Today, draws the close of the school year for all our students for another year. It is my sincerest hope that all our young men, and their families, have had an enjoyable and fulfilling year. It is also with some sadness that we bid farewell to some of our families. There are some who have been associated with the College for many years. What is often overlooked is that good schools also develop community amongst the parent/caregiver body as well. Therefore, when a young man completes his final day at St Patrick’s, it can also be an emotional time for parents who have built strong partnerships and relationships with others within our community as well. I would like to wish all departing families the very best and thank you for your support and contribution to the College during your time with us.

Over the past week, all our students have been participating in exams. I have spent much time walking around the building observing their efforts during this time. I have certainly been impressed by their cooperation and preparedness to stick to the task. The next phase of the assessment process is the report back to the students, parents and teachers. The final report is a “point in time” report that indicates to the young men, their parents and teachers what they have learned over the year. Any assessment set for students is an indication of what the teacher would like to the student to know from the unit of work. It is also feedback to the teacher about not only what each student learned but also the class. These results, amongst other information, can be used as evidence regarding the impact of their teaching upon the group. It is also worth noting that the assessments over the year do not just include content retention, but also skills that are sequentially developed throughout the subject over a period of years. Furthermore, some of these skills such as writing and reading comprehension are targeted as a priority for the whole school and the results, amongst other information, can inform us of the impact of our programs as well.

On Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of attending our Year 6 Transition Liturgy. The students and staff were also joined by a considerable number of parents. I think that all who attended could not help but be impressed by the presentations of our young men. When speaking to the parents afterwards over morning tea, I heard a common theme of how proud the parents were of their son’s commitment and love of the school. Likewise, on the following day, I was fortunate to attend the Year 5 presentation to their parents. Most parents that I met spoke of how much their young man had developed over such a short period. There were also very appreciative of the efforts of the Big Brothers from Year 12.

Over the past couple of days, the CLT has been reviewing the ACER Testing results completed by students from Years 5-10 in October. There has been some really strong growth in many of our young men within these cohorts. I would especially like to recognise and commend the teachers within Year 5 and 6, for not only their teaching skills, but also how they have nurtured each young man in his journey over the first two years at St Patrick’s.

The end of any year always brings mixed emotions for the College staff. Whilst it is always nice to be able to take a break from work, it is also a time when we farewell some of our colleagues. This year we bid farewell to one of our teachers who has been teaching at St Patrick’s since 1989. During his time with us, he has been adored by students and extremely well regarded by his colleagues. I have mentioned Mr Kevin Van der Weide on other occasions over this term and once more I would like to publicly state this school community’s heartfelt thanks for all that he has done and wish him many years of fulfilling retirement. Two other long-serving staff members who will not be returning to the teaching staff include Ms Selena Fisk and Mr Andrew Will. Both teachers have taken leave over the entirety of this year and have secured roles within other schools. In both cases, these roles allow them to further develop their talents and again, I am sure that I speak on behalf of all when I wish them both the very best in their future endeavours.

Mr Jackson Alves also finishes his time at St Patrick’s after three years of wonderful service. Jackson will spend much of next year working and travelling. Mrs Claire Clapham will also finish at the end of this year. Claire has been on maternity leave for most of this year and previously worked as a teacher in the Exceptional Learners Department in the area of Gifted and Talented.

We have also had some staff who have been on teaching contracts over the course of this term or the year. Mr Travis Dewan joined us as a Year 6 teacher this year to replace Mrs Cassandra Purcell, who has been on maternity leave. We were indeed very fortunate to have secured someone of Travis’ abilities and experience for this year. Whilst it is disappointing that St Patrick’s has to farewell Travis, the good news is that he will remain in the EREA network as he has accepted a position at St James College. Mr Phil Cave joined us for this term to replace Mr Paul Arcodia, and Mrs Tracey Tindle has replaced Mr Blake Loudon. Blake and Paul will return from their leave next year along with Mrs Cassandra Purcell and Mrs Andrea Hey. I would also like to thank Mrs Leesa Harris and Mrs Deborah Martens for their valuable efforts throughout this term.

Next year Mr Paul Toohey will take leave for the entire year. Paul’s role has been appointed to Mrs Elizabeth Skinner. Elizabeth has accepted this role in a full-time capacity as Paul will return to St Patrick’s for a short time in 2019 before retiring. Elizabeth has great experience as an educator and librarian and was, most recently, Head of Library Services at Stuartholme College. Mrs Nicole Draisey and Mr Mike Bramwell will also take an extended period of leave through all 2018.

Mr Tim Kenny, Mrs Paige McDonald and Mr Luke Royes departed to India this morning with six of our young men as a part an immersion experience. This is, in a sense, a pilgrimage introduced by Fr Liam Horsfall in the mid-2000s. It has been continued by staff and students ever since. We wish all the travellers a safe and wonderful experience in India. Next Friday morning, Mrs Annette Campbell, Mrs Di McRoberts, Mrs Anne-Maree Bliss, Mr Ben Niland-Rowe, Mr Patrick Denkes and Mr Troy Schultz will join me in a visit to two Christian Brothers Schools in Asansol, India. During this trip we will share professional experiences with staff and students at St Vincent’s and St Patrick’s Colleges. Hopefully, we will be able to start a long term “twinning” relationship with these schools. We are all very excited about this great opportunity.

I am aware that there are also many other activities available to many young men over this break thanks to the commitment of the staff. The St Patrick’s community is very fortunate to have so many staff members who are prepared to offer so many opportunities to our student body. I would like to recognise the efforts of all the teachers and support staff members for their outstanding contribution to the College throughout this year. It has been very much valued and appreciated.

I look forward to working with our staff and families again next year and hope that everyone has an opportunity for some form of holiday over the festive season.

May you have a merry and Holy Christmas and happy New Year!

Live Jesus in our Hearts … forever!

Mr Chris Mayes – College Principal