Principal's Update Week 6
Posted: 07-Mar-2018

Last Sunday’s Gospel is commonly termed the cleansing of the temple. It is one of the few occasions where we experience an aggravated Jesus. It is a Gospel that has on occasions been used to justify aggressive or forthright actions. I prefer another interpretation of the Gospel, that being Jesus as a person of action seeking a place of prayer, reflection and peace for all who choose to worship. Jesus is seeking a place of contemplation for all – the forecourt of the temple was likely the place of prayer for women and gentiles – and it is was this space that was being used by traders. It is unlikely Jesus would have been forthright if these traders were in the street outside, but they had occupied the place of those in society who had a lesser or no voice. My take away this week is to try and find space and time in the busyness of life for reflection, contemplation and prayer. I am challenged to think about how I can contribute to finding peace for those who have no voice. My Lenten commitment this week is to drive out some of the dimensions that are limiting my capacity to reflect more fully. I invite you to consider what are the things that you might need to drive out to provide some more peace in your life.

It was great to be able to welcome Bishop Paul Bird and Fr Peter Sherman to the College on Monday as part of Bishop Paul’s parish pastoral visit. We are fortunate to have Church leaders that take such an active interest in education and I thank them for spending time with us at Damascus.

The buzz that surrounded the courtyard at school last Wednesday evening was genuinely electric. To see so many Year 7 families engage with staff and one another at the Meet the Teachers event was a wonderful reflection on the commitment of families to work in partnership with the school. I thank all those families who were able to make it to either or both evenings and the generous staff support at both events.

I congratulate all students who are part of the Student Representative Council (SRC) on their formalised leadership role. The Year 7 students Leah Stevens, Elarin Johnson, Nicholas Fletcher and Elijah White were inducted at the assembly for Year 7 students prior to 'Meet the Teachers'. All Year 7 students should have now received their College and House badge. If your Year 7 student was not able to make it on Thursday, please direct them to their House Leader.

Our swimming team gave a great representation for Damascus College at the BAS Inter-school Swimming Carnival last Thursday. There were some great individual and team efforts and I congratulate all students on their participation and representation of the College at this carnival.

It was another big weekend for Damascus rowers at the State Championships here in Ballarat and in Geelong for junior girls. I congratulate all students on their participation. I also thank the many parents who manned the many different responsibilities for the regatta, particularly those who contributed to the food stalls.

As announced last week the Enhancing Catholic School Identity Project (ESCIP) is coming soon to Damascus College. ESCIP offers a tool to help us to understand the Catholic nature of our College. But how is Catholic identity described in the tool? Last week I introduced the scale that compares belief and non-belief with literal and symbolic ways of thinking.

Another approach of ECSIP is to compare the degree of Christian connection that is evident in the school (high or low) with how open and welcoming of diversity the school is (high or low). As a result of this comparison it is possible to characterise a school. There is a short YouTube animation that explains this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHn_Kx0Mybo

The description of the final scale and the detail of how the complete the survey will be sent next week.

One of the absolutely delightful achievements of the past week has been the announcement that Sam Rizzo of Year 12 has been selected for the Commonwealth Games. I congratulate Sam on behalf of the entire community on this wonderful achievement and we look forward to following his progress as the games commence.

Ballarat Lyric Theatre’s season of Jesus Christ Superstar is currently well underway. A number of current and past Damascus community member are heavily involved in this production. Current community members include staff members, Vicki Rowe and Adrian Newman who are playing in the band, College Captain Ellie Carroll is in the ensemble and understudy to Mary Magdalene whom she is scheduled to play at 2.00 pm on Saturday the 10th March and Ruby Penhall (Year 12) and Simon Carroll (Staff) who are both in the ensemble cast. Nicole Burness (staff) is also taking a role with the lighting team and both Blaise (Year 11) and Riley (Year 8) Mulrooney assisting with a range of backstage tasks.

Next Tuesday, 13th March, following the Labour Day public holiday is a student free day when staff will be working on aspects of professional growth and curriculum development. I don’t need to remind our young people that they have a four day long weekend, but I thought I had better bring it back to parents’ attention!! I do need to remind families of second year cluster VET students, that their classes will continue and that students are advised to attend their regular class from 1.30 pm.

Next Wednesday, 14th March from 7.00 pm Damascus will host a free community event aimed at supporting parents in your critical role. This event has been moved forward within the College calendar to maximise the impact on student learning across the year. I have already written about our intention to build up grit and determination within the student population. Luke McKenna will work with staff, students and hopefully a large cohort of our parents on thriving with grit. This will precede a range of learning that we will engage in over the weeks and months to come. More information can be found here.

You may have heard that one of the student buses broke down in the turning lane to the College on the way to school thsi morning. This delayed a number of students at the commencement of the day for TA and the start of period 1. The driver of the bus handled the situation in an orderly fashion having the students alight from the bus into the College safely.

We remember all those who need our prayer at this time.

Until next week …. 

MATT 

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