A celebration of achievement

Posted on February 4, 2019

As the holidays end and the school year commences, new and returning families converge on this special patch we share in Hunters Hill, as St Joseph’s College once again roars to life. On the first Friday back, our new Year 7s were introduced to the achievements of 2018 at the annual Prize Giving evening.

Head of Drama, Mr Pat O’Shea, summed up the evening perfectly, “The evening was truly inspirational. The genuine empathy and humble aspiration of our Duxes was a lived expression of the diversity of our place. To hear these boys talk about the resilience and support required to overcome ‘disease, death and divorce’ collaboratively, and to aspire to and implement individual and collaborative learning certainly made sure that learning was the focus of the night. I certainly hope our Year 7s, and others, heard the message. It was pretty clear also that our three Duxes had worked out their ‘purpose’ as students early on in their school days!” 

The evening culminated in the presentation of the three joint Duxes, Thomas Ryan, Luke Dolin and John Salvaris. Each spoke directly to the Year 7s in attendance, and shared some truly inspirational advice.


Thomas Ryan

Tonight, we’ve seen countless boys traverse this stage to collect awards that represent the culmination of a year’s effort. But not a single Year 7.

Our Year 7s sit here on the cusp of their time at the college, they have experienced so much, yet they have not seen one of their own cross this stage. Which begs the question, why are they here?

They are present, because it is through such formative experiences as tonight, that they will divine what it is they wish to take from the college. It was here, six years ago, that I set my own aspirations for my academic career at the college. I saw boys walk across this stage and receive academic excellence and application awards. I concluded that that would be my objective.

These experiences aren’t only limited to tonight. We see them time and time again. So much of college life is compulsory for a reason. We all attend the rugby, we all attend Head of the River, and we all learn an instrument in Year 7. This is the way we learn to dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of excellence. In Year 7, you may detest the thought of compulsory rugby and the loss of your Saturday until you learn how great a rower’s lot is, but the school still compels attendance upon you.

You will probably not know a single boy on that team, you may not even understand what is going on, but you will come to love it. You will see the hard work that they put in, the pain they endure, the fatigue they ignore, and you will come to appreciate it. You will wish to emulate it in your own lives.

You will set your sights on rowing for the college in an eight or playing prop for the firsts because you see the sacrifices that our fellow Joe boys have made and the value the college places upon their effort. It is this value that the college places on success and effort, that allows the College to foster this pursuit of excellence. Through nights like this we see why we adore this place. It is because here we are allowed and encouraged to further our talents and strengths.


Luke Dolin

When you aspire to develop your talents and strengths in your life at Joeys, you will run into the problem of how to actually achieve success. This first and foremost requires confidence in yourself and your own abilities.

In my first week of Year 7, I too was sitting in this hall listening to the dux speak, and I was shocked. ​The dux has just done exceptionally well, and then they punish him by making him go and give a speech! I hoped I would never get into that position.​But that was a long time ago and a lot has changed. Namely, I have grown more confident. Over these six years, I have developed a self-confidence that was essential as the first step in allowing me to achieve my aspirations. And this was largely done through taking opportunities provided by Joeys. When you take on extracurricular activities like debating, music ensembles, or sport, they provide you with challenges to build up your confidence, which then as a result allows you to fulfil your aspirations of moving up a team or performing in a music competition.

However, self-confidence also applies in the difficult situations. While I don’t know the personal stories of everyone up here on stage, out of those I do know, I can safely say nobody has had it easy. They have faced disease, divorce, and death in their families. They have dealt with mental illness. And yet, here they all are at the end of high school with exceptional results. They had the confidence that they can do well and the perseverance to carry them through their personal challenges, and for that reason alone I wish I could share this dux achievement with all of you, because you all deserve it. 

I think it’s worth mentioning the role played by the staff and teachers in this. Everyone, from our classroom teachers to academic and boarding coordinators to administrative staff, have always provided support to guide us through our school years, and for that we are thankful. I would also like to particularly thank my family who have been an immense source of support, especially in the difficult times for my own mental health throughout year 11 and 12. You have always been wonderfully supportive and I am incredibly thankful.

So, don’t be discouraged by whatever challenges you face in your academics, sport, or music. Have confidence in yourself and know that you can succeed, because you are more resilient than you think, and you have the support of so many people around you here at Joeys.


John Salvaris

Successfully achieving your aspirations not only arises by developing confidence in yourself, but also by utilizing the support provided by those around you at Joeys.

Joe boys are renowned for their culture of assisting each other and working together, clearly seen by the teamwork and comradery displayed each Saturday at The Park. However, I found this culture manifested itself in more powerful and subtle ways through the cooperation and mateship displayed by my year group to help each other achieve success. 

Each year at Joeys, my studies and participation in sport were heavily impacted and improved by working closely with others, particularly my friends. By sharing laughs, support and essay ideas with each other, we were all able to strive towards achieving our own aspirations, whilst developing close bonds in the process. To this end I would like to thank my entire year group and friends for working together to achieve success in the HSC. In particular, I would like to thank Tom, Luke and Josh for your friendship and support over the years, which heavily contributed to my own personal success. 

Without out a doubt, working together with others is one of the most powerful ways to achieve your aspirations, and similarly one of the most rewarding. Despite creating a logistical nightmare for the college, sharing dux with Tom and Luke has been more satisfying than anything I could have hoped for, as our collective result was the product of us working together. 

In addition, I would to thank my family for supporting and working with me to ensure I always put my best foot forward whilst at school. So before I conclude tonight, I would like to share with you some advice they gave me, which I am extremely thankful for among everything they have done for me. 

This advice is to employ the values of attitude, belief and composure when striving to reach your aspirations. Your attitude is crucial to your ability to succeed, because with a positive one, you will approach your goal with a committed and proactive mindset. This shapes your preparation for success and cannot be underestimated. Belief is equally important as you will never reach your aspirations if you don’t back yourself to do so. Composure acts as the final ingredient for success. As when you are in the moment, without composure you will never be able to perform at your best, but with it you can achieve almost anything. By embracing these values of attitude, belief and composure, I have full confidence you will achieve your best in whatever you may do. 

Tom, Luke and I wish you every success for this year as you strive to achieve your own aspirations. Thank you.