At the end of every year as a College community we celebrate and reflect on the year that has passed. Last Monday we held our Sports Awards and next week will be our annual Presentation Night for Middle and Senior School. This celebration includes the presentation of awards for leadership, citizenship, effort and academic achievement along with performing arts items, the presentation of our Year 12s for the final time to the whole College community, the announcements of our College Captains and the many highlights of the year. It is an important event in the cultural expression of our Middle and Senior School community and that is why it is compulsory for all Middle and Senior students to attend.
So why do we give awards on such a night of celebration knowing there are going to be students who will miss out? Doesn’t this just create a class system of those that are especially acknowledged and those that aren’t? These are reasonable questions but I would argue strongly that awards still have a very important place in every community, including ours here at GCC.
Here are five reasons why I believe the presenting of awards is an important part of our end of year celebrations.
- Awards are an acknowledgement of a job well done. To achieve an award is not the goal of hard work and determination but rather it is the acknowledgement of that hard work, determined attitude and ultimately success.
- Our awards acknowledge the character traits that we want to cultivate in students as well. The Principal and GREAT Awards along with our Long Tan, All Rounder and our most prestigious award the Emily Lord Award acknowledge those students who embody traits such as compassion, school spirit, a positive attitude, “others first” and leadership.
- Awards are part of our strategy to positively reinforce the academic traits that we want to cultivate in our students. Hard work, perseverance and a “growth mindset” are traits that lead towards academic success and these are acknowledged through our Diligence awards. These awards have nothing to do with achievement but everything to do with effort and it is possible for every student to achieve this. The Gold, Silver and Bronze awards are about acknowledging consistent achievement, not just achievement in one specific area.
- Acknowledgement is a powerful motivator. Everyone likes to be recognised for a job well done, especially if that job is genuinely difficult and could only be accomplished through great effort. In other words the bar for receiving that praise has to be set at a high standard otherwise its effect is severely diminished.
- Award systems are also well known to lift the morale of the whole. Award systems like Employee of the Month are effective for the whole workplace because fellow employees know who are doing a great job day in and day out. When management acknowledges this it sends a powerful message to the rest of the employees that good work does not go unnoticed here. This is most powerfully realised when the presentation occurs when all the employees are gathered together. Similarly, our students know who have worked hard and achieved well or consistently displayed the GREAT values in the playground and in class. Some students from time to time complain that “it is just for the smart kids” but that is incorrect and really an excuse. There are all manner of award categories that we give out and it is not beyond any student.
I think of our community here a lot like a family and as a family when our family members accomplish great things or have tried their best it is automatic that we acknowledge and applaud that. There is something very powerful about communal celebrations. We invite guests to a wedding, we have parties to commemorate special birthdays or anniversaries. Sharing the event with people who are special to you, who have made the “journey” with you adds to the celebration.
It is rare that a newsletter will pass without a reference to some of the great achievements of our students whether these achievements occur in or out of school. We do this because as a community we think it is important to celebrate success together. This is really what Presentation Night is all about. Celebrating the successes and reflecting on the year together with classmates and staff as those who have “made the journey together”.
Celebrating Cheryl Bryers
Speaking of celebrating achievements – on Wednesday we invited the community, past students, staff and families to farewell Cheryl Bryers in a special afternoon tea. It was an informal but special time where we paid tribute to everything Cheryl has contributed to the College, the staff and students she has impacted over the years.
Our current families will be able to farewell Cheryl at any of our end of year celebrations.
Mike Curtis, Principal