All students will at some point throughout their academic journey face a new chapter, whether it be a new campus, a new class or a new responsibility. New experiences can be challenging, which is why students at Xavier College in Melbourne endeavour to support their peers every step of the way. Opportunities for leadership exist at many stages throughout a Xavier education, not just at the senior levels.
Year 4 students have been inquiring into concepts of ‘leadership’ and ‘followship’ as part of the Early Years Programme of Inquiry under the International Baccalaureate.
During this inquiry, the students come to understand that the choices of leaders and role models reflect the beliefs and values of individuals and societies. This is achieved through developing knowledge of the attributes of a leader and/or role model, the responsibility associated with leadership and the ways in which we can demonstrate leadership at school and in the community. Conceptually, the students investigate leadership through the lenses of function, perspective and responsibility.
Monica McDonald, a Gunnai and Gunditjmara descendent, spent time talking with Year 4 students on the topic of leadership in the Indigenous culture. Monica wanted the students to understand the importance that Indigenous leaders have played in Australian society. Connecting with the School’s central idea, ‘Choice Reflects Values’, Monica shared their perspective on leadership and introduced students to numerous key Indigenous figures.
At Xavier’s Kostka Hall Campus in Brighton, Middle Years Environment Captain Charlie, together with his Year 4 class, have been leading the Foundation students through the cultivation and care of a community garden. The garden was initiated as a way of serving the Kostka Hall community.
The Foundation students along with the Year 4 students will continue to visit and water the community garden, with some lunchtimes set aside as a time to go and to tend to the garden together.
Xavier’s Burke Hall Campus in Studley Park, Kew, has seen Year 5s and Year 8s supporting each other in a new ‘Buddy Program’. While a fantastic opportunity to learn new things, cultivate new friendships and to create new memories, moving from the Early to the Middle Years, can be a nerve-inducing experience. This can serve as an opportunity for older students to take on a leadership role.
Through sharing knowledge and experience, older students support younger members of the community as they face and conquer new challenges and milestones.
Josh (Year 8) is hoping to pass on a number of lessons to his buddy, Ted (Year 5).
He would like to impart to him the importance of “working hard on your study and getting into your homework”. At the same time, he wants to stress that he should also have fun.
“Another thing I would like to pass on is to use the facilities at our school to their fullest,” he said. “We get offered so much and we really need to take advantage of these opportunities.”
Ted said that at first he was nervous about moving into the Middle Years, particularly about making new friends. “But I was also really excited to come to such a wonderful school,” he said. “The best part about having a buddy is that he can show me around, teach me about the history of Xavier and help me meet new friends.”
Within the program, as in many aspects of a Xavier education, a particular emphasis is placed on Cura Personalis, or ‘care for the individual’.
Lessons around leadership continue throughout a Xavier education, preparing students to take on more significant roles, such as a sporting captain or a Prefect, in their later years at the College.
Image: Jono (Year 12, Kostka Hall Liaison) with Henry (Early Years student) in the community garden at Kostka Hall Campus in Brighton.