I am delighted to share with you the outstanding results of the Class of 2020. We are proud of every single member of our wonderful graduating cohort. Their achievements reflect their hard work, the support of their parents and the dedication of their teachers in every year level of the College.
With this inspiring set of results that in each of the previous 10 years would place us in the very top echelons of the State, our Class of 2020 rose to the challenge of a particularly difficult year. With confidence, menschlichkeit and resilience, they can Step Forth With Courage into the world.
Have a healthy, safe and enjoyable Summer,
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.
I thought it appropriate to quote from my fellow countryman to address you today, Charles Dickens, the Tale of Two Cities.
Year 12 has been the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.
You are the oldest in the school, you are the leaders, the ones without uniform, the ones with the most responsibility, the ones other aspire to be like.
But it is also the worst of times. You are the Coronnials, the graduating students who have faced the pandemic. You have had disrupted schooling, you have had a Year 12 like no other.
You are not alone – our Prep children have faced their crucial first year of schooling with months at home, online learning that can never replace face-to-face in what is most likely the most important year of schooling, the first, when the foundation blocks of literacy, numeracy, classroom socialisation, school play, are all built.
Yet, like the Preps, you have faced this adversity with positivity, with creativity, with resilience, and with a ‘can do’ spirit.
So as you look back on your schooling, today is not just a celebration of your Coming of Age in leaving school, but it is a celebration of your entire schooling journey. Your kinder, your primary journeys. Your Year 7 and your Bnei journeys. Your middle schooling. Your Zio Sem and your Chavayah, your Year 11 and yes your Year 12 experience.
And you have shown so well that you can celebrate without being destructive or disruptive, and as our school lines up in a Covid Safe way to salute you and farewell you, they will look at you in an aspirational way. They will say to themselves, I want to be like that.
And that is a legacy for you to be proud of.
Today we give the Regan Millstein Awards for sport, in honor of dear Regan, forever a member of the Bialik family who passed so tragically ten years ag. We are renaming the upper hockey court the Regan Millstein Court and we hoped to do this with Regan’s family and you, but with the pandemic and the restrictions on schooling, we are not permitted visitors and we will do this in a different way. But I do want to acknowledge Regan, his family, his sporting and menschlich and communal legacy, and know that he is not and never will be forgotten.
So what is to come is the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.
You will have freedom – of time, of movement, of choice. Things will be easier. The examinations that you sit at university will be, generally, marked by people who know you and set by people who teach you – there will be greater predictability of outcome. And you are standing at the edge of the next stage of your life. Not the factory of school, not the pre-ordained path from kinder through to Year 12 but about to walk your own path, make your own footprints.
Soon, once travel is permitted and life returns to normal – and it will, at some point – you will be leaving the embrace of security, of home cooked meals, of on-tap reassurance and the expectations that go with your freedom will rise. Ten years ago you were at school. In 10 years many of you will have children, lifelong relationships, the responsibility for the care and love for others, not of others.
The best of times and the worst of times.
You will have knocks along the way, you will have doubters and you and you will have failures.
But welcome to the next stage of the rest of your lives.
In 10 years time where will you have been? What will you have seen? What will you have done? If we could map the countries you will visit on a map, think of the pins on the globe. If we could list the skills you will develop, the expertise you will have in areas from social work to architecture, from community building to law, from teaching to construction – what a list!
And there is one thing that will sustain you for your adventures. One thing that you can always rely on, that you can always refer to, that you always call upon.
And that is each other. You have been through the Best of Times and the Worst of Times. Your year level has seen birth, health, happiness, success – and you have seen bereavement and disappointment and sadness.
But your friendships, your care and love for each other, have and will sustain you.
Today may well be the last day you are all together. When we organise grauation events for you – and we hope to – not everyone of you will be able to attend – so enjoy today, savour it, relish it, and keep making it positive, and communal, healthy and kind.
You now have your examination season. The best of times and the worst of times await you, but stay together, support each other, laugh together, have a sense of perspective together, and your relationships will be the innoculations, the vaccinations, to protect you and sustain you throughout your lives.
So here we are. On the cusp of VCE and on the cusp of the next chapter of our lives. This is a poem by Nicole Guyette:
Everyone should believe in angels
They surround you everyday
They help and protect you
Love and care for you
They try not to let you down
But even angels make mistakes
Do you believe is angels?
I call them my friends
They do all the things an angel should
They make you laugh when you’re sad
Make you feel better when you’re sick
Stand up for you when you’re tormented
Love you when you feel as if no one does
Doesn’t that sound like an angel
To me it does
Everyone needs an angel
At least one good one
Or your life isn’t complete
And won’t be
Till you find your special angel.
Students, we all have our demons. Our fears, our paranoias, our lonely times and our melancholic times. But with friendships, we have our angels to help us through. Look around the room and reflect for one minute on the angels that surround you, the best of people supporting you during the worst of times.
The video we played for you first this morning was put together by our Bialik College Foundation. It had our Class of 2019 saluting you and celebrating you and you may have noticed a new logo – the Bialik Old Collegians logo. You are now transitioning into the warm embrace of a new image, growing out of our school and into the world. But we are here for you. Stay in touch. Come and work for us whilst you study – in sports, in Student Services, in maintenance – and well see you over the years as community members, as friends, as parents and grandparents, as Bialik Collegians and soon old collegians.
Class of 2020, be healthy, be happy, be kind, be connected.
A Message from Dan Sztrajt, Assistant Principal and Head of Jewish Life
On Tisha B’Av we commemorate much more than the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, we mourn a seismic shift in Jewish identity, a period in time so fraught with rapid change that it altered what it meant to be a Jew for the next 2000 years.
This period was foretold in Deuteronomy, “In the morning you will say, would that it were evening, and in the evening you will say, would that it were morning”. The Talmud, in Tractate Sotah 49A, explains this as a cursed time when each evening we yearn for the next morning to bring better news, but in fact each day brings progressively more troubling news, “because their situation is continuously worsening” (Sotah 49A). The Talmud recognises that the destruction of the Temples themselves were not the most troubling element, but rather the uncertainty of such rapid changes for the community.
This year we are confronted with a very real understanding of what it is like to live through a period of constantly evolving circumstances. We wonder each evening what the infection numbers will be the next morning and how these may impose a different regime of restrictions on us. We are anxious with this uncertainty because it seems that our ‘situation is continuously worsening’. Just like the destruction of the Temples, it is not the existence of Covid-19 that worries us, it is this perpetual flux of changing conditions.
The parallels are even more pronounced when we read Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar’s Talmudic commentary on the same verse which says “since the destruction of the Temple… the taste and aroma has been removed from fruit.” While this may have been meant as a metaphor, it is almost eerie to consider this as analogous to today’s Coronavirus symptoms. We too now long for the sweetness of being in the classroom together and enjoying each other’s company on the playground at lunchtimes.
Having said all of this, what can we learn from these similarities? Perhaps we are now more able to appreciate the tragedy of Tisha B’Av, not only as destruction, but as prolonged uncertainty. On the other hand, we know Judaism adapted to its new reality and would eventually thrive becoming the religion we are so familiar with today. Some would even say that this calamity ultimately lead to the establishment of Rabbinic Judaism, democratisation replaced centralised control by the social elite, and individual prayer substituted gruesome sacrifices. What better lesson could we take from Tisha B’Av than the knowledge that uncertainty eventually ends, and things do get better. When we are challenged, we grow. We find innovative solutions to what once seemed like unsolvable problems. We develop new appreciations for what is really important to us and in the process, make our lives even richer than before. If we are still here thriving 2000 years after the destruction of our Temple, we will surely be here thriving after Covid-19 too.
On Tuesday 21 July, the annual Mikolot Public Speaking Competition took place, this time online.
This is an inter-school competition, which saw Tali U (Year 11) and Megan S (Year 12) compete against students from The King David School and Leibler Yavneh College.
The judges were Mandi Katz and Josh Burns MP.
Students spoke about their visions for the establishment of new organisations within the Jewish community that would fill gaps in areas that are not otherwise addressed. Megan discussed her desire to create a new network which would facilitate communication between elderly members of our community and young people. Tali spoke about a digital interface that would assist Bar Mitzvah boys in learning their material and finding meaning in the experience.
Although our students did not win, they both presented brilliantly and did themselves, and the College proud.
Term 3 may not be unfolding the way we imagined it would, but there are still so many things to look forward to. All the usual excitement, activities and learning will take place in a suitable format and all our students, whether on or off campus.
Welcome back to the Creche and Kinder students, as well as the Year 10-12 students, who will be enjoying ‘business as usual’ on campus. And welcome back to our Year 2-Year 9 students — once again there is an amazing Digital Bialik offering in store for you.
Here are some photos of our Kinder students enjoying the first day of Term 3.
This year we celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli’s 72nd birthday, like never before, physically apart but together in spirit. Students from Creche to Year 12 got involved in various ways and students and many staff submitted a photo of themselves in blue and white which formed a collage. Some on the day activities included:
Celebrity Shout Outs Part 1:
Secondary School Video:
Primary School Video:
Lockdown by Julian M:
Celebrity Shout Outs Part 2:
This week we undertook a three day trial of Digital Bialik, an online delivery of our entire Prep to Year 12 curriculum. The trial was a huge success. Every subject, from Maths to English, from PE to Music, and even our kitchen lessons took place online.
Science was supported by our Laboratory Manager videoing science experiments at home, and even the Informal Team had lunchtime ‘hangs’ with our students.
Kol Hakavod to our inspiring teaching and administration teams who have relished the challenge and supported our children to continue learning.
The health and wellbeing of our students is at the core of everything we do at Bialik. On Friday 13 March, the Year 11 and 12 students had a Health and Wellbeing day, during which they had some fabulous and intriguing electives to choose from.
There was dance, yoga, fitness to relieve stress, sex education around subjects like intimacy, cooking, smart investing, nutrition and more.
Healthy bodies, healthy minds = happy students.
In its sixth year, Science Week at Bialik saw students engaging in a range of activities around the theme of ‘Science in Motion’.
The ELC students investigated how neurons work to help them think and make connections by looking at and touching real brains.
Students in the Primary School got friendly with a variety of Australian animals like Serendipity the baby wallaby, crocodiles and snakes, and learned all about the human body by seeing and touching bones and body parts from different animals. The Year 3 and 5 scientists were amazed by the ‘Big Science Show’, where some brave students helped create a ball of fire!
In the Middle School, students learned the neuroscience behind magic, played with drones and robots, exploded a ball pit with liquid nitrogen, had a scavenger hunt around the school, and connected their Maths and Science skills whilst playing bubble soccer and using the crash carts.
Students from the Senior School honed their Physics skills when they took part in our axe-throwing activity, learned how to protect their brains and battled it out during a domino tower competition.
Throughout the week, students participated in forensics and sport activities, explored virtual reality and hugged some friendly animals during their lunchtimes.
Bialik gratefully acknowledges the generous support of Science Week at Bialik, in memory of Bettie Kornhauser.
Members of Bialik College Mazkirut (Leadership) had the opportunity to ask important questions about issues of domestic violence and the Coronavirus to a panel of expert speakers at the Kooyong 200 Breakfast event on Friday 6 March. The event was in support Josh Frydenberg (Federal Member for Kooyong, Treasurer of Australia) and the Kooyong district and was a wonderful opportunity for our students to engage with important topics that are affecting all Australians.
Bialik was one of only the three schools that was invited to attend and our students presented their questions with great forethought and maturity.