Principal’s Message – 15 March 2013

As we fast approach the end of Term One, the weather is slowly cooling, the days are getting shorter and we hope that autumn has well and truly replaced the heat of summer. Once again we find ourselves asking the perennial question, where has the term gone?

Time passes so quickly because our program is so full, we jump from one activity to the next, from one experience to another, providing our students with wonderful opportunities to broaden and deepen their learning. Every now and then we need to take time out to reflect on what has happened and what is to follow and just to take stock. With only two weeks until the end of term students will begin to look forward to the break. We hope this is due to the hours of hard work and study they have put in over the term. We are sure that all students are currently enjoying the respite from the heat and they are finding it far more pleasant to be at school and far more conducive for concentration and working hard. We encourage our senior students to make the most of the favourable conditions and the fact that they still have some energy in store to approach their outcomes with real purpose. They are currently in a period where they will tackle outcomes on a weekly, even daily basis. They should be preparing for each of these outcomes with purpose as they are very important to their final results. To all students we ask they finish out the term as they started, in a positive fashion before taking a well-earned break.

It has been a big week here at the College with Parent Teacher Interviews on both Tuesday and Thursday. We would like to thank all those families who attended, especially on Tuesday in the stifling heat. We had a great number in attendance enjoying a very positive atmosphere. Congratulations to the vast majority of the boys who received positive feedback. I hope they can build on the hard work of this term to ensure they have a great year. To the boys who received constructive feedback on how they can improve, I encourage them to put the suggestions into practice as early as next week to turn things around for themselves and get their learning back on track. A special thankyou to the staff who gave up two nights with their families to ensure all the boys in our community were able to get this vital feedback.

This week around Australia we will witness many people enter into a party mode as they come to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. This day has come to be associated with everything Irish: anything green and gold, shamrocks and luck. Most importantly, we hope that all who celebrate remember the intended meaning. St Patrick’s Day is a traditional day for spiritual renewal and offering prayers for missionaries worldwide. On Thursday evening I joined in one such celebration, attending the Bishop’s St Patrick’s Day dinner along with many other members of the Catholic Education community as well as a number of dignitaries and special guests. Whilst it was a very pleasant evening and a great chance to network with some wonderful people it lead me to ponder why we celebrate this saint so fervently here in Australia. So I asked the question, ‘Who is this Saint and what is his link to us?’

St Patrick was a Romano-Celtic Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the primary patron saint of the island, along with Saints Brigid and Columba. St Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. Whilst we have come to learn that many of the stories of St Patrick are mythical and have grown through the ages it is obvious that he was a great man and is much loved in Ireland. He is believed to have used the three leafed clover to help explain the trinity to the pagan people of Ireland lifting the status of this humble grass to greatness, especially amongst the Irish.

So why the celebration? And why 17 March? It is thought that St Patrick’s day is celebrated on March 17 as this is possibly the day that St Patrick died. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out around the world, they took with them their history and celebrations. The biggest observance of all is, of course, in Ireland. With the exception of restaurants and pubs, almost all businesses close on 17 March. Being a religious holiday as well, many Irish attend mass, where 17 March is the traditional day for offering prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrating begins.

In Australia with a large connection to the Irish, regardless how tenuous the link may be, St Patrick’s Day has become a very big deal. All over Australia people will celebrate long and hard, “wearing the green of the Irish,” playing Irish music and songs, sharing Irish food and drink. It is a wonderful celebration as it is so full of joy and happiness and a willingness to accept anyone making claim to an Irish heritage. It appears regardless of whether your name is Grech, Nuygen or O’Rielly or if you lay claim to an Irish heritage you are welcomed into the celebration.

It is in this light and in the spirit of St Patrick’s Day celebrations and festivities this week that I want to encourage all in our College community to spread the happiness germ. Sharing a smile or a laugh can make all the difference to those around you, happiness is infectious.

If you are feeling happy then you can probably thank your friends and family. Because happiness is infectious, you spread it to your friends and they pass it back to you. The contagion of happiness can be shared amongst, not only your friends, but students in different classes and year levels, brothers and sisters, other family members and everyone you meet. It can even be seen on Facebook, where people with smiling faces tend to attract more friends.

The lesson is – surround yourself with happy people. The old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together” can work with happiness too. If you are surrounded by happy people the chances are, you are more likely to be happy too.

So perhaps the first good choice to make is to choose friends whose personality, behaviour and values are good for you. That way, you will be happy and you will help them be happy too. If all else fails remind yourself that in a couple of weeks you will have two wonderful weeks to do the things you enjoy doing so that has to make you happy.

I hope we all enjoy our last couple of weeks of term before having a wonderful Easter break. To be sure!!

Robert Brennan