Acting Principal's Update - Week 7
Posted: 28-Aug-2019

Jesus’ question in Luke 9:20, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter’s affirmation of Jesus as Messiah (God’s anointed one) is an essential precursor to last Sunday’s Gospel reading. Who Jesus is matters. Chapter 13 of the Lukan narrative finds Jesus’ journeying to Jerusalem. The newly identified Messiah is questioned about salvation, “will there be only a few saved?” and the response could not be clearer to those original hearers.

“Yes, there are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last.” v. 30

The old order is no longer viable in the community of Christ. If we are a community of Christ, there are reversals that need to exist. Our Messiah eats with outsiders, and it is to these broken ones that the fullness of life is promised. As a College how can we stand up to scrutiny that measure of compassion implies?

The forthcoming Seeds of Justice Program Streetwise Sleep Out is one of the many ways that we identify with this Gospel standard. With staff support, a group of Year 11 students have volunteered to sleep rough to raise awareness and support the homeless of Ballarat. They will collect sponsors for this event to be held on Friday 13th September. I encourage students as they give us all a witness to the Christian message.

Families of Year 12 students gathered at the College on Tuesday evening for the VTAC briefing session. All Year 12 VCE students are encouraged to apply for a University place, and I urge any families that could not attend, to please contact Mrs Jo Lawrence in Careers, to answer any questions that you may have.

This week is Book Week, and there has been a raft of different opportunities for students and staff through the St Martin’s Resource Centre. As staff, we have been encouraged to share what we are currently reading with students, and it is enlightening to see the breadth of available literature that educators and support staff are tapping into. Students have been undertaking virtual treasure hunts and experiences in virtual reality, as part of the activities of the week. We are fortunate to have such a great library facility, here at Damascus College, and it has been great to showcase it over the week.

On Thursday of last week, I was fortunate to accompany the Damascus College team of 8 students who participated in the South West Zone Clay Target Shooting competition at Noorat. There were 335 competitors from 24 schools in the zone. Year 8 student Max Stephens placed equal 2nd in the Junior boy section, with a score of 17/20. Max now qualifies for the State School Student's Final to be held at the Echuca Clay Target Club on Monday 2nd September. Well done to all students involved, and good luck Max!

Can I please remind families of the Fathers’ Day Mass and Breakfast that will take place here at school on Thursday 29th August from 7.30am. Parking will be limited, so please arrive early (7.15am) to secure a car park. We are at capacity with attendance numbers.

Our students continue to excel at the Royal South Street and the Debating Association of Victoria competitions over the past few weeks. Monday night saw our Year 11 and 12 team of Sofie Sawka, Leah Young, Ally Finch and Symantha Sawka compete in the Royal South Street Grand Final. On the topic ‘That we are going the wrong way’ and on the negative side, Damascus students presented their topics well and spoke with confidence. The debate showed great rebuttal between the two teams, but unfortunately, the team placed runners up to St Patricks College.

Additionally, to making the Grand final, there has been some fantastic individual success. Sofie Sawka won Best Female Debater at South Street in the VCE competition, and Nicholas Kattula won best Male Debater in the Year 9 and 10 competition. Both of these awards were presented Monday evening. Nicholas has also won the Best Debater in C Grade (Year 10) Debating Association of Victoria Ballarat Region. I congratulate Sofie, Nicholas and all participants for their continued efforts.

Excitement levels were high at the Bendigo Human Powered Vehicle and Energy Efficient Vehicle Grand Prix as the Damascus College Sustainable Racing Team (formerly Energy Breakthrough team) took out 2nd and 4th in its class, over the weekend. Alan Strange and Rachel Beardall coordinators of the SRT program were very well supported by parent volunteers who worked tirelessly across the day and night to ensure all three trikes were competitive in the race. Students challenged themselves, worked as a team and encouraged each other across the entire 9-hour race. The Bendigo race was also the debut of Young Guns, our junior race team. Although they ran into some technical problems with Young Guns, the tenacity to push through and never give up shown from volunteers, parents and students was astounding. It was a positive event and a fabulous lead up to Maryborough Energy Breakthrough weekend in November. Congratulations to all involved.

This week sees the conclusion of the Grade 5 Student visits to the College, with students from Lumen Christi, St Augustine’s and St Thomas More here this week. Over the past few weeks, we have welcomed to the College approximately 450 students from across the Catholic Primary schools in and around Ballarat. Students have been participating in making keyrings, firing rockets, beginning to learn Indonesian and French, Science and Humanities activities and concluding with a school tour. I thank staff for their generous support and efforts in these activities.

At the conclusion of the school Year, Loretta Kaval will enter the next phase of her journey and will enter retirement. Loretta began her teaching Career in 1977 at Lalor High School in Melbourne, and then two years later began in Catholic Education at Thomas More College in Salisbury SA. Loretta began as a Teacher Librarian in 1994 and then joined Damascus College a year and a half later in July 1995. We will congratulate and celebrate Loretta's contribution to the College towards the end of the year. We wish Loretta well in her last semester at the College.

Sister Barbara Lemke passed peacefully at Mercy Place Ballarat on Friday 23rd August 2019 surrounded by the loving and prayerful presence of the local Sisters of Mercy. Barbara was a quiet woman of dignity and compassion. She held Leadership positions in the Sisters of Mercy and had been a Teacher since 1950 in various locations including Ballarat, Ballarat East and Mt Clear. She was a gifted and much-respected educator. Her funeral will be held on Friday 30th August at St Alipius Church, Victoria Street, Ballarat East at 2pm. We keep the Sisters in our prayers at this time.

This week we also keep in our thoughts and prayers Neale Thompson (Staff) and family with the loss of Neale’s Father in law, and Joshua Innes (Year 8, St Martin 11) who’s grandfather passed away over the weekend. May they both rest in peace.

Chris Grant
Acting Principal

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