From the Principal

Welcome back to the final term of the Year. It feels a little strange writing such as a greeting after being away for the past term. None the less I hope you all had a restful and enjoyable holiday and are now looking forward to a productive end to the year. Many people have asked how my travels were and as I suggested to them, anyone who can’t enjoy themselves in Europe for thirteen weeks probably couldn’t enjoy themselves anywhere. I had a wonderful and challenging break but more about that later. For now I look forward with anticipation to Term Four which always provides a number of positive events and celebrations as we mark the completion of the school year for the different year levels. In particular I look forward to our major celebrations farewelling the Class of 2015.

One such celebration will take place on Tuesday evening with the annual Salesian College Chadstone Arts and Technology Show. Our modified Expo provides all in the community a chance to observe the work our boys have completed in their Arts and Technology classes and to reflect on their achievements for the year. It is a joyous occasion being able to share the boys’ work with their parents and families as well as with other both current and future members of the College Community.

The next three weeks are a significant time for our Year 12 students as they make final preparations for their upcoming exams. I encourage them to focus on the advice of their teachers and to use their time wisely, making the best use of the resources available to them. I encourage parents to work with their sons to keep them on track and not to lose focus with all the other distractions that are placed in front of them at this time of the year. Celebrations should be put on hold until after their last exam.

I wish to share with you some thoughts I had whilst walking the Camino as well as a thought or two taken from a video clip I watched recently. Firstly the video clip from Q&A which highlighted the achievements of retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who was the first Canadian to walk in space. Chris articulated that through his space travels he had come to understand the notion that we are all in this together; that we all in some way contribute to the successes and failures we have as a society. He also spoke of the notion of goals, fear and the value of focussing on the ‘next step’ in order to reach the greater goal.

I found the clip interesting as I had very similar thoughts during my walk. When you’re walking six hours a day with only the next step to think about its amazing how things can become simpler and clearer. I have shared the following thoughts with a number of boys already but I think it worthwhile for all of us to contemplate. The Camino walk for those who are unaware is a 30 – 33 day, 780 KM walk across the north of Spain. It’s a very challenging walk, not only due to the distance but also due to the terrain which includes a series of mountains one has to climb and descend along the route. It can be both physically and mentally challenging. Dealing with the inevitable physical ailments, including blisters, strains, heat amongst others combines with the monotony of walking vast distances, day after day. I found the only way to ensure success was very simple, have a goal, whether it be a daily goal of getting to a certain village or a long term goal of getting to Santiago and go about undertaking small chunks / tasks that will assist in reaching those goals. It came down to simply taking the next step, putting one foot in front of the other just as the Canadian astronaut Chris suggested. To contemplate more than what could be achieved in the next session let alone the full walk was too much, it had the effect of becoming all too hard. I propose the same could be said of Year 12 and more importantly the next three or four weeks. The thought of all of the exams and all of the work needed to be completed makes the task seem impossible, so each student needs to set a series of short term and medium term goals. Divide the work up into to doable tasks and then go about putting one foot in front of the other and sticking to the task at hand. Only then will the job be manageable and the work load achievable.

The one thing I can guarantee by following this simple advice the sense of achievement and the satisfaction of knowing you have completed what you set out to do is wonderful. Whilst what you do and how you do it will be different from everyone else the ultimate feelings will be the same as you will have done your best and achieved your goals. All boys, can achieve the dreams they wish to achieve if they make a conscious decision to take steps now (or continue taking steps) in the last few weeks of their secondary education.

There is a tendency for some students to lose their way at this time of the year allowing themselves to get caught up in the ‘silly season’ too early. In schools the silly season does not only refer to the festive season, as the end of the school year can also fall into this category if we allow it to. We will continue to encourage the boys on a daily basis to study hard and place pressure on them to do their very best as they prepare for their exams. At the same time there will be talk of finishing and celebrations, however this should not give them the excuse of allowing these things to distract them from the job at hand. Students need to keep their lives in perspective, set their goals and go about achieving them on a daily basis.

Another thing to remember is that working hard does not give any one permission to be rude or obnoxious, it does not mean that family and friends should cease to exist for the next month and it certainly shouldn’t mean that any sense of joy is put on hold for the next month or so. As Chris suggested, we are all in this together. Staff, family and friends are all there to lend support to the boys as they undergo this difficult time and the boys have to remember this. In fact in their best interest that they ensure that their connectedness with those around them remains, as it is likely that it will be these connections which will provide the greatest support and sanity at this crazy time. I also encourage them to embrace the intensity of their existence at this time as it will be an appreciation of what they have done which will give them the greatest sense of satisfaction and joy when they reap the rewards of their labours.

I wish our students well in the coming weeks and remind them that we are right behind them and that they go with God’s blessing.

Rob Brennan