On Monday morning, the staff and students of the College had the opportunity to farewell and thank our Year 12 students and their parents and families for the final time as a whole College assembly. At the beginning of the assembly, Mr Tim Kenny started with the St Patrick’s Breastplate prayer. In his prayer, St Patrick recognises that Christ surrounds us and is everything that we think and do. In my address to the departing students, I took the opportunity to thank them for what they have done for our College throughout their years with us but particularly in their final year of student leadership. There was much to say about their great efforts particularly those of Zachary Harmer, Richard Cook and Liam Jacobsen as their elected student leaders.

In my address, I also reminded the young men of the St Patrick’s prayer and our calling to be “Christ-like” people. To me the meaning of being Christ-like is best described in the following passage …

We are called to be Christ’s hands, words and presence in our world today. We are to be Him; feeding the hungry. Those who are hungry for bread, for understandingfor love. We are to be Christ filling the hunger of those who need to be wanted,those who need to be somebody to somebody. We are called to be His touch and smilethat calms fears and fills the loneliness of being unwanted and unloved. Ourwords will be His words, encouraging, guiding, supporting, building up, notbreaking down. Our ears will be His, listening to those who need to unburdenthemselves. Our hands and smile and words will welcome, support and heal and in doing so, Christ will welcome, support and heal.

It is in our words and actions that we can be Christ-like to others and how we will see our God in them. As a Catholic community, we will always endeavour to ensure that these words and actions become reality in how we do things. We may not always be perfect at it, but we will always try to be authentic to the call.

Monday's assembly and farewell tunnel was a wonderful way for us to thank the senior group. I am sure that the many parents and families that were able to attend were very proud of their son’s achievements over the years at the College and were impressed by the way our student body farewelled them from the College.

Last Friday evening, we held our Celebration of Excellence Evening. It was wonderful to see so many young men attend and receive awards. I would particularly like to thank the many staff members who were responsible for the planning and presentation of the evening. I am sure that all who attended were impressed by the standards of our musicians and choral performances. I have no doubt that such performances will only further improve into the future. There are two significant dimensions to this evening. Firstly, our students who have worked hard and achieved strong academic results receive recognition for their efforts. This recognition aligns success in studies alongside other events such as co-curricular achievements. Teaching and Learning has always been the core business of schools and such an event, attended by all of the staff and senior students along with the award recipients reinforces this point. Secondly, it allows us to continue to enhance the understanding that doing well in studies is very much a part of the culture of our student body. Unfortunately, I was disappointed to see so many parents and students leave the venue straight after their son received an award. We have planned (and will continue to plan) this evening to be over as close to two hours as possible. A significant number of the students from the younger grades were taken from the event and this prevented them from recognising the efforts of their fellow students and also the finale of the evening highlighting our senior students. In future, it would be our aim to ensure that all students remain a part of the evening until its conclusion.

The final two weeks of the term could be quiet stressing for our students. In all year levels they will have assessment items due and exams to undertake. I am sure that all parents know what works for their son in regard to planning and preparation for these weeks without them becoming too stressed. Certainly, in regard to young men, organisation and practice (study) is a significant key to success during these weeks. How each young man gets organised and well drilled is usually an individual thing. However, I am sure that as their parents, you would be well aware if they actually have the skills to be able to do this or “talk up a big game” but cannot deliver on what is said. I would encourage all parents to start the conversations with their sons around how and what they have planned to be ready for their exams. In some cases, I am sure your assistance might need to be a little more energetic than others. At the end of the semester we all want each young man to have tried to the best of his abilities and the results on his report to be a true indication of his abilities at this point in time.

It is our usual practice to run our exam block right to the end of the term as we believe that this best allows us to maximise teaching and learning time. Usually, towards the end of each term I receive a number of requests from families to withdraw their sons early from the College. In many of these instances there is a request for their son to complete his assessment earlier than the rest of the student body. It has always been the position of the College that students remain at school until the very end wherever possible. I do understand that on some occasions that there may be family circumstances that do not allow this. However, I would request that families that wish to withdraw their son early so that they can begin their holiday break early to please reconsider this practice as it can inadvertently give the young men a feeling that their schooling may not be as important. This can cause them greater stresses as they move into the older grades. It is not possible for a student to complete any exams before the rest of their cohort for our assessment security reasons. This means that any students who miss exams in the finals days will not have the final assessment piece as a part of their report and will receive a grade based on the work that they have done to that point in time. The assessment can be completed during the staff week if the student has returned or recovered from illness if it is possible for the teacher to mark it within the report deadline times.

Please keep Mr Murray Schultz and Mr John Zappala in your thoughts and prayers. Murray has just undergone a serious knee operation and is recovering well at this stage. John is undergoing open heart by- pass surgery today. This was a sudden discovery and operation and John will be absent from the College for the remainder of the year.

I hope that everyone enjoys a calm and rewarding final two weeks of the academic calendar.

God Bless

Mr Chris Mayes - College Principal