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PARADE COLLEGE MEMORIES – LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD

Hi everyone,

My name is Michael Formaini and I am a pioneer of the Bundoora Campus, having moved here from East Melbourne at the start of 1968. In 1968, I was in Form 5, better known to you all as Year 11, and I was at Bundoora until the end of 1969, completing four subjects at Year 12 level.

I wasn’t exactly a brilliant student, but was probably considered above average due to being younger than usual for my school year right through primary and secondary education.

I actually started at Parade College in 1965 at Year 8, having won a Junior Scholarship after a successful seven years at St. Anthony’s Primary School, Alphington under the care of the Sisters of St. Joseph. My parents were humble working class people who made many great sacrifices in order for me to get the best possible start in life. I am forever indebted to them, the Sisters and the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers for that start, which lead me to having a rewarding career in the transport and distribution industry (28 years in the rail industry and almost 10 years as a self-employed road courier).

My final school years of 1968 and 1969 were spent in a much different age and social environment from that we find ourselves in today.

Last Sunday, February 4, I came out to reminisce on the official opening ceremony 50 years previously. I commenced a self-guided tour, starting at the Cemetery and working my way around. On my meanderings, I met Rod Macdonald, Property and Services Manager, and his assistant Brian, explaining who I was and what I was doing. They made me very welcome and appreciated the significance of the date to me.

Probably the most poignant moments for me were viewing the westside steps leading up into the Mt. Sion Campus and the view across the quadrangle as this area, along with the Bond Centre and bus bays is the Parade College of my days. The official opening ceremony was conducted in the quadrangle and the dais was adjacent to the northwestern hip of the building.

On Tuesday, February 6, 1968, I took the train from Fairfield to Watsonia and the charter bus to the College for my first day at Bundoora. In those days, Watsonia station was at ground level with a single track passing through (not down in the cutting like it is now), the shopping strip was about half its present size and we Parade students had a mixed reception from the Watsonia High School students who shared the train service with those of us that came up the line from the Fairfield/Alphington/Ivanhoe/Heidelberg areas.

Suburbia north of Grimshaw Street was confined to the area south of Cameron Drive and Bent Street. On the western side of Plenty Road, there was a small block of shops and the Bundoora Hotel, but little else bar the paddocks and trees. Buses entered the College via a driveway which followed the north side of the present Garvey Oval and which was unsealed until the approach to the Bus Bays which were sealed for safety reasons. Up on the eastern rise beyond the quadrangle, one could see the original Edmund Rice Training College, now demolished and overtaken by suburbia.

I recall Brother Greening welcoming us all to a new era in the history of Parade College and hoping our times here would be fruitful and happy, despite some of the transport difficulties and the lack of some facilities.

I was placed in Room 5 on the ground floor of the north wing of the Mt. Sion Campus and recall looking out the windows as circumstances permitted to view cattle grazing and galahs, cockatoos and magpies flying around the trees near the mound. There was no Ring Road or suburbia in those days. The nearest civilisation to the north was the east side campus of R.M.I.T. which now has the University Hill Factory Outlet and industrial estate to its south. My memory might let me down on this, but I think the Room Master was Mr. John Gregor, who supervised some of my classes and study periods. The view I enjoyed, of course, is now blocked by the Rivergum Theatre and the Nash Learning Centre.

Many of the staff personalities from my day have gone on to their eternal reward, but worthy of mention are my first teacher from 1965, Mr. Alban Pisani; Brother Kevin Crough, who was well known for catching out students making inappropriate detours on their way home; Brother Walter Moloney, who was much feared by those who fell short of understanding his approach to mathematics; Brothers English and Edwards, who were irreverently nicknamed by students as characters from the American sit-com “The Adams Family”, and many others, but I’ll leave those memories for a future epistle.

Fast forward 50 years and look at the massive improvements that have been constructed as funds permitted and the marvellous opportunities available to the current student body that were inconceivable in my day. As with bygone ages prior to 1968, the world of today is a vastly different place; at times scary, violent and unpredictable, but on the whole, still a great place to be, especially in Australia and with the fantastic technological and medical discoveries that are making our earthly existence better.

The challenge for current students of Parade College is to take the maximum opportunities available to them in whatever field of study appeals to them in their quest to find their way in this world.

There are so many more subjects and pathways to careers than were available in 1968 as well as sports and cultural facilities that were inconceivable in my day. There is also the wonderful counselling support services for those encountering difficulties or suffering from any form of disability or distress. So students of today, make the most of these opportunities to become the citizens of tomorrow! It does not matter if you might feel vulnerable at times or unable to grasp certain subject concepts; help is readily at hand.

As I stated earlier, I wasn’t the brightest of students, but had some idea of what I wanted to do in this life and eventually went on to further my education in transport administration, marketing and operations and forged a reasonably successful career. Study and the learning process is a lifelong activity and, despite some setbacks and inability to finish formal studies, I consider myself a graduate from the University of Life. You too can succeed by applying yourself to the marvellous opportunities that Parade College offers.

From occasional anonymous observance of students from Parade in daily life around Melbourne and my contact with the College through Open Days and the Old Paradians’ Association, I know and feel comfortable with the fact that Paradians facing the social, economic and environmental challenges of our world in future will maintain christian values of inclusiveness, compassion, tolerance, justice and solidarity in their daily lives, whether it be in business, family, social relationships, politics or caring for those less fortunate than themselves.

These values have been passed down by the Edmund Rice Brothers and supporters over the past 150 years in Australia and are consistent with so many others in our Catholic education system. I am deeply indebted to the Brothers and the Sisters of St. Joseph for the solid foundations they provided me to become the person I am today.

I hope these notes tell the reader something of what it means to me to be an Old Paradian and pioneer of Bundoora.

 

MICHAEL FORMAINI

February 5, 2018

 

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE YOUR OWN REMINISCENCES OF PARADE COLLEGE BUNDOORA, PLEASE FORWARD THEM ON TO Tony.DeBolfo@parade.vic.edu.au