On 6 June, 25 leaders from Good Samaritan schools and Good Samaritan Education visited our College for the beginning of the annual Assistant Principals Conference. We commenced our conference with an acknowledgement of country presented by Joeann Tanginoa, a welcome dance presented by some girls from our Pacific communities and an opening address delivered by our College Captain, Natalie M. The following is her speech.
Natalie M - College Captain
"I’m very pleased to have been asked to share my thoughts with you about the benefits of attending a Benedictine school. In an effort to best explain my experience I’ll take you on a journey back to my first day of high school in 2013.
At the start of that day I clearly recall Mrs Lennox telling the current Year 12 students that this was the moment we could choose to leave our ‘past self’ behind and invent our ‘future self’. As a scared and shy Year 7 student, I didn’t envision that in almost six years’ time, as a result of being nurtured in an environment based on our 11 Benedictine values, I would feel safe enough to come out of my shell and get involved in all aspects of my school community. In addition to my own growth in confidence, I’ve had the good fortune to watch our cohort grow too, each of us discovering the differences that make us unique. Our range of diversities, encouraged and celebrated by all members of our College community, are currently driving our interests and our plans for when we once again leave our ‘past self’ behind and embark on the next chapter of our ‘future self’.
The journey we have taken during these past six years at St Patrick’s College has been made easier to navigate due to the annual celebration of a chosen Benedictine value. The highlighting of values is designed to help us strive to accomplish the positive changes each value can bring to our College community. This year we are celebrating Communio through the lense of community, diversity and humility, and as a leadership team, we have tried to celebrate the diversity within our school as a means to achieve the benefits of this Benedictine value.
As College Captain and member of the Year 12 leadership team, I have experienced many different school community initiatives and opportunities that require us to simultaneously negotiate the challenges of communio, and exercise the need for humility. One such opportunity was when the leadership team made it our goal for 2018 to create an atmosphere of trust and hospitality in our effort to encourage and support other year groups to participate in as many co-curricular activities as possible.
Throughout this, and other initiatives that we have engaged in during our journey at St Pat’s, we have been comforted by the knowledge that the values underpinned by St Benedict will guide us in achieving our goals; goals that ultimately will benefit the College and enrich the school experience for all students, in all grades.
The celebration of this year’s chosen Benedictine value places an emphasis on the teamwork needed to achieve Communio and the unselfishness required to show humility. Both requirements are in keeping with our Christ-centred community which was formed in the Good Samaritan tradition. In fact, teamwork and unselfishness are integral in our mission statement of empowering young women to be independent and resilient lifelong learners. As Year 12 students, we can often become dependent on teachers and other significant people we turn to for support. Rather than accepting such help without gratitude, we have learnt to value the collaborated time and effort spent on our education. In learning to become more open to constructive criticism, a concept we all found quite difficult to swallow at first, we now accept that the measure of our lives is not found in ourselves alone. Our teachers and our parents have modelled to us the importance of the giving of oneself for the good of others. We humbly accept that there is always room to do better, room for us to grow, and room for us to learn and overcome new challenges.
Through the Benedictine education we are taught at St Pat’s, and the differentiated way in which we are taught it, I have learnt the value of social justice; something I’m sure I would not be as confident to speak about had I attended another school. The acceptance of diversity amongst teachers and students alike, both in and out of the classroom, exemplifies our community’s sense of mission. Whilst, I myself, may not have the face of diversity, at St Pat’s we have a vibrant and inclusive faith community, a strong passion for the creative and performing arts, and pride in the celebration of our Indigenous and multicultural communities.
This emphasis on diversity and a celebration of such differences was something I had not been as aware of, or encouraged to acknowledge and celebrate, prior to being introduced to the Benedictine ethos. The acknowledgement and celebration of diversity that the College promotes, has been a prominent part of my individual growth, and is something I hope to pursue when my journey here ends in a few months. Without being exposed to the equality brought about by diversity, I know I would not have found such fulfillment and sense of purpose for the ‘future self’ waiting for me outside of these gates. A ‘future self’ that will leave me armed with another valuable part of our mission statement, and that is to be actively engaged in working for a just society.
As a result of my Benedictine schooling, I, and indeed every girl at St Pat’s, have found that they can, and will, be accepted and celebrated for the person she is. Furthermore, our nurturing community has provided us with the knowledge that within our gates, no matter what, the strong will always have something to strive for, and the weak will never have anything to run from".
Natalie M - College Captain
Cecely McGeachie - Assistant Principal-Learning and Teaching