Principal Assembly Speech

Principal Assembly Speech, Friday 25 November

Good afternoon Fr Joe, students and staff,

Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten.

Today I give thanks and offer congratulations to all in our community.

I acknowledge the First Peoples and the Traditional Owners and custodians of the Country on which Salesian is located. I respectfully acknowledge our Elders past, present and emerging and remember that they have passed on their wisdom to us in various ways. Let us hold this in trust as we work and serve our community.

Welcome to our final school gathering of the year.

Most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in kindergarten. People say that the early years of life is when a person absorbs more information and adapts behaviour than any other period in life.

I see this exponential growth in learning at home with my two-year-old daughter’s thirst for knowledge, tenacity to read and her unlimited propensity for risk. It gives me great joy when she dribbles the soccer ball in the backyard, sings a nursery rhyme or comes home excited from child care sharing her experiences from the day,

Robert Fulghum, in his book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, expresses that he already knows most of what’s necessary to live a meaningful life – that it isn’t all that complicated. He expresses that most of what I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be, I learned in those formative years.

Share everything.

Play fair.

Don’t hit people.

Put things back where you found them.

Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.

Wash your hands before you eat.


Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.

And then remember the children’s’ books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any one of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.

Sharing this message from a book written and published in 1988 in many ways still resonates today.

I am not suggesting that we all have cookies and milk around three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.

Or if all governments had as a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

The skills and appreciation and joy for the small things make a difference in your life and the lives of others. This begins at an early age when you develop and nurture the skills, knowledge and attributes.

Then a pandemic arrives on our doorstep. We were required to stay home or live with restrictions to curb a health crisis. We each lost some of the for a better term, the basics, of how we live: socialisation, communication and service.

Upon returning to ‘normal’ life and school we have realised that life has not been normal.

The 2022 academic year has been a challenge for many individuals, the community and society as we grapple with life post pandemic.

In essence, we have had to re-learn the behaviours and attitudes that we learnt in kindergarten.

College Captain Daniel Amendola upon being told that he was being offered the role said we need to work with our Year 7, 8 and 9 students who have not experienced the Salesian way. It was a profound statement that has resonated during the year. I thank our Year 12 class of 2022 for the outstanding leadership they did to welcome all into our community and create the Salesian family spirit.

To the young men in the hall today – thank you and congratulations.

Thank you for being open to learn, or indeed re-learn, our Salesian charism and how we at Salesian work with one anther in support, service and solidarity.

Thank you for being open to our Catholic faith – Oratory, mass, reflection days and in the manner we live with one another in relationship. Jesus teachers us to love thy neighbour, to be kind, compassionate and forgiving. Whilst we have had to relearn how to do this as a society it has been evident for all to see here in our Salesian community.

Thank you for the warm welcome and in creating belonging for others by being respectful in our relationships.

Thank you for your tenacity and joy you have displayed in your learning. It has been privilege to walk into classrooms and see the enthusiasm for learning.

Congratulations to our Year 10 and 11s (now Year 11 and 12s) for your work in headstart and throughout the year. I wish you all the best with the work required over the summer holidays to set yourself up for success in 2023.

Congratulations to our Year 7-9 students for your approach to studies and relationships at Salesian; you are each learning to become good Christians and honest citizens. Well done to our Year 7s on their first year at the College and I know most of you have had a positive experience. We also welcome back to Bosco our Year 9s after a year of personal and collective growth at Mannix.

My thanks and congratulations also extend to our amazing Salesian educators and support staff who walk with you every day to create our own Oratory here at Chadstone. Don Bosco would be proud of our staff as they have welcomed students and parents into our joy-filled dynamic community. The care and loving kindness displayed by my colleagues is second-to-none. Thank you.

I do want to thank publicly staff who will not be returning to the College in 2023.

Thanks to those who have completed their contract at the College:

  • Rupi Narwal
  • Luke Nunn (doesn’t want to be mentioned so not in the PowerPoint)                      
  • Ben Talko
  • Kelvin Dai

Thanks and best wishes to those moving on to other positions:

  • Kamila Bielinski
  • Byron Chen
  • Andrew Cho
  • Georgina Dow
  • Lachlan Dwyer
  • Luke Pearson
  • Chris Ryan
  • Mark Wang

Thanks and well wishes to those continuing further studies:

  • April Ma

Thanks to those who are taking a year to travel and work overseas:

  • Dylan Chow
  • Declan Crowe
  • Emma Dodwell

For many years of service and Long Service Leave

  • Marianne Marshall
  • Kim Beurs
  • Rhea Beurs

For the many years of service and retiring:

  • Steve Beckham
  • Heather Walsh

I wish all these staff best wishes for the future. I hope that they each know they are welcome at Salesian.

Best wishes too for those students who are leaving us at year end. Know you are always welcome at Salesian and are part of our Salesian family.

Thank you to the staff and students who have put together our beautiful mass and the assembly today so us to celebrate as a community. It has been a wonderful celebration.

I finish as I started with a quote from Robert Fulghum: “it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to stick together”.

Be kind, look after one another and be safe over the summer holiday period.

May the Christmas Season bring only happiness and joy to you and your family. Wishing you a season that is bright with the light of God’s love.

Mark Ashmore