The 2020 school year is well under way with all students getting into the rhythm of the day fairly quickly. The Year 7s (all 263 of them) have settled in well, thanks to the support of their Year 12 Buddies, their Home Room Leaders and their House Leaders.
The Year 9s and 10s have made an easy transition onto their new Campus', especially those undertaking the new Retreat Program at Mazzarello. And the 11s and 12s have begun well, focused on the challenges ahead of them as they complete their VCE and VCAL pathways. We are also thankful to the many students in Years 8-10 who have chosen to commence their studies at Salesian College this year; they too have made an impressive start.
Our first day back at school coincided with the Feast Day of St John Bosco, founder of the Salesians, co-founder of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and father of the present day Salesian ‘family’, which has over 400,000 members worldwide.
A lesser-known part of St John Bosco’s life was his experience of visionary dreams. He records his first dream at the age of nine. In it, he saw a group of poor boys blaspheming. Filled with the zeal of childhood faith, he ran to attack the boys when a man appeared ‘nobly attired, with a manly and imposing bearing’. The man stopped him, saying: ‘You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness.’
This dream was to have a ‘profound impression for the rest of his life’, and informed much of what Pope Francis called his ‘pedagogy of loving kindness’. Having been a young beggar himself, Don Bosco had a special understanding and sympathy for outcast boys. For him, ‘reason, religion and kindness’ were the pillars of education. He wrote to his teachers: ‘Without confidence and love, there can be no true education. If you want to be loved … you must love yourselves, and make your children feel that you love them.’
This same sense of loving-kindness continues to inform the Salesian mission to this day. As many Salesians live and work in poorer communities, they are often involved in relief and aid projects. A recent example of this is the support given to the victims of the devastating floods in Myanmar (Burma), which began in early July 2019. The 10 Salesian communities in the area rallied together to provide emergency relief.
How fortunate we are to be the beneficiaries of the Salesian charism of 'loving kindness' handed down from St John Bosco to our own Salesian community here in Sunbury.
Our first School Assembly for the year last Friday was an opportunity to congratulate our high achieving Year 12 graduates of 2019. Awards were presented for all 80+ and 90+ ATAR scores, as well as all 40+ study scores. Excellence Awards were also presented to Edith Spiers [College Dux with an ATAR of 99.55] and to Hannah Valenti [VCAL Senior Excellence Award].
These students were able to their turn potential into success by setting realistic goals and persistently working towards achieving these. There are times when each of us fall into the trap of thinking that ‘near enough is good enough’ and are prepared to settle for second best. To achieve excellence and to realize their best, students must persevere and continue to set their sights high with the support of parents, teachers and friends.
As we build upon our great start to the year, I encourage all students to strive to be their very best in everything they do throughout 2020. You can read Edith's speech by clicking here and Hannah's speech by clicking here.
As part of our assembly, we also took the opportunity to welcome all those new to the College – students and teachers alike – and to wish them well on
their journey of learning and faith with us.