This week we have our Year 5 students attending their first College camp and the Year 11 men attending their leadership retreat. With these young men now on camp I am sure our parents are noticing the empty space at the dinner table and maybe the decrease in noise with less sibling interaction around the house. I am also positive that this journey off to camp comes with a few nerves and questions for both parents and students especially for those in Year 5. As I have discussed on many ocassions I truly believe camps and retreats form a very special part in the holistic education provided by St Patrick’s. I hope over the course of this week these experiences allow for the development of resilience and grit within these young men. I hope the St Patrick’s camp program also enables stronger friendships to be formed, memories to be created and a feeling of worth for each and every student.

Not to diminish the significance of the Year 5 experience but this week I would like to concentrate my article on the messages being learned through our Year 11 Leadership Retreat. Term 3 was a big term for our year 11 students. New leaders were elected and the cohort was set the challenge “We are all called to LEAD” and it is this challenge that has formed the retreat program.

During the retreat we explored the idea that as a group of men they had the potential to influence the values, attitudes and behaviour of the entire St Patrick’s community with an effectiveness that we as staff can only dream of. For those Year 11’s who have never considered leadership; For those who rarely engaged in any action or activity that resulted in discomfort; For those who have done their best to escape the hard edges of leadership in order to live a pillowed existence, it was explained that by putting on the white shirt, leadership was no longer optional. I congratulate all of our Year 11 men for resisting this temptation of laziness; this temptation to cover their light.

We discussed the need to embrace our differences, as it is our differences not our similarities that make us strong. It was explained that not all leadership is about heroics, in fact most leadership was actually covert and unassuming. Leadership was more often than not found in the gentle word of encouragement, the helping of another, the steering of a conversation, a suggestion, or some small service.

We also explored the teachings of Darryl Long, from the Centre for Leadership Studies, suggesting that leadership can be looked at in a similar manner to a ‘diamond’ and a ‘cubic zirconia’. Both look very similar except when held at the correct angle you are able to see right through a cubic zirconia because it lacks any real substance, it has no inner lustre or quality. Like a diamond, good leaders have an inner lustre, a depth of soul. A depth of soul made up of integrity, sensitivity and creativity.

The retreat also explored the need for them as leaders to;

  • Be proactive rather than reactive, heading off emerging problems rather than dealing with the after effects.
  • Challenge inappropriate cultures, walk the talk and display the values they wish to encourage in others.
  • Seek respect not popularity. Respect that had been earned through the demonstration of boldness, courage, consistency, empathy, energy and service.

I hope all our students return from these wonderful activities with stories to tell over the dinner table.

Fight the good fight

Mr Darren Kearney – Dean of Students