Lag B'Omer Celebrations

Excitement at Carmel School

There was quite some excitement at the High School this week, with the arrival of fire engines on two consecutive days. Happily no roaring flames were evident at any point and I even managed to wangle my first-ever photo with a firefighter. It only took two days for us to trace the source of the triggered smoke alarm – a nest of ants who had taken up residence in the alarm itself, attached to a beam under the roof space in the library mezzanine. The alarm was clearly unimpressed with its new residents and the ants were unimpressed with our efforts to remove them from the structure of the smoke alarm. The biologist side of me regrets that the nest is no more; as a Principal, however, I am relieved that no more ant alarms should be triggered for a while.

In an entirely coincidental move, the High School undertook a lockdown and evacuation drill on Tuesday afternoon. Carefully planned and facilitated by Mr Shadgett and Mr Kohn (CSG), students and staff went into lock down in their classrooms, followed by an evacuation onto the oval. Teachers and students played their part and I was impressed with the smooth running of the procedures that seemed sensible on paper and worked in practice. It’s so important that we take the time to ensure that everybody knows how to play their part in this sort of situation – if we are prepared and have practised, we will be far better able to deal with any real scenario successfully.

Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot, was celebrated in style in the Primary School on Monday evening. We enjoyed a delicious meal (the mushroom pasta is a personal favourite and the salads are always divine), learning activities, community singing and beautiful bonfires. It was a lovely event, planned and executed by our marvellous Jewish Studies staff.

A staff learning session on Professional Boundaries after school in the Primary School this week was a thought-provoking opportunity to listen to an expert in child protection. Our guest speaker spoke about the importance of educators in modelling healthy, respectful relationships and explained that we do this every day in how we speak to children and how they witness us speaking to each other. When children are exposed to the modelling of healthy, respectful relationships, it equips them with an understanding of how they should expect to be treated.

We also discussed physical contact with children (early childhood educators in particular are familiar with the need to teach children that hugging random people outside their family is not appropriate!) and the speaker explained that as educators, our role is to provide a sense of connectedness through the creation of a safe learning environment, not to create intimacy through physical contact. Teaching children that ‘My body is my own’, empowers them and gives them autonomy, so that they know how to keep themselves and their bodies safe both now and throughout their lives.

I was also interested to read a piece by Glen Gerryn, who recently visited the School and was exceptionally well received by senior students. His article focuses on making mistakes, and stated that “children quickly learn that getting something wrong means they will be judged by their peers or have a disapproving response from their parents”; because of this, they begin to associate failure with all things negative. The effects of this vary between individuals - some try harder, but others stop trying completely.

Glen explains that “We all try and fail repeatedly throughout our lives. It’s not about getting everything right; it’s those of us who learn from failure and use it to grow who achieve more”. If you’d like to read more about ‘perspectives on failure’, the article is here.

I suppose it’s a life lesson, realising that making mistakes is hard; it’s also true that this applies to adults, as well as children. This could be an interesting topic for a family dinner conversation around the table this weekend – mistakes we have made and what we have learnt from them. In this way, we will help our children realise that everybody makes mistakes and that mistakes help us in our personal growth. Perhaps just choose carefully which of life’s mistakes you share with your children!

If you’re able to attend our Board AGM on 28th May at 7:00pm in the High School library, we’d appreciate it – we need a quorum of 30 people attending. Coffee and biscuits provided and I guarantee it will be a short meeting.

Shabbat shalom.


Julie Harris