Can you remember your very first paid job? Today, I was driving down North Terrace and memories came flooding back to me. I was in Year 9 at Adelaide Boys High School and my job was a newspaper boy stationed at the top of the ramp of the Adelaide Railway Station. After school I would rush down to the newspaper kiosk which was located just outside the ramp and I began my shift just before 4 pm. The afternoon daily newspaper at the time was “The News” and the morning newspaper “The Advertiser”. The News was printed at the print house just off North Terrace in Bank Street. The Red Spot newspaper was the latest edition and was printed at 4 pm and distributed along the major passageways to the bus and train routes. In Adelaide you would see boys and girls standing at most intersections selling newspapers. At that time in the 1970s a newspaper would cost 6 cents and I remember having my coin dispenser with 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent pieces. The skill of this job was to sell the paper quickly and get change out. The more papers you can sell the more money in your pocket. In fact, I got 1 cent for every paper sold. I would sell about 150 papers between 4-6 pm and the money was banked with the Savings Bank of SA kiosk which was located just down the ramp. I had this job for just on two years.

The money I earnt was saved in my Savings Bank account and I remember buying my first bike. It was a Malvern Star with three gears mounted as a shift lever on the crossbar. I was so proud of that bike, it had a speedo, indicators and double headlights. You may well ask why I am telling you this story.

There were some important life lessons that I had to learn quickly. My boss depended on me fronting up for work every day and on time. The customers depended on me being there and I quickly developed relationships with people even though I didn’t know their names, they would buy a paper from me having probably passed many newspaper boys/girls along the way. I had to know how to give change back quickly and my number skills were tested. I learnt to appreciate that money was earnt through hard work. I learnt how to deal with setbacks, yes even then people would steal a paper or give me New Zealand coins. I had to bear the cost of the loss in my final take. The money I used to purchase the bike was my hard earnings and I looked after that bike.

I grew up in a time when, as a family, we didn’t have much. We didn’t have a car but we did have a TV. We never went on holidays and our family outings were to the beach or to the Belair National Park. KFC was a treat on Boxing Day and we walked or rode our bikes everywhere. Life has changed so much in 40 years. As a nation we have advanced and living standards have changed. However the fundamental lessons of life are still as important today as they were 40 years ago. In a society where we need to have and consume everything as we desire, the challenge is how we build those strong life lessons in today’s context and environment.

At Cardijn, we educate our students to value hard work, to value simplicity and the importance of family. We value what we have the opportunities, facilities and resources at our school. We don’t take things for granted and we look after our environment. We build trust and we look after the vulnerable and those less fortunate.

This week we welcomed just under 300 new families with students starting in Year 7 and Year 8 in 2020. As we begin a new decade of a Cardijn education and relationship, I made this public promise to our families:

  1. Cardijn is committed to knowing each student deeply
  2. Cardijn values each student as a capable and competent learner and will support their active engagement in the learning process
  3. Cardijn, in partnership with families, will commit to the highest expectations for every student’s learning process, wellbeing and achievement

As we draw closer to the end of the year, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on those aspects of our work as teachers and parents which prepare our students for the life lessons of the future!

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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