As I write this last newsletter of 2019, I celebrate all that this year has been and express my gratitude to the Damascus community for your support of our College. This week has seen our 2020 Year 7 students undertake Orientation, our National Basketballers compete in Melbourne and the great celebration of student achievement at the Awards and Achievements evening last night. Damascus rowers had a great day at Nagambie on the weekend, and it was beautiful to see the rowers supporting one another across the different year levels. Next week rowing camps begin, and I wish our athletes well for these activities.
Today we have gathered for Mass and students are fiercely competing at our Ball Games competition to gain the advantage in the Ron Mathews Shield.
I delayed this week’s newsletter to coincide with the students’ conclusion today and to link my final communication with our immersion into the season of Advent and the spirit of Christmas. I encourage Damascus community members to engage with the Christmas story as a time of joy-filled anticipation. A period of waiting for something good! We are all living in households with teenagers at its heart. Sometimes Christmas can be challenging for them as they mature their perspective from the focus being on receiving material gifts to celebrating the less tangible gift of our families and friends and our shared values and experiences. Continue to nurture our beautiful teenagers as they grapple with the movement towards adulthood, and take this important family time to affirm them for their unique gifts and talents in the way the holy family nurtured the young Christ child! Celebrate the joy of journey with these amazing young people; I wish all the Damascus community a joy-filled holy and safe Christmas.
As the year concludes, I thank our families for the great support you offer Damascus. Education can only be optimised in a genuine partnership, and I acknowledge families for your support of our four Teacher Advisor (TA) gatherings this year and look forward to your continued engagement in 2020.
I want to acknowledge the significant contribution of the Damascus College Board and subcommittees again in 2019. I particularly wish to thank Michael Myers for his leadership through the role of Chair of the Board. Michael concludes his two-year appointment and his guidance, wisdom and presence have been invaluable to the College. Paulene Barton will move from Deputy Chair into the Chair’s role in 2020, and Justin Marson will assume the Deputy Chair role. I thank Paulene as she concludes her role as Chair of the School Community subcommittee and Lucy O’Beirne who concludes her term as Chair of Catholic Vision and Values subcommittee.
From our staff team, I again acknowledge the service of Loretta Kaval, Nancy Meiklejohn and Noelene Ward as they retire from rewarding careers as educators. These three women have been great servants of our College, and I thank them and wish them well for this next stage of life’s journey.
While we celebrate conclusions, it was great to welcome our newest members of the school community yesterday as 208 incoming Year 7 students experienced their Orientation day. There were a raft of new families who joined us, and it was a joy to see the interactions and foundation of new friendships and learning. To those who were new families at the College yesterday – Welcome!
We have many exciting initiatives on the horizon for 2020. The Hands on Learning Program for students of Year 10 has commenced through the Early Start period. Our Languages students in Year 10 will commence Content Learning in Languages (CLIL). All Year 10 students have engaged with greater subject selection for second semester as a taster of their pathways in the senior certificates. We have thoroughly reviewed and planned for a new Careers structure in 2020, and Georgia Shillito will lead the Careers function, Jo Lawrence will assume the Careers Educator role and Michelle Tapera will commence at the College in the Careers Officer role.
It has been an exciting week with the commencement of the Gathering Space and Examination Centre Project. This project has been three years in the planning and will provide a multi-purpose facility for learning and teaching, particularly for large group presentations. The beautiful new structure will capture the stunning vistas’ available from the College and will serve as the College’s examination centre and provide a community hub.
Damascus College will be partnering with regional builder Magellan Projects to build our new Gathering Space and Examination Centre, to be located opposite the Mercy Administration Wing where the former convent is located.
As families return in 2020, they will experience changed traffic arrangements within the College precinct. The traffic coming past the Mercy Administration wing will exit the College onto Jones Avenue for the duration of the project. A plan of the traffic slow and changed parking locations can be found below. We ask that families observe the student drop off area adjacent to the Oval and the John Shannon Centre.
Semester reports will be available online in the Parent Access Module (PAM) from 4pm Friday December 6th. The final report is a compilation of the feedback provided progressively on the assessment tasks undertaken throughout this second semester. The final report will also include; AusVELS assessments, work habits and any final results. VCE results will be available to students who undertook a Unit 3/4 subject next Thursday 12th December – senior students will have received communication on the different means of receiving their results. The Careers Coordinator and College counsellors will be available for those seeking support in the days following results – please contact the office if needed.
Our staff team have worked hard this year, and I ask that you think of them and pray for them this Christmas.
The College Office will close for the year from 3:00pm on Tuesday December 17th and will re-open to families from 9:00am on Tuesday January 21st.
We remember in our thoughts and prayers all those who have experienced loss throughout 2019. We especially remember this week the Walker family, Kyan Year 9 (2020), Rylan Year 12, Jordan (class of 2017) and Sue Walker on the loss of their maternal Grandfather. May the peace of God’s love be with all those in grief this Christmas.
Thank you for being part of the Damascus community in 2019, if this is your last association with the College – thank you for your contribution – if you are returning next year enjoy family and holiday time together. Have a wonderful Christmas, God bless and thank you!
Until next year …