Headmaster’s Message – November 5, 2015

November 4, 2015

Last Wednesday evening we welcomed more than 600 parents and guardians to St Patrick’s College, all of whom are considering the destination for their son’s secondary journey. The decision of where to enrol your child for their secondary education is such an incredibly important one and must be given great consideration. In outlining what a Catholic education in the charism of Edmund Rice looks like at St Patrick’s College, I sought to answer a number of important questions for our visitors. Specifically, what qualities and beliefs do we hope are gifted and alive in each of graduating students and will continue to burn bright for many years to come? What values will they take on through their participation in the ongoing story of St Patrick’s College? What opportunities will they have throughout their time at the College? And finally, what contribution can each boy make to this wonderful school?

I enclose a summary of my address that seeks to answer the questions above. While this message is for our newest students in 2017, it is an important and timely reminder for us all about our mission here at this wonderful school and our ongoing place in it.

As a Catholic secondary school, we are called to be people whose actions are underpinned by the example given to us in Jesus. This example is given voice and meaning through our four touchstones. These touchstones are ways of being, a blueprint that guides and encourage us to see the world in a unique way. These touchstones flow through every facet of life at St Patrick’s College; our relationships with each other, our decisions, our classrooms and our curriculum.

One of these touchstones, the call for all of us at St Patrick’s College to be an inclusive community, is 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. 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.

The connection that each student, and their family, has to the College, both now and into the future, is critical to us. It is that which binds us together and gives us life. It is one of our most precious strengths. We regularly invite -Old Boys- back to the College to celebrate their achievements and to provide inspiration to our current student population. A student’s connection to St Patrick’s College does not end the minute they walk out of the gates on the final day of secondary school. It is a relationship that is life long and life giving.

As a Catholic school community, we look for ways to actively and proudly celebrate our faith and tradition. Whether through our fortnightly assemblies, our whole school Masses and liturgies, year level Masses, or participation in many social justice initiates, 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 through education to build a more just and inclusive local and global community through presence, compassion and liberation.

St Patrick’s College is unique in Ballarat, as it is a Catholic school specifically for boys. There is a freedom for us in that we are able to structure a curriculum, together with a range of co-curricular experiences that are based around best practice in boys’ education. Boys learn differently to girls. They are able to concentrate for different lengths of time, they benefit from different types of feedback regarding their work, they respond to different types of assessment, and they require structures in terms of classroom expectations. At St Patrick’s College, we are very aware that our specialisation in boys’ education is our strength. As a staff we remain highly committed to the provision of a diverse, innovative, interesting and relevant curriculum that seeks to equip all of our students for life in a world which is ever changing- a world where an understanding of technology is critical, a world that requires skills and talents across a breadth of areas, a world in which one’s occupation may change a number of times throughout one’s life.

Everyone will be aware of the importance that sport plays in the development of each boy. Not just in a competitive sense, but in terms of the development of camaraderie, sportsmanship, teamwork, skill development, physical fitness and, of course, general wellbeing. At St Patrick’s College, each boy is encouraged to participate in the local Ballarat Associated Schools competition which provides an opportunity for all students to be actively involved in physical education. This is in addition to PE as a core and critical part of our curriculum, together with many other in-school carnivals. There are sporting opportunities to meet the interests of all boys. Rowing, cricket, football, rugby, basketball, hockey, the list goes on and on.

At St Patrick’s College, we also recognise that physical education is but one essential ingredient of a well-balanced education. We fully celebrate student involvement in the arts, in music and in drama. We recognise the inner beauty in nourishing the soul through the visual and aural senses. Our boys participate in an array of artistic endeavours including an annual production, concert and symphonic bands, stage bands, vocal ensembles, art groups, media evenings, public speaking and debating, and many more. Daily life at St Patrick’s College is as diverse and interesting as you could possibly get.

St Patrick’s College occupies an important place in the local history of Ballarat. It has, for many years, provided an engaging education for boys in the Ballarat region. It is part of the history of Ballarat. In return, and over many years, our students have made a lasting and tangible contribution to the success of the region. The College has also provided a home away from home to many boarding students from all over Victoria and throughout Australia over the past 120 years. This long and proud tradition of boarding into the future at St Patrick’s College has been cemented with the announcement of a $3.9m facility to be built in 2016. Catering for up to 100 students, it will provide state of the art facilities for our boys for many years to come.

St Patrick’s College has an incredibly strong sense of living tradition, where the work of our faith-filled forebears in building this great school is recognised, and where the next generation of students and their God-given gifts are being shaped and celebrated.