Principal's Update Week 3
Posted: 02-May-2018

In many ways this week is the calm before the storm.  This week learning programs are progressing with regular classes and other activities taking place concurrently. 

Next week Year 8 students head off on their camp with Core groups 1, 3, 5 & 7 heading off from Monday to Wednesday and Core Groups 2, 4, 6, & 8 heading off from Wednesday to Friday.  Most students are excited about the prospect of camps, but for others this creates feelings of anxiety.  We encourage families to talk to the College if your child is feeling nervous about the camp experience, so that we can put strategies in place to support their attendance.  Non-attendance does not help the young person and can contribute to diminished well-being.  If this is the case for your child please discuss it with your TA next week, the College Counsellors through counsellors@damascus.vic.edu.au or with Camps Coordinator, David Myers.

Year 10 students also have a changed learning program for next week and will undertake either the Christian Personal Development Award or Work Experience.

On Monday, Year 9 students will take part in the STEM expo here at school where they will “speed date” a Scientist and on Wednesday they will attend the SSMART ASSK program to ensure our students have an awareness of the risks that may present for them over the coming years. Ballarat Community Health offers Year 9 students an alcohol and drug awareness education program known as the SSMART (Surviving Substance Misuse and Alcohol Risk Taking) ASSK (Alcohol and Substance Survival Knowledge) program. The network’s objective is to provide a harm minimisation program that informs young people on how to survive a risk taking party environment. Permission forms are currently up in PAM.

With all these different comings and goings, we are not running our usual TA time in the morning for the week.  Students will head straight to Lesson 1 and rolls and notices will be delivered in class time.  Particularly for Year 7 students and those students who are new to the College, this is a variation to our regular routines.  These are all exciting learning opportunities in line with our intent of supporting holistic learning for the young people of the College.

Last Friday it was a privilege to witness our young athletes competing at the BAS Athletics Carnival at Llanberis.  Each young person represented the school proudly and there were some wonderful individual results.  One particular result saw Eliza Lepair break the under 17- 800m record that has stood since 1986.  Congratulations Eliza on surpassing an achievement that has stood for 32 years! Congratulations to all the young people who competed! Damascus achieved second place overall.

The second round of Teacher Advisor (TA) interviews for 2018 will take place on Monday 14th May which is a non-teaching day and the afternoons of Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th May.  Can I strongly encourage all families to take this important opportunity to touch base with your TA regarding your student/s progress in 2018.  With one term down, the conversation with the TA provides an invaluable opportunity to reflect on how the year has started and what improvements need to be made.  The interviews provide a genuine opportunity for interaction between the student, the TA and the family to enrich the learning process. The TA booking process should be available next week and I encourage families to make a time.  If for any reason, you cannot make a TA time, please contact your TA to make an alternative time or to have a phone conversation.

This week I welcome pre-service teacher Christopher Barbetti, who began placement on Monday with Ann Bawden. 

Last week it came to our attention that there was an aspect of the Parent Access Module that a very small number of parents had been utilising within Learning Areas that staff had not responded to. This was because staff were not aware of the function and had not been educated as to how to use or access it.  We have requested that the software developer turn that function off to enable us to explore how and if it may be utilised here at Damascus.

Can I remind families of the Mothers’ Day Mass and breakfast that is taking place on Thursday, May 10th and encourage you to try and fit it into your already busy calendar. More information about the event can be found here.

Through each semester we provide students with the opportunity to attend Mass with their Year level.  Students take on the ministries within the Mass and I have felt enormous pride in the students reverence and engagement in each liturgy.  Yesterday, the Year 8 students attended Mass led by Fr Justin Driscoll.  Fr Justin has been sharing with each year level, his journey as he has read the novel “The Tattooist of Auschwitz.  The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on the true story of two Slovakian Jews who survived Auschwitz and eventually made their home in Australia. In that terrible place, the main character, Lale was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival—literally scratching numbers into his fellow victims' arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust. Fr Justin spoke yesterday about the novel in the context of ANZAC day and the Gospel John 14: 27-31 where peace was the central theme.   Justin has shared with the different year levels the importance of protecting peace, so that the horrors of the Holocaust will not be experienced again.  He emphasised the importance of us being in right relationship with one another and with our planet.

I took the opportunity to reiterate to the Year 8’s that Damascus is a place where we are required to be in right relationship with one another.  I pointed out to our younger students, that aspects of our modern culture promote creating entertainment out of others misfortune.  Videoing on phones disagreements or fights between peers and posting them online is not consistent with our Christian values and I pointed out to them that these behaviours ultimately diminish the human dignity of all involved.  I encourage families to keep talking with your young people about aspects of social media that erode the peace in our lives and that diminish human dignity.  These are important conversations with our future citizens to ensure that world peace is both a desirable and achievable Christian aspiration.  

Let us pray for members of our community who need our prayers this week. 

Until next week …

 MATT

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