Principal's Update Week 4
Posted: 15-May-2019

Next Tuesday, May 21st is a non-teaching day for our second TA interviews of 2019. These interviews will continue after school on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. This is an important opportunity for families, with their student, to; touch base with the TA and check how the year has commenced; see where students are up to with their studies, and determine possible areas of focus as we head towards the busy end of first semester. Can I please encourage families to log onto PAM as soon as possible to book times. Bookings are only available until Sunday at 7.00pm. If there are no available times, please contact your TA to see if an alternative time can be arranged. This is an important dimension of the learning partnership between school and home, and we seek your support in being a part of this important process.

Year 8 students are swapping over on their camp experience today, and the feedback from the first contingent is that it has been a great camp. Year 9 students have been working with Mr Brendan Bawden on the ANZAC story as part of their Humanities studies over the past week and students have been encouraged to explore the Spirit of ANZAC prize; families may take the opportunity to engage with their Year 9 student about any family stories about people going to war. Year 10 students have returned from their retreat experience on Monday and Tuesday and are either working here at school today or are off to Melbourne for an immersion experience. Other Year 10 students are on work experience this week.

As I write the newsletter this morning Year 7 and Year 9 students are sitting the writing conventions test for the NAPLAN. Tomorrow they will sit the numeracy test. Can I ask that families of Year 7 students, remind their students to bring their calculator to the test tomorrow. This is different from the Year 5 experience, but both the Year 7 and Year 9 cohort are encouraged to use their calculators. If your student is coming home concerned by the testing, reiterate to them that any test is just a snapshot at a point in time and that snapshot is designed to help them improve their learning. It is not a measure of their individual worth!

Andrew Robertson has commenced as Assistant Principal of Student Wellbeing, and he has contributed some short insights on Physical Activity Guidelines and a review on the use of mobile phones at Damascus. Andrew’s report can be found here.

This Friday we welcome back many alumni of the College to the annual Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Expo for Year 9 students that is run by the Science Faculty. I commend the work of the faculty and leader Ivanka Saric in the lead up to this event, and I thank in anticipation the many alumni and community members that support this opportunity for students to engage with people whose careers are founded in STEM.

It was great to witness our senior students in their finery on Friday evening for the Senior School formal. Students were respectful, well dressed and appeared to enjoy one another’s company! I thank the Damascus staff team for coming away from their own lives to enable this event to take place on a Friday evening.

I would like to send a shout out for the Timor Leste Trivia night that will take place in the John Shannon Centre on Friday 31st May. This Trivia night is always a positive event for families to connect with the College. Families are urged to get a table together or to establish a challenge between the adults and the young people and have a table each to see who comes out on top! All proceeds of the evening go to the people of Timor Leste to support health and education. There is also an excellent pie drive taking place until this Friday, an order form for the drive can be found here

Damascus College will be a polling centre for the Federal election on Saturday. The Timor Immersion team will be selling drinks and sausages outside the John Shannon Centre – so feel free to call past and buy a snag, and you can choose whether the onions go underneath or on top!

It is no surprise to Damascus families that the 2019 Federal Election will be held on Saturday 18th May 2019. As you will be aware, the major political parties have made a number of announcements about education in the lead-up to the election.

At a national level, Catholic education has been communicating directly with major political parties on their education policy positions, particularly in relation to fair and certain funding. The National Catholic Education Commission asked for responses to the following questions from the three major parties:

1. As the Commonwealth is the predominant funder of non-government schools, how will your party ensure Catholic schools remain affordable for most Australian families?

2. What support will your party provide to help Catholic and other non-government schools upgrade learning facilities and keep pace with enrolment growth, given the rising costs of land, construction and classroom technology?

3. What is your party's position on the right of religious schools to retain faith-based exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation in relation to staffing, enrolment and policy matters?

4. Catholic schools are providing an increasing number of pre-school services for families that choose Catholic education. What will your party do to support this important stage of early childhood education?

The Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd has prepared this handy guide to the parties’ responses for interested families who want to understand the education policy positions taken by the major parties at this election. Full copies of the parties’ responses can be found at

It was fabulous to witness the interaction between staff and Year 10 students who have been learning badminton in PE. Thank you to Gavin Walsh for his organisation of the tournament between staff and Year 10 students during lunch on Thursday last week. There are some very talented badminton players emerging in Year 10!

We welcome back as a pre-service teacher Nicholas Haintz (Class of 2009) who will be working with Ann Bawden while he is here at Damascus.

Damascus VCAL Coordinator, Tom Inverarity and his partner Emma became the proud parents to little Max Thomas on Friday– we congratulate Tom and Emma and wish them well for the rollercoaster of parenthood and send our blessings to Max!

We remember in our prayers this week the Rofe family- Ben (class of 2017), Alex (Year 11) and Joshua (Year 7) on the recent passing of their grandparent. We also remember the Henderson family- Georgia (Year 11) and Sarah (Year 9) on the passing of their uncle this week. We also pray for Fr Peter Sherman, Parish Priest of Ballarat East (currently on leave) whose mother passed away on Sunday. We also pray for Murray McDonald, Principal of Lumen Christi Primary school who lost his Mum over recent days too. May God’s love comfort all those who grieve at this time.

We pray this week as our Federal election takes place for all those in public life. We pray that those elected representatives work for the good of all. We pray that each person exercises their responsibility to consider the best candidate within their own electorate to govern. We make this prayer of our loving God. Amen

I am attending a Principal’s conference in Marysville from Tuesday next week, so my newsletter will be sent from there. Until next week …


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