Principal's Update Week 9
Posted: 05-Dec-2018

‘Never become tired of doing good’ has been our theme for the year, but it is legitimate that the members of our community may be feeling a little stretched as the last day of school approaches. It has been a remarkable year and an absolute privilege to work within the Damascus College community. Tomorrow we will celebrate Mass together and then participate in Ball games, if families are able to join our simple liturgy it will begin at 9.30am. Tomorrow is a regular 3.18 pm finish.

On Monday night it was a great celebration of student achievement at the Awards night at the Regent Cinema. I congratulate all those students who have been recognised, but equally, I acknowledge the great work of those students who did not get an award but who have shown significant growth in their knowledge and skills in all areas of school life. Our guest speaker Jacob Wood (class of 2009) was inspiring in his reflection on how his Damascus schooling supported his confidence in taking on new experiences and how that confidence has led him to where he is today. It was a wonderful evening, and I thank everyone who contributed, especially our Awards committee of Sarah Boswell, Jennifer Montgomery, Ashwin Pillai, Caroline Nolan, Aleceia Smith, Tony Haintz, Loretta Kaval, Chris Grant and Nicole Hexter.

Last night I had the privilege of catching the production of ‘Robin Da Hood’ by members of the Damascus College Drama club, and it was pure joy to see our junior students so engaged in developing their dramatic craft. Nicole Burness has worked with these students every lunchtime, and I thank her for her support of Damascus students.

Damascus rowers had a great day at Nagambie on the weekend as an entire squad, and it was beautiful to see the rowers supporting one another across the different year levels. From this Friday rowing camps begin, and I wish our athletes well for these activities.

As this newsletter is published I celebrate the contribution of those teachers who conclude their classroom ministry today; Jo Kennedy, Mark McLean, Greg Dow, Min Myers and Ronda Metcalfe in the St Martin’s Resource Centre. Each have had extensive careers at Damascus, and I thank them on behalf of the generations of young people that they have educated. Jane McKendrick is taking leave for term 1 of next year and will return in term 2.

I thank those staff whose term in specific leadership roles come to a close;

• Deb Larsen as O’Collins Assistant House leader
• Georgia Shillito as Xavier Assistant House Leader
• Maria Russell as Learning Area Leader of the Arts (Maria will continue as Performing Arts Coordinator)
• Greg Dow as Professional Practice Team member,
• Cathy Prunty as Special Needs Coordinator,
• Glenn Jessup as Health and PE Learning Area Leader,
• Andrew Robertson as Rice House Leader (Andy is assuming the Assistant Principal- Student Wellbeing role),
• Angela Hoban as Teacher Advisor Leader,
• Rebecca Anderson as Professional Practice Team member (Bek is taking up the Diverse Learning Leader Role) and
• Isabelle O’Dea who has had responsibility for the SRC and Peer Mentoring (Issy will assume the Assistant House Leader role for McAuley)

  • Keran Mewett as Transition Coordinator
  • David Myers as McAuley Assistant House Leader ansd Camps Coordinator

I thank all these staff for the leadership that they have shown at Damascus College, time, not money does not extend to the levels of responsibility that this team of people have borne and we are very grateful.

I also wish to acknowledge the strategic leaders within our community. Bill Slatter will retire as a Director of the Damascus College Board following 11 years of service including many years chairing the Finance and Risk subcommittee. Bill has supported myself and this community in a particularly generous way, and I think he has had a soft spot for us following his years on the staff of St Pauls’. Thank you, Bill. I also acknowledge Stephen Carey who concludes six years’ service on the Damascus College Board and nearly 20 years’ service on the Learning and Teaching subcommittee. Stephen’s involvement has been a remarkable effort. As well, Fr Peter Sherman’s contribution over the past two years as a Director of the College draws to a close. On behalf of the community, I acknowledge Bill, Stephen and Fr Peter’s very generous voluntary support.

While we celebrate conclusions, it was great to welcome our newest members of the school community yesterday as 208 incoming Year 7 students experienced their Orientation day. There was a raft of new families who joined us, and it was a joy to see the interactions and foundation of new friendships and learning. To those new families at the College yesterday – Welcome!

Semester reports will be available online in the Parent Access Module (PAM) from tomorrow, December 6th. The final report is a compilation of the feedback provided progressively on the assessment tasks undertaken throughout this second semester. The final report will also include; AusVELS assessments, work habits and any final results. VCE results will be available to students who undertook a Unit 3/4 subject next Friday, 14th December – senior students will have received communication on the different means of receiving their results. The Careers Coordinator and College counsellors will be available at school for those seeking support on results day.

I have been reflecting on a book called Finding Traces of God by Michael McGirr, and it has a series of daily reflections. Yesterday’s reflection was about the season of Advent. Part of the reflection was;

“The start of Advent brings with it the realisation that we …need to start again. Each year bringing more depth to our faith, a little more experience. But, Christianity is not like a career in which you develop expertise. The longer you are a Christian, the more you realise how little you understand. So, with humility and hope, we start again and begin to wonder what it means for the uncreated to become part of creation.”

We pray that we continue to grow in our Christian understanding of the mystery into which we have entered and draw on the hope that the new life of the Christ child and every child brings to creation. We make this prayer of our loving God.

Our prayers and thoughts are with Carina Drake (Year 7) and her family on the recent passing of her Grandmother.

We also offer a prayer of joy for the family of Gabriel Blake of Year 8 (2018) on the safe arrival of his little sister Beatrice last weekend.

Our staff team have worked hard this year, and I ask that you think of them and pray for them this Christmas.

Thank you for being part of the Damascus community in 2018, if this is your last association with the College – thank you for your contribution – if you are returning next year enjoy family and holiday time together. Have a wonderful Christmas, God bless and thank you!

Until next year …

MATT

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