Today is R U OK? Day. The purpose of this day is to remind us to always remember to check in with those people around us and ask that question. More importantly, really listen to the reply. Mental Health research suggests that is particularly the case with men. In reality, men are more likely to hold back their emotions and feelings, and less likely to let others know how they really feel. This can lead to some very unfortunate outcomes if the person does not have the coping skills necessary to deal with challenging circumstances.

During Tuesday’s assembly, I spoke to our young men around the issue of what it means to be an inclusive community, as expected of us as an EREA school. Being a community that is inclusive to all is one of the touchstones from our Charter for Catholic Schools in the Edmund Rice Tradition. I mentioned to the young men that to be an inclusive community we must understand and embed the values of love, justice, peace and compassion. If this is the case, what does love really mean in a school community? Dictionaries often use words such as passion, intimacy and affection in their definitions. These words do not really suit a school environment of young men.

Love within our community is certainly more than simple tolerance of another. It is about creating relationships with others that are the right relationships. By this we mean, relationships that hold a deep respect for the dignity of other people. Right relationships are those that recognise someone as the person that they are. This does not mean that they always have to agree, but certainly there is an expectation that everyone listens to the opinions and stories of others, and accounts for their point of view. In a loving community, all members ensure that everyone feels valued, included and always able to be a part of the opportunities that may be offered, wherever possible.

In a loving community, R U OK? Day should be every day. As I mentioned to our young men, these touchstones, and the expectations that come with them, are what we use to prove our authenticity. We are not always perfect, but it is our intention to be the best we can be in not only promoting an inclusive community, but ensuring that it is a reality.

Our Year 12 students commenced their block exams yesterday. This is a very important time for our students as they complete their exams and the last term of their school lives. It is often a time of mixed emotions. Whilst many of the young men will be very happy to move away from the routine and requirements of schooling, they will also be concerned about leaving the safety and security of school life, their friends, and the spirit and comradery that hopefully all of them would have experienced in their 5-8 years at the College. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers over the next two weeks and during their final term at St Patrick’s.

All other students will begin their exams later this week or next week. I would encourage all parents to take some time to sit down with your son to discuss his preparation plans for the exams, and understand what tests he may have and when they are on. As I mentioned to the students, one way to deal with the pressure of exams is to be comfortable with their preparation and planning leading into the exam period. Whilst, it is preferable to have started study and revision from the first week, it is never too late to start … just much harder!

We have now completed the Year 5 interviews and letters will be forwarded to the families advising them of the outcome by the end of next week. I have been most impressed by the quality of the applicants, and the enthusiasm and excitement shown by the young men and their parents.

This Saturday, is our last round of sporting fixtures for the term. We will compete against St Peter’s Lutheran College in an away fixture. Our Year 5 and 6 teams played their games on Wednesday afternoon. This was their last round in Basketball and Tennis. I would like to thank all of the young men who played for our College during this term. Their time and efforts have been much appreciated, and I hope that each of them enjoyed the experience and will continue to be involved in our sporting competition.

As I mentioned in last week’s article, I will be absent from the College from next Tuesday and will return for the leadership camp in the second week of next term. During this time I will be involved in a school renewal process at St Patrick’s in Ballarat, and participating in the EREA Principal’s conference and immersion in India.

I hope that everyone within our community enjoys some extra time with their sons during the break and that the young men have an opportunity to refresh and relax.

God Bless

Mr. Chris Mayes - College Principal