Principal’s address to 2020 Academic Assembly

February 14, 2020

Following is a transcript of the speech delivered by Principal John Crowley at the 2020 Academic Assembly which was held in the Br W.T. O’Malley Sports Centre on Tuesday, February 11. You can also watch a video of Mr Crowley delivering the speech at the bottom of this page.

“Welcome to all our invited guests, parents, guardians, grandparents, friends, staff and most importantly, our students. In offering this greeting, we acknowledge the traditional custodians of this great land, the Wathaurong People, and pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging. We thank them for their great care of the land over thousands of years. May we always walk on it gently and respectfully. I would also like to acknowledge the Christian Brothers who have educated many generations of young men at St Patrick’s College in the Charism of Blessed Edmund Rice.

Today is a day of great celebration where we acknowledge the academic achievements of a number of students including the 2019 VCE Achievement of Excellence Award for students with an ATAR of 90+, the 2019 VCE Academic Prize for the Dux of each VCE and VCAL study and the 2019 Semester 2 Years 7-11 Chris Nolan Award and Principal’s Academic Excellence Awards. In recognising these students we are, of course, not just celebrating an end point on a piece of paper. How can a subject grade, circulated in a text message, in an email or on a report possibly encapsulate all the powerful stories of human interaction that have gone into achieving this result?

Therefore, it is important that we remind ourselves today exactly what we are celebrating. We are celebrating a spirit of collaboration in learning, where each student has placed significant value on working together with their teachers as a source of improvement and motivation. To achieve anything in isolation is to forgo the richness of learning through positive relationships, something that we all need in our lives to thrive and be better people.

We are celebrating the teaching profession. Those special wonderfully satisfying moments in the classroom where a difficult concept is finally grasped by a student through patient explanation.

We are celebrating a love of learning that will continue to grow in each student for the rest of their lives.

We are recognising the importance of effort and achieving our very best in everything we do.

We are recognising the capacity to listen and listen deeply. In all of the students presented with an award today one finds a great sense of humility in recognising that another person has something important to say and worth listening to.

We are celebrating sacrifice, hard work, determination and grit. The idea that everything in life that is worthwhile takes effort and perseverance, and there are many hardships along the way that tempt us to give up, but still we persevere.

Most significantly, for all of us here today, we are celebrating the example set for all of us to be passionate learners. To dream big, to strive hard and to achieve our very best.  That amongst the study body, there is a diversity of talents and interests that our award recipients, through their example, are encouraging you to pursue to their depths, in the process of exploration, to become the best version of ourselves possible.

It is worth noting today that each student who will be acknowledged has been involved in many extra-curricular opportunities throughout their time at the College. In particular, involvement in social justice initiatives and outreach programs, music, sport, drama, debating and public speaking. It serves to remind us of the importance each one of us play in contribution to the St Patrick’s College community generously and freely. For when we have free and full participation in these opportunities, we are truly alive as a school community. We are at our best. It also reflects my motto for each of you this year: being a good student and a good person. They key here is a willingness to live your life at St Patrick’s in a way that inspires others to do the same. After all, our Charism as a school in the Edmund Rice tradition has, at its heart, the call to be people of the Gospel who live with an enduring sense of hope and the desire to live every moment of our lives to the full.

And so, on behalf of the entire College community, we enthusiastically congratulate each of our award recipients today. In particular, we acknowledge and applaud all of those students who obtained an ATAR of 90 or above. Your efforts place you in the top 10% of the State, representing a superb effort. We also make a special mention of Matthew Duffy, our 2019 College Dux with an impressive ATAR of 99.90 and look forward to Matthew’s address to this gathering shortly.”