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Thank You and Farewell

It has been a bit of a ritual for me to find some time and inspiration each week over the last 16 years to write something for our weekly newsletter. Over the years this responsibility has been challenging. Sometimes what to write comes easy and at other times I have been challenged on what to write. Today is one of those challenging times – how can you capture everything you want to say knowing it is the last time I will have the opportunity to write to this wonderful community.

I would like to start by offering a very heartfelt thank you to both the Nudgee Junior and Ambrose Treacy College communities. Both of these communities that I have experienced have been incredibly life giving and incredibly generous. Being made feel welcomed and supported is uplifting and from my very first day in January 2004 through to this, my last week with students, I have been made to feel very much a part of the furniture. Words like warm, friendly, engaging, compassionate, sincere and genuine fill my thoughts when I try and explain my connection with this community. Importantly I acknowledge the times, when accepting and forgiving, were perhaps the more appropriate words when my own frailties or mistakes clouded our experience. I would like to thank you for accepting and forgiving me when I may have disappointed you.

To all the wonderful staff at ATC, and earlier at NJC, I continue to be in awe of your commitment to our challenge to provide the very best education for each and every one of our students. Your care, your compassion and your dedication are second to none and I know of no other group of professionals who have achieved so much in building the school we proudly have today. I hope you continue to find this important work rewarding and life giving.

To all our parents and carers who entrust us with the shared responsibility to help form your sons to be the best versions of themselves – thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to share in this special responsibility. Thank you for believing in ATC to be the school and the community that will help see your son grow into the young man you believe he can be. Thank you for your “buy in” to help us form a community rather than simply operate as a school. Our shared values build community and they enable the magic to happen.

To all the wonderful young men from Years 4 to 12, thank you for simply being yourself. In a world that constantly tries to seduce people into trying to be someone they are not; it is life giving to see you are committed to be the best person that you can be. Energetic, fun, loyal, focused, confident, humble and aware, are some of the words that I have etched in my memory after journeying with you. Most of all, you are the reason that has kept me so energised in my time at ATC. The author of the saying that there are no two days the same, must have been thinking of ATC when he thought of these words. Not without some challenges, I would repeat my time again at NJC and ATC in a heartbeat, if it meant I could relive this time again with the young men I have been fortunate to travel with.

As an avid follower of great writers and philosophers, I am reminded of Winnie the Pooh’s words, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” The memories that I take away are many and varied. Gifted by an interest in photography, I literally have thousands of images etched into my memory bank; images of young men laughing, sharing good times with their mates, achieving things that might not have seemed possible earlier and representing their school with pride and distinction. As adults many of us know that the best days of our lives were at school – our young men are well on the way to realising this as well!

After announcing my decision to retire earlier in the year, I have experienced one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride. Even if you know what’s coming, you’re never prepared for how it feels. Emotionally it has been a time of incredible highs reminiscing about the many great memories and at other times a real sense of sadness as I come to terms with what I will miss. Goodbyes can bring to light all the magic contained in a place. Difficult goodbyes are a sign that you have made deep connections and formed authentic friendships and I am so grateful for this.

With great anticipation, I look forward to hearing about the future of the ATC community. I believe that the future possibilities for the community will continue to be endless. Under the leadership of Chris Ryan, I am confident that the years ahead will be filled with all the energy and ambition that has characterised our recent journey. Chris is an inspired choice as leader for ATC. He is a humble and intuitive leader who will quickly get the ‘feel’ for the community and together with the College Leadership Team, he will bring the community’s future dreams into reality.

It would not seem right if I didn’t refer to a photograph in my final newsletter. The image below is intriguing, because unless you are there you may not know if it is a sunset or a sunrise. For me, this photograph captures some of how I feel; the ending is very much a beginning for us all. Just like a sunset can be beautiful in that it captures much of the magic the day has realised, a sunrise is just as beautiful in what it signals in the promise of a new day. There is so much to be thankful for and so much to dream and look forward to in our lives!

Finally I would like to offer a very heartfelt thank you to the whole ATC community. Thank you for allowing me to journey with you and to be a part of this incredible community. Whilst I’m not sure of the author, these words go some of the way to capturing my feelings as I leave – “At some point, you have to realize that some people can stay in your heart but not in your life.”

Thank you for the memories. I hope that the upcoming holidays are full of fun family times and that the joy and blessing of Christmas descends on you all. God bless you all until our paths cross again.

Christmas Thoughts

Christmas is a great time to think of gratitude. John Henry Jowet was quoted as holding the view that “Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.” The reality is that gratitude opens the door to simplicity. A person who is grateful for the things they own will care for them, enjoy them, and waste less energy seeking more. They will experience fulfillment in the gifts they already possess rather than looking outside themselves for more. As Christmas looms, it can be a season where the focus on having more is a reality for some. So how can we focus on gratitude to keep our feet anchored? In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. And that gratefulness always leads to a satisfied, simplified life.

There can be a beautiful simplicity about Christmas that is calming to our senses amidst the furious activity of daily life at this time of the year. I would like to share with you a quotation, that I have shared before, that sums up for me the real meaning of Christmas. If we were to put into “ordinary terms” the meaning of Christmas, perhaps it might look something like this:

Staff Changes

In any community there will be changes and this year we will see several students and staff leave the ATC community. A number of students will be moving due to changes in family arrangements, as well as students moving to new schools. 2020 will see new students joining the College across all year levels from Years 4 to 12 – change is a regular facet of a mobile modern society. Similarly, we will welcome several new staff to the College in January next year as the College continues to grow. Sadly, we will farewell a few staff this week. To our departing staff I would like to thank them for their commitment and professionalism and wish them well in their new challenges and opportunities. I would like to thank and wish the following staff well as they leave us to pursue new directions:

Kath Little – Dean of Learning 2015-2019
Jeremy Bartlett – IT Support
Helen Bitossi – Secondary School Business Teacher (Maternity Leave)
Deena Cooper – Senior School Counsellor (Contract)
Rachelle Garten – Teacher Librarian
James Kiernan – Middle School RE / Humanities Teacher
Di McRoberts – Junior School Case Manager
Kate Nankivell – Careers / Counsellor
Sarah Rerrie - Junior School Case Manager
Kristle Skennar – Middle School Music (Maternity Leave)
Paul Toon – School Counsellor

Congratulations

It is always great to see students following their passion. Recently two of our students, Jerimiah Wylie-Coolwell, and Jarra Breaden entered the Indigenous Art competition. We are excited to announce and congratulate Jerimiah won 3rd place in this competition. As a part of his prize Jerimiah will have the opportunity to spend a day in the life of Flight Centre Travel Group’s very own Creative Studio in Brisbane to demonstrate some of the amazing career paths that are available in the creative industry. Jarra was also recognised and mentioned for the quality of his artwork. Well done Jerimiah and Jarra.

Prayers

I would ask the community to please keep Riley Harden (6 Lynch) and his family in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of his Grandfather. We hope that the passage of time will help heal the pain of his passing. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, may perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace, Amen.

With best wishes always,

Michael Senior