As a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition, we are challenged to ensure that our Charter is lived out through the College in its daily operations and not just given lip service on special occasions. Our Charter is characterised by four touchstones that define what Edmund Rice hoped for when he started his first school in Waterford Ireland. These four touchstones, Gospel Spirituality, Liberating Education, Inclusive Community and Justice and Solidarity are our non-negotiables, they are the foundation on how we run our school.
The renewal process involved a visiting panel walking with our community, listening to staff, students and parents and observing how our community is responding to this challenge. Through surveys, interviews and observations a detailed report was compiled that listed a number of commendations for our community as well as a number of recommendations for us to consider as we plan our growth at the College. The commendations serve both as an affirmation of what is already happening at the College as well as encouraging us to continue with our current strategic directions. The recommendations serve also as important feedback to explore further options and challenge us to continue to maintain a process of critical reflection.
From an overall perspective the School Renewal report was very affirming for the College and formally we received a certificate of Accreditation as a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition. In his address to the College community, Dr Tinsey said that he was very proud of what we had achieved in such a short time for a new school. He spoke specifically about the service program that we have introduced at the College, and its outward reach to the wider community and particularly those in need.
From the detailed report, I would like to share a number of the significant commendations that were highlighted by the visiting panel:
• The holistic nature of the education provided for the boys. There is a strong focus on seeing how the College can graduate fine, well rounded young men who can make a contribution to society.
• The high level of commitment of the staff in teaching and in the provision of an extensive co-curricular program. In this time of growth, staff have designed programs for coming years in addition to delivering and reviewing outcomes from current courses.
• The iconography and signage illustrating Catholicity, charism and story.
• The way in which key identity dimensions such as the crest, building names and College prayer are used as constant reminders of the character and heritage of the College and as a catalyst to tell the story.
• The pillars at the front of the College admin building powerfully represent the three pillars of the College: learning, leading and service, along with the three stories of Jesus, Edmund and Ambrose Treacy.
• Quality relationships are seen as an essential factor in ensuring shared vision and united effort.
• The preparedness to face the challenge of inclusivity within a traditionally high socio-economic region.
• The enrolment of a significant number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and the ways in which their heritage and culture is publicly celebrated.
• A commitment to justice is seen as integral to the character of Ambrose Treacy College.
• The student service program in place at all levels of the College.
On Friday we celebrate Remembrance Day at the College. Remembrance Day is about remembering – remembering the commitment and sacrifice so many young men and women have made for the peace we enjoy today and the fact that many of them paid the ultimate sacrifice with their life in pursuit of this freedom. It is also a time for us to remember that we all have our own responsibility to show courage in the pursuit of a better world for everyone – in our own small way we need to be courageous and challenge instances of injustice in our own communities.
In all forms of leadership at the College we operate from the belief that all students have the capacity for leading, and it is not seen only in those who stand in front but more importantly from those who accompany and help those who are in most need in our community – servant leadership. In service, we have challenged our boys to develop an outward giving disposition rather than an inward taking disposition. It is this area of service that we believe we can truly aspire to develop young men who can make a difference in our world. To bring about change, to challenge injustices, to stand in solidarity with our most vulnerable requires first and foremost an attitude and a commitment to be empathetic and to be people of action.
Once again this year we have challenged our boys, and families, to take these first few steps towards our goal of helping to form our boys into young men who are aware of the world around, to look around to those who are in need and to think of ways to reach out to them. Initially this is about opening their eyes to start seeing that there are many people in our world who we can help and then importantly to look at ways that these thoughts can be put into action. In our service program, we ask students to document the opportunities they have been able to identify and put into action, and to document them in their service log books. This year I am proud to announce that our students have recorded over 13000 hours of service to the community. This means that in a small way the community and in particular those in need have benefited from the compassion and generosity of our students who have reached out. Whilst it will not bring about grand change on a national or global level it importantly has been very much appreciated by those in need; we have brought about significant change in our small part of our community.
In recognising this wonderful effort from our students across the College community I would like to acknowledge and thank you as parents for your support of this initiative. We do understand that the success of this program especially for our younger years is the direct result of your support and the priority you have given this. Without your willingness to help your son to be physically able to do much of this work we would not have a service program. My hope is that you share the value that this program aims to bring in helping form young men of empathy and action.
On Sunday morning, I had the opportunity for an early start to drive up to Lake Kawana to watch and photograph over thirty of our students competing in an all schools’ triathlon and aquathon. Whilst many feel a 4.30am start cannot possibly equate to a wonderful experience, I am lucky I enjoy an early start to the morning. At ATC there is always various sporting opportunities for our students and I feel they provide our boys a wide range of experiences and opportunities for growth. On this occasion the challenge of the triathlons and aquathons allowed our competitors a true opportunity to challenge themselves against the standards they set themselves. Yes it was a race, but as is the case in most races the real race is for those lucky to be competitive at the front of the race. The value I saw was for the rest of the competitors was the ‘race’ they set themselves to push themselves to the limit, to finish in the best time they could or to just finish the race. I saw many great performances on the day and we had several competitors that were competitive in the race for places. I also saw many outstanding performances from our students who were finishers in the latter half of the race.
One student I would congratulate in a very sincere way is Callum Conole. I feel safe in saying that Callum probably doesn’t see himself in the elite class of triathlete, but on Sunday through my camera lens I saw him as an outstanding athlete in that he challenged himself and pushed himself to the limit and produced an excellent performance. His main competitor was himself and he swam, rode and ran with all the determination that did justice to the training he has put into this season. At ATC we have many students like Callum across our various sporting and musical programs, and it is this reason we offer the diversity and depth of co-curricular activities at the College. All boys need an opportunity to live the dream.
With best wishes,