From the Principal

Welcome to week six as we hit the half way mark of Term two. Once again there has been much happening here at Salesian College as we continue to witness the wonderful deeds of our boys and the great efforts of the staff to provide the boys and their families with rich and rewarding experiences. Last week was a very busy one for our Year 7 and 9 students as they undertook their NAPLAN tests. ACC sport continues unabated with the College having mixed results.

On Monday night I had the pleasure of being in the audience for the Annual Autumn Concert. It was a wonderful show highlighted by performances of traditional pieces from the College bands and the mega production with Year 7 boys displaying their newly acquired talents. In addition to these we witnessed some new initiatives with the inaugural performances of a number of new ensembles. We had a percussion group, an acapella group and a guitar ensemble adding variety to this already prodigious tradition. As I mentioned at the concert, there are three groups of people who enable an event such as our Autumn Concert, to come to life. Our parents through their support, whether it be bringing their sons to early morning rehearsals, stretching their already stretched budgets to pay for the lessons or most importantly turning up to the event itself. The second group is the teachers who work tirelessly behind the scenes teaching and guiding the students giving up their mornings or lunchtimes to ensure the readiness of the boys to perform. Finally, the boys themselves who also give of their time before and after school and during lunchtimes all with very little recognition outside the music area. To all these people I say thank you and congratulations for what you bring to the College. I use a quote of St John Bosco to highlight the importance the music program to the College community. “A school without music is a school without soul.”

This week I would like to highlight three special events that have taken place over the past two weeks which demonstrate the beautiful community we are privileged to be part of here at Salesian College. The first is one I mentioned in my previous newsletter the inaugural Rite Journey breakfast celebrated by the Year 9 students and their parents a couple of weeks ago.

The second occurred Friday week ago when the College celebrated our fifth annual Mothers’ Day Mass and Breakfast. Salesian College staff, students and parents celebrated Mothers’ Day by attending our morning Mass, followed by a lovely breakfast in the new Fr Jennings room.  It was a wonderful way to start the Mothers’ Day weekend! It was lovely to see so many of our boys and their mothers together. Mothers’ Day is about reflecting and acknowledging the women in our lives who have nurtured us, and, who through memories or presence, continue to mould us into being the best versions of ourselves.

We hope everyone enjoyed our Mother’s Day celebrations as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. Our thanks to the Parents’ Association, RE Department, Fr Frank Bertagnoli, Br Barry, Barb and the Canteen staff, Maintenance and Admin staff for their assistance and in particular the students, staff and of course our parents, for making this a lovely morning; a collective effort that again, brings us together.

It was a great success, with numbers in attendance increasing again from last year. It appears all in attendance enjoyed what was quite an emotional gathering. It was beautiful to witness the wonderful relationships shared by the boys and their mums and in some cases their grand mums. The boys rose to the occasion making sure mum was well looked after with a cup of tea and something to eat, taking the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company.

The third took place last Thursday evening where the College held its first ever Mother and Son evening for our Year 7 boys. Unfortunately I was in Sydney at a meeting and not able to attend but I have been informed that it was a beautiful evening shared by a great number of our Year 7 boys and their mums.

I think that as I reflect on these events it is a good opportunity to take some time to think about the wonderful people our mums are. As I was looking for something enlightening to say I remembered a story I read many years ago which I found quite beautiful. It highlights the importance of mums and family and reminds us all of the importance a simple kind deed can make to someone’s life. I share the story with you as a reminder of how lucky we are to have a great mum in our lives.

Author unknown

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same.  However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath.  In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.  It got to the point where Mrs Thompson would  actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X’s and then putting a big ‘F’ at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s past records and she put Teddy’s off until last.  However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy’s first grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh.  He does his work neatly and has good manners… He is a joy to be around.’

His second grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is an excellent student, well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.’

His third grade teacher wrote, ‘His mother’s death has been hard on him.  He tries to do his best, but his father doesn’t show much interest, and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren’t taken.’

Teddy’s fourth grade teacher wrote, ‘Teddy is withdrawn and doesn’t show much interest in school.  He doesn’t have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class.’

By now, Mrs Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy’s.  His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.  Mrs Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.  Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children’s laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist.  Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, ‘Mrs Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to.’

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.  On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.  Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy.  As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her ‘teacher’s pets.’

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy.  He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honours.  He assured Mrs Thompson that she was still the best and favourite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came.  This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further.  The letter explained that she was still the best and favourite teacher he ever had.  But now his name was a little longer…. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there.  You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married.  He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.  Of course, Mrs Thompson did.  And guess what?  She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr Stoddard whispered in Mrs Thompson’s ear, ‘Thank you Mrs Thompson for believing in me.  Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference.’

Mrs Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back.  She said, ‘Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn’t know how to teach until I met you.’

(For you that don’t know, Teddy Stoddard is the Doctor at Iowa Methodist in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)
To finish on here is a couple of quotes about mums to contemplate as well as a reading from the bible.

Mums are as relentless as tides, they don’t just drive us to practice, they drive us to greatness. Steven Rushin (With this in mind we have to forgive mum as she nags us about our homework and study as it may be just the tonic to drive us to greatness in our studies.)

There has never been, nor will there ever be, anything quite so special as the love between a mother and son. Author unknown

I use this special reference: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as it sums up the love a mother has for her children.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all.

God bless and remember to tell mum how much she means to you and remember to bring some kindness and love to those you meet.

Rob Brennan