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From the Principal
The year continues to fly past at a great rate of knots, as we are already into Week 4 of the last term. The past two weeks have been great for the College, a time in the school year that is always highly anticipated but also a week that has the potential to go off the rails for so many reasons. We were able to bid farewell to a wonderful group of young men in a fitting way at the College Valedictory Assembly on Friday October 14. The assembly was a fine celebration of the Class of 2016 and a great credit to the boys. There were many highlights, the Valedictory speech given by our College Captain, Joshua Knight, the handing over of Student Leadership, a farewell to Fr Julian Cavarzan after spending 52 years in the Salesian College community and the ever popular awarding of the House Shields. It was also marvellous to recognize the Year 12 students who had achieved the highest internal score for their subject. We have been blessed by this year’s Year 12 students who brought a sense of joy and fun to everything they did. It is always an emotional week with the excitement of students finishing their last class, the nervous tension that comes with looking in to a future no longer supported by the Salesian College community, and the anxiety that comes with the realization that exams are finally upon us. The Class of 2016 leaves having made a unique and wonderful contribution to the history of Salesian College Chadstone.
As the class of 2016 leaves, we ask God’s blessing on them and that He keeps them safe as they head into exams and into a time of great celebrations. We hope the Year 12 students leave with fond memories of their time at Salesian College and in the knowledge that they have been given the opportunity to acquire skills and experiences that will serve them well in their lives beyond the College, and more importantly than this, is they leave knowing that they are loved.
We gathered on the evening of Monday October 17 with the Year 12 boys and their parents to celebrate the Eucharist for the final time, to pray, to reflect and to give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us this year. As a community we gave thanks for many things including the educational environment in which we operate, for our staff and the many talents they bring to our community but the greatest of these blessings is the students entrusted into our care bringing with them all their gifts and talents as well as their quirks. In particular we gave thanks for the Class of 2016 for all that they have done, for all they have achieved, and most importantly, for all that they are.
In my farewell to the boys I used the theme of story, thanking them for their contribution to the Salesian College story. A story that is incomplete reminding them the end of classes doesn’t mean the end of hard work, or the end of their story. I encouraged the boys to keep their celebrations low key until after the exams as there is still much work to be done. For the vast majority of subjects there is still 50% of the marks up for grabs. We encourage them to use their time wisely to ensure the best preparation possible. I also reminded them that fairy tales don’t come true so the story they create is totally dictated by them, they have total control over the ending. I have included my speech for those who may wish to read it or revisit it.
With one class finishing, another begins, so as part of the transition we have appointed the College leaders for the coming year. At the Valedictory assembly we named and presented to the College all the leaders for 2017. I would like to congratulate all students who nominated for these positions, as it takes a lot of courage to put yourself forward and take a risk. I would like to congratulate all the boys on their appointment to positions of leadership. In particular, to our 2017 College Captain Stefano Mascaro, College Vice Captains Lachlan Magee and Peter Pamouktsis, I say well done and wish them all the best for the coming year. I am sure they will lead the College with great distinction and I look forward to working with them next year. I implore you to remember that the model of leadership we should all aspire to is the one modeled by Jesus Christ, leadership centered on service.
‘I want to tell you a story about a happy ending. Like all good happy endings, it begins with a fairy tale. It isn’t a magical fairy tale. There are no magic carpets, genies or fairy dust, but it does have magic.
Once upon a time, in Salesian land, came a collection of young men, seeking wisdom, direction and a new place to share their story. They searched confusedly through the myriad of challenges life threw at them, until they came upon the enticing, exciting land of Don Bosco. They knew this from the signs and statue at the entrance to the land
“Don Bosco,” they cried, forgoing the formalities, “What is this place and should I come in?”
Moving from the shadows, Don Bosco and his confreres took a collective slow breath then began to speak in a calm, soothing voice, “This is a place where those who spend their days and nights sharing stories with others may gather. Here they search for knowledge and wisdom, exchange techniques and tips, let each other know of conventions, classes and concerts, a place of storytelling – what it was, what it is, and what it is becoming.
“And, of course, there are stories. There are always stories.”
You may be wondering why I have chosen such an introduction on this most prestigious occasion where we come together to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the class of 2016. Let me explain; there are two reasons, firstly, “Storytelling is an age-old tradition that has existed since the dawn of time in every culture there ever was. It exists in many forms: the traditional folktales around a camp fire, the chanted cultural histories of the African Griot, the mythological stories brought to life by teachers and seekers, the subtle profundities of fairy tales, the ingenuities of teaching tales… All these things and more are part of the grand traditions of storytelling. So what better way to unpack the tales of these fine young men.
My second reason is a little more cynical, challenging the very notion of fairy tales. Many in the community would have us believe that fairy tales do come true. Buy this and you will become an instant success, use this and you will be irresistible, back this and you will be rich. This way of thinking has even crept into the sporting world over the past six months. The media wants us to believe that fairy tales do come true on the sporting field, that some sort of magic intervenes in some randomly chosen groups to deliver them a happy ever after scenario. They would have you believe Leicester City in the EPL, Cronulla in NRL or the Western bulldogs in the AFL are the beneficiaries of some magical intervention.
The way some have reported the collective achievements of these teams undermines their achievement, all the hard work and planning, the blood sweat and tears that these teams have gone through to achieve ultimate success putting it down to some form of magic. I want to challenge this notion, I need to challenge this notion otherwise it may have the subsequent consequence of cheapening the hard work and fine efforts that precede any form of success, an example of which is the boys who sit before us today, Their achievement cannot be attributed to some magical event, rather any success they achieve will be a measure of the hard work and persistence over the past thirteen years with a particular emphasis on the past twelve months. A belief in fairy tale endings may have the unfortunate effect of lulling you into a false sense of security that things will magically take care of themselves.
So let me continue “Storytelling is many things to many people,” “It is entertainment, a way of passing on a culture’s history, or a way of teaching to both the young and the old. It is something that must be experienced and tried before you can fully understand it, as its live intimacy has a unique power and magic which creates community. More than anything else, storytelling is an art. An art that anyone can participate in. We all are storytellers, whether we realize it or not.”
Now, whilst I am not an artist I do have a story to tell about these fine young men. I tell it to allow these young men to bask in the glory of their achievements, but more importantly I tell it as a way of teaching those who are to follow. I hope their story has the unique power and magic to drive our younger students to match their feats to continue to create a culture here at Salesian College which values learning, aspires to excellence and most of all is joyous.
As we reflect on the story of these young men, one quickly realises the alignment between our boys and some of our well-known fairy tales. The ones that immediately sprung to my mind as I wrote this piece include:
Snow white and the seven dwarfs, no I don’t think the cohort is full of Dopeys, Sleepys or Grumpys, I’m sure some of you are thinking of your Dopey, and I can certainly think of one or two Grumpys and Sleepys, but I refer more to the fact that regardless of the fact that there are so many differences amongst the cohort you have been willing to work together for the good of the community, for the values you share. Now on the other hand the Adventures of Pinocchio do ring true, young boys getting up to mischief, making the occasional poor decision, mixing with the wrong crowd before learning what’s truly important in life to be examples of what is truly good in the world. The ugly duckling also rings a bell with me, not that any of our boys could ever be described as being ugly, but rather it is how you have blossomed in to the fine young men you are today.
Enough of these fairy tales, how does the story of the class of 2016 go? Before I start one must remember, the ending has not been written. We are yet to know if we live happily ever after. What I can say, however, is the Salesian part of the story is about to end and it’s time to move on. I’m sure you are asking, how did it all go so fast? Where did the time go?
In the beginning, you fumbled your way through your early years, dealing with blazers that were a few sizes too big, working out how to read your timetable, learning the finer arts of down ball to get you through recess and lunchtime. Navigating your way around the school whilst trying to hold your own with the big boys. A brief sojourn to the Mannix campus probably taught you a little independence, a dance with Sacred Heart girls in Year 10 alerted you that there may be other things in life other than school, sport and computer games to gain your interest; all leading to where you are today. You have moved from being those bewildered year sevens. Lead magnificently by your captains Josh, Edwin and Nathan you have proceeded to confidently strut your stuff on the dance floor at the Year 12 formal, worked your backside off in the gym with Joseph Gallucio, won academic awards like the Dylan Brambleby’s Business Management Golf award, Partied with the Love Doctor and the min-faded, becoming confident young men who believe they have it all figured out. Even cool enough to enter into some friendly banter with your teachers, even the Principal. Now, in the blink of an eye, the end is here, your rule is over, your time here is about to become a distant high school memory.
I ask, how you will ultimately remember your time at Salesian College.
Will it remain lessons learnt, or detentions received, will it be measured in the friendships you made, the experiences you have enjoyed, the battles you have fought, the success you have achieved; the times you shared together or the stress and frustration you experienced. I know the community will measure your time here in the relationships enjoyed, the sense of joy you have provided, the welcome and sense of belonging you share and the sense of pride witnessed among you. Each one of you will be remembered fondly for who you are.
As you reminisce on your story I encourage you to remember all the characters you have met along the way. The little Year 7 you assisted in Term 1, the Year 9 boy you had to pull into line on the bus, the boys on the cricket team or the men you helped each Friday at lunchtime from the connections group as they are all part of your story. Remember those slightly older faces sitting around you. Remember the pride they had when you received your first ‘A’, the joy they shared when you were on camp or performed in a concert or sang for the first time in front of the school. They too will share a sense of triumph, a feeling of completion for getting you through. Oh yes, and remember that tear in their eye as they bid you farewell for they have done what John Bosco asks of them, for I believe that not only have you been loved you know that you are loved. I can proudly and confidently say your teachers have done this and more. They have looked after and cared for you, they have nurtured you to the point where it is time to move on: they will stay, hoping you will go on to fulfil your dreams, your hopes and aspirations.
It is important that you leave knowing that have contributed greatly to Salesian College folklore. A collective tale, there are no main characters, no magic carpets, genies or dragons; there is no single year, a single event or a single person, not even in a single moment more noteworthy than the rest. Your legacy is the sum of the contributions made by you all over the past six years. Participation in College gatherings, camps, how you wore the College uniform, your efforts in class, your interactions with each other and other members of the community that have contributed to your story.
A chronical that is incomplete, as your place in the Salesian College narrative will be judged in part by your academic achievements, which will be influenced significantly by your exam results. I encourage you not to believe in fairy tales and think some magical intervention will miraculously take place. Work hard, set academic standards that you will be proud of, standards that other groups will aspire to.
You stand here today on the precipice of the future. It’s no longer a distant reality, it begins here, it begins today. Your time at Salesian began as children, you leave here as fine young men. You’ve completed your education here at Salesian College, an education grounded on the values of Jesus Christ, I encourage you to use the lessons learnt and values witnessed to serve as a very sound platform to launch yourselves into your futures.
I leave you with two quotes; firstly this thought from Bob Moawad “The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
And this from Gilda Radner
Whilst I would wish a perfect ending for you all, I have learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, or end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. ~
In conclusion, I congratulate you on the completion of your secondary education. I wish you every success, not success judged by wealth and fame, rather the success of having a wonderful fulfilled life, one filled with happiness, surrounded by loving family and friends and remember as Salesian men you are truly the best of the best.
GOOD LUCK to the Year 12 Graduating class of 2016 and God bless.
Mr Rob Brennan