February 18, 2021
Circuit Breaker Lockdown
I wish to thank the College community for its response to the decisions taken by the Victorian Government and agencies to send the State into a circuit breaker lockdown from midnight on Friday, 12 February. The professionalism of the College Leadership Team and several other members of staff in working through the announcement and coordinating the College’s response to it was amazing. I thank the Leadership Team for its tremendous work on Friday afternoon. It was challenging to plan and communicate an appropriate course of action when the announcement about the lockdown and the impact on schools was made at about 1:30pm (just as I was out visiting some of the Year 7 boys on camp at Creswick)!
I am grateful for the positive and professional approach adopted by all staff – administration and teaching – as we learnt that we would need to commence a period of remote and flexible learning this week. Schools must always focus on what is best for students and I was delighted to see staff motivated by this and working hard across so many areas to ensure that this informs our approaches to the lockdown.
Many staff worked diligently across the weekend to prepare for this week and for this, I wish to express my gratitude. My thanks go to the Leadership Team for their great efforts, but I do wish to thank a number of staff in particular, for their energy and hard work in this context:
- Ms Julia Petrov (Head of Teaching & Learning)
- Mr Ian Fernee (1:1 eLearning Coordinator & Head of Computing Faculty)
- Mr Paul Nolan (Director of Community Development) and
- Ms Elizabeth Ryan (Deputy Principal)
Of course, we are very pleased that it was possible to return to onsite learning on Thursday and the relatively normal routine we were enjoying so far this year. The College of course, continues to maintain a very strong commitment to promoting good hygiene amongst students and the College community and promoting COVID safe practices and protocols.
Thanks to all of our boys, their parents, carers and families for the resilience, support and positivity displayed in relation to all of this. I know that it is not anyone’s preferred mode of attending school but it does allow the opportunity for continuity of learning in these difficult circumstances.
This week we commenced the important season of Lent. Lent is a period of forty days in which as Christians, we are encouraged to reflect and prepare for the hope of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ at Easter. Traditionally, Lent is a time of fasting, reflection, learning and seeking the healing of our desires as we remember both our frailty and our faults. As a young boy, I recall a degree or perception of negativity around the season of Lent. I was encouraged and expected to give up things I liked – like chocolate, ice cream or soft drink – and to repent for my sins. But there is an important element of joy and preparation to Lent as we approach the celebration of the resurrection at Easter!
In the context of 2021, the challenges of the pandemic and its limitations on our world, I encourage people to approach Lent with an optimistic outlook and with gratitude for the joys and rewards we enjoy with our loved ones and as members of this school community. We are indeed nourished by the promise of the Resurrection and the hope of redemption through this. The capacity to reflect on our actions and relationships and grow from this are also important as are the lessons we can learn from making sacrifices and being focused on others and life around us. Traditional forms of going without or fasting have traditionally been elements of Lent – but it is important that we embrace the promise of looking forward to the celebration feast which comes through the joys of Easter.
The Fast Life
Fast from judging others;
Feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from fear of illness;
Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute;
Feast on speech that purifies.
Fast from discontent;
Feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger;
Feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism;
Feast on hope.
Fast from negatives;
Feast on encouragement.
Fast from bitterness;
Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern;
Feast on compassion.
Fast from suspicion;
Feast on truth.
Fast from gossip;
Feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm;
Feast on prayer that sustains.
Fast from anxiety;
Feast on faith.
Academic and Sports Assemblies
On Tuesday, 9 February the College gathered to celebrate the academic achievement and success of the VCE students from 2020, Chris Nolan Award recipients, as well as the efforts of our summer sports at two separate assemblies. These assemblies were really wonderful occasions to acknowledge and celebrate the amazing endeavour and achievement of so many boys in these really important areas.
At the Academic Assembly, I noted: As a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition, we strive to educate our students towards wisdom; we strive to provide a liberating education characterised by quality teaching and learning, critical reflection and engagement, where students work towards achieving to their best academically, where a world view developed in our young men is informed and shaped by compassion and commitment to justice and solidarity, where the wisdom they reach liberates them and equips them with the skills and disposition to challenge and question what needs to be and to live hope-filled, meaningful and successful professional and personal lives.
We are indeed fortunate and blessed to have a beautifully resourced school. These resources come in the form of bricks and mortar – our classrooms and buildings, our beautiful grounds, as well as our incredible sense of community and connection to the College and the dedication and skills of our staff. In this sense, students are well placed and supported to make the most of these circumstances and opportunities. I encourage students to make the most of these teaching and learning opportunities and to aim for excellence in all of their classrooms and subjects.
The Captains of our summer sports were presented at the Sports Assembly in the afternoon and received a generous and warm response from students and staff. I wish all boys in summer sports teams the very best as they go about the remaining fixtures this season.
As part of the assembly, we acknowledged our Rowers and I enjoyed listening to the Captain of Boats, Austin Reinehr as he addressed the gathering. All of our athletes have trained hard for their chosen sports but the dedication and commitment of our rowers continues to be exemplary and inspiring! I look forward to witnessing their efforts come to fruition at the Head of the Lake later this week (and I will write more about this in the next edition of The Crest).
I wish Austin and all rowers across all age groups and all crews, all the very best for the Head of the Lake!
Mr Steven O’Connor