From the Principal
The coming week marks the beginning of Lent. For Catholics, the six weeks of Lent is the most significant period in the Church’s year as we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on Good Friday and Easter Sunday respectively. And while this time is a special time of prayer, reflection and abstinence for Catholics, the underlying meaning of Lent is both universal and inclusive for people of all faith backgrounds and experiences. During Lent, we are called to reflect on our life’s priorities and to realign them more closely with the values of the Gospel, as opposed to those values of the secular world, which in 2020 increasingly prioritise self-interest and indulgence above all else. Nowhere is this challenge more confronting than in the story of the Beatitudes where Jesus teaches; those who are most vulnerable, most marginalised, most poor are in fact, are most “blessed”. The Beatitudes teach us that more is in fact less and challenges us to be more modest and more humble about what we aspire to and what we accumulate. It was Thomas Merton who wrote;
“What a strange thing! In filling myself, I had emptied myself. In grasping things, I had lost everything. In devouring pleasures and joys, I had found distress and anguish and fear”
In our daily life we are targeted by relentless advertising that is supported by popular culture that prizes aspiration and indulgence. The Beatitudes challenge us not to give up all of our material possessions and live a life of austerity but rather, to use our gifts, our talents and our material well being for the service of others. The purpose of personal sacrifice and restraint during Lent is not to punish or to suffer. Rather it is to provide perspective on a life that can be easily hijacked by self serving commercial interests who regard people most exclusively as consumers rather than as humans. By liberating ourselves from the pressure to keep pace with our aspirational goals, we create a space in our hearts and minds to contemplate the presence and meaning of God in our lives.
Our opening School Mass for 2020 was a beautiful celebration of all that is good about our community; a prayerful and rich liturgical experience brought to life by the engagement of our girls through music, singing, prayer and reflection. Our College theme for 2020; On the Road, presented itself throughout our Mass and most particularly through the presentation of badges to our Year 12 leaders and Bibles to our new Year 7 students. It was a celebration of hope as much as it was of the gifts of our community. We were delighted to welcome Bishop Brian Mascord to the College to celebrate Mass along with members of the College Board and Company. These are important milestones in the rhythm of our College. Thank you to all who contributed to the celebration.
Our Year 7 students and staff have spent the last three days on camp at Wombaroo and we look forward to hearing their stories of camp life after they have a restful weekend.
As the year begins...
Last week the College celebrated the Commencement Mass for the 2020 academic year. We welcomed Mr Tony Fitzgerald and our senior students into their significant leadership ministries and our Year 7 students to the community. It marked a formal beginning to the liturgical life of the school and what we do here and how we pray together.
In a school named for Mary, it was fitting that we listened to the Gospel of the Visitation, the story of Mary on the road to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. Bishop Brian invited all of us to understand Mary in a new way, not as a docile subservient and submissive woman but rather as a woman who stepped up and stepped forward with courage; a strong and feisty woman who found herself living a reality somewhat opposed to the status quo of her time. This was Mary, Star of the Sea, Mother to all; who on her road, found favour with God, treasured her experiences, pondered them in her heart and was faithful in every step on the road until the very end.
Bishop Brian presented her as a model to imitate and a rebel. Interestingly some suggest that the original meaning of the name Mary is in fact ‘rebel’. He drew a fine distinction in the nuances and subtlety of language about the vast difference between choosing to be a rebel and being rebellious. Being rebellious is often antagonistic and searches for reasons to say no and to looks for flaws and faults. In contrast the choice to be a rebel allows the individual to find his or her own voice, to be compelled to seek independence in thought and action and to challenge conventional thinking in order to serve, create, think or learn with authenticity and integrity.
We begin the year in praying together but the model of Mary is not just about prayer and all that is holy. Sometimes we compartmentalise things and ideas and inspiration because that makes our lives easy and ordered. We need to open up our world view and consider being on the road in terms of learning. Of course, we should, as Bishop Brian suggested, avoid rebelliousness and acts of rebellion because hopefully in this community they are entirely unnecessary.
To find that sense of rebel in ourselves is a positive attribute, on any road but particularly on the road to learning. The rebel seeks more, wants more, asks questions, yearns for answers, sets personal bests, rebels against predictable outcomes and learns to embrace opportunities for personal expression through major works and through IB projects which invite students to wonder and to ask themselves: ‘what if?’
It’s become almost a cliché in education to talk about life-long learning. It’s a catch phrase that can be dropped into conversations, meetings and school newsletters. It’s a cliché and a catch phrase until it isn’t any more, until each person in the community rebels against the pedestrian and celebrates the great joy that can be found in learning, in discovery, in opening up possibilities on the road. Hopefully the road to learning here can be about rebels seeking together what might be possible. This is what we do here and how we learn together.
Managing Teenage Anxiety
Every now and then when I feel a little unwell, I seem to become almost hyper-aware of my temperature or notice my blood pressure. If I make a comment to a nurse friend of mine about these concerns, she will reassure me that we all have a temperature and blood pressure and it would be a concern if we didn’t. Her to the point remark can be a good reality check. Likewise, we all experience anxiety, a very sophisticated warning system which triggers various chemical and physical reactions in response to an experience, thought or internal biological reaction.
As Lisa Damour considers in her book Under Pressure ‘Anxiety is a gift, handed down by evolution, to keep humans safe.’ It is a built-in security
system to safeguard us from our world and at times from ourselves. With a considered approach, anxiety can be a supportive friend assisting our awareness
and our decision making. The key is understanding this security system and responding accordingly. NB - The response does not always have to be panic
This week’s Parenting Ideas article has some practical tips for managing teenage anxiety. As the term continues, I suggest these may be helpful considerations for your parenting toolbox. The article in the downloads introduces you to defusion, mindfulness, deep breathing and exercise and is well worth a read. As mentioned, Lisa Damour’s Under Pressure is also a fantastic resource for all parents as you support your daughters with stress and anxiety.
Alumni Assembly and Morning Tea
Principal's Assembly - Award Recipients
International Women’s Day Breakfast
Come and celebrate International Women’s Day by joining us for breakfast on Friday, 6 March from 7.30am - 8.30am.
Our Guest speaker and ex student, Sonia Henry, is a doctor and a writer who blew the whistle on the medical profession.
In 2017 her anonymous article ‘there is something rotten inside the medical profession’ was published on the physician blog Kevin MD. It went viral and was shared over 22,000 times worldwide.
Her first novel ‘Going Under’, a fictional account of the first year of a doctor in training, was published in September 2019 by Allen and Unwin.
Entry is free but you will need to register for a ticket. Book now as places are limited!
Tickets can be acquired here https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/international-womens-day-breakfast-2020-tickets-95955731175
UOW Learning Labs
Heartbeats, Breathing and BonesÂ
Over two days in January, I attended the UOW Learning Labs - heartbeats, breathing and bones: the anatomy of the human body examining muscles, bones and organs. On the first day each group received a box of bones and our task was to create a human skeleton. It was very challenging as our group had little knowledge of the human anatomy but we built the skeleton and labeled the bones with very few errors.
Yr 11 Exploring Early Childhood
The Year 11 Exploring Early Childhood class were lucky to have nurse and now new author Nicole Subotic (Morris) in a class lesson recently for a presentation on genetics and Smith Lemli Opitz syndrome (SLOS).
Thank you for an informative and thought provoking presentation.
Annual School Fee Statements have been issued to all families. Please contact the Fees Coordinator if you have not received your copy. Fees are due for payment on the 09/03/2020 or the College offers an instalment plan option which provides for fees to be paid by regular instalments over the year. To utilise this plan it is compulsory for families to complete a School Fee Agreement Form to advise the College of their intended payment option. This Agreement gives the College advice regarding parents/carers preferred method and frequency of payment. These forms are included with your annual school fee invoice/statement. A ‘School Fee Calculator’ is also provided on the College website to assist families to determine their regular payment.
DIRECT DEBIT OPTION - if you would like to continue or commence Direct Debit arrangements please complete the request form (included with statement) and return to the College.
Leaving the College: Just a reminder, if a student is withdrawn from the College one full term’s notice must be given in writing to the Principal. If one term’s notice is not given a full term’s fee will be charged.
Leave of Absence: If a student applies for leave of absence for a holiday or travel, school fees are to be paid prior to approval of leave.
25 February - SMC Swim Carnival, Corrimal Pool
26 February - Ash Wednesday
28 February - Year 7 Welcome Afternoon and Evening
2 March - Diocesan Touch
5 March - College Open Day
6 March - International Women's Day Breakfast
Dates to remember...
13 March - Diocesan Swimming
17 March - Year 7 Immunisations
20 March - Year 9 Activity Day
27 March - SMC Cross Country
To review and update your daughter’s details including important medical data please visit https://tass.stmarys.nsw.edu.au/parentlounge/login.cfm