Living a beautiful life

Today is the final ceremony for our Year 12s where all the school community is present. It is their last whole of school rite of passage. It is one of the most special ceremonies - poignant, tears of joy and some regret that it's all come to an end. It bookends how they entered this place and is strategic and orchestrated. It has purpose.

I will read from The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential which stated in 1994 that the lack of rites of passage in global society results in confusion regarding the marks of age-related social roles and the societal requirements for those roles:

The absence of rites of passage leads to serious breakdown in the process of maturing as a person. Young people are unable to participate in society in a creative manner because societal structures no longer consider it their responsibility to intentionally establish the necessary marks of passing from one age-related social role to another, such as: child to youth, youth to adult, adult to elder. The result is that society has no clear expectation of how people should participate in these roles and therefore individuals do not know what is required by society.

This piece of wisdom was written before the internet and social media complicated matters even more. The events of the last few days around school muck-up days have made national news bulletins. Like every aberrant student behaviour, I am positive the schools involved do not have spitting on the homeless and vandalism on their curriculum, far from it. The students are just seeking that 'rite of passage ceremony' that they feel makes a transition, and if we, as adults, do not give it to them, they will make it up. Years ago, a colleague complained to me that our final day was boring. She wanted a muck-up day. I know how she would have responded had it been her car or her property that was the centre of any prank. The truth is our boys don't need a negative rite because today we give them a beautiful one. They leave this place tall and straight, mature and beautiful with class and with dignity. They leave a CBC Gentleman.

The following is the message I delivered to our graduands at their final assembly on their last formal day at school, before they left the gymnasium through the traditional Year 7 guard-of-honour.


My father was a cobbler. From an early age I can remember him working down the backyard of our home at 17 Central Avenue, Beaconsfield. The creation of a shoe would fascinate me. Clicking the leather. Punching, stitching and assembling the uppers. Choosing a last. Fitting the upper to the last. Stitching the welt to the upper and then the sole to the welt. Finally, the polishing and finishing. Each pair of shoes individually crafted for each foot, left and right. It is a beautiful thing to watch and an even more beautiful thing to actually create. My love of artisanal work probably stems from that time. I just love to admire things that have been made by hand. Things that are not just rudimentary or functional, but things that carry the soul of the creator. The workings of a mechanical watch. The perfection of a hand-sewn button hole. Recently I was privileged to admire the wood river table created by Lincoln Kerspien. It is a thing of beauty. It required imagination, perseverance, perspiration, dedication and partnerships. Things of beauty require the correct tools, the correct materials and the correct workmanship. My obsession is such that I own several pairs of shoes I've never worn. I just take them out of their box every now and then just to wonder at their perfection.

The reason I share this with you today, is that this school dedicates itself to doing something different from most schools. This school offers the very important things like an academic qualification, sporting and artistic opportunities. This school tries to keep its students and staff safe and this school tries to form deep and meaningful partnerships with the parents. But above all, it is my belief that this school tries to create things of beauty. Young men who not only get what other schools offer, but are formed into wonderful sons, brothers, partners and fathers should they choose.

I have recently interviewed all the young men leaving us today. Without exception, they have been gracious, generous in their reflections and understanding of the journey they have been on. The most recent interview was yesterday. Rhys Harvey opened up with, "My time here has been awesome! In the last few days all my experiences as a CBC boy have flashed before my eyes. I'm really going to miss this place. My highlights include the Outdoor Ed camps and The Rite Journey, which I have learned to value more with each passing year. The relationships between the staff and the students is amazing. I have had my hurdles, but it is the relationships between the staff and the students that have made me want to come to school each day." Rhys Harvey, a beautiful thing, and he sits with his brothers in this gym today, 113 beautiful things that have been formed and created by the adults who share this auditorium.

I want to finish by reminding you why we, the adults, are on your case. Make your bed, tidy your room, do your homework, cut your hair, tuck in your shirt, mind your manners, own you behaviour, meet your commitments. These requests are not to control you. Not to judge you. Not to inconvenience you. These one-percenters are all part of the skills required to be a good adult. As I say over and over, there is no shortcut to being a good man and if you can't get the small things right, how will you ever cope with the big things? They are all part of making you a beautiful thing and when you fight us, when you finish Year 12 less committed, less industrious, less prepared for the big wide wonderful world, it breaks our hearts. It is like Lincoln showing me his river table and me gauging it with a chisel. If the finished product is worse than what you started with, how does that make you feel? Remember this gentlemen, your parents, your teachers and all the staff who support them and you wish nothing but the best for you. Nothing less than preparing you in the best possible way for you to have the values, the pride, the accountability, the selflessness and the empathy and compassion to live your best possible life. If you trust these adults, follow their advice and emulate their actions and I can make you a promise. You will live as good a life as you can. You will be a beautiful thing.

God bless.

Mr Domenic Burgio