As the sun rose over the beautiful valley beyond the Mundaring Christian College Secondary Campus, Year 9 students and their parents were involved in a moving and symbolic ceremony. In the predawn light, students participated in “The Calling and Departure”, during which they showed gratitude for their childhood and were called on their journey into young adulthood.
This event is part of The Rite Journey, a two-year long personal and social development program, designed to allow young people to make the transition from childhood to adulthood in a purposeful, conscious manner. Students form strong links with parents, mentors and teachers who guide and support them to face challenges with faith, courage and wisdom.
Mundaring Christian College, along with Southern Hills Christian College, are two of just a handful of schools in Perth using the program to support the development of self aware, vital, respectful and resilient adults.
Year 9 Boys Pastoral Care teacher, Mr Brendan Barker said, “During the ceremony, students were able to reflect on their childhood and look back with a sense of gratitude for the role that their parents have played in their lives to this point.”
Mrs Franci Liebenberg, the Year 9 Girls Pastoral Care teacher added, “The lack of Rites of Passage in the Western world leaves adolescents to turn to their peers, the media or the internet, which are often unhealthy and unsafe.”
“This program involves students in reflection, discussion and developing strategies around transitioning into adulthood.
“The sunrise ceremony is a symbolic ritual. As the daylight lit up our campus, the students were surrounded by their peers and parents in an emotional moment. I heard a few quick sniffs, but maybe it was just the cool air,” she said.
The Rite Journey director and creator, Andrew Lines, developed the program in response to our society where in general boys are under-fathered and girls are prematurely sexualised.
During the gender specific programs, students explore and discover:
Consciousness – The importance of raising a young person’s awareness of the issues that they might currently be facing as well as the skills and understanding that are required to navigate their way through beginning adulthood;
Connection - Acknowledging the importance of relationship over role. Encouraging a number of threads of connection (with self, teachers, parents/caregivers, mentor, spirituality and the world). Providing the all-important ingredient of time, to allow these connections to build and strengthen;
Communication - Understanding self-talk, communication and listening with others appropriately, prayer, hearing stories of adults’ experiences, having students share their stories and experiences;
Challenge - Providing physical, social, emotional and spiritual challenges as learning experiences and as a rite of passage;
Celebration - Acknowledging the transition into beginning adulthood.
Mundaring Christian College’s Principal, Mr Rod McNeill concluded, “I appreciate this program as a means of considering both what is honourable and how to be grateful and considerate in the journey from child to adult.”
“Our teachers have worked well in applying what is essentially a secular program as a framework for students to also consider their God, their faith and their created purpose in becoming adults.
“As I saw our year 9 students, this morning, I reflected with pride, that every one of them is a good story as they have grown here at our college,” Mr McNeill said.