Principal’s end of year address to the community

Our recent End of Year Mass and Awards Night was an important event on the school calendar. It is an occasion where we celebrate outstanding student achievement and recognise excellent leadership and endeavour. It is also a time when we farewell families and staff and acknowledge their outstanding service to our community.

It was also the last official event for the 2019 school year, the last official occasion for this decade and as I look back over the year 2019, several defining moments will be remembered. 2019 saw the first intake of Year 7 into secondary school with just over 216 students starting in January. At the same time, we had just over 200 students starting their secondary school journey in Year 8. We saw the protracted building of our amphitheatre and the now completed Food and Technology areas. We celebrated the opening of our new maintenance compound. At our Marcellin campus, new facilities were commissioned in Hair and Beauty, Early Learning, Personal Health and Care and the REDARC Technology Centre. At Marcellin, the upgrade of our campus frontage is just one month away from completion and we recently announced the development of our 3rd stage – an $18.5M Senior School, Technology and Innovation Centre which is part of our $42M investment in capital works through our masterplan. In July this year we received our first Year 12 results for 2019 in the Year 12 Research Project with over 52.6% of our students achieving an A grade compared to the state average of 35.6% and 20% at A+ grade or perfect score compared to the state average of 6%.

When we look back over the last 10 years we celebrate the birthdays of our two newest houses in Mitchell and Faulkner House, we commissioned the new library, special education areas, staff room, Mitchell House learning areas and the Language Learning Centre. We saw the successful merger of Cardijn and Marcellin Technical and we also saw the rise of three senior leadership team members to the principalship in Catholic schools, five leadership team members to the deputy principalship and numerous other middle leaders to senior leadership in other schools. When we look at our middle leaders at Cardijn today, many began their teaching careers this decade. We are truly blessed to have outstanding educational leaders, as Joseph Cardijn states “we don’t find leaders we form them.”

In reading through the Principal blog posts over the last three years, I discovered that there are common themes each year which are focussed on faith, hope and love and a genuine commitment to providing the very best possible school environment, for learning and faith formation.  It is marked by an outstanding partnership between the College and its families and a trust that our endeavour is aligned with family expectation and student need. There is a consistent mention of the generosity of the staff and the utmost respect for their professionalism and dedication to the vocation of teaching.

Leadership features strongly in everything we do here at Cardijn.  I am delighted that we are able to acknowledge so many students this year for their commitment and dedication to all endeavours, academic or community.  I extend my congratulations to all students who received awards, we are very proud of you.

We were blessed by the outstanding leadership of Sophie Meynell and Indiana Crowther, College Captains 2019.  I am sure they would say that the time has gone quickly. Sophie and Indy have brought a wonderful sense of commitment and dedication to their appointments.  They have been outstanding in their involvement in our school community and beyond. They have lived the five values of being Marist and have shown extensive leadership throughout the year. They have been excellent role models to our students. I extend my best wishes to both Sophie and Indy for their futures.

This whole Cardijn endeavour could not happen if it wasn’t for the dedicated and thoroughly professional staff we have at the Cardijn and Marcellin campuses. I am very grateful to be working with staff who are generous, committed to getting the very best student outcomes, caring and selfless in the time they give to this community.

I acknowledge the work of the school Board under the leadership of Ms Helen Bates. The Board has worked hard to ensure that this school continues to be at its very best in terms of our capital development and financial position. Its work in the strategic decisions in making Cardijn one of the leading schools in learning is acknowledged and I know how much this is appreciated by both students and staff.

Thank you to our sponsors of awards, especially the families who generously made a donation to the awards – your wonderful contribution is greatly appreciated.  In particular, I’d like to mention the Margaret Wadewitz Foundation and the Australian Defence Force. We are very blessed to have our local members of parliament as great friends and supporters of our College – Katrine Hildyard, Amanda Rishworth and Chris Picton.

One member of staff completes 25 years of service at the end of this year and we acknowledge and recognise this fine achievement, Ms Debbie Williams is our Acting Director of Students this term and for 19 years of her service at Cardijn a House leader of Chisholm and Mitchell House. Debbie has recently accepted a new role as the Daily Organiser for the Cardijn campus.

A significant member of our community will be completing her tour of duty at the end of this year. Ms Helen Bates has been a College Board Member for the last eight years, and six of these as College Board Chair. We congratulate Helen for her outstanding leadership and service to our community – she was at the helm for much of the great school achievements of this decade. We are in an enviable position today because of Helen’s work and the work of the College Board. We thank Helen for her generosity of time to be present at important school occasions and I don’t think she has ever missed an end of year or beginning of the year celebration. Helen leaves our Cardijn community as her youngest daughter Iona finished Year 12. In recognition of her commitment to Catholic Education and her leadership qualities, Helen has been appointed as a Commissioner with the South Australian Commission for Catholic Schools in 2020.

At the end of the year we say farewell to a number of staff and we offer our best wishes as they begin a new phase in their teaching career.

  • Mr Ryan Brown who joins Aberfoyle Park High School as Assistant Principal
  • Ms Amy Willis to Seymour College as Head of PE and Health
  • Ms Jessica Sweeny to Scotch College
  • Ms Emma Knight to SEDA College as Head of Basketball
  • Ms Jane McCafferty who is retiring from teaching
  • Mr Kym Barratt, Mr Daniel Smith, Ms Alana Mitchell, Mr Damien Ruiz, Ms Alison Starr and Ms Fiona Donagh who are moving on to follow different endeavours
  • Ms Lauren Simons who will be on maternity leave
  • Mr Luke Harris who is on leave for 2020 and
  • Ms Hannah Priest who is on leave for six months following her drafting in the AFLW with the St Kilda Football Club

We thank these staff and wish them well in their futures.

I would especially like to acknowledge two important people who have supported me in my role as principal of at Cardijn. Fr Josy is a great friend of the community. He is always committed and supportive of all our endeavours and makes time to be with us. He is a wonderful friend to our students and I value his wisdom and support.

Ms Pam Ronan is our Principal Consultant who has been a tremendous support to me personally and the leadership team. Her wisdom, vast experience in two complex R-12 schools and her understanding of what makes and brings about successful learning and successful schools has been a tremendous asset as we engage with the actions of our strategic directions and priorities “Towards 2025”.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the senior leadership team at Cardijn, Mr Patrick Harmer Deputy Principal and Head of Cardijn Campus; Mr Chris Burrows Assistant Principal and Head of Marcellin Campus; Mr Johnny Ioannou, Business Manager; Mr Joseph Catania, Assistant Principal Religious Identity and Mission; Ms Danielle Greig, Assistant Principal Pastoral Care; Ms Mel Bratovic, Director of Staff and Ms Anita Patton, Executive Assistant to the Principal. Their work at senior leadership has been pivotal in our success.

Our celebration as a community signals the close of another successful year.  We give thanks for God’s rich blessings during the year and for this second decade of the 21st Century and the opportunity to work with such a wonderful group of young people, our students and our families.  I hope we can all find time in the busyness of our life, to prepare for the authentic meaning of Christmas.  The birth of Jesus is a strong reminder of the importance of our faith, hope and love.  May these joys be ever present for each one of you as we enter this time of joy and peace.

God Bless

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.

1 comment on “Principal’s end of year address to the community

  1. Great speech by one of our principals who really understand their mission and role of leadership


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