There is more happiness in giving than receiving

The phrase “Remember When” was our theme for Athon Day this year when we celebrated over 32 years of fundraising for mission and service to the community. Athon Day began in 1985 as the annual walkathon with the school walking from our campus to Port Noarlunga – along the beach to Southport and back to school again. This was close to 12 km. It was in 1987 when the walkathon changed to the athons we know today. I think we’d had enough of walking and the students decided there were more exciting ways to celebrate the culmination of raising funds for charities. This year, however, was another historic milestone in the life of Cardijn. Firstly, we have Year 7 students for the first time in secondary school and students in Years 7 to 9 were involved in other service related activities on Athon Day. These included working with younger students in neighbouring primary schools, baking cookies, cooking meals and making up backpacks of love for the homeless. These were great acts of love and service and I congratulate all students on their fine efforts.

We learn from the Bible in Acts 20 that: “By every means I have shown you that we must exert ourselves in this way to support the marginalised” and remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, who himself said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”

Together the College raised a total of $16997.30. These much-needed funds were distributed by our seven Houses to their sponsored charities. Chisholm House – Labs ‘n Life, Faulkner House – Centacare, Kolbe House – Hutt Street Centre, Lombard House – Fred’s Van, MacKillop House – CANTEEN, Mitchell House – Coolock and Catherine Houses and Romero House created 150 ‘Packs of Love’ for the St Vincent De Paul Society. These backpacks will be split between the Vincentian Homeless Shelter, the Women’s Shelter and the St Vinnies branch in the South that supports families in our local area.

We also congratulated our students who have been recognised and acknowledged for completing the bronze (100 hours), silver (200 hours) and gold (300 hours) service awards. We are very proud of their achievements and their dedication to our community. Their service to the community was selfless, committed, generous and above all deeply faithful as student leaders. They model our motto See, Judge, Act. They are a credit to their House, Cardijn and their families. Five students received Bronze, two Silver and four received Gold.

It was interesting reading a recent article in the Sunday Mail regarding Catholic schools and declining enrolments. The journalist compared Catholic schools, Government schools and Independent schools. The point of the article was to report that Catholic school numbers were down and other sectors were up. She used raw data over a period of four years and when you look at those numbers they could be alarming. Various reasons were stated such as affordability, academic achievement, NAPLAN results and facilities.

I can comment on our Southern Vales region and our story is the complete opposite. Our numbers have increased. At Cardijn alone there was a 26% increase in total enrolment in 2019, the largest increase across all schools in SA. If one wanted to compare academic achievement, NAPLAN scores and investment in capital development, one only needs to visit the website to compare schools in the region and see that Catholic schools are punching well above their weight in comparison to neighbouring schools. At Cardijn alone our Year 12 results are amongst the best in the State – 99.1 % SACE completion, over 80% of our technical students into apprenticeships (national average is 5%), 20% of students with ATAR scores over 90 and for three consecutive years, a student from Cardijn has won the highest SACE Award, a Governor of South Australia Commendation (27 students awarded in SA in 2019).

So why are families choosing a Catholic school in the Southern Vales? They do so because they know that their children will thrive, be connected and feel that they belong at their school, parents know that the quality of learning is of a high standard and where they feel satisfied that their child will receive extra help or be extended and inspired to be at their best. Furthermore, they know that their children will be in an environment where they are challenged to see themselves as leaders in a greater community both locally and globally, where they are challenged to live for their community and work towards supporting those who are most marginalised. Catholic education in the Southern Vales from Reception to Year 12+ is an investment in the future of our children.

Dr Paul Rijken is principal of Cardijn College, an R-12 co-educational Catholic school in the Marist tradition, deeply inspired by the method of College patron Joseph Cardijn with a foundation built on the three pillars of his teachings; to See, Judge and Act. Educating and inspiring students in the beautiful Southern Vales region of Adelaide since 1984, Cardijn has grown to encompass three schools, each with distinct offerings. Cardijn College Galilee at Aldinga offers Reception to Year 7, expanding to include Year 8 in 2022 and Year 9 in 2023. Cardijn College at Noarlunga Downs offers Years 7-12 and is renowned for academic excellence and a vibrant extra-curricular program. Cardijn College Marcellin at Christie Downs provides a wide variety of vocational education and training opportunities for students in Years 10 – 12 and beyond, with relationships that extend well into their careers. With a current enrolment of 1750 students and 240 staff, Cardijn College is an institution which strives to be a beacon of faith in the community, with students who have enormous influence and impact on both a local and global level. Paul has been the principal at Cardijn College since 2005. He has a Ph.D. from Curtin University in Science and Mathematics Education. He is a Fellow of the Australian College of Educational Leaders.

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