Principal's Update Week 5
Posted: 22-May-2019

I am writing this week’s newsletter from the beauty of the setting that is Marysville. This beautiful bush setting has many environmental similarities to our beautiful surrounds at Damascus. It is a place of calm and contemplation.

Why am I here? I am in Marysville for a Principal’s conference with 70 of Victoria’s 102 Catholic secondary principals, and we are working with British theologian, Dr Anna Rowlands. We are a group of principal’s exploring what it means to be an authentic faith leader in schools, and we are looking at Catholic social teaching as the framework for our growth and the development of our schools. It is rich learning to look at how we prepare young people to go out from the College with an innate sense of human dignity for themselves and others, at how we support them to understand a framework for the common good and what it means to provide preferential options for the poor genuinely. It is challenging learning as I am required to explore my own privileged position and my opportunities to influence change for those who most need it. I hope to share some further insights of this experience over the coming weeks.

Last week was enormous at Damascus in relation to the happenings across the College. Year 8 Camps, Year 10 CPDA and work experience, Year 9 STEM Career’s Expo, and the NAPLAN testing were all great learning opportunities for students, and I thank all those who contributed to the planning and delivery of these activities.

Yesterday TA interviews commenced and they continue tonight and tomorrow. The TA at Damascus is one of our key platforms to build rapport with families to ensure that no young person falls through the cracks. This week provides a great chance for the College to engage with our students and families to support the best educational opportunities on the journey through secondary school. It has been great to see so many families come in to dialogue with the Teacher Advisor your young person’s progress. If circumstances prevented you being able to attend, please make contact with your TA – the partnership between school and home is critical to the success of your student.

There is a ski trip meeting tonight at 6.00pm in the Undercroft for all students and families seeking to attend.

Friday night is the middle school formal for our Year 9 and 10 students. This event provides a social opportunity that the Damascus College staff facilitates for the 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 and smoke-free event. There are no pass-outs through the evening. Students must be signed in and signed out by a parent. If students are not at school on Friday, then it is expected that they will not be at the formal on Friday night. 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.

The Timor Immersion group have had another big weekend of activities, raising well over $1,000 at the Timor Election BBQ on Saturday and then attending Mass together and preparing for their time in Timor on Sunday. I thank Caroline Nolan, Simon Carroll, Jayde Tangey and Rebecca Anderson for their involvement. The Timor Leste Trivia night 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.

Damascus College will welcome Mr Bob Shirlaw OAM to the school next week to lead a review of Damascus Rowing in preparation for the coming season and the years ahead. The overarching purpose of our review is to enhance rowing as an educational opportunity to support each student to reach their potential in a dynamic Christ centred learning community. We are not able to go to all participants of the rowing program and have selected a cross-section of the community to gain feedback to support the review. If you have not received an invitation, but would like the opportunity to contribute to the review, please contact Tina Munro, Executive Assistant to the Principal through principal@damascus.vic.edu.au. The focus questions for those attending the review are;

What are the greatest gifts of Damascus Rowing?

What do you perceive as the most important future developments for Damascus Rowing?

Bob Shirlaw (OAM) is an Australian former rower and stalwart school level, rowing coach. He rowed at the 1964 Summer Olympics and the 1968 Summer Olympics. Mr Shirlaw won the silver medal in the bow seat of the Australian eight at the Mexico Olympics.

Mr Shirlaw has nearly 40 years of rowing and coaching program leadership experience at some very prominent Sydney schools. He received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2008 Australia Day Honours for service to rowing as a coach, administrator and competitor, and to education. Mr Shirlaw will be at Damascus College from Monday 27th to Wednesday 29th to work with us on our review.

We remember in our prayers this week all those who are marginalised and impoverished.

Until next week …

MATT 

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