Boarding Report – October 20, 2016

October 19, 2016

I am most conscious of the number of families who, due to the remoteness of -home-, are unable to join us when we gather as a community as we did last night to farewell our Yr12 boarding cohort. For that reason, I offer my speech as our boarding contribution for this Crest edition. I hope you enjoy.

-I stand here a proud -‘parent’ to 42 young men, however this evening I focus on the Yr12s in our midst who we must wish a fond farewell. I could wax lyrical on their individual merits, however will limit myself to a broader offering. I was on the Gold Coast this past school holiday for a boarding conference. One of the key note speakers was Jake Bailey. Some of you may recall his name -“ Jake is the 18-year-old ex-Christchurch Boys’ High School senior monitor, whose prize giving speech made worldwide headlines after going viral in November 2015. A week before he was due to deliver this speech he fell ill and was diagnosed with Burkitts non-Hodgkinson lymphoma, the fastest growing cancer known to man, and given 3 weeks to live if left untreated. Today he is in remission and making positive progress. Jake spoke of his Yr12 year. Jake spoke of the eye-opening experience his brush with death presented, however was keen to stress that it does not take his experience to draw the conclusions he did on his life to that point. I wish to offer Jake’s advice to our Yr12s as they walk through our College gates and move onto the next stage of their own lives. Essentially he urged all to -live every day with passion and pride-. Not as if it is your last, he did not wish to be so morbid, instead ensuring that life was lived with no regrets, on a day to day basis, focussing on giving and service. I believe our departing Yr12s have these life essentials already present in them and am eager to hear the wonderful stories as their future lives unfold.

This is now my third year in the role as Director of Boarding, my fourth year at the College. I would love to see a projection of the journey that boarding has been on over these past years and glimpse into the future at where we might develop to. I guess in many ways we are afforded this luxury when former boarders return to us, with a fondness in their eye as they reminisce on their time in our boarding community. Just the fact that they do return, that the connection exists long after they leave us, is a testament to what we are able to achieve. Those that know how I operate know that I am always looking at how our boarding program can and will develop. I empower our staff to innovate. There will be ideas that fail to materialise or achieve positive outcomes and others that succeed that we will continue to look to improve. In my time in this role we will never allow the program to simply exist, to rest on any laurels or take comfort in things just working. To do this would be to doing a great injustice to our boarders past, present and future. That is not to say that we change for change sake -“ there are some intrinsic aspects to boarding that will and must never change -“ as a College operating in the vision of Edmund Rice we cherish our inclusivity and nowhere do I believe that this is more firmly demonstrated is within our boarding community. Bringing together young men, liberating them to be the best they can be, with an awareness and desire to challenge social injustices and, most importantly, embrace their spirituality, modelled on the life of Jesus Christ, creates within boarding a -‘togetherness’ that is unique. For all the staff in this room this evening our calling is one towards the power of relationships. Our boarders have developed relationships that will stand the tests of time, whether those be with the person next to them, their roommate, their housemates, or simply their fellow boarder. I would like to share with you an anecdote I recently used at the basketball presentation evening. I am privileged to coach our 2ndV -‘Boarders” basketball team. It was during a slow first half, with mistakes a plenty from our boys, that I gave our future MVP, Daniel Richardson, a breather. As he sat down on the bench he looked at me and said that manner in which we were playing was just wrong. We were making mistakes and allowing each other to wallow in those. Dan said that was not -the boarding way-. We support one another, back one another, through good times and the bad. I used that as my halftime focus and the transformation was startling. That is what it means to be a boarder, that is the success of this program, that is the thread that shall never vanish from what we do and what we will continue to do.

On this night many are generous in their praise of my part in our boarding community -“ the reality is that behind me stands an altogether much stronger team working collaboratively together. If you will now indulge me I would like to make mention and express our gratitude to them all. (I will ask you to hold your applause until the end.)

(1) To our Senior Housemaster -“ Tam -“ affectionately known by many in our wider community as my -‘work wife’ -“ certainly one of the strongest supporters of our boarders.

(2) To the Housemaster Team -“ to Michael, Ewen and, joining us this year, Daniel -“ and to the families of this team who are also an integral part of what we do.

(3) To the Housekeeper Team -“ to Jo, Brenda and to Helen -“ certainly our -‘mum’s’ within each house.

(4) Our GAP Tutors -“ to Josh and Ed.

(5) To our Catering Team -“ led this year by Sean, to Rosie, Letitia, Carolyn, Barb and the many individuals who have assisted over the course of the year at dinners and other special functions like this evening.

(6) Our Study Supervisors -“ to Emily, Brittany, Austin, Gabi, Maddi and Chloe. What a wonderfully beneficial addition they have been to our study program this year. I can only offer them the highest compliment to say that I know all will make excellent educators in the coming months and/or years.

(7) The Mission Team -“ led by Geoff, to Anne-Marie, Mitch, Helen, Father James, and to Father Francis and, of course, Father Rupert for assisting this year with our Liturgies.

(8) Our chief first aider, the first port of call when our boarders are unwell, Tina McManus, who officially joined our boarding team this year and did so seamlessly.

(9) To the many others who offer their invaluable support -“ to Andrew, Craig, Elizabeth, Michael, John, Andrew, Glenis, Rachel, Michelle, Trudi, Maureen, Ebony, Ang, Kerrie, Sharon, to Howard, Rick, Tracey, Kate, Nathan, Julian, Pete, John, Peter and Glen.

(10) Our boarding community has been enriched this year by the introduction of our Monday night guest speaker program -“ with so many here tonight -“ so I wish to thank again former boarder and Property Manager Tony Liston, Director of Boarding at Ballarat Grammar Chris Van Styn, former SPC boarder Paddy Kennedy, Dr Rob Davis from Fed Uni, our very own Anthony Meehan, Michael Coutts, Marc Greig, Jack Terrill, Mick Bell, College Chaplain Fr James, our former chef Anthony Ransome, key supporter of our boarding community, business manager of Health First Medical Practice Tim Davies, Daniel Rush, Phil Partington, Nikki Foy and last, but by no means least, former SPC student, former Ballarat Mayor Joshua Morris. The insights they have shared have been enlightening and beneficial to all.

(10) We thank the staff who have left us at some point this year -“ to Glenda, Julian and Jan.

(11) Finally it would be remiss of me to not thank our two Deputy Headmasters, Mr Stephen Hill and Mr Gerard Sullivan, for both their support of our boarding community and their support of me personally.

(12) Testament to the ongoing priority that our Headmaster, Mr John Crowley, places on the importance of boarding at St Patrick’s College is reflected by his very attendance this evening, with his wife Marcella, having only shortly returned from time in India. My role within ABSA affords me a privileged insight into the operation of many of the boarding schools across Australia. Let me tell you that I can count on one hand those where the Headmaster joins his/her boarding community for lunch and dinner. A day would not pass when I do not have a conversation with John about the lives of our boarders. Whilst so often the focus is on the new boarding facility to commence construction next month we, and certainly John does not, must never forget the outstanding program we offer that places your son’s welfare as its number one priority. John thank you for your support of our boarders, their families, our boarding staff, their families, all within our boarding community.

Ladies and Gentlemen: even if we were to ignore our outstanding teaching staff and all they have done to support our boarders -“ at a quick count, over 60 wonderfully diverse, committed, passionate individuals have supported our 42 boarders, particularly our 19 Yr12 boarders this year. That is remarkable.

I do the job I do for one simple reason -“ the wellbeing and care of your son/s. The pleasure I get from the many triumphs your sons enjoy here at the College, whether academic, spiritual, sporting or other co-curricular means is the greatest satisfaction I take. Most of you are well aware of my own years in boarding and I am fortunate to say that my love of this lifestyle was fostered from my own experiences. I hope that all our boarders share or will share this same passion. I have often said that the decisions I make will not always be liked by all but the boys will know they are done with their very best interests at heart. At this point I must acknowledge the leaders amongst our boarding student body who have provided me with invaluable support and who have embodied all that we as a whole boarding community can hope to achieve. I speak first of our Captain of Boarding, Sam White. Sam is an exceptional young man who I cannot speak highly enough of. He is a role model for both his peers and those in the years below him. As a result he enjoys the respect of all and perhaps the greatest accolade I can give him is that he leaves behind large shoes for his successor to fill. Sam you have been a strong leader all year and always provided me with an honest appraisal of all things boarding. Whilst I continue to drive boarding forward you have been a most able co-driver offering sound wisdom that has reflected the feeling of the general populace. For this, above all, I am most grateful.

Sam would be the first to acknowledge that he has been ably supported by our two House Captains and three Vice Captains. Keenan, Pat, Jed, Antonio and Lachie have not only led their respective houses with distinction but supported Sam and the staffing body with dedication and respect. A respect for their boarding house and house team, a respect for the whole boarding community. When an example has been needed, they have been willing-¦when a message needed to be given, they have delivered it with a maturity that defies their years. Our Year12 cohort is exceptionally talented and these five gentlemen stand as proud leaders of this group. Thank you gents for all that you have given so selflessly throughout the year.

2016 has been a remarkable year, for our boarders independently, our Yr12 cohort specifically and to the boarding community as a whole. The accomplishments have been unprecedented and I am very grateful to all of you here this evening and to those unable to attend on this occasion for your unwavering support. It is only through this unity that we have been able to achieve what we have achieved. I look forward with much excitement to 2017 and beyond.-

It was a wonderful evening, I hope that my speech gives you a picture as to the tone of the evening, an evening of celebration, an evening of community. My thanks to all who attended and all who made it the evening it was.

Kenny Catch-up

The last few days for the year 12 boarders is a time of reflection for me, especially since some of the boys finishing have been a part of my life for the past three years. To try and remember some of the boys as fresh-faced, enthusiastic year 10 students can be quite difficult as all have grown into outstanding young men.

I have spent these days reminiscing with the boys and what they will remember most about boarding at St Patrick’s College. As you could imagine, the responses varied from their favourite meals and weekend activities, to more personal memories and funny incidents.

One thing that certainly stood out, and that was mentioned on numerous occasions, were the friendships that have been formed within boarding. These range from roommates and housemates, to those friendships that were formed during activities and dinners. Many boys indicated that they are walking away from St Patrick’s College with lifelong friendships, regardless of distance from their home towns.

It was also wonderful to hear the boys mention the relationships that they have formed with the staff at SPC, both in boarding and within the day school.

The conversations became a lot more contemplative when we spoke about things that the boys will take away from their boarding experience. To say that I was impressed with some of the responses is an understatement.

The boys spoke fondly of taking away important life lessons and skills that they had accumulated over their time as a boarder. One in particular stood out with many and that was the ability to adapt to change. Others spoke of an increase in organisation, and an enhanced sense of independence.

I am extremely proud of each and every one of these boys and I know that whatever they choose to do in the future, they will do so with such enthusiasm and passion that they will succeed beyond their own expectations. Good luck boys and thanks for all the amazing memories.

Miss Tamara Westwood

Senior Housemaster, Kenny House

The final term is off to a flying start with the year 12s’ deep in preparation for their final exams. A large portion of which even gave up their spare time on the holidays to return to school to do practice exams. Kenny House has returned back to normal two weeks into the term with the boys settling in again after their breaks. Our final boarders mass / dinner is upon us again, this occasion is to formerly farewell our year 12s’ and I am sure Mike Silcock has some surprises for us all!! The weekend activities are back in full swing with our boarders attending the National Sports Museum at the MCG as well as the ever popular cinema trip. This term from my experience is always different from the others with the departure of different year levels staggered throughout the term as they all complete their respective workloads. It is always an emotional time for all as we see our year 12’s take the step towards the next chapter in their lives making way for our next generation of boarders. We wish all of our boys the very best in all year levels as they continue to make us proud with their achievements.

Mr Ewen Larsen

Weekend Housemaster, Kenny House

Phyland/Farley Catch-up

The pointy end of the year is now upon us. With Year 12 farewells in full swing it can be a highly emotional time for all (including parents and housemasters!!).- What has been pleasing to see is that whilst all of the ongoing hype around the boys continues, our young men remain focused. As always it is important that our year 12s work in a balanced way, mixing up the study time with exercises and down time.

For the rest of the house, our young men are all conscious and remember that in our boarding community we have other young men not currently in year 12 sitting 3/4 subjects. In the coming weeks it will be fantastic to see our boarders supporting Dayon, Patrick, Daniel, Oliver, and Jed. Over the weekend it was wonderful to see those young men off from boarding and to announce the new leaders for 2017. Finally, we look forward to farewelling the whole cohort including Nathan Abbott in a few weeks at the Valedictory Dinner.

The take home message between now and then is to -work hard-.

Mr Michael Murphy

Housemaster, Phyland/Farley House

I never know what to be more worried about; the year 12s that get the anxious look in their eyes this time of year or the year 12s that don’t. While the practise essays I’ve read assure me that they will give a good account of themselves in their exams, their conduct over this year reassures this will continue past their study. Phyland and Farley’s year 12s continue to work towards their goals with differing approaches. Despite the different tactics, the overall truth of boarding at St Patricks remains the same. The boys support each other; those that need a break leaving their mates to study, or in some cases reminding their mates to start studying, always careful not to be a distraction. Brief runs around college grounds before getting back to the books suddenly becoming very popular.- While the focus is on the older boys the junior boarders continue to study for their own exams, perhaps even more careful not to be a distraction.

Mr Daniel Willey

Weekend Housemaster, Phyland/Farley House

Look after yourselves.

Mike Silcock

Director of Boarding