Our Values and the Villanova Graduate
Last week we gathered together to celebrate the year and the achievements of our young men in the areas of academics, sport, culture and the arts. It was a wonderful night of sharing the Villanova spirit with community and all our awardees deserve notable mention. It was also on opportunity for me to reflect on the year that has gone and begin sharing the actions and pathways for the future.
As such I would like to share with you my address from the evening to further spread the word of our intent and focus as we move ahead into 2023:
“We come together tonight as community, to acknowledge the achievements of our students and staff. To take time, not to pat ourselves on the back but rather reflect and think about the journey travelled to get us here.
There is certainly a paradox in a night such as this. Does the event itself traverse the bounds of a school with the value of humility and how does that intersect and act in relationship with interiority, community, and the restless search for truth.
It is worthy debate and one which asks for considered balance. As Principal the answer lies in the Why and How of this celebration and its aftermath.
Gentlemen, if your acknowledgment tonight breeds rank, favour, or self-indulgent praise – encouraging individuals to laud their success over others and in so doing stagnate your pursuit of growth and knowledge – then tonight’s celebration should well be abandoned for this is not its purpose. However, if this evening encourages you to recognise your hard work, to develop considered pathways for tomorrow, to understand how your talents can benefit others and reinforces the habits and principles that led you here then we are on the right track. This is a night for our young men, and their peers, to acknowledge how each is investing in their God given talents and assess how they are stewarding these gifts of their creation. Developing them for the service of others. How they are taking their light from under the bushel and displaying it to the world, and more importantly for the world.
So, gentlemen of Villanova ask yourself what choices did you make that have placed you in these seats tonight, what friendships did you forge, or perhaps there were ones you had to break to reach this milestone? Is tonight’s acknowledgement a reflection on your best effort/ Is this your moment of excellence or is there more? Should we be challenging you to something extra?
Tonight, also gives light to our staff an opportunity to observe the outcomes of planning and preparation choices. It gives reinforcement and guidance in their coaching decisions that encourage each boy toward this point of accomplishment. There is also a larger question who is missing? Is there a child forgotten/ Is there a boy we didn’t reach? And, from tomorrow, how do we bring him to this celebration. We cannot forget our call to teach is a call to faith. Christ’s words in the parable of the lost sheep must echo in our thoughts as teachers this evening. While we celebrate the 200+ boys and their achievement in 2023 whom did we lose along the way?
Tonight, you are acknowledged for your effort in response to challenge across academics, sport, faith and service but please – do not make this the end of the road! St Augustine delivers us a message “The world is a book and those that do not travel read only a page.” Our minds, through learning and discovery, travel as equally as our bodies. The journey of intellect and reason is its own world and is the gateway to that restless search for truth. Our road to ongoing conversion. To sit and be satisfied with the achievements one makes as a schoolboy sits you most comfortably in the world of pride. A luxurious trope where your development will die with your dreams.
The year began in January, well actually February! First weeks were cancelled and then came the rain! But before too long the rhythm of the year began, slightly different but closer to normal than the previous two.
As a new Principal there was always going to be a time where the community, especially staff and students needed to get to know me. I thank you for your trust, your time and your commitment to our College and its intent. What was quickly realised was that 2022 was to be a year of re-focus, re-establishment, and growth. As a College Leadership Team, we committed to a set of actions centred on consolidating what was great at Villanova and to identify and challenge those things that were jaded or lacked clarity. Together we made a conscious choice to articulate clearly our College values of humility, interiority, community and the restless search for truth – each with one mind and one heart on our way toward God. To find a way to deliver these to the boys and families in a way that was accessible and understandable.
To do this the Pastoral team and Heads of School collaboratively developed our GREATS model and its expression toward the Villanova graduate.
To make positive education and behaviour a significant influence we have begun to explicitly teach and expect of our students a clear focus on Growth, Respect, Effort, Accountability, Teamwork and Service. It is through these we aim to develop men who can encounter in themselves and others hospitality, honesty, gentleness, care, and love. These may well seem like terms that are counter cultural in boys’ schools; the bastions of masculinity – of chest pumping, of swearing, of derision and intolerance, of ‘boys will be boys excuses’ without consideration of individual boys, their needs, and fragilities. But why? Honesty, care, gentleness, and love cannot be counter cultural at Villanova if we want young men of action and success as they graduate – it is and will be a place of robust challenge, intellectual and physical, of mistakes and successes, of relationship and restoration. In these experiences it must be a place that develops the social and emotional skills that lead our young men into broader success beyond the walls of Villanova and into a world of complexity, diversity, and rapid change. We want our boys to both participate and lead that society. We are a school of boys. We must be attuned to what that means and a clear understanding on the essence of masculinity; the value of the calm gentleness, the encouragement and celebration of our boys and their ability to oscillate between the risky and robust to the kind and careful. To allow them to each have an identity of their own unencumbered by unachievable or uncomfortable expectation and respectful of all. This responsibility falls on our staff and our community – encouraging and challenging each to connect, to share, to listen and appreciate, to contemplate, discern and value. These are just some of the actions connected to our values.
In 2022 each of you, my colleagues, asked and responded. In 2023 we will continue to ask the questions and answer them with reflective wisdom to ensure that Villanova is a place of action, not rhetoric or falsity! In 2022 we have done well, in 2023 we do better.
There are challenges that we must meet and respond to every year
- Are we teaching well?
- Are we balancing care with challenge; responsibility with accountability and action with consequence in a way that encourages making mistakes but discourages negativity and violence.
- Are we welcoming?
- Are we diverse?
- In our words we speak of gateway values? Are these delivered in our actions?
Teachers and College staff I thank you for your commitment to understanding and enacting the principles and the model of Augustinian teaching practice. Our model of Relational Pedagogy is what makes the Villanova education different.
- Express concern to share a little of ourselves and get to know our students
- Challenge growth to not be accepting of a student’s underperformance and have high expectations for their growth
- Provide support to provide guided challenge and lead students toward pathways for success
- Share power to co-design strategies for the classroom and for learning.
- Expand possibilities to encourage our boys to think beyond the now and dream of a vital and vibrant future.
If we can achieve this for our boys, each day of each year, we can secure in them the skills, talents, integrity and character that will see them lead fulfilled lives, lives of transformation and conversion. Lives we hope are filled with love and faith.
2022 has been an amazing year of performance and reward in our classrooms, the band rooms and on our sports fields. Four Open premierships in AFL, Basketball, Football and Volleyball. While these achievements are worthy of praise the great joy is in the 1100 boys who participated in sport and activities for our College, the 450 students who enjoyed the music program and progressed in their skills, knowledge and understanding. It is the Saturday morning dew sweeping war cries, the twilight Rock performances that make the terraces tremble and the unforgettable partnership with Loreto College that delivered to us High School Musical that differentiate us from other places, which makes a Villanova education unique. To watch and be present at those in 2022 was exciting and fulfilling. It is what makes serving this community as Principal an honour and a privilege.
It is certainly an unusual ‘quirk’ of the system that on a night such as tonight we do not have our Seniors present. That said our acknowledgement of them isn’t to ‘pump up their tyres’ anyway. It is to lay down a mark of expectation and standards for others. Riley, Tom and Cameron have been outstanding in their support and leadership of the student body. Their commitment to the College, and each other, has been a hallmark of their leadership and a beacon to Mitchell, Charlie, Connor and Nicholas as they take their first steps in leadership. I would suggest though that we don’t get lost in the shadow of what was “You Are Not Alone” It was phenomenal and an amazing whole College event. But their leadership strength was not in the event, it was in the relationships that allowed the event to happen. They excelled through a simple notion. I will call it the 3 C’s of 2022 student leadership – communicate, commit and care. They took time for one another and listened, they asked questions, put their hand up when they needed direction and posed problems to be fixed and if they said they would do something, or be somewhere you knew they would. In a complex world they delivered through three very simple words – communicate, commit and care.
Tonight, is a night of acknowledgement, congratulations and thanks. As such I cannot conclude without thanking a beacon of service to Villanova College. Mr Peter Geraghty, since his graduation in 1967 has served the College community through involvement in the Old Boys Association or the College Board for each year of the 55 years since graduation. This includes 18 years of service on the College Board, eight of which were as chair. His tenure has seen the building of the Veritas building, The St Thomas of Villanova Building and the refurbishment of the Year 7 precinct to create our dynamic learning classrooms. It is with great thanks I ask you to please thank Mr Peter Geraghty.
We move now to 2023. Our 75th anniversary. It is a long time since Fathers Halloran, O’Donnell and O’Shea made their way from Ireland to Brisbane and set up house at Whinstanes with Louis Hanrahan and Ben O’Donnell founding Villanova College. Just like 1948 we have goals and emerging needs that have taken hold and will grow. We are at a place where this year we reimagined the master plan. Stage 1 is the development and construction of the STEM and Sports Science precinct. Through 2023 it will take further shape and develop from concept toward reality. Our pastoral team, with the Heads of School, will develop and have taken shape a vertical pastoral model across the 2023 year that will deliver to boys a level of care that is longitudinal and consistent across their time at the College. A place where a Head of House and a pastoral tutor will walk the journey with them, as guide, as challenger, as a tester of ideas.
So, 2023 and the 75th anniversary of our College’s foundation, if only Ben and Louis could see us now.”
Congratulations to our Dux and Proxime Accessit awardees in each Year Level 5 -11
Year 5 Dux: Hugo Wight
Year 5 Proxime Accessit: Coen Williams
Year 6 Dux: Lucas Colnaghi Krueger
Year 6 Proxime Accessit: Caeden Ford
Year 6 Proxime Accessit: William Robinson
Year 7 Dux: Archie Dickinson
Year 7 Proxime Accessit: Damian Ellis
Year 8 Dux: William Dolphin
Year 8 Proxime Accessit: Akshay Karthikeyan
Year 9 Dux: Dylan Fryga
Year 9 Dux: Isaac Lerato
Year 10 Dux: Charlie Hodgson-Day
Year 10 Proxime Accessit: Ronan Flaherty
Year 11 Dux: Mitchell Rieck
Year 11 Proxime Accessit: Thomas Winn
Mr Paul Begg, Principal
In keeping with the spirit of Reconciliation, Villanova College acknowledges the Yuggera and Turrbal peoples, as the Traditional Custodians of this land on which we stand. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. This has always been, and always will be, a place of teaching and learning connected to country, culture and community.