From the Principal – Providing experiences where boys shine

Dear members of the Whitefriars College Family,

At times, I believe, boys receive more than their fair share of “bad press”. Granted, as with all of us, there are occasions when it is warranted. However, there is often little in the way of positive commentary about young men to balance things out.

I am blessed to witness young men doing amazing things every day. Please allow me to offer some positive press about the young men of Whitefriars College.

Worlds Greatest Shave

Recently, one of our wonderful Year 12 young men Alex Macrokanis asked if the College would support his involvement in the Leukaemia Foundation’s major fundraising initiative – World’s Great Shave. Alex had a close friend who had contracted this awful disease and wished to demonstrate his support and solidarity with his friend by shaving his head for the cause and raising some much-needed funds to achieve zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035.

As Whitefriars boys and staff tend to do, they got around this generous young man, and within days several other boys and staff had signed up to have their heads shaved as well. Then our Senior Student Leaders came forward and with the support of the College organised a BBQ lunch for the entire school complete with musical entertainment which morphed this fundraiser into a community event and a celebration of all that is good about Whitefriars. The outcome of this day was that the boys’ raised over $13,000 for the Leukaemia Foundation. More than this, the day provided a clear demonstration of the strength of the Whitefriars community. From the thoughtful idea of one student and the unconditional support of his peers and staff something quite incredible took place which exemplified the generosity, solidarity and good heartedness of Whitefriars boys.

House swimming

Two weeks ago, our College came together for the annual Whitefriars House Swimming Carnival. Whitefriars boys are very parochial when it comes to their House. Ask any boy and he will tell you, without hesitation ‘his’ is the best House! There are so many wonderful attributes on display at these House days. The way students participate in support of their House. The enthusiasm and care provided by our Senior Student Leaders in support of the Junior students. The applause and encouragement which is often saved for those who are struggling to complete the race. The dedication of House Leaders and staff who bring their boys together and model what House spirit is all about. Our sport staff whose dedication and hard work ensures that the experience of all is a happy and positive one.

Year 12 Valedictory

Over the past two years our students have missed so many of the events, activities and experiences that bring them joy and are the stuff of which life-long memories are made. In this vein I feel particularly for the Class of 2021 who completed their final two years of secondary school under the most difficult circumstances any of us have experienced in education. For these students, instead of finishing on a high with all the rituals and rites of passage afforded to graduating students, their final days of school tended to just peter out. I was very pleased therefore, that due to the amazing efforts of our dedicated staff, we were able to present a slightly belated Valedictory Dinner for the Class of 2021 and their families at the Sofitel Melbourne a couple of weeks ago. It was uplifting to see our boys and their families on this occasion and catch up on what they were doing now. The sense of joy and thanksgiving in the room was palpable and it was encouraging to hear boys speak with gratitude about all those who had supported them through these two very tough years.

Experience Whitefriars day,

Recently too, our College played host to a couple of hundred Grade 3 and 4 children from our local Catholic Primary schools at our annual Experience Whitefriars Day. These days provide an opportunity for primary age children to experience life in a secondary school setting. Throughout the day students experienced Art classes, Music concerts and other classes in Physical Education, Religious Education and Humanities, not to mention Science where students were involved in Environmental Studies and Chemistry experiments. Again, this was a day where our magnificent boys took centre stage, guiding their young charges around the school, answering their questions, and helping them to know more about secondary school life. There was a certain gentleness and attentiveness about these young men as supported their younger counterparts to discover more about the next step in their education.

Swimming Carnival

Last week saw our College swimming team participate in the annual Associated Catholic Colleges Swimming Championships at MSAC. Whitefriars swimmers displayed wonderful skill, determination and discipline in the water and there were many ‘Personal Bests’ throughout the day. Of great significance to me was the way our students behaved out of the water. I observed older, more experienced students supporting the younger boys prior to their races. I witnessed boys cheering and expressing great joy and generous encouragement at the achievements of each other. I viewed a group of young men who understood the value of team in what is often seen as an individual pursuit.

This is what being part of a Catholic School in the Carmelite tradition is about. Providing experiences where boys can shine. Where they can test themselves and demonstrate empathy and concern for others. Where they can be generous with their time and talent. Where they can display gratitude for those who have supported them or selflessly reach out to those in greatest need in our community. Where they can respect the inherent dignity of others and help each other to feel respected, supported and at home in this place.

This is the type of press I believe our boys deserve. We know they aren’t perfect, but we know too, that each of them has a good heart and given the right circumstances and opportunities they can thrive and grow to become good gentle men.

Mr Mark Murphy