Principal's Update Week 7
Posted: 30-May-2018

This week is both Youth week and National Reconciliation week. Youth week is an appropriate parallel to reconciliation week, as it is our youth who will be tasked with continuing the reconciliation process over the generations to come. It will remain a key dimension of our national identity and as I speak with young people and experience their zeal, they are certainly up for the challenge. During this week there are great activities planned by the SRC under the guidance of SRC Leader, Isabelle O’Dea. Students have genuinely driven the activities that will take place over today and tomorrow including a Zumba session, a three part sports challenge, blue pancakes & hot chocolate and ice cream cups & cones.

Ashwin Pillai led the staff in a reflection on Monday morning drawing on his learnings from an indigenous student and his family who he had taught in the past. Indigenous Australians were stewards of this country for millennia prior to European arrival and what followed is the foundation of our society within which indigenous Australians struggle to live with equivalent opportunity and dignity to the majority of other Australians. The Australian Catholic Social Justice Council produced a document back in 1999 which maintains currency today in drawing on our faith identity to respond; “When Catholic communities approach the process of reconciliation we bring to the word ‘reconciliation’ a very specific meaning from our own tradition. For us, reconciliation is not just a political process. We have a theology and a sacrament of reconciliation to draw on and which urges us to act.” The document goes onto look at how the sacrament relates to the process of healing and it states “For Christians, our faith makes this change of heart (reconciliation) possible. If we can see the image of God in all people, we will be able to live the reality that we are sisters and brothers to one another. For others in our community who do not share our faith, it may be that the notion of universal human rights can provide the basis for such solidarity.

Reconciliation was central in the preaching of Jesus: in fact we could say that he preached a gospel of reconciliation. He called on people to be reconciled with each other if they wished to stand before God in worship”

In the spirit of our tradition it is important to continue to support our students to see the image of God in all people and this is where we teach the process of restorative practices as a model for healing damaged relationships.
Ashwin concluded his reflection on Monday with the following prayer;

God of Love - Give us the courage to accept the realities of our history so that we may build a better future for our Nation.
We thank you for the survival of Indigenous cultures. Teach us to respect all cultures.
Teach us to care for our land and waters. Help us to share justly the resources of this land.
Help us to bring about spiritual and social change to improve the quality of life for all groups in our communities, especially the disadvantaged.
Help young people to find true dignity and self-esteem by your Spirit.
May your power and love be the foundations on which we build our families, our communities and our Nation, We make this prayer through Jesus Christ. Amen

It was McAuley Day yesterday here at school and the McAuley staff and student team led a great assembly, showcasing the skills and gifts of McAuley students. I congratulate all those involved. At the conclusion of the assembly, I spoke to students about forthcoming assessments and exams and encouraged them to be organised. This may be a conversation that you pick up at home and I encourage you to go into PAM to help your student/s plan their study and submission of tasks over the coming weeks.

The House Leaders conducted the second of the school formals of 2018 for students of Years 9 and 10. Over 300 students attended and they were really cooperative and joy filled. 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.

If you don’t have anything on this Friday evening, then I commend the Trivia night for Timor to you. It is not a huge commitment and your support genuinely assists the learning of both the Damascus College and Timorese students. Damascus College 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 14 young ambassadors who will leave on June 21st, will be changed by their experience. Not least by the gratitude of the Timorese. I hope I see you on Friday evening – bookings can be made through the College Administration Office.

Congratulations to the VCAL students who joined the Blaze Aide team in Cobden last week to provide assistance following the St Patrick’s Day fires. The feedback from staff was of a wonderful cohort who worked well and gained strong learnings. I thank Mr Inverarity and the VCAL staff team for their leadership and support.

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.

We continue to keep Maria Russell (staff) and her family in our prayers upon the death of Maria’s mother. May she rest in peace in God’s loving care.

Until next week …


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