Categories
Education the Moreton Bay Region NEWS

St Columban’s College, Caboolture Alumni Becomes Local Councillor

“The lessons that I’ve learned, not only in the classroom, not only on the sporting field, but through the relationships that I’ve built with the other students, with teachers at the time, they’ve been invaluable.”


Newly elected Moreton Bay Regional Councillor for Division 2, Mark Booth credits some of his success to his education at both St Columban’s College, Caboolture and St Eugene College, Burpengary.

“And especially with St Columban’s is the unity and the team spirit,” Cr Booth said in the video above.

“So, I played rugby union.

“We won a couple of premierships throughout the years, so that teamwork is something that I’ve kept with me going through life, through work, and I think, armed me with the skills to be successful in my previous career.

“And then of course now, most recently, I won the Moreton Bay Regional Council election for Division Two.

“So, that’s my new career path that I’m now on that next level journey.

“So to me, again, a reflection on the St Columban’s days, it’s that team spirit that, that united front that we displayed on the rugby union field, even that we displayed throughout the college, it was a pride thing.

“We had a lot of pride.

“You’d walk from Caboolture station down through the school, wearing your blazers, wearing the uniforms, yet you had the other schools walking beside you, but you just felt that sense of pride in where you belonged.”

Moreton Bay Region Division 2 takes in Burpengary East and parts of Beachmere, Burpengary, Caboolture, Deception Bay, Morayfield, Narangba and Ningi.

Mark Booth transcript:

Right. So I grew up basically predominantly in Narangba and Burpengary, so I’ve lived here all my life. I went to primary school at St Eugene’s College. It was called Blessed Eugene back then, and it was only a primary school. So what happened was essentially in the later half of about grade five, my parents were looking at a high school to go to, and so we started looking through all the high schools, basically inner city was where you needed to go if you’re looking for a private school and you lived around the area. So we had to look at things like your Nudgee Colleges, your St Pat’s, and different ones like that. And then we came across St Columban’s at Albion. So we essentially had picked that college because it was right on the train line, so it allowed me to catch the train from Narangba or Burpengary, hop off the train at Albion, and walk up the hill, and I’d be at school.

It had a long history. I think it was 1928 when it started. So that was an attractive feature as well. During the next year or two was actually when the transition happened, and when we found out it was actually coming to Caboolture, so that made it even more attractive for us to go there. So essentially, what happened then was it was locked in, and so I transitioned from St Eugene over to St Columban’s. So I attended St Columban’s from 1997 to 2001. So 1997 is unique because it was the first year that St Columban’s was actually at the Caboolture campus. So I remember walking through the gates on the first day, we had a couple of administration buildings and a couple of buildings over here, but what you didn’t have was you didn’t have covered walkways. You’re lucky to even have pathways between the buildings at that time, it was still under construction. So I still have those memories of walking through the gate on the first day, seeing hundreds of students standing at the front of the administration block. Not knowing hardly anyone, it was a daunting experience.

But the thing that helped me along was the orientation was actually at Albion campus a couple of months beforehand. So they actually took us through the Albion campus, and they spoke to us about the history of the college, about the buildings, and things like that. So, when we turned up at Caboolture, of course, we’ve got the unique style of the buildings, and that’s obviously built on the buildings of Albion. So it was almost like, although it’s brand new and it’s a new experience, it kind of felt to us like it was just fitting right in. And then of course, that would have helped with the older students who were still here in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12, for them to have some familiarity on the Albion campus. So that’s essentially the story up for school. After I graduated in 2001, I then actually worked at the Caboolture Shire council. I was lucky enough to get a traineeship for 12 months there. And then from there, I basically moved into state government. So that’s where I’ve been for the last 16 years working for a commercial business unit of the state government. And that’s basically equipped me, I guess, if you look at it in a broad sense of coming through from St Eugene in my primary school, through to St Columban’s, the culture, the respect that I’ve learned going through both of those colleges.

And especially with St Columban’s is the unity and the team spirit. So I played rugby union. We won a couple of premierships throughout the years, so that teamwork is something that I’ve kept with me going through life, through work, and I think, armed me with the skills to be successful in my previous career. And then of course now, most recently, I won the Moreton Bay Regional Council election for Division Two. So that’s my new career path that I’m now on that next level journey. So to me, again, a reflection on the St Columban’s days, it’s that team spirit that, that united front that we displayed on the rugby union field, even that we displayed throughout the college, it was a pride thing. We had a lot of pride. You’d walk from Caboolture station down through the school, wearing your blazers, wearing the uniforms, yet you had the other schools walking beside you, but you just felt that sense of pride in where you belonged.

So I think that will help me in good stead with the council, because essentially what we are is we’re not just individuals, we’re a team. So we’re working together. There’s 13 of us including the mayor, and we’ll be working together as a team to be able to deliver successful outcomes for Moreton Bay. In a ceremonial sense, going through catholic colleges throughout my schooling career, having things like your liturgies, your mass, your opening ceremonies, all those sorts of events, they were something that you always look forward to throughout the year. You knew at certain times there were certain rites of passages that you went through throughout your schooling. And much as a preparation that you have for life, because you have those rite of passages that happen throughout life. So I think it’s really prepared me for those aspects. And one thing that I’ve found that coming through council is I walked through the doors of council. I walk towards my office for the first time. Now there’s actually a corridor there that you walk down. On that corridor, there is a picture of every single councillor, mayor, chairman, those that has graced Caboolture Shire Council, and now Moreton Bay Council. To me, it was almost surreal seeing these men and women on the wall, thinking back over 120 years of history, and what they’ve gone through and to bring the region to what it is today. And thinking, “One day, well, now, that’s going to be me up on that wall.” And it brought me back too, to thinking about my schooling days at St Columban’s. And like I said, there’s history here. 1928. It’s a long time of history. I think it was about the 75th year anniversary when I was here.

So it’s probably coming up close to your a hundred year anniversary. So to me, one of the most important things is the history, the rituals that you have. And necessarily, if you’re students watching now, you might see it and go, “Oh, I’ve got to sit there for an hour and watch this,” but I’ll tell you what. In 10, 15, 20 years’ time, you’ll be thankful that you did sit there through for an hour because you’ll be telling your kids, “So that’s what we used to do. And that used to be the best part of our day. It’s not that you might think it now, but on reflection you’re definitely going to think it in the future.

So if we turn the time back to sports at St Columban’s, and especially, I guess, being on that rugby field and thinking about, “We’re a team. We’re a team of 15 players, but we had a common goal, and some of us would take more risks than others. So we had the certain people that would take the risks, would run the ball and go hell for leather. Then we had the ones that would sit back and have the more calculated minds and go, “Okay, well if I pass here, pass here, eventually we’ll overlap. We’ll run through and we’ll score a try.” So to me, I think having that kind of mentality will help with council. It’s almost playing a little bit of the short game when you need to and get those quick wins on the boards, but then you have that long game because you have to think about it. And you go, “Okay, well, if a decision I make today, how’s that going to impact the region in 10 years’’ time?” You can’t just be thinking of the short term gains and the short term wins. We need to think of the long term goals.

So, I really think if I use that analogy is something that the students of St Columban’s can probably really relate to. And it doesn’t have to be rugby union. It can be netball, it can be volleyball, all those sorts of sports. It’s having that mentality of it’s the quick win bang. I can score a goal. I can get a try. That’s fantastic. But if we have to take our time, we have to pass it to our teammates. We have to get it along the line. If it takes half the game to score one point, as long as we win by one point, that’s all we need to do. I mean, throughout my life, it’s of I’m not scared to take the risk. To me, the risk comes with the reward. If you sit back, you miss opportunities.

And I think it’s probably showing that… I can tell you now I’m 36 years old. I’ve taken risks throughout my career throughout my life. And I’m fairly confident they’ve all paid off. And they’ve culminated in this moment where now, at my age, I feel like at this point I’ve become successful, and you can trace all that back. Back to the schooling, back to the upbringing of my parents, to be perfectly frank. It’s purely because of them that I’ve entered the catholic educational system to start with. So essentially drawing on my upbringing from them, the morals that they’ve given, and I guess the support they’ve given me was the biggest thing. So to me, I guess if any students are watching this and you’re thinking about you your parents are constantly holding you back, or they can’t let you do this or this and that, they’ve got reasons for it. They’re not just doing it for the sake of they don’t like you or they’re trying to make your life difficult.

And you’ll see in the future that, that, that will come about. But what you’re basically got to think of is there is going to be times when you want to take risks, I’m all for it. I think if you can see something that you want, you need to go for it, because if you don’t go for it, you’re never going to know you never get handed the opportunity. So I had a defining moment late last year where I thought about it and I thought, “Will I run for council? Or will I not?” I sat about, and I thought about it for about half an hour. I thought, “I’m going to do it.” And I thought, “I better tell my wife. I better ask my wife.” And that’s the person I am. It’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. So if you want to take that little piece of advice.

If I’m speaking to the parents out there who are maybe considering sending their students to St Columban’s, I could say to them that my memories of St Columban’s have been nothing but positive. The lessons that I’ve learned, not only in the classroom, not only on the sporting field, but through the relationships that I’ve built with the other students, with teachers at the time, they’ve been invaluable. So even if I look back now and I bring up to modern times and go to our Facebook page, essentially all on my Facebook, I would have probably 70 or 80% of the students that I went to school with at St Columban’s are on my list. I still count them as friends. I’m not sure that there’s too many people that still consider all those people that they went to school with close friends.

And that’s something that I’ve fostered here is that relationship between students. And I even have students that were year above me, years below me, it didn’t really essentially matter what grade you’re in. We have the PC or the pastoral care groups that we had, but when I was here, and that was made up basically of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 students, probably seven now, given that high school starts at grade seven. And what that did was fostered that relationship between us at all levels. So you had the more senior students that would take the youngest students under their wing. They’d give them lessons that they’d learned things in the morning and the afternoon sessions that they would then bring through in the schoolyard, and also a little bit of that protective wing as well. So if you saw a younger child that was having a bit of a hard time, or maybe sitting down by themselves, they’re in your PC, or you knew of them, you go down and have a chat to them, say, “Are you okay? Is everything all right?” And you’re building that relationship.

And I think that’s something that is definitely still strong here, is that relationship between students and the caring nature of the staff. So I think if you are considering it, it’s definitely a good place to start.

I just have passion, and I love where I live. So I had the opportunity when I was growing up to live on three quarters of an acre with my family, have space, the opportunity to go to schools locally in the area. And when I reflect back over the last couple of years of what I’ve seen with the way that Morteon Bay’s moved towards from essentially its inception in 2008 through to last year, was that it was starting to lose a bit of the identity and a bit of that lifestyle that I grew up with. And I quite frankly was worried for my children to not have that opportunity. So in 2013, I bought a block of land at Burpengary East. I’ve built a house, and we’ve created a home. So, Burpengary East is in the heart of division two. If some of you, if you had seen my campaign, you might’ve noticed that I used it in every part of my branding of division two, but there was a love heart instead of an O.

That was deliberate because I live in the heart of Division Two, and I love Division Two. I know it sounds cheesy. It sounds a bit out there, but at the end of the day, that’s why I put my hand up to run is because I actually have the passion, the energy, and I felt like I could make a creative difference to the area. And now obviously with the Moreton Bay Council, there is 12 councillors and a mayor. It’s not just your division that you’re looking after. You are custodians of the entire council area. And it’s a good base for me to be right in the heart, right in the middle there, knowing my constituents and, being able to relate to them, and then bring their concerns, their issues, what they want from the future back into the council chambers, to be able to have that broader discussion with the rest of the councillors and make sure that we’re all front of mind when we’re making these decisions that are going to affect the whole region.