It’s a somewhat overcast and cool day as I look out over a grey sky at Adelaide Oval and begin to pen a few words for this mid-year Head of College report. The view from my office takes in the panorama of the Oval precinct and the lookout on Montefiore Hill where the statue of Sir William Light, the first Surveyor General of the Colony of South Australia, reminds visitors of his remarkable vision of the lay-out of Adelaide.
Originally, Light’s right index finger pointed to North Terrace and the city below but the new structures at Adelaide oval somewhat conceal the original concept of ‘Light’s Vision’ of the city at large. The statue was placed as the centrepiece of an impressive garden lookout, near the time of the centenary of Light’s death in 1938. Aquinas College was established twelve years later in 1950.
Just as Light saw different things in his day, we now see an array of activities from the same vantage point on Montefiore Hill. The World Cup cricket and the Big Bash competition provided a colourful and noisy start to the year, and since then the weekly gatherings of the Crows and Power fans bring plenty of excitement and energy to the Aquinas district.
On the Australia Day weekend the College hosted a family fun day on the front lawns, behind Light’s statue, for the ‘Tour Down Under’ and throughout the semester there have been numerous social and sporting events to complement the students’ routine of study and assessments.
The blessing and opening of our new MacKillop house on 15th March by Archbishop Philip Wilson, was a memorable occasion and it was a delight to welcome so many visitors. This imposing building project was overseen and commissioned by the Aquinas College Council and provides 36 motel-type rooms and a vast dining hall and well-equipped kitchen.
Aquinas students are asked to give ten hours of their time to outreach projects, and many donate blood, tutor in local schools, take part in fun runs and help out in door knock appeals. On 20th March over one hundred and fifty students participated in a fund-raising activity to raise awareness of homelessness in our society. They slept out on the College tennis court in somewhat chilly conditions. It was such an amazing sight in the early hours of the morning to see so many young people asleep on the ground.
A week later, the student body organised a social gathering, known as the ‘Pond Show’ which attracted a crowd of over seven hundred students. It was an enjoyable event and a great credit to Student President, Jacob Cappelletto and his committee.
The annual competition, between the University Colleges, the High Table Cup, provides plenty of interest and so far Aquinas has made an impact in swimming, tennis, volleyball, netball, football, table tennis and debating, with the highlights being the men’s netball teaming, winning the championship cup for an eleventh successive year, and the double football victory with grand final wins for the men’s and women’s teams.
Academic panels and regular tutorials help to keep our students focussed on their academic goals and encourage them to give of their best in their studies. Their efforts and accomplishments are then acknowledged by the numerous awards presented each semester.
In a similar way, it was pleasing to see eighty of our students give deference to their civil responsibilities by participating in the Anzac memorial dawn service at the Adelaide cenotaph. The ceremony occurred during the mid-semester break and many others attended services in their home towns.
The semester ended with a number of festive occasions including a Gala Dinner on 12th June which was held to honour four distinguished alumni of the College; Justice Kevin Duggan AM, Professor Elizabeth Leane, Ms Helen McCabe and Professor David J David AC. These Aquinians have become significant leaders in their fields of endeavour of law, academia, multi-media and medicine.
Montefiore Hill, the home of Aquinas College and two hundred students was and is a distinctive place. Sir William Light would certainly have a different view if he could see it now. His vision was to lay out the plans for an attractive and functioning city, complete with beautiful parks and vistas. Our vision for Aquinas is to form outstanding young men and women of integrity, complete with skills and determination to shape their worlds in a positive way as well.
Br Paul Gilchrist
Head of College