On Saturday night, I received the very sad and distressing news that Mr Mark Mewburn, our new College Counsellor, had passed away. Like many of our staff members, I am still quite numb by the thought of him not being a part of our team. This was not Mark’s first year at St Patrick’s; I had the pleasure of working with Mark for five years in my previous time at the College and he also spent some time here teaching when he was a Christian Brother. Mark was one of those people with whom everyone likes to work. He was interested in everyone and gave much of his time to assist and support who he could, especially the student most at risk. When you were around Mark, he made you feel special. Mark did his work with great humility and was a perfect role model for young men.

There are many regrets concerning Mark no longer being a part of our community. The greatest to me is that so many of our teachers, especially those new to the profession, and students, did not get the opportunity to see and work with an expert in his craft and a gentle and caring human being. Mark has been involved with Christian Brothers and EREA schools for 37 years and he will be remembered in Ingham, Townsville, Toowoomba and Brisbane through the many schools where he worked during those years.

Last Monday evening we welcomed the Year 5 -7 students and their families into the College with a House BBQ and information session. Last night the Year 11 students and their families also joined us for an information session. I would like to thank all of the students and parents (and siblings) who were able to attend and I hope that the information was useful and relevant to you. We are always interested in feedback from these nights, therefore if you have any feedback, please email it to me at your convenience.

During the Parent and Student Information Evenings, I have been discussing our newly developed College Teaching and Learning beliefs. They are summarised and set out in a brochure that has been distributed to families upon arrival at the sessions. Our aspiration for teaching and learning at St Patrick’s is … “As a Catholic School in the Edmund Rice Tradition, St Patrick’s aspires to develop young men who have a passion and love for learning. Our men of action are supported to acquire the knowledge, skills and desire to make the world a better place.” This statement is supported by our five core beliefs about learning. They are:

  1. Learning is a lifelong endeavour;
  2. Learning is best achieved in caring, engaging and positive environments;
  3. Learning is integral to the development of personal growth;
  4. Learning must be liberating and transformational;
  5. Learning must be inclusive to all.

The document further explains what we mean by each of these statements and outlines how we intend to promote and embed each of these beliefs into our College practices. The learning statement and core beliefs have been the culmination of work done by the College staff, particularly the middle leadership group, and was developed over the past twelve months. It is often a danger in any institution or school that such beliefs can be nicely set out in glossy brochures that look good and promote the school’s image. In such cases, the beliefs can be “shelved” along with the publications. To ensure that we are authentic to the beliefs and have developed a “living” document, these beliefs and actions will be built into our School Improvement Plan and College Strategic Plan as well as the Strategic Plans for each of our Curriculum departments.

This morning I attended the AIC Ecumenical Service at St Peter’s Lutheran College. Each year, this Mass, attended by AIC school Principals, their assistants, student leaders and Heads of Sport, celebrates the beginning of a new year and sporting competition. I find it to be a wonderful and inclusive event that reminds us of who we are as schools more than competitors at sport. The service was followed by Principals and Heads of Sport meetings and the student leaders from all of the AIC schools undertake leadership workshops. This year, there will be a review of the AIC sports programs and game day formats. The review will be facilitated by a smaller group of Principals and Heads of Sport. Mr Doug Locke has been selected to be on the review team.

Next Tuesday, we will hold our College Academic Assembly. This occasion allows us to recognise and congratulate students who achieved outstanding academic results from last year. We also welcome back some of our Year 12 students who achieved an OP Score of 1-5. I always look forward to these assemblies as it allows us to recognise the hard work done by many students in an environment that does not usually attract fanfare like sporting teams and bands etc. We are also reviewing ways to also recognise students who have worked hard to improve their results without necessarily receiving the grades to get a medal. It is our intention to have this in place for the Academic Assembly in July.

Next Monday evening, the Year 12 Parents gather with their sons for information regarding their last year of schooling. I am sure that this will be a night of mixed emotions as this will be the start of their final year at the College. To date, I have been very impressed by the attitude and effort of this cohort of young men and I have received numerous compliments regarding their efforts as “big brothers” to the younger and new students. Their final year is always difficult as they have to balance the senior student leadership expectations with a challenging academic schedule. From what I have seen so far, this group is very capable of achieving this. I encourage all parents of Year 12 students to join us next week so that we can reinforce our partnership in supporting these young men throughout 2016.

I also look forward to meeting parents who are able to attend the Principal’s morning tea next Tuesday. This year we have moved the event over to the Sea View Building as the Waterford rooms are being used as temporary classrooms for this term. Bookings for this event are via the College website homepage.

God bless,

Mr Chris Mayes - College Principal