From the Principal

Last night we celebrated the graduation of our 2017 Year 12 class with Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral and a Valedictory Dinner at the Sofitel. This week’s Duce article is my speech to the Valedictorians.

Principal’s Valedictory Speech — 26 October 2017

Good evening parents, staff and a special welcome and acknowledgement to our 158 Guests of Honour — the Year 12 Valedictorians of 2017.

It is great to have Tony Morwood, Chair of the College Board with us tonight. Welcome also Br Paul Toohey who is standing in for Br Michael Carroll, Director of the Malvern Brothers Community, who is an apology this evening.

Representing St James College we have Mr Patrick Janes – Deputy Principal and Mr Justin Shepherd – Year 10 Coordinator. We are very glad you were able to join us here tonight gentlemen. Our other Lasallian partners; St Bede’s and St John’s Dandenong send their apologies and best wishes for the evening.

A special welcome and thank you to Fr John Sherman for celebrating the Eucharist with us tonight. I think we all agree it was a fitting celebration of faith to begin our observance of all that our Year 12s have achieved in 2017 and indeed, in all their years here at the College. Thank you also to the Archdiocese for allowing us to use their beautiful cathedral; it certainly adds a bit of grandeur to the occasion when we have Mass in a church like St Patrick’s.

I might direct the first section of my address to the Valedictorians themselves.

Valedictory Dinners are poignant occasions; such a range of emotions. By definition, a Valedictory is a farewell and I suppose we are farewelling our young men from formal schooling, but as 105 years of tradition demonstrates all too clearly, once you are a De La boy you never really leave.

The Valedictory is always very exciting in many ways because it does signal the end of school, but it is also tinged with sadness. So many memories, so many friendships, experiences, achievements — and yet it seems like no time since you started Year 7 in 2012 or indeed for 11 of you, Year 4 in 2009! Perhaps we could have a round of applause for the 11 originals, continuing a fine tradition.

This evening also brings a little trepidation about the future, but hopefully more a sense of excitement as you are now entering into a whole new world where you will make your mark, follow your dreams and become whatever you want to be. But to enter into that world you must now leave your home – at least your educational home — of so many years.

Home is not only where we find security, familiarity, warmth and love; it is also where we find our sense of purpose and meaning. It is where we turn to in difficult or uncertain times in order to ground ourselves and to seek support and advice which we can trust. Home provides us with a firm platform from which we can leap into the unknown and it is a place we always know we can come back to, a place where we are known for who we are, not what we have done.

Author John Ed Pearce sums it up beautifully when he said, “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” Home is a sanctuary from a troubled world. It is a place where you can be yourself.

This school has been your second home, your home away from home. Being part of a family, even the Lasallian brotherhood, has its challenges but I can say without fear of contradiction that each of you has enhanced your Lasallian home. Your presence here has made a significant difference. I have every confidence in each of you as young men of great potential, you just have to take advantage of the gifts you have and the support, opportunities, camaraderie and sense of responsibility your Lasallian education has given you.

Now it’s time for you to leave your school home. To go out into the world and be good citizens. But know that your home will always be here. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”

To the parents, thank you for the privilege of educating your sons in a Lasallian environment. The lot of a VCE parent is not guaranteed to be a happy one. While it appears some students sail through secondary school and their VCE relatively unscathed, I suspect every mum and dad in the room has their own story of your boy navigating stormy seas.

Thank you for your support of the College, your influence, love, guidance, patience and the obvious and superb role models you provide for your sons. As I often tell people in less formal settings, De La boys are just good old fashioned “good kids”; what you see is what you get. They are a credit to the school and to their families so I thank you as parents for all that your sons have brought to the College.

While we continually strive for improvement and push each member of the Year 12 cohort to achieve their personal best in the academic arena, there is one constant in our graduates each year. De La Salle turns out fine young men, with a keen sense of social justice, ready to contribute to society and become leaders in their own right. I know this is the case with the tremendous group of students I see in this dining room. You are well equipped to step out into the real world — make the most of it, gentlemen.

I would also like to thank the senior staff at Kinnoull:

  • Ms Lisa Harkin has been an outstanding leader and mentor for the Year 12 students in her second year as Deputy Principal – Students;
  • Mr John McAlroy has provided terrific guidance and direction as the Director of Students Years 10 – 12;
  • The four House Coordinators — Ms Jessica Stevenson, Mr Michael Watty, Mr Shane Mackintosh and Mr Paul Harrup have been a wonderful team and done a sterling job in guiding and supporting the boys;
  • The House Mentors have been instrumental and influential in moulding a cohesive Year 10 – 12 pastoral/mentor group and they have been at the core of the positive relationships our students develop and value so highly.

Thank you to all these people who, through living their ministry as Lasallian teachers, generate such wonderful support and look out for the wellbeing of each of their charges. They deserve a round of applause.

I wish you well gentlemen. You have done so much to make us all very proud and your legacy will be overwhelmingly positive. Just by way of a closing point — I’m reading a book at the moment called “Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach us about the business of life.” On the closing page there is a message which I am going to pass on to the Valedictorians here tonight:

When a player makes the All Blacks team, they’re given a book. It’s a small black book, bound in fine leather and beautiful to hold.

  • The first page shows a jersey – that of the 1905 Originals, the team that began this long tradition;
  • On the next page is another jersey, that of the 1924 Invincibles and on the next page, another jersey, and another and so on until the present day. It is a visual story, layered with meaning, a legacy to step into;
  • The next few pages of this All Black handbook remind you of the principles, the values, the heroes, the standards, the code of honour, the character of the team;
  • The rest of the pages are blank. Waiting to be filled;
  • It’s time to make your mark, they say. Your contribution;
  • It’s time to leave a legacy, your. It’s your time.

Remember you are creating your own legacy. You will now, and always be, a De La boy and you will always be welcome when you return.

Good luck and God bless.

Mr Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2017 16 - 26 October 2017