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The Gift that Keeps on Giving

I don’t know about you, but I find the task of gift giving to be getting harder. In a world where many people have a disposable income and easy access to technology, it makes it easy to access whatever they want. Many people simply buy what they want and hence often don’t need a lot. This simple change seems to have altered the world that we live in and made the simple art of gift giving more complex. Or is it really complex?

What is a gift? In an older paradigm, we give so that someone may use it. We don’t expect that they won’t ever use it. Gift giving has long been a favourite subject for studies on human behaviour, with psychologists, anthropologists and economists all weighing in. They have found that giving gifts is a surprisingly complex and important part of human interaction, helping to define relationships and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Indeed, psychologists say it is often the giver, rather than the recipient, who reaps the biggest psychological gains from a gift. Is it any real surprise then that parents often take greatest enjoyment in buying gifts for their children?

Today the gifts that we often give do not have to be an item, nor does it have to have a value that can be measured in dollars. The greatest gift a child can receive from his or her parents is the gift of education. This gift comes on a multi-dimensional level. It comes in the gift of a parent’s overview on what is important and what is not important in life and it comes in the form of a formal education. In the former it is perhaps the hardest gift to ever define. From my perspective, the greatest measure of this gift is seen in how our children learn to love, be loved and to love others, it is seen in the importance that they learn to surround themselves with good people to help them navigate life’s challenges and it is seen in how they deal with and learn from life’s challenges. This is the greatest gift of all – a gift that keeps on giving.

The gift of a formal education is one of the most important ways that a parent can physically gift their children. A good school education will no doubt help shape a child’s future. But what are we shaping or how do we measure it? Today’s world has an interesting way of measuring it. Often our system will put a simple number or a percentage against it. Sadly, for many this number will be seen to describe them or define them. Quite obviously this type of education is more difficult to measure let alone define it by a single number.

Recently at a school opening mass that I attended, the Principal shared a story that I feel is relevant to this discussion. The Principal told a story about the Wannsee Conference. The Wannsee Conference was held in Berlin on 20 January 1942. The conference was attended by 15 highly educated men. Among them were three judges, six or seven lawyers, the majority had doctorates, at least two were sons of Lutheran Pastors and the others were highly accomplished musicians. The leader was Richard Heydrich, who himself was highly educated, a gifted musician and the son of two highly respected Opera singers. The meeting lasted just one and a half hours and it mapped out the framework for the Final Solution, which resulted in the death of over 6 million Jews – 1.5 million of whom were children.
Education is a gift that reminds us of how it can make a difference in the world. But this story reminds us that education is more important than academic results and qualification.

In Catholic schools we value academic pursuits but we also know the value of a holistic education which is Christ centred. In this sense, it is important not to view education as a commodity which is produced to fill vacancies in the echelons of industry and commerce. While we are driven to ensure our students develop the necessary skills and we certainly value academic achievement, our schools develop the human person so that they can use their education to make a real difference in the world they enter. As the American Politician, Ernie Fletcher, is quoted as saying, ‘Education is our greatest opportunity to give an irrevocable gift to the next generation.’ The beautiful thing about learning and an education is that no one can take it away from you.

College Board
Strong leadership and governance is a key to the success of schools and Edmund Rice Education Australia EREA has put in a number of structures to ensure that their schools will move confidently into the future. EREA has the ultimate responsibility for the accountability for the way each of the Edmund Rice schools operate across Australia. On a local level, each school has a College Board to assist EREA with the governance of their schools. These Boards are not simply advisory Boards but rather Boards that help shape the directions of the school by playing a direct role in its policy formation and strategic planning. At Ambrose Treacy College we are fortunate to have a very active, energetic and professional College Board who has played an integral role in the College’s recent development. For many existing and new parents the composition of the College Board might not be well known. The Board has played a significant role in the development of the College Strategic Plan and functions to support and give direction to the College in matters of Finance, Policy and Development. The Chair of the Ambrose Treacy College Board is Mr Matthew Buckley. Matthew has chaired the Nudgee Junior College Board and for the last two years the ATC Board, and hasbrought a strong professional background in the area of Property Development and Management. As a father of two Nudgee Junior Old Boys he has a strong connection with the College over a number of years. Other members of the College Board include Mrs Robyn Albury, Mrs Catherine Abercrombie, Mrs Suzanne Stark, Mrs Caitlin O’Loan, Mr Brett Lentz, Mr Justin Walsh and Mr Peter Kelly.

Cricket Season
Last Saturday marked the end of the term 1 cricket season. Here at the College we have tried to provide opportunities for all boys who want to follow their cricketing passions. For some this will be in outdoor cricket while for others it was realised in indoor cricket. Either way the main ingredients were hopefully fun and enjoyment as boys took up the challenge to follow their passion and dreams. The cruel face of cricket meant that not all days were the days of following in the footsteps of our cricket idols with plenty of runs and wickets, but the thought of the next weekend meant that chance of a big score or a few wickets kept everyone focussed.

It was great to see so many students involved in our cricket program. Developing cricket skills, learning and understanding the values of sportsmanship and being a part of a team are certainly the goals of our program. There are few better ways to experience and learn to deal with disappointments in life than in the sporting arena and I am grateful that we can offer our boys a rich learning context in our sporting program. I would like to once again thank all our staff who so generously commit to our co-curricular program. I know of very few schools that can match the commitment of our staff. Without teachers willing to turn out for training after school and their willingness to give up a Saturday morning when a cosy sleep-in is a more attractive proposition, the cricket season just wouldn’t happen. Thank you to all the parents who have assisted with umpiring, scoring and coaching throughout the season – your efforts have not gone unnoticed.

On behalf of all the cricketers I would like to thank Nathan Burgess and Dave Capra, who are responsible for the cricket draw and season, for their thoughtful and meticulous organisation. I would also like to thank Brett Henschell, our cricket coordinator, and all the coaches from the Henschell Cricket Academy who once again have been such a positive presence in our program. Not only have they brought a very high level of coaching to the program but equally importantly they have been excellent role models for our students. I would also like to extend a particular thank you to our behind the scenes men, Wayne Green and the rest of the ground staff for ensuring the fields both here at the College and the other home venues we use in the western suburbs were ready each week.

With best wishes,
Michael Senior