In my address at the opening I started by saying that I felt very proud of what we have achieved at the College; more than anything it is the feel of the community that excites me most. I feel a collective understanding of what we as a community believe in and what we as a community aspire to be. One of my favourite movies is The Castle and without sounding a little corny I believe it is the ‘vibe’ that excites me most. The ‘vibe’ is that intangible feeling that makes us feel good and it is that feeling that no words seem to do justice to. I feel it in our students who show a real pride in our school, I feel it in my conversations with parents when they talk about what their sons are achieving, I feel it from our staff when they talk about the planning we are doing for our future. I am not a person who lives in a fantasy world and thinks everything is always good, but I am a person who lives with my glass half full.
Tuesday’s opening did afford me a moment to see more than just our wonderful new facilities and I am certainly grateful for the opportunity afforded to me to be a part of a great community that is on the move.
It was wonderful to invite a number of significant parties to join us for this important event. In asking the State Government, the Queensland Catholic Education Commission and Edmund Rice Education Australia to be represented and assist us to officially open our new Middle School Precinct we drew together all the relevant parties who have made this dream a reality. I am very conscious that without the significant assistance that we receive from each of these groups our dream would not be realised. EREA have an ultimate governance responsibility for all of our schools across Australia and their support and approval for the growth of the College is essential. It was great to have Br Paul Oakley, President of the EREA Council, present to reiterate his confidence in the directions that EREA see in our community. Being authentic to the charism of a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition is core to our existence.
Dr Lee-Anne Perry’s presence as Executive Director of QCEC was also very significant. QCEC is charged with the responsibility to prioritise the distribution of Government funding to Catholic schools in Queensland and to promote and encourage the growth of Catholic schools. Their support to prioritise funding for the expansion of Ambrose Treacy College is vital and I would record my sincere appreciation to Dr Lee-Anne Perry and in particular the QCEC Capital Committee for the very significant financial support for our capital growth at the College. Finally I would like to acknowledge the presence of the Honourable Mark Bailey, Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply who represented the Queensland Government at our opening. Governments on all levels can often be the recipients of questioning and at times criticism. Sometimes priorities of Governments can be hard to understand. One priority that has been very pleasing is the level of support they afford schools and in our particular case Catholic schools. The level of funding that they have prioritised for capital funding is significant and I can confidently say far in excess of what other State Governments prioritise across the nation.
The actual opening ritual was a very simple but moving occasion that was set in an almost idyllic setting. The wonderful natural environment that we are so spoilt to live within was the perfect back drop to the amazing new facilities that we are fortunate to enjoy. Almost on cue, the sunset behind the building and the chirping of birds in the vast gum trees added the final touches to the physical setting. I would like to repeat my congratulations to our architects, Fulton Trotter Architects for the wonderful work they have put in to achieve the result we have in the Westcourt, Kilkenny and Callan buildings. The success of our relationship with our architects is based around their understanding for what we are trying to achieve as a new school and then creatively putting forward solutions that extend our comprehension of what is possible to be built. I feel safe in saying that I have not had a conversation with anyone seeing our new facilities for the first time who has not been impressed with the buildings we have been lucky to enjoy this year in our Middle School. I look forward to sharing with you in the upcoming months the images of the new buildings that we are currently planning for in Stage C of our building program. Stage C will start construction in December this year to be ready by the start of 2018 for the introduction of Year 11 at the College.
One of the main responsibilities for all schools is providing a safe environment for students to operate out of. This safe environment obviously requires close supervision with regards to work place health and safety matters but more importantly it relates to the safety of students with regards to child protection matters. I believe that one of the main steps to ensure we are vigilant in regards to child protection is to ensure that we are not complacent and that students, staff and parents are reminded of our need to be aware, informed and alert to child protection matters. Here at the College we certainly address the matter of child protection with students and in particular their right to feel safe and identify with them behaviours that are inappropriate and need to be challenged and reported if necessary. With our staff we are very vigilant in ensuring that all our staff fully understand their responsibilities about ensuring that students feel safe and are kept safe and importantly we remind staff about appropriate and inappropriate behaviours with regards to their professional relationship with students. As parents I believe it is our responsibility to ensure that we are alert, informed and aware of matters around child protection as well. To assist in the awareness raising in our community around child protection, we will be sharing information with students, staff and parents on a regular basis that aims to keep the matter of child protection in our consciousness. Child protection is a core responsibility for all of us and we need to always keep an alert eye open. In saying that we always tread the fine line of ensuring we keep our children safe and not suffocate or cocoon them in a way that takes away their opportunity to learn the necessary skills that will allow them to keep themselves safe as well. Next week you will receive an email that will highlight / remind you of a few matters with regards to child protection. We will do this at the start of each term. To support awareness raising we will be sending it to all students, two emails a term that raises relevant information about child protection matters; you will be copied in on these emails so you know what we are discussing with students and also affording you the opportunity to be able to follow the matters raised with your sons.
Last Friday evening it was my pleasure to attend the Brigidine College Musical “Bring It On – The Musical” at the Schonell Theatre at UQ. Whilst I had my own personal interest in the performance with my youngest daughter the producer for the musical, the performance of seven of our Year 9 students was also a centre of my attention. The musical itself was a great success and while they were only involved as cast members, our students were very good as well, albeit through my at times rose coloured glasses. The majority of the students involved from Brigidine College and Marist Ashgrove were Year 11 and 12 students so the opportunity for our students to be involved was very much appreciated.
To see young men sing and dance on stage and enjoying it so much was heart-warming and I know the boys genuinely enjoyed the chance to work with the girls from Brigidine. I would like to congratulate Quentijn Whitfield, Thomas Johnson, Keaton Hannan, Luca Ferro, Harry Elder, Andrew Coogan and Tim Bennett on their individual and collective performances and I look forward to future opportunities to see them advance these performances when the opportunities come up at the College. I would also like to record my sincere appreciation to Brigidine College for the opportunity that they opened up to our students; as I said earlier they adjusted their normal practice to offer other boys’ schools involvement to allow our involvement given the age of our students.
With best wishes,