Welcome to 2019

The following is my speech to the boys and staff at our Opening Assembly last Thursday. Your assistance by reinforcing the messages in it, as our partnership implies, will be greatly appreciated and make it clear that we are on the same page working together for his benefit. Boys need that consistency.

Welcome back to all of you.

Yesterday we welcomed our new Year 7’s and welcomed back Year 11 and 12.

We also welcomed a new staff member Mrs Catherine Judd who will be with us each Wednesday working with our STEM project in Year 7 and doing some work with other years in Science and RE in particular. The other 4 days a week she is working at the Catholic Schools Office working with all schools in Broken Bay as the Sustainability Officer.

We also welcome back Mrs Keogh full time as English Coordinator and Ms Hogarth who is now with us full time.

2019 is the 90th year of this college. Whilst we celebrate the richness of our tradition we are working to become a school for the future that prepares you with the skills you will need for a future emerging, jobs that don’t even exist yet building on the learning deeply embedded with technology enabling skills of collaboration, creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, teamwork, presentation skills, financial  and digital literacy.

We have projects occurring across the school that many of you have already been involved in with Project / Problem  Based Learning and the Inspire project in Year 8 last year. This work is being extended to Year 7 in a major integrated way across English HSIE and RE.

We also have a STEM project happening in partnership with Sydney University and we are taking part in an entrepreneurship program with Years 8 and 9 called Young Change Agents

Exciting times indeed!

2019 is also the Year of Responsibility – As our College value statement notes: as Disciples of Christ we have a responsibility to promote justice and develop skills of leadership and teamwork in our students making them accountable for one’s actions.

You are responsible for your actions no matter what anybody else does.

So it’s about responsibility for self, others and God.

So how do we take responsibility for ourselves?

  1. Be accountable. We choose how we respond to others. Remember that. Accept that we don’t always get it right and take responsibility for our actions.
  2. Stop blaming others. ( a former colleague of mine, a very wise old deputy used to say to young people, to go home, look in the mirror and talk to the person in charge. Sage advice.
  3. See yourself clearly. We know in our hearts who we really are and we need to be honest with ourselves about ourselves. It’s a good habit to stay with.
  4. Acknowledge what happens. Don’t deny. You know what went down in your life day to day. Be upfront. Be authentic.
  5. Highlight  the positive. At times we can focus on the negatives but its helpful to see the positives in our lives and acknowledge not in an overly proud way that yes, I can do good things, be a good person to others.
  6. Say “thank you.”, be grateful. Recognise that we need others in our life and we should show gratitude.
  7. As we have talked about often place others at your centre. Don’t be self obsessed. Find time for others. Find a responsible balance.

So this year we’re going to talk about responsibility often and remind ourselves of the importance of it.

The first thing I want you to focus on is the need to take responsibility for your learning. We’ve talked often about the need to build on our Personal Best, yours not someone else’s, to have a Growth Mindset- a belief that I’m not locked in my ability, that I can improve.

To Year 7 you are responsible for embracing all the opportunities you now being part of St. Paul’s brings.

To Year 8 you are responsible for building on what you learnt about yourself last year, set goals to improve where you need to and make the most of your learning this year.

Year 9  you have a responsibility to make a good choice, whether to fall into the trap that Year 9 can just be about coasting and having a good time or you can choose to continue to grow as learners, to continue to improve , to challenge yourself and achieve your personal best.

To Year 10 you have to take responsibility for the reality that you aren’t a kid any more and that this year needs to be about developing a mature approach to your learning to lay a solid platform.

To Year 11 your responsibility is to step up and start well. Take advantage of every second of learning to play that long game of the HSC well and be a year that can say we did our very best and own that reality.

To Year 12 your responsibility is not to waste a second, to make every  piece of work count, every bit of homework, reading that novel, writing those notes, studying every day to step above those years that have become before you and show what a class act you really are. Be the example to the whole school of Personal Bests, show by your effort and attitude that you have a Growth Mindset. Stretch yourselves and work hard for your very best outcome. You know we are here to help. Do your part.

So you have your responsibilities laid before you and I’ll be watching and encouraging you as the year goes on.

To all of you I ask you to take your responsibility to place others at your centre as Jesus and our founder Blessed Edmund inspired us to do.

On Tuesday Mrs Hearn reminded the staff of our core business with this quote from the Gospel of John’

“that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”

So when I remind you to be the face of Jesus to each other that is what I’m talking about. You have a responsibility to put that into action. That becomes the guideline by which we are all measured.

What would Jesus do is always a good reminder to ask ourselves. It’s also hard at times but that has to be our default position.

I often ask you individually “You know that was wrong don’t you?” Because we do. Why because we know from Jesus example what is the right thing to do. Always start from there and you can’t go wrong.

The values you pick up from learning about Jesus is why this college exists first and foremost.

This year we begin ramping up our social justice program by requiring of each of you 10 hours of activities through a year with reflection exercises that will be part of what you do in RE. Puttng your faith in action. It will be on your report as logged hours. Those in the community really value seeing that about you and you will gain benefits that others won’t so there is something in this for you not only other people who you serve.

On your behalf I’d like to take the opportunity to model a bit of gratitude by thanking Ms Julia Brock our Maintenance Manager and Science Assistant for the enormous amount of work done over the school holidays to get us ready to start the school year. I’d also like to thank Mr Roy Vumbaca for his work also to get our timetable  and all the other rosters and routines set up for us. Can you join with me by thanking them with a round of applause.

On that note I want to wish you all well for the year ahead and lets make our 90th year the best this college has ever seen.

Thank you.

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