Principal’s address from the official opening – Wednesday 27 June 2022
Archbishop Pat O’Regan, Fr Josy Sebastian, Professor Denis Ralph, Dr Neil McGoran, Mr Tim Ryan, Mr Simon McMahon, Mr Nick Tridente and Paul Boyce, Mr Scott Kennett and Chris Doyle, colleague principals, staff from the Catholic Education Office, special guests, staff and students.
Just over 18 months ago, Archbishop Pat celebrated mass at Cardijn College with staff from our three campuses and the Gospel reading was from Matthew about Jesus’ miracle of calming the storm. Archbishop showed us a picture of a painting of The Storm on the Sea of Galilee by the Dutch painter Rembrandt Van Rijn. In the painting, Rembrandt depicts Jesus at the stern of the boat, surrounded by the disciples worried about the boat sinking in the storm. The remarkable part is, of course, the miracle that Jesus calmed the storm, and the disciples remained safe and well. The picture brings another dimension to the viewer as there are 13 people and Jesu in the boat. The 13th person is in fact Rembrandt himself. In the Gospel reading, Rembrandt wants us to understand that we are indeed the 13th person in every challenge of life – that with faith in Jesus we can ride out the storm.
Well, I can tell you that in the last 18 months, a storm has been present in this building project, which at times was a hurricane. Chris Doyle, Kennetts Site Manager, can testify to this, as can Johnny Ioannou and all on the project team. If you were to pick a time in history, 2021 must be remembered as “annus horribilis”. The impact of Covid on the building industry, the impact of supply of materials for projects, the escalating costs of materials and supplies, a tragic fire in one of our suppliers’ factories and lack of availability of materials all contributed to delays to the building schedule and ultimately, the cost. However, in all these challenges, I am of the deep belief that Jesus was present to us in many ways. The way the project team worked towards solutions, the way the project team supported and had faith that the project would continue to meet the high expectations of the build and meet the design that we see realised today. Scott Kennett took personal charge over this project and his team has delivered an outstanding building which will provide the Cardijn College community with facilities which are not just contemporary but also creative as we may not even know how we may use the facilities in the future. These facilities are adaptable and ready to provide for the unknown. These facilities are future-proofed for the next 30 years.
I acknowledge the outstanding leadership of Johnny Ioannou who led the development with the architects, the builders, the contractors and suppliers. His knowledge of the building industry coupled with a deep understanding of how this all comes together as a project to this high standard is simply outstanding. Johnny understands the importance of relationships and networking, present always in the building phase as well as meeting set goals and timelines. I am indebted to him as my Business Manager for the last 17 years. The building works we have completed, and this centre today is the pièce de résistance. I would also like to acknowledge the work of Ivan Cavuoto from the building and planning office in the CEO who, as a long-time colleague and friend, provided us with his wisdom, advice, support, and encouragement.
A building such as this one does not just happen with an apparition in the mind of the principal. The vision was a combination of a strong vision for Cardijn, its masterplan and great minds working together. When the needs were recognised and the knowing that this stage was at the last in a masterplan developed last decade, a taskforce of teachers, ESOs, students and parents met with our architect Nick Tridente and workshopped every single need and purpose of this building. This took well over nine months before we even got to concept drawings. The designs were scrutinised carefully by the taskforce and ultimately, endorsed by our leadership and school board.
The building today represents the thinking and contributions of many people in the Cardijn community, but I would like to single out a few people who have made remarkable contributions. Rob Dvorak, Director of Innovations, Programs and Technology, Ashleigh Taylor, Learning Coordinator – The Arts, Renee Rees and Alexia Little, Learning Coordinators for Science and Jarrad Strain, Learning Coordinator Mathematics, and Innovations.
Dr Neil McGoran provided us with an important framework we now know intimately as the Living, Learning Leading Framework. It is our promise to young people and to communities to provide an education which is strongly underpinned by our Catholic identity and mission, our commitment to students, to teaching and learning, to inclusion and diversity, to people, leadership and our culture, and to financial stewardship. All these commitments are evident in this new building, the people that will use it, the people that will lead it and the provisions for all the aspects that recognise every learner as unique, loved and loved equally.
Scott Kennett said to me we got a great deal with this building at $18.5M, as today it would cost $25M. Tick in the box for financial stewardship!
I wonder if you noticed the works of our catholic identity signage when you walked from the car park to this building. The project is not yet complete, but our journey takes us from the front of the school with a welcome to a Catholic school in the Marist tradition, where Joseph Cardijn welcomes you in the Joseph Cardijn Welcome Garden, where you meet St Marcellin Champagnat at the busiest crossroad of student traffic in student central and where Mary, our loving Mother of Jesus, welcomes you just outside this building. Mary sends you forth to enter the building. That sending forth is to Jesus’ presence everywhere but especially in this place.
At Cardijn College, the TOWARD 2025 Strategic Directions and Priorities launched to coincide with the start of Year 7 in secondary school, was focussed on five goals. The goal for the community to lead with influence and impact to make a real difference in this world through local touch and global reach, where learning promotes a platform for our students to thrive, with curriculum, programs and infrastructure which are set in the context of graduates who are ready to tackle the challenges of the future. Where teachers are entrepreneurial, high-performing educators who are ready to embrace a future-oriented curriculum, where pathways for students are recognised locally, nationally and internationally through close and strong relationships with industry, tertiary institutions, governments and local community and where the school invests in the development of its staff as leaders and outstanding educators. This bold vision back in 2019 is unfolding and today realised with our Year 7 students in 2019, now in Year 10 with access to this building in the senior years.
Sometimes, you must be ready to respond to situations as they arise. In 2020, when SACCS approved this project, we sought to release this with an announcement to the media and The Advertiser. Journalist Tim Williams rang me the day before the story was to appear on page 5 of The Advertiser. He zeroed in on one aspect of the project called the serenity room. This was a space which would allow a small group of students and staff to come together. I think our thoughts were a reflection room or prayer area. Tim was trying to bait me and downplay the innovation of such an area. The night before, I happened to be watching a 360-degree YouTube clip of the Sea of Galilee – Church of the Beatitudes and proceeded to tell Tim that it was much more than a reflection room but rather an area where we could experience being present anywhere in the world as if we were personally there. I shared my Sea of Galilee experience. The next day when I told Johnny about what happened he turned ashen white. He asked where and how we were going to do that. It is a story which takes many more roads but today we are one of only two places in Australia where a 360-degree theatre has been built from the ground up. This technology is still unfolding but it is the next step in virtual reality, providing great opportunities for curriculum and learning experiences as well as training experiences.
In closing, I would like to extend my deep gratitude to Professor Denis Ralph and Dr Neil McGoran for their confidence in Cardijn College and for supporting our vision, our continued growth as a school and our aspirations for major capital developments in the next five years. Cardijn College is the school of choice in the southern area of Adelaide and the official opening of this building today will continue to build confidence in our community that this school is a flagship school in Catholic Education in South Australia.
Dr Paul Rijken