On the 13th of December 2009, we travelled with Mr Watson to country Victoria for the first Australian Salesian Schools Captain’s Conference. The host school for this first conference was Nagle College, Bairnsdale. All together, 15 students represented the 8 Australian Salesian schools.
The first day began with an early morning flight to Melbourne. At the Melbourne airport, we met up with the students and staff from the other non?Melbourne schools as their flights arrived. We were all then picked up from the airport by bus and travelled nearly 300kms to Bairnsdale.
Once we arrived at Nagle, we got acquainted with each other over lunch. After lunch, we met together in the College chapel and were officially welcomed by Mr Brennan, the Principal of Nagle College. In his welcome, Mr Brennan explained that the purpose of the conference was to bring the school Captains together to gain a greater understanding of each of the schools present, develop some leadership skills as well as begin to establish a student based network between the Salesian schools. This was followed by an opening Liturgy in honour of Don Bosco. The College Captains then gave a small presentation about their schools as a way of introducing themselves and their school to the other students. This was both interesting and enlightening. It was good for us to learn the history of other Salesian schools and it gave us the opportunity to compare Xavier with the other schools. This was followed by a BBQ at Nagle, where students met their host families. We were lucky enough to stay with Mr Brennan and his family, along with Alice Zubrinich from St Mark’s College at Port Pirie. They were very welcoming and caring and we would like to thank the Brennan family for their hospitality while at Nagle.
The next day was filled with sightseeing and activities. It started with another early start, with a bus trip to Buchan, where we visited the Royal Caves. The caves were brilliant, and gave the students a chance to get closer, literally, in the tight walkways through the caves. After an hour long tour, it was back on the bus and on to Lakes Entrance where we took a cruise. This gave us more opportunities to socialise with the other Captains and to begin to establish relationships with them whilst enjoying the views and fresh air. After all the adventures during the day, it was back to school for the formal side of things. Once back at school it was time to get into our uniforms for the Mass in the Nagle College Chapel. There were many different elements to the Mass, which was themed around servantleadership.
We even had to wash each others feet like Jesus did at the last supper. After Mass, we moved to Home Ec centre dining room where we had a three course meal. During the meal, we heard from guest speaker, Huon Bertino, who is a former Nagle College Captain. Huon’s speech was very inspiring and motivating. All the students listened to his experiences as College Captain with interest, especially the advice that he gave at the end of his speech.
The third and last day of the conference consisted of workshops to help future captains with their responsibilities and duties as student leaders. We attended four workshops in the key areas of: speech writing and public speaking, challenges faced by student leaders, organising meetings and public relations. All these sessions were very useful and informative and will really help us in our roles this year. At the conclusion of these workshops, it was time for a farewell lunch. Over lunch, students exchanged contact details, in the hope of forming a friendship and support network between Salesian school students, which was one of the major aims of the conference. Students were also lucky enough to receive goody bags containing Nagle College memorabilia as well as materials to help us in our roles as College Captains. Farewells were then said and we were back on the bus for a long trip back to the airport and the flight back to Adelaide that evening.
We both feel very honoured to have been selected College Captains for 2010, and for the chance to attend the conference at Nagle College. It was a once in a lifetime experience and we really enjoyed getting to know all the other students and hear their stories about their schools. The conference was fun and we both really enjoyed the experience. We will be able to look back on this experience throughout the year and call upon many of the things that we learnt during the conference as we lead the student community in 2010.
Katelin Clark and Cameron Stephens
Xavier College, South Australia