04 Dec 2018

Understanding adolescent risk taking

As we head toward the summer holidays, our hearts and minds turn towards taking a breath, relaxing and for those of us lucky enough, taking advantage of some time-out from our busy lives. For our boys, the extra downtime can be both a blessing and a time of risk. Longer holidays, present adolescents with opportunities to take risks they might not otherwise (Kann, et al., 2014). Increases in unsupervised time, access to money, transport and peer pressure can all play a part. Taking risks though, is a natural part of life and certainly an important part of growing up (Steinberg, 2007).

There are two types of risk-taking: healthy and unhealthy. We have a shared responsibility to encourage boys to risk-take in safe surroundings and equip them to circumvent taking risks in potentially dangerous situations.

Healthy risk-taking
Safe challenges that have the possibility of both failure and reward present adolescents with healthy risk options. Over the holidays keeping them involved in sporting activities, artistic and creative pursuits, volunteer and service learning activities, travelling, making new friends, or entering competitions are all good examples (Perkins & Jones, 2004).

Unhealthy risk-taking 
Excessive time and inappropriate use of social media, gaming, substance abuse, stealing, negative peer-related activity, or driving too fast, all constitute unhealthy risks and behaviours. We all too often construe our teenager’s risk-taking as acts of rebellion, but they seldom are. Adolescent risk-taking is more often associated with physiological development, brain development and identity formation than making a bold statement about authority or society.

Year 9 healthy risk-taking and drug and alcohol awareness

Last week, Year 9 boys and their Mentors were involved in excellent and highly engaging presentations on taking healthy risks and making good choices. Given by Senior Constable Kelly Stewart, Newington’s School Youth Police Liaison Officer, the sessions also raised the boys’ awareness of the prevalence of drugs and alcohol and their use in modern day society. Specifically, Snr Const. Stewart covered the following areas:

  • Choices, risk-taking behaviour, and associated environments.
  • Discussion in relation to what types of drugs are available, both legal and illegal.
  • Classification of drugs – stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens.
  • Effects of drugs and possible side effects.
  • Discussion on how illicit drugs are manufactured.
  • The law surrounding alcohol possession and consumption for under18s.
  • Activity ‘beer goggles’ – simulated high range blood alcohol glasses.

Finally, the summer holidays afford us all an opportunity to connect and sometimes re-connect with family. The work of Ungar (2004) and the International Resiliency Project concludes that families are essential to the lives of adolescents. Adolescents need guidance and support from caring adults and require a balance between autonomy and setting limits. In this setting, several protective factors may provide a buffer from risky and anti-social behaviour. These findings point to the important place of peers, school and community as well as family in the lives of adolescents and the need for interventions to address these domains.

We trust the boys learned much and have plenty to consider after the presentations from Senior Constable Stewart. We thought it of the utmost importance as partners in your son’s education to make you are aware of the intervention and hope that together we can arm the boys with the skills necessary to make and take good and healthy risks over the break. We encourage you to talk to your sons about the discussions and activities and wish you a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Andy Quinane
Deputy Head of Stanmore (Students)


Kann, L., Kinchen, S., Shanklin, S., F. K., Kawkins, J., Harris, W., & Chyen, D. (2014). Youth risk behavior surveillance. MMWR: Surveillance Summaries.

Perkins, D., & Jones, K. (2004). Risk behaviors and resiliency within physically abused adolescents. Child abuse and Neglect.

Steinberg, L. (2007). Risk taking in adolescence new perspectives from brain and behavioral science. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Ungar. (2004). The Importance of Parents and Other Caregivers to the Resilience of High‐risk Adolescents. Family Process.

2018 Junior Production – Luke Lloyd: Alienoid

Congratulations to the cast and crew of the 2018 Junior Production, Luke Lloyd: Alienoid, which was performed in the Drama Theatre last week. For many of the year 7 and 8 boys involved, this was their first production and all boys involved from performers to crew members did an outstanding job. A big thank you to all of the staff, boys and family members who came along to see the show!

Tamara Smith
Head of Drama

Photos courtesy of Christopher Hayles.

Newington and MLC join for gender equity forum

On Friday, 23 November, our Gender Equity co-ordinator, Ms Troncone and 11 boys from Year 12 participated in both the White Ribbon Day walk from High Cross Park to Coogee Bay Road and thereafter in a Q&A panel hosted by MLC School, Burwood. After a very early departure from school, we began the White Ribbon Day walk at 7.30am. The half-hour walk down Coogee Bay Road ended at Grant Reserve where we listened to some powerful speeches given by various students and White Ribbon Day supporters. Most notably, we heard from Commissioner Michael Fuller from the NSW Police Force, the Hon. Prudence (Pru) Jane Goward, MP, Minister for Mental Health and Medical Research and Dr Angela Jay, a White Ribbon Advocate and herself a victim of domestic violence; needless to say and especially so for the latter speech, it struck a chord with the boys and allowed us to develop our views on such a contentious topic. We were grateful and felt quite privileged to be able to attend such an event.

We then travelled to the MLC school in Burwood where we attended a Q&A forum. This particular panel included the Hon Jodi McKay, NSW Shadow Minister for Transport and NSW Shadow Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, two Year 12 MLC and Burwood Girls High School students, Ms Katie Young from the Women’s & Girls’ Emergency Centre (WAGEC), Ms Gabrielle Boyle from Channel Nine News and Sergeant Murray Will, a domestic violence Team Leader with the NSW Police Force. Each provided a unique perspective on how they approached domestic violence. They were insightful and gave us a better understanding of the problem that is domestic violence. I know I can speak on behalf of the boys when I say that it was a thought-provoking experience that we will never forget. It will be an experience that will forever resonate with me and the boys and we are thankful for being given the opportunity to represent Newington College and to participate in both events.

Nathan Nankivell (11/LE)

UK teaching exchange: a life-changing opportunity

PDHPE Teacher James Walsh spent a year at Dulwich College in south London as part of a teaching exchange. Black and White caught up with him to learn more about the experience and how it has impacted his work now that he is back on campus at Newington.

What did you teach at Dulwich College?

Physical Education

What inspired you to take part in the exchange?

The chance to step outside of my comfort zone by teaching a different curriculum in a different country. My wife Jenna and I have always been curious about living abroad and therefore the chance to live on Europe’s doorstep in one of the most marvellous cities in the world was a once in a lifetime opportunity we couldn’t say no to. We made a pact to say yes to everything and spend every cent we earnt to ensure we had the most incredibly memorable year ever. We did just that!

What were the similarities between your exchange school and Newington?

Both Dulwich and Newington are well established and respectable independent boys’ schools with long, proud histories. Both schools place great emphasis on academics, co-curricular and sport pursuits as well as educating the whole boy. Boys enjoy coming to PE/PDHPE lessons and sport sessions as they know it is fun, challenging and there are many associated lifelong benefits attached.

What were some of your favourite moments about your visit?

  • Arriving for Dulwich on my first day and feeling that sense of being new, unsure and nervous again.
  • Making new, strong, lifelong friendships with great people. The British are the most hospitable people – we were treated like a part of the family and it made our time at Dulwich truly special.
  • The chance to teach a different curriculum, learn from new people and bring back new ideas.
  • The time to reflect on why, how and what we do at Newington.
  • Being invited onto two school trips – a football tour to San Sebastian, Spain and a Skiing trip to Sestriere, Italy.
  • Having our families visit for three weeks at Christmas.
  • The opportunity to travel extensively through Europe & America – New York/Boston and Hvar in Croatia were highlights!
  • Numerous Snow days.
  • A tour of Lords with a retired English test player (Ashes winner and centurion at Lords, Bill Athey).

How has this Professional Development opportunity impacted your work now that you are back at Newington?

The staff at Dulwich pride themselves on working hard, much like everyone at Newington. They also place great emphasis on using the breaks in the day and after school hours to stop work, enjoy each other’s company and socialising together. Given that their total curriculum is Physical Education, I have brought back (shamelessly borrowed) numerous ideas of how we can improve our practical units in PDHPE. It reaffirmed how important my role is as a coach and teacher and how influential I can be in the lives of many young boys. It has given me clarity about where I want to go and what I want to achieve in my career and I look forward to doing that here at Newington.

As a parting word, Jenna and I would like to extend a sincere thank you to Dr Mulford and the Newington community for allowing and supporting such a life-changing opportunity. We learnt so much, personally and professionally and are different people having had the experience. If any staff member is considering an exchange, please come and chat as I would be happy to twist your arm and tell you to do it!

Students ‘Sleep Rough’ for Oasis

On Saturday, 1 December about 150 boys, arrived at the spaceframe to participate in the 10th annual ‘Sleep Rough’ in order to raise money and awareness for the Salvation Army’s Oasis initiative. The aim of the night was to give boys an understanding of what it’s like to sleep on the streets. Mr Pyne stated the conditions of the night would replicate three of the four factors of homelessness: an uncomfortable short sleep, bright lights preventing sleep and loud noise from the people around you.

The event started with most boys finding a location within the spaceframe to sleep for the night and playing basketball, frisbee and soccer on the space frame. At around eight we were called in for a briefing from Mr Pyne. Soon after our briefing, we went in to receive a lecture from Olympia a representative from Oasis on what the organisation does to help turn youth’s livesaround. Olympia told us about some of their programs including Crisis Accommodation for those who are doing it hard on the streets, Oasis College which helps educate those who left school early and Drive for Life, to help individuals achieve their full licence. After the lecture, students were able to ask questions about Oasis services. The answers helped the students develop a better understanding of the programs and what it means to be homeless on the streets.

We were provided with a light supper of Milo and a biscuit, and then begun to relax and prepare to sleep. Most students went to sleep between midnight and one, waking up at five to six, giving them around five hours of sleep. A breakfast of a bacon and egg roll was created for each student, and we gradually cleaned up and went back to our regular days, having gained a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be homeless.

The event managed to raise $1500 for Oasis Youth services. Special thanks to Mr Pyne, Mr Mountain, Mr Quinane, Mr Ansourian and all the boys for showing up and raising money, and Olympia for coming to speak to us about Oasis.

Ethan Haffenden (10/KL)



Whom are we praising at Christmas?

When they (the shepherds) had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

(Luke 2:18-20)

Our school year has drawn to a close with Christmas less than a month away. What we know about the very first Christmas was that there was much celebration over the birth of Jesus, with gifts brought from the Magi, a company of angels filled with praise and shepherds who were so inspired by what they saw and heard that they left the Nativity scene ‘glorifying and praising God’. As we spend time pondering what all the fuss of Christmas is about, as Mary the mother of Jesus did, I’d like to share with you some insight into the notion of praise and how it serves as an opportunity to express our deepest adoration.

The term ‘praise’ is associated with the idea of ‘appraisal’ and ‘to prize’. As an example, during our ‘Annual Prize Giving’ we acknowledge the students who have given their all to their academics, sport, co-curricula, music and service to the college. We praise them for their efforts, because upon appraisal, they have been identified as exemplary. What our boys are praised for isn’t so much their talent and ability, as much as how they have executed this with great skill and effort.

I remember a time when I sang at a friend’s wedding. Although I had been part of my school’s choir and had sung in musicals, singing at a wedding was something new to me. I remember feeling apprehensive and unsure as to whether I could deliver suitably for my friend and his bride, yet once my attention switched from being self-conscious to being focused on whom I was singing for, I recall experiencing a sense of liberation and energy. The point is, when we focus on the object of our praise, it is then that we are able to express ourselves with much enthusiasm and adoration. The shepherds in this scripture passage experienced firsthand the birth of the promised Messiah. They would have initially felt startled when they saw the angels rejoicing, but once they travelled to Bethlehem and saw for themselves, it was then that their attention turned to the object of this praise.

As we approach this Christmas period, consider the object of this great celebration. When we do our own appraisal by hearing and seeing for ourselves what all the fuss of Jesus is about, it is then that we can experience the fullness of the Christmas celebration.

I’d like to pay tribute to our Headmaster Dr Mulford as he retires from Newington. In terms of admiration and praise, Dr Mulford exemplifies the values that we strive to uphold here in the chapel. He is kind, compassionate, encouraging, hardworking, visionary, innovative, understanding and has always had the best interest of our community as his priority. He has honoured the Christian foundations of our College while supporting Newington’s commitment to engaging our diverse community. We wish him every blessing in his journey ahead and will forever be indebted to his service and contribution to Newington.

Finally, our ‘Newington College and Tupou College Christmas Carols Service’ will be held on Sunday, 9 December. I do hope you will join us for this very special event; a time to celebrate together. The Carol Service commences at 5pm, with a light supper available 6.30pm.

Rev. Geordie Barham
College Chaplain

Counting down the 12 days of Christmas

Christmas is a time for giving and receiving, but we often forget the true value of Christmas: its ability to bring together family and friends. Sharing a meal together, chatting and debating opinions, road trips, storytelling, playing games – all help to forge positive memories. Creating our own family traditions make events more special and strengthen family connections.

While households may differ, it is important to embrace each other’s company and reflect on the year past. Sometimes this can be difficult due to the ‘Christmas rush’, but taking the time to enjoy some simple activities with family and friends can take the pressure off this busy time.

Here are some ideas in my 12 days of Christmas:

12. Build suspense with a countdown calendar.

11. Share some experiences together like fishing/biking/swimming/crosswords/big jigsaw.

10. Bake some Christmas goodies or a gingerbread house.

9. Take a silly family photo with the family pet.

8. Give to someone in need, bring a gift to the Newington wishing tree.

7. Make some homemade decorations to give as gifts or to decorate your home.

6. Walk around your neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights.

5. Have a new stash of books handy so everyone has something to read.

4. Watch a movie together sharing popcorn and choc tops.

3. Take a picnic to the beach and stay late.

2. Attend a Carols in the Park or a (Newington) Christmas Service or create a playlist.

1. Share your hopes and dreams.

If everything does not go to plan, take comfort in the fact that we tend to remember the best moments and the last moments, paying little attention to everything else.

Have a wonderful Christmas and holidays.

Margaret Bates
School Nurse

Metcalfe House lends support to Newtown Mission

Over the past year, Metcalfe House has supported our new service association, Newtown Mission community centre. Newtown Mission is a uniting church which aids the vulnerable by providing home cooked meals and post-food church services. Our role in their organisation is to visit fortnightly with a group of boys ranging from years 10 to 12, and assisting them in setting up their services. This usually entails: setting up tables, unpacking the deliveries from OzHarvest and moving and organising the packaged food into the refrigerator for later use. As we want the whole house to be aware of our community, the younger years are involved by providing food donations, which the older boys transport to the centre on each visit.

Recently, two boys from Metcalfe helped Newtown Mission further by organising a food truck for the yearly Christmas Service. Louis Woodland (12/ME) and Louis Banning Taylor (11/ME) made this their creativity, activity, service (CAS) project as a compulsory part of earning their IB diplomas. This included raising food for over three weeks, and during that time many of the boys from the house group got involved by bringing large amounts of food into the locker room for transportation. 

As a last message to all, we encourage participation from anyone who is interested in helping Newtown Mission through Metcalfe. It is certainly a great way to help the local Newtown community!

Louis Banning Taylor and Chris Spiropoulos (11/ME)

Sport report


Congratulations to Brandon Freire (12/PR) and to Reed Nottage (12/LE) who have been selected to represent New South Wales on the U20 NSW State Men’s Basketball Team. They will compete in the Australian Junior Championships in Canberra, ACT from 13-17 February 2019. Best of luck!


Congratulations to Newington Rowers Harry Janson (11/PR) and Alex Wood (11/MA) on their selection in the AAGPS 1st VIII. The boys were recognised at the GPS sculling trials where each rower had to do a 2km time trial, Harry and Alex finished in 1st and 4th place respectively. Well done to all the Newington rowers that took part in this gruelling event.

Rugby 7s

Congratulations to Newington students Tolu Koula (10/FL) and Kaeo Weekes (11/MA) who have been selected in the NSW Youth 7s team to compete in the National Championships in Queensland on the weekend. Following the tournament, a national team will be chosen to compete in New Zealand. We wish the boys all the very best.