From the Principal

Welcome to the first Duce of what is obviously a very unusual Term 2. It is a period which has been so strange, so unfamiliar and so challenging in so many ways I have been extremely heartened by the response of all in our community. 

The days I am on campus are a little haunting and underwhelming – usually there are 1000 plus young men running around, talking, playing downball and calling out a greeting, it really seems like a long time since the students were here and things were “normal.” Schools are really only for the students, so the sooner we are allowed to get them back and all the spirit and camaraderie that brings, the better off we’ll all be. 

I have already communicated in various letters and emails my gratitude to the staff, particularly those in key leadership roles who worked so diligently, especially during the recent holidays to ensure all students, staff and systems were set up and ready to go for Term 2. It is largely down to these people that our experience of remote learning has been so successful.

That said, I understand it does present some difficulties for various families. I know our Wellbeing Team is in touch with a range of students and parents and the appropriate advice, support and strategies are in place. I would invite any family experiencing difficulties under the current circumstances to contact us. If unsatisfactory or inadequate study conditions at home make learning difficult for your sons, or if he is having difficulty keeping up with the expectations for whatever reason, please contact Ms Jessica Alger, Deputy Principal — Students

Ms Alger and her team are devoting a good deal of time to creative and supportive measures to look after our students, so please let us know if we can help. The boys’ wellbeing and social connection is integral to and just as important as their learning.

On a similar theme, if your son is used to working under the care of the Education Support Department, and there are times when he needs extra support beyond what his teachers and Learning Support Officer can provide remotely, please contact Ms Georgie Skinner to discuss your concerns and what nature and level of support may be available and practical. This may include coming into school on some days if that is agreed to be necessary and helpful.

We are all working hard to keep the students on track and the terrific, positive feedback from so many parents has been greatly appreciated. The staff have loved seeing your grateful acknowledgement of their work with the students and the messages on our Facebook page. We are reviewing virtually daily the expectations on the students, the quantity and nature of work, assessment etc and making sure we strike a balance with keeping the students engaged and up to date, bearing in mind what can be best and reasonably achieved remotely.

The school closure obviously meant we were unable to mark ANZAC Day with our traditional ceremony, however thanks to Ms Brogan staff were able to share a mini-liturgy with their classes on Monday morning. It is important our students have the opportunity to understand and appreciate the history, tradition and sacrifice associated with ANZAC Day and the so very many service men and women who gave their lives for their country. I am a little biased as a History teacher, but I do believe the students of this generation need to understand the meaning of ANZAC Day and my experience in boys’ schools is that they do so with respect and reverence. 

My father served in WW2 (he’d be 112 if he was still alive!) and I have fond memories of him marching as an almost 90 year-old ANZAC with the few remaining diggers from his tiny country town of Harrow, where he grew up. These traditions and memories are an integral part of our fabric as Australians, so hopefully we can return to our normal whole-school ANZAC service in 2021.

Finally, on a very sad note, as a Lasallian community, we remember and honour the fallen Police Officers who have so tragically and senselessly lost their lives.

We know that our response needs to be grounded in Jesus’ message of compassion, courage and faith. “Fear not” he tells us repeatedly in the Gospels. 

We hold in our hearts and in our prayers those who are suffering, grieving and pining under pressure. We remember those Police Officers who have given their lives in the performance of their duty and we pray for their families and friends as they carry the grief of this tragic loss. 

We continue to do what we can to alleviate distress and be of service to others and remember those who are always serving others. 

St John Baptist de La Salle – Pray for Us 

Live Jesus in our hearts – Forever 

Peter Houlihan

Back to The Duce Issue 2020 04 - 30 April 2020