From the Principal
As the final groups of students in Years 4 – 9 head off for the summer break there is so much to reflect on and be grateful for as we look back on 2016.
As ever, it has been a very full year for students, staff and parents alike, as one would expect in a vibrant community like ours. The vast majority of this is captured in the excellent Blue and Gold annual magazine, which I recommend to you most highly. Besides brilliant photography covering almost every aspect of College life there are articles and reports from key personnel. These really encapsulate the work, the spirit and the achievements of so many in the College this year and make for an entertaining read. Thank you to Jonathan Hewett who continues his exemplary work well into his third decade of producing the Blue and Gold. Leah Hartmann, Director of Marketing and Communication must also take her share of the credit as editor.
Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, from the Latin ‘Adventus,’ which means ‘coming.’ Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year (in our Western churches), and encompasses the span of time from the fourth Sunday before Christmas, until the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated. Like Lent, Advent is a preparatory season. It has significance because it is a season of looking forward and waiting for something greater; both for the annual celebration of the event of Christ’s birth, and for the time when Christ will come again.
Over these next four weeks, we will look at how we are preparing this world for Jesus. How are we caring for one another, especially the poor and the vulnerable? In looking at Advent and how we as a community may use the four weeks as preparation for something of significance in our lives in the lead-up to Christmas, I was taken by a recent “Mediation of the Day” from Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household:
“We are mortal human beings… We cannot live together in harmony, in a family or any other kind of community, without the reciprocal practice of forgiveness and mercy. We need to respond with forgiveness and even as far as possible, by excusing others instead of condemning them… Forgiveness for a community does what oil does for a motor… Like oil, forgiveness neutralises friction. Having mercy for one another should be the most natural sentiment for human beings.”
As we have just closed out Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy, the emphasis on forgiveness and patience is a timely reminder for all in our community. In his Mediation 114.2 St John Baptist de La Salle advised, “To deal with… people very harshly is to forego all hope of effecting any good.” In this holy period of Advent, the end of the school year and the often hectic nature of the preparations for the holiday season, let us take the opportunity to all exercise a little forgiveness in the face of any potential frustrations.
In the final assemblies for the Year 10 and 11s, then the Year 4 to 9s, I reflected on the conclusion of a year’s study and how we approach that most important element of school life. I spoke to the students about the value of legitimate application to the task at hand and the clear links to a Lasallian approach to education. At the very centre of what we do is the Lasallian Core Principle of a Quality Education. This is a two way street. As teachers provide instruction, advice, encouragement, engaging activities and feedback, it is the responsibility of each and every student – regardless of their God given ability – to take advantage of this opportunity. For those who work hard, apply themselves, embrace the wider life of the school, are well organised and engage in collaboration with their peers and teachers, they find the rewards are there for the taking. I expect this of each and every student in our school and I am very proud of so many of our young men who demonstrate these qualities so consistently.
Congratulations to our award winners, many of whom are pictured below.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate four staff members that have recently graduated with post graduate and Masters Degrees. Cindy Frost, Andrew Murrell and Kelly Williams graduated earlier in the term with a Postgraduate Certificate in Curriculum Leadership. Rose Roe also graduated with a Master in Educational Leadership and a Specialist Certificate in Curriculum Leadership.
Building Young Lasallians
In a spirit of zeal, a Lasallian education provides a practical orientation: John Baptist de La Salle recognised the real needs of youth and taught what they needed to function in society. Lasallian teachers prepare students for their vocation and profession, for their personal life commitments, and for service to society and the Church. Lasallian Schools are realistic in their approach, methodology and goals.
Just like St John Baptist de La Salle in his day, our teachers and coordinators devote a great deal of time and energy to identifying what our boys need to thrive and flourish as young men in the contemporary world. Like the founder, we feel a deep and abiding obligation to educate well beyond formal academic work. Preparing our boys to contribute to society and their chosen career path is an intrinsic part of what we value most at De La Salle. Each student in our midst has gifts in certain areas and each has been encouraged and guided to find these within, recognise the talents he has and ensure he uses them to the very best of his ability. Making good decisions is critical for their future; supporting, enabling and empowering our young men to be true Lasallians and responsible for their decisions and actions has been an ongoing focus in 2016.
On Friday night I leave for India to join the Year 12 Coolies in Boys Town, a De La Salle technical college in Madurai, Tamil Nadu Province in the south-east. The 19 students and three staff have been hard at work since last Monday 22 November, converting a dilapidated old three-room building into a cultural centre and hopefully a seminar space for conferences and meetings, also with accommodation spaces for attendees. Once complete, the centre will be able to generate some much needed funds for the Brothers at Boys Town. Their institution provides a technical/trade education for about 45 boys, most of whom were orphaned and dropped out of school. They attend Boys Town for a year to learn one of three trades — welding, electrical or lathe operator. The students are then set up with employment after their year is complete. They live on the property and are fed, clothed, housed and educated completely free of charge. Other means for the Brothers to generate an income is through the orchards and coconut plantation, where they all chip in to harvest every 45 days. While I am very mindful of the adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” I am quite looking forward to getting out of my suit and joining the boys in their labours next week. Click here for the full Coolies report.
I trust everybody in our Lasallian community has enjoyed 2016. It has certainly been another year of improvement and innovation as we all strive to make our great school even better. I wish you a safe, happy and holy Christmas and look forward to catching up with you at some of our many functions, events and activities in 2017.
Mr Peter Houlihan