From the Principal

It scarcely seems possible this is the penultimate Newsprint for 2014; the year has certainly flown, exams are complete for the majority of students and summer beckons. It has certainly been a year of change, a year of growth in the school and I would like to acknowledge and thank all those who have played their important roles in working together and making De La the fine educational environment enjoyed by so many this year.

Last week saw the Year 11 Final Mass and Assembly at which a range of academic, service and sporting awards were presented. Next week we have similar assemblies for the remaining year levels, so I think it’s worth reflecting a little on the contribution of our young men.

It is particularly important to note the range of awards being presented at these functions. I am thrilled to see, hear and read about the academic achievement of so many of our students – in many ways that is at the core of a school’s business. However, I am equally thrilled by and equally proud of the student who maybe doesn’t reach the 95 % etc. but gives all he has in order to maximise his potential. The introduction of Academic Endeavour Awards this year has been a tremendous way of recognising those students who try their very best, work in a spirit of cooperation with teachers and peers and can sit back now in November, comfortable in the knowledge they gave themselves every opportunity to perform as well as they could.

I know there are many students who have worked hard and achieved great things this year but may not necessarily receive an award, however you know how well you have done and can be proud of your efforts.

The 2015 Year 11 and 12 students have just completed a week of HeadStart, where they all began Unit 1 & 3 respectively, worked through introductory and orientation information and made inroads to the first outcomes. I visited a range of Year 12 students in the library yesterday and it was very gratifying to see their very positive attitude; they were hard at work on homework, discussing tasks and concepts and generally demonstrating exactly the approach we expect of senior students at De La Salle.

Anniversary of the Beatification John Baptist de La Salle

My role as principal – aided by a lifetime love of all things historical – involves a degree of research and reading around Lasallian issues. This week we celebrated the anniversary of the beatification in Rome of John Baptist De La Salle, on 20 November 1888. Among those present for the ceremony was Brother Miguel from Ecuador, a name well known to most of us at Malvern via the homerooms named in his honour. Br Miguel was later to be declared a saint himself!

The image at right is one of several at Manhattan College, a Lasallian Catholic school in New York. This window reflects the first vows taken by the Brothers. John Baptist de La Salle and 12 Brothers made the temporary vow of obedience for the first time in Reims, circa 1684, and renewed their vows after a 25-mile journey to the Shrine of Our Lady of Liesse. It is here that they stood before Our Lady of Joy and chose her as the first superior of the institute.

Finally, I was enamoured of the following quote from the founder, which I thought could be useful to us all in our various roles as teachers, parents and students when the various slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are sent to test us: “When you encounter some difficulty in the guidance of your disciples, turn to God with confidence.” (St John Baptist de La Salle)

2015 Year 12 Retreat

I am very happy to announce in February next year De La Salle will once again be running a Year 12 Retreat. With 21 years of running and leading retreats in Catholic boys’ schools — including a great Year 11 & 12 program here in 1997 — 2000 — it is my steadfast belief they play an integral role in the life of a Catholic College. This is equally so for students and staff! Despite some of their predictable misgivings in advance, I have seen so many Year 12 students declare at the end of the year that their retreat was most certainly one of the main highlights. I am very keen for our young men to again have that opportunity, hence its reinstatement in the calendar. With so much going on in their lives at that age, the retreats offer a unique opportunity to reflect on and engage in their Catholic and Lasallian identity as they navigate their final year of school in preparation for the transition to manhood.

Their Year 12 Retreat will be one of those unique experiences that remains with them, not only throughout the year, but hopefully for the rest of their lives. The retreat is an integral and compulsory feature of the Year 12 experience and as such all students must attend.

Parents of 2015 Year 12 students can expect a range of material and information to be coming home with your sons and potentially in the mail as well. Those of us planning the retreat are very excited about its return and the benefits it will offer our young men.

Staff to dedicate time to helping others

In the final week of school for staff we will be dedicating some time to a whole-staff activity in assembling various gift/hamper packs for those less fortunate in our community. Br Tony Cummins, who many of you will know, has put us in contact with Sr Colleen Jackson (Sister of Charity) who works at Foundation House, Dandenong. Sr Colleen is a trauma and torture counsellor and works with refugees and asylum seekers in Melbourne who are in need of extra assistance because of the circumstances in which they find themselves. A number of the young people Sr Colleen deals with have come to Australia as unaccompanied minors. Sr Colleen would say she deals with the “most vulnerable” and those who often “fall through the cracks” when it comes to support. This is an important outreach social justice activity to remind ourselves as we finish work and prepare for our own Christmas celebrations, that there are so very many among our city’s population suffering hardship we cannot even really imagine.

Student achievements

Good luck to Nathan Barrow (7S), who will be competing in the Australian fencing championships in Sydney this weekend.

New families starting in 2015

Finally, in the past fortnight we have held information evenings to welcome the 2015 Year 7 cohort into the College, followed by a very successful Orientation Day. On Monday 10 November we hosted prospective 2016 Year 7 families, following on from our very well patronised series of College open mornings and tours throughout the second half of the year. With the deadline still open until Friday 27 February next year I am delighted to report we have a significant increase in the number of applications on file, which augurs very well for the future of our College.

Please contact our Registrar Ms Rachel Cicala for further information on how to apply for Year 7 2016. There are also still limited places in other year levels for 2015.

I wish you all well as the Advent season begins; let us pause occasionally in this hectic period to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Mr Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2014 14 - 27 November 2014