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Respecting tradition, embracing change

St Andrew's School Past Backpacks and Hat

While the word ‘tradition’ tends to be bandied about a little too freely these days, its true meaning speaks of those beliefs and behaviours that have shaped – and continue to shape – people or organisations over the ages and remain of special significance to this day.

They hold us together, they unite us, the give us a deep sense of belonging and, in many ways, they define us.

This has certainly been the experience at St Andrew’s School – and it is perhaps particularly pertinent to reflect on them as our 170th anniversary year draws to a close.

That’s a rich history, but as with all histories, those that survive and thrive, live to tell the tale, if you will, share a common trait: agility, in the form of the ability to adapt and change with the times without sacrificing those dearly held traditions.

I believe when looking back over the St Andrew’s School history, it is fair to say that we have done this rather well – the most recent example being our adaptation of our traditional events due to the restrictions placed on us by COVID-19.

There is a special St Andrew’s community connection that pervades all we do. It is built on the values and beliefs of our founding fathers and mothers and remains evident today in the many school events and occasions that bring us together, connect us and provide that deep and lasting sense of belonging.

Although some of them have been modified this year, we have held onto our many precious traditions such as our celebration of Founder’s Day, our music and theatrical events, our fundraisers, our sporting activities such as the mostly competitive but always respectful Sports Day, and the time-honoured St Andrew’s to Henley Beach bike ride.

Then there are my personal favourites, which I know I will greatly miss when my part in the greater St Andrew’s School story comes to a close at the end of the year: the Speech Night and the Over the Bridge Ceremony, with the lone piper on the achingly beautiful bagpipes, the dancing, parents revelling in the occasion and the general fanfare.

In all of these – and others too numerous to mention – our great spirit of camaraderie has always shone through.

Let us not forget our spiritual connection.

Embedded in the core beliefs of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ and ‘love your neighbour as yourself’, it is Christian theology as its most primal. And with its emphasis on inclusivity, our faith has certainly helped us to not only adapt to but embrace a changing world.

Our traditions have been enriched in more recent times by both the cultures of our first Australians and those of the many migrants who hail from all corners of the globe and now call Australia home. Their traditions, customs and rituals, given prominence in a myriad multicultural celebrations, now occupy equally important slots on our annual calendar of events.

Our Acknowledgement of Country is now a fixture at all St Andrew’s School events and is carried out with the utmost dignity and respect, as are the smoking ceremonies that are now synonymous with the opening of new buildings on campus.

Chinese New Year, too, has taken on added importance and, along with other cultural celebrations we have hosted, provides young and old with a great insight into other cultures, how they have made us a richer society and helped us to grow, individually and as a truly connected community.

They have contributed to our sense of family and belonging; they remind us that we care about each other.

I hope and trust this has been your experience at St Andrew’s School.

I know it has been mine – and while I know I will miss it, I feel enormously blessed to have been but a brief chapter in the St Andrew’s School journey of respecting tradition and being confident enough to welcome and embrace change.

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  • St Andrew’s School is a South Australian independent, co-educational specialist primary school providing excellence in education from playgroup through to early years and on to Year 7. Principal Jackie Becher – an International Baccalaureate School – UNESCO Associated School.