From the Principal

Welcome back for Term 2, a little longer due to the shorter Term 1 but as usual the time will fly with so much going on and so much to be done.

The Value of Community

I want to write a little this week about the value of community. In particular a Lasallian community and more specifically, a Lasallian community in our own context here in Malvern. Many of you will have heard me say at various events that one of the main reasons I applied for the Principal’s role here at De La Salle was my fond memories of the wonderful community here when I worked at the College for four years in the 1990s. I have been privileged to be part of a range of tremendous community activities and events in the past few weeks, both within and beyond the school day. I think it’s valuable at times to take a minute to reflect on the great things we have in our lives and the opportunities and benefits they bring. There is also a neat correlation with the Five Core Principles of Lasallian Education. We are trying to build the awareness of and connection with these in the various aspects of school life: quality education, justice, faith, respect and an inclusive community are embedded in nearly all we do as a community.

St John Baptist de La Salle implored his early Brothers to work together, in and by association, and members of his various schools and communities to be brothers and sisters to one another. Being part of a community involves taking the opportunities provided, creating your own opportunities and participating wherever you can, particularly when it involves supporting peers and colleagues. This involvement leads to a stronger sense of identity and belonging, something so critical in young men’s lives. I have been part of some great examples of this at our school in recent weeks.

Mission Action Day

Mission Action Day on 24 March was a terrific example of this community involvement. So many staff gave so willingly of their time for many hours to be part of the formal MAD Committee, with 7:45am meetings each week all term. For the first time, our Year 12 House Lasallian Leaders worked side-by-side with the staff on this Committee, adding the vital element of student voice. Almost 1,100 students walked the 12km, with everybody on staff populating the various checkpoints and myriad administrative jobs. In excess of $100,000 has been pledged and once again adds up to a superb community effort.

ACC Athletics Carnival

Last Friday saw a momentous occasion as the Athletics Team won the ACC Athletics Carnival for the first time in 14 years. Details of individual highlights etc are reported elsewhere in Duce but, continuing the community theme, I do want to make mention of the tremendous spirit which clearly existed among the boys and their coaches. The various stars of the team were magnificent in their events, but it was the willingness of the broader team to put in and have a go, just contribute and step in when needed which was so remarkable. As a keen observer and as their Principal I was so proud of the boys’ spirit and obvious unity.

Old Collegians Footy Club Season Launch

Two weeks ago I attended the Old Collegians Footy Club Season Launch at the RACV Club, along with nine other ACC Football coaches from the College. This is a terrific annual event, with 250 guests, the vast majority of whom are either Old Colls or have embraced our community and value what it offers. Our Strategic Plan and indeed this year’s Annual Action Plan emphasise the importance of the College’s connection with the Old Collegians and in attending this function, their first two games, the Old Collegians’ Business Breakfast in March and the 50 Year Reunion a few weeks ago, it is fantastic to see these very important elements of our community providing that spirit of belonging and affiliation with the school.

Lasallian Educators Conference

This week I was privileged to attend the inaugural Lasallian Educators Conference from Sunday to Wednesday. The brainchild of Wayne Bull, Principal of La Salle College Middle Swan (outside Perth), and hosted at his beautiful school by his superb staff, this was a genuine celebration of our charism and the myriad educational and spiritual benefits it provides. With 170 delegates from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Sudan and USA, the conference was a reminder of the healthy state of our Lasallian education community and the promise for what the future can deliver.

The keynote speakers and the various workshops and seminars focused partly on what we do and where our inspiration and example comes from in the works of St John Baptist de La Salle and also, crucially, there was a strong strategic element. The future of education, the nature of 21st century learning and the future of work were common themes and creative thinking around how to meet these challenges as Lasallian educators brought some terrific ideas.

Mother’s Day Breakfast

Another major community event, the annual Mother’s Day Breakfast, is well and truly sold out (weeks in advance), with a record 450 attending. Ms Kaila Hutchinson, new to the teaching staff in 2016, is our guest speaker this year and will give an account of her journey as a 1500 metre runner. Kaila represented Australia in World Championships, Commonwealth Games and ultimately the 2012 Olympics in London. The Mother’s Day Breakfast is a wonderful occasion where we give as many mums as possible the chance to join us on campus, meet other families, listen to our College Leaders and guest speaker and just take the opportunity to be present in their sons’ lives here at school.

Hairspray – Opening Night Tonight

Tonight we will see the opening performance of Hairspray, this year’s musical production with OLSH Bentleigh. Auditions began back in August and the dedicated team of singers, actors, dancers and backstage supporters have had a wonderful time rehearsing, building friendships and enjoying being contributors to what really is a massive community production. I have looked in on rehearsals several times over the months and it’s been marvellous to see the development in confidence and to see so many of our students and their fellow performers from OLSH. Ticket sales have been strong but there are still seats available each performance. Visit the National Theatre website to book your tickets now.

Community Masses

This term we have two Community Masses. Mrs Rana Brogan, Deputy Principal Faith and Mission, and I have been working with several parishes to set up dates for 2016.

On Sunday 1 May De La boys who are past students from St Paul’s Bentleigh will return to help us host the 9:30am Mass at 122 Jasper Road.

On Sunday 5 June we are very happy to be celebrating Mass with the community at St Dominic’s: 816 Riversdale Road, Camberwell at 9:30am.

On each occasion we will be accompanied by ex-students from those parish primary schools and several College Student Leaders, with the intention of retaining and building our connection with nearby parishes from where we draw many of our students each year.

Royal Commission

All families in the College and Old Collegians will this week receive a letter from me in relation to the recent publicity around the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Like most Catholic schools, De La Salle has not been spared involvement in this most heinous of crimes. My statement to the community is a concise outline of Malvern’s experience and our response as a community. A copy of the statement may be sourced here.

Uniform and Student Behaviour in the Public Domain

Finally, I’d like to ask parents to support me in a couple of key areas. With the winter uniform being compulsory for Terms 2 and 3 it is imperative the students wear it well. This means top button done up, tie knotted properly at the collar and perhaps the biggest issue: shirts must be tucked in. This has been addressed at various levels at school but some students let us down, particularly in the public domain.

Our uniform is traditional and distinctive; it’s a source of great pride for the very many students who wear it well both on and off-campus and this sets the appropriate tone. Wearing the uniform well conveys an image that we are proud of our College, proud of our personal appearance and proud to be members of our community. The expectations are clearly laid out on page 8 of the 2016 Student Diary and I’d be grateful if parents could discuss this with their sons where appropriate.

This year I have once again received some remarkable phone calls and emails praising our students for their conduct and help for elderly people on public transport. With so many students from De La and surrounding schools piling onto trams, in particular at the end of each day, it is part of our dealings with the boys to remind them to be mindful of their fellow travellers. My message when speaking to year levels etc. is to be very aware of our responsibilities on public transport. Like it or not, our uniform is distinctive and any breaches of good manners and/or lack of consideration of the general public does not reflect well on us.

I have had several complaints this year in relation to our students not giving up seats to older passengers, failing to move to allow others to alight and loud and/or inappropriate language. While these complaints inevitably refer to a select few who let us down and ignore the great example set by so many of our boys, it is worth discussing. I have been buoyed by the tremendous leadership shown by so many students who actually encourage their peers to do the right thing on public transport. If all the boys could be conscious of their behaviour in the public domain and show the consideration due to their fellow passengers I’m sure we won’t have any further complaints.

Mr Peter Houlihan


Back to The Duce Issue 2016 05 - 21 April 2016