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The Power of Celebration

The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. Oprah Winfrey
There is always so much to celebrate in our lives. No doubt there are large numbers of South Africans across the globe who are celebrating the success of their rugby team winning the World Cup. No doubt there will be celebrations across Australia this week when we have the race that stops the nation.

There aren’t many aspects of life that don’t leave open the opportunity to celebrate. Many people are great celebrators and sadly there are people who don’t see the value in celebrating. This celebration ‘thing’ can be a curious concept. So many good things happen and when we don’t take time to acknowledge and celebrate, they drift by and are forgotten. Celebrations don’t always have to be about big things. They can be about smaller achievements or just special moments. The one thing I do know, celebrations lift our spirits and connect us with those around us. Celebrations are often a means of unifying our lives. It is easy to often think we don’t have time to celebrate. I suppose time always comes down to priorities and when we say we don’t have time to celebrate it is saying a lot about our own priorities. As I come to an end of one of my own journeys, I know I am being challenged about the power of celebrating. You are never too old to learn, and I have learnt a lot about myself as I negotiate my way through some wonderful moments.

This last week at ATC has been special in the time we, as a College, have allocated to celebrate. Last Monday evening we celebrated an overview of the year with our annual Night of Excellence. On Wednesday through Friday mornings we took time out to celebrate our Signum Fidei Breakfasts and on Friday it was great to celebrate our commitment to community service through our Service Assembly. On each occasion it was wonderful that we were able to have many families join us; in busy lives the celebration was seen as a priority!

Our Night of Excellence is a night that we can gather as a community and overview the year and celebrate and showcase our talented students. Each year I feel a very warm glow when I see a snapshot of our achievements noted. I am always humbled by the sheer delight I see in the faces of many of our students who are acknowledged for their achievements. For many it may have been the first time their achievements have been ‘publicly’ recognised. For others, the delight was seen through the satisfaction of achieving a goal that they had worked so hard to achieve.

This year was a special time when we introduced perpetual awards that are awarded to our year 12 students. Fittingly it was a great privilege to acknowledge the special deeds of our foundation year 12 cohort. They will always hold a special place in our history, not just being our first graduating year 12 class, but the group of students who help frame our culture. Their legacy will be valued as the College journeys into the future.

Fitting our perpetual trophies, that will reside in the display cabinet of our main reception foyer, are not bright shining pieces of silver or gold. Their beauty emanates from the beauty of our natural world and the loving hands within our community. The six perpetual trophies were ‘home-made’. Their beauty comes from hand shaped and crafted timber bases and creative moulded symbols that speak to our story and our values. They highlight our importance that we place on our pillars of learning, leadership and service and importantly our College motto Signum Fidei. I would like to congratulate our inaugural winners of these perpetual trophies; they are a part of the history at the College.

Signum Fidei Award Patrick Robinson
Edmund Rice Leadership Award Jack O’Toole
Patrick Ambrose Treacy Award (Duxes of the College) Alastair Bradford and Phillip Gerridzen
Mary Mackillop Service Award Patrick Robinson
Most Outstanding Sportsman Mac Martin
Most Outstanding Cultural Student Phillip Gerridzen

It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge and thank two of our staff members, Sean Smith and Richard Bradford, who lovingly handcrafted these trophies. They are amazing and will hold significant meaning at the College far into the future.

Our Signum Fidei Awards that we celebrate each term are awards that personally, I think are very significant. The awards recognise the quiet achievements of students who in many cases might simply go unnoticed. The Signum Fidei Awards aim to let students know that they are not ‘flying under the radar’, and that their hard work and diligent approach to life at school is valued. These awards try to recognise the quiet achievements that make a big contribution. They are awarded to students who are nominated by homeroom teachers who see and value a student’s contribution across our three pillars of learning leadership and service. Through their everyday approach, we see them as great role models for other students.

Our Service Assembly on Friday was another wonderful occasion to celebrate. Here at ATC we have decided to prioritise the importance of community service. Our hope is that by encouraging students to participate in our service program, we are working towards helping them move their faith from a passive disposition to active expression. It is always important that we understand that our Catholic faith, or in fact any Christian faith, always seeks to be a faith that reaches out to others. I am very proud of the tradition we have already developed at ATC with regards to service. There is a strong feeling that many of our students, and families, have added service to their DNA.

Helping others is seen as an important expression of who we are.

For me, one of the most influential people in history has been Martin Luther King Jnr. He became the prominent leader in the Civil Rights Movement to end racial segregation and discrimination in America during the 1950s and 1960s and he was a leading spokesperson for nonviolent methods of achieving social change. One of his quotes that resonate for me is: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are we doing for others?’

Interestingly the nation’s highest-achieving Year 12 students will no longer be guaranteed a spot at the Australian National University under a significant overhaul of its ATAR admissions process launching in 2020. In a new scheme designed to diversify the university’s ranks, school leavers will be asked to meet a minimum threshold of community service and extra-curricular activity such as working part-time, playing sport or volunteering, on top of achieving the right score for their degree. Their research has shown that the benefits of volunteering contribute to ongoing success and specifically developing balanced students who can cope with the diversity of demands that post school life can bring.

Our hope is that our Service Program will continue to be an integral aspect of our educational offering at the College into the future. Whilst there will be countless people in the wider community who will be beneficiaries of this program of helping others, our hope is that our young men will be greatest beneficiaries of the program as they grow in themselves and develop a disposition of recognising those in need around us and importantly being young men of action to physically give of themselves and their time to help others.

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 important initiative. We do understand that the success of this program especially for our younger students, 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 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.

Prayers

I would ask the community to please keep Henry Harwood (5 Bodkin) and his family in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of his Grandfather. I would ask the community to please keep Paige Lumb (School Officer and parent) and her family in your thoughts and prayers following the recent passing of her 97 year old Grandmother. We hope that the passage of time will help heal the pain of their passing. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, may perpetual light shine upon them, may they rest in peace. Amen.

With best wishes

Michael Senior