Holy Cross College | Ellenbrook
'I came that they may have life, and have it to the full' John 10:10

Be Optimistic and Change the World


Address to the Community of Holy Cross College
Autumn Term Assembly
Friday 3 July 2020

Who am I

  • I live on a farm
  • I play hide and seek
  • I feed the sheep
  • I have a dog
  • I love Aussie Rules Football
  • I go to boarding school

I am just like any other kid

I have big dreams for my life

When I grow up I want to:

  • change the world
  • be a teacher
  • help the poor
  • act for justice
  • eliminate discrimination
  • serve God

So, who am I

I am Irene McCormack

My legacy:

  • inspires people on two continents
  • provides education and support to remote villagers in Peru
  • promotes justice and service
  • lives on through Catholic schools in Australia

My legacy is a life lived to the full in the service of God

When you grow up:

  • what do you aspire to be?
  • how will you promote justice and equity?
  • how will you help people less fortunate than you?
  • how will you change the world?

how will you “Live Life to the Full” as God intended?

So, these school holidays think about how you might change the world?

2020 – The first half

2020 began like any other school year. For some, there was great anticipation about starting a new school. For others, it was just a matter of getting back into the groove and catching up with friends. For Year 12 students, the Class of 2020, there was excitement about beginning the last year of a fourteen year journey of schooling and, perhaps, a little anxiety about what the future beyond school may hold.

We enjoyed the Welcome BBQ, Information Evenings, The Year 11 Dinner Dance, the Junior School Swimming Carnival and a couple of NEAS games. Then, along came COVID-19.

While this once in 100 year event has had an enormous impact on the economic and social fabric of the world, we at Holy Cross College took it in our stride. We introduced social distancing practices; put in place additional cleaning procedures; made use of hand sanitisers and antibacterial wipes; adopted the Thermian Salute; modified significant events and rituals and postponed or cancelled other events; and seamlessly moved to remote learning, either online or with take home learning packs.

Given these extraordinary times, I am immensely proud of our Holy Cross College staff, students and parents for your agility and capacity to quickly adapt to the new learning environment. The College was always well placed in its use of technology to adjust to learning remotely at home. Amongst the doom and gloom of the Coronavirus there have been many amazing stories of success and fun learning at home. There was the Pre-primary video of “We’re going on a bear hunt”, Year 2 “Better Homes and Gardens”, Ms Pratt’s Dance videos, the many Physical Education challenges and exercise videos, the Monologue Show, and live streaming of the Cross Country accompanied by some almost professional commentary – the take home learning packs were like opening a huge Christmas present.

The term “New Normal” has been used frequently. At first I thought this was just another throwaway line, but I think live streaming of some College events is part of the “New Normal”. A big hello to our grandparents who are watching from New South Wales, our FIFO mums and dads and working families who can’t make many school events, but are enjoying our live stream. One of my favourite Facebook posts was by a working mum who said, “Thank you for your effort. As a fulltime working parent, I rarely get to attend these events, but in the last week I have watched two children in a race, an assembly and a House Mass. It is great that I can be involved from my desk”.

I am eternally grateful to our parents for the numerous cards, chocolates and messages of support and especially to the anonymous family who donated hundreds of dollars’ worth of antibacterial wipes.

2020 – the second half

As we look to the second half of 2020 we need to be optimistic about the future. As Father Bona often says, “we are lucky to live in paradise”. Indeed, we are fortunate to live in a special part of the world where we have the coronavirus under control.

As we commence the Winter Term we are hopeful that further easing of restrictions in the Phase 4 Roadmap announcements expected later in July will allow parents to attend some major school events including athletics carnivals, Book Fair family night, Fathers’ Day Liturgy, Arts Showcase and the College Feast Day. Advice in this regard will be sent to parents early next term. At this stage we are planning for all LIFE Week camps and excursions to proceed.

I am optimistic that many of our events will proceed as normal.

Being optimistic, that is, looking at the glass half-full rather than half-empty is critical if we are to live life to the full. An optimistic attitude underpins our sense of resilience and our capacity to cope with challenges and difficult times. This is illustrated in the tale of the two travellers.

There was once a traveller who was walking from a village in the mountains to a village in the valley.

As he walked along, he saw a monk working in a field, so he stopped and said to the monk, “I’m on my way to the village in the valley, can you tell me what it’s like?”

The monk looked up from his labour and asked the man where he had come from.

The man responded, “I have come from the village in the mountains.”

“What was that like?”  the monk asked.

“Terrible!”  the man exclaimed, “no-one spoke my language, I had to sleep on a dirt floor in one of their houses, they fed me some sort of stew that had yak or dog or both in it and the weather was atrocious.”

“Then I think that you will find that the village in the valley is much the same,” the monk noted.

A few hours later another traveller passed by and he said to the monk, “I am on my way to the village in the valley, can you tell what it’s like?”

“Where have you come from?” enquired the monk.

“I have come from the village in the mountains.”

“And what was that like?”

“It was awesome!” the man replied, “No-one spoke my language so we had to communicate using our hands and facial expressions.  I had to sleep on the dirt floor which was really cool as I’ve never done that before.  They fed me some sort of weird stew and I have no idea what was in it but just to experience how the locals lived was great and the weather was freezing cold, which meant that I really got a taste of the local conditions.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.”

“Then, I think that you’ll find that the village in the valley is much the same,” responded the monk.

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond.  Don’t allow the challenges of life to take away your joy.

There are lots of reasons to complain and be miserable if that’s how you look at life.

There are lots of reasons to be enthusiastic and joyful if that’s how you look at life.

So, as you enjoy the holiday break I encourage you to come back in the Winter Term with an optimistic attitude and an energy to change the world.