Learning to change the world

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9 December 2020

Year 7 students from Iona College Geelong, Charlemont.The inaugural Year 7 students at Iona College Geelong, Charlemont, are ‘learning to change the world’.

As the first students of the college, they will be laying a path with every step they take throughout their secondary education, for others to follow.

This year they’ve chosen the Catholic qualities that they aspire to and the Catholic heroes who embody those qualities. In this way, they are leaving a legacy even as they are stepping into the legacy of the Catholic heroes who have gone before them.

Carmen Ahearn, Head of Learning & Head of Year 7, led the process for naming the houses.

‘We very much wanted to involve our Year 7 students, as foundation students, in naming our houses. We could have chosen the names before the students arrived, but we wanted them to have that real sense of connection to our story as we grow.’

In their Religious Education classes, the students were learning about Catholic qualities, while in English they were learning about persuasive writing. The students were then invited to put their learning to use to help name the college houses and the Catholic qualities that they aspire to as a college.

‘We asked our students to put forward their proposal for who they felt we should name one of the houses after’, said Carmen. ‘Then they had to present their script and identify the Catholic values that their chosen person had shown during their life. Then they recorded themselves presenting their proposal.’

The process resulted in 152 proposals – ‘we got an amazing range of suggestions’.

‘We then went through them all to see who really stood out. We pulled out the top eight Catholic qualities that were identified by the students, and surveyed the parents and the students and asked them for order of importance.’

From there, the top four names and top four qualities were matched up. ‘We also sent it to our board and canonical administrators to get some feedback’, said Carmen.

‘We revealed it just before our cross-country and the kids were very excited about it!’

‘So we have:

Chisholm House (after Caroline Chisholm) representing Compassion

MacKillop House (after Mary MacKillop) representing Leadership

Glowrey House (after Mary Glowrey) representing Excellence

Francis House (after Pope Francis) representing Courage.

‘They were all pioneers in some way’, said Carmen. ‘Their lifetimes overlap even up to the present day with Pope Francis.’

‘We wanted the students to know that they are the next piece in the timeline, part of the Catholic story.’

Principal Damian McKew said: ‘By involving the foundation students, we are ensuring that they have a legacy, that the students have a very real sense of how their learning can change the world.’

In the new year, the college will begin an art project to visually represent the houses and will also begin the work of creating definitions of their four Catholic qualities.

‘Our inaugural class will be Year 8s in the new year and together with the new Year 7s will continue to create the stories that will be the living legacy of our college’, said Damian.

‘We’ll be able to look at the four houses and the four Catholic qualities, but we will also be able to see what they look like concretely by the way that our foundation students exemplify compassion, leadership, excellence and courage – just as they have this year.’