Principal's Address - 2021 Secondary Presentation Assembly

Thursday, 09 Dec 2021

Giinagay - Waaru Yarrang Ngiinda Ngaya Yamm Mr Johnstone. Welcome to the 2021 Secondary Presentation Ceremony - welcome to our Chair of the College Council, Mr David Ford, Council members, members of our P&F executive, staff, parents and carers, grandparents, friends and especially students of Bishop Druitt College both here and online, it is my pleasure to address you today at this wonderful event that reflects upon and celebrates our 2021 school year.

I wish to recognise Jenna, Kristy, Clark and the Goori Group for their work in personalising the acknowledgement of country. These are now our words that we, at Bishop Druitt College, can use to celebrate the connect of the Gumbaynggirr people to this land. Please join me in thanking the Goori Group for this addition to our school culture. I am honoured to announce that the college has been selected as one of 5 schools in NSW to be a Waratah Project school to further support our Goori programs and connections. 

Presentation Ceremonies afford us the opportunity to focus our attention on the many achievements of our school.  It is also an opportunity for us to express our gratitude to all who have contributed to BDC’s success over the last 12 months. 

In 2021 the Achievements are many and varied:

✔ I’ll start with our last group of year 12s - who’s ATAR results were released earlier this year. We were yet again the top-performing school on the Coffs Coast in state rankings - this time by more than 100 places. We should be proud of this achievement.  85% of the year 12 students gained early entry to university before they had even finished the end of their HSC. This year, our 2021 seniors have also experienced positive outcomes with early offers rolling in for 2022 from Universities from across the country. The year 12s last official engagement is tonight at their Valedictory Dinner at Pacific Bay Resort. I am particularly proud of this group as COVID-19 impacted on both year 11 and year 12. As a school, we wish them well in their next step. 

✔ 2021 NAPLAN results for secondary years were also outstanding with reading, spelling and numeracy significantly above the state mean. In 2022, all NAPLAN assessments will be online across Australia. A thank-you to Mr Verbruggen, to the students, and the teaching and IT staff who helped earlier this term with the practice days in order to prepare for this change.

✔This year, with the help of an AISNSW grant we increased our counselling support services with the addition of a third counsellor - this was a positive addition and significantly reduced wait times and built upon exciting new proactive wellbeing programs. Thank you to Mrs O’Connor and her whole wellbeing team.

✔  2021 also saw our teachers introduce World Options courses to our year 10s. This year’s class, therefore, was the first cohort to have the first full set of courses for years 9 and 10. Thank you to the teachers and support staff for creating some outstanding and innovative curriculum opportunities for our students. Mr Verbruggen and the Heads of Faculty have been regional leaders in this area and it should be noted that others Anglican schools in our diocese are now following our lead and adding subjects like these to their curriculum.

✔ A big thank you to Mr Doyle and Mrs Driscoll who have supported the new Internship program which has already generated new options for our students who would like some vocational experience beyond our work experience programs. Independent Schools Association has noted that our Careers’ Hub outcomes have been the most successful of the 3 across the state. We should be proud of this achievement. 

✔ 2021 was also the first full year of Stymie - which has helped the college support students in need through anonymous reporting.

✔ Our Kaizen classes have continued to create exciting curriculum initiatives for our year 5s to year 8s with one example being the student-designed and constructed mountain biking track on Margaret’s Field - thank you to Mr Davis, Mr Powell, Mr Oxley and Mr Barron for their work in this project.

✔ We also launched our BDC Football Academy which has improved the skills of our players - thank you to Mr Andrews for your work on this program. This added to our Golf and Netball Academies and we hope with a normal year ahead we can resume a regular sporting calendar to see these skills in action. Over the last month, the college has also signed a deal with the Liverpool Football Club International Academy NSW. This new program starts in two weeks - so if you are a football player see Mr Kelleher to sign up for this opportunity. 

✔ In March we completed and opened the Garra-Garraji Dance Studio and this resource and the teachings of Mrs Johnson has added another string to our excellent performing arts program at BDC. I wish to announce today that Mrs Kate Freeman will be a new staff member in 2022 - her role as Performing Arts Manager, will be to support and grow our ensemble program and create more performance opportunities for our drama, music and dance students. She will be a timely addition after a disrupted 18 months, due to COVID restrictions, in performing arts at school and more broadly in our wider community. 

✔ This year, we upgraded our furniture for 10 classrooms across the campus and during the holidays our secondary library will be revamped with phase one being the removal of the circulation desk, new carpet being laid and new furniture to be delivered just prior to classes starting next year. Our IT department will also be moving to the library in 2022. 

✔ We have also started on the refurbishment of our senior school outdoor courtyard with new terraced seating being added on the northern side of the pond. Early next year the fence will be removed and a deck will be constructed as another outdoor zone for students. Tenders have also arrived this week for the college to select a builder to construct the new Senior Hub which will extend the senior common room area from their outdoor area through to the front car park. We hope to start this build early next year with a completion date midyear. When this building is completed, phase 2 of the library project will occur which includes the movement of the senior study centre into the new senior hub. The current space will then be converted to an innovation lab for STEM and other exciting group projects.

✔ The stage area behind me is also getting an upgrade over the holidays with new panelling and a new screen to replace the old projector and screen. 

Other targets for 2022 include two new hard courts on Field 1 and starting the adventure playground. This project was put on hold during late 2020 and throughout 2021 as the contractors were unable to travel due to COVID restrictions. The drawings have also been completed for the bridge to Margaret’s Field and this will be constructed in the first half of 2022.

I have been extremely proud of the student body this year. Many of you have adapted to the learning opportunities made available to you through the new learning management system, Schoolbox, as well as a host of remote experiences such as online debating, essay writing competitions, online round square and ethics conferences, olympiads, and even esports events - as well as face to face sport, academic and performance opportunities when they were available. 

The college has also supported a wide variety of service and community groupings including the Soup Kitchen, the Op Shop, Warrina Women and Children’s Refuge, World Vision, Shave for a Cure, Movember, White Ribbon, the Red Cross Blood Bank Drive and many many more. 

I too am looking forward to a year that can be more engaging with more choices and challenges for you all - a return to school concerts, choirs, eisteddfods, sporting tournaments, excursions and of course multi-day school camps. 

I have some final thank-yous before I  close today’s Principal’s Address.

Thank you to our parents and carers and our P&F Association for having faith in the college over the last 12 months as we continued to navigate through some uncertainties. We are certainly looking forward to inviting all parents back onto campus next year.  We do miss you. 

Additionally, I would like to formally recognise the work done by our dedicated College Council members, who support the college through their strategic initiatives. They truly do have the best interests of the college at heart. They have supported the implementation of all of our initiatives through the year and continue to plan for an exciting future for BDC, one which improves all facets of our beautiful campus, our traditions and our culture.

I wish to thank the College Leadership Team for their wisdom and dedication and the college staff for supporting the college vision and being resilient, adaptable and innovative in the face of the ever-changing schooling and health landscape. Your commitment to the students is admirable indeed and I know you too are looking for to the Christmas break.

Thank you also for listening today - please enjoy the rest of today’s presentations. Be safe during the holiday period and have a happy and holy Christmas. Please know that I am proud of your hard work throughout the year and appreciate your smiles, warm hellos and taking the time and effort to look after each. God Bless. 

Nick Johnstone