This is a significant week in the school calendar as Friday marks the end of our Year 12 students’ formal schooling.
While this is a poignant moment in all schools, I feel that it is somehow special at De La Salle as each Year 12 cohort who graduate depart with that sense of De La brotherhood. No one seems to actively or artificially create this fraternity but for literally generations, departing Matric, HSC and VCE students at our school have been united and bonded by a tremendous sense of unity and togetherness. Graduates talk about this for many years; it is often brought up in conversation and reminiscences at Old Collegians’ reunions.
I spoke to the Year 12 students last week about the importance of legacy; it is so important for each group of quality young men to move through the final weeks of school in a positive way, do the right thing, make good decisions and leave with great memories. I did make the point that I worry only a little about our boys doing the wrong thing as they have tremendous respect for their school, the staff and their peers. Their capacity to build on the positive culture they have developed over their years at the College is traditionally more important to De La Salle students than any unsavoury or foolish actions to “mark” the end of their Year 12. I am very proud of our student’s for the maturity and responsibility they display.
This is a period of terrific excitement for the Year 12 students as their 13 years of schooling draws inexorably to a close. However, there is still much to do and much to achieve. I always speak to the graduating students about the importance of “finishing well.” This relates to their behaviour, the example they set and the role‐modelling they demonstrate to their younger peers. Critically, it means retaining and then building their focus on achieving all they possibly can in relation to their studies. So much improvement can still be attained through strong examination performances as the raw scores awarded to SACs throughout the year are moderated against exam results.
This is a wonderful time of year as we celebrate the Year 12 classes’ graduation and contribution to the school. Tomorrow we have the traditional Year 12 Old Collegians Breakfast, where Mr David Livera, College Captain from 1998, will be the guest speaker. The Old Collegians Association also donate an embroidered De La sports bag for each graduate. This is followed by the very special and meaningful whole school Final Assembly where our College community farewells the Year 12 cohort. Each student is presented, academic and sporting awards are given out, the outgoing College Captain makes an emotional farewell speech and the 2018 Leaders formally hand over responsibility to the 2019 team in ceremonial style.
An informal celebration at Sidetracked on Monday morning will be followed in the afternoon by the traditional Valedictory Mass at the magnificent St Patrick’s Cathedral and a formal Valedictory Dinner at Marvel Stadium, where the most significant awards are presented in relation to Faith, Academia, the Arts, Sport and Leadership.
I’d like to reference a Lasallian link to the Year 12 students’ exit as well. A recent Lasallian publication, “Let Us Remember: Stories of the Holy Presence of God” contains dozens of examples from De La Salle schools where members of the school community touch hearts. One such extract, “Helpers in Our Midst” tells of the opportunity to look for the “helpers” when things get tough. In a Lasallian school, in a Lasallian community, they are always there when we look for them.
The 2018 Year 12 students have been helpers themselves in so many ways but have also benefited tremendously from the helpers on staff. This cohort, and not just those holding formal leadership roles, has given an enormous amount to the College. Their everyday example and leadership in the vertical pastoral care groups at Kinnoull, their attitude to study, contribution to House and ACC sport, to music and drama, to the Retreat experience, Mission Action Day, Founder’s Day, presence at the Community Masses, the Yaluwo team set for immersion in Sri Lanka – all examples of outstanding helpers.
In turn, the students have been the beneficiary of so many helpers on staff as well in their final year. Their Unit 3 and 4 teachers’ devotion to extracting the best out of them, the everyday friendship and support of House Coordinators and Mentors, the Student Wellbeing Team, sports coaches, music and drama teachers/mentors and of course – their parents!
I wish this wonderful group of young men all the very best for the remainder of 2018 and beyond.
Mr Peter Houlihan