Principal's Update Week 9
Posted: 12-Sep-2018

Last Sunday in between my attendance at junior footy finals I was able to get to Mass at St Bernard’s in Bacchus Marsh. The young priest reflected on Mark’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37) regarding the healing of the deaf man. The homily gave me new insights to the musician Beethoven, whose remarkable gift flourished in the context of him going deaf and I have looked online this week to learn a little more of Beethoven, his gifts and his Christian living. I must declare that anyone who has heard me sing knows that while I have a great appreciation of music, I am entirely bereft of any talent, so it is with the utmost respect for all musicians that I share these learnings.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB shares online that “Beethoven was aware of the oneness of music with God from a very early age. And he was conscious of this while composing his music. “Ever since my childhood my heart and soul have been imbued with the tender feeling of goodwill. And I have always been inclined to accomplish great things.” In many of his letters, Beethoven expresses his desire to serve God and humanity with his music. “Almighty God, you see into my heart ... and you know it’s filled with love for humanity and a desire to do good.”

Beethoven’s life is a paradox. On the one hand, his solitary life was burdened by his deafness, and on the other, his spiritual insights flashed through his music. Many times his deafness drove him to the edge, and he cursed it. Yet, he also accepted it. It may have been out of frustration, but there was an acceptance of the divine will.

This week may the words Jesus spoke over the deaf man be addressed once again to each of us: “Ephphatha, Be opened!” May our ears, eyes and hearts be opened to the Gospel!”

Parents of Year 12 students should receive a letter from the College before the end of term outlining a raft of information regarding end of year arrangements. If you do not receive this letter before the end of the term, please contact the College office.

It was great to see members of the community turn out to nurture the beautiful bushlands in which our College is set. Thank you to David Neate and the staff, students, parents and community members that supported him in the working bee last Saturday morning. It was a beautiful morning to be down in the bush, and some good inroads were made in working with the woody weeds and protecting the Murnong daisy.

The College is currently reviewing the Careers function at the College. Parents and students have been sent a link to feed into that review process. The survey will be open until Friday of this week and families are encouraged to contribute.

This Friday is Ryan Callaghan’s last day before he heads off to take up a new role within the IT department at Marymount Catholic College in Burleigh Heads. Ryan has been a great contributor over the last eight years to Damascus College primarily through the IT team, but he has also been a great supporter of our basketball program. On behalf of the entire community, I wish him well as he moves onto this next exciting stage of his career.

Over recent years staff member, Sally Balson has facilitated a great social event for Damascus College Year 7 and 8 students. This year the event will take place on Friday night and is themed; “Spooks”. Families have received communication regarding this event. Drop-offs must occur between 6:45p.m. and 7:00p.m., there will be no pass outs throughout the evening and parents are required to collect students personally from the JSC at 9:00pm. Can I reiterate what is commonly known, but periodically needs to be restated-that parents please support one another by not hosting after parties and not condoning any behaviour that encourages underage drinking or large antisocial gatherings of young people. If I revisit some of the advice given by parent educators Michael Carr – Gregg and Michael Grose; that it is natural for young people to challenge parents, but if you say no to requests you feel uncomfortable with, then you are actually reinforcing other parents with similar values to yourself by standing in solidarity with them. It will be a great night, and I know students are looking forward to it.

This week is a big week for student leadership for 2019. On Monday six excellent candidates stood for election for School Captain, and Milly Frost and Matthew Snibson were popularly elected in a close contest by the current Year 10 and 11 students and staff. I congratulate all those who put their name forward. On Friday elections for House Captains will take place, and I again acknowledge all those students who have taken the risk of putting themselves forward for these important roles.

Next Wednesday is a pivotal day in the College year as we celebrate Damascus Day Mass and then the SRC have a big day of retro activities planned for the student population. This Mass is a celebration of our Catholic identity and as such is a compulsory day within the College calendar. Parents are encouraged to attend, and an invitation can be found here. We will gather for Mass at 10.30am. Over recent years we have taken a harder line on student attendance at whole school events, and this has resulted in a richer involvement of students on days such as Damascus Day and Sporting carnivals. It is not because the individual events on their own are critical to any students and their success, but collectively these involvements make up the complete experience of what a full Damascus College secondary education entails.

If students are absent from community events like Damascus Day, parents are required to produce a formal written communication to me outlining the full reason for the absence. If this does not happen or the reason is not considered to be in line with the College values, the student will not be eligible to attend formals, socials or other additional school offerings such as the ski trip in the subsequent year. This is not a change of College direction; it is simply being explicit about the importance of community life as a member of our College.

Students are required to be in full winter uniform on Wednesday for the Mass. If students have PE for lesson one, they are required to bring a change of uniform.

The SRC has worked incredibly hard to make sure that the activities of Damascus Day are enjoyable for everyone and have created an Era's (60s' 70s' 80s & 90s) theme to frame the activities of the rest of the day.

All students will be provided with a BBQ lunch on the day, and TA’s have been working with students to determine those who may have special dietary requirements. In the afternoon students may change into casual clothes consistent with the theme as part of the celebrations. It should be a great whole school event.

The turning circle near the JSC will be unavailable next Wednesday afternoon, so if you would normally collect your child from here, please ask them on Wednesday to meet you at an alternative location. Parking will be available at the Jones Avenue entrance.

For many years now, the Australian Catholic Church has used the final Sunday of Child Protection Week which was last Sunday to focus on the Protection of Children. This year Child Protection Sunday follows on the heels of the formal response of the Australian Catholic Church to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the release of the advice provided to Church Leaders by its Truth Justice and Healing Council.

The Catholic Diocese of Ballarat has made formal responses to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, and part of this response can be found here. The full response of the Catholic Church of Australia can be found on the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference website 

The Australian Prime Minister will offer a response to the Royal Commission in Parliament on the 22nd October. The City of Ballarat will send a delegation to this response, and our Bishop Paul Bird will be part of this delegation. We pray it may bring a further sense of how we, both as a Church and as a Nation have faced the terrible truth that we failed our children, but also as a church and as a nation we have now embarked on a new path.

We remember Kobe Hughes (Year 7) and his family in our prayers as they grieve the unexpected death of his maternal grandfather late last week. We also remember Chelsea Bosworth (Year 11) and her family in our prayers as they come to terms with the death of her grandfather also late last week. We also remember Rebecca (Year 10) and Ruby (Year 7) Grandi and their family on the loss of a loved member of their extended family.

We also pray for staff member Sean O’Loughlin on the passing of a member of his extended family and staff member Tom Inverarity on the passing of his grandmother over the weekend.

Until next week …


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