From the Principal

Welcome to Week four of Term One 2015. Once again I find myself being blown away by how quickly the weeks fly by in a school year. We have made a great start to the year with the boys settling in very well. There has been a real sense of pride and joy amongst the community evident in a number of the events and activities that we have undertaken thus far. All goes well for the remainder of the year if this attitude remains.

We had a couple of occasions over the past two weeks where we gathered as a community to celebrate the wonderful things happening around the College.

Last Friday all the boys and staff ventured down to Oakleigh pool for the annual swimming carnival in very warm conditions. The day ran very well with lots of enthusiasm especially early as the boys’ competed house against house. In the end Annecy were victorious but in my mind everyone in attendance was a winner. I would like to thank Mr Paul Groves and the PE staff for their organisation of the carnival and all other staff for their support and contribution on the day. This Friday the ACC Swimming Carnival will take place at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. I would like to wish the boys all the best as I know they have been getting up early and training very hard to ensure they represent themselves and the College with pride. I’m sure our boys will be very competitive and give it their best. Staff will travel along to support the boys, with the additional support to come from a very vocal and enthusiastic cheer squad made up of a number of Year 12 students. No doubt the boys will cheer and yell and sing throughout the night adding greatly to the occasion.

On Tuesday the College gathered for our annual Dux assembly to celebrate the achievements of the boys from the Class of 2014 as well as high achievers in other year levels from last year. This gathering is always a significant gathering, however, this year’s event seemed to have a special feel about it. I am not sure if it was the outstanding results, the pride of the boys, or the fact that we had in excess of 200 parents and friends join us for the celebrations. Whatever it was, it contributed to a joyous occasion for the College and as always will be a highlight for the year. Once again it was a wonderful to be able to recognise the achievements of all boys who excelled last year. Congratulations to Mr John Visentin and all staff involved in bringing the gathering together. At the assembly I spoke of the hard work and persistence required to achieve such outstanding results. The boys we recognised encouraged all the boys to take a leaf out of their books and emulate their achievements.

Principal Robert Brennan’s 2014 Dux Address

We gather today to celebrate and acknowledge the acheivements of the Class of 2014 as well as other students across other Year levels who excelled in their studies last year. There are no amount of words, regardless of how elequent, that can give true recognition to their acheivements. The boys we recognised today not only did themselves and their parents proud, they also contributed greatly to the pride of the College, both  within our community and outside the community.
Whilst I understand that this was never their sole motivation or even their intention as their motivation would have been driven by a personal desire to achieve a goal and to get into a course of their choice; none the less all of us in the community have benefited from their efforts.

To go into the annuls as the dux of the College, or dux of a given subject, to be in fine company as a recipient of a Salesian College Scholarship is an amazing acheivement, one that will be recorded for prosperity for others to follow and to try to emulate. To all these boys I say congratulations on a job well done.
The results these boys achieved would not have come easily, contrary to what many of you may think. These results are far more than an indication of how inteligent these boys are, rather they are the combined affects of using their God given talents and applying them and working extremely hard to ensure they achieved results commensurrate with their abilities.
These boys dared to dream, to overcome their fears and other obstacles put in their way to prosper. Their dedication and hard work allowed them to set their own paths without undue influence of their peers allowing them to reach the heights they did. I wish to congratulate them and wish them every success in the future.

So what does this all mean for us the 2015 Salesian College Community? What can we take away from today’s gathering to make us better students and ultimately better people?
I’m going to use a sporting analogy to make a couple of points, good preparation and hard work are crucial for success; and secondly how you go about obtaining success is of equal importance.
Now I could use any elite sport but I am going to stick with what I know best and use AFL. A common factor to all sports and all elite athletes is an amazing work ethic and a desire to do whatever it takes to prepare themselves for competition and ultimately sporting success. Vince Lombardi summed it up best when he said “Football is like life – it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority.”
We often hear commentators or club spokespeople defend a good player whose season is not up to their normal standards. Quite regularly they will link the underperformance back to a lack of preparation or a limited preparation due to injury or illness. It is common knowledge that when a player is unable to prepare in the same meticulous way as they have in the past due to injury or illness their performance drops off.
So you might ask how this is relevant to us in a school setting.  The answer is quite simple, the need for us to prepare and to work hard is no different if we wish to get the best out of ourselves and to achieve success. Whilst there will always be one or two boys limited by illness or circumstance that greatly impact on their ability to prepare themselves for the rigors of study, for most of us a lack of preparation comes down to personal choice, a slackness within ourselves that limits the academic impact we have in a given year.

There are a number of factors that will influence how well we prepare, acknowledging these and addressing them in your own way will assist in your search for good results.
The most important of which is desire – real desire, a desire that means we are willing to overcome obstacles and forgo some pleasures in life in our pursuit of the ultimate success
•    Overcoming distractions such as electronic devices and social media
•    Not socializing too often
•    Avoiding procrastination which can be the greatest killer of good intentions
•    Being organised – on an hourly, daily, weekly, termly and ultimately a yearly basis
•    Setting ourselves achievable goals
•    Working in a team
•    Knowing and following the rules
•    Doing extra work – being willing to do more than just what is expected
•    Surrounding yourself with positive people

My message this morning does not only apply to the Year 12 students, once again I will use the same analogy to explain why. In the AFL there is a clear understanding that apart from one or two elite players it takes two to three preseasons for a boy drafted at 18 years of age to be truly ready for the rigors of an AFL season. It takes that time to attune their bodies, to get used to the routine and the demands of an AFL season.
I would argue the same is true of achieving good academic results. As with the AFL draftees there will be exceptions, but for most of us, obtaining good results requires lots of hard work and preparation. The early years of our studies are all about setting routines and getting used to the demands of education. Our learning is dependent on a series of developments built up over the years and so we need to use the early years to prepare ourselves for the rigours of the VCE.

The second point I wish to make is that it is not only our results that are significant, in fact I would argue the way we go about achieving our results is more important. This is where the class of 2014 and many before them at Salesian College Chadstone have and been truly inspirational. It has been the way they have gone about achieving their results that has set them apart. These boys were not merely academics, rather they were fine young men, great ambassadors for the College. The way they interacted with their peers, other students and staff was a credit to them. They have left a legacy for this College.
So as equally as important as our results are, is the way we go about achieving them here at the College. History shows that having a great culture or way of doing things tends to breed success, and a poor culture can have an equally detrimental effect on the success of a community. Going back to my analogy of football, it is obvious that in AFL circles the clubs with the strongest cultures are also the clubs that have the greatest success. Clubs with strong cultures such as Hawthorn, Sydney, and Geelong are renowned and have enjoyed great success and when you compare them to my own club which for a long time has had a poor culture and has had no success.

We are fortunate here at Salesian in that our expected culture is set out for us, given to us through the life of Jesus Christ and then exemplified by St John Bosco. This culture has the strength to endure all and more if we remain true to it. Living the culture set down for us calls us to be counter cultural, be idealistic and to challenge the false messages we recieve through the media. It calls us to challenge the belief that wealth,  material possesions and the number of friends we have on face book are the ultimate measure of success. We must campaign loud and strong that the true and ultimate success will not be judged in this life rather it will be formulated on the higher criteria of how we love and help other people in our lives. Compassion, respect and forgiveness should be witnessed daily if our culture is true to John Bosco and ultimately to Jesus Christ. This is an enourmous challenge, but I know God will be there to guide your hearts and minds, and he will provide whatever graces, patience, and stamina it takes to see it through.

Each of you has been gifted in a particular way in order that you might work to bring about the vision of God. Your God-given gifts and talents, honed by your life experiences, your joys and sadness’s , your triumphs, your successes and your failures have worked together to bring you to this moment, they have made you who you are today and will continue to form you into the future. How you continue to do this in your life will be determined by how hard you’re willing to work, the persistence you’re willing to show and your commitment to live a life modelled on St John Bosco and Jesus Christ. Remembering as Newt Gingrich suggested “that perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did”

I want you to take strength from the knowledge that hard work and persistence will empower you, they will take you out of your ‘comfort zone,’ but they will give you the strength and courage to step into the unfamiliar.
So work hard at everything that life has to offer, as it is crucial that you enjoy all that this year and life beyond brings. I am sure many wonderful experiences lie ahead, lots of highs and lows, all of which will ultimately add to your growth as a person. Hard work is not the only element that lies ahead, Friendships, sporting triumphs, academic successes, will be some of the experiences that are sure to come your way if you persist and work hard. So as Steve Maraboli, once said “Make a pact with yourself today to not be defined by your past. Sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your hard work isn’t what you get for it, but what you become for it. Shake things up today! Be You…Be Free…Share.”

Mr Robert Brennan