November within our Church tradition is the month of Remembrance, which correlates with the secular celebration of remembrance that is commemorated on the 11th of November. This year we commemorate that 100 years ago at 11:00 am on 11th November 1918 the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. The moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war. This first modern world conflict had brought about the mobilisation of over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead, perhaps as many as one-third of them with no known grave. The allied nations chose this day and time for the commemoration of their war dead. Today we pray for and remember those who have served and died in all wars. Damascus College will lay wreaths in Ballarat and Buninyong this Sunday, and we will have a small service at school next week with those students who are on campus.
Today is also a day of significant Remembrance at Damascus as we remember Bill O’Loughlin whose anniversary occurs today. We remember Bill as a passionate and committed teacher, colleague and friend. Our staff have gathered this morning for a reflection to remember Bill and his TA Xavier 12 were invited to share in a remembrance liturgy that took place at lunchtime for all students and staff to remember people whom they have loved and lost. Bill is also remembered on the school's commemorative walk, and students and families are invited to engage with this reflective space. We keep Bill and his family in our hearts and our prayers at this time when his absence is felt so keenly.
Currently, students are in the middle of a heavy assessment period. I encourage families to engage with the Parent Access Module to support your student in fulfilling the learning demands of their respective subjects and to affirm students endeavours. There are many exams taking place currently, and this does cause anxiety. Keep reminding students that our exams are an opportunity to learn and refine technique. It is important to keep looking to improvement and growth for students and to take a growth mindset in seeing the opportunities that they present. If you feel that your student is excessively anxious about assessment, please talk with your House Leader or the Wellbeing team here at school.
Our rowers had a strong hit out at the Victorian Schools regatta here in Ballarat on the weekend, with this being the first experience of a race for many students. There were some solid results, and I congratulate all involved.
Our Early Start Program kicks off on Wednesday, November 21st for all current students. The College has a Curriculum Day on Tuesday 20th November, and this is a student free day. Within the Early Start Program, students will progress to the next year level for the final two weeks of the College year. Students will commence their new pathways subjects and will be in their new core groups. I remind families’ that there have been booklist requirements for this period notified, predominately stationary and English texts. The purpose of the program is to ensure that learning opportunities are optimised to the very last day of the year for all students and that they are getting the best learning experience possible at Damascus. Where staff are leaving the College, they will begin the classes for the teacher who will succeed them in 2019. Where new staff can join us, they have been engaged for the Early Start program period. Students of families who are relocating or moving to other schools will be aligned with a class for these last two weeks of the year. The students who are moving off to employment or non-secondary educational settings will conclude classes on Monday 19th November.
All students are encouraged and required to attend Mass and Ball games on Thursday 6th December, non-attendance will be recorded and will influence student’s ability to engage in extra-curricular and leadership opportunities.
I don’t need to remind students that this Friday 9th November is a public holiday for Ballarat Show Day however, the VCE exams will continue regardless of this holiday. As I indicated last week; city buses are running, and there will be a revised bus timetable for the country buses, which is attached here. Families who have a student undertaking a VCE exam on Friday 9th would be encouraged to organise alternative private transportation to and from the College.
Next week the College offers diverse learning opportunities to students of Years 9 and 10 with the Year 9 camp to the Strathbogie Ranges and the Year 10 week of work experience or the introduction to the Christian Personal Development Award. If your student is experiencing anxieties or concerns about any of these activities, the College goes to great lengths to ensure the appropriate adjustments are made to enable students to access the important learning opportunities that take place in these programs. Please liaise with the College if there are concerns. It is not helpful to anyone for students to ‘just stay home’ – as adults we often have our anxieties and concerns about experiences which are unfamiliar, so please talk to us about the planning that is in place to enable students to attend.
Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Zach Lewis (Yr. 7) and family on the recent loss of his Great Grandmother. We further extend our thoughts and prayers to all those who need them at this time.
Enjoy the Ballarat Show Day holiday on Friday.
Until next week …