Principal's Blog - 8 March 2018

04 Mar 2018

Dear members of the Marcellin College Family,

I remember well when my eldest son commenced secondary school. As parents, my wife and I felt both excitement and a little trepidation as we sent him off on his first day to this new and much larger educational environment. We wondered whether he would fit in, find friends, have teachers who would know and care for him, experience success in the classroom and ultimately fulfil his potential. There were times in those first weeks and months which were not easy as he attempted to navigate his way through the new challenges which secondary school presents; complex timetables, moving from room to room, different teachers, new subjects and a much larger and more daunting school environment to name a few.

As parents we were uncertain as to how best to support our son as he made this transition. How much should we step in? How many questions should we ask at the end of each day? When is the appropriate moment to contact the school with any concerns we may have had? At the same time, we admired our son’s resilience, resourcefulness and positive attitude as he solved many of his own problems and gained in confidence and maturity. I think he handled the transition a little better than we did.

I reflected on these times last week as I drove to Lake Dewar YMCA camp at Myrniong to visit our students on Year 7 camp. I am sure that there were many parents of these boys who were at home wondering how their sons were going. Perhaps a little concerned about whether they were happy, finding new friend and enjoying the activities. What I found when I arrived were a group of boys fully engaged in all the camp had to offer.

I had lunch with the boys from one group and I asked them about their experience. Below I have paraphrased some of their responses:

  • The food has been good – I liked the Hamburgers the best.
  • I loved the stand-up paddle boarding. I haven’t done it before, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
  • I have never slept in a tent before, so I was a bit nervous. It was cool!
  • I was worried about the flying fox and I nearly didn’t do it. But then I thought I would. So I went first so I didn’t have time to think about it too much.
  • I found some new friends in my activity group, they were nice boys.
  • The teachers have been nice, they looked after me.
  • I don’t like camps very much, but this was ok.

Later in the day I wandered over to the flying fox. I understood my friend’s trepidation! But like him I thought I better give it a go and with the encouragement of the boys I stepped off the edge. I have to admit to being a bit nervous, but it was fun!

The Marcellin College Year 7 camp is a very important part of the transition of each student to our school. It is not so much the activities that the boys will remember as much as the new friends they have made, the confidence in themselves that has grown, the relationships with their teachers which has been enhanced and the connectedness to school which has increased. Having said that, the level of enjoyment experienced by each boy will vary. Some will have embraced it all while others many not have had the same positive experience. I know though that whatever their experience, this camp will have contributed in some small way to their growth as young men.

I am very grateful to the staff of our College who actively and positively engage in this significant activity. They all take very seriously their role in acting in loco parentis and I thank them all for the time, care, energy and expertise in ensuring our boys were well supported throughout the week.

I would particularly like to thank our highly skilled and competent Coordinator of Outdoor Education, Brent Coviello for his incredible efforts in providing a safe, fun and highly worthwhile experience for our boys. Thanks also to Head of Junior School, Pauline Bellofiore and Transition Coordinator, Liam Parker who stayed at the camp for the entire week. I would also like to pay tribute the many Old Collegians who over the past two weeks have supported both our Senior Retreats and Year 7 camps. These young men have added a new dimension and perspective to these camps and to the young men they have supported. It is a hallmark of the health of our school community that so many of our former students wish to come back and support our retreat and camps programs, providing our students with an even richer experience.

Mark Murphy