From the Assistant Principals
Posted: 16-Oct-2019

A TA Reflection

Today I had the pleasure of entering my old stomping ground by farewelling Rice students in their final House Assembly. Through this assembly I was reminded of the wonderful House System that we have in place at Damascus College. There is certainly a sense of connectedness and pride that students have in belonging to their House.

For many students this assembly marks the realisation that the close relationships developed between TA is drawing to a close. For many students the TA has been the one constant in their life at Damascus. Conversely, the emotional investment that TAs place in supporting students cannot be underestimated. So while we acknowledge the final weeks of our Year 12 students education, I thank all TA’s for their unconditional support they have given their students.

At the end of last term I was in a position to obtain some information following the implementation of our mobile phone guidelines. Shortly after our initiative the State Government announced legislative guidelines that mobile phones are to be banned in all state primary and secondary schools beginning term 1 2020. It was quite affirming to see that Damascus was ahead of the political thinking of our state government in acknowledging the benefits of restricting mobile phone use at school. As with all guidelines associated with student expectations at Damascus College, we rely heavily on the support of the parents / guardians to assist with implementation. Damascus College works on a 3 strike philosophy with 2 warnings and a subsequent banning of accessing mobiles at school for 2 weeks for further misdemeanours. Parents are notified of warnings through PAM.

At the end of term 3 it has been apparent that the vast majority of students have adapted well to the new regulations. There has been less than 3% of students that have lost their privilege in accessing their phone during school hours. Statistically speaking, Year 9-11 students have been identified as the cohort that have grappled with the new regulations with >70% of mobile phone notifications coming from these three year levels. I wish to remind parents that the new regulations will improve student engagement in their classes resulting in improved outcomes.

The school is also aware that excess attachment to mobile phones is not unique to the school environment. If you believe your son/daughter is suffering from potential addiction to mobile device and you would like to assist them in breaking this cycle, https://www.helpguide.org/articles/addictions/smartphone-addiction.htm  offers wonderful advice. 

Written by Mr. Andrew Robertson - Assistant Principal Student Wellbeing

Sainthood

On 13th October in St Peter’s Square in Rome, John Henry Newman (1801-1890), philosopher, theologian, historian, novelist, poet and homilist extraordinaire, was canonised along with four women by one of his great admirers, Pope Francis.

It was be an occasion of great rejoicing not only in Rome but also in Oxford - where Newman spent most of the first half of his life as a student, academic and Anglican minister - in Birmingham, where he spent the second half of his life as a Catholic priest, and at the University of Melbourne’s Newman College, which invokes Newman as its patron and inspiration.

John Henry Cardinal Newman was a convert to Catholicism from the Church of England, and one of the great minds of the 19th century. It was only with the election of a new Pope, Leo XIII, in 1878 that Newman was created a cardinal and Leo had made exceptions for him to receive this honour.

The recognition he received in his later years has resounded down to our own day. Acclaimed as the “Father of the Second Vatican Council” for his ideas and insights, his canonisation sends a message of hope to those who continue to work towards reform of the Church. He is often quoted, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” The holiness of his life and the depth of his theological perceptions will only be further emphasised by his entry into the congregation of saints.

Newman’s canonisation in mid-October is noteworthy for many reasons including the fact that it brings to mind the Catholic belief in the Communion of Saints. November 1 is All Saints Day and November 2 is All Souls Day. These feasts begin a month of recollection, an annual remembering. Those who have died remain near to us although the warmth of their touch is no longer ours to share. As the Roman Catholic funeral liturgy insists life is changed, not ended. Because we are preparing for the month of remembrance, we are collecting names from the Damascus College community to be added to the Remembrance Book that lives in the Our Lady of Mercy Chapel. Families who would like to have a loved one or friend recorded are invited to submit this to the college.

There will be a brief remembrance ceremony on 7th November at 8:30 am in the Chapel at the College.

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

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