Principal's Update Week 4
Posted: 26-Feb-2020

It is such an exciting time at school with so much going on. Over the last week, we have had Yr 7 camps, Head of the Lake, Year 7 Welcome evening, Ash Wednesday celebrations today, auditions for the musical, Oliver …. I am feeling exhausted reflecting on it and uplifted by the breadth of activity across our College.

Sunday’s Head of the Lake again proved a fabulous expression of young people’s achievements. The preparation that precedes this event is extraordinary. As an example, one of our senior girls has travelled in from Linton for training up to 6 times a week over the six month lead up to these big regattas – it is reflective of the support of our families of our great young people. The students’ efforts on Sunday reflected the commitment of their families, volunteer coaches and staff. I congratulate all students involved and thank our staff; Paul Blanchfield, Hamish Walsh, Tamzin Perkins, Georgia Shillito and Michael Bennett, who have provided great support. I must also acknowledge with enormous gratitude our volunteer coaches- Rob Davis, Matt Ashley, Georgia O’Leary and Lou Campagna, for the mornings, evenings and weekends they have contributed for the growth of our students.

One of the lovely outcomes of the weekend was the collaboration between Damascus College Students and Phoenix College students who merged their spit crews as the day went on. Symbolically, it was a great reflection of sportspersonship – compete hard on the field and celebrate everyone’s efforts! I was very proud of how our community engages with the other schools in Ballarat, and I thank families for creating that culture. I also thank our great parent community for the pasta lunch on Saturday and BBQ following the regatta on Sunday.

This weekend we have students competing at the Rowing Victoria regattas here in Wendouree and in Nagambie. The school is running a BBQ as a fundraiser for the rowing program at the local regatta and rowing families are being asked to assist. Any other family who would be interested in contributing to cooking the BBQ would be most welcome and could flag their interest through the College Administration office.

It was great last night to have staff and students come together for our welcome evening for Year 7 students and their families. The evening provided families with the chance to meet one another and the staff. It was great to be able to induct the 2020 Year 7 SRC Leaders, and I congratulate Joachim Henderson (McAuley), Kylan Jans (St Martin), Kassidy Jewell (Rice) and Violet Fyfe-Jennings (Xavier) on their appointment.

I enjoyed the opportunity to visit our Year 7 students on camp last week at Log Cabin Camp at Creswick. When I visited, I met young people exploring new relationships and consolidating new friendships. There was wonderful warmth and openness to new opportunities by these students. The camp was strongly supported by teachers and support staff and each night, the House SRC representatives and Peer Support Leaders travelled out to the camp and conducted a session with the students after dinner. These students are to be commended on their preparation and contribution to helping our Year 7 students feel settled. It was great to see our senior students, the School Leaders take up the opportunity to spend time with the newest members of our College, and we thank them too. Camp opportunities only occur with staff planning and support, and as a community, we are appreciative of the efforts of Ann and Brendan Bawden, the House Leaders and all staff who supported this opportunity.

Today is Ash Wednesday, and students gathered this morning to be marked by the sign of the cross and spend some time in quiet reflection. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, which within the Catholic faith tradition marks the 46 days preceding Easter. The ashes that students were marked with this morning symbolise our human weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Easter follows Lent, and it is a time of rebirth and the washing away of our frailties and human weaknesses; the “grubby” parts of our lives.

Lent is traditionally a time of prayerful reflection, forgiveness and almsgiving.

At Damascus, we have a tradition of supporting those who are most vulnerable in the world through the international Catholic Aide organisation Caritas. This fundraising appeal is called Project Compassion.

Last year the students of our community with their families and staff contributed generously to assist those in need. It is this giving of alms that highlights this Lenten period. What has been most impressive about students’ contributions in the past has been that it is not excess cash that they give but that they look to give of their own time and talents to help others.

So who does Project Compassion support? I encourage families to visit the Caritas website and access one of the many stories of the people and communities that this project supports. https://lent.caritas.org.au/page/week-1

I want to flag for families that Friday 6th March is a Professional Practice Day for teaching staff, and as such, it is a student-free day.

I wish Isabella Pearce, Megan O’Beirne, Jarrod Joyce, Brayden Joyce, Harley Crabtree, and Oliver Pearce well as they compete at the BAS Singles Tennis Championship next Monday.

I also wish Matilda Martin-Block, Mikayla Montgomery, Eloise McGifford, Liana Canfield, Karla Gallagher, Kaitlyn Handreck, Sinead Sugars, Brady Lucas and new coordinator Matt Edwards well as they head off to Ballarat Regional Debating on Friday afternoon.

I remind families of students travelling to France of the family meeting next Wednesday, 4th March from 6.00pm.

This week we are asked by the Australian Government to supply a ‘statement of addresses’ used to inform Commonwealth school education policy routinely and to help ensure that Commonwealth funding arrangements for non-government schools are based on need, and are fair and transparent. Please find here the 2020 Student Residential Address and Other Information collection notice for your information related to this request. If families have changes to their address that has been provided to the College previously, please contact the Administration office as soon as possible.

We keep in our prayers the St Patrick’s and St Kevin’s College communities, particularly those who have been let down by responsible adults. I extend a prayer for John Crowley who has been very supportive of me, Damascus College and of so many who have been harmed within the Ballarat community as he transitions from St Patrick’s College to St Kevin’s College.

We pray this week for the Gutauskas family as Isabella (Year7) and Nicholas’ (Yr9) maternal grandfather is battling with ill health. We keep the entire family in our thoughts.

Until next week......

MATT

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