Principal's Address - Awards Presentation Night
Welcome to the Mary MacKillop Catholic College 2019 celebration evening.
A particular welcome to Drs Pat Coughlan and Ken Avenell from the Toowoomba Catholic Schools Office. To Mrs McVeigh who is representing her husband John McVeigh, Federal MP for Groome. To Mrs Leanne Andrews, President of the Parents and Friends, and to Mr Shayne Cleary, Chair of the College Board. To Father Brian Noonan our College and Parish Priest and Mrs Maree Coughlan, Toowoomba Catholic Schools Reading Improvement Coach.
I want to start by thanking the staff at Mary MacKillop Catholic College. We acknowledge that the students we are celebrating tonight would not be approaching the stage to receive a trophy without the efforts, hard work and positive impact of their teachers, teacher aides and school leaders. Teaching in a Catholic school is a vocation of deep significance. More than just a vocation – it is also really hard work! I think that the people who think it is not hard work have probably never had to corral 25 different children into one place and nuance them towards a learning goal. Our teachers do it well, they do it with love, and as Principal I very much appreciate that they are the pistons of this whole enterprise.
I would also like to thank all the colleagues who have made this evening possible – the staff who have cajoled performers into musical and drama events, as well as the outstanding organisers who have collated points, ordered trophies, cleaned, polished and decorated this room.
In our community, we aspire to the higher functions of the Catholic school. It is an expression of communion, ethos and mission –these are the benchmarks of our identity and distinctiveness. Our school has a core role as an expression of the teaching, educating church, and seeks to develop a further distinctiveness through ethos and prayer. We also prioritise the importance of mission; highlighted by the role the Catholic school has in manifesting not just the ‘teaching’ of young people but encouraging a genuine discernment where the learner discovers the ultimate end of their journey and the ultimate good of society. It is a big endeavour, and we are proud to commit to it.
I am very proud of our collective achievements this year. When a parent wrote to me recently and thanked us for our progress in building a P-12 College, my response was that, ‘we are seeing green shoots’. I do honestly think that it is where we are. The signs are emerging around us of a special P-12 community, with an incredibly humble, giving culture, passionate participation in extracurricular activities and aspirations for academic excellence. We are confidently and assiduously preparing our first year 12 class, and our work in mentoring and transition this year will mean the new year seven will be exceptionally well prepared when they reach that benchmark. This year, it seemed that every couple of weeks, we were celebrating a victory of some sort – Netball, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Chess, Debating, the STEM cup, Athletics, Touch Football, Soccer – and this is to say nothing of the horde of young people making representative teams as high as state level. What an exceptional community we are!
On a personal note – I would like to thank this community for so fully welcoming me this year. What an honour it is to lead this College and be able to walk alongside you. Not everyone gets to love their job. I do – and I am so appreciative that this year you have placed your faith in me. Thank you.
Evenings like tonight are our chance to collect, to celebrate and to reflect on the tremendous impact we, teachers, parents and students, can have collectively on this community. When designing the celebration and awards processes at the start of the year, we were determined to instil a feeling of explicit exclusivity. The students who are receiving awards tonight have genuinely excelled, and their impact on our College as a place of learning and endeavour has been significant. The students are themselves expressions of our distinctiveness, identity, ethos and mission. We have a sample in front of us tonight of the best that we can do.