Principal's Update Week 1
Posted: 17-Jul-2019

Welcome back to Term 3. It was great to see the buzz amongst the student population as they came back together yesterday morning. It is always refreshing to see young people genuinely pleased to see one another after a holiday break and reminds me of the importance of human connection!

The Damascus staff team spent the day on Monday reaffirming the centrality of our Catholic foundations. Fr Richard Leonard is a Jesuit priest, and he has worked with us for 4 of the past 5 years on what it means to be a Catholic School. As a Catholic school, we need to do more than be an academic provider; we have a responsibility to meet students where they are and progress them. We need to daw on our Catholic tradition and Christian context to support our young people to live in the world, now and into the future. Our Christian calling is to be a community of welcome, one that nurtures and equips young people. The role of the family as primary educator and supporter in collaboration with the school remains one of the key dimensions of a Catholic school. It is an enormously rewarding privilege to be a part of Damascus College, a community that touches the future through the development of the young and one that does so in partnership with families.

Tomorrow night Damascus College provides a range of opportunities for families to come in and gain more information regarding the subject selection process for 2019. Quite extensive information is available on the College website under Life @ Damascus – Learning and Teaching and then the Pathways tabs. The opportunities provided, allow you to seek more information about your student’s respective course in 2020, or to speak with teachers in the learning area that your student is considering, to gain a specialised insight to specific subjects or courses. For more information on the evening and opportunities to book, please look here. There have been some adjustments to the curriculum booklet for Year 9 and 10 Music and Mathematics today, and there will be some other minor adjustments to be updated tomorrow for Media, if these are subjects that families have looked at specifically prior to today.

Next week Damascus College will welcome reviewers to support our school improvement agenda. We are looking for parents who would be willing to meet with our reviewers to share their experiences and insights at 5:00 pm next Monday 22nd in the Boardroom. If you felt you could contribute, could you please contact principal@damascus.vic.edu.au to join a focus group.

There was an enormous range of student achievement over the holiday period. Our Indonesian travellers returned safely with wonderful language and cultural experiences to draw on. Students who attended Timor Leste also gained rich experiences of another culture and the principles of Catholic social teaching. Wonderfully generous staff supported both groups of students on the trips, and I thank Indonesian Trip Coordinator, Brendan Bawden and supporting staff, Anne Bawden, Jason Harrison and Kirsten Phyland. I also thank the Timor Team, Caroline Nolan, Simon Carroll, Jayde Tangey and Rebecca Anderson, and trip Coordinator, Tony Haintz for their work over a twelve-month period.

Here at school the lead up to next week’s production of “Around the World in 80 Days” was frenetic with rehearsals and set construction. I acknowledge the enormous effort of Andrew Seeary, Nicole Burness and all those who are supporting them and the Damascus students in the lead up to the performance nest week. More information and tickets can be found here.

There has been a range of other student achievements highlighted in other places throughout this newsletter, and I congratulate these students on their achievements.

This week we have commenced with students our requirement that phones are not to be brought to class throughout the day. This requires students to leave them in their lockers. A requirement of the Damascus College booklist is a lock for the locker. This is because it is needed to store the device, but equally, it provides security for personal items such as a phone. Could parents please check with their student that they have an American combination lock. The College’s position on phones is to enhance student learning and wellbeing, and this extensively considered position has been put in place to support students. I am very appreciative of the affirmative feedback that has been received on this change since it was announced.

It has been great to welcome members of the Angers French community to Damascus College this week, Damascus families have generously hosted these students over the holidays and will continue to do so for the next two weeks. It is great to have these French visitors staying with us; strengthening our program, and I acknowledge the leadership of Languages Leader Alysoun Smalley in facilitating this opportunity.

Many Damascus families have experienced enormous grief over recent weeks. William Halstead (Year 11) and his family are mourning the passing of his loved maternal grandmother. Ella Thornton (Year 9) is grieving the passing of her loved paternal grandfather. Our staff team have had a very difficult time with Gerard Macklin (Staff) losing his Mum over the break. Megan Grant (Staff) also lost her Mum last week, and today Maree Lawlor (Staff) farewelled her Dad at St Columba’s church. Each of these families have grieved the passing of their loved family member and celebrated their life with great affection. We pray that each of these loved ones are embraced eternally by our loving God.

Until next week … 

MATT

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