The sound of a brass ship’s bell clanging 135 times reverberated throughout the grounds of St Andrew’s Anglican College recently as the College’s largest ever cohort of Year 7 students each stepped up in turn to swing the rope attached to the clapper.
Every clang of the bell marked not just the first day of school in 2019, but also the start of each participant’s Secondary School journey.
It was the first time the bell has been rung by an incoming Year 7 cohort in a ceremony St Andrew’s staff hope will become a longstanding tradition made even more poignant by the fact that the bell was a gift of gratitude from last year’s graduating Year 12 students.
Dean of Students Senior Years Cameron Piper said the idea behind the gift was to give back to the College community.
“We start talking about this idea of gratitude when students are in their Senior Years at school, recognising all the teachers, peers and others in the College who have contributed to their years of schooling,” Mr Piper said.
The concept of giving back to the College community is discussed with students, but Mr Piper said it’s ultimately up to each cohort to take on the initiative and no one is coerced into participating.
“Each student donates what they can, be it $5 or $10, and no one is pressured into giving.
“We introduce the idea of gratitude and giving back to the College community and from there it’s really up to each Year 12 cohort to drive the initiative if they’re interested,” he said.
And with 100 to 120 Year 12 students each giving what they can, the gifts can end up being a substantial legacy for the College.
In the past, gifts from the graduating class have included a drinking fountain, bench seating and a bursary to pay tuition fees for a future student.
Mr Piper said the gift of the ship’s bell came about after a brainstorming session with the outgoing and incoming College Captains.
“They liked the idea of a bell which Year 12s would ring to mark their departure from St Andrew’s and which the incoming Year 7s would also ring to acknowledge the start of their Secondary School journey,” he said.
“It was fantastic to watch the Year 12 cohort walk through the Guard of Honour – which consists of the entire school – and ring the bell on their way out.”
Year 7 student Lucia Donger said that although the first day of Secondary School felt “kind of scary”, she also enjoyed the ceremony, which included the ringing of the bell as it made her feel welcome and included.
“I felt important, like we’re part of something,” Lucia said.
“It made me feel part of the community.”
And while Lucia is enjoying settling into the role of a Secondary School student, she said it also comes with a sense of responsibility.
“I used to watch the older students and admire them, and now I’m in that place,” she said.
“It makes me want to be a good role model for the younger students.”
After some research, the Captains found a solid brass ship’s bell with a $1,320 price tag, which was ordered and installed in time for their graduation in November.
Just as the graduating 2018 cohort rang the bell they’d gifted as they departed St Andrew’s, their legacy continued with the incoming Year 7 students many of who will close the circle at St Andrew’s as they ring once more in 2024.Jump to next article