Stepping outside the classroom

It doesn’t matter if you’re eight or 80, a long weekend is always welcomed and, of course, the recent Canberra Day holiday was no different. How fortunate we are to live, learn and work in Canberra, where we enjoy access to world-class sporting and cultural events, wonderful food, and wide and varied natural spaces to explore. This Canberra Day, I noticed a marked change in our city and in our community. While attending the Friday night football at GIO Stadium, CGGS U9s football on Saturday, and then the ‘Shakespeare to Winehouse’ exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery on Sunday, I noticed how our city is again bursting with energy, vitality, and life – how we are, once again, hopeful.

Only a few years ago, I would have simply taken for granted the opportunity to visit the National Portrait Gallery or a local restaurant and be in the company of friends and family – and to be joined by other Canberrans doing the same. Now, as we live alongside COVID-19, these basic Canberra experiences are more noticeable, tangible, and certainly more appreciated. For our youngest Canberrans, the past few years have delayed many of these opportunities and experiences. Rather starkly, for some of our Junior School and ELC students, half their life has been overshadowed and impacted: limited sport, theatre, galleries, birthday parties, restricted family visits, trips to the snow, the coast, and missed holidays abroad.

Pleasingly, however, like the wider Canberra community, Junior School and ELC students are stepping out to enjoy the gifts of our city. Year 1 recently attended the Pialligo Estate Farmhouse and ventured to the CGGS Boarding House kitchen to learn about the various systems and processes involved in food production – they have even been planting seedlings in our very own garden!

Year 6 has visited the National Portrait Gallery, learning about significant Australian women and their societal impact as part of International Women’s Day, their Girls Who Lead signature program and their MYP1 Art unit on portraiture. Our ‘Girls with Grit’ in Year 5 have been sailing and boxing by Lake Burley Griffin, while the boys and girls in Prep have explored Weston Park. Not to be outdone, Year 4 has visited the National Gallery of Australia, learning about indigenous art and culture as part of their smART girls signature program and Visual Arts unit. And Year 3 have been attending CGGS’s lakeside campus, Yhuramuulum, riding bikes, practising Tai Chi and learning to orienteer.

The students and our community have more to look forward to and be hopeful about over the coming weeks and months. At the time of writing, all Junior School camps have been confirmed for Term 4, our Cross Country carnival and Parent-Teacher Interviews will proceed at the end of this term, and assemblies and further House activities will commence in the coming weeks. These experiences build our students’ skills, knowledge, relationships, resilience, and importantly, enrich their lives beyond the classroom. We are right to be hopeful!

Peter McDonald

Head of Junior School and ELC