Welcome back to all families and a huge welcome to new families. We have had strong growth over the year - we now have 876 students across P-12. That's 408 in Senior and 468 in Junior. The feeling across the College is positive and vibrant. It is wonderful to have everyone here.
I was living in the United Kingdom when Joe Strummer died. It was just before Christmas in 2002. Joe Strummer was singer/songwriter for punk band The Clash in the 70s and 80s, and he was finding real fame and relevance again as a solo artist. I had seen him perform in London that year which was a real bucket list moment for me.
Shortly after he died, it was announced through various networks that fans of Joe Strummer could have a tree planted in his memory on the Isle of Skye. For those less familiar with UK geography, you cannot get much further from west London where The Clash emerged in 1976 to the western Highlands of Scotland. That was the offer though and I jumped at the chance to invest in the planting of native trees in this remote Scottish glen.
The survival of those trees (they are still there) is really impressive. Skye experiences long winters with very little sunlight, so the growing season is truncated. 100 mile per hour winds can hit the island filled with misty salt water. Deer roam wild and eat saplings before they have a chance to lay roots. Now, twenty years later, 'Rebel's Wood' (as it is known) is spreading its own saplings, which are in turn being taken to other parts of Britain to celebrate Joe's life and legacy.
We focus on being good descendants. That is, how are we behaving NOW, how can we be rewarded NOW, what benefits we can receive NOW. The attention on the present is to the detriment of the future - are we being good ancestors? The principle of planting a tree that you will never see grow is so hard to conceptualize and even harder to celebrate - but thinking more about that could provide insights to greater self care, compassion for others, concern for our broader future and attention to the importance of community.
All education is about nurturing for the future despite obstacles and challenges, and authentically planting seeds that will be fruitful trees long after the soil is smoothed over. As a Catholic College, we must celebrate tradition and legacy as seriously as we anticipate and plan for a vibrant future. As we get older, bigger, and with a genuine P-12 culture and structure, this becomes ever more important.
Mr Chris Gabbett