St Patrick’s College opened its doors to students in 1952. It was opened by the Christian Brothers upon the invitation of Archbishop Duhig and Fr O’Rourke from the Sandgate Parish. 127 students showed for the first day of school and all classes were held in the Morven Building. This morning we held our College Mass for the Feast of Blessed Edmund Rice, the founder of the Christian Brothers. It was our opportunity, as a Catholic School in the Edmund Rice Tradition to celebrate the work of the Christian Brothers and to thank them for what they have done for our community since 1952. We had 1305 students in attendance and over 100 teachers, there were also many of our 65 support staff.The first four Christian Brothers must have started the College with great trepidation and excitement. One wonders if they would ever have imagined that the College would have grown so much both in population and reputation. Since the arrival of the first four Christian Brothers, many more joined the College community and left their influence on the culture of the school. Many of these have been recognised by using their names as part of our House system, in the names of buildings, sporting fields and other facilities. However, in reality there have been a great many more Christian Brothers who have had a significant impact on the College and have not been acknowledged in this way. Br Chris Pritchard will be, in all likelihood, the last Christian Brother who attends the College on a regular basis. Therefore, after much consideration, the College Leadership Team decided on naming the new Cultural and Sporting Centre: The Christian Brothers Building. This building is dedicated to all of the Christian Brothers who have been a part of the St Patrick’s community since it opened in 1952 and will always stand as a reminder of the legacy that they have left to this great College community.

I would like to thank all of the parents (and students) who attended the Parent/Teacher interviews last Wednesday. Teacher feedback to students is one of the most significant factors in improving student outcomes. This can be done in many ways, from feedback for assessment drafts, setting target results through to the formal interviews with parents. It is my hope that at least three things were discerned from the interviews. Firstly, where does the student stand at this point in time within his cohort and what he had targeted as a result. Secondly, what were the challenges that affected his result during the first term, this may include subject information from the teacher and also other matters such as balance of study, sport, social life etc. Finally, what can be done to improve the result moving forward into the next term. We have deliberately invited the students to the interviews so that they can be a part of the discussion. As I mentioned, feedback to students is significant for their improvement. Unfortunately, there are times when students avoid their responsibility in working with teachers and parents to improve their own outcomes. This is why I believe it is so important that they accompany their parents to these meetings and also work with their teachers and parents in reviewing their results and setting plans and goals to move forward into the future.

In reality, many adolescents do not have the ability or skills to be able to set goals and realistic targets. Therefore, I think that this is a great way for the College teaching staff and parents to work together to assist each young man. We play a vital role in helping them develop a “growth mind-set”, where they are supported to believe that they have the ability to further achieve and can use whatever assistance is available to do this. We have asked our teachers to work with each student in their class to set target results, this is particularly pertinent for the older students. I would encourage all parents to sit with their sons and discuss what these targets might be and what plans and actions they intend to put into place to achieve them. This will allow for further assistance and encouragement throughout the term (and year). It also sets up further opportunity at the next reporting period to discuss whether the goals have been met and if not, why not, or, if they are achieved, to set new goals. I believe that such discussions can create wonderful opportunities for parents to feel a part of their son’s schooling and also assist them to not only set goals but to develop the skills to be able to do so on their own in their later years of study and work. I appreciate that these conversations can be difficult at times, but there are proven benefits. I would also really encourage parents to start the conversations with the students as early as possible in their schooling. Obviously the language and style of conversation would differ according to the “age and stage” of the students; however the practice of spending time going over a report in some depth as opposed to a “drop and run” approach of the boys will be much easier if they become used to this at an early age.

Our Years 5, 7 and 9 students undertake the NAPLAN Tests next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Much has been written and reported about these tests since their inception. From our perspective, they supply us with more information regarding the student’s abilities in the areas of literacy and numeracy at this point in time. Apart from being able to use the information to ascertain individual student results, we are also able to review the whole cohort information and break down the individual test questions. This gives us great assistance in reviewing our own school programs. All that we ever ask is that each student attend the tests and try to the best of their ability, so that we have reliable information to review.

During our sporting fixtures with Iona College last Saturday, one of our 16 A players, Liam Bolton, sustained a serious neck injury. Fortunately Liam has full movement of his arms and legs but has fractured his C2. The reduced extent of his injury was very much assisted by the actions of the player from Iona who comforted and assisted Liam directly after the incident and the quick actions and decisions of the coaches and medical staff. Each week I remind our young men of the importance of respect for their opponent and the expectation of playing within the spirit of sportsmanship of school boys enjoying a game against each other. It is my fear (and I am sure the similar fear of many parents) that, at times, this sense of enjoyment and sportsmanship can be lost because of inter-school rivalry or influence from some adults or what students see in professional sport. Last Saturday, I was very proud of the actions of not only our players and officials but also those of Iona College. I hope that if any good comes from this tragic incident it is that players of all ages and sports within schoolboy sport always remember that sport is also as much about friendship and respect as it is about competition and that both are not exclusive of each other. Good rivals and competitors can always still be good friends or respected opponents. Please keep Liam and his family in your thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks as he begins his rehabilitation.

This Saturday morning, the College Leadership Team (CLT) will host all of the parents from Years 5 and 6 to morning tea at Curlew Park. We appreciate that many of our parents are busy during the week with work or family commitments, therefore having a function at Curlew Park on Saturday after the Year 5 and Year 6 games is a better time to meet. It will not be a formal function with speeches, but rather a chance to meet informally over a cup of tea. An email will be sent to all of the parents to sign in for the function for catering purposes. It is our intention to continue this practice with parents of other year levels throughout the remainder of the term. Information will be sent via email to parents alerting them of the event. All of the members of the CLT look forward to meeting up with you during these times.

God bless,

Mr Chris Mayes - College Principal