Principal’s Message – Newsletter May 7

Welcome to the second of our fortnightly Newsletters. Over the past two weeks we have been blessed with a typical week of late autumn weather – beautiful sunshine intermingled with some cold winds and showers. One wouldn’t want to live anywhere else other than Melbourne.

The academic wheels are truly in motion for Term 2 with the boys working away industriously, ensuring they are completing set work as well as studying for what I am sure appears to be the never ending assessment tasks. At the same time the vibrancy of the extra-curricular programme is in full swing with the football and soccer seasons well underway. We have had mixed results across the year levels with some great wins, close losses and the odd game where we were totally outclassed. Through all of this the boys appear to be trying hard and most importantly enjoying themselves.

The musicians have also been busy rehearsing, playing and preparing for their recent annual trip to Mt Gambier. I would like to thank all staff who give of their own time to coach, train, teach and generally look after the boys during these extra-curricular activities. These activities ensure our boys have access to the holistic education we aspire to.

On Wednesday 24 April at our annual ANZAC Day gathering the College paid tribute to past and present service men and women who gave, and give, so much so that we can all live with the freedoms we enjoy. The organisation and preparation of the boys for the event was excellent thanks to Ms Kara Baxter. I was thrilled with the way our students participated in the assembly as it was of the highest quality demonstrating a reverence one would expect of such an occasion. I thank all students involved for their preparation, reading and general organisation, as well as our bugler under the leadership of Mr Adam Croft for the music. All contributed to a wonderful celebration.

Whilst reflecting on the selfless acts and courage of our war veterans I pondered the relevance to us and in particular to our student body in our contemporary world. What can we take from their contribution to the way of life we lead today? In what ways can we be selfless and contribute to our own communities? Thankfully we are not faced with having to go to war or to put our lives on the line like our war veterans and we can only pray we won’t be required to make the same commitment or sacrifices in the near future. This however, should not stop us from asking ourselves in what ways can we display true courage and what are the selfless acts asked of us. With this in mind I pose the following quote as a challenge to all of us in the Salesian community.

“It is not by going out for a demonstration against nuclear missiles that we can bring about peace. It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing and being peace that we can make peace”.

- Thic Nhat Hanh

We have enjoyed another couple of busy weeks with a number of events and activities. Friday 26 April the College staff participated in a School Improvement Framework activity focussing on a review of the College and its practices. The staff looked at the five different spheres that make up Catholic Education and identified the things we do well and the areas we need to improve. This data will be added to all the other data we have collected over the past twelve months to establish our School Improvement Plan for the coming four years. It was good to take time out of the normal program to focus on ways we can make our teaching and learning better for our students.

This week I would like to share a short story I came across called ‘Growing Good Corn’ which I believe has a great message for all of us. The story is about a farmer who grew the best corn in the district. Each year he entered his corn in the agricultural show where it won first prize. After winning the prize a number of times a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbours.

The reporter asked “Why do you share your best seed corn with your neighbours when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?”

“It is obvious.” said the farmer. “The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn from all around the district blowing it from field to field. If my neighbours grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will eventually destroy the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbours grow good corn.”

As a farmer, he knew the connectedness of life. He knew he and his neighbours were inter-dependent. He knew his corn could not improve unless his neighbours’ corn also improved.

Our lives are similar. Those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbours to live in peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for riches cannot be achieved and enjoyed when you are surrounded by poverty.

The best scholars in the world become even better by sharing their learning and by learning from others. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

The same principle can be applied to all of us here at Salesian College. For if we are to succeed we need to do it together. We must share our gifts and talents to ensure we all grow together. In a class there is very little point in taking a selfish approach to our learning as it is when we share our learning that we all benefit. It may be as part of a class discussion, or offering assistance to a friend who may be struggling with a concept or simply all staying on task in class time. Practices such as these will eventually improve the learning for all in the group. This is most important at Year 12 where working together will ultimately bring about success for the entire cohort.

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbours grow good corn.

It is possible to give away and become richer! It is also possible to hold on too tightly and lose everything. Yes, the generous man shall be rich! By watering others, he waters himself.

The Bible, Proverbs 11:24-25

God Bless

Robert Brennan