Principal’s Assembly Speech | Term 2 2022
Today I share with you a story that was part of our Salesian Major Rector’s letter recently sent to the worldwide Salesian community. Try to imagine the scene in your head.
A tightrope walker stretched out his rope, at a discreet height, over a bustling marketplace. Some jugglers put on their act before his, but when their show lasted longer than expected, the square was enveloped in darkness. The tightrope walker would have to put on his show using reflected light.
In the subdued light of the twilight hour, the tightrope artist did not realize that a little boy had tranquilly followed him up the ladder. When he took his first steps on the rope, he realized the boy was behind him.
“What are you doing up here?” he asked the boy.
“I want to walk the rope with you.”
“Are you not afraid?”
“As long as I am with you, no.”
The spectators held their breath as the tightrope walker placed the little boy on his shoulders and, in order to distract his attention from the dizzying height and darkness, said to him, “Look at how beautiful the stars are up there! Keep your eyes fixed on those stars.”
As long as the boy kept his eyes fixed on the brilliant splendour of the twinkling stars, his thoughts did not go to the danger of the hesitant steps along that thin rope or to the huge drop beneath, but he allowed himself to be carried the entire length of the square.
Don Bosco would have been the first to “climb up to the rope” with his children and young people. He would have been the first to be present to them and make use of all his abilities, creativity, and skills in his preventive fashion to move the young to hope. He would have believed in them, offering them the chance to be leaders and speaking to each of them about the joy in living and in growing in harmony, forming them to make a courageous commitment for the sake of others, especially of those most in need.
This is Hope for our day: the opportunity to grow and to learn together as a team, comprised of students, families, educators, and specialists. We must value what we have gained from recent years: a healthier environment, slower mode of life, being together as a family, the many creative and innovative initiatives and relationships with one another.
Term 2 has allowed us opportunities to collectively use our abilities to learn, to support others and provide hope.
I want you to consider a time during the term where you were the young boy climbing the tightrope. Think to a time this term where you ambitiously had to climb to overcome a challenge? A time where you had to use your strengths and talents? Or an opportunity where you had a voice in the classroom or amongst friends? How did it make you feel? Was it a dynamic or joyful experience?
Term 2 has presented challenges. Student and staff illness have meant that we have all had to support and understand one another to ensure learning continuity. I am, and I am sure you are too, very grateful that we have staff who are committed to your learning and wellbeing.
It has also been a term that has provided many positive outcomes, including:
Classroom learning, re-establishing classroom practices and excursions, ACC sport, and student events including the Autumn Concert, Year 12 Theatre, ACC sport and leadership connections with sister schools.
Through extensive consultation the College has developed and promoted an aspirational Strategic Plan to continue to improve our school over the next five years. I look forward to students contributing to co-implementing the plan.
Recently students, staff, parents, past pupils and Board Directors contributed to our School Review. The school reviewers shared their insights into our strengths last week to staff.
It is important you as students also hear the feedback.
We were celebrated for our commitment to our Catholic identity through the Salesian charism, being a welcoming community with a strong sense of belonging, a willingness to improve, having a safe and orderly student environment underpinned by pastoral care, exemplary student behaviour and holistic learning developed through the breadth of programs and range of pathways offered to students. We have much to celebrate.
Now take your mind where you are the tightrope walker.
Recall a time this term where you helped someone in our community?
What steps did you take to make the person feel welcome so that they felt a sense of belonging? In what way did you encourage someone in our community to be the best they can be? How did it feel when you offered support for someone who was afraid, vulnerable, lonely?
Our Salesian College Vision states that we are a dynamic, joy-filled learning community, that inspires all boys to strive for excellence in the spirit of Don Bosco.
I congratulate each of you for your efforts to improve yourself in your academic pursuits. Well done to our award recipients at our assembly today.
Term 2 has provided us an opportunity to reconnect as a community. Students have shared with us the many ways we have been able to connect through a variety of activities. Post pandemic, together we are re-establishing our community to be a home that welcomes, a school for life, a parish that evangelises and a playground where friends meet and have fun. It is evident in our classrooms, in the yard, on stage and on the sports field.
I have had the wonderful privilege to have lunch with our Year 12 students throughout the semester. I thank them for their openness to share their experiences and great pride for our College. I also thank them for being role models to our community, in the spirit of Don Bosco, to help ensure our vision and values are lived out in the everyday actions towards others.
Mark Ashmore | Principal