Transitioning into a New Chapter
Whilst one half of the Year 9 cohort is off on camp, the other is here at the College, participating in the Reason for Being transition program.
We sat down with one of the program coordinators, Rebecca Kinsella, to understand the purpose of this program and how it will benefit students as they move into their senior years at the College.
What is the aim of the Reason for Being transition program?
Year 9 is a year of significant development for students. It marks the completion of their middle years of learning, and the shift into Year 10 can be a challenging one to make. It is also a year of growth and change; friendships and relationships may change, and this can be unsettling as students learn to navigate their teen years.
During Year 10, students are asked to make subject choices that will form their Years 11 and 12 programs and, in doing so, need to consider career paths or future employment they may be interested in. This is a big ask of students, and we feel that before we ask students to make decisions about ‘what’ they may want to be when they leave school, we need to provide an opportunity to first reflect on ‘who’ they would like to be. For this reason, the focus of the program is entirely on personal growth and self-understanding.
It has been a pleasure to develop this program with Psychologist Majella Dennis, who is an incredibly experienced retreat and educational program writer. Majella has provided invaluable original content to the program. She also presents in a way that resonates so strongly with the girls and encourages them to share openly throughout the three days.
Creating a safe space for sharing and open dialogue is something we place great emphasis on from the very outset of the first day, and this sets students up to be able to get the most from their program experience. Our wonderful College Psychologist, Kimberlee Burrows, is also a facilitator of the program. We were also lucky to have dedicated staff members Samantha Doughty, Eden Carey, and Jessica Ieritano, as well as psychologist Bethany O’Regan assisting this year.
How will this program benefit students as they move into Year 10? What skills and tools will they walk away with?
Reason for Being is a three-day journey of exploring our unique purpose and reason for being in life. Each day has a different focus – ‘Who Am I?’, ‘Who Am I with Others’, and ‘Who Am I in the World’. Through several practical and creative activities, students explore and identify their core values, learning the importance of this true sense of self as a guiding compass throughout the many seasons of their lives.
In keeping with our focus on connecting learning to life, we look at ways to better understand others and consider the ‘unseen’ side of the story and develop strategies for healing and repairing troubled relationships. These are all skills that we hope will help girls throughout their senior years at the College, but also skills that will stay with them for life.
What are some of the different activities the girls participate in?
The focus is on personal development through a mixture of activities that cover a wide range of social and emotional learning. We are also celebrating a significant year of schooling, and we want students to love the journey of the program. And so, whilst we cover a lot of content, we have chosen to illustrate the key concepts through completely practical, creative, and reflective activities.
Students participate in a beading activity exploring their strengths as a friend, we create sand mandalas, choreograph a dance, complete team challenges, solve a moral dilemma, workshop some friendship scenarios and navigate a relationship repair process, to name just a few.
What is one of the most rewarding parts of the program for you personally?
The final activity of the program is to work in groups to design and create the ultimate ‘Future City’. Each group is given a community portfolio and must develop a design brief that incorporates elements of design justice, showing that they have considered community members of all ages, abilities, and social and cultural backgrounds. We also encourage students to dream big and think about what they would love their world to look like in the future. Students design and then build their allocated building out of boxes, crafts, and other recycled materials. There are no limits!
Watching the collaborative process unfold is so rewarding for the staff involved, and the final product the students create is always exceptional. We hope our students hold onto these amazing and inclusive ideas and take them forward into whatever industry or workplace they find themselves in. This will allow them to truly make a difference in the community around them. We have some inspirational young minds at our College, and I feel very privileged to be able to work with our Year 9s throughout this program.