Personal Reflection on the House Name Change
O’Collins House students are passionate, loyal and united. They have proudly adopted the values of participation, trust, truth, diligence and service, all distinguishing qualities our House is acknowledged for by others. It is in this unified belief and support of one another that we have always found the sustenance to move strongly forward, through all situations and challenges.
“The O’Collins House name has a rich past and has forged a legacy that we intend to continue as St Martin House. We will continue the legacy that O’Collins House has started. Yes, our House name represents us, but it is us as the people of this House who truly define it.”
These words of the then O’Collins House School Captain for 2019, Mathew Snibson, provided inspiration and forward focus for the body of students and staff to become the first representatives of St Martin House in 2019.
There was much to consider in the process of renaming the House. The Board and Principal, Matt Byrne, were shining lights in setting guiding principles for selecting a new House Founder and for educating our alumni and wider Damascus community of the need for change. The new Founder needed to align with our Catholic Tradition, ensure our House Values can be used with Integrity, be a historical figure, and continue with gender balance across the four Houses. Consideration also was given for potential concerns of School SIMON Coding and Diocesan / Parish Connections.
Formation of a House renaming Committee was convened. The committee contained present students, including 2018 and 2019 House and School Captains, O’Collins House and other House staff, past O’Collins House and other alumni and fellow House leaders.
The committee’s main objectives were working to ensure the selection of the strongest possible expression of Christian living as a role model and to educate and notify the wider student body of the need for change, with an inclusive and invested process. In addition to this, the everyday practicalities of a name change were also considered, such as reissuing House badges and updating founder pictures, banners, websites and room names. We were also conscious of the timing of the announcement of the decision to students and cognizant of how the information may affect the students, particularly our Year 12s, since it would be around exam time.
An exceptional selection of nominees was shortlisted, with St Martin de Porres elected unanimously following the voting. The board accepted the decision and ratified the choice of St Martin House. It seemed an obvious choice, considering the St Martin connection within the Damascus story, his exemplary adherence to the guiding principles, and his inspirational and compassionate life paradigm, which captures the House spirit and values of service and truth. In addition to this, St Martin’s statue lives as a centrepiece in our school, representing an already familiar figure to the school community.
At the announcement House assembly, it was important the student leaders were instrumental in explaining the process and notifying the students of the decision. This would enhance ownership and investment by the students. The anticipation was high, with student Eloise Sheridan stating, “I love O’Collins House, the name is changing but the people who make up this House are the same. I still love it, whatever we are called.”
The collective House student leadership team, comprising of all House SRC members and House and School Captains, counted down from five and, in a unified voice, announced our new name, St Martin House. There was enthusiastic applause and further rousing comment from Milly Frost, the first joint St Martin House School Captain for 2019:
“We are not the unlucky group that saw the end of O’Collins House, but rather we are the lucky group who are privileged to see the beginning of, and make history as, St Martin House”
The statue of St Martin was adorned in brilliant green, in celebration.
All other Houses assembled at the same time, where House Leaders read a scripted explanation of events. A cohesive understanding was ensured across the entire Damascus student body, where support for the new St Martin students was also requested. I was moved by the warm wishes and genuine conversations of encouragement held from students in other Houses following this occasion, as this is testament to the essence and soul of our school community
The new St Martin students transitioned very smoothly, aided by the exceptional efforts of our Teacher Advisors. To enhance belonging to the new name, over the next week information and a series of videos was shown and disseminated in TA’s, acquainting and deepening the students understanding of St Martin de Porres.
Now, as I write this, the new St Martin House is one term down in 2019, and House spirit is, characteristically, high. Passionate and dedicated teamwork was again on show at the Swimming Carnival, where team St Martin had their name etched on the shield for the first time. Year seven student, Chenoa Williams, painted the accompanying picture as a tribute to St Martin, which was presented to the House and is placed on display.
In essence, as team St Martin, we will continue to strive to foster in all students a sense of belonging, purpose and passion, as has gone before us in the past 23 years. In the words of past House Captain, Riley Holloway:
“In the good and bad times, this House has always supported me and was ready to catch me if I fell. The love and warmth I feel radiating off these special people is something I cherish and will never forget. You’re never a stranger, you are made to feel and believe that even you, as an individual, has an important place and role to play amongst the House, and without you, this House would not be its best.”
By St Martin House Leader, Mr. Daniel Jans