From the Principal
Dear Members of the De La Salle Community,
This week I’d like to write about our community. In each Duce article I open with the salutation, “Dear Members of the De La Salle Community,” and in the past weeks I have had many occasions upon which to reflect so very positively on our rich and vibrant community. One of the key messages from my recent studies at the Buttimer Institute was a Lasallian education is all about community. St John Baptist de La Salle saw it as critical and was unambiguous in his insistence that the early Brothers share a community and the early students must be enabled to establish a keen sense of involvement, engagement and belonging in their community to best succeed. And so it is at Malvern in 2016, but I would add parents and the wider society to our everyday community of students and staff.
This week we concluded the application and interview process to decide the 2017 College Captain and Vice Captains. I am pleased to announce the following, having met with the seven shortlisted interviewees this morning to inform them of the outcome of their applications.
College Captain: James Biviano (Edwin’s House)
College Vice Captains: Leon Lymbouris (Mark’s ) and Aaron Trusler (Leo’s)
Congratulations to these three young men in particular but also the other four who were unsuccessful. These students and indeed the other 10 – 12 who presented at the Year 11 Assembly two weeks ago were all very impressive. In their presentations, in their written applications and interviews these young men all spoke of the importance of the De La Salle community to them and what it has meant to them during their tenure at Malvern. They are articulate, mature and responsible young men with a keen sense of what our College stands for and are great role models for their peers. Each has a tremendous amount to offer their House, the 2017 Year 12 cohort and the College in general and I have encouraged them to pursue leadership roles for their House. We now move to the next stage of the process whereby in the next couple of weeks each House will conduct their application process for House Captain, 2 x Vice Captains, Lasallian Captain and Arts Captain.
Perhaps our greatest expression of our identity as a Lasallian community is the annual Mission Action Day walkathon, which once again this year raised well over $100,000. This year we involved the four House Lasallian Captains in the decisions as to how to disburse the funds and while some decisions are still to be finalised the following projects have received significant injections of money from our students’ generosity and sense of social justice.
Coolies 2016: November – December; Rebuilding and renovation of ageing buildings at the Lasallians’ Boys Town, Madurai, Tamil Nadu Province, Southern India. This will provide seminar/conference facilities for the centre, with accommodation which translates into a facility capable of generating much needed funds for Boys Town.
Luurnpa Catholic School, Balgo Hills, Western Australia, June: VCAL students undertaking a broad range of building, repair, renovation, landscaping and maintenance.
Bomana Lasallian High School, Papua New Guinea. Year 11s, September; urgent building work to complete much needed teacher housing for the school. Substandard or non-existent housing makes it very difficult if not impossible for the Brothers to attract, let alone keep good quality teachers. The funding and labour for the completion of these homes will be a huge advantage to the school community at Bomana and provide stability and quality in the delivery of its educational outcomes.
We have also committed to supporting a range of capital works in some of Pakistan’s poorest Lasallian Colleges:
- Power generator for Gokkuwal, allowing provision of electricity for more than a few hours per day
- A larger power generator for Sant Singh Wala
- Development of Science labs at Malkhan Wala
- General school maintenance in electricals, painting and furniture at La Salle Urdu School
- Improved student safety and play space by paving a courtyard at Ahamadabad
- Installing a new immersion pump for water supply for whole school. Can now access drinking water and running water for toilets. Includes boring, pipes, plumbing, wiring etc
- Desks for primary classrooms where students just sit on chairs with books on laps
- Contribution to teachers’ salaries – a crippling cost for the Brothers
Lasallian Formation Day
Last Friday 12 August the staff celebrated our annual Lasallian Formation Day. A genuine community highlight was the abovementioned four House Lasallian Captains – Stephan Kokkas, Lachlan Bulman, Xavier-Joseph de La Masse-Homsy, and Kieran Walsh – addressing the whole staff on what being at De La Salle College has meant to them. These young men were so impressive, so articulate and spoke so glowingly about their sense of belonging to a community during their years at De La. The foursome also largely organised our major spiritual community event for this week, the whole school liturgy to celebrate Tuesday’s Feast of the Assumption.
Positive Feedback From the Public
On the theme of students representing their community so well I have been delighted to receive in the past 24 hours two phone calls from the public congratulating our students on their conduct. A gentleman on the Glen Waverley train was so impressed by our boys’ wearing of the uniform, their grooming, appearance, manners and general demeanour he felt moved to contact me to pass on his admiration. Another of our boys came to the rescue of an elderly lady in some distress outside Coles, prompting a passer-by to ring us to congratulate both the individual’s compassion and action, but also the school in general. On Tuesday we had visitors from another Catholic school working with our Year 7s and the feedback was very positive: “I spoke to some great kids and gee, they wear their uniform well. I was very impressed,” reported our visitor. Our students do so much to make us proud of them and this is a terrific sign of their connection to and affiliation with their community, something the boys obviously value.
Parent Network — A Day at the Races and Father’s Day Breakfast
The Parent Network continues to contribute so much to our wider De La community. Last Saturday’s very social Gala Day at the Caulfield races attracted over 150 parents and raised almost $20,000 for the Network via an online auction and various raffles. Now in its third year, A Day at the Races has really grown into a key date on the College Calendar and a tremendous opportunity for parents to mix, socialise, catch up with their friends and develop new ones in a very relaxed and fun setting. Many of the parents I spoke to on the day commented about how much they felt part of the community through the various Parent Network events like the races.Photos from the day are available here.
On a similar theme, next Friday 26 August is the annual Father’s Day Breakfast at 7:15am in the College Gym. There are not many tickets left so book soon.
St Columba’s Community Mass
Thank you to Mrs Rana Brogan and the current students who came to us from St Columba’s Parish Primary School in Elwood, who represented the College so well at our Term 3 De La Salle Community Mass on August 7. Year 11 student Alex Martin (son of staff member Kerry Martin ) spoke to the congregation prior to the end of Mass with his reflection of acting with a heart for justice. Alex’s experiences and the College’s commitment to social justice struck a chord with the local community and several St Columba’s teachers really enjoyed catching up with their ex-pupils. These community masses have become a regular and popular feature on our calendar and we look forward to our Term 4 Mass, planned for St Finbar’s in Brighton.
In closing, my recent studies in relation to Lasallian community have a direct relevance to our school here in Malvern. St John Baptist was totally committed to a simple, community lifestyle, to the work he felt God had set for him and his teachers. Much of his early work was based around the group, developing community and a team commitment to the schools’ mission. De La Salle’s approach was considered a little radical at the time but he had a vision beyond the particular work – whole school planning strategy, in wider community – together and by association. I think we do a pretty good job of that in our 2016 community here at Malvern.
Mr Peter Houlihan