Principal's Update Week 9
Posted: 19-Jun-2019

This week as we send Damascus students off to Timor Leste and to Indonesia I have been reminded of the value of something very simple, costs nothing and can change the atmosphere instantly ….

It is a SMILE

I have had the great pleasure of travelling in 2017 to East Timor and experienced something of the pending immersion for our students. The young people of Timor Leste and, equally of Indonesia, typically greet you with a beautiful smile that reaches across the barrier of language!

During my visit to Timor, it was the smiles that confirmed the authenticity of the greeting that I received. Seldom did the people I visited have hot water or flushing toilets. Their food was comprised of simple rice, vegetable and fish dishes, yet they had a happiness and hopeful outlook that was continuously evident in their beautiful smiles.

As we reflect on how anyone responds to a smiling child (no matter how mischievous), we remember how expressions of joy can captivate and hold our attention. This week our Gospel has Jesus feeding the 5,000 with loaves and fish (Lk 11:17) – it is not reflected in the Gospel, but I am confident that Jesus would have been smiling as he greeted people, for “He made them welcome and talked to them about the kingdom of God.”

So, I invite you to consider how you will impact on the lives of those around you when you swing your feet out of bed over these next few days, particularly on these cold, wet mornings. Are you going to start the day telling yourself that today is going to be a great day? That you are lucky to be alive and living in our affluent and safe country? Will you be living witness to the joy of life for those whom you encounter? Will you greet them with something simple, valuable and free? Will you give them a smile?

I wish our Timor and Indonesian travellers well and hope that they experience and reflect the beautiful joy of smiling.

In order to support our young people’s learning and well-being optimally, Assistant Principal of Student Wellbeing, Andrew Robertson has worked with staff and students to review the mobile phone protocols across the College. Beginning next term, student phones are not to be brought to class. Students may access their phones at lunch and recess. Andrew has prepared a fuller communication of the process that has led to this change, and that information can be found here. Please take the time to read the communication outlining the process that has led to this change and the student insights that have assisted in forming the revised College position.

I was unable to make the Year 10 Music night on Friday at the Cabaret Club, but it was reported back that there was a vibrant buzz and excellent support from within the College community. I thank Music Coordinator, Maria Russell for her work with the Year 10 students in bringing this event together and I congratulate the students on their performance.

Congratulations to the College’s elite runners who on Saturday competed in the All Schools Bundoora State Cross Country Championships. Our athletes were Andrew Wills (Year 9), Eliza Lepair (Year 12), Alice Lepair (Year 8), Mia Lepair (Year 10) and Sam Blood (Year 9). All students did a great job supporting each other in very tough races with huge fields. Photos and more information can be found here.

Yesterday was one of my favourite events within the school calendar. The annual “Dancing with the Stars” competition during lunchtime, in the John Shannon Centre, elicits a broad cross-section of the College community. It is fantastic to see hundreds of students’ ballroom dancing together with their teachers. Damascus College has had a long association with Eric Langdon who teaches a dance unit within the Year 9 PE curriculum and prepares many Damascus students for debutante balls across Ballarat. I thank Gavan Walsh for facilitating this opportunity and commend everyone who hit the dance floor.

This afternoon we are heading into Lake Wendouree for the annual Lap of the Lake. Information has been sent home to each family outlining the logistics of the event. Families are most welcome to come along from 1.30 pm to support. Please note that the finish line this year has been moved to near the back of Loreto College to enable students to access toilet facilities more easily.

Student in Years 10 - 12 have been introduced to the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in RE time this week. Damascus has supported students to attend this event in the past, and if this is an opportunity that piqued your student’s interest– please encourage them to talk to Assistant Principal of Catholic School Culture, Tony Haintz or Sally Murphy. More information can be found here.

Students have started second semester this week, and this will test young people’s organisation as they move into different elective subjects. At home, ask your student/s if they are organised for their new subjects and talk with your TA if you have any concerns. Our staff team have been incredibly busy as they move into a new body of work, while still correcting and providing feedback on first-semester content, and I am very thankful for their efforts.

We keep in our prayers this week Brydie Collins (Year 7) and her family as they grieve the passing of Brydie’s paternal grandfather. We also keep in our prayers the family of Helen Goode on the passing of her mother, Helen was a former staff member of Sacred Heart College and has continued to work with Damascus in a consultancy capacity. We also pray for the family of our College Governor, Sr Berenice Kerr – Berenice’s brother is very unwell. We extend our prayers to the Bartolo-Willis family, Dominic’s (Year 10) Dad, Jim is recovering from a serious accident last week. Finally, we extend a prayer of gratitude for the family of Sally Balson (staff) as they celebrate the safe arrival of the first grandchild this week.

Until next week …


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