Weekly eNews

Middle School

A word from the Headmaster, Ross Featherston

Strengths Based Parenting Program at BGS

Next to being healthy, we all want our children to be happy, resilient and have the mindsets and qualities needed for success. Fortunately, we now know that these are all learned behaviours – skills that we as parents can help our children build and maintain.

As part of our commitment to building a culture of wellbeing at BGS, I am delighted to announce a new strengths based parenting workshop series for parents of BGS boys in Years 5 to 8, which will commence in Term 4. Through the series, you will learn to:

  • Identify, use and cultivate strengths in yourself and your children
  • harness the power of positive emotions for learning, connecting, creating and relating
  • understand how the brain functions at various ages (and how to use this to your advantage)
  • unlock the magic of mindsets for success
  • use and teach tested strategies to manage stress when it is not serving you well.

BGS will subsidise 50% of the workshop series fee, but places are limited. Don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to support your son on his wellbeing journey.

Click here to find out more about the Strengths Based Parenting Program or see School Stream for more information.


From the Head of Middle School, Jeremy Martin

It was wonderful to see so many Middle School boys perform in the Strings Spectacular and Bands Showcase Concerts last week. Any musical ensemble is a team, each player playing their part and producing a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Well done to all the boys involved in our music program – the skills learnt here are valuable and transferable. The Intermediate Stage Band also performed in assembly this week, which tied in beautifully with Mr Furey’s message about teamwork.

Silver and Gold Merit Certificates were also presented in assembly this week. The boys who received these certificates were recognised for their contribution to our High Performance Learning Community and for living our values throughout this academic year. These awards are within reach of all the boys and are an accolade that I hope all aspire to.

The enormously popular Father & Son Weekend kicks off in Portsea this Friday evening and concludes late Saturday afternoon. This weekend is designed to provide quality time for the boys and their fathers (or another male family member) to spend together, engaging in a range of recreational activities. This year we are privileged and delighted to be joined by Dr Arne Rubinstein, who has designed and planned this year’s program.

Last night a number of staff attended an inspirational presentation by Hugh van Cuylenberg, founder of The Resilience Project. Hugh promotes cultivating habits of gratitude, mindfulness and empathy to inoculate against poor mental health. In an era when 1 in 7 adolescents are experiencing mental health concerns, there is no more important issue for us as educators and parents to address. Hugh is visiting the Middle School on Tuesday to work with the boys during the day, then will present to parents that evening. I know this is a busy time, but I strongly recommend you consider attending on Tuesday evening from 7pm. You will be moved by his address and leave with some great ideas that will inform your parenting.


From the Head of House, Ruth Dempsey


In PROSPER, the boys have been learning about mindfulness and the need to train their ‘monkey mind’ in order to have control over their minds, rather than letting their chattering monkey mind control them.

Buddha described the mind as being filled with monkeys, screeching, jumping around and chattering. He said, they are all calling for attention and the fear monkey is particularly loud. The fear monkey points out all that can go wrong. He voices fears, anxieties, worries and other negative emotions.

Through meditation and mindfulness practice, it is possible to train the monkeys so that they become more peaceful. It is useless trying to fight them and resisting them makes them louder and more persistent. A short amount of time spent in meditation each day, focusing on your breathing, in time will tame the monkeys.

We were lucky to have Emma Murray address the boys at assembly and explain her work with the players at Richmond Football club, training them to be mindful. Emma explained the ‘monkey mind’ to the boys and that the trick with the monkeys is to give them something else to do, check your breathing, check that your legs are strong so then the monkeys can no longer chatter about all that can go wrong.

Mingyur Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist Master explains how simple training the monkey is in this video clip.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness has been defined variously but one definition is “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” (Kabat-Zinn). It is a resource to draw on to help deal with stressful times, to live more presently and has benefits to both physical and mental health.

Through mindfulness we can train ourselves to pay attention in a particular way. The aim of which is to:

  • be present in the moment
  • try to avoid thinking about the past (depression) or the future (anxiety)
  • avoid being judgmental about anything.

Why teach mindfulness?

Mindfulness is taught with the intention of reaping benefits such as learning how to:

  • relieve stress
  • manage depression and/or anxiety
  • help to moderate moods
  • improve memory
  • improve attention for effective learning.

With further benefits, such as:

  • reduced heart rate, improved circulation, improved immunity
  • increased happiness.

Mindfulness is not meditation but can be fostered by a regular practice of meditation. It is possible to increase mindfulness in everyday activities by simply paying more attention during activities like walking, eating or brushing your teeth.



Generally once a term the Middle School Chapel takes the form of Holy Communion. This service is also called the Eucharist (from the Greek) or the Mass (from the Latin).

This might suggest that in Chapel we do keep an eye on the diverse LOTE program of the School.

Holy Communion is the central act of the Christian community: all denominations observe this ritual in one form or another. Some use a rigid hierarchical formality and structure others are much more informal. While rigid formality is not our preferred mode, order and tradition still play a major role in the presentation of Holy Communion.

It is always a challenge to ensure that the Year 7 and 8 boys have some comprehension of what is going on and why.

We engage in this action, sharing bread and wine, because we believe that this is what Jesus told us to do – in order to remember him and what his life meant. It clearly is a mystery that draws us into the very essence of what it means to be a Christian.

We encourage all baptised students to participate if they wish to. It is not compulsory, and no boy will be turned away if he comes asking for communion.

One added dimension this week was the remembrance of the Anglican Martyrs of PNG in World War II. These 12, a small proportion of the total number who were killed, died because as Christians they believed it was important to stay doing their job in aid of the local people of PNG. Through this memory we continue to support and encourage the staff and students of Martyrs Memorial School in PNG.

Any comments or questions about Holy Communion will be responded to.

Fr Tony Poole


Middle School notices

Parenting tip

It is easy as parents to take on the jobs and responsibilities that really should belong to our children. With school-aged children we can find ourselves making lunches, getting kids out of bed and cleaning out school bags rather than giving these basic tasks of living over to them.  Please click here  for this week’s parenting tip to help your child develop independence.


Dr Arne Rubinstein at Year 8 Mother & Son lunch

Dr Arne Rubinstein, author of The Making of Men will be our special guest for the Mother & Son lunch on Wednesday 19 October. Further information will be sent through School Stream early in Term 4.


The Ute Full of Food




Round three of the Ute Full of Food collection took place on Friday 2 September. St Mark’s Community Centre, Fitzroy, welcomed Sam Vakirtzis, Sam Llewellyn and Henry Mitievski from the Junior School; Luke Hill, Thomas Colaci, Aayan Shukla, and Harrison Kirkham from the Middle School; and Will Gregory, Josh Canham, George Farrell, and Judd Rowell from the Senior School.

This time, we also donated hundreds of dollars in clothing items.

The boys and staff were full of energy as they arrived at St Mark’s. Mr Hanley and Mr Kessler supervised the boys as they transferred the items from the bus. The boys excelled themselves and the teachers were soon working together with the students to categorise and count the items. A well-oiled machine!

On the day, we contributed $6,912 worth of food. An awesome effort.

At the conclusion of the count the food items were stacked on the shelves ready to be distributed for the community of Fitzroy.

While we were finishing up, the boys listened intently to a representative from St Mark’s speak passionately about some of the issues affecting the local community, including homelessness and mental health. The boys were engaged and asked some great questions, coming away with a deeper understanding of the purpose of Ute Full of Food.

Our next Ute Full of Food is on Friday 18 November. Let’s all redouble our efforts and make the final Ute Full of Food a big one in time for Christmas.

A big thank you to all the teachers and students involved on the day, and to Ms Beguin for all her hard work and organisation.

Rob Hanley


Middle School dates for the diary

For updates and events, see School Stream or click here for the online calendar.