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Welcome back to a very exciting 2018. Whilst the young men have only been back for three days of this week, it has been great to see so much energy and many smiling faces. On Tuesday, we welcomed all the new students and their families into the College. I hope that this will be the start of a very strong and successful partnership throughout each young man’s journey with us at the College.

On Wednesday morning, the whole school gathered together as a single community for the first time. My first message to each of the students was focussed on how well we work together to get the best from each other. At St Patrick’s, we often speak of being “a band of brothers”. When we drill down into what this really means, it is about forming relationships amongst each other that is based on love and understanding. To be able to do this, it is incumbent on all to try and get to know others not simply just relate to them. The first weeks of any school year are important for students, especially new students, as it is during this time that they try to become a part of the school community. Apart from the anxiety of trying to find different places and rooms around the College campus, it is also a time to catch up with friends who they may not have seen for some time or try to make new friends.

This can be a difficult time for some of our young men and can certainly test the resilience of some. As adults working together, it is important that we give some clear messages to them during the times of uncertainty. Firstly, I have asked all our students who have been at the College for more than a year to make sure that they help any students and go up and meet them. I challenged them to try and meet at least three new boys each day. I appreciate that this might be difficult for some young men, but it is as rewarding for them as well. Secondly, there might be times that your son might speak ill of others (including his teachers). This is a good time to explain to them that they might need time to get to know that person better and that we always need to look for the good in people not make judgments based on just our own perceptions. People that have a different view to us or way of doing things should be seen as more interesting not more threatening.

During the last week of the term last year, Mr Tim Kenny, Ms Paige McDonald and Mr Luke Royes took a group of our student on an immersion experience to India. They were away for three weeks and travelled to many different parts of the country and immersed themselves in the Indian culture and the activities within the different communities that they visited. This immersion experience continues the legacy of Fr Liam Horsfall and is a wonderful experience for all involved.

During the first two weeks of December, I also had the privilege to travel to India with Mrs Annette Campbell, Mrs Anne-Maree Bliss, Mrs Di McRoberts, Mr Ben Nilan-Rowe, Mr Troy Schultz and Mr Patrick Denkes. We spent the time at St Patrick’s College and St Vincent’s College in Asansol. During the time we did some teaching and professional development and learning with the teachers from these schools. It is hoped that this can turn into an ongoing program. We hope that some of the teachers from their schools will visit us some time this year or next year.

Much has happened over the holiday period in co-curricular sport. Many of our young men and staff have been involved in sports training and competitions and trials in preparation for the seasons ahead. I would like to thank all the students who chose to participate and especially the College staff members, who made these opportunities available to the young men.

REALM, our new learning management system, went live on Monday. This is a new program for all the staff at the College as well. I appreciate that there will be some glitches in the beginning, but we are very pleased with the new product. It will also place more responsibility on students to be aware of their diaries and planning and the electronic submission of much of their work. REALM also gives parents and caregivers much more accessibility to their son’s school work and assessment results. Our current system of reporting will change throughout this year so that we fully utilise the capabilities of the program. Whilst there will be some first time “hiccups”, I am sure that everyone will be very pleased with the final package by the end of the year.

Over the staff week, we participated in a number of professional development activities. One of the sessions was run by Luke McKenna who leads an organisation named Unleashing Personal Potential. He spoke to us about growth mindset and its impact on individuals. For it to work well at St Patrick’s College, we need to instil three clear beliefs. Firstly, every young man who comes to our school must believe that he can learn. Secondly, all the teachers within our school must also believe that every young man can learn. Finally, every teacher within our school must believe that they can teach every young man to learn. Much of our week was based around improving ourselves in our craft and trying to develop ourselves as educators.

Last year’s results have been finalised and we are in the process of selecting students for the academic awards for their great efforts over the second semester last year. We will also have a record number of past Year 12 students attending to receive awards and recognition for their outstanding OP results. Approximately 28% of our students received an OP 1-5 last year. The cohort achieved a median score of OP 8, which has not been achieved at this school before.

Next week, we start many rounds of Parent Information Nights. It is important to us that we have as many parents as possible at these events so that we are all “on the same page” when it comes to our expectations of each of the students. I look forward to meeting with many of you during these meetings.

Live Jesus in our Hearts

Mr Chris Mayes – College Principal