On Tuesday morning, we held our Scholar’s Assembly. The purpose of this assembly was to recognise the efforts and achievements of our young men based on their studies in the second semester last year. During the assembly we gave out four different types of awards. Firstly, students received a Gold, Silver or Bronze medallion based on their grades for each of their subjects. The second awards were given to students who managed to achieve an “A” grade in all their subjects. The third awards were Learning Gain Awards. These were awarded to students who had made significant improvement...
On Tuesday morning, we held our Scholar’s Assembly. The purpose of this assembly was to recognise the efforts and achievements of our young men based on their studies in the second semester last year. During the assembly we gave out four different types of awards. Firstly, students received a Gold, Silver or Bronze medallion based on their grades for each of their subjects. The second awards were given to students who managed to achieve an “A” grade in all their subjects. The third awards were Learning Gain Awards. These were awarded to students who had made significant improvement in their grades across the course of the year. The final awards were given to 26 senior students from last year who achieved an OP score between 1-5. Once again, last year’s senior cohort achieved above the State average in this area. I would like to congratulate every young man who received an award. Your persistence, effort and positive attitude is an example to all students within our community.
As is our tradition, we invited a past student from the College to present the awards and address the assembly. This year we had the pleasure of having Chris Stackpoole as our guest. An Old Boy of St Patrick’s College (2007), Chris has been engaged in significant studies in the area of law both nationally and internationally and has also assisted many in the Queensland communities through volunteering as a consultant with community groups.
Chris undertook the study of Law at the QUT in 2009. Since his graduation he has undertaken more studies and international work. Last year, Chris graduated as Vinerian Scholar from the Bachelor of Civil Law, the most prestigious law scholarship awarded by the University of Oxford. He is the second Queensland recipient of the Vinerian Scholarship, which has been awarded to 16 Australians since it was established in the late 1700s.
Chris is a currently a solicitor in the Dispute Resolution Practice at King & Wood Mallesons, Australia’s leading commercial law firm. He specialises in complex commercial litigation and has been widely published in legal journals and practitioner texts. He also retains an interest in international affairs, having been a former Australian diplomat advising on multilateral policy and international security. He has worked in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and volunteered in Ghana, Cambodia and Thailand assisting in the areas of public policy.
In his address, Chris could have spoken about his many achievements, but instead he spoke to our young men about the values of aiming for goals and staying true to your core values. He gave some of his life experiences in this area. I am confident that everyone in the audience found his address to be interesting and worthwhile to their own contexts.
During the Assembly I spoke to the young men about the pitfalls of growing up in what appears to be an age of celebrity. I mentioned that the internet and social media gives us access to such a diverse range of cultures and people across the globe. Whilst there are many advantages to this, there are also some pitfalls. The age of celebrity allows people, often with limited expertise, to assert their own thoughts to others with a sense that they are an authority on a subject.In essence what is being expressed is an opinion rather than expertise based on research and evidence. These people are often referred to as “influencers and bloggers”. Their success criteria for this role appears to be based on the number of followers that they can amass, rather than their knowledge and expertise on matters that they might comment on. That is not to say that there are some experts who use such channels to pass on valuable information. The problem is that many of our young men who use sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc usually do not have the skills to work out who are the experts or are drawn to such people because of their celebrity status based on their looks, sporting reputation or simply the fact that they have accumulated a large number of followers.
Personally, I have two concerns about this. The first is that we risk “dumbing down” our communities because too much of our time and efforts is on things that are about populous views and matters and subjects such as body image, relationships etc are discussed at very superficial levels that can be damaging to young people.
It concerns me greatly that many of our young men not only follow such people on social media sites but, in some instances, have also accumulated a large number of followers themselves. It would be an interesting exercise for parents to ask their son how many followers they have and how many of them have they actually met. Another pitfall that stands out for me is that social media sites have allowed young men to interact with anyone, and often with people that they have not met before.
Secondly, I am concerned that young people can become sensitised to dealing with strangers and how they share private details about themselves, their families, friends etc. We are very clear about the notion of “stranger danger” when dealing with others in person, but notion of safety and privacy seems to be forgotten when interacting on-line. Your son will, no doubt, tell you that he only chats with the group of friends and the information stays in that group. As a school leader over a number of years, I can tell you that this is rarely the case. Your son might follow this rule, but there is a good chance that others in the group do not. Likewise, they will tell you that photographs that they have sent of themselves or others on Snapchat are not kept recorded. But this is only if the receiver has not taken a screen shot of them. This can be devastating for any young person who might be lured into sexting. Also, if he has hundreds of followers, there is an excellent chance that he does not know all of them. As importantly, the question could also be about what he is putting out there on his story and other shared information that attracts large numbers of people.
I note with interest that the Queensland government is currently looking to legislate against instances where such photographs might be distributed without consent of the other party. I would love to say that this is not the case with our young men, but I would be quite confident that this is not the case with some of our students.
I would really urge parents to have an honest and supportive discussion with their children about what types of accounts they have on social media and their knowledge of the people with whom they are communicating. Also, how they know the person that is communicating with them is really that person if they do not know them. This also applies to some forms of gaming such as Fortnite where there is the opportunity to share communication.
During this weekend we compete against Marist College Ashgrove in AFL, Cricket and Volleyball. Our AFL games for Years 8-9 and Years 10-12 are at Sandgate Hawks Club tonight and our Cricket and Volleyball games for Years 9-12 are at home with the other teams playing at Marist. Best of luck to all teams.
Live Jesus in our Hearts!