From the Principal

Welcome to Term 2 to all of the Salesian College community. I hope everyone was able to enjoy a holy and joy filled Easter break and were able to spend some quality time with loved ones. It has been a good start to the term and it hasn’t taken long for the boys to get back into full swing. Everything has started well with students and staff working away diligently to ensure great teaching and learning is taking place. Students appear to have returned refreshed and ready to undertake the work required to guarantee their success.

The first few weeks of Term 2 are jam packed with a myriad of activities that will require extra work on the part of staff and students. Last week we celebrated the re-opening and blessing of the newly refurbished Naylon Arts Wing. The gathering was exceptional and an event for which the College can be very proud. The College student leaders did a great job leading the ceremony assisting Fr Greg Chambers, Salesian Provincial, and Bishop Mark Edwards in blessing and re-opening the building.

Today the Year 11 students have headed off to Rowville to participate in the Year 11 Retreat. I hope the boys enjoy the day’s activities and reap the benefits of all the work and preparation the staff have put into bringing the day to fruition. I wish the staff and students involved in these activities and all the others including ACC sport all the best and hope the good weather continues for them. These activities enhance the work we are doing in the classroom, however, they do place an extra burden on all involved. The College thanks the staff who have organised these activities for their students and continue to give of themselves for the sake of the students in their care.

I would like to mention the ANZAC ceremony organised for Friday morning. All in the community will pause for fifteen minutes to remember and reflect on the selfless acts of all service men and women who have given so much of themselves throughout history to protect the lifestyle we enjoy today.

Whilst reflecting on the service of of our war veterans I pondered the relevance to us and in particular to our student body in our contemporary world. The idea I would like to take up is that of recovering from adversity or being knocked off course. What can we take from their ability to return to some sort of normality after their lives were interrupted for years, sometimes permanently in the case of our wounded veterans? In what ways can we recover from the obstacles or hurdles we face that take us away from our routine or knock us of course and continue to function and contribute to our own lives and communities?

Thankfully we are not faced with having to go to war or to put our lives on the line like our war veterans and we can only pray we won’t be required to make the same adjustments or sacrifices in the near future. However, this should not stop us from asking ourselves in what ways can we display true courage when faced with adversity. With this in mind I pose the following as a challenge to all of us in the community.

I was reading an article titled ‘Getting Knocked Off Course’ by one of my former students, Ryan Waight. In his article, he argues that our ability to recover from being knocked off course or recovering from the adversities in our lives will go a long way to us being successful in our lives. He proposes a number of ways in which we can get knocked off course, some of them avoidable, others unavoidable and some that are self-inflicted including but not limited to: Sickness, injury, personal issues, and holidays. Not all of these factors are negative, however, they all have the potential to disrupt our routines or daily habits. When our lives are interrupted we can lose our way a little, taking time to get ourselves back on track. He has two pieces of advice to help us in fast tracking the recalibration process when we’ve lost our mojo due to circumstance:

1. Not allowing yourself to get too far off course during a forced break.

For example, when having a holiday break, enjoy yourself and enjoy the break, allow yourself to unwind and relax, but not at the expense of jeopardising the momentum that’s been built, i.e. study, exercise or diet. If you have established good behaviours don’t allow yourself to fall back into past behaviours during this time.

2. Get back into routine as soon as possible.

If you feel like you’ve drifted off course, it’s important to go about rectifying the situation rapidly. As we are habitual creatures, the longer you leave it the more difficult it will be to regain the ground that you’ve lost.

Ryan also tells us to remember two things about getting knocked off course.
One, it is not a matter of if but when, therefore be prepared to be resilient through the recalibration process. And two, try to avoid continuous self-inflicted deviation in your lifestyle.

I finish off with a quote from Jimmy Dean “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

This advice was backed up by Tim Harford an economist, journalist and broadcaster who in a short video titled “how frustration can make us more creative” uses two stories of people who have used adversity or an obstacle to their advantage. He tells the story of 17 year old German girl, Vera Brandhurst, the youngest ever German music promoter who had organized for Keith Jarrot a famous American jazz artist to perform in Koln. Unfortunately upon arrival Jarrot had found the piano he was to play on not suitable. Issues included the wearing of the felt which made upper register notes sound tinny and out of tune. He refused to play unless a new piano could be found. Whilst Vera did her best to find a piano at short notice she failed. Broken and dispirited she approached Jarrot who was sitting in his car, it was pouring rain, and he took a look at her in a bedraggled state, took pity on her and said he would do it, only for her. As he played he avoided playing the upper register, played with a passion and gusto in an attempt for the music coming from this inferior instrument to be loud enough that the people in the back stalls could hear it. The audience loved the performance and the recording went on to be the best selling jazz album in history.

He also tells the story where a study of fonts and the difficulty to read some of them. A university study found that students who were given their exams in the difficult to read fonts out performed students provided exams with more typically used fonts. They found that due to the difficulty students took more time and care in reading questions and responded accordingly. These stories show clearly that confronted with a difficulty doesn’t or shouldn’t allow us to give up. Persistence and resilience are two great characteristics of successful people.

Last week we had the task of finalising the list of students to whom we will offer a place in Year 7 for the 2017 school year. This process is one that can bring great joy, yet at the same time provide a sense of frustration and sadness. The joy comes from meeting some outstanding young men who wish to study at Salesian College, Chadstone and being able to offer them a place. The frustration and sadness comes from the possibility of not being able to offer all of them a place. I am confident all the boys we will offer a place will live up to our expectations and be great ambassadors for the College, however, I am equally confident that the boys who have missed a place will do the same for their schools given the opportunity. We wish all the boys every success and happiness where ever they are in 2017 and pray that they are aware of God’s presence in their lives through their secondary education.

I hope we all enjoy a productive and joyous second term and we all take pride in what we do.

Rob Brennan