. Not only does it logically make sense that we are better together – it is the way God wants us to live.
Mark 12:30-31 tells us that we should love God and love others. Being ‘created for community’ will be a focus for us in chapels and devotions this Term at Cedars and I look forward to unpacking for our staff, students and families what we already intrinsically know: that being in a community, having face-to-face contact, and feeling the ‘village effect’ makes us happier, healthier, more connected to each other and more connected to God.
Community Connect, Wednesday 15 February
The first day of school certainly has a buzz about it but for many parents, after you drop your kids off, you may have a sense of loneliness, quiet, or even anxiety about the day and year ahead for your child and also for yourselves. Some parents are longing for the first day of school and others approach it with trepidation. Either way, the first day of school doesn’t give parents much time to connect or re-connect face-to-face.
So please let me invite all of our families to Cedars Community Connect on Wednesday 15 February at 6pm. This is a relaxed social event at the school, designed to help us all re-connect and start the school year off together. With 85 new students joining Cedars this year and plenty of new families, Community Connect is the perfect place to help everyone feel ‘at home’ at Cedars.
Not only do we have many new students joining us this year, we also have a number of new staff. We will introduce you to them over the coming weeks in our newsletter but please feel free to personally welcome them at Community Connect or throughout the Term.
Our new staff are:
- Mrs Sonia Pozoglou – Director of Creative and Performing Arts K-12
- Mrs Dianne Bond – English and LOTE Coordinator 7-12
- Miss Jessica Barsenbach – Multimedia/TAS Teacher 7-12
- Mr Joshua Smede – Junior School Teacher Year 2
- Mr Christopher Laird – Middle School Teacher Year 6
- Mrs Kathryn Duncan – Junior/Middle School
- Mrs Linda Vanderschoor – English Teacher 7-12
- Mrs Melinda Smith – Prep Teachers’ Aide
- Mrs Julie Jordan – Prep Teachers’ Aide
Please join me in welcoming our new permanent and temporary staff.
I look forward to seeing you all at Community Connect and the Swimming Carnival in the coming weeks and hope that the year will be full of excitement, joy and great achievements for all.