February 4, 2021
It has been a genuine pleasure to welcome students back to the College over the last few days. To stand at the gates and say good morning to the boys as they arrive for the day has been a joy! Following the challenges around COVID in 2020, 2021 is shaping up to be a relatively normal year for the College, which is great and I am confident that this will be the case. The College continues to follow very closely the Schools Operations Guide for COVID19 as prescribed by the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and promote good hygiene amongst all members of the College community.
As the new Principal of St Patrick’s College, I am delighted that the 2021 school year has finally arrived and we are up and running; it feels like it has been a long time coming! I am thrilled and honoured to be in the role and look forward to leading and serving the College community – boys, parents and staff – well into the future! St Patrick’s is a wonderful school, well resourced in terms of its grounds and teaching facilities, the staff who work at the College and of course, its vibrant sense of community!
I have been really encouraged and impressed by the welcome the boys have afforded me in these first few days. Happily, the vast majority of the boys are wearing the College uniform correctly and with pride and I genuinely thank them for this. There are a number of boys however, who do need to be reminded of the very clear expectations and guidelines about the uniform and I ask parents for their full support in ensuring that boys do attend to some aspects of their general presentation and uniform as soon as possible. The College’s Uniform Policy (available on the College website) is abundantly clear about our expectations. It states that amongst other things, some of the benefits of students wearing the St Patrick’s College uniform correctly include the promotion of the school’s public image and the positive presentation of the school to the wider community. At the welcome assemblies on Monday, February 1 I reminded all boys that whenever they are out and about and wearing the College uniform, they are ambassadors for themselves, their families and importantly, the College.
We are very proud of our uniform and the way it is worn is an expression of both the individual but also importantly, this great community. Part of this includes of course, the haircuts and hairstyles of students. I am disappointed that a number of boys have chosen to stray well beyond the acceptable standards and I ask that parents support the College and attend to this as soon as possible. The Uniform policy states:
…our general expectation in regard to hairstyle is that it be neat, clean and not extreme in style or colour so as to draw attention to the individual student. Some of the following expectations are also related to safety issues. The following points outline the College’s expectations:
- Hair should be off the face at all times. It should be neatly cut and styled, and not be hanging over the face or eyes
- If hair is longer than the shirt collar hair should be tied back
- Extreme styles such as rat tails, mohawks, obvious patterning, moptops, dreadlocks, cornrows, are not acceptable
- Hair colour is not to be changed so that it is different to the student’s natural colouring. This includes patching and heavy tipping
- Students are to be clean shaven and sideburns are to be no longer than the bottom of the ear lobe
- Short overall haircuts are to be the minimum of a number 2 cut
- Hair should be reasonably groomed and neat as considered by College standards.
If a haircut and/or colouring does not meet school expectations, then students will be asked to adjust it accordingly. In extreme cases, students will be asked to go home until the hair/style has been changed to the requirements of the school.
Once again, I thank the vast majority of boys who look fantastic and wear the uniform correctly and with pride. I ask that those students who need to attend to uniform issues, particularly their haircut or style, do so in the next week. I thank parents in anticipation for their support in this regard.
School Advisory Council
I am pleased to provide an important update regarding the School Advisory Council at St Patrick’s College. Shortly after my arrival into Ballarat in mid-December, I was involved in interviewing a number of applicants for vacancies on the Advisory Council. The College received a large number of expressions of interest and I was very impressed with those who I met via the shortlisted interviews. Following the interviews, the following people have been recommended by the College for endorsement by EREA to join the School Advisory Council (subject to the completion of EREA formation and induction training):
- Ms Wendy Graham
- Mr Jon Kanoa
- Ms Angela Morrison
- Mr Colin Marshall
- Ms Jane Valpied and
- Mr Jarrod King
I am also pleased to advise the SPC community that Mr Peter Wilson has agreed to continue on as Chair of the Advisory Council following his role as Acting Chair in 2020. I thank Peter for his support of me as I have transitioned into my new role and I look forward to working with him and all members of the Advisory Council in 2021 and beyond.
The Year Ahead
2021 promises to be an exciting year of opportunity for the St Patrick’s College community. The College will conduct our Academic Assembly next week to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and successes of the Year 12 class of 2020. Teaching and learning is the College’s core business and it is therefore essential that we take time to gather to acknowledge the achievements of our recent graduates.
The boys appear to have enthusiastically taken up their new timetables and routines. I am impressed by the focus and the effort I am witnessing already from boys across the year levels and encourage them to take up the challenges and opportunities presented to them each day at the College. At the welcome assemblies held on Monday, 1 February, I encouraged and challenged all boys to ‘enjoy their first days back at the College; to be courageous; be compassionate; be conscientious, be kind, be courteous, be committed and to enjoy this incredible place’!
The sense of connection to the College amongst our boys and staff is incredibly positive and strong. This speaks clearly to me about the place and is a reflection of the strength of community which exists at the College. I have heard from many people about the wonderful response from the College to the challenges of last year and take great heart from this.
Blessed Edmund Rice wrote ‘I am starting to appreciate that the only way to approach these uncertain times is with trust in myself, friends and my God’.
So, as we commence 2021, I look forward to the year with a great sense of trust and optimism. There is a lot to look forward to for me and for the entire College community. I know however, that there is much work to be done as well and I look forward to walking with and leading the boys as they journey through 2021. Part of this, of course, is working closely in partnership with parents and carers, and all of our staff.
As Principal of St Patrick’s College, I am inspired and influenced by the great privilege and many rewards of working in education.
“And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice,
and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God”.
This quote from book of Micah is relevant to all members of this community – students, teachers, Old Collegians and parents.
May God bless and guide us all, as members of the St Patrick’s College community in the days and weeks ahead and throughout 2021.
Steven J O’Connor