Reflecting on a year like no other

As I write this year's final In Touch, I am surrounded by gifts presented to our staff from our generous parents.

I have also received so many emails, cards and telephone calls expressing similar sentiments. Advent is always a special time because of the converging beams and what they all represent. Advent reminds us in the Southern Hemisphere we are ending not only a calendar year, but a school year. We are looking forward to a break, but reflect on all of the achievements that we have worked together to accomplish. Advent reminds us that soon we will be with our families, celebrating Christmas. Advent should also give us hope for the future. This year's Advent is like no other in my memory because of what has transpired in 2020, and for this year, the Burgio traditional Festivus lunch will be put into abeyance.

To the Seinfeld fans, you will know what I mean. To the uninitiated, Festivus is a  non-commercial holiday celebration and includes a Festivus dinner, an unadorned aluminum Festivus pole and practices such as the "Airing of  Grievances" where Frank Costanza tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him over the past year. My family all believe I am the embodiment of Frank, but this year they're in for a shock.

2020 will not be the year that is defined by disappointment for me. As far as 2020 is concerned, what will remain in my mind is the blessings it brought me.  2020 has re-focussed me about opportunities, perspective, gratitude, the wonderful people who I have walked with in life, that I am blessed to live in such a nurturing and healthy home, that I have an amazing family, that I have been surrounded by resilient and resourceful staff, students and parents through lockdown and all the impacts of COVID-19 and how I am so incredibly blessed to have recovered my health. 2020 has reminded me about the value of community, appreciation of what I have and how simple life can be if we really want it to. The big 60th birthday celebration will wait until my 61st, 62nd or even 63rd birthday. The overseas trip will still be waiting for me in the future, or so I hope, but I will not waste this COVID crisis. I will always remember that in a heartbeat everything I assume to be normal can be taken away and so to quote one of my colleagues, 2020 has taught me to suck the marrow out of life all day, every day.

I hope that as you gather around your Christmas lunch you can share similar blessings. For some members of our community this will be difficult. They have suffered irreparably in some instances and many continue to suffer. I want you all to know that you are all in my thoughts and that on Christmas Day I will say a special intention for all members of this beautiful community that I am so proud to be a part of. May God's light shine on you all and 2021 be a wonderful year full of the joys of family, health and faith.

This year we bid a sad farewell to Mr Neil Alweyn, who has been a part of the College Leadership Team since 2016 in his role as Deputy Principal of Teaching and Learning and then as Vice Principal. Mr Alweyn has that rare gift of constant good humour and friendliness and his calm and thoughtful presence and sage advice and leadership will be sorely missed by myself and many others in our community. I congratulate Neil on his appointment as Principal of Kolbe College in Rockingham and I wish him the very best in this new role.

We also had to say our goodbyes to Mrs Kerry Faichney, Ms Taryn MacCallum and Mrs Vera Moura in the English department, Ms Jenefer Wiltschut in Science and Ms Bree Bollig in Academic Care. I thank them for their dedicated service and devotion to excellence in education for the young men of CBC Fremantle and for their contribution to our community.

Mr Adrian Correia has been on secondment as Deputy Principal of St Luke's College in the Pilbara, and he and his family are so enjoying the warmer lifestyle that he has resigned from CBC to continue his stint up north. Adrian has been greatly missed but we know that, as a man of faith and service, he is destined for a happy and successful future.

Mr Justin Leech is also leaving us to expand his experience as an educator and leader by transferring to another Catholic College – our loss is their massive gain.

College Psychologist, Ms Gabbie Petta, is also leaving us and we thank her for the value she has added to our community and the significant positive impact she has made on the College and in the lives of so many students and staff. Gabbie will be sorely missed. Farewell also to Ms Dolores Howard in Food Technology, whose assistance for our Catering classes has been of the highest order, and Ms Nicole Morante in Administration, who provided secretarial and administration support for the Deputy Principals.

While it is difficult to part with these wonderful colleagues, it is particularly poignant to say goodbye to the last Christian Brother to work at our College, Br Kevin Paull. After 57 years in Catholic education, Br Paull is retiring and his incredible support of our students who require some extra care with literacy and numeracy will be hugely missed. Originally from Kalgoorlie, Br Paull trained as a Christian Brother in Melbourne in 1960 and his mission has spanned continents and generations as his love of learning was gifted to many, many students. Br Paull has devoted his life to others and we wish him a well-earned rest from active service. God Bless you, Br Paull, and thank you.

And thank you, our parents, our families, our friends. Please be safe and look after each other, and remember I love youse all.

Domenic Burgio