From the Principal

I would like to extend a very warm welcome back to all students and their families who make up the Salesian College Chadstone community for the 2016 School Year. In particular a very special welcome to all our new Year 7 students and their families as well as the boys joining us at the other year levels. I hope the students have had a good break and are ready to take up the challenges that the new school year presents.

The first few days back at school can often be a bit of a blur; new timetables, new classes and teachers, Year 12 Retreat, Year 7 Camp, Swimming carnival and all the other things occurring at the start the school year. These necessary, but disruptive activities, can affect our focus on what is important and what we need to be focussing on to ensure we get the year off to a great start. In this
e-News I encourage all the boys to seize the opportunity a new year brings, to cash in the abundance of energy we should have after a great holiday, to strike whilst the iron is hot and our minds clear. I will use the advice of Mr Andrew May later in my article to provide a few tips on how to achieve this.

Those of you who have visited the College in recent times will be aware that our significant project of refurbishing the Arts wing is nearing completion. The classrooms and the staff rooms have been ready for use. 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 finalisation of this project means that the College has completed another of our planned building projects from the master plan. Planning has now begun on the next project, the Applied Learning Centre, with a likely start expected in the next few weeks.

Over the first couple of weeks the College has gathered or will gather on a number of occasions to launch the school year. On Monday of last week, we had our College opening Whole School Mass where we welcomed in the new school year. Included in our new celebrations was the welcoming of new staff and students with the presentation to all students with the College badge. We also inducted the 2016 College leaders. It was a wonderful gathering full of pomp and ceremony. Next week we gather for one of the premier events of our school year, the “Dux Assembly’. We will acknowledge the outstanding achievements of boys across all year levels in their studies last year.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of attending Mass on two occasions, thus hearing the readings twice, and I couldn’t help reflecting on what they could mean for us today. The readings focused on three characters who felt themselves unworthy of God’s calling with God reassuring them that all He requires of them is a willingness on their behalf to take up His call. Isiah, Paul and Peter all recognised their shortcomings however they were more than willing to take up the call. I got to thinking both in a spiritual sense and in an intellectual sense, are we open to the call? Are we ready to do what is asked of us? The point coming out of the Readings is that neither God, nor people in our lives will ask of us something beyond our capabilities – rather, it all comes back to readiness to answer when we receive the call.

This tied in nicely to an article I read recently last week by Andrew May who presented a case for ‘Why goal setting and planning will leave you ready for success in 2016’.

His advice focused on three simple steps, to ponder, project and plan before undertaking a big project – in our case the school year that lies ahead. He suggested the need to do this before the school year gets away from us. He suggests that taking the time early to spend time taking stock of your goals, your ambitions, and what you want to achieve will help you have a successful year.

He suggests that goal setting costs no money (the best things in life are free) and involves the three following stages: pondering about the previous year, projecting about the year ahead, and planning for success.

I highlight the three stages Andrew May sets out for success, slightly adapting them to make them more school friendly.

Stage 1: Ponder

Reflect on the previous year

Setting up the year ahead is a lot like driving a car. The majority of the time needs to be future-focused and looking ahead, but it is also important to periodically check the rear view mirror. Think about all that has happened in 2015; the good, the bad, and everything in between by asking yourself some of the questions below:

  • What worked well in your studies?
  • What were your achievements?
  • What did you learn about yourself last year?
  • What did you do that was fun, spontaneous and exciting?
  • What lessons did you learn when things didn’t go so well?
  • What made you happy?
  • Which relationships helped you achieve your goals and which ones didn’t?
  • What didn’t work last year?

Slowing down and really thinking about these questions forces you to reflect and take stock of what has happened in the major areas of your life. It also helps identify gaps in your life.

Insight really is everything and whether you are pleasantly surprised or not, this activity provides real feedback on achievements and helps to reassess and plan for the coming 12 months.

Stage 2: Project

What does success look like for you in 2016? How can you apply this to your daily life? Is success gaining better grades? Is success merely using your time more wisely? Is having better relationships with your family and friends an important element of success?

Make sure you define this factor in your own terms and not by those around you. Grab a pen and some blank sheets of paper writing down or drawing all the possibilities for yourself in 2016.

Once you’ve solidified your terms of success, the next crucial thing to ask yourself is why. Why are these things important to you? Connecting to the ‘why’ will help you push through roadblocks and tough times when they appear because of the meaning and emotion attached.

Stage 3: Plan

Harness your attitude and energy. At some stage in the next 12 months the going will get tough, which is why attitude and energy are everything.

“Think about all of the resources you have available at your fingertips that you don’t have to pay money for or go to university to achieve,” “Success is not achieved purely through talent. Having the right energy levels and attitude can take you a long way in the corporate world.”

Look at simple things that make big, loud statements like:

  • Always be on time.
  • Be positive and bring energy to school and everything you do.
  • Turn off your pop-up email alert and get into the habit of managing your email and social media, rather than it managing you.
  • Lock in your fitness training sessions each week, get plenty of sleep and eat healthy foods (energy in the human body is driven by physical activity and the foods we consume).
  • Clean your shoes. Iron your uniform, present yourself with pride.
  • Reconnect with your Personal Vision. What is your calling or what is your compelling purpose that gets you out of bed each day?
  • Don’t just show up, be present. Actively listen and engage in each and every one of your classes.

Final tip: Summarise all of the above into a one-page plan – this can be either a list of specific goals, a key word (or words) to focus on, an acronym or an alliteration.

The best things in life are free. This process costs no money. All you need to do is lock in a few hours and maintain the discipline of drafting a plan specific to you and your desires for the year ahead. Here’s to making 2016 one of your best years yet.

Robert Brennan