The Head and Deputy Head students from the Marist schools met this last weekend in Wellington, hosted by St Patrick’s College. Also in attendance were the Principals and some senior staff of the schools, and the Young Marists Team who presented the Forum. This forum, a permanent fixture in the annual calendar, is an opportunity for the young leaders to renew the connections they made at the Marist Youth Leader programme in January, to review their progress as leaders so far, to make any necessary adjustments, and to focus again on what lies ahead.
Special emphasis is given to the fact that 2016 is not an end in itself, but a spingboard to the future. The leadership experience is a learning one, and its purpose is to help the students to develop the range of their skills, to learn from real-life situations, and to lay the foundations for successful leadership in whatever the future holds for them. The Principals and the students are reminded that our Marist schools are not there to make themselves great --- they are there to make each student great.
Personal reflections by the students on their progress as leaders, and the difficulties they were experiencing, were often startling in their openness. Sharing their high points and low points, their frustrations, their most significant learning so far, and the areas in which they most needed help, the students provided the catalyst for each other in breaking open their experience and assessing it with disarming honesty. Their Principals then followed suit, helping the students to understand that the real and challenging issues of good leadership at any level are often masked behind the outward appearances of competency and calm. There was something prophetic in what the Principals and students modelled to each other --- speaking the truth and challenging each other to speak the truth.
The process of this forum leads to the point where each school leadership group of Head and Deputy Head students sit down with their Principal for a wide-ranging discussion on personal and school-wide issues. We are blessed to have Principals in our Marist schools who have the humility and insight into servant leadership to make this process so robust and successful.
One of the last acts of the Forum was a lively and thoroughly enjoyable school assembly on Monday morning in which the various school leadership groups were introduced to the boys of St Patrick’s College. There were introductions and “fun facts” about their colleges, some gentle ribbing about principals being “stolen,” a moving tribute to the Young Marists team, and, of course, the famous “St Pat’s clap” that communicates such warmth and friendship and brotherhood. The Marist spirit is indeed alive and well in our schools.