2023 Principal Valedictory Assembly Speech

St John Bosco said:

“Do as much as you can. God will do what we can’t do ourselves.”

Good morning Fr Joe, students and staff,

Welcome to our assembly to celebrate the Class of 2023 and to acknowledge our 2024 student leaders. Our assembly is an important rite of passage that hopes to encapsulate the achievements of our senior students.

Acknowledgement to Country

I recognise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ spiritual and cultural connection to Country and a commitment to reconciliation, I acknowledge the First Peoples and the Traditional Owners and custodians of the Country, the Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin nation.

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 communities.

Year 12 Farewell

The final days for our Year 12 students are filled with hope, optimism and excitement as 13 years of primary and secondary school concludes. There may also be feelings of apprehension, anxiety or worry for the upcoming examinations, leaving your Salesian home or the separation from friends. Our hope is that you can achieve your best, personal excellence, right to the end of your studies. Each of our Year 12s have had different journeys – challenges, triumphs and celebrations.

Regardless of how you have reached this final pinnacle we are proud of each of you for your commitment to the College and persistence to achieve your goals.

I today share a message for our Year 12s but also everyone in our assembly.

I am a huge fan of Ben Crowe. Ben Crowe is a motivational coach.

Take you mind to the 2022 women’s Australian Open tennis final. Ash Barty was playing American Danielle Collins. In Ash Barty’s players box was Ben Crowe. Across Ben’s t-shirt were the words Embrace your weird. Mojo or Mojo Crowe is his app.

Crowe had been in Barty’s players box throughout the Australian Open and other tournaments including her 2021 Wimbledon win. He also works with Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott, surfing world champion Stephanie Gilmore and Richmond premiership players Trent Cotchin and Dusty Martin.

The former Nike executive, who made a name working with Andre Agassi, has been attributed to the success of the Australian Cricket Team, the resurgence of the Brisbane Broncos and is now consulting to high-profile NBA and Premier League clubs.

Why does Crowe’s message resonate with athletes?

Crowe says not getting distracted by all the “uncontrollables” was crucial to helping Barty break the country’s 44-year drought for Australian women at their home grand slam.

“You saw it on court, she was so focused and clear and present and not distracted at all by those uncontrollables. One of those which typically distract athletes is the expectation of others and outcome,” he says.

“So, she didn’t get distracted by the fact the entire country was watching and cheering her on, and she’s done a very good job over the last few years of letting those uncontrollables go.”

Crowe reveals that Barty has worked hard to focus on intrinsic motivations, rather than the rising expectations of other people. He says it also emerged when the media asked her how it would feel to win the Open.

“She almost stopped the press conference and said, ‘look that’s your definition of success, it’s not mine. My definition is all about relationships, experiences, memories, getting out of my comfort zone and seeing what I’m capable of, going after my goals and dreams and growing every day, that’s success for me’,” he says.

“She nailed it because it’s such a different perspective. Most of us think about achievement and trophies as the definition of success. When you’re intrinsically motivated, you actually control those things 100 per cent.”

Ben continues, “The thing for me about Ash – and I said this to her during the tournament – I feel like she is single-handedly teaching the world about perspective and what it means to be a good human being first and a great athlete second.”

Ben Crowe’s message is not just for athletes. In recent years he has delivered speeches to Year 12s at St Kevin’s College where his son attends school and at Whitefriars College where he is an old collegian.

His message is this…

  • Embrace your weird – be yourself and get involved in things you enjoy. Consider the question, Who am I?
  • Own your story – as young men this is your journey. What do I want?
  • Find your mojo. How do I get there?

The important outcome is to be a good human first and great athlete second. Our Salesian College aim is alike – be a “good Christian and honest citizen” first and make an impact on society in your chosen field second.

Crowe believes Barty has struck a balance between her competitive streak and perspective.

“One of Ash’s greatest strengths is her values. When life sucks and we are at our worse, it is our values which can turn adversity into possibility. She knows when her back is against the wall, her mindset and values can get her through, especially around her courage, determination and grit.” 5-1 down in the second set we watch this play out to her advantage.

“I think the world is so distracted today by these external motivations thinking that will make them happy, but that will never make you content or fulfilled,” he says.

Finding purpose, meaning, perspective is an important skill as you navigate your studies and extra-curricular pursuits.

Know who you are, what you want and then work out how you are going to achieve the goal. Recognise the expectations of others or if you drift thinking about the outcome (e.g. ATAR). Control what you can in the classroom, in your studies and in your final assessments.

Reflecting on your journey and taking responsibility will help you gain confidence, courage to step into the present and become happy as you gain fulfilment in meaningful achievements that connect you to others.

Ben Crowe speaks of perspective and appreciating the opportunities…

“As a human race, we don’t do uncertainty very well … so, if you can embrace uncertainty, vulnerability and uncontrollables and accept them and let them go, you then have a beautiful appreciation for what you’ve got, rather than bitching and moaning about what you haven’t.”

How does this message resonate with your own thinking or perspective?

St John Bosco said:

“Do as much as you can. God will do what we can’t do ourselves.”

Two hundred years earlier, Don Bosco emphasised to young people to focus on the certain or controllable. God answers the rest. Therefore, prayer and contemplation play an important role in our lives.

There are many stories of Don Bosco dealing with uncertainty and how he overcame challenges this through prayer – forming the first Oratory, finding a home for boys at Valdocco, building the Basilica del Sacro Cuore di Gesù in Rome with no money. In each circumstance Bosco turned to Our Lady Help of Christians and Jesus Christ to achieve his goals.

Our Year 12s can also turn to Our Lady Help of Christians and Jesus Christ to achieve their goals.

To our class of 2023, you belong at Salesian as this is where happiness and joy is in play.

Thank you for bringing joy and dynamism to our classrooms, corridors, yard, theatres and fields.

As a Year 12 cohort I will remember your tenacity, humour and friendliness and commitment to the College as endearing characteristics. 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.

The class of 2023 has added to our rich Salesian story having emulated the feats and traditions of the many who have gone before them in the past 65 years. Thank you.

Our 2023 student 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 2023. A special thanks to Marcellino, Peter and Peter for their outstanding leadership.


Today I also congratulate Mr Stephen Sellwood who has recently been recognised for the inaugural Liverpool FC IA Australia Session of the Term award.

Under Mr Sellwood’s leadership, the team of coaches follows all the LFC IA session structure guidelines to deliver an exemplary program which supports the coaches with managing their learners, equipment, space, and time in a seamless and productive manner.

We look forward to the program continuing in 2024 and hope that many of you can be involved.

Student Leaders 2024

Congratulations to our 2024 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 respect and integrity.

My aspiration for our 2024 leaders is that they do the work of Jesus. 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.”

De Sales, Bosco and Occhienna demonstrated God’s work and I encourage our student leaders to look to these influential people from the past to inspire and lead others into the future.

Be kind and compassionate towards one another. If we can all be role models of our College values of belonging, respect, integrity, joy and dynamism and allow these to be visible to others in our actions then we are going to have an enjoyable and successful year.

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

Year 12s I will leave you with a 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

I now invite our 2023 College Captain Marcellino Baselyous to address our community.

I now ask that you stand and proudly sing our College Song.

Proudly we sing our song and
Faith-filled we journey along
Our traditions we hold true
Hail red, silver and blue
Striving to do our best we
Journey for excellence
In our studies and our play
Salesian way

Chadstone men we stand here together
Honour our story forever
Strong in mind with gentle hearts
Loyal to sons gone by
Don Bosco’s spirit before us
Our college motto calls us
‘To all people be all things’
Our pledge re-new
We’re side by side with joyful pride
Salesians true