Principal's Update Week 3
Posted: 08-May-2019

How does Jesus reveal himself to us in Ballarat in the 21st century? It is a pretty perplexing question, particularly given the different faith stances of people across society, but it does resonate with our theme this year – “But who do you say that I am?” (Lk 9:20). For each of us, there will be different manifestations of the divine in our lives. My witness this week was in the beautiful celebration between Mums and their children at our Mother’s Day Mass and Breakfast yesterday. The love between a parent and child that I so frequently get to see is the most significant presence of Jesus’ love in this community. As parents, there are times that we may not recognise God’s love within our families, but we need to take heart that if we are struggling to find Jesus in our lives, we are not the only ones who have struggled with this. Jesus was not always immediately recognised by his loved disciples either, as was the case when Jesus appeared (post-resurrection) to the disciples when they were fishing as recounted in last Sunday’s gospel. If they struggled with their recognition, there is some comfort for us who may have similar difficulties at times 2000 years later.

Thank you to all those parents who have ensured students are now in their winter uniform. No doubt there have been trips to the uniform shop and adjustment to hem lengths over the past couple of weeks. Your efforts to support your students to meet the College uniform expectations are appreciated. If you have not had a chance to adjust hem lengths for skirts and pants, could I please ask that you do so as a matter of priority.

I congratulate all the students who represented Damascus College at the Ballarat Associated School Athletics carnival last Thursday. There were some fabulous individual achievements, but the overall staff feedback was of the wonderful willingness of each competitor to represent the school with pride on the day. Well done to all involved.

This Friday evening the Senior School formal will take place from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. This event is a social opportunity that the Damascus College staff facilitates for the Year 11 and 12 students of our community. It has always been a very positive event on our calendar, but it is important that I reiterate that normal school rules apply. It is an alcohol, drug and smoke free event, any student who is suspected of having consumed alcohol, will not be let in. There are no pass-outs through the evening. Year 12 students are permitted to bring a guest on the condition that they arrive with the Damascus College student and that the guest abides by Damascus College rules. It is a social activity and hair, and makeup appointments are not more important than school on Friday. Any student who is away on Friday will not be able to attend the formal. I must reinforce my encouragement that parents support one another by not condoning after parties. If you say no to requests from your child, you’re supporting other Damascus parents who are going to receive the same pressure from their student. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the evening, please contact your House Leader. Students are encouraged to bring a plate to share.

In many ways this week is the calm before the storm. This week learning programs are progressing with regular classes and other activities taking place concurrently. Next week Year 8 students head off on their camp with core groups 1, 3, 5 & 7 heading off from Monday to Wednesday and core groups 2, 4, 6, & 8 are heading off from Wednesday to Friday. Most students are excited about the prospect of camps, but for others, this creates feelings of anxiety. We encourage families to talk to the College if your child is feeling nervous about the camp experience so that we can put strategies in place to support their attendance. Non-attendance does not help the young person and can contribute to diminished well-being. If this is the case for your child, please discuss it with your TA, House Leader or the College Counsellors through counsellors@damascus.vic.edu.au or with Camps Coordinator, Tamzin Perkins.

Year 10 students also have a changed learning program for next week and will undertake either the Christian Personal Development Award or Work Experience. On Friday, Year 9 students will take part in the STEM Expo here at school where they will “speed date” a scientist.

NAPLAN testing for Years 7 and 9 students will take place next week from Tuesday the 14th of May to Thursday the 16th of May. NAPLAN is a national common assessment tool, and families are encouraged to tell students that while it indicates student progression, it is a single assessment on a single day and not to overemphasise its importance. Attached here is information for parents outlining the purpose and some operational aspects of NAPLAN testing. At Damascus College we encourage all students to undertake the suite of NAPLAN tests; however, if you have specific concerns, please contact the College. Please also note that should your child be absent for a test without an official withdrawal, he or she will participate in the catch-up tests held on a subsequent afternoon and, if necessary, Friday morning. If you have any questions, please contact Learning Analytics Leader, Rod Mathews. 

With all of these different comings and goings, we are not running our usual TA time in the morning. Students will head straight to Lesson 1 and rolls and notices will be delivered in class time. Particularly for Year 7 students and those students who are new to the College, this is a variation to our regular routines. These are all exciting learning opportunities in line with our intent of supporting holistic learning for the young people of the College.

We pray this week for our Mum’s and the significant women in our lives. We offer prayers of gratitude for these women, those who are living and those who are no longer. We ask that God bless and care for Mums and all women!

Until next week …

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