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

Seeking New Cheese

I extend a warm welcome back to school to students, staff and families. The Winter Term is generally filled with activities and events including the Catholic Schools’ Performing Arts Festival, College Arts Showcase, College Feast Day, LIFE Week, sports carnivals, disco’s and socials and the Year 12 breakfast and final assembly.

The staff faith formation day held on Monday 20 July 2020 focused on the life of Irene McCormack rsj. All staff gathered at Elizabeth Quay to undertake a pilgrimage to the Convent of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart in South Perth where we were met by Sr Kathleen Hitchcock and Sr Francis McGuire. Teachers and Support Staff then journeyed along the Swan River to East Perth to enjoy lunch on the foreshore before making their way to Trinity College for a series of workshops. The warm sunny conditions were ideal for a short pilgrimage walk.

The first week of the Winter Term concluded with the Middle and Senior Schools’ Athletics Carnival. The spirit was high with fantastic participation by students and fierce competition. Scores were close throughout the day with Ozanam House pipping Salvado House by just eight points at the end of the day. Again, the weather was kind as we were blessed with bright sunshine throughout the day. Congratulations to Mr Liam Smith on his first athletics carnival at Holy Cross College. His organisation was meticulous. We were very grateful to the Friends of Holy Cross for providing the sausage sizzle. While parents were unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mrs Jess was once again roaming the field live streaming as much of the action as possible. The photo of the winning House shows just how pumped the students were.

Developing leadership is an important element of the school’s programme with many opportunities for students to demonstrate their leadership capacity and grow their skills. The Pearce Young Leaders Forum is an opportunity for students to hear from some of Australia’s most influential leaders. The Hon. Christian Porter MP sponsors the forum and this year’s guest speaker was Justin Langer, Coach of the Australian Cricket Team.

Holy Cross College hosted the Pearce Young Leaders Forum with schools and colleges attending from across the electorate of Pearce. The key theme for our young leaders was ‘Leadership during times of adversity’.  Mr Porter indicated that one of the most satisfying and motivating aspects of leadership is that you can make things better for people. Mr Langer highlighted four important things to consider when growing your leadership; surround yourself with great people, be careful when using social media, care for people and write down your dreams. The forum provided an opportunity for students to ask questions of the guest, firing off some insightful and challenging questions.

Mr Langer commented on the sensational quality of the lawns around the College. Our grounds staff couldn’t receive higher praise than from the Coach of the Australian Cricket Team, who would certainly know all about quality grass.

Earlier in the year a number of events had to be postponed due to COVID-19. We are very fortunate to be in position to reschedule many of these events including the Junior School Discos and Middle School Social, which were held on the night of Friday 31 July 2020. The theme for the Junior School was ‘Crazy Hair’. Parents are to be commended on their creativity with some very clever styles. There was a large blue wave complete with surfer, colourful cupcakes, an octopus, spiders web and plenty of coloured hairspray and glitter. The Middle School followed with ‘A Night at the Logies’ with students walking the red carpet in their elegant and stylish outfits. A big thank you to everyone who helped to organise the event, especially our resident DJ, Mr Bull, who mixed and mashed up some excellent beats.

In just the past two weeks the College has been busy with excursions, sports carnivals, dances and visits by the Australian Attorney General and Coach of the Australian Cricket Team, as well as a number of visiting architects, principals and Catholic Education consultants.

Amid all these events and activities staff have been busily preparing for LIFE Week, which will take place from Monday 24 August 2020 to Friday 28 August 2020. While Phase Four COIVD-19 restrictions still apply it is uncertain whether the College Feast Day, scheduled for Friday 11 September 2020, can proceed as in the past. We will continue to monitor the situation and plan accordingly.

Throughout 2020 the qualities of agility and adaptability in the face of changing circumstances have become hot topics for leaders and workers alike. Our capacity to move quickly and make changes to the way we think and work can mean the difference between success or failure. I am reminded of the parable of “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson which tells the story of a place that changed and describes how its inhabitants reacted. Through the characters’ triumphs and labours, the story offers lessons and tips for coping successfully with change in our lives by changing our attitudes and behaviour.

The parable unfolds in a maze, where four characters; two mice, Sniff and Scurry and two tiny humans, Hem and Haw, search for cheese, which represents happiness and contentment. They get pretty good at this. The mice use their simple, rodent-specific talents of sniffing out cheese and scurrying around until they find it. Hem and Haw use their human thinking and analytical skills to also find cheese. They find a huge supply and all four enjoy its benefits for quite a while. One day the maze dwellers confront a crisis; The cheese is gone. All four characters must adapt in one way or another to their changed circumstances.

It’s easy to draw parallels from the story to unsettling changes in our own lives. For instance, changes in a job, relationship, or health, possibly as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. The characters’ flaws and successes reflect our own tendencies when confronting change: Like Haw, we may resist, complain, and deny change because we’ve become complacent or afraid. Or we can be like Sniff and Scurry, staying on our toes, preparing for future change, not overanalysing things, and being ready to adapt without fear.

Even when we adapt, change is initially challenging, and “Who Moved My Cheese” offers a road map for navigating change in a way that minimizes stress.

This week, I participated in a virtual global meeting for Apple Distinguished Schools entitle ‘Designing the Future Together’. The Keynote speaker was Matthew Manos, called “crazy or genius” by Forbes, and considered by the Huffington Post as one of seven millennials changing the world. Manos suggests that the future does not exist. The future is not some place that is waiting for us to arrive. What happens in the future; tomorrow, next week, next month or next year is completely up to us. Manos claims that “the future is just a symbol for the repercussions of our daily actions”. We can create our own future. It is up to us to dream, re-imagine our lives, to innovate and create, to make changes and seek new opportunities.

How life will look after COVID-19, or even next week is determined by actions now, today. Spencer Johnson’s story about seeking new cheese combined with Matthew Manos’ view of the future can inspire us to take greater control over our own destiny. We mustn’t just let tomorrow happen, we must consciously make decisions and undertake actions that create the tomorrow we want.

So, what will you do today to make tomorrow better?