Tuesday 14 August 2018

On the Front Line

The College’s front line: Kate Lester (Senior Campus) and Bruna Smith (Regis Campus)

Each and every week, hundreds of phone calls are answered on the Regis and the Senior Campus. Behind the greeting is the ebullient, effervescent, ever-cheerful and ever-helpful Kate Lester and Bruna Smith who respond to all manner of inquiries from lost football boots to urgent dentist appointments, and sometimes distressed calls related to sickness and loss. Not infrequently it is the media who have picked up on some newsworthy snippet, or, a disgruntled neighbour with a complaint about parking on a day that sees the community flock to the College for a school event. Our front line is unflappable and ever responsive to the array of demands that come from parents, Old Boys, past parents, Jesuit agencies from across Australia and throughout the world and strange as it may seem, a few dozen wrong numbers each day! This wonderful service is sometimes taken for granted; every so often we need to step back and applaud the wonderful work of these two foot-soldiers who are at the vanguard of the College’s daily operations. They have a precedent. St Alphonsus Rodriguez SJ was the doorkeeper for a school in 16th Century Spain. He is honoured for the way he set himself free of ego; he found meaning and fulfilment in all tasks accorded him and was zealous enough to give more than was demanded. In the spirit of the magis, early biographies describe Rodriguez as a superhero who triumphed over the “humdrum and the tedium” for 46 years, who demonstrated uncompromising dedication to his work and served the community with great integrity and zeal. He was regarded as “a multi-tasker [who] attended courteously to all visitors and responded to their many needs.”  Saint Ignatius’ College is indeed fortunate, in the spirit of St Alphonsus, to have some modern day heroes on the front line, and to Kate and Bruna, along with the army of Maintenance, Support and Administrative staff, I extend a very sincere statement of gratitude for the humility, the patience and the generosity that you provide to the school community on a daily basis.

The front line of Australia’s prosperity throughout its history has been the rural community and farming; one which we need to support with concerted dedication as the grip of the drought tightens. Over the past week I have had a number of discussions with senior personnel at St Joseph’s College in preparation for the clash next week, one which goes back to the foundational years of both Colleges. This time there will be a higher order purpose that responds to the needs of the boarding and farming communities whose daily reality becomes more challenging and distressing. There will be much information over the course of the coming week about how this gala event will not only commemorate its truly great history, but will on a multiplicity of levels promote and respond to the hardships that are being faced on the land. Some of the preliminary details are attached, so any early preparations to assist would be greatly appreciated. Please be mindful of the promotional campaign that will follow and offer whatever support – financial or moral – that can assist our communities who toil amid the aridity of a barren landscape and who are struggling through one of the most widespread droughts in modern times.

On Wednesday at the School Assembly, students who have been elected to positions of leadership for 2019 were announced to the College. It is always a poignant moment, as the voting for the School Captain and Executive Leadership, House Captains and Vice Captains, Proctors and Prefects are made known to the school community. Congratulations are extended to Louis Callanan as College Captain, Oliver Mulhearn and James Garnsey as Vice Captains, and all who have been nominated to take up the cause of leadership in their respective roles. These young men respond to the call of service and in so doing give public witness to the values of their spirituality and their tradition. They are called upon to receive the torch of leadership, to hold it high and to burn it brightly, so that the exemplary standard that has been set by their predecessors is strengthened over the coming year. We wish our young men well as they progressively assume their responsibilities and make their own imprint on the College over the course of their graduation year.

Fun at the HSC Drama Showcase | Backstage with the cast of Mary Poppins Jr

At this time of the term there are many demonstrations of the calibre of the Creative and Performing Arts, be they associated with the teaching and learning or co-curricular program:

  • The Art Exhibition of the HSC was held in the Memorial Hall on Friday evening, and what a showcase of talent, ambition, creativity and expertise was evident on the night. Old Boy John Sheehan (OR 2002), a First Class Honours Graduate in Law, an investment banker and also one of Australia’s acclaimed young artists, formally opened the event. He spoke not only of his background and passion for art and artistic endeavour, but at length of the quality of the works which so many from the school community came to see and to commend. Special thanks to Ms Julie Stevens and the Art Department, for coordinating such a wonderful exhibition, and to the boys whose pride in their work was so palpable on the evening.
  • On Sunday evening the HSC Drama Showcase profiled the outstanding work of the boys, a number of whom were examined for their group productions. The versatility, energy and the passion that was part of public performance under the crucible of the examiners was exceptional, as was the level of sophistication and poise these young men have achieved in their craft. For those who attended, this was something to behold.
  • Mary Poppins Jr has landed, and with it the consummation of the demanding rehearsal schedule that has been in effect since the early weeks of the year. Those who had the fortune to witness the Opening Night were so highly impressed with each and every aspect of the production, from singing, dancing and acting to all of those less visible elements that make such an extravagant undertaking have such impact on the night. Lighting, props, costuming, stage direction and choreography were magnificent and to each and all who participated in this magnificent show, congratulations. Those who have yet to procure tickets are encouraged to do so for the quality of this truly outstanding production is one not to miss.

Dr Paul Hine