From the Principal

Welcome to Week Four of Term One, 2017. It has been beautiful couple of weeks here at Salesian College Chadstone, having been spared from the extreme heat of summer. The boys have made a positive start to the school year, with reports across all year levels suggesting the boys have all settled in well and are getting stuck into their work. 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.

Of particular note to start the Year has been how well the Year 7 cohort have transitioned into the College. This was evident on the Year 7 Camp at Camp Rumbug, which I had the pleasure of visiting last Tuesday. It was wonderful to witness the boys fully and enthusiastically involving themselves in all the activities on offer and supporting each other as they pushed themselves outside their comfort zones. Congratulations to Mr Chris Hayes and the all the staff on the camp for providing the boys with such a rich and friendly experience. On Wednesday this week, the Year 7 parents will get the opportunity to join us for a social evening where we can reflect on all that has happened so far for their sons.

On Thursday the College gathered for our annual Dux Assembly, to celebrate the achievements of the boys from the Class of 2016 as well as high 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 with many great highlights, especially having the boys of the Class of 2016 back in the community to recognise their achievements. Congratulations Mr Neil Carter and all staff involved in bringing the gathering together.

On Friday a week ago, all the boys and staff ventured down to Oakleigh pool for the annual Swimming Carnival in very pleasant conditions. The day ran very well, with lots of enthusiasm (especially early) as the boys competed house against house. Ultimately, Moroney House was victorious, but in my mind everyone in attendance was a winner. I would like to thank Mr Stephen Loonstra, Mr Domenic Scarpino and all the PE staff for their organisation of the carnival and all other staff for their support and contribution on the day.

I look forward to watching our boys compete at the ACC Swimming Carnival on Friday at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre. I would like to wish the boys all the best, as I know they have been getting up early and training very hard to ensure they represent themselves and the College with pride. I am sure our boys will be very competitive and have a good carnival. It is always a magnificent evening and another chance for our boys to shine. I’m sure there will be lots of additional support to come from a very vocal and enthusiastic cheer squad made up of a number of Year 12 students. These boys will cheer and yell and sing throughout the night adding greatly to the occasion. I know that the swimmers and the cheer squad will be a credit to themselves and to the College as they do their best and have lots of fun.

In my Dux Assembly address I highlighted the importance of family and respect in gaining a good education, and the need for the boys to leave a legacy in their time at the College. I encourage all in the community to reflect on my thoughts in the fond hope it provides some guidance or perhaps even a touch of motivation for the year ahead.

2017 Principal’s Dux Address

Today we gather as the Salesian College Chadstone Community to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding acheivements of the highest performing students of 2016, in particular the boys of the Class of 2016 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 such outstanding results.

To attain 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. Contrary to what many of you may think, these results don’t just magically happen. These results are far more than an indication of how inteligent these boys are. Rather, they are the combined affects of applying their God given talents, working extremely hard, and taking the opportunities offered them here at the College with an abundance of persistence and dedication, that ensured they achieved results commensurate with their abilities .

In my address today I want to provide some advice as to how we too may enjoy similar success to the boys recognised today, by highlighting three words; family, respect and legacy.

My words today, regardless of how eloquently I speak, will not magically motivate any of you to work to levels these boys have, or emulate their persistent efforts or even overcome the obstacles faced by these boys to achieve these results. All I can say is; listen to the message, reflect on it, and possibly one day it may resonate with you and may even motivate you to take your place up here on stage in years to come.

I hope that it is obvious to you all the part that family plays in our lives, especially in our education. Families are a place of support, a place where we feel safe and happy, a place we can go to in times of need, a place where most learning occurs.

Today, however, I want to broaden your understanding of family, and take it into our setting here at Salesian College. The word family is synonymous with Salesian Education. It is alluded to in the Salesian Charter where we speak of school as a home that welcomes, it is the central focus of the 2017 Salesian Strenna, “We are a family, every home a school of life and love.” A Salesian Education is based on family like relationships, where each boy is cared for and nurtured to ensure they become the best young man they can be, where each boy is not only loved but knows he is loved. I hope all in this hall today experience the community we enjoy here at Salesian College Chadstone as family.

Now what I am saying makes no sense unless the term family in our school context is understood. “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what. It is people who share similar values regardless of their background.” A place where like minds come together. A place where common values are shared, a place where your education is supported and nurtured.

The values we share here at Salesian College Chadstone and that are included in our vision statement are integrity, respect, belonging, joy and dynamism. These are our family values. These values cannot be seen as mere tokens. They must be lived out on a daily basis, they must be what we expect of each other, providing us direction, setting our expectations and setting the tone for how we work in this community. In the words of Brad Henry, “Families and their values are the compass that guide us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter.”

The second of my focus words is respect. This word speaks for itself. As we all know, it is only in a community of respect that we can all thrive and achieve great things like those we have witnessed today. As Laurence Sterne suggests, “Respect begins with self. Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners.” This is supported by Clint Eastwood’s view that we should Respect our efforts, and respect ourselves as self-respect leads to self-discipline.” And Ayn Rand who believes that if one doesn’t respect oneself, one can have neither love nor respect for others.

My third and final word to reflect on is legacy. Now legacy simply refers to what you leave behind after you have left. In life, one would hope that our legacy would be that we leave this place in better shape for having been there. We should all be aiming to ensure that Salesian College is a better school because we are here or have been here.

Having given you three words that I believe can impact greatly on your education, I pose the following questions to you all. How does acknowledging these words or elements affect my learning, or the learning of others? What do you want your legacy to be? What will you take from the family that is Salesian College? How will you contribute back into that family? Will you be respected, and have respect for others in the community? Are you simply a taker, seeing your education simply as something that is owed to you, something that will be given to you on a silver platter?

I ask these questions as it is only when you see a purpose to what you are doing and see that education is a gift, a series of opportunities that one has to grab with both hands, that you are likely to commit to undertake the work necessary to succeed.

I encourage you to think of your education in broader terms, rather than the simple restrictive purpose to get into the course of choice or to get a job. Look for the value you can get from such a rich and broad education offered here at Salesian College, if you immerse yourself in all that is on offer.

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 the person you are today to the one you wish to be in the future. Increasing your knowledge, giving you new skills, opening your heart and mind to new and wonderful possibilities.

There are no hidden secrets to gaining a great education, no magic wands, simply a need to apply yourself, immerse yourself in all that is on offer and maybe, just maybe, you will achieve the goals you set yourself.

The education offered here at Salesian College demands more than merely obtaining good results. It calls all of us to be a change in the world. It compells us to live our lives in a manner that will build a world where justice and peace are common to all, where intolerance is replaced by acceptance.

If we are successful in educationg you young men, and we impart the Christian values we believe so strongly in, then you will take on these challenges and be the great leaders of tomorrow. You will come to understand that your lives will not be measured by the wealth you amass or the material possessions you accumulate, nor will the position of power you hold be a measure of your ultimate success. Rather your worth will be formulated on the higher criteria of how you love and help other people in this life.

I leave you with a quote from Confucius.

“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

Good luck for the year ahead.

Rob Brennan