Principal's Update Week 6
Posted: 29-May-2019

We may not be in June just yet, but Winter has arrived this week!! Our Year 9 SRC students braved the elements to attend Mass in the goldfields on Monday to launch Catholic education week across the Diocese. Across the Diocese of Ballarat this week, sixty-four schools educating 18,500 students are celebrating Catholic Education Week. The theme this year is ‘Listen with the Ear of Your Heart’. Audrey Brown, our Diocesan director, offers background to our theme from St Benedict, who instructed his monks to "Listen by inclining the ear of your heart." His poetic language is asking us to listen, not just with our ears but with our hearts, to all that comes our way. This is echoed by Bishop Paul Bird who invites us to “find some times when we can be still and reflect and through such times of reflection may we hear whatever messages may be within our hearts – messages from people around us, messages from God, messages that can only be heard when we are listening carefully with the ear of our heart.” The full text of the letters from Audrey and Bishop Paul may be found here. We pray for all who are associated with Catholic education in this diocese this week, that their experience is one of the heart.

Among the celebrations of Catholic Education week is the acknowledgement of those who have gifted education with their talents. This week I acknowledge three great and generous educators for their service to Catholic education. Andrew Seeary, Andrew Robertson and Gerard Macklin have collectively supported thousands of students and families, and this week we acknowledge and thank them for their thirty years of service. Of the ninety years collective service, I think 88 of them have been given in the Ballarat diocese, and for that, we are very thankful! They will be celebrated at a diocesan Mass and Dinner on Friday evening.

The House Leaders conducted the second of the school formals of 2019 for students of Years 9 and 10. Over 300 students attended, and they appeared to have a fantastic time, and they looked great! To see so many young people just enjoying themselves in such a healthy and positive way is a great gift of this role. I want to acknowledge all the staff and parents who helped out over the two formals, sacrificing their own Friday night commitments – these events could not go ahead without that level of support. I want to recognise staff member Anne Griffin, who facilitated the photo booth at both events which the students love.

I commend the Trivia night for Timor to you on this Friday night in the John Shannon Centre. It is a really enjoyable evening for any Damascus family, and your support genuinely assists the learning of both the Damascus and Timorese students. Damascus students self-fund their trip to Timor, and they work to raise funds to support local community initiatives. It is a beautiful country, and our 12 young ambassadors who will leave on the 20th of June will be changed by their experience. Not least by the gratitude of the Timorese. I hope I see you on Friday evening - tickets can be purchased through the office.

Our VCE Drama students will perform their ensemble pieces from tonight until Friday in the Valda Ward Auditorium. Families are welcome to join the audience to witness the formulation and delivery of such complex and creative routines from 8.00pm.

It was great to see such high levels of support for our TA interviews last week. This partnership between school and home is essential to students flourishing. Students are entering a very busy period of assessment and exam preparation over the next fortnight. In some cases, this may cause a level of anxiety for your student, and if this is the case, I encourage you to talk to your TA or to direct your student to one of the College counsellors for support. Equally, you may feel that your young person is not working to their full capacity. If this is the case, ask what assessment pieces they are currently undertaking, ask to see revision notes or chapter summaries. Students should now be revising the work of 1st term. Learning Areas within the Parent Access Module (PAM) on SIMON is an excellent way for parents to connect with student progress. Exam timetables and GAT arrangements for senior students were emailed home last week, however click here for GAT information, here for Year 11 exam information or here for informatinon around Year 10s studying a VCE Unit.

On Friday, the Damascus College SRC and Student Leadership Team will facilitate the College’s annual response to Shave for a Cure for research into leukaemia. Traditionally this has been an important fund and awareness raiser and an opportunity for students to demonstrate their organisational and leadership capacity. Several students and staff will part with their hair on Friday including the long locks of Mr Mark Courneyea, in the name of hopefully helping to find a cure for this life-threatening condition. Many within our community will have their own personal experience with this disease, and it is one that is very personal for me through my family experience. I commend the efforts of our student leaders in supporting this event.

It has been great to have Mr Bob Shirlaw OAM in the Damascus community this week to facilitate a Rowing Review. Bob will now work with the College leadership to produce a series of recommendations to support the enhancement of the Damascus program moving forward.

I apologise to those families who were inconvenienced by the late return of the bus for Year 8 students on Friday from their excursion to Kryal Castle. The Bus company were very apologetic for not sending the correct number of vehicles and compromising Damascus families.

This week Year 8 students are attending their reflection days as part of their RE program, and we will ensure that they are back at school in a timely manner!

I would also like to invite you to view a new ongoing section of our newsletter titled “From the Assistant Principals’. This new section is a great way for the Assistant Principal Team, which consists of Mr Andrew Robertson (Student Wellbeing), Mr Tony Haintz (Catholic School Culture) and Mr Ashwin Pillai (Learning and Teaching) to share with families various learnings, advice and other valuable pieces of information throughout the year. To view the latest updates please click here.

We wish our Badminton squad well as they contest the BAS Singles championships tomorrow.

Could you please keep Tamzin Perkins (staff) and her family in your thoughts and prayers – Tamzin’s grandmother passed away on Saturday in New Zealand. Please also keep Gail Petrie (staff) and her family in your thoughts and prayers on the passing of Gail’s sister on Monday. May all those who grieve be comforted by the love of our God.

Until next week …

MATT

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