Principal's Update Week 1
Posted: 24-Apr-2019

This week the Easter Christian holiday flows into the secular ANZAC celebration. Both holidays are built upon tragedy, yet both speak to us as people of hope. We do not celebrate Easter because Christ died; we celebrate it because of Christ’s triumph over death. Equally, we do not commemorate ANZAC day for the human sacrifice, rather for the celebration of the human spirit in times of adversity – hope!

The resurrection of Christ is central to the identity of Damascus College. For me, this was alive over the holiday period in the representation of Jesus’ ‘Final Hours’ in the event performed by Damascus students in our beautiful grounds. To see young men and women so reverently engaged in telling this story was a source of great pride for all who were privileged enough to take part. I thank Andrew Seeary for bringing these gifts out of the young people of this community and for the excellent support offered by Nicole Burness, Adrian Newman and Maria Russell. There were many staff, past student and parental volunteers without whom the event could not have run, and I thank them all for their part. I particularly acknowledge Sophie Finch (Costumes), and Rob James (Sound Desk). Congratulations to all involved!

Damascus College student Benjamin Wright and staff member Brendan Bawden participated in and led respectively the Victorian Governments Spirit of ANZAC tour of Vietnam and Singapore over the break. It has been great to hear of the opportunity and learning that took place, and I thank Brendan for his facilitation of this opportunity.

As Principal, the impact of cybersafety on young people’s well-being is one of the most significant issues that our staff work with regularly. It is in the context of our partnership with families that we run a free community event to equip families to support students as they progress through this challenging period with a myriad of different pressures.

Next Wednesday evening Project Rockit will join the Damascus College community for our annual guest speaker event. Project Rockit, have been empowering school students and communities for over ten years to stand up to hate instead of standing by watching. They believe in a world where kindness and respect thrive over bullying, hate and prejudice, and that all young people are free to realise their potential. Project Rockit creates space where all young people have access to respect, acceptance, creative expression and real social leadership.

The parent session, developing digital literacy, and tackling cyberbullying will discuss the strengths and challenges of navigating the online world as a young person. In-depth knowledge on major social media platforms and the issue of cyberbullying, while also providing a range of hot topics and strategies that staff, parents, guardians and carers can use to support young people online will be shared. This session allows for an open Q&A at the end. To find out more or book a place please click here.

If you are an existing family that has received an offer for an enrolment place for Year 7 for 2020 - I remind you that the final day for acceptances is this Friday, April 26th.

I also remind families of the Mothers’ Day Mass and breakfast that is taking place on Tuesday, May 7th and encourage you to try and fit it into your already busy calendar. More information about the event can be found here.

Students are required to be in full Winter uniform on Monday, 6th May – this means long pants for boys, Winter skirts and tights for girls and track pants with the PE uniform for both. It is not uncommon for students to have grown and this requires skirts and pants to be let down. Skirts are to be knee length. Following up uniform infringements takes valuable school resources away from the core business of learning and teaching and creates awkward and unnecessary conversations with students and families. Please ensure all students come to school each day in the correct school uniform.

Parents may also be pressured to purchase a rain jacket. This item of uniform was introduced to cover the expensive blazer, as students walk to and from school or as they wait at rural bus stops. This year students will be allowed to wear the rain jacket in terms 2 and 3 at lunchtime and recess, while they are outside as another layer and to encourage student activity. It does remain an optional item of uniform.

If you have a child in Year 10 who has work experience coming up and the paperwork has not been returned to the College, could you please attend to this as a matter of urgency.

There have been some staffing adjustments for the rest of the year as a result of staff retirement, Long Service Leave and special projects. We welcome new staff member Danielle Peters who commences with us formally this week. Danielle will be teaching the classes Karen Simpkin taught in Term 1 before her retirement. Danielle is an experienced Catholic educator, and it is great to have her on the Damascus team.

We also welcome onto staff for this term Shaun O’Loughlin, Shaun will assume responsibility for the Year 10 Group 4 PE class taught by Matt Hallowell in Term 1, he is also teaching Year 7 PE Core Group 4 taught in Term 1 by Sally Balson. Sally Balson will be teaching the Year 11 English that Rebecca Anderson taught in first term. Stephanie Hoey will be assuming the Year 7 Group 7 Humanities class taught by Ashleigh Brown in Term 1. Kayla Robson will teach Year 9 Science, Group 7 formerly taught by Patricia Brown.

We also welcome back Jane McKendrick who’s picking up Trish Rowe’s teaching load for the duration of her leave this term. Staff have worked hard to ensure that these transitions are smooth and that student learning proceeds positively.

We extend our condolences to Brendan Doyle (Teacher), his wife Cath and their daughter Lauren on the recent passing of Cath’s Mum. We also keep in our thoughts and prayers Gabriel Blake (Year 9) and his family on the passing of Gabriel’s maternal grandmother, Marg Meerbach. Marg was a great servant of the Catholic Church throughout her life. We also remember Emma (Year 7) and Jade (Year 8) Smith and their family as they grieve the death of their paternal grandmother this week.

Welcome back to Term 2, until next week …


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