From the Principal

Welcome to Week Six of Term 1, the last full week of the term. It’s a good week as we look forward to a long weekend and the short week that follows. Things continue to roll along nicely in spite of the unseasonably hot weather for this time of the year. I’m sure many in the community share my wish that we get a bit of break from the heat to recharge the batteries.

We are coming off a very busy period in the school year with the numerous events or activities that have taken place in a very short amount of time, so the long weekend comes at the perfect time. I hope all in the community will be able to use the long weekend to take a deep breath, catch up on anything we have let slip and ready themselves for the final two weeks of term.

The Year 12 students will be well and truly immersed in their studies, busily completing class work, homework and the SACs. We hope they are preparing themselves well for these, as I know the staff will be doing everything in their power to prepare the students as best they can.

During the past week there have been a number of activities taking place adding to the breadth of education our students are offered here at Salesian College. Our Year 9 students headed off on their camps last week at three different venues around Victoria. Reports indicate that they all went well given the trying conditions and the boys all had a wonderful time. I’m sure there were a few tired Year 9 boys over the weekend. The activities on offer also included a bus load of musicians heading off on their annual music camp last week. Once again it was reported that the camp was very successful with all the boys working hard and having a great time. We thank all involved for the continued support for the music program.

These activities take staff and students away from their classes and in some cases away from their families. We wish to thank them all for their commitment in undertaking these activities and ensuring the educational experience our students receive is diverse and of the highest quality. In particular I would like to thank the staff who give of their own time to accompany the boys on these camps and provide them with the tuition and support needed to improve their music.

Over the past week a number of staff have had the pleasure of interviewing the boys and their families who will join us next year. This job is always a positive undertaking as we get to meet some wonderful young men who will bring their own gifts and talents to continue the story of Salesian College. The numbers of applications are up again this year with a record number of applications being received. This is great news for the College and I would like to thank Mrs Mary Menz for all the work she does in welcoming the boys and families into our community especially at this time where it can be quite stressful for them. Also to all the staff who have given up their time either on Saturday morning or one of the evenings this week to undertake this vital task, it is very much appreciated.

Expansion of the Headstart Program

In the last edition of the newsletter, Mr Carter mentioned the importance of boys in all year levels getting off to a good start. This is particularly important for our senior students whose academic year is always shorter than the junior boys.  With this in mind I would like to remind all in the community of the decision that was taken for the Year 10 boys to join with our Year 11 students to commence their VCE studies immediately after Melbourne Cup this year.

For a number of years now, students moving into Year 12 have had the benefit of four weeks of a VCE Unit 3 Headstart Program which commences immediately after their Year 11 exams conclude.  Whilst this has been a particularly valuable initiative, one of the consequences has been that the Year 11 program, with its prescribed VCAA outcomes and work requirements, has become quite rushed.

As it is much easier to adjust the Year 10 curriculum because it is not mandated by VCAA, we have decided to shorten Year 10 to allow an extra four weeks to be added to the Year 11 program.

In practical terms, this means that all boys entering Years 11 and 12 in 2017 will actually begin their transition on Thursday 3 November.  As a consequence the Year 10 and 11 Semester One exams start on Friday 27 May.  This is nine school weeks away!  It is very important, therefore, that Year 10 boys are really getting stuck into their studies so that they can set themselves up for a successful year and a fruitful beginning to their Year 11 studies. This is particularly important for all boys in Years 9, 10 and 11 to be aware of as their results in Semester One will be a determining factor for subject selection in many subject areas, especially for boys wishing to accelerate their studies in a VCE unit. We encourage them to be working hard in all their subjects and we wish them well in what is a very busy and short time.
My thought this week comes after reading an Article by Leo Barbuto titled ‘Letting Go of Judging People’ Monday, January 27, 2014.
Leo made the point that one of the best changes he’d made in his life was to learn to see judging other people as a red flag. He believes that his ability to recognise that he is judging someone has led to him being a happier person.
He makes the point that we all judge other people, as it’s either a built-in method all humans have, or something we develop because of built-in methods.
The point he makes is that he has become better at noticing when it happens. And recognizing that it’s a sign of something harmful. He suggests the judging itself isn’t bad. It’s what the judging is a symptom of that’s harmful, “harmful” instead of “bad” because instead of judging I’d rather observe that it causes harm.
He proposes a number of reasons judging can be harmful including that judging may occur because one is:
•    ignorant of what the person is going through.
•    lacking understanding of the situation.
•    unrealistic in their expectations of people.
•    feeling superior to other people.
•    not grateful.
•    being self-centred.
•    closed off to all learning.
•    putting themselves in a position where they can’t really help the situation from a place of judgment.
He then gives some hints on how we can ‘Let Go of Judging’.
First he suggests we be aware that we’re doing it, and see it as a red flag. It’s not horrible to judge, but it’s a good sign that other things are going on that are harming you and others.
Recognise the symptoms that tell you you’re judging — if you feel angry or frustrated or dismissive of someone. If you’re complaining about someone, or gossiping about them. These are signs you’re judging. Recognize what’s going on.
After you notice the red flag, pause and be curious. Don’t get mad at yourself, but be curious:
•    Why are you judging?
•    What expectations do you have that are unrealistic?
•    What can you guess about what the other person is really going through?
•    Can you find out more? (This isn’t always realistic but sometimes you can.)
•    What about the other person can you appreciate?
•    Can you get out of your self-centeredness and put yourself in the other person’s shoes?
•    Can you imagine a time when you were going through something similar?
Once you’ve done that, ask yourself: How can you help? What does this person need? Sometimes they just need someone to listen, someone to be a friend, someone to not judge, someone to accept them. Sometimes they need more — advice, a guide, a hug.
But you can’t help them from a place of judgment. Only when you let go of the judgment that has arisen, and come to a place of acceptance and curiosity and empathy, can you really help. And incidentally, you’ll be a lot happier in the process.
I wish you well in your endeavours and hope we can all be less judgemental and be more empathetic and compassionate to those around us.

God bless.

Robert Brennan