Junior School Newsletter

From the Headmaster

Dear Parents,

During the holidays, the International Boys’ School Coalition held its Annual Conference at The Southport School in Queensland. Delegates from thirteen nations, over 600 educators of boys, gathered to discuss, ‘Our Boys, Their Future, Learning to Lead’. Mr Guinane and Mr McGuigan generously joined me and consequently we were able to discern, in a variety of ways, the keynote speakers, attend many workshops and simply learn of good practice as we met and socialised. Statistical analysis of boys’ academic performance and wellbeing was provided by some leading academics, including Tim Brailsford, Tracy Vaillancourt and Ian Hickey. Much of what we do at St Kevin’s pastorally and academically, benchmarks very well compared with the many fine Australian and international schools represented at the Conference.

Our Year 12 boys used the second and third weeks to systematically review VCE work. The peer to peer lecture program and group or individual study schemes on offer here at school were coordinated by our Director of Studies, Mr Jones. It was delightful to read from the north, of the quality of the lectures, the significant numbers attending and the excellent atmosphere of academic support and engagement the holiday program created.

The cricketers toured Sri Lanka. Differently from any other cricket tour previously, the boys raised funds to gift equipment after they had run mini cricket academies in some less-privileged areas they visited. Pre-tour, our boys also undertook coaching courses to ensure their coaching sessions would be structured and worthwhile. Given the success of our social justice partnerships, the tour was already set for success, without leather striking willow. I do know that our ability to face spin has improved significantly and that the coterie of SKC spinners has numerically and in skill, increased. Thanks to Messrs Baff, Schottner and Bowlby for accompanying the boys on the tour.

The basketballers, led by Mr Langan and Ms Sheridan, played in an EREA Tournament in Brisbane. They enjoyed their time away and progressed to the final of the tournament to finish runners-up. Our footballers, hockey players, rugby team, cross country and water polo all trained to prepare for their APS season.

Generous St Kevin’s families welcomed our guests from St Charles in Orleans, France. On day one, we flew their ‘tricolore’ to welcome them. Most of our guests looked a little bleary-eyed given the excitement of their Soccer World Cup win in the early hours!

Kind regards,

Stephen Russell

From the Director of Glendalough

Dear Community Members,  

It’s an ill wind that blows no good. This adage was tested last Tuesday afternoon when ill winds brought down trees across the Glen Waverley train line leaving many St Kevin’s boys stranded on Heyington station. What happened next showed the mettle of our boys and exposed those qualities which make our community unique.

Some boys found alternative public transport routes home. Many others returned to Glendalough, either directed by College staff or driven by a ‘homing instinct’ guiding them to a safe place. Scores of boys arrived at Glendalough to sit out the weather and await rescue. The idea of mobile phones in the hands of children often receives a bad rap but let me tell you they came into their own on this windy afternoon. Of the throng of boys carpeting the Glendalough foyer, we only needed to make one phone call to parents to enact an alternative plan for the homeward journey. Every other boy had contacted their parents and a plan had been put in place. So the rescue missions began, and not just of boys.

 A grandparent stranded in unfamiliar surroundings and trying to deal with the impassable train network. A quick word to a passing parent who cheerfully drove grandparent and boy right to their door, two suburbs out of her way. Supportive social networks coming into play, providing the landscape that enabled carpool rescues with boys bundling into friends’ cars to be driven safely home. Boys waiting patiently in the office foyer, remaining calm and enjoying a chat. When their time came to be rescued, not one boy left the school grounds without thanking Mrs. Adderley for waiting with them, which she did until the last boy was collected at 5.00pm.

It’s an ill wind that blows no good, and last Tuesday afternoon the wind exposed a culture of thoughtfulness and concern for others; a spirit of independence and co-operation; an ability to problem solve and; a shared commitment to our boys and, a deep sense of gratitude. Just some of the things that make the St Kevin’s community one in which boys thrive.

James Daly 
Director of Glendalough

Faith and Mission

Long Walk to Justice

It is a nice coincidence that St Kevin’s was born in the same year as Nelson Mandela who, if he were still alive, would have celebrated his 100th birthday this week. Of course, our stories are very different. But both Mandela and St Kevin’s have shared the same call to work for justice.

I grew up in a world where it seemed that there were signs everywhere saying ‘Free Nelson Mandela.’ Now the signs all say ‘Free Wi-fi’. Apartheid was the soundtrack of my teenage years. So it meant a great deal to me when I was in South Africa on one of the Zimele immersion programs to be able to visit the Apartheid Museum in Soweto, south-west of Johannesburg. It is one of the most moving museums I have experienced. It tells its horrendous story with quiet, dignified candour.

There were exhibits that nailed me to the ground. One was of a massive yellow Casspir, the famous vehicle that was developed in South Africa for subduing the black population in townships. It was a fort on wheels that could carry fourteen troops and was able to resist mine explosions. The improvised shanty towns were no match for it. It could push them over like cardboard. Even in the safety of a museum, I felt a frisson of fear as it towered over me.

There was also the famous recording of Nelson Mandela speaking at the trial for sabotage at which he was finally condemned to life imprisonment, in 1964. The sound is grainy but Mandela’s voice is slow and deliberate. This is a man on trial for his life. He plants every word: ‘I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die’. After this speech, he disappeared from public view until 11 February 1990.

At the museum, I spent 15 minutes watching a video of Mandela shaving. The film drew the onlooker into a deeper and more mysterious intimacy with him than any amount of footage of his numerous appearances. As president, Mandela maintained many of the quiet rituals that had enabled him to survive his decades in prison. He made his own bed, following an inflexible pattern. He did his exercises beside his bed, even though the president would surely have had access to a gym, because that was a ritual that sustained him. His handwriting was fastidious. For both good and ill, the president was still the prisoner.

I mentioned to Tom Purcell, the founder of Zimele and leader of our group, that I had a kind of envy of Mandela and those who shared the journey with him because they had such a strong sense of what their purpose was in life.

Tom reacted against this.

‘But at what cost,’ he said. ‘Mandela had three marriages. He was unable to attend the funeral of his oldest son. He said in his mid-80s that he was supposed to be the grandfather of the nation when he didn’t even know his own children.’

Indeed, even the 2005 death of his son Makgatho at the age of 54 as a result of AIDS was a public matter. AIDS was a huge issue in South Africa and Mandela has been criticised for his tardiness in addressing it. Mandela made an announcement: ‘Let us give publicity to HIV/AIDS and not hide it because that is the only way to make it appear like a normal illness.’

Aged eighty, Mandela married Graca Machel, the widow of the former president of Mozambique, Samora Machel. ‘We were both very, very lonely,’ she said as millions looked on.

Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom is one of the great books of the twentieth century. One of my favourite parts concerns a period in the course of his long captivity when Mandela was at last allowed to have a small garden. For years he had been refused this permission without being given any reason. Then, still without reason, the system changed its mind.

A garden was one of the few things in prison that one could control. To plant a seed, watch it grow, to tend it and then harvest it offered a simple but enduring satisfaction. The sense of being the custodian of this small patch of earth offered a small taste of freedom.

We too, at St Kevin’s, can think of ourselves as custodians of a small patch of earth, planting seeds and watching them grow. We start a new term aware of the almost overwhelming need of the whole world for healing. But we have also seen how that same world can hold its breath on behalf of 12 trapped soccer players and their coach. We have seen how their rescue can unite all people in joy and possibility. May we all do what we can to be instruments of peace in a floundering world.

Michael McGirr,

Dean of Faith

The Annual Zimele Dinner will be taking place at St Kevin’s on Saturday 8 September. It is a wonderful night. Come along and be part of it. You can book at www.trybooking.com/392947. Elsewhere in this newsletter there is an appeal for items for the silent auction. Your help means a lot! Also, the Zimele 24 hour challenge is taking place on September 15 and 16. Another great event to enjoy.

Fullness of Life

  • French Exchange students from St Charles were hosted by St Kevin’s families and spent time at the College.
  • Three new GAP Tutors from England commenced their time at the College.
  • Year 9 students prepared for the RICE Program.
  • Kenny students with Mr Courtney assisted with the preparation and serving of breakfast at St Mary’s House of Welcome.
  • McCarthy students with Mr Schottner assisted with the serving of dinner at St Peter and Paul’s in South Melbourne.
  • The Basketball and Soccer Associations met.
  • Year 10 students listened to presentations by Fr Chris Middleton SJ, Fr Tom Renshaw SJ, and Fr Sacha Bermudez-Goldman SJ on their journey to the Priesthood.
  • Cusack students and Mr Langan assisted with the Breakfast and Sports Program at Trinity Primary School in Richmond.
  • Glendalough students competed in the State Cross Country Championships at Bundoora Park.
  • Years 10, 11 and 12 students attended a presentation by leading drug and alcohol educator, Mr Paul Dillon. He was also part of the Parent Enrichment Program.
  • Friday Morning Mass was held in the Chapel of St Kevin.
  • Glendalough Houses rehearsed for the House Singing Competition.
  • Mr Michael Zappone was the Year 12 Guest Speaker.
  • A Year 10 Vitae group held a BBQ to raise funds for Prostate Cancer Research.
  • The first of the new series of Year 10 Dancing Classes was held.
  • Kearney students and Mr James assisted with the St Ignatius Tutoring Program in Richmond.
  • Rahill students and Mr and Mrs Wallace assisted with the Fitzroy Reading Program.
  • Staff completed Professional Development at Edmund Rice Education Australia and the Religious Education Conference

Mr Ted Guinane 
Director of Administration