23 April 2015
← Welcome Back - From the Principal
Welcome Back - From the Principal
I would like to welcome back all staff, students and parents after the holiday break. I would like to particularly welcome the new families who have joined us over the holiday period. The week has started particularly well and there is much to cram in over the first five days. I would particularly like to congratulate the students for the way that they have started, both in and outside of the classroom. The new winter uniforms look very good, although I would remind all of the young men that this means wearing them appropriately all of the way home.
I am aware that many of our students participated in a number of tours, rehearsals, clinics and camps over the holiday period. I would like to thank each of them (and their parents) for working hard over the holidays so that our co-curricular activities and teams are well prepared for the season and performances ahead. I would also particularly like to thank our staff members who assisted with all of these activities. Without their time and efforts, the students would not be able to enjoy so many opportunities. Unfortunately we had to postpone the Trimester 1 Co-Curricular awards due to the unavailability of the Callan Centre for the full school population. It was hoped that it would be ready for whole school assemblies at this stage, but the work is running a little behind. We will advise the community of the new date once it has been fixed.
Today we play Padua College in trial matches for Rugby and Football. The games will commence after lunch and go through until the evening with the First XI and First XV kicking off at 4:00pm. I am sure that each of our young men will compete with skill and tenacity and that the games will be an enjoyable experience for all. This is the biggest term for co-curricular activities as we host the musical commencing on 18 May, have the largest contingent of students involved in Chess for many years and have the largest number of students involved in Rugby and Football compared to other sports. Our Debating also continues throughout the term.
This Friday is a very busy day for us. We begin with an ANZAC Day liturgy, followed by classroom lessons and then the students will move to Curlew Park for the interschool cross-country championships. I would remind all families that this is considered to be a special events day and all students are expected to be at school or notify of any illnesses with a medical certificate. On Friday evening, our Year 12 students will gather at the Hilton Hotel to celebrate their Year 12 Formal. I am very much looking forward to this occasion and am very confident that the students and their partners will have a wonderful evening.
This Saturday the entire nation stops for a unique Australian celebration in ANZAC Day. I watched the documentary on Tuesday evening hosted by Sam Neil. During his commentary he made the point that he did not agree with war or nationalism but respected and honoured the men who served their country. This is a very succinct way to sum up the feelings that many people feel about our commemoration of ANZAC Day. The notion of war amongst different people and countries should never be something that should be encouraged or applauded. However, the service men and women of Australia do not have the luxury of politicking rather respond to their country's call of duty. Over the past century, much has been written and documented about Gallipoli and Australia's efforts in the First World War across many countries. It has been often opined that the Gallipoli campaign was the first significant event in the shaping of the Australian identity since the beginning of the federation. There are many things that we can learn from this campaign and other events throughout the history of Australia. For it to be relevant to our young men, we need to move past their possible glorification of fighting or war and look more to the good characteristics and attributes of the ANZAC soldiers. They were first of all men of courage. They fought for the welfare of their country and those around them. In many cases, laying down their own lives to save others. They were men of resilience. No matter how tough things became, they accepted it and kept going. They were innovative. They were seen as soldiers who could think "outside of the square" and fix things and invent things with no machinery and few resources. They were men who fought their enemy but respected them as men and as adversaries. Finally they were loyal to their country and their mates. They fought next to one another and supported and helped each other whenever they could.
Last year, I had the good fortune to visit Gallipoli for the dawn service and look around the battle-fields and trenches. It was a very eerie experience. The battle-grounds are littered with graveyards and memorials from many different countries. However, the one area that struck me the most was the place where the battle of the "Nek" took place. This was an area where four waves of Australians were sent from the trenches with bayonets fixed and no bullets in their guns. The Australians and Turks were separated by about the length of a tennis court. The Australians were slaughtered. I remember sitting in the trench thinking what it would be like to be in the last wave of attackers knowing that three waves had already been cut down. The physical courage must have been extraordinary. After that experience, I pledged to myself that no matter how hard things might get in my life, it will never compare to the soldiers that were involved in that battle. Sometimes we take too many things for granted and lose sight of true hardship and courage.
Tomorrow morning, all of our student body and staff will have the opportunity to commemorate ANZAC Day with a liturgy on the back oval. We will also be joined by past servicemen. It is a great privilege for us to host these men. Our liturgy is also a sign of gratitude and respect for their service to our country. During ANZAC Day on Saturday, it would be great if our young men could look past the ceremony and ask themselves whether the characteristics and attributes that I have mentioned are within each of them. If many young Australians could agree that this has happened to them then we can be sure that the ANZAC spirit is still alive and well in Australia.