The Duce Issue 2019 01 - 7 February 2019

From the Principal

A very warm welcome back to all families for the 2019 school year, with a special mention of those new to the De La Salle community. It has been a terrific beginning to the year with a smooth transition for the new Year 7 students and the many others across the College having their first week at a new school.

One of the many great features of De La is the community of positive relationships which exist across the board. Welcoming new staff, students and families, helping them settle in is a key part of who we are and what a Lasallian community provides. I have been out in the yard and in classrooms in the past week, talking to many of the Year 5 — 8 students at Tiverton in particular, and note a wonderful level of enthusiasm and camaraderie already.

I was very proud to announce to the community in December that in 2018, De La Salle achieved our best VCE results on record, with a significant increase in all the key data from 2017 and especially from 2016.

  • The Median Study Score for 2018 is 32, up from 30 last year and 29 in 2016. To leap three places in two years is indeed momentous.
  • The percentage of Study Scores 40 and above is 7.22%, up from 6.43% last year and 5.3% in 2016.
  • Median ATAR is 73.15, up from 67.60 last year and 64.18 in 2016.
  • The percentage of students with ATARs in the 70 – 99.96 range is 57.62, a dramatic increase from 45.86% in 2017.

While there is an impressive range of superb individual results, with many students doing exceptionally well, the unprecedented high standard they have set as a cohort is most noteworthy. Congratulations and thank you to all the Units 3 and 4 teachers who invested so much time, effort and expertise in teaching, mentoring and advising the students in their care. Remembering that the state median for all subjects is 30, De La’s many Study Scores in the 34 – 38 range places us at the very top of the scale when compared with any of Victoria’s highest performing schools.

The overall improvement is a testament to the targeted approach and diligent attention to detail of the 2018 cohort and the positive relationships our teachers form with the young men they teach.

As ever, the most organised and intrinsically motivated students performed at the highest standard. However, the real difference in the improved results comes in the middle and lower band. While the top end has certainly improved, achieving an overall increase relies on all students stepping up. The marked difference in the performance of students at all levels sends a powerful message that each and every one can achieve and do very well with the right approach.

Congratulations to the 2018 College Dux, Harrison Cook, who achieved an outstanding ATAR of 98.25. Harrison’s extraordinary results in six diverse and very challenging Unit 3 and 4 Studies are the result of a disciplined, organised approach, a dedication to maximising his potential and a willingness to work closely with teachers and peers. Harrison’s results in his six subjects – attaining scores in the 40s for four of them – sets a tremendous example for other De La Salle students.

All in the wider De La Salle community were thrilled with the successful opening of our new Year 9 Holy Eucharist campus in Malvern East last Thursday. An enormous amount of work has been invested by so many people in so many areas since September to ensure all was in readiness for last week.

An extensive renovation and refurbishment program was executed on time and on budget by Schiavello Builders and Montlaur Project Management, transforming the buildings to a clean, bright and spacious contemporary learning setting for our Year 9 students.

New Head of Campus, David Alexander and Deputy Principal: Learning and Teaching, Mark Gustincic assembled a highly skilled, innovative and dedicated Year 9 teaching team. Supported by Lauren Anderson in the newly created role of Year 9 Learning and Teaching Leader, the team has developed an engaging, original, cross‐curricular learning experience for our young men. The Year 9 campus has begun its life in very encouraging style, full of promise and exciting opportunities for the many cohorts of Year 9 students to come.

We will officially welcome all students and families to Holy Eucharist with a special De La Salle mass at the parish church at 10:30am on Sunday 24th February, followed by a family BBQ courtesy of our ever‐supportive Parent Network. This promises to be a special day enjoyed by all.

We have been fortunate to recruit a range of excellent new staff for the 2019 school year, outlined in the list below.

2019 New Staff

Name Role
Ms Jessica AlgerDeputy Principal — Students
Ms Lauren AndersonYear 9 Learning and Teaching Leader
Mr Martin GibbsDirector of Students (Middle Years)
Mr James GigaczCollege Organiser
Ms Catherine RyanLibrary Team Leader
Ms Eliza MeallinVCE Media Teacher
Ms Dasha VorobievaLanguages Teacher
Mr Luke SerranoMusic Coordinator
Mr Lucas ClaytonCasual Trombone Teacher
Mr Alex ZolkoverDigital Services Manager (ICT)
Mr Rodger HoskinVCE Commerce Teacher
Ms Kathryn HolewaReligious Education LATL and Maths/Science Teacher
Mr Clint HutchinsonDesign Technology Teacher
Mr James BivianoLasallian Youth Minister
Mr Geordie NagleAFL Trainee
Miss Prema D’cruzVCE Commerce Teacher
Mr Henrich GalamVCE English Teacher
Mr Ben AhernYear 5 Teacher
Ms Dianne SaugyLibrary Technician
Ms Pam LeedingEducation Support Officer — VASS and Alumni
Ms Angela RunciEnglish and RE Teacher
Mr Peter SchwabDirector of Football
Ms Rupali SharmaLaboratory Technician
Miss Madalaine Jaskiewicz Kinnoull Receptionist

In closing, I would like to thank all staff, students and families for their contributions to making the beginning of 2019 so smooth and successful. I look forward to catching up with as many of you as possible during the year.

Mr Peter Houlihan
Principal

Deputy Principals’ Column

Staff and Operations

Operationally, the College has made a very smooth start to 2019.

Some statistics about the start of the year:

  • We opened with 1095 students (including 51 students in Years 5 and 6)
  • We welcomed 196 students into Year 7
  • 25 new staff (including 17 teachers) commenced this year
  • Holy Eucharist Year 9 Campus opened with 14 staff, and 156 students.

All looks well for a terrific year ahead!

Year 12 Retreat

Unfortunately, we had to postpone the Year 12 Retreat due to bushfires in the Thompson River Catchment. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the fires. We hope the Retreat will be rescheduled for later in Term 1. Parents and students will be notified well in advance once arrangements are confirmed.

Kinnoull Library

In 2019 the Kinnoull Library will again be open after school for students. A roster of staff will support the students each afternoon.

Kinnoull Library closing times are:
Monday – Thursday: 6:00pm
Friday: 5:00pm

Mr Tom Ryan
Deputy Principal — Staff and Operations

Faith and Mission

Welcome to an exciting and hope‐filled year at De La Salle College. I would particularly like to welcome all of the staff, students and parents who are new to our College. I pray that your time here will be happy and productive.

2019 De La Salle College Theme

As Lasallians, we are a community of faith, and our faith underpins all that we do, in the living presence of God. We believe in our students, our community and our world.

Just as St John Baptist de La Salle lived out his faith in Christ by heeding the call to discipleship, a Lasallian is committed to the respect and reverence of others, seeing all as valuable and important in the eyes of God. This leads us to understand that educating the individual in the Lasallian tradition, providing a “human and Christian” education, is something that is supremely valuable and worthwhile.

For 2019, the Lasallian Principle of “Quality Education” has been chosen as our College theme and the accompanying quote in this special year of the Tercentenary was inspired from the upcoming 2019 APLEC Conference theme, “Educating for Life: One Heart, One Commitment, One Life.”

It is most fitting, that in the 2019 year of the Tercentenary, this Lasallian principle of “Quality Education is chosen as it recognises the deep aspirations that St John Baptist de La Salle had for his Lasallian communities. 2019 is a special year, as we commemorate the Tercentenary of our Founder, St John Baptist de La Salle. As Lasallians, we recognise this as an important milestone in the life of the Lasallian Institute – the 300th anniversary of the death of the Founder. The Tercentenary year will provide us with the opportunity to reflect on and celebrate our past as well as create a future that is filled with hope, living in the moment in the presence of God.

2018 Year 12 “Yaluwo” Lasallian Immersion to Sri Lanka

On Thursday 22 November 2018 the Yaluwo group prepared to depart for their immersion experience in Sri Lanka.

Having just completed their VCE exams, they were about to embark on a social justice experience of a life time, spending almost one month away from home. To those who are new to our De La Salle College community, Yaluwo means “Friends” in Sinhalese, the native Sri Lankan language, and the friendship certainly continued to grow and flourish in the most authentic ways as we arrived and settled at Diyagala Boys’ Town.

As Lasallians, we are committed to living our lives in solidarity with the poor and the most vulnerable. Our Year 12 students who embarked on the Yaluwo Immersion answered God’s call to live and serve their fellow Lasallian brothers (and sisters), at Diyagala Boys’ Town Technical Boarding School. An experience that provided them with an opportunity to appreciate our Lasallian vocation of service and “touching hearts”.

In the Gospel of St John, we are reminded of the importance of service as more than just words, that it needs to be visible and real;

 “Our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active.”

(Jn.3:18)

It was heartening to witness our students fully immerse themselves in the work and the community at Diyagala, recognising that an immersion experience is about building relationships with others, not just doing something for others. An immersion experience involves a recognition not only of the needs of others but also their gifts. Such service can enable those who are voiceless, devalued or forgotten in our society to be heard, valued and seen. Our Lasallian charism enables us to recognise that all lives are gifts from God and we can nurture our own gift by being of service to those in need. Through our listening, our compassion and our service we bring hope for the future to others.

After days of sanding wooden cupboards, painting walls and polishing ceramic floor tiles, the Diyagala students, Br Denzil, Br Loyola and Br Granville surprised and honoured us by revealing they were naming the room the “Yaluwo Parlour”. The Yaluwo Parlour will be used as a guest waiting room and social room for the students.

On behalf of the 2018 Yaluwo Immersion group, I would like to mention in the dedication of the De La Salle Brothers in Sri Lanka. The gentle, decent and good men who dedicate their lives to working with ‘the last, the least and the lost.” In the true spirit of the Founder St. John Baptist de La Salle, the Brothers work tirelessly to care for the students in their care at Diyagala, helping to provide them with an education to break the cycle of poverty. It was a privilege to know them, to support them and to have had the opportunity to work alongside them.

A personal thanks also to Mr Chas Thompson and Mr Anthony Freeman for their commitment, dedication and individual contributions.

Finally, to the students, Oliver Burke, Finn Carey, Jacob Carroll, Ky Morgenthaler, Heath McCullough, Panos Menidis, Hayden Rideg and Hamish Sutherland — a heartfelt thank you. Each day I was witnessing our young Lasallian men be the living face of Christ, “touching hearts” of all those they encountered.

Staff Formation with Steve Lawrence

It was great to have Steve Lawrence join the staff in our first week back to explore how we go about inspiring and equipping ourselves as educators in our role as custodians of the Catholic faith, how we model this to the students and how we represent and lead the faith.

As Catholic school educators, it is important that we remain openly Catholic in inspiration and nature. Our role as Catholic educators is the education of the whole person since we recognise that it is in Jesus Christ that all human values find fulfilment and unity. As Lasallians, we recognise that by living out, modelling and participating in the faith, we create a positive climate for our students to grow their faith.

Steve’s key theme to the staff was “Fanning the Flame of Faith” and he reminded us that the conversations, interactions, moments we have with our students resonate for years to come. Every day we are shaping the lives of the young people we encounter. We were challenged to allow God into our lives, even in times of doubt. Steve asked us to know the scriptures and to know them well. Christ was a teacher. We are called to be participators of Christ as teachers. To fan the flame, we ourselves, “need to be on fire.” Just like the example given in the Road to Emmaus, we too, are called to walk alongside our students, just as Jesus walked along the road with his disciples.

2019 Opening and Welcome Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral

On Wednesday 27 February, all Year 7 students and new students across all year levels, will be formally welcomed into the College community.

All families will receive a formal letter, co‐signed by the College Principal Mr Peter Houlihan and the Deputy Principal – Faith and Mission, Mrs Rana Brogan outlining the details and expectations of the celebration evening at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Parents are asked to please arrive no later than 6:00pm to ensure a prompt 6:30pm start to the Mass.

All 2019 College Leaders (All Year 12 College Leaders, Tiverton Captain and Vice Captains, Primary Captain and Vice Captains and Holy Eucharist Captain and Vice Captains), will be commissioned into their respective roles and are required to be dressed in full winter uniform.

Year 7 students and all other new students to the College are required to be dressed in full summer uniform.

Mrs Rana Brogan
Deputy Principal – Faith and Mission

Students

It has been a busy start to the year at De La Salle College, and despite being new to the school, I have been quickly immersed in Lasallian life. De La Salle has already proved to be a welcoming, positive place to be each day, and I look forward to working with the staff, students and families here.

Over the last week, students have returned to school and been involved in House and Year Level assemblies, spent extended time with their mentor groups, and enjoyed other opportunities to reconnect with school life.

While we hope that all students are immersed in the school community, the start of the year can be a tricky time. In order to support students and their families, De La Salle is proud to introduce SchoolTV, which can be accessed via the tab on Ollie. SchoolTV is presented by Dr Michael Carr‐Gregg, and offers expert information in an easy to access format. This month, SchoolTV covers two important topics:

School Transitions

Whether it is starting school for the first time, moving up to a higher grade or embarking on a journey through secondary school, there is no doubt that any school transition is a very exciting time for children and parents. It means your children are growing up!

However, transitioning is an ongoing process. It can continue long after students have entered their new environment and may encounter difficulties at a number of different stages. These stressors may appear as anxiety and frustration and result in negative or disruptive behaviours. Such behaviours can become problematic, making the transitioning process even more difficult for children and parents.

In this episode of SchoolTV, parents will learn practical strategies to assist your child during the transition process and reduce stress and anxiety levels.

Surviving Year 12

The final year of secondary school is a year of hard work and a huge commitment for students. It can be hard to find a balance between study and life. It is a time when personalities start to emerge, there are more complex interpersonal relationships and there is the pressure to perform academically. With all of this going on, it’s not surprising that some students have an emotional response and it is therefore extremely important for parents to know how to support their children during this time.

Some students will need more support than others. Keeping the communication lines open with your child, his teachers, mentors and other parents will be crucial. Being aware of your son’s mental and physical wellbeing can play a vital role in his success.

In this edition of SchoolTV, parents will discover practical advice for students and parents to help get through the final year of secondary school.

We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in SchoolTV, we always welcome your feedback. If you have any concerns about your child, please contact the school for further information.

Ms Jessica Alger
Deputy Principal — Students


Chaplain’s Notes

A warm welcome back to a new academic year and especially to those who have joined us for the first time. We will all be working hard to ensure that your sons feel comfortable and secure as they begin this new period in their lives.

As we prepare for the College Welcome Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Wednesday 27 February, I will be engaging your sons in an exploration of what Eucharist means and we will celebrate Mass in Homeroom groups in the Chapel. This will provide an introduction to the liturgical life of the College and hopefully enhance the experience of students when attending the Cathedral.

Sacraments

The College supports students seeking Sacrament preparation.  If your Parish offers preparation I would encourage you to use these opportunities as your first option. 

If you do wish to tap into the College program and have not already contacted me, please do so without delay on my direct line: 9508 2161. You may also email me at jferguson@delasalle.vic.edu.au or alternatively, return the form included in the 2019 new student package.

Lasallian Missions

On Wednesday 6 February, our Year 11 and 12 students were treated to a firsthand account of the missionary work of the Brothers through a presentation by Brother Denis Loft FSC. Brother Denis has been working in Palestine at the University of Bethlehem for the past two years, following six years he spent in South Sudan and 20 years in PNG. Brother Denis explained the poverty and disparity in the distribution of the world’s wealth and encouraged students to think about the opportunity they have through Mission Action Day, to make a personal effort to change the lives of those who struggle to live with dignity. I urge parents to get behind your son and encourage their efforts to create a more just world.

I look forward to sharing in your son’s faith journey and invite you to contact me at any time you may wish some additional support for yourself as a parent or for your son.

Mrs Joan Ferguson
College Chaplain

Tiverton News

Tiverton Campus — Years 5 to 8

The Primary School has started 2019 with a flurry of activity with new students integrating well into the new Year 5 or 6 classrooms and working with their teachers productively. A highlight of the week was finishing with a round of Kanga cricket on the Malvern Oval where the boys displayed superb cricketing skills and gamesmanship.

Year 7

Student leadership elections occur this week and we are all excited to hear the speeches and see what these leaders will bring to the College. The staff are very keen to see as many parents as possible in our annual Meet and Greet sessions on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 February from 1:30pm6:30pm. There is also a relaxed Primary School Welcome BBQ on Thursday 21 February and we look forward to seeing as many of you there.

Under the leadership of Dr Melissa Walsh, Year 7 Coordinator, and our class mentors the new students have started their journey into Year 7 with excitement and enthusiasm. Students in their first assembly have been told to “be brave” and to try new things in the first term at the College. These could include House competitions at lunchtimes, ACC sports trials and upcoming student leadership elections. There has been a strong emphasis on the boys getting organised for their classes and their learning, to keep up with their homework on the learning management system Ollie and to keep asking questions of their teachers to gain confidence, knowledge and understanding in all that they do. We wish these students well.

Year 8

Like our Year 7 cohort, our Year 8 students have started 2019 brightly under the guidance of Stephen Brick, Year 8 Coordinator, and their class mentors. The emphasis with the students has been to get into regular routines throughout the week and on the weekend to enable homework to be completed, consolidate what has been learnt in the class at home, and to strive for excellence in all disciplines that the school offers.

Year 8 students are also encouraged to engage in upcoming House Competitions and ACC sport trials, as well as other offerings at school to further develop their skills. We looking forward to seeing many students and parents attend the Welcome Mass on Wednesday 27 February, which is a fantastic celebration at the College.

Mr Martin Gibbs
Director of Primary Students

Welcome from Mr James Biviano, Lasallian Youth Minister

Greetings to the parents, students, staff and our wider lasallian community, my name is James Biviano and I am taking on the role of Youth Minister for 2019. I graduated from De La Salle College in 2017. I was fortunate enough to have held the role of 2017 College Captain. This was a great opportunity to share in the faith and charism of this Lasallian school.

My new role at the College is committed to serving this lasallian family and helping students achieve their full potential. It is my job to enact the lasallian values of faith service and community, and to be an advocate for the College’s various social justice outreach programs.

I will be working closely with Year 11 students to create a heightened sense of community amongst the school, with an emphasis on the support of the less fortunate in our community, to which our Mission Action Day funds and other fundraising events will seek to support.

Our 2019 College theme for the Tercentenary is ‘a Quality Education’, and I will be working closely with students to help guide and support them to achieve their academic goals.

I am very passionate about developing our community of brothers throughout the school, and emphasising the importance of building relationships with all those around you, as the greatest gift I received from the College is the friendships I have made and the sense of camaraderie.

Serving as a Lasallian Youth Minister will enable me to provide students with the opportunity to develop numerous skills, and feel more included and involved in the life of the College.

Mr James Biviano
Lasallian Youth Minister

Holy Eucharist Campus

What’s next?”

This is a question Mr David Alexander, Head of Campus, and I have asked ourselves often over the last months as we worked towards the opening of the Holy Eucharist campus; a site designed specifically for our Year 9 cohort. The question has continued to be asked as the College prepared the physical space of the campus and our dedicated staff worked tirelessly to develop an innovative and engaging curriculum, ready for day one.

It is now a question that we offer up to our Year 9 students.

  • What’s next for you?
  • What do you want to get out of this year?
  • How can we support your learning?
  • What are the possible solutions to the problem?

Often we are met with confused faces. Aren’t teachers meant to have the answers, not meet student’s questions with questions ourselves? This deliberate and sometimes confronting approach forces students, in a society where any answer is only a click away, to think for themselves. We want our students to approach tasks with a can‐do attitude and realise that they themselves hold the answers to many of the questions they pose.

It allows them space to consider their next step. What’s coming up for you? Will you enter the part‐time workforce for the first time this year? Will you manage school, family and community commitments better than ever before? Not surprisingly many students find it difficult to articulate what might be in their future, and, as educational trendspotters will tell you, our ever‐developing workforce makes knowing with certainty the job you will have almost an impossibility.

So our focus at Holy Eucharist is on building skills. In a traditional sense we can no longer train students for a job so we must equip them with the skills needed to be successful in the varied pathway they will inevitably have. Responsibility, resilience, problem solving and a strong sense of identity are our focus. We, as a team at Holy Eucharist, are enthusiastic to embark on this journey with your sons, ready to assist them to extend themselves and meet the challenges along the way.

So, we ask “What’s next?”, knowing that the answers will certainly lead your son to places he has not yet considered, to a future that is unimaginably exciting and full of possibilities.

Ms Lauren Anderson
Learning and Teaching Leader‐ Holy Eucharist Campus

Music Notes

Welcoming our new Music Coordinator

Mr Luke Serrano has taken over the reins from Ms Cindy Frost in 2019. Luke has 16 years’ experience teaching Music in ACC schools and is a composer, arranger and saxophonist. Attendees to the Accent on Music combined ACC schools concert in Hamer Hall in September 2018 may remember Luke conducting his own jazz composition ‘Stompin’ at the ACC’ (pictured), which featured De La Salle’s 2018 Music Dux Fletcher Bird on drums.

Instrumental Music Lessons

The due date for enrolments in the Instrumental Music program has been extended until 1 March.

For the first time, shared lessons (30 minutes, group of two students) are available for students in Years 5 to 8. Available for all instruments and voice, except piano and drum kit (individual lessons only). Shared lessons are an economical means of introducing your son to private musical tuition, and the benefits of involvement in our extensive bands program.

Please email Music Administration Officer, Ms Susan Jost sjost@delasalle.vic.edu.au or call on 9508 2136 for more information.

Mr Luke Serrano
Music Coordinator

Music Ensembles

Music ensembles have commenced for the year. Ensemble times, news and more can be found on our brand new Ollie page where you’ll see all the latest information.

Want to join an ensemble but need more information? Please contact Mr Lee at jlee@delasalle.vic.edu or call 9508 2200 and leave a message.

Mr Jaymee Lee
Ensembles Coordinator


Parent Network News

The focus for the Parent Network in 2019 is on building a sense of community throughout De La Salle College by providing regular opportunities for parents to socialise, connect and participate in College activities. The Parent Network aims to bring people together and develop a more vibrant and connected community.

FIRST DAY MORNING TEA

The first event on the 2019 Parent Network calendar was very well attended with around 100 Year 7 parents and parents of new students to the College in attendance. The morning event was held at the Tiverton Campus Gymnasium and was a great success. The Parent Network Committee would like to again welcome all the new students and their families; we hope to see you at future 2019 events.

UPCOMING EVENTS FOR 2019

Please add the dates of our upcoming events to your 2019 diary.

EventDateVenue
Year 7 Parents’ Welcome EveningThursday 14 FebruaryPeppercorn Café
Primary Welcome BBQThursday 21 FebruaryKinnoull Oval
Years 8 to 12 Parents’ Welcome EveningThursday 14 MarchSagra
Mother’s Day BreakfastWednesday 8 MayGymnasium
Parents’ “Christmas in July” DinnerSaturday 27 JulyTBC
Father’s Day BreakfastThursday 22 AugustGymnasium
Parent Network AGMMonday 21 OctoberCentenary Boardroom

The year will start with some great Parent Network events. Please save the dates. We look forward to seeing you there!

WELCOME EVENING

Our Year 7 Welcome Evening is coming up on Thursday 14 February. You can book online now via TryBooking — www.trybooking.com/BAPOE.

YEAR LEVEL REPRESENTATIVES

The Year Level Representatives (“Reps”) are critical members of our Parent Network Team, bringing together parents in their chosen year levels and acting as a contact point for whole school functions. Thank you to our 2019 Year Level Reps (listed below) for taking on this very important role and to Ms Sharon Herdman, Year Level Rep Coordinator, for assisting and supporting them.

  • Primary — Mrs Michelle Peterson and Mrs Louise Harris
  • Year 7 — Mrs Jo McAuliffe
  • Year 8 — Mr James McEniry and Ms Kirsten Bell
  • Year 9 — Mrs Linda Curnow and Mrs Louise MacNamara
  • Year 10 — Mrs Cate Robertson
  • Year 11 — VACANT*
  • Year 12 — Mrs Lesley Corrigan

*The Parent Network is still looking for a Year 11 Rep. If you would like to take on the role please contact us via email at parentnetwork@delasalle.vic.edu.au.

SELLING AND BUYING SECOND‐HAND TEXTBOOKS FOR 2019

If you are interested in buying or selling second‐hand textbooks for 2019 you can do so through the Sustainable School Shop. Click here to access the flyer on how to register, buy and sell.

Mrs Meagan Selkirk
Parent Network President

Wellbeing News

In December 2018, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel with a group of our Year 12 students and two colleagues to Sri Lanka on the Yaluwo Immersion. This was an incredibly powerful and rewarding experience, one that I can highly recommend to any student considering it.

While staying at Diyagala Boys’ Town, I had the privilege and honour to meet a group of men whose entire lives are devoted to educating young men from a background of poverty, hardship and grief. There were a number of Lasallian Brothers I would like to mention. Brother Loyola, Brother Denzel and Brother Grenville were our primary day‐to‐day contacts while staying at Diyagala. It is difficult to describe the amount of care, patience and understanding that these Brothers have for the boys. They would probably be embarrassed if they read this piece, but, to me, they were exemplifying what it means to be “a good man”.

These men were firm and kind, they were patient and they led. What struck me the most was how much they knew of each boy’s circumstances. There are about 150 students at Diyagala, over four year levels and Brother Loyola knew each boy individually. He was aware of their history, their difficulties and their strengths. It was, and is, inspiring. Like islands of calm in the lives of the young men in their care, these strong, gentle, caring, loving men are living their mission with a distinct lack of hubris.

The same qualities were also present in the Brothers who were running the school in the slums of Colombo, living the Lasallian credo of “the least, the last, the lost” every day. It was refreshing to observe the form of their masculinity in the face of such profound poverty and hardship. In my view, such masculinity is something to aspire to.

While I was overseas, and in the weeks following Christmas, the controversial Gillette advertisement was released. If you haven’t seen it, it can be viewed here. This ad is, in all likelihood, designed to tag onto the #metoo movement in order to sell products. However, the message it extols is laudable. The YouTube of the ad currently has twice as many downvotes as upvotes. I find this astonishing. As well as encouraging men to act in a slightly less traditional way it also asks that men hold other men accountable for their actions and their examples. This is hard. Even harder when you are a young man who is in the process of becoming yourself, who values the opinion of his peers and is constantly bombarded by images that depict men as “players” and women as objects.

I foolishly tried arguing with the ad’s critics on various social media platforms (don’t do this… it doesn’t work). What I think I discovered while arguing on Facebook, is that there is often a complete misunderstanding of what “toxic masculinity” is referring to. “Toxic” is a description, an adjective. “Toxic masculinity” is a subset of masculinity, it is not all of masculinity.

Toxic Masculinity” is an extreme version of masculinity. The version that says it is not manly to show vulnerability, that real men don’t cry, that to be a man is to be completely self‐reliant, that seeking help is a weakness, and that women are inferior. This distorted and reductive masculinity is called “toxic” because it is genuinely unhealthy. Men with such a narrow view of masculinity are at a much greater risk of suicide, relationship breakdown, health problems, early death, depression and more.

The American Psychological Association has recently released guidelines for working with men to challenge toxic masculinity. It has done so in response to the many mental health issues that toxic masculinity gives rise to. An excellent article that explains these guidelines can be found here.

Given this phenomenon, it was interesting to compare it with the young men who lived at the Diyagala Boy’s Town. They have an emotional openness to them that surprised me. I think I was expecting that teenagers with such difficult backgrounds would be closed off and reserved. I found it was the opposite. The young men, ranging in age from 14 years to 20 years were comfortable with each other and with us. They played, they wrestled and competed, but they also comforted, hugged and supported each other. Much like our students do here at De La.

I suppose the purpose of this article is to remind myself of what male strength can be like. It doesn’t need to be defined by sporting prowess, conform to stereotypes or promote building ourselves up by putting others down. It can be a gentle and assured care for others that comes from knowing each other’s story and history.

It can come from recognizing that at some point in our lives, we all could be one of “the least or the last or the lost”. At times like those, we can call on each other for support — without guilt, without hubris — and, as Lasallians, give and receive it with love.

This is masculine, but this is not toxic.

Mr Anthony Freeman
College Psychologist — Kinnoull Campus

Important Dates

Important upcoming dates in the College Calendar.

Thu
7
Feb
Year 10 Dance Program - Star of the Sea College, Gardenvale, 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Primary Meet and Greet - Year 5 and Year 6 Classrooms, Tiverton, 1:45pm - 6:45pm
Catch Up Photographs - PAC Foyer, 8:30am - 10:30am
Thu
14
Feb
Year 10 Dance Program - Star of the Sea College, Gardenvale, 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Year 7 Parents Welcome Evening - Peppercorn Café, 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Fri
15
Feb
College Tour - SMT, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Tue
19
Feb
St Austin's House Welcome and Liturgy - SMT, 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Thu
21
Feb
Year 10 Dance Program - Star of the Sea College, Gardenvale, 7:30pm - 9:30pm
Primary Welcome BBQ - Kinnoull Oval, 6:00pm - 8:00pm