The Power of Community

‘Community’ is one of those words that means many things to many people. Over the years I think it has lost some of its value or meaning as it is used in countless mission and vision statements (including ours by the way).

However, for us at Cedars, ‘community’ does have significance because we know that when we have strong connections and relationships our whole College benefits.

In the 1960’s a study was carried out in the town of Roseto in Pennsylvania USA. It was noted that the mortality rates due to heart disease in the Italian-American community of the town were significantly lower than similar populations in the neighbouring towns.

All of the risk factors for heart disease were present in Roseto, just like in the other towns. They ate similar food, worked in similar industries and had similar levels of exercise and activity.

The study uncovered that the differences which were present between the towns were differences in culture and social cohesion. In Roseto, there was an emphasis on family structure and the supportive nature of the community.

The Roseto community was very cohesive. There was no ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. Houses were very close together, and everyone lived more or less alike. Elders were revered and integrated into all aspects of community life.

During the 50-year study there was a seven year period where there were no heart attacks in the high risk group in Roseta, and these men (over 65) had a death rate at half the national average.

However during the course of the study, there were some social factors which were changed (including dilution of core values) in that community and heart disease actually increased, especially in that high risk group of men.

The study of the ‘Roseto Effect’ is used as an example of the power of a cohesive community. When people come together, care for each other, get to know each other, share the same values and work together in a spirit of respect and inclusiveness, communities thrive.

I believe we have that same type of close knit community here at Cedars. We share the same ideals of respecting and valuing each other.  We also enjoy celebrating our achievements together.

We celebrate and give special credit to our students who recently took part in NAPLAN.  As a whole school community we share in the successes of our student who performed exceptionally well.  In every category, in every year group, our College achieved greater than National Averages.

NAPLAN is one group of tests which takes place every two years and only gives us a snapshot of how we are performing academically, but we are thrilled with the strong growth data we received this year.  I believe one reason for that success is our teachers’ commitment and understanding of their students and their families. It is not how many people you know, but how well you know them that helps to build community. And that depth of knowledge and partnership with our students and parents is very important to us.

I also want to remind everyone that our ‘Community Fete’ is coming up on 17 September. This is a fantastic opportunity to come together as a community, in a social setting, to celebrate our shared values, have some fun and get to know each other in a more meaningful way. I encourage you to come along, contribute some items, serve on a stall or just have some conversations with people you may not know yet. I hope on the day that you are able to look around, see the things we have in common and the values we share, think about how your family has benefitted by being part of a community and consider how you play a part in making our community great.