Very late last year, just as I was winding down and looking forward to the summer holidays, I received two phone calls from past students.
Both calls came out of the blue and both came within 24 hours of each other.
First was Oliver Phillips, a graduate from 2007. His was an interesting story, knocking back an offer to study engineering at university in favour of his first dream, carpentry. Such was Oliver’s drive that he condensed a four-year apprenticeship into three (a very rare feat) and by his mid twenties, now runs, along with his partner, their own business – Mace Carpentry. When he called back in December he was looking for a new apprentice himself and his first thought was to contact his old school.
Two weeks ago I visited Oliver at one of his sites. Working side by side were his new apprentice, Nick Lafontaine from our 2013 cohort and Liam Denny, a current VCAL student on work experience.
The day after Oliver’s call I was equally surprised to hear from a 2005 graduate, Sam Lo Castro. He and his younger brother Anthony (2008) had just established a new company themselves, Ivy Electrical and wanted to host some of our boys for work experience. Already they have committed to two students for 2014 and the first of these, Marco Squeo from year 12 VCAL, I visited last week. It was tremendous to see him onsite and observe him listening and learning from the two brothers.
In this same fortnight, we have had other year 12s who have been meeting with industry mentors and again, the connection with past college graduates is strong. Individuals like Noel Langford (BHP Billiton Ltd.) Bernard Saundry (CEO Racing Victoria) Ben Carroll MP (our local State member) Charles Scerri QC and David Micallef from Physiohealth, have all readily agreed to give their time and pass down some of their life experience and vocational advice.
Not being sure whether any of these fine gentlemen are all that eager to have the year of their graduation made public, I will instead play it safe and simply note that all decades, from the 1960s to the 1990s, is well represented amongst this most generous group.
But whatever their age or occupation, each of the men mentioned has one thing in common. In his own way, he has given back to the college that once hosted him as a young student. And just as importantly, it is gratifying to see how our year 12s have responded so positively to learning from these ‘old hands’.