Today students commence the Early Start Program with students progressing to their next year level and new class groups. It is a time of nervous anticipation, and it is very natural for students to feel challenged by the change that new groupings and experiences bring. I encourage families to support students by looking positively at the opportunities that change brings. This is the rich space for learning and growth – of course, if you feel that your student is excessively anxious, please talk to us to look at mechanisms for support.
The work covered in these classes over the next ten days will be assessable as part of Semester One work of 2019. Within the College’s Strategic Directions document, the Learning and Teaching focus for 2016 to 2020 is for “Progressive and innovative learning and teaching that maximises student outcomes.” In line with this direction, the College understands that learning is an ongoing process, and each year level/unit is connected to the next. These two weeks allow us to make those links and create a new energy for learning at a time when enthusiasm for learning can drop off.
There are always some challenges with staffing at this time of year as a proportion of staff finish their time at Damascus and new staff commence. We have been fortunate to secure new staff; Stephanie MacDonald and Hannah Muirhead who will commence their teaching appointment with the early start program. Where staff are not available we will have qualified, and experienced staff fulfil the teaching load, and they will hand over to new staff ahead of the new school year.
Another change that begins from today is the introduction of a new TA within each House. Our overall student numbers have grown across the College over the past few years, and the introduction of a new TA allows us to maintain the intimacy of the relationship between families and TA teacher that the program was designed to support.
Today I have sent an important communication to all families and alumni regarding a significant change within our House structure. Please read my communication.
Tomorrow begins an exciting weekend of competition for the Damascus Energy Breakthrough Team (EBT). This year’s preparation has been very challenging with Mark McLean breaking his ankle before the commencement of this term. Alan Strange has provided great leadership in Mark’s absence, and he has been supported by Sean O’Loughlin. The student population have been exceptional in their enthusiasm and commitment, and if you get a chance this weekend, I encourage you to visit Maryborough and offer them your support. It will be a very special time on Sunday as this will be Mark’s final Damascus EBT competition and I wish Mark well as he enjoys this final experience with our great student and family cohort.
I congratulate all those students who took part in the Year 9 camp last week, Year 10 CPDA preparation or work experience. These were rich learning opportunities, and I thank the committed and hard working staff who facilitated them. Year 9 and ten then had a great chance on Monday to prepare for their new year level with presentations on study techniques relevant to the next stage of their learning. This was complemented by further literacy testing for Year 9’s, driver education for Year 10’s, with all students participating in cyber safety and sexting education.
Today’s Indonesian exam is the last exam for the Year 12 students. At 5:30pm this evening the graduating class of 2018 will gather for their final Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral before progressing to the Ballarat Trotting Club for their Graduation Dinner. I congratulate all the Year 12 students on their completion of formal studies and examinations and wish them well with their future pursuits.
Representatives of our intermediate girl and senior boy rowers ventured down to Melbourne to complete a 3.5 km race on the Yarra on Saturday with really positive outcomes – congratulations to all involved and what a great experience to be rowing through the State capital!! This was followed by a very enjoyable season launch on Monday night at the College and I thank families for their wonderful support. This weekend selected students are again rowing longer races on the Yarra and I wish them well.
Damascus College has a polling booth in the John Shannon Centre on Saturday if you are seeking a venue to vote. More importantly – if you feel like a sausage on Saturday call by one of the two BBQ’s that Damascus College families are conducting for our sister school Santa Maria in Anairo, Timor Leste at either Damascus College or at Bunnings. They will be the best sausages in Ballarat!!
Can I remind families of 2018 Year 9 students (starting in Year 10 this week), that devices are to be returned to the College (with charger, Case, Stylus, etc) to IT staff who will have classes deliver devices to the St Martin’s Resource Centre on the 5th December. Students are encouraged to make sure any work that they save is stored in Onedrive. Any other personal data that they have on their hard drive will need to be removed prior to returning it at the end of the day on the 5th of December. Students will receive a new device at their TA interview at the start of 2019.
Year 12 students’ devices are to be returned to the St Martin’s Resource Centre by this Friday, November 23rd.
My prayer this week is one of appreciation of the many and diverse gifts that surround us all each week in the people of this Damascus College community. May you find God’s blessing in the people around you this week.
We pray for all those who are experiencing loss or grief.
Until next week …