Where are they now - Peter Conheady (SPC 1986-88)
author: Lorrie Liston
The College recently reconnected with former boarder Peter Conheady (SPC 1986-88), pictured with his beautiful family, wife Donna and daughters Maggie and Sophie, who thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with his former classmates at his recent 30-Year Class Reunion. Peter shares many of his memories of SPC and boarding life.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
After completing Year 12 in 1988, I studied applied art at university. I then gained employment in the signage industry in Warrnambool and in the mid 1990's bought into the business. My business partner and I operate Autografix Signs where we design and manufacture a variety of signage solutions specialising in vehicle signage and safety signs. In 2001, I married Donna and together we have two daughters, Maggie who is aged 14 and Sophie, 11. Following my involvement with the 1st XVIII Football team at SPC, I soon got involved with the local footy club at Camperdown after leaving school. Having been on the Committee of Management since 1989, I have held many roles, including a six-year stint as club president. I remain heavily involved with the club and my wife Donna and our two girls are very involved with the club's netball fraternity.
What are your fondest memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
The boarding precinct in the late 1980's was a great environment to grow, learn and develop. Many memories remain of times in the dormitories, lockers, dining room and boarding houses. Late night trips to the classrooms to study after massive pillow fights erupted in the dorm, Joe Phyland serving meals to the masses in the dining room (all of which were edible other than Sunday night "Animals"), table tennis and billiards, Saturday Night movies in the hall, singing practice with Br "Winston" Davis in the chapel on Saturday nights before movies and Br Zoch's push bikes are some of the memories that spring to mind when reminiscing life as a boarder.
Getting involved with the school’s extra-curricular activities also provided many memories. I was not much of a footballer but was able to become involved assisting Br Bob Aron with the First XVIII doing statistics. This involvement evolved into becoming team manager in 1988 when Tony Frawley coached the team. This role included a variety of jobs and challenges but provided a terrific way to be involved. The 1st XVIII had many successes in 1988; BPSA Premiers and Champions, set a new BPSA highest victory score when we defeated Westbourne Grammar one Wednesday afternoon in Werribee, competed in the Sun Shield, defeated Monivae twice and had a very competitive game against rivals Assumption College in Kilmore.
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
Many names spring to mind, for a variety of reasons, when asked to recall teachers from your time at SPC. I am sure others will recall names such as Br Miller, Mr Peter "Jake" Farley, Br Denis Moore, Mr Al Rossetto, Mr Lawrie Ragg, Br Paul "Speedy" O'Flynn and Mr John "Wolfman" Williams. All teachers have an impact on you, in a variety of ways, but Mrs Nerella McDonald, who taught me Year 12 English, would be the teacher whom I believe had the greatest impact on me whilst at SPC. English had never been a strong point throughout my education, reading prescribed texts was not always achieved and essay writing and speech preparation was a constant struggle. However, "Nellie" as we referred to her, was somehow able to change most of that. I actually read my Year 12 texts, submitted some essays that contained a bit of substance, took up Public Speaking and ended up achieving a pretty complimentary score for English upon completing VCE. (Nerella McDonald was a staff member at SPC from 1978 to 2010 and then moved to Sacred Heart College, Oakley to teach senior English. At St Patrick’s, Nerella was a teacher of English, French and Japanese and a pastoral tutor for Keniry House.)
How has your education shaped your professional life?
Studying Art, Graphics, Visual Communication and Design throughout my time at St Patrick’s, under teachers like Mr Paul Andrews, Mr Terry Blizzard, Mr Malcolm Barrins and Mr Henry Gibcus directed me towards my degree at university. In turn this led to me entering the graphics/signage industry. Today, 30 years after leaving SPC, I am still involved in the signage industry and still enjoy what I do. Public speaking is a big part of my life these days in a variety of roles I am involved with within the community. I attribute much of this to my time at St Patrick's and the English teachers I had including Mr Peter Farley in Year 10 and Mrs McDonald in Year 12. Br Breech offered many students "coaching" in the Public Speaking field and competing in events like the annual Purton Oratory competition gave students confidence to stand and speak in front of an audience.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
Trying your best, applying yourself and having a go, with anything you do in life is very important. Values like these can be attributed to not only my parents but also my time studying and living within the grounds of St Patrick's College.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
St Patrick's will present each of you with many opportunities. Some will be scholastic, some sporting, maybe the performing arts, community service or opportunities within other spheres. Make the most of each of these opportunities. The wide breadth of subjects available, the huge array of sports on offer, the many other extra-curricular activities to choose from means that there is something for everyone to engage in. The more you put into each of your endeavours the more you will reap out of them. Enjoy it, but give it your all.