Principal's Update Week 4
Posted: 09-May-2018

Next Monday, May 14th is a non-teaching day for our second TA interviews of 2018. These interviews will continue after school on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. This is an important opportunity for families, with their student, to; touch base with the TA and check how the year has commenced; see where students are up to with their studies; and determine possible areas of focus as we head towards the end of first semester. Can I please encourage families to log on to PAM as soon as possible to book times. Bookings are only available until Friday afternoon for Monday and until 1.00pm on Monday for Tuesday, and 1.00pm on Tuesday for Wednesday. If there are not available times, please contact your TA to see if an alternative time can be arranged. This is an important dimension of the learning partnership between school and home and we seek your support in being a part of this important process.

On Monday, I had the privilege of witnessing the Year 9 Science Careers and STEM expo. There was an extraordinarily generous response from the community to assist our students understand the varied pathways available to students of Science. It was also great to see many former students, College parents and Board members amongst the presenters. I congratulate Science Learning Area Leader, Ivanka Saric and her team that have seen this event span eight years and continues to grow in quality. The highlight of the day for me was the genuine engagement shown by students in learning about the different careers that are available.

Congratulations to our Public Speaking and Debating students. Three junior teams competed at the Debating Association of Victoria competition last Wednesday night under the guidance of leader, Ashleigh Brown. Students spent much of their own time preparing and representing our school with pride. Damascus had two team wins and a total of 4 best speakers - with one debate producing a tie between two Damascus students as best speakers which is incredible. Congratulations to Isla Casey, Nick Kattula, Mikayla Montgomery, Brooke Gannon, Megan O'Beirne, Payton Overall, Cooper Guinea, Charlotte Haywood and Tara Gannon on your achievements.

This Friday night from 7:00pm to 11:00pm is the Year 11 and 12 formal. This is a social opportunity that the Damascus College staff facilitates for the students of our community. It has always been a very positive event on our calendar, but it is important that I reiterate that normal school rules apply. It is an alcohol, drug and smoke free event, any student who is suspected of having consumed alcohol will not be let in and there are no pass-outs through the evening. Year 12 students are permitted to bring a guest on the condition that they arrive with the Damascus College student and that the guest abides by Damascus College rules. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the evening please contact your House Leader. It is a social activity and hair and make-up appointments are not more important than school on Friday. Any student who is away on Friday will not be able to attend the formal. I must reinforce my encouragement that parents support one another by not condoning after parties. If you say no to requests from your child, you’re actually supporting other Damascus parents who are going to receive the same pressure from their student. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the evening please contact your House Leader. Students are encouraged to bring a plate to share.

Those Year 10 students who are not on work experience this week have returned from their retreat experience and are either heading to Melbourne today or working on activities here at school.
Year 8 students are swapping over on their camp experience today and the feedback from the first contingent is that it has been a really great camp.

NAPLAN testing for Year 7 & 9 students will take place next week from Tuesday the 15th of May to Thursday the 17th of May. NAPLAN is a national common assessment tool and families are encouraged to tell students that while it gives an indication of student progression, it is a single assessment on a single day and not to over emphasise its importance. Click here for information for parents outlining the purpose and some operational aspects of NAPLAN testing. At Damascus we encourage all students to undertake the suite of NAPLAN tests, however if you have specific concerns please contact the College. Please also note that should your child be absent for a test without an official withdrawal, he or she will participate in the catch-up tests held on the subsequent afternoon and, if necessary, Friday morning. If you have any questions, please contact Assistant Principal-Learning and Teaching, Ashwin Pillai.

Year 9 students have been working with Mr Brendan Bawden on the ANZAC story as part of their Humanities studies over the past week and encouraged to explore the Spirit of ANZAC prize. Families may take the opportunity to engage with their Year 9 student about any family stories about people going to war.

This week, as with so many others, there are a very diverse range of learning activities taking place at Damascus College!
Last Sunday’s gospel from John 15:9-17 begins;
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.”

Having worked with insightful and intelligent women and scripture scholars for my working life, I have gained an appreciation of the Gospel’s being written in a patriarchal time and that it was understandable that God was projected as a male figure. As I mature in my own understanding of the mystery of God, I am led to reflect that for me it is not helpful to limit God to a specific gender. I was struck this week as we approach Mothers’ day and we consider John’s beautiful words with gender inclusive language, what a great point of reflection and gratitude it provides as we reflect on our own mothers, the mothers of our children and the significant women in our lives. The love of a parent for a child, I think, is one of God’s greatest expressions of love in the world and I think this scripture resonates for mothers everywhere.
“As God loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my Love”

We wish all the Mums in our community a happy Mother’s Day for this Sunday and hope you have the opportunity to spend the day surrounded by the people you love.

We remember in our prayers this week Abbey Dillon of Year 7 and her family as they mourn the death of Abbey’s loved Grandmother. We also keep the family of Felix Moore, also of Year 7, in our thoughts and prayers as they grieve the passing and celebrate the life of his great grandmother. Finally we extend our prayers to staff member, Maria Russell’s mum who is seriously unwell at this time. May the God of comfort be with all those who struggle or mourn.

Until next week… 

MATT

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