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

Life to the Full

Realising your potential

The beginning of term is always a great time to reflect on our efforts and contributions over the past few months. While success is measured by grades and rating scales, our success is actually determined by other factors.

Many students , who were lucky enough to have their enrolment interview with me, will recall my three ingredient’s to success. These attributes are summed up in the word – ABE. That is, your attitude, behaviour and effort. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, you will never realise your potential unless you maintain all three elements to an exemplary level.

Consider some of Australia’s top male tennis players. They have amazing talent, but are unlikely to ever be number one because they struggle with their attitude, often behave very un-sportsman like and can appear not to give their best effort in a game.

Now consider Ash Barty, the Australian women’s tennis player currently ranked number one in the world. She demonstrates incredible attitude, behaviour and effort and is well on the way to realise her potential.

There is a strong lesson in this for us. Make sure you have the best ABE possible. Adopt a strong positive and resilient attitude, put on your best behaviour and give your best effort and you will reap the rewards with higher grades and more opportunities.

At a recent enrolment interview, after explaining what I meant by ABE, the father of a student said he has a little motto too, called ‘Above the line or below the line’, or OAR over BED.

Above the line are three words: Ownership, Acceptance and Responsibility. Taking ownership, accepting and taking responsibility for your attitude and actions.

Below the line are another three words: Blame, Excuses and Denial. Not taking responsibility, not accepting your responsibilities and actions, and blaming others.

Above the line is OAR – the mindset of champions – Row your boat where YOU want it to go.

Below the line is BED – the victim mentality – Make your bed and lie in it.

Consider the film The Lion King, which has just been re-released in sensationally realistic digital animation.

After he ran away, Simba lives a carefree life without responsibility. He is operating below the line, making excuses and blaming others for his plight. Along comes Nala, his childhood sweetheart, who tries to get him to step up, take ownership, accountability and responsibility for what has happened. At first he refuses, but eventually he does step up above the line and reclaim his kingdom.

So, next time something happens to you, ask yourself: Am I above the line or below it?

Mistakes can still be made when people are acting above the line, but the difference is in how the person reacts; by admitting to their mistake, taking responsibility for their actions, finding a solution and then improving the process to prevent the mistake from happening again. OAR statements include ‘I will’, ‘I can’ and ‘I must.’

When a mistake is made, it’s what happens next that counts.  The process should be:

Make a mistake, own up, be accountable and take responsibility, and find a solution.

Sadly, when we do slip below the line we release our inner lawyer where we feel the need to defend ourselves or to justify our errant behaviours.

Recent research into the brain helps us understand why and when we release our inner lawyer:

  • We are experiencing a strong feeling of threat or danger.
  • This sense of threat or danger makes the nervous system overactive.
  • Responses are reactive and impulsive, outside conscious control.
  • Our focus is on countering criticism from others while making sure our own inner critic remains silent.
  • The response usually makes things worse!

According to research by Schwartz and Pine, the inner lawyer “is expert at rationalising, avoiding, deflecting, dissembling, denying, disparaging, attacking, and blaming others for our missteps and shortcomings.”

An understanding of the mechanisms of the inner lawyer might help us respond in a calm, measured and rational way to tense and difficult situations we encounter in the classroom, school grounds or even in everyday life.

Remember, we’re only human and everyone will occasionally slip below the line. It’s important that when we do slip, instead of pointing the finger, we calmly and supportively step up and help our friends get back into OAR territory.

I think there is great wisdom in the ‘Above the line or below the line’ tool and I am grateful to the parent for sharing it with me.

LifeLink Sleepout 2019

I would like to acknowledge the fantastic efforts of staff and students in raising funds for LifeLink, and especially to the students who participated in the Sleep-out. In particular, I would like to thank Mrs Sharna Bateman, Mr Ben Bull and Ms Aisling Keating. The final amount raised was $11,321.00. Your generosity goes a long way in helping people from around Perth and Western Australia.

After receiving our donation, Mr Brett Mendez, Media & Marketing Manager, Catholic Archdiocese of Perth responded:

“What your school does is the standard for what we hope all schools will do. I couldn’t write a strategic campaign that achieves all you do. You should be very proud … we are! Honestly, the impact your gifts have are far reaching. For example, it will help around 2000 people who visit the Shopfront.”

Well done Holy Cross College.


NAIDOC week aims to highlight the rich culture, history and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to all Australians. Holy Cross College has been celebrating NAIDOC Week this week, as the official dates fall within the school holidays.

Students were fortunate to experience the talents and wisdom of Mr Len Yarran. Mr Yarran gave a heart-warming welcome to country where he described the welcome as the coming together of many spirits as one. Students learnt about the significance of dance in telling the stories  of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, as the stories were never written down. A number of students and staff were invited to join him in an impromptu dance involving emus and kangaroos. The welcome to country included the traditional smoking ceremony where the smoke was generated from eucalyptus leaves gathered from trees around the school. The smoking ceremony is an ancient custom among some Aboriginal Australians that involves smouldering various native plants to produce smoke that is believed to have cleansing properties and the ability to ward off bad spirits. Ms Lily Gogos entertained students with the song ‘My Island Home.’

Throughout the week, Mrs Lewis has been treating students to some examples of indigenous foods and flavours including:

  • Sausage rolls, mini damper, and bush tucker frittatas
  • Shark bay mullet with potato wedges, sea salt and lemon
  • Chicken wings marinated in bush plum chutney and wild rice infused with native herbs
  • Roo Stew with damper
  • Kangaroo sausage sizzle with bush tomato chutney and cheese
  • Roo Burgers with Slaw

and much more

Students also enjoyed some fun and games with some guests from Noongar Wellbeing and Sports, Tilman and Blake. Noongar Wellbeing and Sports aim to develop partnerships that maximise opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians residing in Nyoongar country, to participate in active recreation and enjoy health lifestyles, in order to produce health, education, social and cultural benefits for individuals and their respective communities.

Ms Bethany Farmer, Aboriginal Education Assistant, is a fountain of ideas and energy and prepared a wonderful display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander memorabilia and artefacts, including some sensational artworks.

We are grateful to everyone who contributed to making NAIDOC week such a great success.

Catholic Schools’ Performing Arts Festival

The 2019 Catholic Schools’ Performing Arts Festival official opening was held on Thursday 25 July with a beautiful Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral celebrated by Archbishop Costello. A parade of schools and their flags were welcomed into the Cathedral with a trumpeted fanfare. A number of students travelled from St Mary’s College, Broome to perform the opening liturgical dance. Holy Cross College students performed a dramatisation of the Gospel.

Photo courtesy of CEWA News, 26 July 2019

Dr Debra Sayce, Executive Director, Catholic Education Western Australia, (CEWA) officially opened the festival explaining that there are more than 2000 entries from across 162 Catholic Schools and Colleges in Western Australia and more than 21,000 students performing.

Students from the Junior, Middle and Seniors Schools will be performing over the next six weeks in a variety of performances including solo instrumental, creative and liturgical dance, drama, choir and contemporary bands, and many more. We wish them well and thank the teachers and tutors for their amazing work. Parents are encouraged to attend the performances, which will be showcased at various venues across Perth.

I thank parents, staff and students for the smooth start to the Winter Term and wish everyone an enjoyable and rewarding term.