This year St Vincent’s College celebrates 160 years of excellence on its iconic Potts Point site in Sydney.
The theme for the year is “different times, same spirit” and it is important to reflect on the significant social and economic changes that have taken place in the world in the last 160 years.
Education and the role played by boarding schools have undergone their own significant changes and St Vincent’s College is very proud of its boarding school, which has been such an important part of the college since 1884.
The reasons that people sent their daughters to board in 1884 are radically different to the decisions families make in 2018, but the commitment of the college has remained consistent: to extend the mission of the college to rural and regional NSW.
The folklore of austerity associated with the boarding schools of old – dormitories, poor food, cold baths, strict discipline – have been replaced by comfortable twin or single rooms, excellent catering, generous leave, home-like atmosphere and an exciting program of enrichment opportunities.
Within walking distance of the St Vincent’s College campus are the state’s best libraries, galleries, theatres and facilities for recreation and sporting competition. Girls learn to navigate the public transport system, become alert to the streetscape full of interesting and often contrasting cameos of Sydney’s diverse population and, most importantly, they have access to some of the best public infrastructure in the world.
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Complementing the extensive academic, sporting and creative arts program, are programs designed to promote the dignity and worth of every student.
These include a religious education curriculum across the college, retreats and reflection days, a broad-based social justice program and highly acclaimed pastoral care practices and policies.
The college remains committed to providing educational advantages without allowing a sense of entitlement to be created in our students.
The values of generosity of spirit, hope, justice, respect and service of the poor are distinctive ethos of the college and they have remained constant and relevant driving the many different periods of religious, social, economic, demographic and political changes that have occurred over the last 160 years.
Having an impact academically, socially
Lizzie, a recent graduate, says her time at St Vincent’s College provided life experiences, which only boarding in the heart of the city can provide.
“I gained self-confidence, became independent, resilient and witnessed a diverse way of living from back home in Dubbo, to the Sydney city lifestyle, both of which I love,” Lizzie said.
“Boarding school had such a great impact on my life both socially and academically. There is such spirit, we are a community that shares a strong bond.
It was so much fun. I came a long way from the shy, homesick year 7 boarder I was.Former boarder Lizzie
“Endless outings to the beach, bowling, cinema, ice cream visits. In-house boarding themed parties and activities such as the amazing race, where we organised a race around the Botanical Gardens with boarders working in teams and following clues.
“It was so much fun.
“I came a long way from the shy, homesick year 7 boarder I was.
I experienced so many opportunities, loved having the city on my doorstep but equally have graduated with a deep sense of community, friends for life and a desire to use my potential to create a just world.”
While the times have definitely changed, Lizzie’s reflections show that the same Vinnies spirit of camaraderie, joy, resilience and enduring friendships remain the same.