Don Bosco Alafua - New School Year

 

1 February 2013 | General Interest

Don Bosco Alafua: A New School Year

 

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Cyclone Evan Clean-up

Preparations for the new school year commenced long before students began to register for classes. The first task was to undertake the clean up after Cyclone Evan, which devastated the Island of Upolu and, particularly, the capital Apia. Thankfully, the actual damage to the actual buildings and infrastructure has been limited to some broken skylights, some uprooted trees, dislodged facing on the Hall and some water damage, particularly to doors. However, the powerful winds and torrential rains of the cyclone deposited large volumes of leaves, mud, rubbish and other debris in the workshops.

A group of boys from the Salesian Parish of St Michael’s, Leauva’a, came to the rescue and worked tirelessly for more than a week to sweep, clean and scrub workshops, verandas and classrooms. In addition, they cleared large volumes of rubbish from the grounds, including fallen trees, branches, pieces of tin, boards and an assortment of other debris. They then took to the grounds with their machetes and whipper-snippers to cut back as much of the grass they had grown over the Christmas break. The huge clean-up task continued once the staff returned to work and were able to attend to some of the bigger jobs such as removing trees that had fallen, thankfully without causing serious damage, from neighbouring properties onto the workshops. The returning students then completed the task with a whole school working bee to restore the pristine beauty of the grounds.

 

Staff Week

The focus of Staff Week was preparing for the new school year. The new Principal, Fr Chris Ford, was welcomed and set forth his agenda for his term of office: “Presence, Quality and Collaboration”. Then there was the practical task of completing the clean-up of the workshops and classrooms, preparing them for the arrival of students. The new Leadership Team was introduced and began the task of undertaking their duties. The educational focus was the putting the final touches to courses of study and ensuring that new staff were aware of the course programs and requirements. The spiritual component of the preparation process featured prominently with an Opening Staff Mass on the Feast of St Francis de Sales and later in the week a staff retreat day focusing upon Salesian Presence as an essential feature of implementing the Preventive System.

 

Students Arrive

The torrential rains that caused serious flooding across Apia, did not hinder the arrival of the new first year students for a special orientation program on Wednesday 30 January. The continuing drenching rains delayed the arrival of some buses, but the vast majority of students braved the elements and arrived for the first day of classes on Thursday 31 January. A whole school Mass to celebrate St John Bosco’s feast day was held over until the next day. The Mass, celebrated in fine style with Fr Paselio presiding and Fr Visesio behind the keyboard, was a joyous celebration of our founder’s feast day, characterised by the exuberant singing of the boys, who later enjoyed chilli-choc ice creams and an early dismissal.

 

Impressions of the First Week

After a couple of days of the daily routine of school life was quickly established and students quickly engaged in their classes. The Year 1 Students, who only a few days before didn’t really know what to expect, were thrilled with the idea of spending half their school day in the workshops. One boy, who has been living overseas and has recently returned to his family in Samoa because he was “getting into trouble”, approached me the other day and said, “Father, I can’t believe how good it is here!” When I asked another boy how he liked the workshops, his face lit up with joy and he said, “It’s sooooo good!!!”

 

Ash Wednesday

The very early arrival of Lent left us with little time to prepare. Nevertheless, our Ash Wednesday Mass, appropriately more subdued than the celebration of the Feast of Don Bosco, was a beautiful experience. Fr Visesio, the main celebrant, set a reflective tone and provided the boys with a number of thoughts, encouraging them to utilise the season of Lent as a time of personal growth and spiritual renewal.

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