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YVG News

Picture of Mark Merry
From the Principal
by Mark Merry - Wednesday, 27 August 2014, 12:37 PM
August Open Day
Last Saturday was our second Open Morning for the year with over 150 families visiting the school interested in securing a place for their daughters and sons at Yarra Valley Grammar. The morning was crystal clear with bright sunshine and warmth to the day. The School looked absolutely stunning with the last finishing touches to the gardens and clear signs of progress as the new buildings continue to take shape. Towards the end of this year we refurbish the ICT /Year 9 Centre in preparation for our Year 9 Class of 2015 as the year level is relocated from the temporary Larkin Campus. On completion of the new Science Faculty, the two remaining legacy science laboratories will be transformed into a Food Technology Centre over the January break. This will include a teaching kitchen and a front of house which will serve at times as a restaurant and café for students to gain experience in preparing and serving food and beverage. So the place is looking stunning and there’s lots happening on the development front.
Importantly though I told our guests that looking at buildings was not the real purpose of Open Day. Schools are about people. This is why our tour guides are our students and our information stands are manned by our teachers. The most important part of the day is meeting the people here, because it is they who capture what the school is really about. What a great job they did too with our visitors feeling welcomed and getting a sense of the culture of our school.
Year 6 2015
We have been experiencing considerable interest in places for Year 6 2015. In response to this we have decided to make an additional class available at the Year 6 level for next year. We have written to parents of the Year 7 Class of 2016 to offer an earlier entry as an option. If you have an interest for securing a place for Year 6 2015 please contact our Marketing and Admissions Office.
Picture of Mark Merry
From the Principal
by Mark Merry - Thursday, 7 August 2014, 12:08 PM
  Helping Young People Cope with Media Coverage of War and Traumatic Events

The intense media coverage that accompanies traumatic events, such as war, acts of terrorism and natural disasters, can be very disturbing for children and teens. Certain young people are particularly vulnerable and some can be seriously distressed simply by watching TV replays or having unrestricted internet access to such events. Parents, teachers, and other significant adults can help to lessen anxieties arising from the coverage of catastrophic events with ten helpful tips.

Don't assume that children are unaware of news events. It's almost impossible to be unaware of current events in our information age. Even very young children hear and see more than we think, so it's important to question them about what they have learned and how they're feeling to get a sense of the impact of events on them.

Look for signs of anxiety in children.Some children are more susceptible to anxiety about events reported in the media. Various factors influence children's reactions, including age, temperament, a tendency to worry or a vivid imagination. Children are more likely to dwell on certain news events if they themselves have been victims of violence, trauma or similar tragedies or if they have relatives or friends living in the affected area or for example they know others who are travelling overseas.

Be selective in your media consumption, particularly with young children.Protect children from intensely disturbing or frightening TV or internet images. Avoid leaving the TV or radio on as background noise, avoid watching coverage of traumatic events with young children in the room, and avoid media "replays" in the days following a catastrophe.

Help children to feel safe.When traumatic events occur, children need to have the risks to themselves and their families put into a realistic context. While we should be concerned about conflicts in other parts of the world, children need to be reassured that these events do not pose a direct threat to them. The concentration on one negative event can be inflated to give an unrealistic probability that things will go wrong for them. Explain how governments and organizations such as the United Nations are working hard to make the world a safer place for all children.

Make the time to listen to any concerns children may have.Be honest when answering questions. With young children, however, don't elaborate with long, detailed explanations. Some children may ignore news coverage of catastrophes in order to avoid unpleasant feelings.

Tell them how you're feeling.Be aware of the impact that traumatic events may have on your own emotions and behaviour. Share your feelings with children. It helps teenagers to know that such events are upsetting to adults as well. Remember, however, that younger children may become more fearful if they sense anxiety and tension in the adults around them. Calm reassurance works best with the very young.

Help older children to analyse media coverage.
Use this opportunity to educate teenagers about how the media works. Watch news coverage with older children and talk about it. Explain that news is a business and that the need to attract audiences can influence editorial decisions on how events are reported. Seek out news coverage from a variety of sources including the Internet, newspapers, magazines and radio. Access alternative media as well as mainstream media outlets. If your children are reading about current events on the Internet, check out the sources of the information to ensure their credibility. Compare the coverage by other international media. Talk about the differences in how various media approach the same event and how media can distort and exaggerate the danger.

Emphasize the importance of tolerance and respect.
Explain that media coverage of world conflicts can trigger powerful feelings of fear and anger in people, which can turn into hate directed at certain groups of people. Explain how negative stereotypes can lead to simplistic and dangerous "good versus evil," "bad guys versus good guys" perceptions. Point out that peaceful solutions to conflict are always preferable to retaliation and violence. Tolerance and respect are essential for the young who live in a diverse society.

Emphasize the positive things that may arise from traumatic events.Talk about how, after a tragedy, there is usually a shared outpouring of grief and concern for the victims' families. Traumatic events can make us pull together and talk about the importance of loved ones and the value of life. It is often our response to the needs of others which demonstrates our true qualities which counter the uglier side of human nature.

Take action to make a difference.Gandhi said: "Be the change you want to see in the world." Helping people in your community or another part of the world can help minimize feelings of despair and helplessness. Let children choose their own course of action. They can volunteer for community service, make a donation to a refugee support organization or write a letter expressing their concerns to the local newspaper. We also continue to pray as a school community for the cessation of hostilities around the world.

With excerpts from Dr. Arlette Lefebvre, Staff Psychiatrist, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto

Dr Mark Merry