From the Principal
This has been a particularly good couple of weeks at the College, focusing primarily on the wonderful manner in which the Year 12 cohort concluded their time at their school. As a Principal one puts a fair bit of thought into how things may unfold at this time of year, which probably won’t provide much of a surprise. Formal classes come to an end after six or even nine years here at Malvern, the final breakfast and very emotional assembly are planned and occur, then the Valedictory Mass and Dinner provide more highlights before the VCE examinations begin. This adds up to a potent mix! With careful management, effective leadership, strategic planning and superb cooperation from an outstanding cohort of Year 12 graduates, this fortnight has provided lasting positive memories.
The students’ Lasallian identity has been front and centre in a good deal of their reflections and those of their teachers and parents. I’d like to reflect on the Year 12s’ gracious exit in the context of their adherence to our Five Core Principles of Lasallian Education. Several of our outgoing Year 12 Leaders, especially the four House Lasallian Captains, had a heavy hand in articulating these along with an in-house design to promote the values’ prominence and relevance in a Malvern context. In light of this, the following reflection links in nicely with the boys’ input into creating a formal emphasis on our Lasallian charism.
1 — Faith
The Valedictory Mass this year was held at St Patrick’s Cathedral in the city, the home of the Catholic Church in Victoria. The first Valedictory to be held at St Pat’s was a grand and fitting occasion in a magnificent venue. To have their final Mass in the splendour of the Cathedral was entirely appropriate and so thoroughly deserved by such a terrific group of young men who have been exemplary all year. Mrs Rana Brogan did a wonderful job in attending to every detail in all aspects of the Mass and the choir and indeed all musicians were spectacular. A highlight was our celebrant, Old Collegian Monsignor Tony Ireland, using the sermon to acknowledge the boys’ contributions to the school and provide some very wise advice in relation to how to make the most of their futures. With many of the Year 12 students involved in various aspects of the Mass it was a poignant and reverent service which brought all students and families back to our Catholic foundation.
2 — Quality Education
The 2016 Year 12 group have given us great heart with their positive and motivated approach to their studies. The Kinnoull Library has been witness to a disciplined and organised cohort of senior students who use the vast majority of their time in this space very profitably. The move to extend the opening hours to 6:00pm has been well supported by many Year 12 students. It is now commonplace to see groups collaborating and working through tasks together; at the next table individuals deep in concentration; and of course the ubiquitous Year 12 teacher tending to the frequent demands of his/her class. This has become a wonderful learning environment where the Year 12 students set a very positive and studious tone with a strong work ethic and the trademark rapport and relationship between the boys and their teachers is well and truly visible. The 2016 Year 12s have proven themselves ambitious, dedicated and prepared to do the extra to maximise their chances of success.
3 — Respect for All
The overwhelmingly positive manner in which the Year 12s concluded their time at the College demonstrated tremendous respect for their school, their teachers, their community and above all, for each other. I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the entire student body of Year 12 on the positive manner in which they finished the school year. I spoke to the cohort twice in the last few weeks of classes, as did other senior staff, about the importance of finishing the year well. We spoke about making good decisions, acting responsibly, thinking of others and how important it is leave your College with a legacy dominated by positive memories. The way you leave the school says a lot about the individual and the cohort and I am very impressed by and very proud of the 2016 Year 12s for the manner in which they have cooperated and celebrated in fitting style. This is a fine group of mature, responsible young men and they have done themselves proud in recent weeks. There is no malice in the boys’ end of year plans, no desire to disrupt and damage and a beautiful atmosphere of respect and brotherhood prevails among the 167 graduates. A shining example of this was the students’ Celebration Day organised at Sidetracked go-karting and entertainment centre for their last day. Most Year 12s dressed up in fun costumes but respected the guidelines re: being appropriate and just enjoyed each other’s company. The competition in the go-karting, dodgem cars, laser skirmish and video games was intense to say the least but conducted in an atmosphere of spirited fun and companionship. The owner and the manager approached me separately to feed back that the De La boys were the best group they have ever had through the centre; another testament to the respectful nature of our students.
4 — Inclusiveness
It was very moving to hear several of the Year 12s speak publicly in the final days about their sense of belonging and inclusiveness during their time at De La Salle, culminating in a compelling sense of unity with their Lasallian “Brothers”. The Year 12 Retreat in February was mentioned as setting the tone for the year, whereby a sense of togetherness and commitment to each other was forged. The boys spoke of the tangible bond between so many different individuals, and all differences being valued despite the traditional various friendship groups. There was an understanding that as a part of the overall senior cohort they were all in it together and each was keen to take their part in the grand history of the school as they move on to Old Collegian status. The relationship between the Year 12 House Arts Captains and the primary students has been a highlight for many. The younger students adored the Year 12s and their very regular visits to the primary school gave the Year 4 to 6 students a feeling they are indeed included in the “big boys” world. The Valedictory Dinner at the Sofitel in town was a remarkable celebration where so many students and parents commented on the incredible bond and sense of identity and belonging their time in a Lasallian environment had provided.
5 — Justice
While the most immediate and obvious demonstration of our Year 12s’ commitment to social justice is the impending Coolies 2016 immersion, departing on November 18, there are other less visible elements. Last weekend our local parish, St Joseph’s Malvern, invited the Coolies team to attend the three Masses and give a presentation on the projects in India. Two Year 12 Coolies and one staff member went to each Mass and spoke to the community about our broader fundraising for social justice initiatives, the wonderful work of the past and details of this year’s project in Madurai. The parishioners made a very generous donation to the works in response to the students’ elaborate account of the weeks of work they’re committing to in lieu of a holiday. In their outstanding speeches at the Valedictory Dinner, 2016 College Vice Captains Sean O’Callaghan and Tim Fierenzi spoke glowingly about their education and experiences around social justice during their years at De La Salle. The annual commitment to Mission Action Day, the knowledge their fundraising supports impoverished Lasallian communities abroad in a very real way, the Social Justice Mass each July to sustain local charities’ commitment to the poor – these experiences have all made a significant and formative impact on the Year 12s’ awareness of the less fortunate in our community.
Swimming Carnival – Friday 28 October
I wish you all a happy and safe long weekend after what promises to be a tremendous House Swimming Carnival on Friday, to be held for the very first time at the Carnegie Swim Centre. This venue allows for a range of activities – formal races, water polo, novelty races and beach volleyball. This all adds up to a lot more activity and opportunities for involvement and a lot less sitting around for the students. I’m sure it will be a wonderful day and as a cornerstone of the House competition there will be maximum participation, especially as the 2016 Malouf Cup for the winning House will be decoded by tomorrow’s carnival. Only 31 points separate the top three Houses, so an enthralling competition awaits!
Mr Peter Houlihan