Dear Members of the Whitefriars College Family,
Have I mentioned in this space yet how excited I am to be back at Whitefriars this year? Well, I am! I am excited and energised because life has returned to our school. There is a renewed enthusiasm and positivity that is contagious. No longer do we have to interact with each other from behind a mask. No more do we have to organise a zoom meeting just so we can meet with each other. No more do we need to cancel sport or plays or the myriad of other things which have steeped us all in disappointment and even a little despair these past two years. Now, of course there are times when we still need to engage in zoom meetings and mask wearing but they are much less frequent and do not impede us from doing all those other things that breath life and joy into our school. Allow me to provide you with a couple of examples of the events and activities from the past couple of weeks which have breathed life into Whitefriars.
Our newest students and their families assembled at Whitefriars over three weeks for our House Gathering masses. It was wonderful to meet all our new students, their parents and extended family members at this important rite of passage where we celebrate and induct students into their House. On this occasion I was struck by the strong bonds of friendship which already existed among a group of students who largely did not know each other a month ago. The event was also a great opportunity for the students to introduce their family to the House Leader and Pastoral Teacher who will walk with them in the years ahead. It was encouraging to see our parents’ building connections with each other and feeling at home here at Whitefriars.
Following several postponements and cancellations Whitefriars staged it first theatre production in over two years on 4 and 5 March. In my third year at the College this is the first play I have attended, which says much about all we have missed these past two years. Our cast of Whitefriars and Our Lady of Sion students presented a Shakespearian take on a traditional horror genre titled Romeo’s Land of the Dead. The cast and crew threw themselves into this project and it was clear that all were very happy to be back performing in front of an audience.
On Sunday 6 March, our College was finally able to open its gates for the enjoyment and education of the public as parents embarked on that all important process of choosing a school for their son at our annual open day. This day commenced with a Grandparents Morning where our Year 7 students took their Grand Parents and other important people in their lives, on a tour of our beautiful school. This was followed by our school tours for prospective families, commencing in our STEM theatre and moving out to the many state of the art facilities and Learning areas in our College. Our staff enjoyed meeting many of the largest number of families we have seen through our gates in some time. The real stars of the show, however, were our young men who clearly love their school and enjoy any opportunity to show it off to prospective families.
Last Sunday the beautiful grounds of Whitefriars played host to a round of the Orienteering Victoria Championships. This significant event came about through the hard work and vision of one of our dedicated Year 12 students, Callum White, himself a champion athlete in the field of Orienteering. Callum mapped the entire course which will now be used a resource in our Physical Education and Health Learning Area. Again, it was wonderful to be able to showcase the amazing natural beauty of our College and to provide a service to the Orienteering community.
Last Tuesday our College community came together to recognise the efforts and achievements of the Class of 2021 and other students from the Class of 2022 who completed Unit 3&4 subjects. It was great to be able to welcome these students and hear about the next stage of their journey. Below I have printed part of my address to these students and their parents on this important occasion of celebration…
I would like to take a moment to focus on the word courage, which I believe is particularly significant on a day when we celebrate the efforts and achievements of the students of Whitefriars. This word is used often when describing extraordinary and selfless efforts of soldiers in battle or those who have survived a natural disaster or to a lesser extent feats of daring on the sporting field. Today I would like to present some less celebrated examples of courage.
- The Carmelites who exemplified courageousness and foresight when they decided to build a school for boys in Donvale 61 years ago.
- I have observed acts of courage here in this place when a boy deliberately takes himself outside his comfort zone by performing on stage or participating in a sport he has never tried before not knowing if he will succeed.
- I also see courage in the simple act of a boy putting up his hand in class to ask a question or answer a question when he is uncertain whether he is correct.
- Mostly I see courage on display here when a boy makes the decision to give of his best in a field of academic endeavour knowing that his commitment could lead to failure.
Sometimes we may not be able to fully live up to the goals that we set ourselves, but it is not success or failure which is the mark of the person, it is having the courage to set our sights high and give it our best shot.
The Whitefriars College Vision statement, our statement of aspiration for the young men of Whitefriars says in part… “The College provides a Catholic Education for boys where excellence is valued, and all are challenged to achieve their best.” I can categorically say here this evening that each young man in this room has lived out and achieved this aspiration.
This evening we a privileged to have amongst us a group of great Whitefriars Boys who have truly lived out the ideal of courage. These young men have shown great courage in committing themselves to being the best version of themselves in their studies and to setting goals for themselves uncertain as to whether or not they would succeed. They are great examples to all members of this community, and I am personally grateful for the way they have provided themselves as models of what it means to be fine gentle men of Whitefriars.
I would like to congratulate each of you for the commitment you have shown, courage you have displayed and the example of you have been to all those who will follow you as fine gentle men of Whitefriars.
Mr Mark Murphy