Last Friday we celebrated the Feast of Blessed Edmund Rice, which has been celebrated on this day since his beatification by Pope John Paul II in 1996.
This year our focus is on the touchstone of Gospel Spirituality where we are called to invite people into the story of Jesus and strive to make his message of compassion, justice and peace a living reality within our community. We are each called to undertake the challenge in our own families and communities of proclaiming the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Today we celebrate and recognise the generous contribution of those in our community who have epitomised both the values of the Gospel and those of Blessed Edmund Rice in their interactions with others.
The first group of award recipients were recognised today for 40 years of service at Edmund Rice College. It is my pleasure to invite Mr Russell Bates and Mr Martin Rule to the stage.
Throughout their 40 years both Mr Bates and Mr Rule have emulated on a daily basis what it means to serve in the spirit of the Gospel. Today we take this opportunity to thank them for their generosity of service and the varied and many ways in which they have contributed to making known the values of the Gospel in the Spirit of Blessed Edmund Rice. Please join me in congratulating
Mr Bates & Mr Rule on their 40 years of service award
The next group of awards recipients recognised 4 members of staff who today are celebrated for the way in which they have brought to life the touchstones in our community.
Mr Paul Dempsey was presented with the Touchstone Award for Gospel Spirituality.
Mr Dempsey is an extremely dedicated and valued member of the College community. He is committed to his family and models Gospel Spirituality through his commitment to justice and compassion through his volunteer work with St Vincent de Paul, serving those in need. As a teacher, Mr Dempsey is committed to providing learning experiences that are of the highest quality. He is conscious of the wellbeing and growth of each student in his care, recognising that all students are created in the image of God requiring both nurturing and encouragement, as well as challenge. Paul is very generous with his time, shown by how he makes himself readily available to support students with their learning and how he mentors and builds the capacity of teachers he works with. He is an excellent educator, promoting critical thinking and deep learning amongst his students. He is committed to the delivery of quality learning experiences for his students working towards helping each student grow to become the person they were meant to be.
Ms Natalie Glen is presented with the Touchstone Award for Justice and Solidarity.
Ms Glen is without a doubt the “Quiet Achiever” as the College Accountant. She has spent countless hours implementing the new TASWeb finance system over the past two years. In addition to ensuring the many annual financial compliance obligations have been met over the last 12 years at the College. Ms Glen is hard working, selfless with her time for others and is a highly valued member of the College community. As a responsible steward of resources Ms Glen is humble in her work and is committed to supporting equitable access to resources across the community. She has a strong sense of team and is always willing to go the extra mile for others. In her dealings with others, she is always kind and patient and frequently goes above and beyond to ensure the smooth running of the College. As the College accountant her work is often unseen.
Ms Nadia Neal is presented with the Touchstone Award for Inclusive Community
Ms Neal has made an enormous contribution to our College as the First Nations Education Officer. In her role she has established a new mentoring program that sees senior students mentor junior First Nations students. Further to this, she conceptualized and brought to life the community mentoring program, linking proud First Nations male mentors to the students here at the College. Ms Neal oversees the First Nations student leadership group, building the capacity of all of our First Nations students to develop their own leadership potential.
Ms Neal has worked to build an inclusive community through her leadership of the Reconciliation Action Plan Committee and her work towards the development of an explicit College Anti-racism policy. She works tirelessly to build support for our First Nations Students and their families and is recognised for building on the culture of inclusion for both First Nations and non-First Nations students and staff through strengthening the Year 9 Indigenous Cultures Day. Importantly, Ms Neal has contributed to Professional Learning and experiences for our entire staff so that we all might understand that inclusion means all of us. Her work extends far beyond the College, as our representative to the local Aboriginal Education Consultative Group. We are grateful for Ms Neal’s contribution to the life of our College as we strive to be an Inclusive Community.
Mr Andrew Edmondson is presented with the Touchstone Award for Liberating Education
Mr Edmondson is a passionate educator who has demonstrated dedication to his learning area. He leads and mentors his team to ensure that quality learning and teaching experiences made available to all students at the College are authentic, rigorous, creative and of the highest quality. Andrew is committed to ensuring all students experience personal achievement and maintains a focus on what is best for student learning outcomes. His decisions are student-centred. Mr Edmondson also recognises the importance of building the teaching capacity of all members of his faculty, and supporting their wellbeing.
As well as leading excellence in learning and teaching, Mr Edmondson is a liberating educator, an exceptional teacher and is uncompromising in his high standards.
We recognise and honour a member of our parent community: Mrs Ainsley Eckermann
Mrs Eckermann is the secretary of the P&F who demonstrates a spirituality characterised by solidarity and peace. She has given generously of her time to represent parents and provide an example of faith and generosity. While she continues to contribute to the P&F of St Brigid’s Catholic Primary School, where her other children attend, Mrs Eckermann offers humble service to the College through the many parent events such as the Mother’s Day High Tea, Father’s Day breakfast and the Gala dinner. Her hard work and commitment is evident of her spirit of kindness and willingness to take on any task. In fact, when we asked her to help us out by reading one of the prayers today, she said she would be honoured, making time for us without knowing we would also like to honour her. A faithful member of her local Catholic parish, we are grateful for her example and dedication.
Our final group of award recipients were recognised for their leadership and the way in which they demonstrate a commitment to each of the touchstones as students of the College. They are proactive in their commitment to Christian Service Learning. In their studies they demonstrate and exemplary work ethic along with a positive attitude and commitment to the wider College community
Year 8 – Jaxon Towers: Jaxon is a quiet and compassionate young man who exemplifies, through his actions, the charism of Edmund Rice. He does this through consistently showing respect for himself and others, through his wearing of the College uniform with pride, the application he demonstrates through his classwork, and his willingness to be involved in extracurricular activities. He is polite and cooperative at all times demonstrating leadership through service, living the College touchstone of Gospel Spirituality, through having already completed over 60 hours of Christian Service Learning. Jaxon has also received several merits for his application to his studies and demonstrates this positive attitude towards his peers. He is friendly, a good listener and emulates kindness through his gentle interactions with others, showing strength and integrity. Jaxon is a worthy recipient of the Year 8 Edmund Rice Founder’s Day Leadership Award for 2023.
Year 9 – Jay Jayaswal: Jay is the Year 9 ERA for Change Prefect. He carries out his prefect duties with great care and diligence, initiating and running Year 9 SRC meetings. Jay gives his time freely participating in Christian Service Learning activities including Try Year 7 for a Day Science and Soccer, SRC meetings with ERA for Change prefecture as well as helping to organise and run activities on the Year 9 social day and disco with St Mary’s. Jay is a conscientious student, applying himself diligently to his studies. He is very respectful towards his peers and his teachers, treating all with a high level of compassion and respect – living each day in accordance with the College touchstone of Justice and Solidarity with his fellow peers and the entire Edmund Rice Community. Jay is a worthy recipient of the Year 9 Edmund Rice Founders Day Leadership Award for 2023.
Year 10 – Michael Da Silva: Michael is at all times a conscientious, respectful and studious member of the College. As the 2023 Year 10 Community and Culture Prefect, Michael chooses to lead by example, demonstrating all of the qualities that Edmund Rice championed throughout his own life. His day to day actions truly reflect the touchstone of Gospel Spirituality as he always acts with compassion, justice and peace in the College Community. He is truly a young man of integrity and solidarity, receiving his CSL Certificate at the end of last year. Michael chooses to serve his wider community in his own time, all the while committing himself to his academic pursuits. Throughout his time at the College, Michael has participated in a number of co-curricular activities, including Chess, Debating, Da Vinci Decathlon and Robotics, as well as promoting the College through Primary School Visits and the College Open Days. Michael is truly a worthy recipient of the 2023 Founder’s Day award and I have no doubt that he will continue to set a standard by which others should strive to emulate.
Year 11 – Julian Eckermann: Julian displays strong leadership qualities as a member of the Year 11 cohort. In a similar manner to Blessed Edmund, Julian demonstrates his leadership through his actions and his service to others. Julian has already accrued over 100 hours of Christian Service in Year 10 and 11. This service has included Julian’s involvement across many areas of College life. Julian has assisted with Homework Club in tutoring younger students, he is a member of the College Band and the Police Band playing at multiple events, as well as assisting with Peer Support and Try Year 7 For A Day. He is involved in the local community through his participation in scouts, and has raised significant amounts of money for multiple charities including; MS, Children’s Cancer and Orange Sky Laundry. Julian is a student who truly leads by example, and who has the integrity that is evident in one who truly lives out the Gospel Spirituality that is the embodiment of our Touchstones.
Year 12 – Ben Connolly: Ben always conducts himself within the school setting to the highest possible standard. As a senior student of Edmund Rice College, Ben goes above and beyond in his willingness to serve the College community exemplifying the College touchstone of Gospel Spirituality. Ben proved to be a fantastic ambassador for the College as a group leader in the Try Year 7 For a Day event, with parents of Year 5 and 6 boys commending the care and understanding exhibited by Ben for their sons. Ben applies himself to all facets of College life, and builds effective relationships centred on the foundations of respect. Ben has completed 79 Hours of service, continuing to work on his Senior Christian Service Learning Project, even though the required hours are complete.