Many of us who grew up in Australia have stories of being swooped by the dreaded Australian Magpie. I certainly do!
There was a massive gum tree in the playground of my primary school and during Spring those of us who rode our bikes to school would pause at the top of the hill and work up the courage to ride past that big tree on the way to the bike racks. Other children would watch from afar and enjoy the morning’s entertainment.
Most of our parents had stuck or drawn ‘eyes’ on the top of our bike helmets – some had antennae and others had creative protection devices like ice-cream containers. This only added to the spectacle as it looked like an extreme version of an Easter hat parade.
Whether you made it past the tree without getting swooped or not you were a hero to the kids watching, at least for 10 minutes – before they forgot about it.
Over this past Term break those memories came flooding back for me as I was walking to a park with my 4-year-old son and a magpie swooped past us. I was eyeballing the beast as we continued to walk towards the playground. My son was oblivious to the threat and, as he ran ahead, the magpie took off after him. At full speed the savage bird swooped down pecking him right behind the ear, stopping him in his tracks.
Over the next 10 minutes I consoled my little boy, trying to explain that the reason the birds attack is to protect their eggs. A bit dazed and confused, he promised me that he was not going after its eggs (and didn’t even know where they were). Finally he understood that it wasn’t personal and that he didn’t do anything to provoke the attack.
Funnily enough after my initial feelings of concern for my son subsided I was filled by a sense of pride. But why was I proud that he was swooped? I guess I saw it as some sort of ‘rite of passage’ and that he had now transitioned into boyhood. It was an experience that I had gone through as a child and I am sure many of you would have too. And now my boy has his own story of being swooped by a magpie.
Rites of passage are usually significant events that represent moving from one phase of life into another. Different cultures express them in various ways. One right of passage that we see each year at Cedars is the process of our Year 12 students going through their Higher School Certificate and graduating from school. It was a pleasure to celebrate with them last Term at their Graduation Ceremony and Year 12 Formal.
Although challenging or at times a painful experience for our students, we should not view the HSC as a bad thing, or as the enemy. Like the magpie protecting its eggs, sometimes inflicting pain on its victims, we understand that the bird is just doing its job. The HSC examinations are simply the end point of a child’s formal schooling and a platform to springboard from into the next part of their lives.
This morning the staff spent time praying for every student participating in the HSC examinations which begin on Thursday. Photos of each student have been handed out to Middle School students who will pray for them over the next month or so as they study and sit examinations.
Although the challenge of the HSC is an individual one and students must go through the examinations on their own, it is wonderful to be a part of a school community that cares for each of them and also celebrates their achievements with them. I pray that as our students go through this rite of passage that they will do so knowing that they tried their best and once they have completed it will be filled with a sense of achievement and will see that it was all worthwhile.
Congratulations to our outgoing Year 12 students and all the best to the Year 11 cohort that are now beginning their HSC journey.