Dear PLC Sydney Community
This is our final edition of Connections for the year. Therefore I would like to take a few moments to thank the College Council, staff, parent community and of course our wonderful students for the way in which everyone has sought to build our school as a real community. A community is built by a lot of people making good choices, seeking to build each other up, and seeking to be magnanimous with each other.
In a year when a large number of the voices represented in the media have sought to align one group of people against another group of people, using identity politics to win favour, I am very grateful to be in a community which really strives to know and care for each person, to ‘lift all boats’.
Our staff deserve great credit for their consistency in their care. It is easy for each of us to focus on the errors. I am very grateful to be part of a school that really strives to see all of the positives.
We have faced our challenges this year. Members of our community have suffered deep griefs, and have experienced significant personal pain. This has led to a higher than average absence for some staff as they have needed to support elderly parents or ill family members. I wish to recognise in particular everyone who rallied around to support staff in those times.
And there have been some splendid highlights. In this publication, we have consistently sought to recognise all girls who have something to celebrate. If at any time we have missed your daughter, I apologise. Please do tell us if this occurs as we really want to get things right.
Raising children and teenagers is both incredibly rewarding and challenging. In particular, it is hard as they gain skills. Enough skills to challenge without necessarily having the wherewithal to moderate their voices. I think also that our children train us, knocking off some of our own rough edges.
We have used the phrase ‘young women of integrity and purpose’ to identify who we hope our graduates will be in their daily lives. It comes from our official motto of Sancte Sapienter, or ‘Be holy wisely’. I am interested that this phrase emerged from the Christian view that I think is very well expressed by J I Packer: ‘In Christianity doctrine is grace and ethics is gratitude’. It is the notion that our lives are based on the acts of grace of a good God, not built on the constant need to have our egos stroked or our autonomy reinforced, but on the acts of kindness of our being brought into existence, loved, forgiven and provided with hope. ‘Possibility, possibility. Get me possibility’ said the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. And all of our ethics – our respect for other people as valuable, our care for the environment and our love for those who look after us each day – is an act of thanks that we are alive, that we are loved and that we can act in this world. It is a Christian rather than a simply humanist framework because its basic assumption is, to quote the John who wrote the gospel, that ‘God is love’.
And this is what we celebrate at Christmas.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family. May the summer days be long and the meals full of laughter and chatter; may there be moments of real excitement and time to reflect; may there be deep rest and a sense of calm and satisfaction; and may you have joy.
Dr Paul Burgis