Headmaster's Weekly Address

Dear Parents,

The Music Soiree held last week was a night to savour and remember. Our talented music staff and a select group of senior students entertained a nearly full Boyd Egan Hall with first-class music and a majestic choral piece. Many high profile performance spaces would be delighted if they could assemble such talent for a single performance. The size of the audience disallows my labelling the night a ‘hidden gem’ in our calendar, but I do emphasise to boys, parents, colleagues and our wider community to keep an eye out for next year’s date and come along. Was the highlight the 16 piece Big Band rendition of ‘Minnie the Moocher’ or the Vocal Ensemble, consisting of our four voice teachers with the support of the Senior Vocal Ensemble rendition of Bui-Doi from Miss Saigon? Perhaps it was Zihan Jiang’s performance of Chopin’s Sonata No. 3 in B minor, 4th Movement, Op. 58 or the String Ensemble? To be honest, I enjoyed it all! My thanks to Mr Harris for his organisation of the performances and to all who made this combined Foundation and Music Association Soiree such a success.

Saturday last, Kate and I drove to Nagambie to support our rowing crews. A large SKC crowd of parents, old boys and younger rowers made sure that each St Kevin’s crew was well supported from the bank. Congratulations to all our crews, TIC, Mr Tom Courtney and our dedicated coaches and rowing support staff. That all our senior crews rowed in an A final is clear evidence of a rowing shed working well and oarsmen reaping the reward for their efforts.

On Heyington Assembly, boys heading out on Year 10 Camino or Year 11 One Step Beyond Outdoor Activities Programs, and the Years 7 – 9 lads who are going to Music Camp were reminded emphatically of the application of school rules. They were also encouraged to be supportive and generous to one another and finally to ‘look after’ my colleagues who will be walking, on water, cycling, riding and playing music alongside them.

Leonardo Grossi, College Captain, address to Heyington Assembly Monday 25 March 2019

Good Morning Headmaster, Mr Russell, Staff and Boys,

A busy week: lots of homework, an in-class essay, sports training after school, rehearsals for an upcoming play, a big game on the Saturday and a family commitment on Sunday. It’s no surprise that the 168 hours in a week get swallowed up in the blink of an eye and things seem to get a bit stressful. But that is only half the story.

Stress. It’s an interesting phenomenon that has fascinated scientists for decades. It’s what makes our heart beat faster, our muscles grow and our palms get sweaty, and makes our knees weak and our arms get heavy. Yes, I did just quote Eminem at Assembly.

I’m sure you are all thinking how on Earth can stress be a good thing? The reality is that a good amount of stress actually allows you to perform at your best. I spent my weekend on the dusty shores of the Nagambie lake for our Final Regatta for Season. It’s a great display of hard work, skill and competition. But like with any sport, there are always nerves. However, that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s that extra adrenaline in your system that lets you run a bit faster, think a bit clearer and remember those tricky lines for that scene.

We have to redefine our meaning of stress. It’s been taught that stress is bad for your health and should be avoided at all costs. Now, there has been a complete shift, stress. It’s time to own it. Some of the psychological experts in the Harvard Business Review challenge a cohort of CEOs, Wall-Street-Traders and some of the highest business leaders of tomorrow to think about a time when they were most successful and performing at their highest level. They posed two questions: The first, Were you stressed? The answer was almost entirely yes. The second, Do you think stress contributed to your success? The answer was a resounding yes.

It’s clear that if we want to achieve our best, we need to know how to own stress and use it to our advantage. One way we can do this is improve our ability to discern between good stress and bad stress, or eustress and distress in technical terms. What we want is the eustress that makes us excited and a bit anxious before the game. The one that comes in when we are trying desperately to scribble down a conclusion. This is a kind of stress that we want to keep around but only in the right proportion.

Too much eustress is like filling a funnel too quickly, it does have the propensity to overflow. If we don’t manage it well. if we have too much eustress because we’re not organised or have too many things on, it can quickly become distress. This is the stress we want to mitigate because it gives us writer’s block and makes us forget our lunch at home.

So, how can we manage to keep our good stress around and our bad stress in check? Bill Wathers said it best: ‘We all need somebody to lean on’. Don’t be afraid to ask a mate for help with some homework, or a teacher to clarify a PowerPoint. It is extremely important to have positive relationships so that when push comes to shove, we do have those ‘go-to’ friends to listen to us and help you through a busy time.

Focus on what you can control. Stephen Hawking once said, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist.” If Mother Nature hasn’t figured it out yet, then neither will you. There are a million-and-a-half things that will be completely out of your control every day, no matter how much you try to control it. Focus on what you can change and do it.

Finally, practice makes better. Yes, better — not perfect. Even when we are talking about stress, practice is the key to learning how to deal with it. Know yourself, because after all you’re the one who’s got to deal with it. You can’t run a marathon without doing a few training runs. This way, when you really have a ‘when it rains it pours’ kind of day, you just take a breath, relax and get on with it in a positive way.

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the wise words come about, “nothing contributes so much to tranquilise the mind on a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye”. This is not only a quote I am desperately trying to remember for my in-class essay this afternoon, but also fits this idea of re-defining stress perfectly. We have to work it, use it and manage it.

Stress helps you be your best.

Thank you and good morning.



Student Leadership Appointments

Officer                                                                       Tyler McDonald


Basketball                   Captain                                   Matthew Hart

Football                      Captain                                   Jack Mahony


Headmaster’s Study Awards

Year 8              English                                               Michael Wheelahan


Year 11            Product Design & Technology          Matthew Canning

                                                                                  Liam Clifford

                                                                                  Joel Littler

                                                                                  Daniel Pollock

                                                                                  Luke Russo

                                                                                  Lucas Webb


Kind regards,

Stephen Russell