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the ruyton reporter

The Most Important Thing

Yusra Mardini’s house was destroyed in the Syrian civil

war causing her to flee Syria with her sister in August

2015. They reached Turkey, where they arranged to be

smuggled into Greece with 18 other migrants, on a

small dinghy meant for no more than six or seven

people. The dinghy began to take on water in the

Aegean Sea, so Mardini and her sister, along with two

other people who were able to swim, got into the

water and pushed the boat for over three hours until

it reached Lesbos. We can only imagine the courage,

grit and sheer determination this small group of

people mustered to survive. Twelve months later

Mardini and nine other athletes walked into a stadium

to thunderous applause, to compete under the

Olympic Flag as the Refugee Olympic Team. Not your

usual Olympic preparation.

In the context of a worldwide refugee crisis the

Refugee Olympic Team represented the right of every

human to hope and to dream. We can only imagine

what it is like to train while living in a war-torn country

or to flee all you know in search of safety. I only wish

I had been in that stadium to witness not only the

emotion, but also to truly feel the Olympic spirit. This

spirit is best expressed through the Olympic creed,

‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not

to win but to take part, just as the most important

thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The

essential thing is not to have conquered but to have

fought well.’

In the developed world today many people are living

a fast-moving, pressured and, at times, highly-

competitive life. There is often a focus on climbing the

ladder, breaking the glass ceiling, being the best and

making the most money. Our expectations of

ourselves and others are not always realistic. Perhaps

we have lost sight of the struggle that is life and the

importance of hope.

Kim Brennan’s (Crow ’03) Olympic performance

reduced many, including Kim herself, to tears.

Australia as a nation has excelled at placing enormous

pressure on the shoulders of our high achievers. For so

many in the Ruyton community who had the privilege

of knowing Kim during her youth, it was the journey

of everything Ruyton girls represent: the well-rounded

individual, grit and determination, a struggle to

overcome setbacks, strong values of integrity,

compassion, fairness and courage. Kim won the hearts

of many through her victory, but it was her strong

stance on the value of team and nation in uniting

people to see hope; highlighting the possibility of

ascending from an intolerable social divide; displaying

courage beyond words, demonstrating the importance

of patience, integrity and humility and making a

difference in the lives of others, that struck a chord

with so many. The girls were excited and honoured

to welcome Kim in a surprise visit to the School at the

end of Term 3.

In a country where the tall poppy syndrome is both

endemic and defeating, it is a problem we need to

face. Ruyton girls will always know they have a

community that is on their side; that supports them

with a wholehearted sense of pride to be the best

versions of themselves; a community that invests

strongly in their future and believes in their ability

to make ripples or life changing waves; a community

that acknowledges sincere effort and endeavour.

Our sense of pride in all of our girls is as strong as

our belief in their ability to dig deep, do their best

and make a real difference. This is our constant;

our touchstone.

At Ruyton we believe in girls.

Believing in Our Girls

In my conversations with Year 3 and 4 girls last term

I was particularly interested in what was important

to them about their School, both now and into the

future. It was heartening to see how they are deeply

connected to their learning and enjoy the opportunity

to have input into the planning process. It is no

surprise to find how much they value particular areas

of the School and associate them so strongly with

positive learning experiences and treasured memories.

The Moreton Bay Fig, Early Learning, South House,

Royce and the Fairy Garden all evoked strong

memories and connections. There is a new-found love

for using the oval, but, interestingly, they expressed a

desire to use it only on some days of the week in the

future, as otherwise they might not value it enough.

As always, the wisdom of the young causes us to

reflect and plan for the future accordingly. I am not

sure that I can fulfil their dream of a waterslide that

circles the School and finishes in the pool, but we all

agreed that it is good to have dreams.

While we watch the Junior School buildings and

surrounds take shape in preparation for 2017, our

girls across the School have continued to engage in

so many different ways to achieve their best, both

individually and collectively. We have enjoyed a rich

season of performing arts, with highlights including

the Ruyton Trinity play


, Year 6 performing

Shrek the Musical Jr,

the Ruyton Trinity Musical


the Woods,

the Performing Arts House Festival (PAHF),

Jazz night at Dizzy’s and the ultimate finale to Term 3,

the Music Gala Concert. This evening showcase of

student performance was truly an occasion to

remember, as our girls performed in the Melbourne

Recital Centre for the first time. Performing Arts is the

soul of Ruyton in so many ways; bringing us together

to celebrate talent, collaboration and endeavour with

joy and admiration.

Our Senior girls have once again represented us with

distinction in Girls Schools Victoria (GSV) carnivals this

year, finishing second in Swimming, first in Cross

Country and second in Track and Field. After a strong

season of rowing in Term 1 the Ruyton Senior 1st Crew

(Australian Champions) ventured to the Henley Royal

Regatta at Henley on Thames (England) for the first

time in the School’s history. They became not only the

first Ruyton crew to be a ‘selected crew’ for the

Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup, but also they were

the first ever Australian schoolgirl crew to do so.


I hope many of you will be able to join us at Muse,

the Ruyton Student Art Show, from Thursday

3 November to Saturday 5 November. The Exhibition

is a celebration of student art work from across the

School and will take place in the lower level of the

Margaret McRae Centre, a beautiful area to celebrate

the artistic talents of our girls.

Ms Linda Douglas,


above:Ms Linda Douglas with Junior School girls.

on our cover:Mrs Kim Brennan (Crow ’03) with Year 2 girls who addressed questions to her at Assembly.

From the Study