In a time when we see the growing secularisation of society, opportunities seem ever more evident to link the traditions of our faith beliefs with the non-religious dimensions of society. This week as we approach Remembrance Day on 11th Nov (next Monday), we are also in the month of remembrance within our Church tradition. A third element of this alignment is that it is the anniversary of the death of Catherine McAuley (Nov 11), the founder of the Sisters of Mercy. As people of hope, and regardless of our place on a journey of faith, both Remembrance Day and our Church’s Holy Souls tradition focus on the hope and joy of everlasting peace. The College is hosting a liturgy of remembrance tomorrow, Thursday 7th, in Our Lady of Mercy Chapel to remember all those whom we have loved and lost from 8.30am.
We will commemorate Remembrance Day with a whole school liturgy this Thursday at 10.45am. We have moved this liturgy forward due to the changed learning program eventuating from CPDA, Work Experience and Year 9 camp next week.
Damascus will also remember and pray for former staff member Bill O’Loughlin tomorrow on the second anniversary of his death. We remember Bill as a passionate and committed teacher, colleague and friend who was very dear in our community. We pray for Bill and his family as part of our November commemoration.
Our rowers had a strong hit out at the Victorian Schools regatta here in Ballarat on the weekend, with this being the first experience of a race for many students. There were some very strong results, and I congratulate all involved.
Our Early Start Program kicks off on Wednesday, November 20th, for all current students. The College has a Curriculum Day on Tuesday 19th November, and this is a student-free day. Within the Early Start Program students will progress to the next year level for the final two weeks of the College year. Students will commence their new pathways subjects and will be in their new core groups. I remind families’ that there have been booklist requirements for this period notified, predominately stationary and English texts. The purpose of the program is to ensure that learning opportunities are optimised to the very last day of the year for all students and that they are getting the best learning experience possible at Damascus. Where staff are leaving the College they will begin the classes for the teacher who will succeed them in 2020. Where new staff are able to join us, they have been engaged for the Early Start period. Students of families who are relocating or moving to other schools will be aligned with a class for these last two weeks of the year and students who are moving off to employment, or non-secondary educational settings will conclude classes on Monday 18th November.
All students are encouraged and required to attend Mass and Ball games on Thursday 5th December; non-attendance will be recorded and will influence a student’s ability to engage in extra-curricular and leadership opportunities.
I don’t need to remind students that this Friday 8th November is a Public Holiday in Ballarat for Show Day but that the VCE exams will continue regardless. The St Martin’s Resource Centre will be open until the commencement of the final exam. As I indicated last week; city buses are running; however, I believe the country buses are not. Families who have a student undertaking a VCE exam on Friday 8th should organise private transport to and from the College.
Next week the College offers diverse learning opportunities to students of Year 9 and 10 with the Year 9 camp to the Strathbogie Ranges and the Year 10 week of Work experience or the introduction to the Christian Personal Development Award. If your student is experiencing anxieties or concerns about any of these experiences, the College goes to great lengths to ensure that appropriate adjustments are made to enable students to access this important learning. Please liaise with us if there are concerns. It is not helpful to anyone for students to ‘just stay home’ – as adults we often have our own anxieties and concerns about experience which we are unfamiliar, so please talk to us about the planning that is in place to enable students to attend.
We keep staff member Rachel Beardall and her family in our thoughts and prayers this week as she grieves the death of her grandfather.
Enjoy the Ballarat Show Day holiday on Friday.