Heathdale flower 17th October 2019

How Little Choices Can Snake Up on You

Sometimes our choices seem inconsequential, until they turn into 20-foot long pythons you have to wrestle with!

Heathdale flower

Over the school holidays I had the privilege of going to Florida and we took a road trip to the Everglades. I didn’t know much about the Everglades before I went. It was stunning, a vast wetland of sawgrass and mangroves with beautiful wildlife – when you could spot it.

You see the Everglades have a long, slithery, telephone pole-girthed problem called the Burmese python. Back in the 1970s some humans had these pythons as pets, but fully-grown pythons can be hard to feed and somewhat dangerous, so where were they put? You guessed it, The Everglades. It seemed an ideal location – snake, grass – who would have thought these reptiles would then reproduce at a rate of 50-100 at a time, devastating up to 95% of the native wildlife. And there I was concerned about being attacked by an Alligator!

It’s at the point now where they cannot be controlled. Of course, you can (if you’re feeling gutsy) join the Python Hunters program; pick one up with your hands, put it in a pillow case, freeze it for a few hours then take it to the Wildlife Conservation Commission to get cash for your catch. Not something I thought we would do on a family outing!

I can’t really blame those negligent pet owners. The Everglades would seem like a logical place to release a python to me, too. How wrong we were.

There are so many examples of this occurring in nature and in our world. We think we are doing the right thing, or that our singular act can’t have much of an influence.

At Melton, we have been concentrating on the idea that every choice makes a difference; big or small, noticed or unnoticed. The results might not be seen for many years but we have to think about them from the beginning and ask, ‘Is it the right thing to do long term, and for all?’

Last term, we concentrated on ‘catching’ our students doing the right thing and taking photos of them when this was occurring. There is such beauty in these photos:

- The student who read to another. Impact = care and improvement together in learning to read.
- The student who put their rubbish in the bin. Impact = a clean environment and correct disposal having less impact on the environment.
- The student who turned off the lights when needed. Impact = lower electricity bills and energy saving.
- The student who held another’s hand when scared. Impact = this school feels safe and I want to come here.

The message that is coming through loud and clear during enrolment interviews is that our children make our school a great place to be. As you sit back and reflect over a cup of tea while your little ones are back for Term 4, give yourselves a pat on the back for the differences you are making in their lives every day as it is clearly having a long-term impact.