From the Principal

I would like to extend a very warm welcome back to all the students and their families in the Salesian College Chadstone community for the 2015 school year. In particular a very special welcome to all our new students and their families as they begin their Salesian education. I hope all students have had a good break and are ready to take up the challenges the new school year presents.

We have been very fortunate to enjoy a pleasant start to the year weather wise with lovely cool conditions which has made settling back in to the routine of school life easier. We start the year with 960 boys on our books, all of who returned yesterday in good spirits and appear to be looking forward to a very exciting year at Salesian College. We have many exciting developments in the pipeline which will continue the positive changes that have taken place over the past couple of years.

As we begin the year I would like to reflect on the VCE results of 2014. Whilst we will recognise the class of 2014 and in particular the highest achieving boys at our Dux Assembly on Tuesday 17 February it would be remiss not to mention what has been a very successful academic year. The Class of 2014 had great success with 18% of the boys achieving an ATAR score above 90 with just under 10% achieving scores above 95. The Dux for the year was Nathan D’Souza with an outstanding score of 99.65. The class of 2014 also achieved 11.5% of study scores greater than 40, ranking the College in the top 10 for all Catholic schools and top 3 for Catholic boys schools in Victoria in this criteria. Further to this is the success our boys achieved in being offered university places with close to 100% receiving a first round an offer. The College congratulates all boys on their results and wishes them well as they move on to the next stage in their lives. We also extend our congratulations to all schools, in particular all Catholic schools for their achievements and their great work with their students.

Over the summer a number of works have been undertaken and are now complete and ready for students’ use. The works have included refurbishing the College hall floor, remarking, installing new rings and back boards bringing our hall up to required standard to host basketball at the College. Some classroom areas have been altered to increase the number of classrooms available as we undertake the massive job of refurbishing the Naylon Arts Wing. This project promises to be a very exciting undertaking for the College, and whilst it will cause issues for us this year the end product will worth the disruptions. The boys appear to be very excited and appreciative of the new works and we look forward to them making great use of these new facilities to enhance their time here at the College.

The completion of these projects and the addition of two new classrooms in the Occhienna building allows the College to undertake the works whilst still having enough classrooms to run our existing program. Final planning has now begun on the Arts Wing project, with demolition to commence at the end of Term 1 this year. This project will cause some inconvenience, however the end result as we can see with the Science Wing and all the other projects completed over the past few years will be well and truly worth it. Parallel to our building works we continue to review and upgrade our curriculum and work with our staff to ensure our boys receive an excellent 21st century education.

During the first few weeks the College has gathered or will gather on a number of occasions to launch the school year. Yesterday we had our College opening school mass where we welcomed in the new school year. Included in our celebrations was the welcoming of new staff and students with the presentation of all Year 7 students who received a College and house badge. We also inducted the 2015 College leaders. It was a wonderful gathering full of pomp and ceremony.

We gather this Thursday for our Year 7 and 9 Information Nights and we are hoping as many parents as possible will be able to join us to ensure we keep families well informed. In two weeks’ time we will once again gather for the 2015 Dux assembly where we will recognise the outstanding achievements of the students of the class of 2014 and the fine achievements of boys from all other year levels from last year. We extend an invitation to all in our community to join us for these celebrations.

The College would like to welcome the following staff, who either join us for the first time or are returning after a long break from the College.

Brendan Douglas (Assistant Principal – Students) RE
Christopher Ellison English
Alexandra Tsiavis English, RE
Katia Mimikos English, Humanities, RE
Drew Thomas VCAL
Jane Beams Humanities
Mary Stofridis VCAL
Phina Tran Maths, Sci
Domenic Scarpino Sports assistant
Daniel Pike IT assistant

 

I was fortunate to spend a week with the Salesians of the Australia Pacific region in Geelong at their bicentenary conference to open the year of the birth of Don Bosco. The conference title was Bosco, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. The gathering reflected on the works of Don Bosco as a means to planning a way forward for all Salesian institutions. The one theme that held throughout the conference was that of being present, something that John Bosco was always able to do for his boys. Don Bosco’s example calls on all of us to be a presence in the lives of the young with whom we work. To take their journey with them as they develop their humanness fully.

It started me thinking that many of us at various times are physically present when required but fail to be fully present with those around us. We allow the distractions our society bombards us with as well as our own issues to distract us from the people around us or being in the moment. We can all be guilty of wishing the moment away or wishing we were somewhere else. Whether we are wishing the weekend, the end of the term or even worse the end of the year would come around more quickly, or thoughts like I can’t wait until this week is finished or this task is over, or Year 12 is finished. Even thoughts like I can’t wait until I turn 18 so I can get my license or can’t wait til my great holiday can take us away from the here and now, taking us away from the moment, from the people and experiences we should be enjoying now. Losing focus on the moment and being distracted may lead to the experiences we have not being as rich or enjoyable.

Whilst there is a need for us to dream of what is to come and plan for the future, we can not let these thoughts distract us from today. In particular in education where planning and organising our precious time is crucial for success, we must remind ourselves to live in the present, to enjoy the people around us, to remain focused on the learning task at hand because it is these experiences that will fill us with joy as we look back. If we focus too hard on the future, we will miss these events and may look back with regret. How many times have we heard someone ruing their past and missed opportunities or wondering what ever happened to so and so. These regrets may be the result of people being in too much of hurry to get to a destination rather than enjoying the journey along the way.

I was reading an article written by Eve Simon on being present. She uses the story of Abraham and God’s request to sacrifice of his son to pose the question of how present are we willing to be. She asks if we were to get a call from God as Abraham did as he was about to sacrifice his son, would we respond as Abraham did with “Here I am” and be fully present, listening to the call or would we respond as if replying to a morning role call with “here” or ‘present” indicating our physical presence. She suggests rightly that physically being someplace is not the same as participating in your life.

With this in mind I ask the question, when you attend school each day this year will you respond, “here” meaning you are physically here or will you reply as Abraham did with “here I am” and be an active participant in your community with a greater presence to those around you. I encourage our Year 12 students to enjoy their final year with us, not to focus their attention too far into the future and to enjoy each moment as it comes, even the painful ones as when you look back it will be the fullness of the year that will give you the greatest sense of joy and fulfillment and help to give the final result a context.

To the rest of us I ask that we give of ourselves, to listen, to engage and to share the abundant joy on offer here in the Salesian College community. I leave you with a couple of thoughts to ponder over the 2015 school year.

‘If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.’
Author Unknown

‘The Present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive you will see it.’
Thich Nhat Hanh

‘Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.’
Buddha

And finally

‘Yesterday is history
Tomorrow is a mystery
Today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present
Learn from the past
Plan for the future
Live in the today.’

The first few weeks of a school year are always chaotic and the first week of 2015 at Salesian has been no different, however things have begun well, students have returned in good spirits and all goes well for a great year if we all take up the challenge of being fully present in everything that we do.

All the best to all in the community and enjoy what promises to be a great school year.

God Bless.

Robert Brennan
Principal