From the Principal
Last Friday 15 May we celebrated perhaps the most significant day on the Lasallian calendar – the Feast of St John Baptist de La Salle.
The day began with a special community event, a whole school Mass in the gym, celebrated by Fr John Sherman OMI, to whom we are always very grateful for the generous and thoughtful manner in which he supports the liturgical life of the College. I must acknowledge the excellent work of the College Liturgy Team in organising the Mass and thank them for the expertise and commitment to the faith life of our school. We formed the team earlier this year to work together on the various significant religious events central to our Catholic, Lasallian identity and their collaborative and spiritual zeal has made a tremendous impact already.
The Mass was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the legacy of the Founder and our place in the worldwide Lasallian network. Current and former students spoke to the community on the history and influence of St John Baptist de La Salle and his contemporary relevance and inspiration. When he founded the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the late 17th century de La Salle could hardly have imagined the legacy he would leave. In the almost 300 years since his death in 1719, Lasallian schools have been founded in over 80 countries around the world and today educate over one million students. These schools include primary and secondary schools, single-sex and co-educational schools, schools for troubled youth, universities, graduate schools, and alternative education centres among a range of other social services, missions and charities.
In reflecting on the importance of de La Salle’s Feast Day and the worldwide Lasallian mission, I did a little research to see how the Lasallian education experience is interpreted and implemented in Europe and North America. Not surprising, but certainly reassuring, was a consistent set of principles and themes which retain their relevance in 2015 and provide a strong foundation on which our young men can develop commitment, compassion and firm values. For example:
A Lasallian School is Committed to Faith which is Expressed through Service.
A Lasallian education stresses the responsibility of all students to provide service. Our students are required to give service to the needy each year, but their commitment to these activities, as seen in Mission Action Day, community outreach, immersion trips, and numerous charitable drives, goes far beyond requirements. It is an introduction to a way of life.
A Lasallian School is an Educational Environment Committed to Excellence.
Though Lasallian schools will define excellence differently based on their context, each school pursues it. As an open entry, mixed-ability school, De La Salle College Malvern values our capacity and commitment to provide choice, challenge and rigour in a variety of pathways for our students.
A Lasallian School is a Community of Teachers and Learners.
While the community in different Lasallian schools can vary widely and educational goals look very different in turn, all Lasallian schools are alike in this way. Conforming to this tradition, here in Malvern the needs of the individual learner are recognised, put first, and inspire programs designed to meet those needs. Our young men are also conscious of celebrating each other’s achievements.
The Lasallian School Community is Inclusive.
The Lasallian tradition of Catholic education welcomes all students, with little regard for experience and circumstances. Our boys come from a huge variety of geographical, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and each brings his unique gifts, strengths and challenges. This is the very fabric of our College and enables the Lasallian charism to shine.
Perhaps in closing my reflection on our Founder’s legacy on his Feast Day and the role and influence of Lasallian education in 2015, it’s appropriate to invoke one of the Founder’s most recognised lines, which leaves us in no doubt as to our purpose and mission, originating in the 1680s but retaining its significance today.
In the Rule of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the Institute states its ultimate Mission as follows:
“The purpose of this Institute is to give a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor, according to the ministry which the Church has entrusted to it.”
Inaugural Ian Oliver MAD Award
Following Mass we were thrilled to have the recently retired Mr Ian Oliver return to the College to present the inaugural Ian Oliver Mission Action Day Award. Given his 17 years of leadership of the Mission Action Day Committee, during which time he has overseen the raising of more than $1,000,000 for Lasallian missions and charities, we decided to honour Ian with a perpetual award to acknowledge his mighty contribution to our major social justice initiative. This is indeed the very embodiment of the spirit of service so important to St de La Salle. A shield has been commissioned and the name of the student who raises the most money in sponsorship each year will be engraved as a permanent record. This year’s recipient is Christian Mora of Year 9, who raised $1,715.75, a superb effort. In addition to having his name as the very first on the shield, Christian received a plaque and certificate of congratulations.
I am pleased to announce that 2015 Mission Action Day has once again seen an excess of $100,000 collected from sponsors by our hardworking students.
This is an extraordinary result. To break the $100,000 barrier two years in a row is a stunning testimony to the dedication and commitment of the MAD Committee, Homeroom Teachers, the wider staff and our 1,160 students. In addition to supporting the Coolies immersion trip, the Papua New Guinea working party of Year 11 students and the VCAL trip to Luurnpa Catholic School (a Lasallian community in Balgo Hills, WA) the funds will be distributed to various Lasallian missions.
Founder’s Day Festivities
Given the miserable weather last week we were indeed fortunate the skies cleared for a mild and even vaguely sunny couple of hours for the festivities at Kinnoull. Ms Haylene Peipert and the 13 College Leaders, ably supported by a willing band of other students and staff, organised a terrific variety of activities, stalls, competitions and events with something to interest and entertain everybody. The dodgem cars were a hit with the junior students in particular and the timelessly popular dunking machine drew big crowds to see several staff members – including the principal – dropped into the icy waters. It’s surprising how accurately our young men can throw a softball when they have sufficient motivation!
Old Collegian News
Finally, I am thrilled to announce an Old Collegian from the Class of 2001 has been awarded a prestigious RG Menzies Scholarship. Matthew Tyler, 31, will be studying a Master of Public Policy at the John F Kennedy School of Government. Described as a leader with a fierce determination to address rising inequality in Australia, Matthew is heading to Harvard University.
Matthew is currently a policy adviser to Federal Labor MP Clare O’Neil. During his master’s Matthew will explore how innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors can overcome rising inequality in Australia. His ambition stems from a broad set of experiences ranging from work with Indigenous Australians in the Kimberley, management consulting for Australia’s biggest companies and policy development as an economist in the Australian Public Service. A voluntary internship with the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation in New Delhi forged Matthew’s view that Australia must subject social programs to more rigorous evaluation. Matthew was awarded the Monash University Medal for outstanding academic performance during his economics studies.
The Robert Gordon Menzies Scholarships to Harvard are Australia’s most prestigious national awards for postgraduate study in the United States. Inaugurated in 1967 by prominent Australian alumni of Harvard to honour the Australian statesman and longest-serving Prime Minister, the Menzies Scholarship grants at least one annual award to talented Australians who have gained admission to a Harvard graduate school. The ideal candidates for the scholarship are Australians whose primary objective, after completing their studies at Harvard, is to make a significant contribution to this country’s development.
The scholarships, valued at US$60,000 each, are Australia’s most prestigious national awards for postgraduate study in the United States and are jointly awarded by the Harvard Club of Australia, the Australian National University and the Menzies Foundation.
Matthew attended De La Salle College from Years 5–12 and now, 14 years later, is an outstanding role model for today’s De La students, demonstrating what tremendous opportunities await those who work hard and fulfil their potential, which is all we ask of our young men. Matthew’s public desire to address social inequality also sits very comfortably within our principles of social justice and service to the poor – a true Lasallian! Congratulations Matthew from all in the College community; we are very proud of your achievements and good luck for your time at Harvard.
Mr Peter Houlihan