Australian Israel Chamber of Commerce Women of Achievement Annual Lunch

Non-teaching friends often naively comment at this time of year that we teachers must be winding down and enjoying the end of year festivities. It would probably be rude to snort with derision at the misguided thought of a relaxing end to Term 4, as it is one of the busiest times for us, preparing for concerts and finalising assessments and writing reports and generally trying to fit ten weeks’ learning and activities into eight, so I just smile and agree. At Carmel School, with only two and a bit weeks to go, we are indeed fully occupied with ensuring a positive and fitting end to the academic year for our students.

I was privileged to attend the Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce Women of Achievement annual lunch in the city this week, accompanied by three fine young women who have just finished their Year 12 at Carmel School (all the others would have been invited but were sitting their final ATAR exam). Annael, Hila and Rebecca represented the School with pride and mingled with many of the guests, who were keen to hear about their impressive future plans in paediatric dentistry, interior architecture and genetics. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and appreciated the thoughts of the keynote speaker, Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley AO, PSM. Rebecca took the opportunity to ask a question of the Chief Scientist, querying how schools can ensure that young women leave Year 12 as capable, competent learners able to thrive in the science world. As a school, we are clearly doing well on this front.

We received the fantastic news that an artwork created by Year 12 ATAR Art student Dani has been chosen to be part of this year’s ‘Perspectives’ exhibition. This is a tribute both to her talent and to the work of Morah Leanne, our High School art teacher. I shall look forward to visiting the exhibition at the Art Gallery in the city and being impressed at the young people’s talent on show.

It struck me this week that the many opportunities available to our students at Carmel School are impressive – we have the High School Beach Carnival to look forward to as well as Speech Night with all the prizes that will be awarded. There will be an amazing concert in the Primary School (I sneaked in and listened to some rehearsals and they are sounding fabulous!) and the transition day for next year’s Year 7 students was also a great success. Several new students joined us from other schools and the Carmel Primary girls and boys welcomed them with true Carmel menschlichkeit.

One of the biggest and most anticipated opportunities for Carmel students is, of course, Shorashim. I know how grateful the Year 10 and 11 students were that COVID restrictions did not prevent their international trip to Israel and they departed as one big family on Sunday night. Waving goodbye to 58 young people at the airport was a strange feeling; happily they are accompanied by experienced and capable members of staff who will keep them safe and ensure that the learning experience is a memorable one. No doubt some parents will miss their child terribly and others will be looking forward to a quiet period without them. The High School will also be very quiet without them and we shall follow their exciting experiences online, with just a touch of envy and for me, memories of impressive breakfasts in Israel.

Nancy Romeo, our credit controller, leaves the Carmel School Finance Department at the end of the year. Hers is a challenging role which requires tact, sensitivity and compassion. For 12 years she has dealt with sensitive situations, without exception treating families with dignity and serving the school community well. She leaves Carmel School ready for a new challenge and an exciting lifestyle change.

The end of term is also a good time to share with you some of the fruits of our labours this year. One big project which has given me great pleasure has been working with students, teachers, OKCs and parents to develop an aspirational list of the characteristics of a Carmel graduate. You may remember contributing to this earlier in 2022 – I well remember the many hundreds of suggestions that were sent in and the hours it took the Carmel Leadership Team to cluster them into groups and discuss the best way to create a document that shows what we believe is important - Qualities of a Carmel School Graduate. I am very proud of the document that has resulted and invite you to take a look via the link provided. I hope you recognise where your contribution has influenced the final result. The characters you will see on the document were inspired by the artwork of Year 11 student Josie and add to the uniqueness of the design.

Shabbat shalom.

Julie Harris