Principal Mark Ashmore’s Valedictory Speech

Principal Mark Ashmore’s Whole School Valedictory Speech

Become a good Christian and honest citizen with Catholic values nourished by the Salesian charism and fond friendships with one another and our school.

As Principal I have had the wonderful opportunity to personally deliver birthday cards during 2022 to our Year 7, 9 and 12 students. Each card has a theme, image, scripture message, Salesian quote and a hand-written message.

My hand-written message to our Year 12 students on the birthday card:

Become a good Christian and honest citizen with Catholic values nourished by the Salesian charism and fond friendships with one another and our school.

Upon reflection it is a simple yet powerful message for us all.

It is a message that can guide our student leaders who we today thank for service in 2022. It is a message that we hope for our 2023 student leaders who we endorse and commission those for 2023. The message is still relevant for our graduating Year 12 students from our class of 2022 as it was when they received the card.

Good afternoon Salesians, students, staff and parents,

Welcome to our assembly. I recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ spiritual and cultural connection to Country and a commitment to Reconciliation, and would like to acknowledge the First Peoples and the Traditional Owners and custodians of the Country past, present and emerging.

The theme of the Year 12 birthday card is that of Oratory.

Just weeks ago, I stood in a small courtyard, a space smaller than the stage on which I stand, at the back of the San Francesco d’Assisi Church in Turin, Italy.

In this confined space Don Bosco created a place of welcome, invitation, relationships, trust and friendship. It was here Bosco created his first Oratory, a place for young boys to have a home, church, school and a playground.

I thank our Year 12s who have helped us recreate our Oratory – a place of welcome and friendship. Leading prayer, participating in peer mentoring, being involved in College life such as Athletics and Swimming Carnivals, and having fun during events like The World’s Greatest Shave and the St Vinnies Cup. It brought me great joy to watch the soccer on the covered courts just yesterday highlighting the focus of our senior leaders to bring the spirit of Don Bosco to life at Chadstone.

It is appropriate that we acknowledge our outgoing senior student leaders considering the contribution and positive impact their service has had in our community. Leadership extends beyond a badge on the blazer – rather it is in actions and words that God’s love in shared.

Fr Cafasso spiritually guided Don Bosco to develop his heart for the young in Chieri and Turin. Our student leaders have role modelled the importance of faith in prayer, Eucharist and service, thus guiding others to engage with their faith. Highlights during the year was how our Year 12s peer mentored our younger students and led our Oratory Week flag celebration with various languages being spoken in the ceremony.

Don Bosco, during his work at Pinardi House at Valdocco, provides the guiding light for us to lead from the heart. It is leading with the heart that we support, grow and connect each person. The warm hello, the shared lunches and the interaction in the yard and at events between students and staff across all year levels have been evident amongst our Year 12s.

A Salesian leader welcomes all. Relationships are important. Mama Margherita, mother of Don Bosco, welcomes a cold wet boy whom walks off the street seeking shelter in 1847, wiping the mud from his face as he steps through the door. She provides example to us as leaders to welcome and respect all. Our Year 12s model this daily to our guests to the College and I often hear positive feedback about how friendly you have been within the community.

This is Salesian – a place of welcome and belonging.

The legacy of our Year 12s is that they have created a place of welcome and belonging by demonstrating loving kindness to all those you meet.

Our 2022 leaders acknowledged today have each exhibited loving kindness towards others in their own way, an attribute St Francis de Sales and Don Bosco encourage us all to exhibit. Thank you to our College student leaders for 2022. A special thanks to Daniel, Mitchell and Jake for their outstanding leadership.

My hope, and I have confidence that this will be happen, is that our 2023 leaders exhibit the same qualities of De Sales, Bosco and Occhienna.

Congratulations to our 2023 student leaders. I pray that each of you can gain strength from Our Lady Help of Christians and Don Bosco to lead our community with integrity.

I too congratulate Macellino, Peter and Peter in their senior captain roles. I am confident that they will lead the community with love, compassion, respect and joy.

May the scripture quote in the Year 12 birthday card, a reading from Letter to the Philippians be a reminder that we are called to do the work of Jesus.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And God of peace will be with you.

To our class of 2022, you belong at Salesian.

As my first Year 12 class as Principal of Salesian College Chadstone, I will always remember fondly the memories of the cohort as the years go by. I thank you for the warm and friendly welcome you afforded me from the first day of Term 4 2021 as Year 11s.

As a Year 12 cohort I will remember your enthusiasm, energy, resilience, comradery and humour as endearing characteristics. Thank you for bringing joy and dynamism back to our classrooms, corridors, yard, theatres and fields.

I will leave you with a parting gift from St Francis De Sales who was the inspiration for Don Bosco. The same message can be found on your birthday card.

“Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.”

St Francis De Sales

Mark Ashmore