Principal’s Valedictory Address

The sun is shining, the air temperature is warming and the smell of summer is in the air. It is an exciting time in a school year as we can start to contemplate the end of the year. Exams have begun, planning for 2019 is well under way and with the number of activities and interruptions between now and the end of the year will make time fly. It is important that we focus on the issues at hand and enjoy each moment for what it is and make sure we give due attention to all the important things which will allow us to finish the year positively.

Over the past two weeks we celebrated the efforts and achievements of the Class of 2018. A time in the school year that is always highly anticipated and the vast majority of boys in Year 12 did not let themselves or the College down with the way they finished off the year. End of year celebrations always have the potential to go astray but most of the boys provided no such concerns. We were able to bid farewell to this group of young men in a fitting way at the College Valedictory assembly on Friday 19 October. Highlights included the Valedictory speech, the ceremonial handing over of leadership under the guidance of Mrs Dwyer, and the ever popular awarding of the House Shields which all made for a great Assembly. It was also marvelous to recognize the Year 12 excellence awards for the students who had achieved the highest internal score for their unit 3/4 subject. It has been an emotional week as it always is, with the excitement of students finishing their last class, the nervous tension that comes with looking in to a future no longer supported by the Salesian College community, and the anxiety that comes with the realisation that exams are finally upon us. The Class of 2018 leaves having made a unique contribution to the history of Salesian College Chadstone.

We hope the boys leave with fond memories of their time at Salesian College and in the knowledge that they have been given the opportunity to acquire skills and experiences that will serve them well in their lives beyond the College. I also hope they have used the time between finishing and their first exam on Wednesday and continue their efforts up until their final exam.

Valedictory celebrations culminated with a beautiful Valedictory Mass and Dinner on the Friday evening sharing the evening with the Year 12 boys and their parents. We celebrated for the final time in a fitting manner, sharing the Eucharist for the final time where we prayed, reflected and gave thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us this year. As a community we gave thanks for many things including the educational environment in which we operate, for our staff and the many talents they bring to our community but the greatest of these blessings is the students entrusted into our care with all their gifts and talents as well as their quirks. In particular, we gave thanks for the Class of 2018 for all that they have done, for all they have achieved, and most importantly, for all that they are.

In my farewell address to the boys I reflected on what the Class of 2018 brought to the College and I wished them well as they leave the College. For those who were unable to join us or those who may wish to read my address, you will find it below.

‘We gather today to acknowledge and celebrate the Class of 2018 and as I reflected and prepared for this speech, I pondered this group of fine young men and asked myself, ‘how can they best be summed up?’ After some contemplation I couldn’t help be reminded of the movie Forrest Gump, and no I don’t think any of you are Forrest, rather the famous saying ‘life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,’ came to mind.

Today is their last day and unfortunately there is a universal truth we all have to face, finales are inevitable. Whether we want it, whether we’re ready for it, everything eventually comes to an end and so it is for this group.

We have all experienced the conflicting feelings the end of something can provoke. There is the feeling of wanting something to last forever; a summer holiday, a great movie, a thrilling book we hope never ends. Such thoughts can elicit feelings of trepidation, fear and even sadness. The alternative is the feeling that something will never end and this elicits an overwhelming sense of joy when the end eventually comes. Now I know the overwhelming emotion for most of you is that of sheer joy as you have looked forward to this day, to this moment, with great excitement knowing that you have finally completed your compulsory education.

Whilst I truly understand your emotion, I am hoping you have a tinge of sadness and you look back with fondness on the experiences you have had, the lessons you have learnt and most importantly the friends you have made here at the College over the past six years.

As you say good bye to the familiarity of the past six years I’m sure you have reflected on what you are farewelling. Lunchtime down ball, Barb’s canteen, Mrs Walsh’s nurturing, re-heated lunches, Mr McKail’s dubious sense of humour, bells and timetables, endless homework, friends, lectures from Mr Douglas, Mr Carter, Ms Bennett and me; Community Weeks, College songs and hopefully you’ll say ‘How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.’

Each year as we farewell another group and acknowledge everything they have contributed to the College, we must also acknowledge what we lose as they leave. Every year a little part of us walks out the College gates with the departing class because in amongst the hard work, the frustration and the stress they caused, there are always many more moments of joy, or enlightenment, satisfaction or feelings of success and pride.

Six years ago we welcomed you, the Class of 2018, over this time we tried to teach you new and exciting things, chased you for your homework; challenged your behaviour, we nagged you about your appearance, and nurtured you, cared for you, and encouraged you, and through the passage of time you became our boys.

In turn, we hope that a small part of this community will remain with you no matter what. In hard times I hope lessons learnt can be your solid ground, your north star, a source of inspiration, a clear small voice in your hearts that will be with you always, comforting, directing and reassuring you. Whilst you may not realize it now some of your teachers will have had a profound impact on you. Just as your parents have silently molded and nurtured you into the young man you are today, your teachers are likely to have been doing likewise. It may not be obvious to you now but later in life, in a moment of reflection you’ll think I learnt that or feel this because of what one of your teachers said or did all those years ago. As you leave, I hope that you remember where you have come from, because we sit here today with pride having watched you grow over the past six years, we share your joy of completing your secondary studies, and we share your sense of triumph, your feeling of accomplishment for getting you through. Some of us may even shed a tear as we bid you farewell for we have done what John Bosco asks of us, we have loved you and made sure you knew it. On behalf of the staff I can proudly and confidently say Salesian College has looked after and cared for you, we have nurtured you to the point where it is time to move on: we will stay, hoping you will go on to fulfil your dreams, your hopes and aspirations.

In your time at the College you have all done many things, some I am sure you wish you had never done but many of which you should be proud. There is no doubt that some of you have been guilty on occasion of getting up to mischief, making the occasional poor decision, who will ever forget the instantaneous need on retreat for half of the year 12 cohort to go for a walk in the middle of the night, whilst others cooked up a storm in the kitchen. Things like this bring to mind another quote of Mrs Gump, ‘stupid is as stupid does’. All this being said I have always believed you have understood what is truly important and always been willing to try to do the right thing.

We have marveled at your many gifts and talents; whether it be the intelligence of our academic award winners and scholars including the likes of Kevin, Rob and Emmanuel the musical talents of MD’s raps, or the performances of boys Billy, Josh, Liam and Lukas. Or the sporting prowess of boys like Riley, our next AFL star. On the other hand, the simple beauty of the VCAL boys who continue to teach us not to take life too seriously, and to always look for the fun in what you are doing. Once again, they showed us what you could achieve if you are passionate about something and give it your full effort with their shave for a cure fundraiser. Or simply the courage of boys like Sheneth, and MD who face adversity on a daily basis whilst remaining positive in spite of their challenges. Regardless of the nature of what you have done or achieved, your actions or achievements have all contributed to making you the person you are, helping to shape every detail about you and to making Salesian College Chadstone a better place. If you reversed any of the things you have done you wouldn’t be the person you are today and the school would be the lesser for it. So no regrets, just memories and learnings.

These things highlight the most important gift you bring to the College, yourself. Over the last six years you boys have contributed greatly in building the Salesian College Chadstone community. You have impacted on us in ways you may never truly understand, the warmth of a simple smile or greeting, an act of kindness or a gesture of appreciation remain with us Your willingness to support each other, to accept and respect each other’s differences, working together to make this community stronger. Amongst your many achievements, the friendships you have established and the bond you share is probably the greatest.

As a community we have witnessed you grow from the tiny, shy, awkward Year Sevens, to final grow into your blazer that mum had purchased for you in Year 7. Your journey included a brief sojourn to the Mannix campus where you learnt a little independence and developed your confidence to a point where you had the courage to dance with the Sacred Heart girls in Year 10 where most of you all of a sudden became acutely aware of your appearance and the need to act cool in front of the girls.

In your final year, led magnificently by your captains Mark, Adrian and Jamie, you have proceeded to become the confident and talented young men you are today. Over the past 12 months we have witnessed you share your stories on retreat, confidently strut your stuff on the dance floor at the Year 12 formal highlighted by the suave and sophisticated dance moves and the coolness of boys such as Joseph and Zach as they wooed the ladies with their dance moves and sense of fashion. Many of you have partied hard trying to keep up with Salesians very own party animal Jack whilst some like Josh even ventured into their first experience of love, coming to today where you are the confident young men who believe they have it all figured out. In the blink of an eye, the end is here, your rule is over, your time here is about to become a distant high school memory.

Having shared what, you have brought to the College Community I ask, what you will take away, how will you remember your time at Chaddy? Will your focus on the practicalities of your education like lessons learnt, scores achieved, the stress experienced or detentions received, or will it be measured in the relationships forged, experiences enjoyed, or the good times shared. I know the Community will measure your time here in by the latter, the sense of joy you have provided, the sense of welcome and belonging you share and the sense of pride witnessed among you. Each one of you will be remembered fondly for who you are.

It is important as you leave that you know that you have given much to this Community. There is not a single achievement, a single event or a single person, not even in a single moment more noteworthy than the rest. Your legacy is the sum of all the contributions made by you, all of you over the past six years.

Your time at Salesian began as little boys, you leave here as fine young men. You’ve completed your education here at Salesian College, an education grounded on the values of Jesus Christ, informed by the teachings of John Bosco. I encourage you to use the lessons learnt and values witnessed to serve as a very sound platform to launch yourselves into your futures.

“Goodbyes make you think. They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost, and what you’ve taken for granted.” Ritu Ghatourey

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr Seuss

May your mornings bring joy,
And your evenings bring peace.
May your troubles grow few,
And your blessings increase.

I hope you will always stand together

Honoring your Salesian story forever

Strong in mind with gentle hearts

Be loyal to sons gone by

And remember our College motto calls you ‘To all people be all things’

Remembering side by side you stand with joyful pride

The best of the best, Salesians true

Good luck to the Year 12 Graduating class of 2018 and God bless!’

Rob Brennan