Year 9 Biology Students at Herdsman Lake

Our school purpose is “To provide students with an excellent education where they connect meaningfully with their Jewish identity and embrace the opportunity to make a difference”. This week highlighted for me the significant number of ways in which Carmel School provides such opportunities for our students.

The whole cohort of Year 11 students had the opportunity to visit Royal Perth Hospital, accompanied by Mr Chris Quelch, who arranges our participation in the P.A.R.T.Y. program. The Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth program involves meeting and talking to RPH patients who have experienced risk-related traumas, discussing what led to their accidents and how these might have been prevented. As an injury prevention initiative, the aim of the program is to help prepare students for potentially dangerous situations they may encounter. Students learn to recognise potential injury-causing situations and how risk can be minimised. It is not difficult to imagine the difference that being aware of risks and making sensible decisions in this sort of situation can make.

The Year 9 science students are currently studying Biology and their excursion to Herdsman Lake was for many of them, their first experience of pond dipping. Ecology is the first topic of study in our term of Biology and we completed a survey of the flora and fauna along a beautiful boardwalk through the lake, identifying many bird species along the way. Catching invertebrates from the lake margins and using them as indicators to compare water quality in different areas of the lake was a popular activity and we listened to ways in which Nathan (our environmental teacher for the morning) and Chris (a visiting scientist from Switzerland) are making a difference with their work surveying various bodies of water in Perth and relocating Western Long-Necked Turtles to safer habitats.

The Primary School has had a busy week of opportunities too, with Morah Posner’s Year 2 children receiving their first Chumash and their parents having the chance to experience the singing, reading, stories and learning that make a difference during their lessons.

Twenty parents and staff enjoyed an evening presentation from experienced psychologist Tracy Hart, who shared her thoughts on building the foundations for future resilience in our younger children (from Kindergarten to Year 2). It was good to know that as parents, we can’t love our children too much and we can’t soothe them too much. She urged us as parents to make a difference by seeing the emotion behind behaviours and not always trying to problem-solve for our offspring. Emotions are not bad; they tell us when things are really important for a child. I liked her suggestion that we reframe ‘attention seeking’ as ‘connection seeking’ and see how that changes our perception. If building the foundations of resilience in young children is a topic that interests you, you can read more about Tracy’s offer to run her course (five 90 minute sessions on ‘Tuning into Kids’) for Carmel parents of this age group by scanning this QR code:

Tracy shared details of the Telethon Institute’s ‘Beacon’ cybersafety app, which aims to help us keep children safe online, provides evidence-based guidance on children’s use of technology and reducing the harms associated with being online and on screens, which I know is something which justifiably concerns parents. You might want to have a look at the link to the app. Another suggested resource was a book from the Department of Health called ‘Talk Soon, Talk Often’, which advises parents on age-appropriate discussions of respectful relationships and sexuality.

The IPSHA Performing Arts Festival at Penrhos College made a difference on Wednesday night – it was the first chance I’ve had to attend the event, and the sore throat that resulted from loud admiration of our Carmel students’ performance was well worth it. The dance club and choir were outstanding and enjoyed tremendous applause for their singing and the flag dance on the theme of unity, showcasing the Australian, Israeli and Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander flags in a spectacle of co-ordinated movements. The event’s evening performances are a culmination of a whole day of workshops in which students from various schools in Perth have the chance to work together through the medium of performing arts. The fabulous concert finale involved all six schools singing together in a moving song about planet Earth.

For me, it has been another week of great pride in our school. We offer so many chances for our students to learn about how they can make a difference and it is so good to see them seizing these opportunities and learning from them. That, after all, is what excellent education is about.


Shabbat shalom.

Julie Harris