From the Principal

With only one week of Term 2 to go, it is worth reflecting briefly on what has been a wonderful ten weeks in many ways, but there was a sadness woven throughout with the loss of some key figures in our community.

Term 2 is always rounded out by the end of semester examinations and assessments. I wrote in the previous Duce about the importance of students’ thorough preparation, working closely with their teachers to create for themselves the very best chance of performing well. All students at De La Salle bring their unique gifts, talents and challenges and each of them is capable of great things when they apply themselves, work in cooperation with teachers and strive to achieve their personal best. This concept of personal best is one I am very keen to emphasise. Some students find academic achievement easier than others; this is a fact that we can all understand and accept. The real challenge for students and their supportive families is to give their very best and ensure they leave no stone unturned in striving for improvement. Progression over the term or semester is every bit as important – if not more so – than achievement on a particular task. This strategic approach to study is crucial for all students from Year 4 right through to Year 12.

A couple of weeks ago I attended an Australian Institute of Company Directors course on Strategic Planning. While the day was geared toward Board Directors, Principals and Executive Teams I was, as ever, applying the principles to concepts that could support our students’ development and improvement. The presenter outlined the following six habits of strategic thinkers and if our students and teachers apply these ideas to their daily work I believe there will be visible benefits:

  1. Anticipate: Look for game-changing information/ideas, look beyond traditional boundaries of what you’re working with;
  2. Think Critically: Strategic thinkers question everything, reframe problems to get to the bottom of a problem;
  3. Interpret: Seek patterns in data, question prevailing assumptions;
  4. Decide: Develop processes and follow/enforce them;
  5. Align: Foster open dialogue and build trust, especially with divergent views;
  6. Learn: Honest feedback critical, rigorous debriefs, be prepared to shift course.

With a bit of creative thinking any student can apply this strategic thinking to their pursuit of excellence.

Without going into extensive detail I would like to acknowledge the many staff and students who have been involved in myriad events, activities, programs and initiatives this term. In all spheres, so many in our community have genuinely made a difference to the life of the College. Such events include:

  • ACC Football and Soccer;
  • The Addams Family Musical;
  • The Importance of Being Earnest rehearsals;
  • Year 7 Band concerts;
  • Founders Day;
  • Year 12 Seminar Program;
  • Mother’s Day Breakfast;
  • Year 7 Mother and Son Time and Space Evening;
  • Year 9 City Experience and Inquiry Expo;
  • Year 9 Duke of Edinburgh Expedition;
  • ACC Arts and Technology Exhibition;
  • Year 6 Science Exhibition;
  • Ignite Gifted and Talented Education incursion;
  • Year 9 Reflection Days;
  • Year 7, 8 and 9 Footy and Soccer Lightning Premierships;
  • Primary Grandparents Day;
  • School Tours;
  • Year 10 Morrisby Testing;
  • Anzac Day ceremony;
  • Year 12 Formal.

Thank you to all of you who have done so much to support so many activities and events this term.

We were all saddened by the loss of our colleague Brian Coulthard, legendary ex-staff member Brother Paschal, several parents of staff and students and most recently, just on Sunday, Mr Damien O’Shea. Damien was an Old Collegian having graduated in 1974. The O’Shea’s are a three-generation Lasallian family with Damien’s father in the Class of 1941, Damien’s two brothers also being Old Collegians (Simon (1979) and Anthony (1982)) and his son, Ben, who graduated last year. Damien has been a wonderful and very popular contributor to our ACC Athletics coaching team in recent years. We keep in our prayers Damien, his wife Raechel, son Ben and daughter Darcy, along with all the recently departed and their loved ones.

Eternal rest grant unto Damien, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Last Thursday I attended a meeting of Lasallian Principals from across Australia, with over ten schools represented from Melbourne, Sydney, Southport, Adelaide and Perth as well as our Brother Visitor, David Hawke and Lasallian Mission Council Chief Executive Officer, Merv McCormack.

The discussion focussed on Lasallian formation and keeping the traditional messages relevant, and engaging in the contemporary educational environment. In a workshop setting we also examined a range of insightful professional readings around Principalship and school leadership/improvement, strategic and operational team planning, staff wellbeing ideas and processes, reviews of senior leadership staff, Immersion programs both within Australia and overseas and exploring Lasallian schools exchange possibilities.

Merv McCormack fed back to us the next day his impressions of the meeting.

The richness of the agenda and the generous sharing of resources and ideas made it a very worthwhile day. What most impressed me was the richness of contributions from right around the table, so that irrespective of which State and diocesan jurisdiction under which you operated, whether you were a city or rural school, irrespective of big or small school, rich or poor demographic, the day contained numerous professional development components for all. Br David’s affirmations of the skills and professionalism of the Principals was heartening to hear. Thanks, David, and spot on.”

Merv McCormack

The day really served to reinforce the value in being part of the strong Lasallian schools network with myriad benefits across the board.

Finally, I’d like to pass on a terrific message from a member of the public which arrived this week. This is a wonderful example of the responsibility and leadership so many of our very fine young men regularly demonstrate and we are of course very proud of them, especially in situations like this.

I write in reference to an incident this morning on the Williamstown train line city-bound (on a train that departed Williamstown at 7.13am). I write specifically about the behaviour of one of your students.

I’ll explain the situation: A gentleman fell off his chair (in the open seating area at the top end of the carriage) and paused on the floor while regaining his composure. The fall and the man’s behaviour was quite awkward, but a boy from your school looked on — not in amusement, but with genuine care. He displayed a good sense of maturity given the situation.

The school boy proceeded to offer the man his hand to help him up, but when part way up, the gentleman proceeded to return to the floor and lie down and was spasming. The man explained he was having a seizure and needed a moment to overcome it. He asked the boy to help him by resting his body weight into his back and pinning his arms down. The boy complied by kneeling gently into the man’s back and holding his arms down, while the gentleman overcame his seizure. Others offered to help, but the boy had the situation completely under control. The whole thing lasted only about one or two minutes. The gentleman recovered well and the boy left all surrounding passengers in awe.

That boy was so impressive in the kindness, composure and respect that he showed, that I felt I just had to relay the incident to you. I was so heartened by what I witnessed. I hope that my young son can one day be as self-possessed and compassionate as that De La Salle boy.

I wish you the very best in continuing to help raise the boys at your school.

Next week I will be away on a two week course at the Buttimer Institute for Lasallian Studies. Mr Tom Ryan will be Acting Principal for the final week of term. I wish all students and staff (and any parents taking leave) a safe, happy and restful holiday.

Mr Peter Houlihan


Back to The Duce Issue 2017 09 - 22 June 2017