Principal's Update Week 9
Posted: 13-Mar-2019

It is a short week as we enter the second week of our Lenten Journey. Damascus has a focus each year on supporting Caritas Australia for awareness and fundraising. Caritas is the international aid and development agency of the Catholic Church in Australia. Each Lent, Caritas launches its Project Compassion appeal- a practical way of bringing to life our campaign of Christian service. Lent sharpens our awareness of prayer and the importance of doing good work, acting selflessly and with compassion. More information about Project Compassion can be found at https://lent.caritas.org.au/#blank. Students are talking about how they can support those in need around the world by fund and awareness raising in Houses and TA’s throughout Lent.

The sentencing today of Cardinal Pell will again bring trauma to all those who are affected by the scourge of abuse within the Catholic Church. My heart goes out to all those who are victims in this far-reaching and terrible part of our history. If you are feeling burdened by the feelings and media that surround this conviction of Cardinal Pell or if you have a connection with victims that make you vulnerable, I encourage you to tap into Lifeline. If you feel your student is vulnerable, please speak to your TA, House Leader, or Assistant Principal of Student Wellbeing, Andrew Robertson, and we will connect students with appropriate support.

The National Day against Bullying and Violence will be launched by our Wellbeing Team on Friday with presentations being made to students at TA on Tuesday. This provides an important opportunity to talk with your family about bystander endorsement and encourage them to have the courage to speak up in the face bullying. Many families would also be aware of the challenges that social media presents. There are some great resources for families on the website of the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner https://esafety.gov.au/

This Friday is also the second “School Strike for Climate Change” at Ballarat Trades Hall. From the social media posts, this appears to be a national movement driven by 5-18-year-olds who want politicians to note their concern regarding the care for our planet. If there is a discussion in your household about your student attending this event, the duty of care must be assumed by the family. Damascus cannot allow students to go without parental permission and supervision.

Political activity needs to be supported by education, and this type of political education needs to be an individual family decision. If you intend to support your student/s to attend, could you please provide a signed note on Friday morning as soon as your student arrives at school and collect them from the College. Classes and assessment tasks will proceed at school as scheduled. Given that it is an individual decision – I would ask that those who choose to attend do so in casual clothing. I also take the opportunity to promote the College’s Green Group which supports a range of environmental initiatives across the College including paper recycling, the development of our beautiful bushland and guidelines for responsible purchasing.

Pope Benedict wrote an encyclical titled, Laudato Si – Care for our Common Home. This is an accessible and considered perspective on Church teaching regarding environmental issues and can provide valuable support for conversations about the environment. The Damascus Green Group are taking action this Friday afternoon where they are undertaking the activities of Clean Up Australia, by picking up rubbish within bushland and on the road verges. This is an excellent local action by our students, and I commend their efforts.

If you are interested in the papal encyclical it can be found here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

Damascus female rowers will attend their final regatta for the season in Geelong this weekend with the Head of School Girls regatta. I have also confirmed our senior boy's Division 1 & 2 rower’s attendance at the rowing nationals. I wish all our rowers well as their season moves towards a close and thank the parents and coaches who have facilitated these opportunities.

We have had some outstanding BAS results over the past week. Damascus students equipped themselves excellently at the BAS tennis competition. I congratulate Megan O’Beirne (Year 9) on her third Junior Henderson Shield. Also, Jarrod Joyce (Year 7) who won his matches throughout the day to achieve the Rob Benoit Cup. I thank Head of Sport, Nikki Hexter for her support of students throughout the day.

Tomorrow afternoon from 1.30pm our interschool swimming team will compete at the Ballarat Aquatic Centre in the BAS swimming championships. Family members are encouraged to attend, and students are to be collected from the pool at the end of the carnival.

It is a big weekend of reunions for the class of 1999 and 1989. If you were a member of one of these classes and would like to attend please click here for further info or to obtain tickets. 

We remember in our prayers this week all those who are affected by abuse and imbalances of power in its many forms. We pray for those who grieve this week including Mia  (Yr 10) and Ryder (Yr 8) Lavery and family on the loss of their maternal Grandfather, Jack Finch (Yr 8) and family on the loss of his Grandfather and Madeleine Mahon (Yr 7) and family on the loss of her maternal Grandfather.

Untill next week........

MATT

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