Headmaster’s Message – November 19, 2015

November 18, 2015

Headmaster’s Address- to Speech Night November 18, 2015

Before I offer my formal address tonight I would first like to acknowledge a number of people this evening including Bishop Paul Bird, Bishop of Ballarat and Patron of the College, Dr Wayne Tinsey, Executive Director, Edmund Rice Education Australia, Mr Terry Lloyd, Deputy Chair St Patrick’s College Board, Mr Kelsey Gannon, College Captain 2015, Mr David McMahon, Secretary of the Old Collegians Association, Mr David Canny, Representing the St Patrick’s College Foundation, Mr Tim Davies, Health First Medical Centre, Ms Catherine King, Federal Member for Ballarat, Mr Jon Franzin, Deputy Headmaster: Student and Staff Wellbeing, Mr Stephen Hill, Deputy Headmaster: Teaching and Learning, Mr Chris Gleeson, Director of Sport, Mr Greg Shawcross, Director of Co-Curricular Performance, Mr James McMaster, College Captain 2010, parents, guardians, family and friends of St Patrick’s College and most importantly, our wonderful students . You are all very welcome here today. In offering this greeting, we acknowledge the traditional custodians of this great land. They are the Wathaurong people. We pay our respects to any elders past and present and acknowledge their care of the land over many thousands of years. May we walk on this land gently and respectfully.

I offer this very warm welcome to each of you tonight in this, our 123rd year as a school for boys in the Edmund Rice tradition.

2015 has certainly been a busy year in the life of St Patrick’s College and a busy one for me personally in my first year as the new Headmaster of this wonderful College.

To view a list of the Speech Night Award Recipients please click on this link

To view- the photo gallery from Speech Night please click on this link

The following summary gives a short overview of the many events and opportunities that have made up our busy calendar this year.

In April the College undertook a complete review of its boarding program. Having been a critical part of life at St Patrick’s College for the past 120 years, thousands of young men have graced our corridors and boarding houses, experiencing a home away from home. This review, conducted by Mr Mark McGinnity, formerly Director of Boarding at Riverview College in Sydney and now Principal of Monivae College, Hamilton, highlighted two important observations. First, what a wonderful program St Patrick’s College offers to all boarders in terms of experience. And second, that our facilities are dated and do not meet the needs of boarding students in 2015. And so, having gained the approval of Edmund Rice Education Services and the College Board, we have announced that in 2016 we will commence construction of a state-of-the-art boarding precinct designed to provide first-class facilities for up to 100 boys from all over Australia. Due to commence in early 2016, the facility will cost $3.9m of which approximately $1m will be raised as part of a concerted capital fundraising project. The construction of this new facility is due for completion in late 2016. St Patrick’s College will reduce its boarding capacity next year to a maximum of 42 boarders to allow for construction to take place. The new boarding precinct will assure the future of boarding at St Patrick’s College for many years to come. I would like to acknowledge the dedicated boarding staff, under the leadership of our Director of Boarding, Mr Mike Silcock, for their commitment to providing the highest levels of care and support to our boarding students throughout 2015.

In addition to our proposed boarding facility, 2016 will see the construction of a brand new Food Technology Centre situated on the Wanliss St side of the College. Featuring two brand new kitchen areas, this facility will allow our students the opportunity to study Food Technology to the highest levels. Furthermore, this facility, together with the construction of the boarding precinct, will free up significant space to refurbish into desperately needed classrooms at the College.

Our Indigenous Program continues to flourish under the direction of Mr Rick Balchin, our Indigenous Education Manager. This year, we have had our largest ever number of indigenous students obtaining successful completion of their VCE Certificate, 11 boys in total which is an outstanding result.-

In the area of student leadership we have been blessed in 2015. Under the strong guidance of College Captain, Kelsey Gannon, and Vice-Captains James McKinnon and Jacob Hopper, and ably supported by our Year 12 Student Council and Student Congress, our Year 12 cohort have shone brightly indeed. The open letter published in The Courier this year, which was written by Kelsey, James and Jacob, and which was addressed to past students who were victims and survivors of sexual abuse, showed great courage and strength of character. In this instance they showed every quality you would wish to see in a leader of the College: empathy, support, acknowledgement and honesty. The have made a very real difference in the lives of victims and survivors who read this letter, many of whom have said to me that they felt -honoured as men- after reading the words of our student leaders.

Over the course of the year, our Student Council have led the student body in raising impressive amounts of money for a range of important social justice initiatives and programs. These include Edmund Rice Day where $43,000 was raised for Caritas and Edmund Rice Camps as well as strongly supporting the White Ribbon Foundation. I would also like to acknowledge Year 12 student Ryan Ringin for his work in organising the very successful Pink Tie Day which raised around $10,000 for Breast Cancer research. In addition, our students have been actively involved in the bread run, St Vinnies activities, and much more. With the encouragement of our Senior Council, we stood as one body in support of Adam Goodes and against racism in any form, highlighting we are a community that values and celebrates our rich cultural diversity.

St Patricks College expect to report a positive financial position for 2015, demonstrating continued sound financial management practices exercised by the Executive team, Finance Committee and College Board. Strategies implemented are designed to ensure the financial sustainability and opportunities of growth for the College, while keeping the increase in costs to families at a minimum. Through ongoing review of all aspects of College expenditure and excellent stewardship of resources, the community can be assured that St Patricks College will remain viable and ensure many more years of service to the local community.’

In the area of Learning and Teaching, our core business as a school, St Patrick’s College has flourished. Our Year 9 program continues to offers our boys a wide variety of interesting and different opportunities for learning, much of which occur outside the four walls of the classroom. Next year the College will roll-out Laptop program into Year 10, with subsequent years to follow soon after. We have had the great pleasure of presenting many Chris Nolan Awards in 2015. The achievement of a Chris Nolan Award reflects the highest level of commitment to academic studies. The word that most readily comes to mind here is excellence: excellence in effort, excellence in dedication and excellence in attitude. Our Year 12 students have worked well this year and we look forward to our 2015 VCE results coming out in mid-December. I wish every student the very best as they wait for these results. The important message, however, is that an ATAR score does not define you as a person. Nor, it does not determine your future. There are many ways to achieve a desired university course, one of the most important being hard work and perseverance.

The Arts at St Patrick’s College continue to flourish. In July, our talented boys thrilled audiences in the St Patrick’s/Loreto College production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Our boys are currently in rehearsal for the 2016 production of Les Miserables. It promises to be an amazing show. Public speaking, oratory competitions, debating, theatre productions, music concerts, eisteddfods, SPAM evenings, VCE Technology displays and so much more – as a College we fully celebrate student involvement in the arts, in music and in drama. We formally acknowledge our student and staff commitment to our Concert and Symphonic Bands, together with our Junior Chamber Choir. We recognise the inner beauty in nourishing the soul through the visual and aural senses. I would like to acknowledge Mr Greg Shawcross, our Director of Performing Arts, together with every staff member who has provided wonderful and meaningful experiences in Co-Curricular areas this year.

In the area of Sport, St Patrick’s College has again excelled. This year I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of another Herald Sun Shield victory and watching our incredible football program in operation, under the direction of Mr Howard Clark and our dedicated coaching team. I watched with passion many games of rugby, culminating in our first Division One Grand Final appearance against St Kevin’s College. I would like to acknowledge our Director of Rugby, Mr Leigh McKee, our 1st XV coach Mr Mike Silcock, and all of our coaching staff for a superb effort this year in all grades of rugby. Cricket, basketball, football, rugby, soccer, croquet, clay target shooting, swimming, and athletics: you name it and we have offered it this year. I would like to acknowledge all of our dedicated staff who have contributed to running a sport for our boys in 2016 and for our ongoing participation in BAS. I would also like to personally acknowledge Mr Chris Gleeson, our Director of Sport, who is leaving this role to take up the position of Year 8 Coordinator next year. Chris’ vision for sport has been second to none and the excellence of our programs are in no small part due to his hard work and commitment.

A number of staff are leaving us at the end of 2015 and I would like to formally acknowledge their contribution to the College. To Liam Hanrahan, Sam Romeril, Shandelle Gertz, Marianne Kambouridis, Stephen McMahon, Helen McLellan, Emma Carracher, Shirley Walters, Anthony Nunan and Debra McNaughton, we say thank you for your significant contribution to St Patrick’s College and wish you well for your next journey. I look forward to updating the College community on our new staff members in early 2016. I would also like to briefly acknowledge the dedicated staff of St Patrick’s College. They always go well beyond their scheduled duties to provide the best possible experiences for all of the boys in our care. They are incredibly dedicated and committed, often working late into the night or early in the morning, or on weekends at sport competitions, presentation evenings, music concerts, rowing, and many more events too numerous to list. I would also like to acknowledge the support that the EREA has given me this year. I would ask Wayne to pass on my formal acknowledgment and thanks to Mr Paul Williams, Director of Regional Support, who has been incredibly generous in guiding me through this year. As a school community we wish Jon Franzin, his wife Nikki, and children Isobella and Luca well as they move to Sydney for Jon to take up the appointment of Principal of EREA education services in Wahroonga.

We are very grateful for the way in which the College continues to be well served by its support groups: the Board, the Old Collegians Association, the Foundation, the Friends of St Patrick’s, the Friends of Music, the SPC Rowing Club and all parents associated with our sport and co-curricular programs. Without this support, it would be impossible to provide the opportunities we give to our students.

As a Catholic school community, we have looked for ways to actively and proudly celebrate our faith and tradition this year. Whether through our regular attendance at Masses each week at St Patrick’s Cathedral, our fortnightly assemblies, our whole school Masses and liturgies and year level Masses, we are a community called to give active witness to the Gospel. Just as Edmund Rice strived to make a real difference in the lives of countless young men through education over 200 years ago, so too St Patrick’s College seeks to encourage all students to become young men of service to others. To be people who consider the -other- before oneself. To use their talents to improve the lives of others in need. In other words, to transform the hearts and minds of young people. I would like to acknowledge Mr Geoff Brodie, our Director of Mission, and the Mission Team, who have worked tirelessly in forging our identity as a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition. The Mission Team has constantly searched for new ways of engaging students and staff in our formation as a Catholic school.

The call for all of us at St Patrick’s College to be an inclusive community has, and continues to be, particularly important for us.- When we are fully aware of the role each of us play in being people of welcome, people of hope, people who treat others with respect and dignity, amazing things can and do happen each day at the College. We transform our environment, we transform how people feel, and we transform the world around us. And, most profoundly, when we extend a hand to others we strengthen their sense of connection and enable them to feel that they really belong. I would personally like to thank the entire school community for making me, and my family feel so welcome this year. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t stop to appreciate how blessed I am to lead such a vibrant community and a dedicated staff. This time last year as an outsider looking in, I thought I knew that St Patrick’s was a vibrant learning community. However, I have to say after a year in the role of Headmaster, and on so many different levels, this community has impressed me beyond measure. I look forward to leading this great College into the future with the first-hand knowledge of our commitment to providing a quality education for boys in the Edmund Rice tradition.

The story of St Patrick’s College is steeped in tradition. For the past 123 years, thousands of young men have arrived at the College to place their piece of the jigsaw in place. This jigsaw, now immense in size, is a rich tapestry of the many and varied gifts, each given to us by God, that each boy brings with them to the College. Everything we do needs to be framed within the spirit of welcome, inclusiveness and community.

Finally, I would like to wish all members of the St Patrick’s College community a joyous and safe Christmas season. May it be a time of hope and rich family experiences.

Thank you

John Crowley