At the end of last term’s Easter service, our College Chaplain encouraged all of us to seek out an Easter service during the holidays. As he encouraged us, the school's cross was slowly turned by one of our Year 12’s so that its curved arms reached out to all of us. For me, it was a deeply poignant moment, reminding me once again that the Cross is a symbol not just of our faith, but (far more importantly) of a God who so loved everyone in the world that he sent his only son; and who, through the miracle of the resurrection, still reaches out in love to all of us.
That cross sits at the heart of our Crest and Compass, representing (as I said last term) our deepest values. However, the cross speaks of more than just values. It also speaks of action, because the sacrifice Christ made for us was not accidental - it was a sacrifice made on the back of a positive decision to act on behalf of others.
Christ foreshadowed the decisive nature of his service-action in his story of the Good Samaritan - a story that has been understood from the very earliest times to be an allegory of Christ's own sacrifice, and of the fact that he doesn't just love us in theory, but in practice too. And the values of the Good Samaritan - of coming to know others, learning to love others, and actively, decisively serving them - lie at the very heart of Emmanuel: for us ‘Knowing Loving Serving is not just a handy motto, it is something we intend to do.
As you all know, we have a vision of what we consider to be the ideal Emmanuel graduate, one who is:
A compassionate human being, unafraid to be, competent and willing to navigate life using their moral compass to make wise and just choices; a strategic participant in a global setting, a person of faith and integrity, aware of an eternal destiny.
In order to translate that vision into reality, we have, for several years now, offered our students multiple opportunities to intentionally seek to both think about ‘Knowing Loving Serving’, and actively develop these Good Samaritan skills through real world practice and service.
Some opportunities, like the Junior School FRIENDS program are woven into the curriculum. Others like the Year 8 Compass, the Year 9 Response, the Year 10 Journey and the Year 11 Mentoring programs are voluntary. But they are all, if I’m honest, quite remarkable. Many schools have Character Learning goals, but few that I have come across have such an extensive range of high-quality character learning programs intentionally designed to mix team-skill-building, adventure, discussion, active service to the community, great fellowship, and fun, in order to provide every student with a platform to explore and develop their own identities, and their ability to make a difference to others too.
These programs are an integral part of the education on offer here, and I would encourage you to talk to your children about joining in.
I encourage you partly because through them your children will gain both learning skills and that all important sense of why they are learning. In other words, just as taking part in, say, co-curricular athletics feeds directly into a child’s primary commitment to rugby or netball, so these programs loop back directly into the academic success-potential of your children.
However, I also encourage you because one of the key messages of the Easter Story is a call to intentionally make a difference, both to our own communities and to others.
Emmanuel has a proud tradition of equipping our alumni to work in ‘Knowing Loving Serving’ fields (for example, last year, over 30% of our University entrants went into the Health Sciences) and it is programs like the Friends and Journey programs that enable our students, be they Christian or otherwise, to discover their own ‘Knowing Loving Serving’ skills.