Principal's Blog - 6 June 2019

03 Jun 2019

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

We are living through exciting times here at Marcellin. I say that particularly because since the official launch of our new learning program – Polaris – there has been much discussion in our community about education. As an educator, that excites me greatly. Never have I seen in a school before the level of interest, opinion and comment on this most fundamental part of the purpose of our College. I realise that in that space there has been a variety of responses to this new program. From the positive and enthusiastic to the concerned and anxious. These are all normal reactions to change and we welcome them all. The most important thing is that we are talking about it!

As a living example of this interest, last Wednesday evening we held a forum for families about our new Llarning eco-system. Over 400 people braved the winter chill to join us on this evening which included a presentation of the program and a Q&A session which saw many parents ask a variety of thoughtful and valuable questions. I was inspired  by the broad support and encouragement for this program which our parents shared, as well as their suggestions and concerns.

Having said that, I know that there are still many questions to be answered and concerns to be addressed. To this end we will continue to provide opportunities for families to pose these questions in future face to face meetings as well as an online feedback space which has been sent out to you via a message from our Director of Community Engagement and Marketing, Ben Bugeja. 

I look forward to continuing the educational discussion with you as together we support our young men to strive for their highest. 

Below are some of the words I delivered to our families at the parents forum:

One of my favourite quotes from our good friend St. Marcellin Champagnat starts of this way…

"We aim at something better: we want to educate them, to instruct them in their duty, to teach them to practice it, to give them a Christian spirit and attitudes and to form them to religious habits and the virtues possessed by a good Christian and a good citizen."

I love that line from St. Marcellin – 'We aim at something better'.  What it says to me is that we are not trying to be perfect, but we’re not sitting still either. We’re not searching for the silver bullet, but we realise that if education does not respond to the signs of the times then as educators we are negligent. 

As true Marists we are restlessly searching for something better. And as we aim and search we need to accept that there will be a little messiness and uncertainty. With that in mind I’m reminded of the words of Kipling which hang above the players dressing room entrance at Wimbledon - "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same...". Somehow I think that Champagnat would have appreciated Kipling’s sentiment as his life was imbued with moments of great joy and success and some overwhelming failures.

Champagnat would always be the first to say, 'don’t ground what you are doing purely in my words'. All that we do here at Marcellin is founded in and formed by scripture. “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”. These words of Jesus in John’s Gospel remind us of our mission to make Jesus known and loved and to support each young man to become the best version of themselves.

Gaudium et spes (Joy and Hope), the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, which came out of Vatican II says this…We can justly consider that the future of humanity lies in the hands of those who are strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping. Could we ever find a better way to define the vision, the ultimate panorama of our work with young people in Marist Schools?

Reasons to live and reasons to hope!

What I have just provided to you is a snapshot of some of the foundational thinking and philosophy behind Polaris. What I can guarantee is that the development of this new way of presenting learning at Marcellin has been formed and informed by solid data, extensive research, whole school review and most importantly the deep understanding we have about the need’s hopes and aspirations of our young men.

Polaris is about aiming for something better. It is about understanding our young men as individual learners as we walk with them as they become men of character, competence and confidence as they navigate and explore future focussed thinking and learning as they prepare for life beyond school and the unknowns of tomorrows world.

Marcellin Champagnat was a man who was attentive to the signs of the times he lived in. In his message to the Marist community this year Tony Clarke said we needed to encourage our young people to see life as wonderful, that it is worth the struggle and fight to build a better world. That is our hope and our future. As Marist educators we face that future with audacity and hope.

I am are delighted to announce that last Saturday evening  Alex De Cesaris (Year 10) won the Chinese Bridge competition. He performed a three minute speech in Chinese, and a cultural performance of the diabolo.
Alex’s speech was about how he wanted to BE the bridge between China and Australia, and detailed how he made conversation with the shopkeeper in the school kiosk while he was on the VYLC program, which made the audience laugh.

As a result, he has won a month trip to China to compete world-wide in other competitions, and has also been interview by the Xinhua news agency, which will publish an article about him!

This is a great testament to all those who have supported our Chinese language program. From John DiNatale who had the original vision for the development of the VYLC program to Rose Chapple who has been such a champion of the program, to Brendan Corney whose ability to engage young men in the study of languages is unquestionable and inspiring. Finally, to the young man himself, Alex De Cesaris, who is not only highly talented but also passionate and dedicated to his own growth and development and of course to Alex’s family who are obviously wonderful supporters of their son. A great team effort!!!

Mark Murphy