From the Principal

Welcome to Week Four of Term One 2016. It has been beautiful couple of weeks here at Salesian College Chadstone, finally getting some respite from the heat of summer. In spite of the trying conditions in the first few weeks, the boys have made a positive start to the school year. They are applying themselves well to all aspects of their schooling. There has been a real sense of joy amongst the community, which, I hope we are able to maintain for the remainder of the year.

We had a couple of occasions last week where we gathered as a community to celebrate the wonderful things happening around the College. On Friday I was fortunate to attend the ACC swimming carnival at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre to watch our boys compete. It was a magnificent evening. Our boys were very competitive and finished a solid third at the carnival. Also very pleasing was the number of staff who travelled along to support the boys.

On Tuesday 16 February, the College gathered for our annual Dux Assembly to celebrate the achievements of the boys from the Class of 2015 as well as highest achievers in other year levels from last year. This gathering is a significant gathering and always a highlight of the year. Once again it was a wonderful gathering and it was great to have the boys of the Class of 2015 back in the community to recognise their achievements. Congratulations Mr John Visentin and all staff involved in bringing the gathering together.

I have included my address I gave at the assembly for your consideration:

Today we gather to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding acheivements of the highest performing students of 2015, in particular the boys of the Class of 2015 who excelled in their final year of their secondary studies. Whilst I’m sure we all sit here in awe of these boys and their accomplishments, some of us may fail to truly understand the extent of their acheivement  and possibly more importantly how it is they were able to attain what they did.

Our College Dux, Nimesh Kularatne achieved the highest ATAR score in the College’s history along the way collecting four subject dux awards – a great example to all of us. To achieve an ATAR greater than 90, to be the dux of a year level, an individual subject, or to be a recipient of a Salesian College Scholarship is an amazing acheivement, one that is 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 of these boys did not come easily, contrary to what many may think. These results are far more than an indication of how inteligent these boys are. Rather they are the combined efforts of using their God given talents, applying them and working extremely hard to ensure they achieved results commensurrate with their abilities.

There is no amount of words, regardless of how elequently spoken that articulates the outstanding work, the effort they put in or pain they endured to reach the level of acheivement they did. All I can say is that all of these boys have done themselves, their parents and their teachers proud and in doing so they have contributed greatly to the pride of the College.

These boys dared to dream, they worked hard, showed persistence, resilience, and they overcome obstacles to prosper. I wish to congratulate them all and wish them every success in the future.

What can we take from their example to make us better students and ultimately better people?

These boys shared a number of traits and characteristics

  • Talent
  • Persistence
  • Resilience
  • Ability to work hard
  • A willingness to seek help
  • A willingness to give things a go
  • Purpose or direction

I want you to ask yourself ‘what do you see as the importance or purpose of your education?’ I ask this as it is only when you see a purpose to what you are doing that you are likely to commit to undertake the work necessary to succeed.

I encourage you to think wider than the simple restrictive purpose to get into the course of choice or to get a job as this will limit the value you may get from such a rich and broad education offered you. To assist I provide some words of wisdom from Carl Rogers who said “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Open your mind to the possibility that your education is the vehicle to change you from who you are today to the one you wish to be in the future. Changing you by increasing your knowledge, giving you new skills; opening your mind to new possibilities.

Once you have done this you will come to understand what you need to do to achieve your goals There are no big secrets, there are no magic wands, it purely a matter of setting your goals, setting a plan in place to achieve those goals and finally doing the work required to meet those goals To steal a phrase “the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary”.

It is important for you to consider what you want to do in life because if you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want now, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with the life you get and possibly don’t want.

My final point for you today relates to some words of wisdom from the great man Nelson Mandela who said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

I use this because the education we provide here at Salesain College asks more of you than good VCE or academic results. It calls all of us to change the world. It compells us to live our lives in a manner that will build a world where the kingdom of God is evident. A Salesian education calls us to fight injustices we see in the world, to challenge intolerance and promote acceptance. If we are successful in educationg you young men,  and we impart the Christian values we believe so strongly in, then you will live this dream, you will be counter cultural, be idealistic and challenge the false messages you recieve through the media. You will challenge the belief that wealth, material possesions and a position of power one holds are the ultimate measure of success. You will 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 this life.

The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson. – Tom Bodett

Reflecting on the achievements of the boys I couldn’t help but make connections to an article I was reading the other day entitled the ‘6 Things The Most Productive People Do Every Day’. Whilst it was an interesting read and made some good points most of it boiled down to common sense that all of our boys could use if they wished to be more productive. In the end the author listed the following six things as being keys to being productive:

  1. Manage Your Mood
  2. Don’t Check Email in The Morning
  3. Before You Try To Do It Faster, Ask Whether It Should Be Done At All
  4. Focus Is Nothing More Than Eliminating Distractions
  5. Have A Personal System
  6. Define Your Goals The Night Before

I would like to unpack a few of his ideas and put my own bent on them. His first tip of managing your mood is the most important in my opinion. I have always been of the opinion that the one thing we can control is our attitude which can be linked to our mood and the longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important the past, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace that day. We cannot change our past, we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we do is play on the one thing we have and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens and 90% how I react to it. So I say ‘you are in charge of your attitude’.

As for his second tip, I fail, as generally the first thing I do each morning is check my emails. In some ways this tip is linked to tip five and that is, ‘find what works for you’. Tip three is vital, sometimes referred to as prioritising, sometimes I’ve heard it asked as the question should I be working smarter rather than harder? All these are saying the same thing and that is work efficiently and be selective about the things we do.

Tip four is sound advice to us all, to focus on the task at hand and don’t allow the millions of distractions that bombard us every minute of the day to distract us from what we should be doing. For our boys this can be harder than they think with Facebook, internet, phones, texts, and the myriad of other distractions in their lives. This is particularly important when they sit down to do their homework and study.

The final two tips are important as they instruct us to know what works for us and stick to it. There are many ways of going about the same task but we need to find the one that works for us and stick to it. Finally setting goals is crucial for success. Whether they be short term, long term or as he suggests daily goals they all allow us to plan our time, put plans in place that will guide us through the maze of life.

I wish everyone a great week and may God bless us all.

Robert Brennan