Boarding Report – February 4, 2016

February 3, 2016

This past Christmas break brought with it for me mixed emotions. On the one hand there was much joy as Ainslie and I were able to celebrate Banjo’s first Christmas -“ our first as our little family -“ but on the other hand I received news upon the conclusion of the academic year that my father’s cancer had returned. My father is a positive and resilient man who I have much to thank for -“ Ainslie, Banjo and I travelled back to the UK shortly before the new year and upon our arrival there was already promising news on my father’s part. Ultimately the prognosis gave us all hope and by the time we returned to the Australia the outlook was (is) much brighter for my father. It was, however, on an occasion I accompanied my father to an appointment that I read in the waiting area a quote from the poet and pacifist, Edith Lovejoy Pierce, that resonated with me as an ideal manner in which to approach this new year, so I share it with you all now in the hope that it rings true for you and our boarders:

-We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.-

So often at this time of a new academic year my focus is on our new boarders but I believe that Edith’s words are applicable to us all. Two aspects of this quote continue to draw my attention -“ the first is of the sense of individual control we have in realising opportunity and the second is of the fact that it should (or must) start immediately. Anyone who is suffering from illness or has a loved one suffering from illness would concur that not a minute should be taken for granted or wasted in idle pursuit.

Whatever the aspirations of the fine young men that have joined us for this new academic year all must strive to grasp the opportunity that time at this great College affords. Whether it be in academic, co-curricular, spiritual or social pathways all must endeavour to not let an opportunity be wasted.

On evidence of this first week or so we have a group of boarders who will do just this. The camaraderie evident already, not just amongst the individual houses, but also as an entire boarding cohort is wonderful to see. Friendships created in boarding have often been likened to that of a -band of brothers- and to see this in the common rooms, our dining room or, as we did this past Friday, whilst on a whole boarding activity, is very special indeed. I neglected to highlight upon the boarders return the social media outlets that we carefully utilise to enable family and friends of our boarders to be a part of our life here at the College. If you use or have access to both Facebook and Twitter you will find our respective sites, controlled by a College employee to ensure safe practice, that will allow many of you to see all that occurs here, almost as it happens. If you do have any problems connecting, please do not hesitate to contact me or your son’s housemaster. We strive to be an inclusive community and hope that initiatives like this assist towards accomplishing that goal. We are also fast approaching our first boarding community event, which in this term, will be on a Friday evening. More information will follow in the coming days but I do hope you are all able to join us.

At our opening Mass Father Justin Driscoll, in his homily, spoke about identity and as I invite you into our inclusive community and to the first of many community events, I am reminded of what he said. Father Driscoll said he was becoming increasingly concerned by the identity that surrounds our National Day. He went on to elaborate and highlight that no identity should be fixed -“ that it should be dynamic, evolving and conscious to promote the fact that we are citizens of a wider community, citizens of the world. These are powerful words that contain challenging notions but ones that I believe are so pertinent to our boarders. In the coming weeks I will be asking our boarding cohort what does it mean to be a boarder. How would they define being a boarder. I intend to use their responses to shape our direction for 2016. 2015 saw a concerted effort by our boarding community to acknowledge our citizenship of a broader community and to support those less fortunate themselves. I wonder what challenges we will face when our boarding cohort helps shape our pathway for this coming year.

From a housekeeping perspective I have been asked to mention a couple of items. Many of our boarders have returned without a white, plastic washing basket and with items of clothing unnamed. Baskets can be purchased with little ease at Big W or Target -“ labelling would ideally be sewn in but a laundry marker would suffice. Can these be done at your earliest convenience because without them it makes our domestic service much harder to complete.

I would also remind all of the changes to our Leave arrangements. Unless a boarder is travelling on public transport we would ask that whoever is collecting them do so by coming to the boarding house and contacting the housemaster on duty. In this way we can be assured that Leave is accurate and that due diligence is completed at all times. I would also ask that if there are any last minute changes to arrangements that these are directly relayed to your son/s housemaster. I am sure you will all agree that the whereabouts and welfare of your son/s is our priority and these alterations to the Leave procedure will ensure this remains as such.

In the near future your son/s housemaster will be in contact with you. Communication is vital within a boarding environment. I would encourage you to regularly speak with your son/s housemaster and of course myself if there is anything that you believe we need to know or could assist in our care of them.

Look after yourselves.