From the Principal

It is difficult to believe the end of Term 3 is already here. So much has happened in so many areas of the College and the months have slipped by very quickly.

On Tuesday morning we had a full College assembly to acknowledge and celebrate the many contributions and achievements of students in this term’s co-curricula program. There is much to applaud across so many areas of College life beyond the classroom. Below is an extract from my address to the College at the assembly which I think highlights some of the most valuable benefits of our students’ opportunities here at De La Salle.

It’s great to be here with you this morning and celebrate the broad range of co-curricula activities you are involved in and the tremendous benefits derived from this involvement. ACC sport does tend to dominate the agenda in some ways mostly because that’s where the majority of opportunities for involvement come and by sheer weight of numbers. However, assemblies like today are also tremendous opportunities to celebrate the myriad other endeavours for the young men in this hall to pursue and be challenged and engaged. 

Beyond this, perhaps the most significant benefits – developing positive relationships and improved self-esteem – are visible and applicable right across the spectrum of activities. It is these elements we should all focus on and appreciate how our co-curricula program adds value to your experience here at De La Salle.

In talking to coaches and students and watching a few games this term I have been thrilled with our students’ commitment, motivation, pride in representing their school and the tremendous sense of camaraderie among the hundreds of students who tried out for the A and B teams. I see this across the board in all our Term 3 ACC hockey, basketball, table-tennis and cross country teams. Some of these teams did very well, some would have preferred a few more positive results, but as always in sport, it’s participating, having a go, trying your best and playing a game you love with your mates which are the most important things in a season.

It was fantastic to see so many students turn up for cross country training at 7:30am on some very cold Tuesday and Thursday mornings, nearly always in good humour and glad to be with their friends. This was typical of the support you guys give the co-curricula program in nearly every area. Numbers were a little low early in the season but when we asked, you responded, and through your efforts to do the right thing by your teachers, coaches and the College, we saw an enormous increase in participation, culminating in a strong fourth placing overall at the ACC Carnival last week.

You will hear in more detail from a range of speakers this morning about various sports and cultural pursuits and it’s not really practical for me to mention them all in my little address here but I would like to single out the Weightlifting Team. For literally decades they have dominated the landscape of schoolboy weightlifting in Victoria and once again in 2015 have won the state championships. Mr Hale and Old Collegian Simon Francazio and the small but dedicated team achieve so much, largely unheralded and without the formal support of the ACC competition.

Sport is always second to academic responsibilities but involvement in a team of any sort does bring many benefits around peer support, health and fitness, friendships and a sense of accomplishment in fulfilling — and enjoying — the expectations the College places on you to be involved.

The co-curricula program extends well beyond the sporting fixtures as well. The De La Salle Arts Exhibition opening this week in the PAC provids a unique opportunity for many of our 2014 Year 7 – 12 students to have work from Art, Technology, Media, Photography and Visual Communication & Design displayed in a very public forum. It will be great to see so many of our parents at the opening night, looking on proudly as their sons escort them through the exhibition pointing out their work.

Our involvement in the Debating Association of Victoria competition has also been a terrific opportunity for students from Years 9, 11 & 12 to develop skills in this area. Once again, the chance to work as a team, develop relationships with their supervising teachers, take on responsibilities and form their own opinions via collaboration and critical thinking has added significant value to these boys’ school experience in 2015. To commit to an evening competition at a variety of schools, to prepare strong, convincing and largely winning arguments at short notice against experienced opposition and do so well is a credit to the debating team and the teachers coaching them.

Our music program continues to go from strength to strength. This year’s Music Tour to Warrnambool was an outstanding success, with our boys playing to eight schools and being virtual rock stars, such was their popularity. 

I recently attended the annual concert in the PAC and it was truly a high quality event, not to mention superbly organised. Ms Frost and her team of uniquely talented musicians do a marvellous job — training, coaching, teaching and encouraging their boys to exercise their creativity. From the primary boys to some of the senior bands and ensembles, the music program in general and the opportunities to perform provide our artists with tremendous avenues for growth and satisfaction beyond the classroom.

The beauty of a comprehensive co-curricula program like ours is it provides us with the capacity to unearth, develop, promote, nurture and share the gifts of every student, regardless of their interests and talents. With 1,160 young men here, these opportunities are integral to the curriculum of the College and are important ways in which we can support you in developing character, fulfilment, self-esteem and resilience.

This of course is supported by the skills, generosity and commitment of so many of our staff who willingly give of their time and talents to support the co-curricula program, for which I am eternally grateful. Whether it is arts, sport, language, adventure, social justice or faith pursuits, we have staff supporting our boys in every sphere. There are many staff here who are experts and very experienced in the co-curricula program they look after. There are others who may not have the same strong background in a certain area but simply do it because we believe it’s important to support our students and make sure you have the opportunity to be involved in a particular sport, musical, cultural, academic or faith based pursuit.This is an important aspect of our roles which brings benefits to us all.

The very broad – and ever increasing — range of activities, events and programs for our young men to be involved in is a strong and positive sign of a flourishing school community. Our capacity as a College to accept, embrace, promote and champion such a rich and diverse selection of co-curricula activities is very encouraging.

Year 12 Trial Exams

This time of year inevitably sees a heavy emphasis on Year 12 students and their studies. Beginning Monday 28 September the 2015 trial exams are a critical element of Unit 3 & 4 students’ preparation, as they strive to perform as well as they possibly can when the VCAA exams begin on Wednesday 28 October. There is a strong and consistent pattern of students who prepare diligently and perform well in the trial exams backing this up with very strong final scores.

A significant element of examination success is the capacity to move well beyond simply learning the actual content. The most successful students – regardless of raw academic ability – are those who are best prepared. All Year 7 – 12 students must work on ensuring they are familiar with the expected content, the layout and structure of the paper, and the demands of each type of question in each section of the paper. Work with your teachers to clarify assessment criteria and focus your revision and practice tasks on addressing these criteria.

Primary Excursion to Parliament House

Last Friday I joined Mrs Anette Phillips, Director of Primary, and four Year 5 students to Parliament House for the Primary Schools’ Parliamentary Convention. The boys were able to join students from many other schools in the Legislative Assembly chamber and experience being a virtual politician for a day. Daniel Van den Berg excelled in giving a two minute opening address on the topic for the day, “Young people’s voices are not heard in Australian politics,” then joined his classmates Will Richards, Peter Orlando and Harry Coonan in a range of activities to experience and practise democracy, develop skills in persuasive and public speaking, and gain a greater understanding of Australian citizenship. Thank you to Ray Leetham, Year 5 Teacher, and Mrs Phillips for organising a fantastic experience for the boys.


We were saddened to hear the news of the passing of Mrs Isobel Ryan — mother of our Deputy Principal Tom Ryan and grandmother of Anthony in Year 8 — last Friday evening after a long illness. Please keep Tom, his mother and the extended family in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

Mr Peter Houlihan



Back to The Duce Issue 2015 14 - 17 September 2015