From the Principal
With only three weeks of Term 2 remaining and the ACC season winding up next week I thought it may be timely to reflect on the broad range of co-curricula activities our students are involved in and the tremendous benefits derived from this involvement.
While ACC sport does tend to dominate the agenda by sheer weight of numbers involved, there are myriad other endeavours for our young men to pursue and be challenged and engaged by. Beyond this, perhaps the most significant benefits – developing positive relationships and improved self-esteem – are visible and applicable right across the spectrum of activities. It is these elements I want to focus on and articulate how our co-curricula program value-adds to the students’ experience at school.
In respect to this area of the College, two highlights for me as Principal in 2015 have been Grease and coaching Year 9 ACC Football. Sitting in the audience and watching the opening night of Grease was magical and just sheer good fun. Seeing the combination of concentration, stress and enjoyment on the performers’ faces, coupled with the brilliant acting, singing and dancing was an obvious testament to the value of the event. What we didn’t all see was the tremendous camaraderie, sense of belonging and identity and the boost to social skills and resultant self-confidence our young men and the OLSH girls derived from their involvement. The months of rehearsals for onstage performers, backstage crew, set designers, along with sound and light helpers forged great bonds of friendship and self-worth, plus the opportunity to develop positive relationships with the staff working alongside them in perhaps a less formal manner than the classroom environment.
This is duplicated in the upcoming junior production Letters to Gallipoli. A genuine artistic feast of singing, dance, poetry and acting, the production gives our Years 4 — 8 students the opportunity to be involved in the arts, to develop not only skills but again, the self-esteem, the discipline and the sense of belonging and achievement that comes with these productions. These experiences add great value to a student’s time at De La Salle.
In helping out with coaching the Year 9 ACC Football side this year I have been thrilled with the boys’ commitment, motivation, pride in representing their school and the tremendous sense of camaraderie among the 70-plus footballers who have been trying out for the A and B teams. This is the second year I have had this group, so the capacity to get to know these young men – so important in a boys’ school – has been greatly enhanced and enables a positive relationship beyond the formalities of the classroom. While having a few wins has been an added bonus it has been wonderful to see the vast majority turn up for training at 7:45am on cold Monday mornings, always in good humour and glad to be with their mates. Sport is always second to academic responsibilities but involvement in an ACC team of any sort does bring many benefits for the boys around peer support, friendships and a sense of accomplishment in fulfilling — and enjoying — the expectations the College places on them to be involved.
The ACC extends well beyond the sporting fixtures as well. The ACC Arts Exhibition held at Abbotsford Convent last month created a unique opportunity for many of our 2014 Year 7 – 12 students to have work from Art, Technology, Media, Photography and Visual Communication & Design displayed in a very public forum. It was lovely to see so many of our parents at the opening night, looking on proudly as their sons escorted them through the exhibition and pointed out their work.
Our involvement in the Debating Association of Victoria competition has also been a terrific opportunity for students from Years 9, 11 and 12 to develop skills in this area. Once again, the chance to work as a team, develop relationships with their supervising teachers, take on responsibilities and form their own opinions via collaboration and critical thinking has added significant value to these boys’ school experience in 2015.
There are always a few boys who enrol at De La Salle College without having completed their Sacraments at primary school. The College Sacramental Program enables these students to enrich their faith experience via preparation for Reconciliation and Confirmation in a comfortable and supportive environment outside the formal classroom.
In a similar vein, the Year 7 – 12 reflection days and retreat experiences offer an opportunity for reflection, discussion and planning around our Catholic identity, Gospel values and Lasallian traditions. Tailored to suit the needs of their respective year levels, the retreats enable our young men to move through secondary school with the support of our faith and charism in guiding their attitudes, behaviour and decision-making.
Finally, the variety of trips, tours, camps and excursions for Outdoor Education, orientation, social justice, sport, leadership, faith, adventure and education offer so many experiences to enrich our students’ time at the College. Torquay, Phillip Island, Howqua, New Zealand, Italy, France, India, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and outback WA are all regular destinations for our boys under the umbrella of our wider offerings, adding value beyond the classroom and the formal curriculum.
The beauty of a comprehensive co-curricula program like ours is it provides us with the capacity to unearth, develop, promote, nurture and share the gifts of every student, regardless of their interests and talents. With 1,160 young men here, these opportunities are integral to the curriculum of the College and are important ways in which they can develop character, fulfilment, self-esteem and resilience.
This of course is supported by the skills, generosity and commitment of so many of our staff who willingly give of their time and talents to support the co-curricula program, for which I am eternally grateful. Whether it is arts, sport, language, adventure or faith pursuits, we have staff supporting our boys in every sphere.
Director of Primary School Appointment
In order to better address the learning needs of our Year 4 to 6 students I have appointed a Director of Primary School. Anette Phillips comes to us with a wealth of experience in Catholic Primary education, including the past seven years as Deputy Principal – Learning at St Cecilia’s, Glen Iris. Anette has had a range of leadership positions in Catholic primary schools including four terms as Acting Principal, coordinating special needs and leading teams in literacy, numeracy, inquiry, and assessment and reporting at various times. St Cecilia’s has seen remarkable growth in their literacy and numeracy data under Anette’s leadership, supported by her two master’s degrees in School Leadership and Literacy Education. We look forward to welcoming Anette into our community next term.
We have three major community events coming which I hope can be supported by as many families as possible:
- Friday 19 June Parent Network Winter Luncheon — Racecourse Hotel, 12:00pm – 2:30pm
- Sunday 21 June De La Salle Community Mass — St Mary’s East Malvern – 91 Manning Rd, 9:00am
- Wednesday 26 August Father’s Day Breakfast — 7:15am – 9:00am, a bit further away but sure to sell out so keep an eye out for details
Mr Peter Houlihan