Academic and Service Awards Night Speech - 31 October 2019
Welcome families, staff, students, special guests and friends of the College to our 2019 Academic and Service Awards night.
The St Edmund’s College Motto is Possunt quia posse videntur. Translated from Latin to English it reads, ‘They can because they see they can’.
It comes from the work of the Roman poet Virgil in his epic 7000-word poem, The Aenied, written over 2000 years ago between 29 and 19 BC. In it he tells the story of a Trojan soldier, Aeneas who, while travelling from Greece to Italy in search of a place to call home, becomes a hero of Rome.
Our motto – They can because they see they can – helps to explain how he became a hero. On his journey from Greece to Italy he learns about life by seeing and experiencing the world and the people he encounters. He sees with the eyes of his heart, head and hands. What he learns is that people have an enormous capacity to show both love and cruelty to each other. In his travels he sees that people endure hardship and joy. He experiences first hand times of celebration and despair. The complexities and vagaries of life are laid bare before him along the journey. These lessons become permanently etched in his mind and ultimately shape his attitude, outlook and identity.
Like the Trojan soldier the students receiving Academic and Service Awards tonight have been shaped by what they too have seen throughout the year with the eyes of their heart, head and hands. Their visions, experiences and encounters have inspired them to strive, to achieve and to succeed. They are the heroes of St Edmund’s College, showing by example what can be accomplished and earned through service to others and dedication to the discipline of learning.
Our College motto has been interpreted and reinterpreted since the College was founded in 1892 and has inspired and motivated students since. In recent years we have simplified it in three words – Eddies’ Men Can. In 2019 there have been many examples where the ‘Eddies’ men can’ attitude has been demonstrated for all to see.
Some of the highlights include:
We continued to see strong enrolment numbers in 2019 with 198 Year 7 students joining us for the start of the year. Enrolment projections next year show that the College will exceed 1060 students. This has been bolstered by our very successful Rookies’ Program where, for the first time, we fielded Rookies’ teams in swimming, band and the AIC Year 6 Rugby League competition in Term 3. We are seeing that enrolment growth is anticipated to exceed 1100 in the not too distant future.
Other highlights see the development of a new College Master Plan that includes the completion of the Edmund Rice Building Refurbishment and Extension and the construction of an Open Learning Centre in 2020. Future projects on the near horizon include a Student Wellbeing Centre, Creative Arts Centre and major refurbishment of the College Hall (Sports Centre). In 2019 we continued to improve our grounds and facilities with the installation of more shade areas, seating, landscaping and gardens. We are in the process of finalising plans for the College Hall amenities to undergo a major make-over which we hope will be completed before the start of next year.
On Tuesday we celebrated the highlights of our Sporting and Cultural achievements for 2019, further underlining our commitment to the holistic education of our students. St Edmund’s College was proud to be the host school of Associated Independent Colleges (AIC) in 2019 as well. The Performing Arts continues to be an area of growth for the College where our students have been able to showcase their prodigious talents on multiple stages. Thank you to Assistant Principal Activities, Mr Wayne Warren; Director of Sport, Mr Max Luxton and Director of Music, Mr Tim Kirkwood, for the tremendous work they do to advance these sporting and cultural opportunities.
Learning and Teaching has been foremost in our strategic intentions for 2019. We saw the appointment of two new leadership positions with the Director of Middle School and Director of Senior School. Thank you to Mr Luis Marin and Mr Ben Litchfield who have performed these roles with distinction.
For our Years 7, 8 and 9 students, our emphasis has been on goal setting, developing a growth mindset, improving writing and helping the boys to become independent learners. In Years 10, 11 and 12 we have had a major focus on the roll out of the new Senior Assessment under the ATAR system and ensuring that our Year 12 students finish strongly in the last year under the OP system. I acknowledge our Assistant Principal Learning and Teaching, Ms Carmel James, and our Heads of Department for their outstanding work in driving our Learning and Teaching agenda this year.
I take this opportunity to wish our Year 12 students well for the final weeks and thank them for the chapter that they have added to the St Edmund’s College story under the leadership of their Captains: Nick (Rumpf), Lachlan (Stacey), Ben (Thomas) and Logan (Atkins). Their theme ‘Own It’ has helped all students to achieve this year in their studies and in support of each other.
Another highlight this year saw the launch of the Responsible Thinking Classroom from Term 2 onwards. Thank you to our Responsible Thinking Classroom Coordinator, Jason Randall and Responsible Thinking Classroom School Officer, Lyn Taylor for the great work they have done to establish this new service. For the young men who have been referred to the RTC, I hope it has helped you to realise the power you have in making a positive impact on your learning.
Our Student Formation Program - Eddies’ Men Can or EMC – was further developed in 2019 under the leadership of our House Deans who have led the way in nurturing the pastoral wellbeing of our young men throughout the year. They have been ably supported by our Counsellors and our Assistant Principal Students, Mr Shannon Lee.
In 2019 we conducted a major review of our Learning Support which resulted in further resourcing and improvements in Inclusive Education. This included the creation of a new position: Director of Inclusive Education, which I am pleased to announce has been filled by Ms Carmel Seng. Carmel has provided excellent service and leadership in support of the diverse learning needs of our students. Another outcome of the review is the appointment of an additional Inclusive Education Teacher next year. This will mean the College will have a dedicated Inclusive Education Teacher for each of Years 7, 8 and 9, which will be a welcome, enhanced learning support service for students, staff and families.
In Mission and Identity, the College continued to find ways to grow the hearts of our young men. Our first steps towards developing a Reconciliation Action Plan has been supported by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. We are blessed to have Uncle Joe Kirk as our Elder and each of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students who add to the cultural richness and ethnic diversity that is Eddies. Other notable initiatives include the Head to Heart Camp, collaboration with our EREA brother school Iggy Park in Townsville, Vinnies Sleep Out, working with Blind Eye Ministries, DanDaLion and the establishment of a staff weekly morning prayer in the Foundation Room.
Along with our liturgical celebrations throughout the year, our efforts to cultivate the interior life of the students has been a feature of 2019. Perhaps a tangible example of how this is expressed is through service learning opportunities offered throughout the year. This year our students have clocked up over 2000 aggregate hours towards service to the College and the Ipswich community. That is equivalent to a year of full-time work. Outstanding. I thank our Assistant Principal Identity, Mrs Marysia Rice for her innovative leadership this year.
St Edmund’s is the chosen secondary College for many Defence families. This year we saw our highest number of Defence Force enrolments ever with close to fifty students. Recently they visited the 6th Squadron at Amberley, who share a Wolf as their mascot, underlying the strong link that exists between the College and our Defence Force families. Thank you to our Defence School Mentor, Ms Kylie Biddle who joined us this year and has done a fantastic job.
St Edmund’s College is proud to serve the Ipswich Community and the surrounding region. We are supported by Edmund Rice Education Australia, St Mary’s Parish, our College Board, College Foundation, Old Boys’ Association and the Parents and Friends Association. We are also well supported by our local State Members, Jim Madden and Jennifer Howard and our Federal Member, Shayne Neumann, and I thank them for their presence here tonight.
On a personal note I would like to take this opportunity to say farewell. This will be my final year as Principal of the College and most likely my final Principalship. It has been an honour to serve the St Edmund’s College community as your Principal. Next year I will take up a role as EREA Regional Director Southern Region which will see me located in Melbourne. Ipswich will still be home for me most weekends, so you may see me around some Saturdays. I’ll be the bloke in the Raiders jacket.
I would also like to thank and acknowledge the College Leadership Team with whom I work most closely and who have supported me over the past three years with honour, integrity and good humour.
In conclusion, for me the real joy that has made 2019 a year to remember has been seeing the effort, commitment and achievement of our young Eddies’ men. Tonight, we acknowledge students who have excelled academically and in the expression of their leadership through service to others. We celebrate their accomplishments and rightly hold them up in the spotlight because they, like the Trojan soldier in Virgil’s poem, are heroes to us.
With our Christian faith tradition and our school ethos founded on the life of Blessed Edmund Rice, who was a passionate educator and champion for young people, may we all see with our hearts, head and our hands and carry on his legacy to - Live Jesus in our hearts - Forever.
Diarmuid O’Riordan, Principal