Principal's Blog - 7 December 2017

03 Dec 2017

Dear members of the Marcellin College family,

As we come to the end of another exciting year at Marcellin I would like to thank all those of you who have offered generous support and encouragement to our community. One of the great assets of our College is the strength of the relationship which exists between parents and staff. It is a strength founded on mutual trust and respect. It is founded on a shared understanding of how best to support boys to grow to become fine young men. It is founded too on the realisation that as parents and school we acknowledge our human shortcomings and those of our boys. But we also acknowledge our single-minded desire to support our students to grow in faith, hope and love and to become Good Christians and Good citizens.

I am grateful to all of you who have contributed to the life of our College both in practical ways or simply by you encouraging words. I look forward to all that 2018 brings as together we continue to be co-creators of our wonderful school.

Below I have provided an extract from the speech I delivered at our recent House Graduation evening which celebrates our year and speaks of future possibilities:

On the 2nd of January 1817 a young priest called Marcellin Champagnat moved into a small house in a Village on the slopes of Mt Pilat in southern France called La Valla. He was joined by two other young men who would become the first Marist Brothers. Their aim was a simple one; to make Jesus known and loved to the young people of this poor small town and to educate them to take their place in the world as good Christians and good citizens. In their first year they educated 12 of the poorest children in the village. In their second year their little enterprise gathered momentum to the great satisfaction of the local parents who were attracted by their thoughtful and caring method of educating their children.

As their reputation as educators grew beyond their modest little village Marcellin began to send his growing band of brothers out to neighbouring hamlets to teach the young people there and thus the Marist institute was born.

These early days were not easy one for Marcellin and his brothers as they faced much adversity and opposition from government, other school systems and even the Church. But through perseverance, prayer, perspiration and a singled minded focus on bringing a knowledge of God and learning to young people in an atmosphere where all are loved and loved equally they prevailed. 

Fast forward 200 years and today over 700,000 young people are being educated and cared for throughout the world by over 40,000 brothers, teachers and staff. 

A couple of years ago I stood in this space and told you about some plans we had to transform our little Village on a hill into a more contemporary centre of learning. Since that time through perseverance, perspiration and a good deal of prayer we have completed the first stages of this conversion. The building of 6 new tennis courts, 48 new car parking spots, a new reception and administration hub and of course the magnificent Hermitage development have breathed new life into the physical structures and spaces of our village. Like Marcellin we have faced adversity and even some opposition to these endeavours and it is fitting this evening that I take a moment to thank you all for the support and trust you have shown towards our College during this period of construction.

Thank you to the staff who have had to adapt to a changing and often temporary working environment both in the classroom and in administration. Your positivity, adaptability and professionalism during this time has been inspiring and has enabled us to achieve our goal of continuing to provide a quality education and care to our boys in, at times, less than ideal circumstances.

Thank you to the parents who have demonstrated great faith and trust in us to continue to educate your sons in a changing environment. Most importantly, thank you for your encouragement, your interest and your understanding as we have worked in partnership to support our boys during this time.

I reserve a special thank you to the boys themselves who have shown great resilience, patience, cooperation and solidarity with their teachers and a generosity of spirit in maintaining their focus on learning amid some noise, a little dust and changing classroom environments. I am particularly appreciative of the respect and appreciation they have shown to some of the new, innovative and mature learning environments they have begun to explore and interact with. I look forward to working with our boys and our staff as together we realise the great potential for learning and interaction that these new spaces provide.

We know that developing state-of-the-art and creative learning spaces is only one element of many which go toward creating an optimum, contemporary learning environment. This year we have been engaged in reviewing many of the structures and processes of our College which will further enhance the educational offering of our school. Reviews of our College Resource centre, Careers Education, the provision of individual needs and learning structures will all contribute to keeping our great College at the forefront of educational innovation in this country. 

In this great year of celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Marist Institute it would be easy to rest on our laurels. While it is important to acknowledge and celebrate all that we have achieved, Saint Marcellin would be the first to tell us that the job is not done. In 2018 we will continue to plan for the next stages of our Master plan development which will focus on some of the spaces in between our building as well as reimagining the learning heart of our College – the Brother Placidus Resource Centre.

There are some external concerns which bring some uncertainty and even a little anxiety to our College.

Changes to federal government funding through the rollout of the Gonski 2.0 funding model along with the delivery of the State Governments North East Link present us with challenges which threaten our Village on a Hill. Together we must meet these challenges head on. It is in these times that we need to join in solidarity and make our collective voice heard in the local and political space to ensure the future viability and growth of our College. I know that together we can overcome these challenges just as Saint Marcellin did all those years ago.

May I wish you all a happy, holy, restful and safe Christmas and I look forward to working with you next year in support of the young men of Marcellin.  

Mark Murphy