75 Years of Community

New Networks Reduce COVID-19 Impact

Community connections have always been important at St Peters Lutheran College. Over the last 75 years, the College has built up a proud family of staff, students, old scholars and parents. While spread out, our St Peters community close in spirit and wholly supportive. Throughout the year, we embrace opportunities to gather together to celebrate this great school…or at least we did before this year.

With the outbreak of COVID-19, many of our College departments have been faced with developing new ways to cultivate community connections given physical distancing restrictions. In the case of our Music department, this has meant producingAt Home Performances (via video, online); our teaching and support staff conducted lessons and extra-curricular activities via Zoom; our students hosted the annual College talent show,SPYGT, on Livestream; and, a few weeks ago, our Community Engagement team conducted the College’s very first Virtual Open Day. While these events don’t come close to the number of opportunities we usually have to enact community services as a College, they have been a positive step in the right direction. But what about our Old Scholars?

The New Normal for SPOSA

Online and virtual events have been a great way to maintain connections with our current and more recently graduated St Peters community, but the lack of physical connections presented by COVID-19 restrictions, had a greater impact on our older Old Scholars. At the start of the pandemic outbreak, the St Peters Old Scholars Association (SPOSA) Office was faced with the prospect of having to cancel events— ‘Back to Ironbark’ opportunities and Reunion Weekends were no longer a possibility and that meant a large portion of the Old Scholar community were set to experience a disconnect.

Instead of giving up, SPOSA got creative. As SPOSA Alumni and Archives Manager, Sasha McCarthy, shared recently at a ToucanTech webinar, the team found new ways to engage and maintain connections with St Peters Old Scholars.

What did they do?

To overcome COVID-19 event cancellations, the SPOSA Office developed a new set of networks through which College connections could be made. These included:

  • a tutoring network;
  • an intra-College career mentoring network;
  • a volunteer network; and
  • the Adopt a Senior network.

Many of these initiatives saw current students (in the case of Adopt a Senior, Year 9 students) connecting directly with Old Scholars. The networks provided support and guidance during uncertain times, and also worked to reduce the loneliness associated with self-isolation. By encouraging the current student base to interact with the College’s Old Scholars, SPOSA laid down foundations of community connection that will only grow stronger as the years progress.

So, what now?

Leading into SPOSA’S 75th Anniversary in 2021, the plan is to have the networks continue. The uptake and success by current and past students alike has been outstanding—a reassuring observation that the connect between St Peters and our Community is just as strong as ever. To read more about the future of the new SPOSA Networks, or to access the full ToucanTech article, please click here.