Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,
Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with several young primary school students and their parents at one of the many College tours we run during the school day here at Whitefriars. One young man was telling me how excited he was to come to secondary school because of the many new and exciting opportunities our College provides both in and outside the classroom. I asked this young boy what activities he had heard of that he was most excited about participating in on his arrival at secondary school. Without hesitation the boy responded – “debating.” I commented to this quiet young man that this was an excellent choice, firstly, because he would develop especially important lifelong skills such as clear thinking, problem solving, collaboration, cooperation and teamwork. Secondly, and equally importantly I guaranteed my young friend that through involvement in debating he would also find some lifelong mates!
Having been to many student debates over the years I can make this statement with great confidence. There is something special about the relationship that boys develop with each other in a debating team. It could have something to do with the need to work as a team and to rely on one another in the cut and thrust of a challenging debate or because of the hours spent developing a shared understanding of a debate topic and strategy. The secret lay more in the fact that debaters are kindred spirits and like-minded souls. Boys who join debating teams tell me that it is the place they “find their people”.
I was privileged last week to attend the final round of the Debaters Association of Victoria (DAV) debating competition where I witnessed this relationship in action. Whitefriars has a long a distinguished history of high-quality debating and debaters and not without a strong measure of success. It was clear through watching the Whitefriars boys’ debate that not only were they excellent at their craft, but they also enjoyed a close bond with their fellow debaters in an atmosphere of serious competition mixed with a great deal of fun and enjoyment. I particularly loved the way that boys would stay around after their own debate had finished to cheer on and encourage their mates in other debating teams.
In speaking with several of our debaters on the night I asked some of them what they enjoyed most about being a Whitefriars debater. They all suggested that apart from the challenge of forming a strong, cohesive and thoughtful argument they loved working together as part of a team.
I have seen this same sense of camaraderie amongst our boys who participate together in bands and choirs in the performing arts, or boys who have joined one of the many clubs we offer here in the College library at lunchtime. It is because through participation in these activities they find their people, their like-minded souls, their mates!
My challenge to the boys of Whitefriars is two-fold. Firstly, if you are struggling to find your people try something new. Secondly, if you have found the activity that you love, encourage others to join you. I promise you that not only will your connection to school grow, but you will also find friends that could last you a lifetime.
I would like to congratulate Luca Phelan, who has been selected to as a member of the Victorian Under 15 All Schools Country team competing in the National All Schools Cross Country Championships to held in Canberra late August. Luca has demonstrated great discipline and dedication in this gruelling sport and has been a committed and supportive member of the Whitefriars Cross Country team. Well done Luca!
Mr Mark Murphy