Message from the Principal

Welcome to Week five of Term One 2014. In spite of the trying conditions in the first few weeks, the boys have made a positive start to the school year. 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.

We had a couple of occasions last week where we gathered as a community to celebrate the wonderful things happening around the College. On Friday I was fortunate to attend the ACC swimming carnival at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre to watch our boys compete. It was a magnificent evening. Our boys were very competitive and finished a solid second at the carnival. Also very pleasing was the number of staff who travelled along to support the boys. Additional support came from a very vocal and enthusiastic cheer squad made up of a number of Year 12 students. These boys cheered and yelled and sang throughout the night adding greatly to the occasion. They were a credit to themselves and to the College as were the swimmers who did their best and had some fun.

On Wednesday the College gathered for our annual Dux Assembly to celebrate the achievements of the boys from the Class of 2013 as well as high achievers in other year levels from last year. This is a significant gathering and always a highlight of the year. It was great to have the boys of the Class of 2013 back in the community to recognise their achievements. Congratulations Mr Neil Carter and all staff involved in the presentation of this Assembly.

To read my Dux Assembly address, please continue:

Aiming for greatness

At our last assembly I spoke of the virtues of Salesian College Chadstone and why we are a great school. I emphasised that the major contributing factor to that was you, the student body. Today I want to explore this a little further with you.

I believe the word ‘great’ or ‘greatness’ is a word that is often overused or misplaced. If this is true, how and when should it be used? The word great or greatness is used to emphasise how much of a quality somebody or something has. It can describe or emphasise many things: magnitude, importance, power, talent, expertise and fame to name but a few.

When we think of greatness in our society, too often we see it as the domain of a few blessed individuals, people who have been gifted talents beyond mere mortals. We sometimes mistakenly think that greatness comes easy to these people. Worse still many of us live our lives as if greatness will be bestowed upon a chosen few and we sit back and wait and see if greatness will be thrust upon us. We allow others to dictate our level of achievement, we accept what other people think or say without challenge. We even allow ourselves to go along with the crowd, be told what to do, permit the media to tell us what to wear, what to eat, what we must do to be great. We make the cardinal sin of allowing others to determine our worth. It is time for all of us to challenge this notion, it is up to us to determine what greatness is and then to set out to make our individual and collective greatness happens.

There are many people in society held up as examples of greatness, some of whom are good examples and others not so good. Sadly many of the people held up as being great today are held in this regard for the wrong reasons, celebrated for nothing more than being famous or for the magnitude of their wealth, neither of which are worthy criteria for determining greatness.

I would argue that great people are those who leave a lasting legacy, people who leave their world a better place. People who make a real difference in the world. True examples of greatness include people of the ilk of Nelson Mandela, Mary Mackillop, Helen Keller, people who overcome monumental obstacles, demonstrate unwavering perseverance, or work tirelessly for a cause to achieve greatness. In our founder St John Bosco we have our own example of greatness, the legacy he left in the world, not only for the boys he worked with at Valdocco but the millions of youth who have had the privilege of working with the Salesian’s over the past hundred and fifty years confirms his greatness. His tireless work and commitment to the boys in his care is evidence of his greatness

As well as individuals we have many institutions that have arguably achieved greatness in their own right, institutions such Oxford University, Mercedes, The St Vincent Society, Red Cross are all seen as wonderful examples of institutions for one reason or another, they all demonstrate excellent quality in their field.

The thing that these people or institutions have in common is that they ultimately take control of their destiny. Every positive choice they made, all the hard work they put in, all the kindness they showed on a day to day basis contributed to them becoming great. So it is for us, as every decision we make, every effort we apply, the respect we show will all ultimately contribute to our greatness and collectively to the greatness of the College. Not all the choices we make will work out the way we hope, not every person we show kindness will respond in kind, not all our hard work will result in brilliant grades. But all these things contribute to making us better people and collectively a better school. John Maxwell suggests that “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”

The world is full of people who are happy to follow, people who never reach the heights they are capable of, people who aren’t willing to challenge injustice in our world. It is for this reason I say Salesian College is great for I know that students of Salesian College Chadstone don’t fit into these categories. They are boys of compassion, men of conviction and men of action – they value true greatness. The young men of Salesian College are willing to challenge the status quo and strive for greatness especially if they identify injustice in their world.

The College takes great pride in all our students and today we gathered to celebrate students who showed greatness in their studies in 2013, in particular the boys in the final year of their studies. These boys achieved results indicative of their abilities and their dedication. These are young men who have shown greatness, and through their commitment and efforts they have contributed to the greatness of this fine college. These students have demonstrated true leadership, choosing to move beyond mediocrity, challenging themselves to achieve results of significance. Their greatness was demonstrated through their dedication and hard work and perseverance. They blazed their own trails allowing them to reach great heights. Our hope is the class of 2014 will dare to believe there are no limits to their individual and collective greatness. The Class of 2014 will be applying themselves in such a way as to achieve their own greatness, remembering that there are numerous ways of attaining greatness. Reaching one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence, and a rejection of mediocrity. Karen Davn says “Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.”

I have spoken to the boys in Year 12 and highlighted my desire for them to achieve to their potential not only for themselves and their families but also for the College, which only wants the best for them. With this in mind I share this thought with you, “The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and the greater the probability that the group will achieve great things.”

To finish I would like to take liberty with a quote from Martina Navratilova where she was quoted as saying “The mark of great sportsmen is not how good they are at their best, but how good they are their worst.” The mark of a great school is not how good it is at its best rather how good it is at its worst; in this statement there lies a challenge for all of us. Will you be a student who contributes to the College being at its best or will you be happy to be someone who holds the College back. I encourage you to be a person who leaves a lasting legacy, someone who leaves this College and this world a better place, be committed to making a real difference in the world.

God Bless.

Robert Brennan