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Something Old and Something New

As a new school community we are at an interesting stage of our journey. We have a number of things that have continued from our earlier life as a Nudgee Junior community, we have started and repeated a number of new directions in our first five years as an Ambrose Treacy community and importantly we have looked to challenge our directions for our future with new initiatives.

We are certainly a little of our past, a little of our present and a little of our future hopes.

This idea of blending the past, the present and the future is important for all communities. It is a case of respecting and honouring our past, living and authentically embracing our present while at the same time creating the endless possibilities of our future. The secret no doubt is balance. If only there was a definitive recipe for this perfect balance. Perhaps it is how Catherine Pulsifer thought when she said “In all aspects of our lives balance is key. Doing one thing too much can cause upset, like the old saying goes, everything in moderation is the secret!”

One of the challenges to this balance is working out the role of tradition in our lives. In a school and in a religious context, tradition is very important. For many school communities, tradition is the way we do things at our school. The fact that many school uniforms have lost a sense of functionality is due to the fact that tradition in this case necessitates that things can’t change. Sometimes school rules fail to reflect current community standards and may be considered to not prepare current students for the world they live in. Churches are very much caught in a time capsule of tradition where modern community understanding on gender matters are thoughtlessly ignored. My feeling is that we must make sure we don’t fall into the trap of protecting our past as if it is a museum and our role is be curators of the museum. As author and lecturer Ardis Whitman wrote, ‘We must cherish our yesterdays, but never carry them as a burden into the future. Each generation must take nourishment from the other and give knowledge to the one that comes after.’

So how do we get the blend or the balance of traditions right? We desperately need our traditions. Part of the responsibility we have in our current lives is to be a part of the transmission of our particular community customs. In families this is often realised in our celebrations – birthdays or Christmas. Traditions represent a critical piece of our culture. They help form the structure and foundation of our families and our society. They remind us that we are part of a history that defines our past, shapes who we are today and who we are likely to become. In the same way that composer Leonard Bernstein described the composition of music as “one note that follows another with complete inevitability,” we count on traditions, like a melody, for that dependable and predictable outcome.

Traditions have an important role in a healthy community and it:

• contributes a sense of comfort and belonging and brings communities together;
• reinforces values that are important in the community;
• provides a forum to showcase events and celebrate the things that really matter in life;
• offers a chance to say “thank you” for the contribution that someone has made;
• serves as an avenue for creating lasting memories for communities; and
• offers an excellent context for meaningful pause and reflection.

What makes something a tradition is that it is handed down from one generation to the next, creating a living, dynamic flow of rhythm and predictability.

In the next week we have two contrasting events. One is new to our community and hopefully it will be the first of many similar celebrations, and the other one is something I have been used to in my sixteen years at the College. On Tuesday we will hold our inaugural Year 12 Senior Formal. For our Year 12 students, it will present a ‘formal’ occasion to celebrate their final year and their upcoming move from the security of their school years into a life of more independence – in many ways it might be seen as a rite of passage. For teachers, it is a time that we are pleasantly surprised to take off our traditional glasses and view our Year 12 students and ‘see’ our young men as exactly that, ‘young men’. My memories of years of Formals in my time at Nudgee College, were one of pride and excitement. I am certainly looking forward to Tuesday night with a lot of anticipation.

The second event next week, is our annual involvement in the Queensland Catholic Music Festival (QCMF). From a tradition point of view it has been the culmination of the school’s musical efforts each year. It was time to both showcase and to celebrate our music journey. From Nudgee Junior days the College’s music program has been a valuable legacy. The tradition of music at the College, and in particular in the context of an all boys’ school, is an important one. This tradition welcomes and embraces music and our young men can explore and celebrate their involvement in music without fear of some restrictive ‘traditions’ about boys and what boys should and should not do and enjoy. Our tradition, nourished by an incredibly talented and passionate staff, is captured in Plato’s thoughts when he said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

We are all custodians of our traditions and we are all custodians as builders and shapers of our future. It is our job to ensure that we keep things that give meaning and represent the values we want our community built around. Similarly it is our role to ensure what we do in our current world reflects what is important in today’s context. And equally so it is our role to ensure that we are dreamers of our future and creators of new traditions that will communicate values that are timeless in their relevance and importance.

Trivia Night’s Battle of the Bands

The night was full of excitement. There was a distinctive playfulness that permeated the air waves. Competition was real and it was as if we were playing for sheep stations. The participants were creatively and purposefully dressed – dressed to make a statement. Everybody there seemed to have a great night. By writing in a school newsletter, it is easy to wonder what student event I was referring to. In fact all this described Saturday evening’s P&F Annual Trivia Night. With each table dressed to represent an iconic band, the Hot Chilli Peppers, Black Sabbath, the Devos, the Beach Boys, the Village People and even the Wiggles got a start. It was fun from start to finish and the lengths that all tables went to was incredible. No doubt, as guest were driving to the event, fellow motorists must have wondered what was going on!

The evening was once again a great night for all. We have charged our P&F with the responsibility to be friend raisers who help us build our community. I would like to congratulate Brett Solomon and all the P&F for their great work in helping grow a really involved and engaged community. In particular I would like to congratulate Be Bradshaw who once again took on the responsibility for coordinating the evening; the success of the night was due to her diligent and energetic work to bring the night together. I would also like to thank Daniel Bradshaw, Patrick Carr and Karyn Sherlock who worked tirelessly without bias to act as scorers. I would also like to thank our local State member, Michael Berkman who was able to join us and help us in the all-important raffle draws.

Enrolments

One of the pleasing aspects of the College’s growth over the past 5 five years has been enrolments and future demand for places. We have certainly exceeded our initial projections for enrolments. This year we have just on 1200 students enrolled in the College and next year we will be a shade over 1300 students across our nine year levels. This healthy demand is both a pleasing outcome and a problem. While it is great to have full cohorts it is challenging when ‘desperate’ parents approach us for enrolments for their sons. An important part of our enrolment process and our selection criteria is the consideration of siblings. While siblings hold the highest priority for offering new places to students, we can only follow this through if we are actually aware of siblings. We currently have full enrolments for year 7 in 2020, 2021 and 2022. I would encourage all parents to ensure that they have completed enrolment forms for younger siblings to ensure our ‘guaranteed’ enrolment for younger siblings can be followed through with. This guarantee is only applicable if we have an enrolment application in place before places are allocated. Please click here to complete the online enrolment process for your younger sons.

Prayers

I would ask the community to please keep Pierce Hassall, Year 9 and his family in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of his maternal Grandmother. We hope that the passage of time will help heal the pain of her passing. Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, may perpetual light shine upon her, may she rest in peace. Amen.

With best wishes

Michael Senior