From the Assistant Principals
Posted: 21-Aug-2019

Year 11 Retreat

Last week I had the pleasure off being one of the staff who attended the year 11 retreat. There are 3 retreat options for year 11 students; exploring relationships, faith and the physical challenge and social justice. The Retreat and Reflection Day program provide an opportunity for students to reflect on their life and the lives of others within a Christian context.

In exploring relationships students were taken through a series of activities which encouraged them to consider the importance of the many relationships in their life. Through the theme of live music students were encouraged to participate in activities that were potentially uncomfortable to them because of the perceived fear of being judged by their peers. Once liberated from this fear it was amazing to see the untapped talents and strengths that the students were able to demonstrate. Chris Doyle, retreat facilitator, reiterated the uniqueness in the human spirit demonstrating that ‘when we deal with each other, we should do so with the sense of awe that arises in the presence of something holy and sacred’. One of the most powerful sessions of the retreat involved students walking down a ‘cat walk’ with group members expressing what it was they admired about this person. It was particularly powerful to see how positive compliments have the power to change how an individual sees themselves.

As a leader in Wellbeing this activity resonated with me in that some of our students have an unhealthy focus on where they see their ‘weaknesses’ rather than celebrating their strengths. Positive reinforcement has long been lauded for increased motivation, happiness and social engagement- not only for adolescence but adults as well. Simple reminders of the plethora of skills and talents that young people have, do have the potential to shift a negative mindset into a positive one. There are many ways to reinforce positive behaviour. Positive reinforcement doesn’t necessarily need to be a tangible item. Instead, you can positively reinforce a child’s behaviour by:
• Commenting on how much you value support at home (no matter how small this is!)
• Offering praise for work completed.
• Giving a hug or pat on the back
• Leaving ‘sticky notes’ of appreciation
• Sending messages reminding your child of how proud you are of them.
• Telling another adult how proud you are of your child’s behaviour while your child is listening.

An accumulative effect of positive reinforcement allows us to tap into a child’s individual strengths, draw attention to their dynamic personality traits and interests, and as a result provides an opportunity to connect, communicate effectively, and ultimately empower them to be more of themselves.

Written by Mr. Andy Robertson - Assistant Principal Student Wellbeing

Seeds of Justice

Damascus College is a school in the Mercy Tradition, that is, in the line of communities that have evolved from the gospel faith and life values of Catherine McAuley (1778-1841), founder of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1831.

In Victoria this tradition has formed an association of Mercy schools under the banner of the Seeds of Justice program. The schools work together to plan conferences for representative students and staff to induct community members into the vision and work of the Mercy tradition. The aim of the Seeds of Justice Program are to form students and staff in the Mercy charism; to raise awareness of contemporary issues in social justice; o facilitate new links between students and staff of Mercy schools, both city and regional.

The conferences have used the corporal works of Mercy found in Matthew’s gospel as a scriptural underpinning of the conference process. These works of Mercy are the focus of our own Christian Personal Development Award Year 10 Introductory Program and will feature at Damascus Day. Damascus College joined this movement in 2009 and has gained and given a great deal to the Seeds of Justice movement.

Theme for the 2019 Regional Event held next month in Anglesea is People of Mercy – Connecting with Our Common Home. The discussion will be led by Rahamim Ecology Centre, an environmental education, spirituality and advocacy ministry of the Sisters of Mercy. The Centre aims to integrate sustainability and spirituality in everyday life.

Students today are often at the forefront of what it means to be part of a more sustainable future. They are very conscious of the future they wish to live in and the present state of the world. We look forward to their ideas and enthusiasm following the program.

Written by Mr. Tony Haintz - Assistant Principal Catholic School Culture


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