Last Friday we awoke to the news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. In death as in life, this remarkable woman hardly attracted a negative word from anyone. Elizabeth became Queen in 1952 when St Joseph’s College was 17 years old…it is now 87. The Virtus school magazine of that year records that “On Friday, February 15 at a school assembly in the hall we stood in silence to mourn the passing of his late Majesty King George VI”. It does not record any similar acknowledgement of the Queen’s coronation on 2 June. Simply because it fell during the school holidays.
While those Australians who favour the continuance of a constitutional monarchy and those who favour a republic with an Australian Head of State disagree on the most appropriate form of governance, they generally agree that Queen Elizabeth was a remarkable and admirable woman. I think her life provides us with a great example of the importance of commitment and the value of perseverance during changing times. May she rest in peace.
Last week I was privileged to attend a ‘Club 32’ gathering and on behalf of the College to accept a cheque from the Michael Carmody Foundation for $10,000 towards the College Bursary Program. Our Bursary Program provides families for whom our school fees are out of reach, with the opportunity to access a St Joseph’s education. The program currently has approximately 20 students receiving full-fee bursaries. We are confident that next year this number will be 30 and we are well on our way towards the goal of 50 bursaries by 2025.
In 2008, three of the then four Geelong Catholic secondary schools participated in the first ‘triUMPH’ music festival. Deriving its name from three (tri) schools Uniting to Make Poverty History and conceived and planned by student leaders with the support of St Joseph’s teacher Simon Cahir, this first festival headlined by ‘The Galvatrons’, saw 4000 students gather at St Joseph’s for a one day music festival. This event raised $43,000 to support education in Timor-Leste. Running on a three-year cycle the festival was scheduled for 2020 but postponed due to COVID-19 until 2022. Uncertainty about whether COVID regulations would allow 6000 students from the now five Geelong Catholic secondary schools to gather saw the event reimagined as ‘triUMPH - lite’.
Last Friday triUMPH-lite was celebrated across the five schools with music, food and other activities. While we do not have final fund raising figures available, all funds will support the training of East Timorese teachers to assist the young people of our nearest neighbour to live lives free of poverty. Thank you to everyone who contributed to ‘triUMPH - lite’ in any way. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the work of Mr Gerry O’Callaghan as part of the organising committee.
It is generally said that a strong sport and a strong music program are pillars on which successful schools are built. In recent days there has been much to be proud of with students representing us in Associated Catholic Colleges (ACC) events in both these areas. Our Cross-Country team finished a close second in the annual ACC carnival, winning the Under 15 and Under 17 age groups. Our musicians performed in the ‘ACCent on Music’ concert at Hamer Hall performing magnificently. I had the privilege of being present, enjoying and admiring the skill of our students.
In 2022 the College benefited from a strong group of student leaders led by Deputy Captains Arden C and Seamus R and College Captain Patrick F. In recent weeks students and staff have been involved in the process to identify and select our senior student leadership group for 2023. One might describe those who made themselves available as providing the College with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to selecting our leadership group for 2023. I look forward to making these announcements in coming days.