Hale School Board Members and Wives between No 1 No 2 Ovals February 1960

Continuity and Change
at Hale School

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Continuity and Change

by The Revd Dr Eleanor O'Connell, Chaplain

As Hale celebrates sixty years at our Wembley Downs campus this year, slides made of photos and footage from the opening of the school here in 1961 have been playing on loop in the foyer of the Main Administration Building. There is something incredibly familiar about the images, in terms of the way the campus looks and feels, along with a slight dissonance. This is hardly surprising, for some things change and some things stay much the same. What has stayed much the same is the look and feel of the campus. Despite the first opening ceremony involving a different Administration Building and a differently made up Hale School community, the continuity is evident.

When we re-created the first opening ceremony this sixtieth year, the look of the gathering of uniformed students was so similar to the photos taken in 1961 that I felt obliged to dig out more appropriate clerical regalia. I dashed off at the last minute to get my ‘choir dress’ due to remembering that the clergy person in the old footage (the Bishop of the day) was wearing just that. It’s not that I aspire to be a Bishop, mind you, it’s that the church still carries the tradition of choir dress as appropriate for non-Eucharistic but significant gatherings. So it felt right that in our 2021 footage there would be an Anglican cleric walking through the foyer to start a new year, just as there was on day one at Wembley Downs.

The image that created for me a slight dissonance was a photo of members of the School Board, and their ‘wives’ picnicking on Craig Oval. It occurs to me that, should the Board have a picnic in 2021, at least some of their spouses would be ‘husbands’ or, perhaps, ‘partners'. The built-in assumption, ubiquitous in the 1960’s, that board members – indeed all holders of key leadership positions in a school for boys – would and should be married men has been replaced with a different expectation. Nowadays, that our current Archbishop is a woman ensures that female leaders and role-models are expected at Hale. That 21st Century expectations of gender equality and respect for diversity are solidly embraced at Hale ensures two things. It ensures that the Archbishop is not the only female board member, and it ensures that our Board is far from monochrome in any respect.

In the sixty years since Hale took up residence in Wembley Downs, some things have changed, and some things have stayed the same. We are a school that moves with the times; we are a school that holds firmly to our traditions. Neither side of that particular coin dominates, nor should it. It seems to work for the Hale self-identity to hold positively to all that has shaped and made us: our Anglican values, our sense of duty and masculine solidarity. Yet this alongside an embracing of healthy cultural developments that insist that being a white, heterosexual, Christian male is not the pinnacle of humanity – rather just one valid iteration.

On this basis, I have found looking back sixty years to Hale ‘then,’ and looking around me to Hale ‘now,’ both educational and encouraging. In sixty years from now, were I here to see it, I’d expect to note again that blend of familiarity and dissonance I mentioned earlier. One would reassure me that the Hale identity remains intact. The other would remind me that positive change must always occur – especially when it is based on the best aspects of our foundational identity

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