The real success of the CBC gentleman

There is a saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. It implies that people who have long been used to doing things in a particular way will not abandon their habits. Now I hope that every CBC gentleman will continue to grow throughout his life, but the fact remains that how we want an old dog to behave is why we take it to puppy school. The adolescent years are when young men are most pliable and the development of their consciences is at its most receptive. To grow straight in prevailing winds, a sapling needs a stake. In your son's case, that stake takes the form of the values you instill in him and expect the College to reinforce. When we are wedged, our partnership efficacy is greatly diminished. When we are united, we are almost unbeatable. As parents are the primary educators, what I would respectfully ask is that when it comes to ensuring our boys meet their commitments, the heavy-lifting continues to be done at home.

During my time at CBC, there has been the odd occasion where a parent has rung the College to ask if we can tell their son to get a haircut, or do their homework, or spend less time on Facebook. If the people who brought him into the world; who know him and what he responds to; who have shared every momentous occasion of his life; who clothe, feed and provide shelter to him; who determine holidays, privileges, birthday presents and fund his lifestyle in its entirety can't influence a boy to have a haircut, what makes parents think that a teacher is better-placed? Whenever a CBC boy is seen with messy or long hair, poor grooming, shirt hanging out, no blazer with his winter uniform, taking the seat of an elderly person on the bus or using inappropriate language it is not indicative of the College's standard. It is indicative of the boy's commitment. Please take time to remind him of his obligations, and reinforce the message of my speech. Hopefully he can come to an understanding that we (parents and teachers) are not trying to control him; we are just trying to help him recognise and achieve the attributes that will give him the best chance of success as an adult. I thank you in anticipation.

In this week's Intouch, I want to share with parents a speech I made at last week's assembly. The focus of the assembly was to recognise excellence and the reason I want to share it with you is because you, the parents and caregivers, are so important in the formation of your sons.

Each year, the overwhelming majority of boys fully embrace the College and commit day in, day out, to trying to give their best and take full advantage of the reasons their parents placed them here in the first place. I have total respect for them.

Each year a few students leave the College. Some choose to leave; others are asked to leave. I have a begrudging respect for these boys because they directly, or through their actions, choose to reject the College and what it is trying to deliver.

The group of boys whose behaviour I find difficult to respect are the boys who want the fruits of the College, but not the roots. They're happy to benefit from the fantastic tours, the interschool teams, the generosity of the staff, the sacrifices of their parents and the safety of our community. What they aren't prepared to do is fully commit, as they pledged at enrolment and, for those in Years 10 to 12, confirmed in their TRJ year.

This week a senior boy told me this when being asked about his time at the College. He had come from another school, a very prestigious school where fees are much higher, facilities are much better and perceived reputation is outstanding. He said to me that at his former College, the staff loved the school. At CBC the staff love the students. At the prestigious school, staff only talked to him about his performance. At CBC the staff talk about his formation. At his previous school there was a sense of how he could add to the reputation of the College. At CBC the focus was on adding to his value as a man.

Our College has conditions; they are there for a purpose. They are not to control you. They are there to test your word, to test your selflessness and to provide an opportunity to give public witness to your commitment. So today I want you to reflect. Are you into CBC, or do you reject it? Are you all in? Because if you're not, you're all out. Do you wear your blazer to and from school, or do you stick it in your bag as soon as you are out of sight? Do you hide your hair under a hat, or behind your earlobes? Do you chew gum, drop litter, graffiti on desks and walls, cross streets where there are no controlled crossings or use your phone surreptitiously in class or around the school? Are you honest, or are you sneaky? Are you behaving like you would want your son to behave and how your parents have taught you to behave? Or are you led and weak?

I know for the overwhelming majority of you, you can stand up and say I am a 100% committed CBC gentleman. For the few who do not value the intention of the College, ask yourself why? What is so attractive about showing the world you have the psychology of a child, placing your needs before those of your community? Do you want to go to a school that just focusses on enforcing rules, or do you want to go to a school that explains why you need to abide by the conditions of enrolments and how it is a rehearsal for life?

The life ahead of you, gentlemen, has several absolutes. An absolute is a value or principle which is regarded as universally valid or which may be viewed without relation to other things. It is something that exists without being dependent on anything else.

Integrity is an absolute; honesty is an absolute, trustworthiness is an absolute; patience is an absolute; loyalty is an absolute, and commitment is an absolute.

You can't be 10% committed, or 20, or 30, or 50 or even 99. Commitment, like trust, like honesty, like loyalty, like integrity, and like patience, is all in or all out.

Today we celebrate the success of your peers. Check them out; you know them and their attributes. Make your own judgments and your own correlations. As important as these awards are, they are not the main game. The real success of the CBC gentleman will be reflected in five, 10, 15 or 20 years' time. It will be determined by the kind of son, brother, partner and father (should you choose to have children of your own) you will be. What kind of neighbour, employer, employee and citizen you become. Your success will be directly determined by the values your parents and your school placed front and centre during your formation. The values this school tries to have you embrace for your benefit, not our convenience or reputation.

If you, during your time here, understand this motivation, you will come to reflect the views of that Year 12 student who spoke to me last week and I can guarantee you will have a head start in life. The challenge is yours, accept it, or reject it, but never say you weren't told.

Mr Domenic Burgio