Update, 23 April 2020

I trust you and your family are safe and healthy, and bearing up well in these unusual times.

I continue to be heartened by stories of care and generosity within our School community and am so proud to be part of a group of people demonstrating kindness, adaptability and resilience every day.

Lest we forget

Anzac Day will be celebrated in Australia on this upcoming Saturday 25 April. With no local ceremonial activities this year, for many the day may pass in a similar way to the days before it. However, I encourage you to discuss the messages that Anzac Day brings with your family.

The men and women who bravely fought in wars that have allowed us to enjoy the quality of life we live, clearly embodied a commitment to serve their community and to do what is right in the face of terrible hardship. It is important we all show respect and gratitude towards these individuals and Anzac Day provides us with an opportunity to focus on this, even if it is just for just a moment or two. 

In this video, I take you into the sanctuary of The Old Melburnians War Memorial Hall. Mem Hall, as it is affectionately known, was built on the request of Old Melburnians who wanted to demonstrate their respect to their fallen former classroom friends. Funded by Old Melbournians, Mem Hall was opened in November 1928 and the names of more than 500 Old Melburnians who have made the ultimate sacrifice in military conflicts are recorded here.

Of the 31 Old Melburnians and one staff member who fell at Gallipoli, five were aged just 19 or 20. These young men, just out of School, had their whole lives in front of them. Others, aged in their 30s, probably had young families at home. Yet each person went into this battle with, no doubt, courage, determination and a strong sense of duty.

Rev’d Hans Christiansen, Senior Chaplain, has written an uplifting reflection about the importance of maintaining a collective memory. You can read it here. A lovely prayer, written by Rev’d Christiansen for the Anzac Day weekend, is also available here, for families and others to share.

While our current COVID-19 crisis cannot be compared to the horrors that war brings, we are all currently being asked to serve our community by adhering to the guidelines outlined by our government. The hardships we, in Australia, are facing at present are far less than those experienced by individuals who have been involved in military campaigns or those in countries more severely impacted by COVID-19. It seems that it is not too much to ask for each of us to make a small sacrifice to help make everyone safer.

This commitment to community service is something we try to instil in every student at Melbourne Grammar and I hope you will take the opportunity to foster this value in your children on Anzac Day.

Unfortunately, our traditional Anzac Day activities cannot be held at the School this year. Instead, we are planning a ceremony for Senior School students and staff, together with Old Melburnian returned soldiers, in The Old Melburnians War Memorial Hall on Remembrance Day, 11 November, this year. Grimwade House and Wadhurst will acknowledge Anzac Day through online Assemblies and Senior School have access to a special online service tomorrow. 

Return to School

We are all missing the daily interactions between staff and students and look forward to the time when the School resumes normal on-campus operations.

I know we are all keen for this to occur as soon as practicable but please understand that any decision relating to the School commencing on-campus teaching in whole or part will need to be made in the context of advice from the Victorian Government. As you would appreciate, there are a range of issues that may need to be considered including the Chief Medical Officer’s advice, occupational health and safety legislation, the Education and Training Acts and Regulations and equitable access for all students across all schools.

In light of Victorian Government directives and guidance, the Melbourne Grammar School Council will make decisions based on recommendations from the School Executive in which the safety, health and welfare of our students and staff will continue to be our highest priority. We will keep the School community informed of developments.

Additional support for medical and emergency services personnel, families with special needs and Children at Risk

Recognising the vital role that medical professionals and emergency services personnel play in combatting the current health crisis and caring for us all, the School provided on-campus supervision for children of parents in these roles at the end of last Term, and this has continued, for children in Years Prep – 12, into Term II.

If you are a healthcare provider, work in the emergency services, are a carer of a Child at Risk, or are unable to make arrangements for the supervision of your child and need assistance in caring for your child, please follow the instructions below:

For Grimwade House students (Prep – Year 6), please complete the form here, and contact the Acting Head of Grimwade House, Nathan Boller njboller@mgs.vic.edu.au for further information

For Wadhurst students (Years 7 & 8), please contact Greg Caldwell, Head of Wadhurst gjcaldwell@mgs.vic.edu.au

For Senior School students (Years 9 – 12), please contact Ben Hanisch, Deputy Headmaster and Head of Senior School bphanisch@mgs.vic.edu.au

The service will be available during normal school hours. It will operate according to the advice provided by the Federal and State Departments of Health. I thank our staff involved in providing this important service.

Parent communication

My Updates and this Resource Hub continue to be the primary source of communication with parents at present.

Of course, Heads of Campus and others will also be providing campus specific information through email and Canvas. I urge you to read the various pieces of correspondence in a timely manner. As you know, our collective situation remains very fluid and it is important that you are up to date with related matters.

New in the COVID-19 Resource Hub this week:

  • my weekly book reading for young students. This week I read The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. It is a story about a little boy named Liam who creates a wonderful sanctuary in the heart of his city.
    The story is inspired by the reclamation of the High Line, an elevated freight train track on Manhattan’s West Side, out of use for nearly three decades, but now a public park.
    Copyright law requires the School to make this reading available only to our families so, in this instance, it is password protected. The password was provided in the Update email to parents sent on 23 April 2020.

You can view previous book readings here.

  • several items within the Health & Wellbeing section including useful online apps, resources for explaining COVID-19 to young children and more
  • a video by Dr Bryan Wood, Head of Teaching and Learning in the Senior School, explaining how VCE assessment will operate during Term II
  • FAQs focusing on how parents can support student learning and VCE related matters
  • a Top Five relating to staying in touch with family and friends

I am interested to hear your thoughts on our current communication practices. Please let me know by emailing newsletter@mgs.vic.edu.au

Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding. Together, we are working through these difficult times.

I hope you and your family and friends remain safe and well.

With my very best wishes,
Philip Grutzner

Be Kind, Creative and Connected.