The final week of the academic year, and particularly the occasion of Speech Day, gives cause to step back and reflect on all that has transpired across a busy year. There is much to process, and even more to be thankful for. At the outset is the breadth and the richness of an engaging and integrated educational program, one that unambiguously promotes Christian values based upon service and generosity. This has been embraced and reflected in the number of boys who committed to immersions and service programs, undertaken in full accord with a spirit of ‘learning to serve and serving to learn’. The personal growth that resulted for all who participated was profound, and will continue to resonate over the coming years. This is a distinguishing feature of Jesuit education and one that resides at the very heartland of Riverview’s priorities, both now and into the future. For the many gifts and endowments that find daily expression in the College, I extend a statement of sincere thanks and gratitude to the pioneers who established the foundations of the educational program that continues to inform and shape the experiences and affairs of the boys.
2018, like the better part of the 140 years that preceded it, had its own share of highlights. The following looms as particularly noteworthy as we look back:
- The best HSC results in the College’s history, as measured by the number of Band 6 and E4 grades. This was reflected in the ATAR scores which saw more boys than ever move into the top 10% of the nation. This also saw an improvement of 15% in the scores at the lower end of the scale from those boys who registered significant ‘value add’ through the teaching and learning arrangements;
- The inauguration of a new award that recognises outstanding service among our alumni: the Patrick Rodgers Memorial Award;
- The Head of the River rowing victory, after 43 years in the wilderness;
- Three GPS Premierships, in Soccer, Cricket and AFL, respectively;
- The first National Winner in Senior Division of The Rostrum Voice of Youth;
- First in the state in Mock Trial, which involved 165 schools in the competition over many months;
- The opening of the Therry Learning Centre, after two years of planning and a further two years of construction.
These are particularly meritorious achievements and ones that the boys and the school should feel justly proud of.
Congratulations are extended to the boys who were awarded prizes at Speech Day this morning. Awards for Academic Merit, Year Level Duces and Special Acknowledgements were presented in the Ramsay Hall, as they have been since the College opened its doors back in the 19th century. The recipients of the awards at respective year levels are to be commended, not only for the levels of excellence that they have achieved in their chosen fields, but for the commitment and dedication that has enabled them to secure such proficiency.
Over the break there is much under way. Approximately 60 boys will be engaged in immersions to India, Nepal and Cambodia, predominantly in schools, orphanages and aged care facilities, working closely to support children and residents and equally, to learn a great deal from them. The boys who are involved in the French program will spend five weeks in Europe developing their proficiency of the language and developing a cultural appreciation of life both in provincial towns and in Paris. Next week the Ignatian Children’s Camp will see 36 children with severe disabilities cared for by graduates from St Ignatius’, Monte Sant’ Angelo and Loreto. These young people give ‘without counting the cost’, as they surrender themselves to care for those entrusted to them. As an observer of this program over the last five years, it has been both humbling and uplifting to witness.
At the end of any year we farewell a number of staff who have sought promotion positions and alternative professional experiences, some in other schools and some in different occupational lines. From senior staff such as Greg Conlon, Matt Smith and Kate Moore, who have been with the College for many years, to those who have joined over more recent times, on behalf of the school community I wish them well for what lies ahead and thank them sincerely for the contribution they have made to the staff and students of the College.
Very best wishes for a happy, safe and restful Christmas. May it be a time when the joy of family abounds, and may it also be a time when gratitude for the many blessings and endowments of life come to the fore. Two thousand years ago a child was born in a humble stable in Bethlehem, one who was to change the course of humanity through Christendom. May the spirit of Christ’s life and the message of the gospel ring loud, as we appreciate what we have and at the same time, are mindful of the hardships and difficulties encountered by others, be they on our own doorstop or in the many conflict riven centres across the world.
It is with enormous confidence and optimism that I look forward to the resumption of classes and all that beckons in 2019.