From the Principal
Even though we have several weeks of classes, exams and end of year celebrations to work through before the final dismissal of students for 2015 occurs on Tuesday 9 December, planning is well underway for next year.
The Year 4 & 7 2016 Information Evening was held on Tuesday this week, 10th November. It was terrific to see a virtually 100% attendance from all the new students’ families and to speak to them, albeit briefly, about their arrival at De La Salle in a very exciting time in our history.
During the past couple of years growth and development has gathered momentum and the winds of change have whistled down every corridor of College life. Our well‐documented platform of improvement and innovation has taken on genuine meaning and a physical presence as we create for our students an improved and contemporary learning experience, giving all boys the opportunity to reach their potential.
You will have seen within the 2015–18 Strategic Plan our commitment to know every student, to support him on his learning journey and ensure there is choice and challenge, rigour and relevance in our curriculum. The 2015 Year 10 curriculum has provided that and continues to be developed for 2016. Next year sees significant innovation and personalised learning from Years 4 – 9 with the introduction of new technologies, the Year 7 & 8 Immersion Program and the Year 9 In9uiry Program.
I must acknowledge the extraordinary amount of work, commitment, research and creativity our staff have invested in planning and preparing for the 2016 implementation via various committees and teams. I mentioned at the Information Evening I doubt we have ever been better or more thoroughly prepared for the beginning of a new academic year and the future of our College’s learning landscape looks incredibly bright.
We have a strong focus on building 21st century skills in our students and Mr David Alexander, one of our four Directors of Learning and Development, provided some detail and structure around this in his most excellent presentation. Mr Alexander provided some specific examples around our goal to support the boys in becoming active and informed citizens armed with the skills to enable them to be independent learners, critical thinkers and confident users of technology to support their learning.
Underpinning not only the rollout of the new notebook computers at Years 4, 7 & 10 for next year, but our whole school approach to teaching and learning is a comprehensive Staff Professional Learning program. Since teachers were issued notebooks in December last year each has been working toward their internal Digital Learning Certificate. From the very basics to advanced applications, carefully planned and staged to ensure best use of ICT to support the learning, the digital learning training has equipped staff to maximise the productivity of the students’ devices – and their own! Covering four discrete sections — ICT Skills; Classroom Planning and Management; School Planning, Policy and Professional Engagement and Student Centred Learning — the process has been hugely beneficial.
This Sunday 15 November at 11:00am we have our fourth and final De La Salle Community Mass for the year, hosted by St Finbar’s Parish, 90 Centre Rd, Brighton East. The 12 current Year 6 boys at St Finbar’s who are coming to De La next year have been invited, as have all 40 plus current students who came to us from St Finbar’s, along with Old Collegians who we know to be still living in the area. Several of our Year 7 – 9 students will be doing the Readings, Offertory etc. so we are looking forward to another successful community event.
Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy
Continuing our spiritual theme, I was interested to read this week in the circular from Catholic Education Melbourne the announcement by Pope Francis that he has convoked an
Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, to begin on 8 December 2015. The idea is to promote the essential need for mercy in all our lives, with the Pope saying he has proclaimed the Year of Mercy because “it is the favourable time to heal wounds… a time to offer everyone the way of forgiveness and reconciliation”. Mercy has been a major recurring theme for Pope Francis in his work and his messages and I believe it is a theme our young Lasallian men do, and will continue to, embrace given their commitment to social justice and the everyday care and compassion I see in them so regularly. It is indeed gratifying as a teacher and Principal to see so often in our young men, unbidden and without instruction, genuine care and in its literal sense, mercy for each other. In the yard when there is controversy over a downball line‐call; an injury; a funeral or even just a minor disappointment or annoyance during the day, our boys demonstrate mercy and compassion in supporting each other in a real and relevant manner which makes sense in their worlds.
In her commentary around the announcement by Pope Francis, Christine Gilmour, Education Officer — Liturgy, Prayer and Spirituality, in Catholic Education Services, Catholic Education Melbourne, asks what this might mean for each of us in our personal and professional lives. Where can we look to find our opportunities to “bring the goodness and tenderness of God” to those around us? All of us in Catholic education have a particular responsibility in helping our students, staff and school community enter into the Year of Mercy. By inviting staff and students to reflect on what the Year of Mercy may mean to them, how we may celebrate it, how we may develop our understanding and practices of mercy in our school and what possibilities exist for a focus?
The obvious expression of mercy for De La Salle is our various social justice commitments. Already this year we have raised $103,000 through Mission Action Day, many students have volunteered at the Soup Van, assisted at St Vincent de Paul outlets, travelled to Balgo Hills in remote WA and Bomana De La Salle High School in Papua New Guinea on building projects and next Friday 16 Year 12 students and three staff leave for India on the 2015 Coolies trip. Mr Michael Wilson, Mrs Clare Kennedy and Mr Michael Petrie are leading the group this year. We wish them all the very best as they travel on Friday 20 November to St La Salle Higher Secondary School, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu district in southern India. This is indeed mercy in action as we support our Lasallian communities in need abroad.
Congratulations to Year 8 student Kristoff Soliven, who placed 1st runner up in U15 for a national junior golf competition, and to Lachlan Menara (Year 9), who won gold in the long jump (6.40m) and silver in the triple jump (13.07m) at the Victorian All Schools Championships and now qualifies for the National All Schools in December.
Next Friday also sees the beginning of the HeadStart program for VCE 2016. It is critical all 2016 Year 11 & 12 students attend for the whole six days. For students, there is a range of benefits:
- get to know their new teachers and class mates
- settle into what it’s like and what’s required in your 2016 level
- become aware of course content, assessments, skills required and the standard they’re expected to be working towards
- for many subjects they can work towards the first unit of work and assessment tasks
- allows more time for skill development, experimenting and various class activities with the chance for teachers to assist
- we have high expectations for students and see this as an opportunity to develop more academic rigour and give them the confidence NOW to really set themselves up for a successful 2016
- a chance for students to challenge themselves, ask lots of questions, take control of their learning and be set to return in late January confident and ready to get straight into resuming their 2016 year’s work.
Mr Peter Houlihan