A Word from the Headmaster – Ross Featherston

Engaging mothers and fathers

Over this coming weekend, it will be a pleasure to host our first ‘Strong Mothers, Strong Sons’ two-day workshop led by internationally renowned psychologist Megan de Beyer. To have more than 40 BGS mums give up their weekend is a sure sign that our community is highly engaged in raising their boys to be good young men.

Later this term, we will be working with Dr Arne Rubenstein to launch the Rites of Passage program with the Year 10 boys and their fathers or significant male mentor. (Dr Ray Swann describes the program in a previous edition of the Crowther Thinking eNews.) Even if your son is not in Year 10, I would encourage you to watch this short video. Here, we invited a few of the families who participated in the 2017 pilot program to talk about their experiences. (When you watch this video, please bear in mind that the interviewees are talking about a program that occurred over a year ago.)

Have a great week.


From the Deputy Headmaster, Head of Secondary School – Dr Rachel Horton

As we sit at the mid-point of the final term this year, I would like to talk about the 3 Rs. Not the original three, which humorously (I hope!) referred to the fundamentals of education – reading, ’riting and ’rithmetic – but rather reflection, revision and remembrance.

We can reflect on what has already been a jam-packed term, from APS Athletics to iDesign to Rivers Outdoor Education programmes, Valedictory to the Year 7 Liveability field trip. Having been formally farewelled by the School, the members of the Year 12 cohort are now well and truly in the midst of their final exams, which always feels like the beginning of the end of the school year for all of us. The remainder of the students start their exams shortly so for most, revision is the current order of the day. Although I hope that everyone had some time to relax over the long weekend, I know that boys in my class, at least, were taking some time to revise, as evidenced by a number of questions sent by email.

Of course, at this time of year, as 11 November approaches, it is also important to remember those who died in the line of duty, as the Secondary School did in Remembrance Day Chapel yesterday. I know that those BGS students and staff on the cricket tour earlier this year visited a number of battlefields and memorials in Europe. Speaking as someone who has also visited the trenches of both world wars, I cannot adequately put into words the immense amount of respect and gratitude that I feel for those who stood their ground there and in other conflicts around the world to defend our freedom and, in doing so, paid the ultimate price.

For the Centenary of Armistice, we were privileged to have Bob Elworthy AM (President of the Victorian Branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia) give the address. He spoke of honouring the dead while still fighting for the living. He encouraged everyone to reach out and touch a name engraved on a memorial – to think of that individual as someone who loved and was loved, and was perhaps even one of the 117 BGS students who did not return from the Great War. Bob also asked that we take some time from our busy lives to reflect on the sacrifices made and then to honour these by throwing ourselves into life with enthusiasm. Lest we forget.

Reminder: All students must wear their blazers both to and from School, regardless of the weather that is forecast for the day. Once they are at School, if the temperature tops 29ºC, they may take their blazers off.


Honours/Awards on Blazer Pockets

With the new academic uniform commencing from 2019, some changes have been made to which honours/awards can be embroidered onto blazer pockets. These changes have been made after consultation with senior boys.

The rationale for these changes includes the fact that the blazer is the ‘peak’ garment for senior (Years 11 and 12) boys at BGS and that there needs to be less ‘clutter’ on the pocket so that the crest is the key feature. To this end, only the highest of honours/awards will appear on the pocket.

The table below outlines which honours/awards can be embroidered onto the senior blazer (noting that from 2019, honours/awards can only be embroidered onto the senior (Years 11 and 12) blazer). Any honours/awards that do not appear in this table cannot be embroidered onto the senior blazer.

These changes will take place from the beginning of the 2019 school year.


Honour/Award Colour Position on pocket Represented by
Senior Leadership Position
• School Captain
• School Vice-Captain
• Prefect
• House Captain
Gold Beneath School crest Text
Full Colours Gold Left-hand side Text and pip for each year received
Half Colours Silver Right-hand side Text and pip for each year received
House Colours Braid Top Coloured braid (House colour)
Premiership Gold Beneath Full Colours activity Trophy

The following rules will apply to current Year 10 and 11 boys wishing to transfer current honours/awards from their ‘old’ blazer to their new senior blazer:
• Boys with current awards can have the pocket of the new senior blazer embroidered with their honours/awards under the new guidelines above. Boys wanting to do this should make contact with the BGS Uniform Shop once their new blazers arrive; however this process will take some time due to the high number of students involved. New embroidery costs will be met by parents.
• Boys can opt not to transfer their current honours/awards onto the new senior blazer. However, it should be noted these new guidelines will apply to any honours/awards given in 2019.

Any queries can be directed to BGS at programs.activities@brightongrammar.vic.edu.au


Remembrance Day Poppies

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Armistice, which ended World War I (1914–1918). As a school community, we continue to honour this day by taking the time to reflect and by wearing poppies. The Flanders poppy has long been a part of Remembrance Day. During World War I, red poppies were among the first plants to spring up in the devastated battlefields of northern France and Belgium.

Student volunteers across the Secondary School having been selling poppies this week (and will still be selling tomorrow). As a community, we are committed to ensuring that those who fought are not forgotten.

Please contact Simone Lewis if you have any questions.


Ute Full of Food – Christmas Drive

What a year it has been for Ute Full of Food. Firstly, we would like to thank every student, parent and staff member who has contributed this year. To be part of a team that works together to improve the quality of life of others can be a life-changing experience for the giver, just as much as for those who receive. You only need to walk through the Urwin Centre on the final donation day to see our boys celebrating their efforts and discussing how pleased St Mark’s will be. I watch each of these gentlemen contribute with their heads held high.

It is important to acknowledge that anyone can become homeless. No one chooses homelessness; in fact, it is a traumatic experience. Many people who become homeless have experienced serious disadvantage throughout their lives, including poor education, mental health problems, disability and violence. Homelessness can occur due to a single event such as rental increase, losing a job or a relationship breakdown. Each individual has their own story.

We are asking for one final push for 2018. Please go through your cupboard and take your sons shopping for our Christmas drive. St Mark’s would greatly appreciate non-perishable food items, toiletries and anything that may help make Christmas time a little more enjoyable for those that rely on their services. (The Ute will be leaving BGS on Friday morning so the boys need to have their donations ready when they arrive at School.)

As one, we make a difference.


VCE Solo Drama Performances

Last Wednesday, the Unit 4 Drama class made their way down to Kingston Town Hall for their solo performance exam. The students were required to present a 7-minute performance to a panel of VCAA assessors in response to a set of criteria and stimulus material. The boys have spent over a term working on their piece and should be very proud of their efforts.

Devan Nicholls (The Phone), Kevin Wang (The Eurovision Song Contestant) and Luke Burgess (The Raven).


Michael Kent
Head of Drama Curriculum and School Productions (7–12)


Learning to Study

Last week, Elevate Education presented to each of the Year 8 classes on the subject of study skills. Elevate is an evidence-based research group that teaches strategies to school-aged students around time management, organisation and goal setting.

Effective study is a skill that can be learnt but it requires implementation and practice to master. The boys worked through a process to generate a study planner to manage their time and commitments more effectively as they head into the examination period.

The presentation to students was followed by a presentation to the Year 8 parents the following evening. I thank all those parents who were able to attend. The intention was to inform parents about the skills and strategies the boys are being taught so that conversations at home are aligned, and assistance and support is optimised.

The presenter delivered an overview of the skills covered in the student sessions, as well as providing guidance on managing distractions and technology; motivation; and general advice for parents about how to support and inculcate effective study habits at home. There was also plenty of opportunity to ask questions, which prompted some excellent discussion.

Peter Furey 
Year 8 Head of House



Is this the world’s happiest man?

We travelled to Firbank Grammar to join a group of Year 8 girls for the fourth and final Philosophy Colloquium of the year. During the session, we discussed the concepts surrounding ‘Happiness’, looking at a range of philosophers and their thoughts on what happiness is and how it can be measured.

The philosophy of happiness is the concern with the existence, nature and attainment of happiness. Philosophers believe that happiness can be understood as the moral goal of life or as an aspect of chance; indeed, in most European languages, the term ‘happiness’ is synonymous with luck. Thus, philosophers usually explicate on happiness as either a state of mind or a life that goes well for the person leading it.

Kant said: “The problem of determining surely and universally which action would promote the happiness of a rational being is completely insoluble.” This is the case because “happiness is not an ideal of reason, but of imagination”. His advice, translated into the vernacular, is not to pursue happiness. Our inability to choose the actions that will make us happy led Kant to deduce the following: “The more a cultivated reason purposely occupies itself with the enjoyment of life and with happiness, so much the further does one get away from true satisfaction.”

We read an article called ‘Money or happiness’ from The New Philosopher, which starts out by saying:

I know a rich man who buys properties. He decorates them, fills them with consumer goods and then leaves them unattended for most of the year. On a rare visit, he surveys the house from the outside, circling it with hands clasped behind his back. But without the skills of introspection, not knowing how to reflect, draw or play a tune, not even knowing how to properly appreciate the sunset – he returns to his car in search of a restaurant or shop, the only venues where he really belongs.

 An article title ‘The Lost Art of Happiness’ is also worth a read. It includes the following:

Sitting around the kitchen stove with his family, a man from Ladakh, better known as “Little Tibet” describes the tourists that he’d seen in the capital Leh. “They look so busy. They never seem to sit still. Just click, click, click,” says the man, mimicking a snap-happy tourist. He then grabs a ballpoint pen and madly dashes about the kitchen to show the rigid, anxious Westerner on the move. “They’re always rushing. Why are they in such a hurry?” 

After this talk by Julie Trethowen from Firbank, we completed several smaller group activities. The final task was to create the perfect day that would ensure happiness free from the confines of what was affordable. The groups spent approximately 30 minutes deciding on the best scenario from their table in order to reach the highest level of happiness. These lists were then shared, with each group reporting back to the entire colloquium on their reasoning behind the decisions made. While many groups tried to cram in as many amazing experiences as possible, several wanted to try to attain true happiness by helping others. The discussion was humorous, animated and ultimately thought-provoking.

We were all left to ponder the following question: Can we attain true happiness in the world today?

Jamie Watson
Extension Studies


Remembrance Day Chapel

It is our practice to observe Remembrance Day on the Wednesday Chapel nearest 11 November. This year is the centenary of the Armistice in 1918.

This week, we were privileged to have as our guest Bob Elworthy AM, President and Secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association Australia.

Bob spoke to the student body, inviting all to connect with the Diggers of World War I, many of whom were a similar age to themselves. He imagined the effect of the Armistice on those who had survived: they would have remembered those who had not survived and then celebrated. He urged us to hear the voices of those who did not return: “Remember us and then go on to grab life in its fullness – celebrate.”

He quoted from the poem In Flinders Field:  “to you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high”.  This spirit he identified with the character strengths of “passion and resilience” embodied in the culture of Brighton Grammar.

The students who participated in the service contributed much to the dignity and solemnity of the occasion. Declan Bakker (Year 8) played the Last Post and Rouse, providing a strong and moving element to our observance.

After the service, Bob Elworthy commented on the quality of the young men he had encountered here at Brighton Grammar. He regarded it as an honour to help us celebrate Remembrance Day. He also acknowledged that even for him, speaking to such a large group of students was daunting.

Fr Tony Poole


Boating for Brains

This past week, David Gemmell, Head of Outdoor Education, gave up his long weekend to follow BGS parent Matthew Wood along the Murray River. Matthew joined 21 other people (plus support staff and families) to paddle 600km of the river in a dragon boat for a Guinness World Record attempt! But he isn’t doing it for a certificate – he is part of the Boating for Brains charity. And it isn’t only about spending a lot of time in a skinny boat paddling a long river; it is about raising funds to support the neurology department at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.

The team has been camping along the route for the past five days – and surprised themselves by completing their journey a day early, on Wednesday afternoon at 6pm.

BGS is proud to support this cause through the supply of outdoor education equipment and staff resources not only because of the Wood family but because of the multiplied impact this charity fundraiser will have on families around Australia. We urge our awesome BGS community to join us in getting behind the Wood family and Boating for Brains, and we congratulate the team on their paddling success!
#boatingforbrains, #rchm, www.boatingforbrains.com.au

David Gemmell
Head of Outdoor Education



Physical activity and exercise

Physical activity and exercise can have benefits beyond maintaining a healthy weight. It can reduce stress and anxiety, and improve concentration, confidence and sleep. For interviews with leading specialists, helpful articles and fact sheets, see the physical activity and exercise page.  


Friends of Swimming – BBQ helpers required

When – Term 4 2018 and Term 1 2019

Any parents with boys participating in Swimming for their Summer Sport are invited to contact Karlie Jackett-Simpson or Phil Smith regarding involvement in the parent group, including the weekly Thursday morning BBQ’s for the boys after training. If you are interested in helping out and receiving further communications from the Friends of Swimming Group, please contact:

Karlie Jackett-Simpson: karlie_js@hotmail.com or 0412 797 604
Phil Smith: philip@holidayretreats.com.au


Secondary School Speech Night 2018

Secondary School parents of boys in Years 7 to 11 are warmly invited to Secondary School Speech Night 2018.

Date: Thursday 29 November 2018
Time: 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start
Venue: Robert Blackwood Hall, 49 Scenic Boulevard, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton (map below)
For: Boys in Years 7–11 and parents/guardians
Booking: General entry admission – no tickets required
Parking: Free onsite parking available in the carpark opposite the Hall


Second Hand Uniform Shop – We Need You!

Our Second Hand Uniform Shop is run entirely by volunteers and our core group is leaving after years of great work. We need more volunteers for the remainder of 2018 and for 2019.

The money raised by the Shop is donated to the Parent Group and used to fund projects for the boys. Volunteering a great way to give back to our wonderful School – and we have fun, too!

If you can help or would like to find out more, please contact Tracey Oliver.

The final days for donations/sales in 2018 are:

  • Tuesday 13 November, 2–4pm
  • Tuesday 27 November, 2–4pm


Dates for the Diary

Fri 9 November
– Piano Students’ Soiree
– Ute Full of Food (am)

Mon 12 November
– Year 10 Examinations commence
– Year 7 & 8 BGS/FGS Book Club 
– Year 7 & 8 BGS/FGS Debating 

Tue 13 November
– Year 7 immunisations

Thu 15 November
– Middle Years Soiree 

Fri 9 November 
– Ute Full of Food (am)
– Piano Students’ Soiree