Being held accountable

One of the joys in my life is watching CBC gentlemen walk and ride to school each morning resplendent in their uniform, observing every courtesy, crossing roads where they should be, dressed as they committed to be, groomed as they promised at interview. To be associated with such fine future leaders is an honour, and every adult who helps form them achieves an immortality of sorts if any of that association results in an attribute being passed on. Just as I write these few words to you, Ms Garbin and Mr Leech are having a Year 7 afternoon tea. All the boys came into my office and told me they love it here and how proud they are to be a part of the community. They also reminded me of their interview with me in this same office a couple of years ago (the Class of 2025 being my first draft) and the commitments they made at that time. Every one of them looked amazing and behaved impeccably.

One of the nadirs in my life is when I get phone calls and messages of aberrant behaviour which in the past week have been too frequent. Last Thursday I hear from a colleague that several of our boys are at a local primary school attending or participating in an organised fight. The fight was bloody, filmed and sent around on social media. It dramatically affected several residents. The details appeared on a community Facebook page. No student names; no family accountability; just the identification of CBC boys.

This morning I received an email at 6.30am about the ongoing harassment of an intellectually handicapped man on the bus. Despite the fact that this man does provoke a bit, our boys have been repeatedly asked not to retaliate. Again, the email did not identify the boys or their families; just CBC Fremantle.

Upon arriving at the College, I had a phone message about some of our boys being rude to the staff of the 7/11 in Fremantle. Boys who shouldn't be in the shops before or after school. Again, no names, no identification of the family, just the fact that they are CBC Boys.

Now I was no angel and I am the first to back in our boys on their journey, but these events are being perpetrated by young men who have been here a few years, who have re-committed to the College and know better. They form a tiny percentage of our student cohort, but besmirch the reputation of the entire population. I must admit, I'm getting a little tired of it. After the fight, I wrote to the moderator of the Facebook Community page that contained the details.

Hi XXXXXXXXX, it's Domenic Burgio, Principal of CBC Fremantle. I have reports that some of the boys who attend our College were involved in a fight yesterday which has left several local residents distraught. This behaviour is certainly not taught at CBC and violates the trust and partnership we supposedly have with our families. I assure you, and all the residents of XXXXXXXXX, that we will make any student who can't display our values when in public accountable for their actions and challenge those boys' families. If anyone wishes to provide any information to me confidentially or otherwise, I again assure you we will make it a first order priority to address.

I have spoken to many of the boys involved today. They are remorseful. They admit they made an error of judgement, but they keep making the same mistakes. Whenever we receive a complaint, it is almost a cert that we know who the boys involved are. As Captain Louis Renault said in Casablanca, its often just a matter of having to "round up the usual suspects". I need to put these boys and their families on notice that there comes a time for everything, and as Jesus described in the Parable of the Barren Fig:

A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the gardener of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why should it take up space and not produce

 And the gardener answered him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bears fruit, well: and if not, then after that I shalt cut it down.

The message is that we, as a College should keep trying to forgive, trying to teach and trying to help you, the parents, form the best possible young men, but at a certain point, there may be a need to part company. What was interesting today is that not one of the boys in my office had even bothered to read my Mother's Day message. Not one had read how their actions affect the people who love them the most and the person whom they were once a part of. This is 'little boy behaviour'. They want the fruits of a CBC Fremantle education, but can't be bothered to understand the roots of what it is about.

You can tell I'm a little cranky. When the actions of a few severely impact on the many, that is not fair. It is not right. I am drawing a line and saying beyond that, it is no longer acceptable. I have let shopkeepers, neighbours and members of the public know that if our boys behave in an anti-social way they should be outed and made accountable. In this way they can be supported, but if that doesn't work, they can be made to bear the consequences of their actions rather than have the rest of us tarred with the same brush.

Can I respectfully ask you speak to your son about this. Do a walk-around. Is he meeting his, and your commitments? Is he doing his best? Is he providing a dividend to you for all the hard work and sacrifice you make to place him in our community? Is he on track to be the best possible young man he can be; before, during and after school? If he is, then he should be congratulated, affirmed and his emerging adulthood celebrated. If he's not, he needs to start yesterday. There is not one boy at this school who has a single excuse for not becoming a CBC gentleman. They have the love and support of a community that is nonpareil in my experience. As Kramer stated in one of my favourite Seinfeld episodes, "It's up to the cat now."

Mr Domenic Burgio