Reflections: Rhythm and Rituals

Mrs Sally Callie, Year 7-9 Advisor and Science Teacher

As Term 1 unfolds, Brisbane Girls Grammar School is alive with the vibrant energy from House parties, where creativity knows no bounds. Students raided dress-up boxes, explored second-hand shops, and even ventured into their parents’ 1990s wardrobes, resulting in a kaleidoscope of outfits proudly showcasing their House allegiances. From purple wigs and fluoro orange legwarmers to white angel wings, the School transformed into a lively spectacle. With the upbeat tunes of Taylor Swift resonating from the Cherrell Hirst Creative Learning Centre, students relished in pizza and House-coloured cake, and engaged in spirited games like Knights, Mounts, Cavaliers. While these gatherings may, on the surface, appear as frivolous fun, they set the stage for a series of events and traditions that collectively weave the fabric of our School culture, known as School spirit.

Similar to the way significant dates shape our lives, symbolic events at the School create a distinctive rhythm, fostering a profound sense of belonging and identity among students. Assemblies such as the Induction of Student Leaders and reading of Speech Day prizes—at the start and end of each year—serve as pillars that unite the School community, providing a platform to recognise new beginnings, celebrate achievements, and bid farewell to the passing year. The collective voices of a thousand students singing ‘Nil Sine Labore’ or chanting the School war cry, arms entwined, serve as tangible and spirited reminders of our shared vision and community spirit.

Beyond the classroom, Interhouse competitions, exemplified by the recent Interhouse Swimming Carnival, hold a significant place in the School calendar and draw enthusiastic participation and certainly, nurture House spirit. However, it is the smaller, idiosyncratic events and traditions unique to BGGS that contribute to the cultivation of a rich and cherished culture. This was made clear to me when I asked some students about what makes our school unique. A Year 12 Lilley student told me it was the tunnel created by the House to welcome new students during their first House assembly. A Gibson student described the tradition of each Year 7 student pledging the Gibson oath as she is ‘knighted’ by her Year 12 buddy at their first assembly. Other students highlighted traditions like Blue Days and recent events like Galentine’s Day, where pink tutus, red ribbons, face paint, hearts, and streamers transformed the School into a sea of pink. These events go beyond being breaks from the ordinary; they provide shared experiences and a sense of community strength as girls unite to support each other and contribute to the broader community.

Throughout history, the significance of rituals in providing rhythm, order, and meaning in the lives of communities has been recognised by churches and religions. The strongest cultures are steeped in traditions that bind people and mark their lives with significant moments. As Brisbane Girls Grammar School approaches its 150th year, there is much to celebrate. The School’s culture is rich, and its traditions are robust. A well-established House system, robust Arts, Sports, and Service programs, and opportunities for student leadership contribute to a profound sense of belonging and school connectedness. It is essential not to underestimate the importance of seemingly trivial traditions and rituals, including songs, war cries, parties, and assemblies, in shaping a thriving Girls Grammar community.

Mrs Sally Callie
Year 7-9 Advisor and Science Teacher