Year 11 Marine Studies Virtual Field Trip
Throughout Term One, the Year 11 Marine Studies class had been excitedly preparing for the excursion to Bushrangers Bay aquatic reserve. The students learnt about how humans move through the water, the factors that effect a marine environment and spent time at the Continental Pool practicing their snorkelling techniques. We were all devastated that the excursion could not go ahead as planned, but that did not stop Miss Armitage and Miss Brown preparing an exciting learning experience and taking the excursion into the virtual world!
We ventured out to Bushrangers Bay and the rock platforms at The Shallows to collect physical and chemical data as well as footage of the area, in order to take the students on a virtual field trip. We saw so many fish (and even a few stingrays!) which the girls will have fun identifying while watching the video of our snorkel. The conditions were great, and social distancing was not an issue- we had the entire bay to ourselves!
While the excursion would have been a wonderful experience for the girls to put their snorkelling skills into practice, we hope that they will enjoy completing their Field Study Report using the resources we obtained.
Year 7 Visual Arts Pop Up Art Studios
Year 7 are very much enjoying Visual Arts working from home. On a rainy afternoon a Year 7 art class spent their double art lesson in their lounge rooms, kitchens, patios and outdoors in their makeshift art studios. Amidst their paints, brushes, pencils, sketch books and the occasional sibling popping over to see what they were up to, or pet walking by, they worked as they chatted online with their peers and teacher sharing images of self-portraits in progress.
Each time a student shared a post, their peers wrote encouraging messages about their creative artworks. The double lesson ended too quickly, with many students choosing to continue working on their masterpieces well into the afternoon after the school day had ended.
It was very encouraging to witness their excitement as they created and shared art with their teacher and peers for the first ever online art experience. We had 100% attendance and 100% engagement! I was very proud of them and look forward to showcasing their works.
While the students are at home……
wondered what teachers get up to when students are out of school? Well, not much really – just a little bit of friendly rivalry!
There’s been a challenge laid down by the staff of the Gables staffroom to the rest of the staff. Beginning with “We wear pink” Wednesdays, first prize taken out by the loudest, brightest pink Hawaiian shirt ever seen worn by yours truly, the rest of the competition really heated up on Thursday with animal print day.
There was strong competition between Dr Hack and Ms Phillips as to who had the most amazing animal shoes, and Mrs Suzie Petkovski stunned us all with top to toe animal wear. The winner of the most unusual animal clothing was Ms Armitage with some ‘h-awesome’ pants – you may be lucky enough to see them come back out on Melbourne Cup day!
The threat to ramp it up with 80s aerobics wear was made loud and clear as the announcement was made for Sports Day Friday. Staff turned up in a range of sporting attire. From Ms Hanson’s retro Steelers jacket to Ms Armitage’s fish shoes, there was strong competition for both the outrageous to the cool and comfortable. Despite the incredible individual efforts – special mentions go to scuba diver Ms Brown, Ballet Body Ms Marlow and basketball fan Ms Martin – the entire PE staff plus subs win it for the slightly over 18 SMC netball team.
Crazy top to toe day saw some random weird hats and socks, shirts and designs with Ms Kendell killing it with her mullet outfit – business on top, party on the bottom!
Study Skills Support for Remote Schooling
Parents and Students are reminded about our valuable Study Skills Resource. Enhanced Learning has responded promptly to provide a range of resources to support learning at home. You will find tips from setting up your learning space at home, to templates for daily checklists and strategies for maintaining focus at home. This guide is being updated on a daily basis and is a great resource for students and parents. There is a lot of information out there about working from home, but it is often not tailored specifically to the needs of secondary students.
Access is available via the Study Skills Portal Page.
Username: stmarysnsw Password: 15success
You will also find links to lots of online learning resources as well as resources for stress management, such as this great video from Human Connections: https://humanconnections.com.au/blog/dealing-with-the-stress-and-anxiety-of-coronavirus/
St Mary's In Action
The pictures below demonstrate how teachers and students are embracing and making the most our current new way of life.
Year Seven students practice social distancing while having fun. "What animal am I?"
Meg (GIB8) and Mia (GIB1) working from home. Teachers Miss Nerida Brown teaching Biology and Mr Stephen Goldrick teaching Drama from school.
Parenting During Challenging Times
It has been a very strange end of term. The hallways have become empty at such a sudden pace and amidst us there is concern, confusion and uncertainty. The last day of term we will not be farewelling students and sharing Easter eggs, participating in the Easter Liturgy or talking about planned ‘Empty Esky’ trips to the South Coast.
Sadly, the end of the term will not bring the usual school holiday relief. It is very likely that we will not get the break and respite we had hoped for following the challenges faced over the summer. Furthermore, the end of the school holidays is often greeted with relief by parents. It comes with familiar routines, opportunities to refocus and less intensity as a family unit. Term Two will be different. It will bring a new set of routines, but ones that come with unfamiliar territory, anxieties and added pressures. It is important to consider what this will mean for you and your family.
As this time approaches being mindful of the wellbeing of your daughters and the practicalities of long periods at home are aspects to reflect on. I share with you an infographic to consider and some ideas to support you through this time. Parenting Ideas have also published an article which is available in the downloads.
Lots to consider and digest so I will leave you with a starting point. Over dinner this week as a family talk about what we find worrying about this situation, what might be exciting, what we think we need. Then write down some commitments about how as a family you hope to support each other and the steps each family will take during a time of self-isolation or school closure.
Finally, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have a question, need some guidance or support. We recognise that you know your daughter best and we have been gifted with professional experience that together can make a great team.
Above all else be kind to yourself and those around you.
Worthwhile Reading and Downloads
Below are a range of references which are worthwhile reading. Also, in the download section of this newsletter, you can find some advice on managing a home school environment and strategies for wellbeing self care.
Many of you know my appreciation of Dr Lisa Damour - Adolescent Psychologist. She is writing regularly to support both teenagers and parents during the COVID-19 Pandemic. I encourage you to go to her Press Page via this link https://www.drlisadamour.com/press/
Also below are some articles I have nominated.
5 Ways to Help Manage Anxiety About the Coronavirus, Lisa Damour, New York Times.
Ideas to Manage T(w)een Anxiety About COVID-19, Collett Smart, Raising Teenagers.
Talking to Teens and Tweens About Coronavirus, Donna Da La Cruz, New York Times.
Quaranteenagers: Strategies for Parenting in Close Quarters, Lisa Damour, New York Times.
Quarantine Parenting: Structure and Limits, Vanessa Kroll Bennett, Dynamo Girl.
Moments of Joy, of Virtue and of Faith
At the moment days are beginning to develop a monotonous sameness punctuated by Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian’s statements and updates. New words become the new norm as we speak about isolation, social distancing, lockdown and MS Teams.
In this context it is small things that take on often momentous importance and that bring difference to our days. It was brought home to me when I found myself smiling with delight over something that normally would, and certainly should have no consequence. I opened the back of my ute for the first time in weeks to find a three pack of paper towels. It was almost like finding a lottery ticket and I let myself succumb to a moment of delight and revel in the joy of the wonderous discovery.
Who knew that rolls of paper towel could break the monotony of the world and lift the spirit? In the last couple of weeks, we have taken to sharing those moments of joy in the staffroom, in the classrooms and on the College Facebook page. They have included appropriately socially distanced students singing from the balcony overlooking the park, the inspired moment when Mrs Lockett took the few attendees at school onto the terrace for socially distanced but communal drumming, when a small number of Year Twelves decided to come to school for online learning to be together even when apart and the staff engaging in the silliness of dress up competitions to break the tension of minds full of new technology and new ways of being teachers.
Circumstances find us all catapulted into a virtual world. On Sunday night I had ‘virtual’ dinner with thankfully real and true friends. Another friend needed to be content with the experience of a virtual funeral and at a distance, found ways to celebrate the life of a much-loved brother. We have seen in the media families expanding to welcome new members through weddings and births.
In the beginnings of isolation, we find that without leaving our homes we can discover new ways to uncover the wonders of our world. We can visit art galleries around the world and understand the realities of online worship. Online learning has created virtual classrooms where teachers and students get a glimpse into each other’s worlds and it turns out that the girl who sits in the second row in the Year Eight maths class has the pinkest room ever conceived and the clever young woman in a Year Twelve science class embraces learning online sitting in her laundry.
There is both distance and intimacy in our shared virtual worlds where existence is inferred by the strangest experiences. These virtual realities are of course the result of virtue and the goodness of others: IT specialists who solve problems we didn’t know we had, creative spirits who share their gifts with generosity and selflessness and seemingly the endless capacity of people to act to create change for the good of others. It is unsurprising that the etymology of both virtue and virtual come from the Latin, virtus, strength. There is that enduring human virtue of strength in all of us in our virtual and our actual worlds.
I have long been struck by the quirkiness of the Church year. I often find that the readings on a Sunday speak directly to the lived experiences of that particular week. Last Sunday, to use a cliché, was almost a bridge too far. Here we found Jesus commanding the very thing we cannot do when he called to Lazarus and to us; “Come out”. Even Fr Rod Bower’s famous Church sign currently carries the message “Stay home”. While we stay home it seems we must also make sense of contradiction and find ways to ‘come out’. Isolation doesn’t stop us from reaching out or seeking out or sending prayers out. The powerful image of Pope Francis standing alone outside St Peter’s Basilica praying for the needs of our world reminds us of the enduring reality of our faith and God even in circumstances unimaginable.
The passing of Australian obstetrician and gynecologist Catherine Hamlin was almost lost in the COVID-19 newsfeed last week. Dr Hamlin founded the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital dedicated exclusively to providing free obstetric fistula repair surgery to women suffering from childbirth injuries. In her life, she and her staff have treated more than 60,000 women. She exemplified much of what we experience at the moment. She observed the pain of social isolation, worked to bring moments of joy to disrupted lives and with faith demanded of the women she healed that they come out. She recognised that each person “is precious in God’s sight.”
At the moment there are countless moments when we can find joy, virtue and faith. They warrant celebration now and later when we all come out.
From the Principal
Dear Parents and Carers,
This final newsletter for Term One finds all of us in a very unexpected space. Most importantly, I hope that you and all members of your family are managing to stay well. It has been very quiet at the College in this past fortnight and especially this past week. It is not what we would choose. So much of the inspiration for the work of adults here comes from the energy and the noise generated by the girls: the laughter, the chat, the interactions, the movement, the initiatives, the planning. When that is absent, as it necessarily is at present, it seems the whole reason for being here has been taken away. It has always been the case in schools that without students, they are simply cavernous and lifeless buildings. Nothing has changed. Simply, we miss the girls! However, we continue searching for ways to ensure continuity of learning and social connectedness. As these days of isolation continue, this will become more important. Please continue to feel welcome to communicate with us at any time about any matter that concerns you relating to your daughter, her schooling or anything else.
Our intention is that beginning from Term Two, our Newsletter will change format and be largely given over to the girls as a forum to both share their creativity and reflections as well as stay connected. We hope to produce a Newsletter (perhaps each week rather than each fortnight) that includes contributions from the girls themselves: poems, journal reflections, short stories, artwork, limericks and jokes, puzzles and challenges, editorials and anything else that affords our girls the opportunity to reflect, to stay engaged and connected to their community and to showcase their creativity and giftedness. I hope that you might encourage your daughters to contribute to this project. More detail will be forthcoming about the practicalities of how girls might submit their work.
At our recent meeting of the College Board, we prayed the following prayer that you may find helpful:
Prayer for a Pandemic
By Cameron Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.
As we prepare to begin Holy Week in very different circumstances, we might reflect on the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ for us in 2020.
The humanity of Jesus is captured in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and subsequently in his suffering and death on Good Friday.
But most significantly, is the joy of the resurrection that we celebrate on Easter Sunday. This is at the heart of our faith as a Catholic community.
The resurrection is the source of great hope for each one of us. It is a reminder that we should live life to the full, as best we can, to
value things of the spirit and to be people of faith.
“Live all you can,” Henry James said. “It’s a mistake not to. It doesn’t so much matter what you do in particular, so long as you have your life. If you haven’t had that, what have you had?” It’s not a question of having a job or having a nice house.The question is, have you had a life? Are you full of soul or do you just have a body? Joan Chittister O.S.B.
Perhaps more than any previous Holy Week in our lifetime, this particular experience of the suffering and solemnity of Good Friday followed by the joy and the hope of the resurrection has more resonance than usual.
Please be assured that in this time of personal disconnectedness, we continue to work conscientiously to find practical ways to keep the spirit of St Mary’s alive and flourishing. Thank you again, for the generosity of your support, understanding and appreciation of the efforts of our staff as we have prepared for this next period in the life of our College in 2020. Please do not hesitate to communicate with me at any time, including over the upcoming school holiday period, if there are things that are concerning you or areas where I can be of any support.
Above all else, remain well.
International Day of Happiness
Friday 20 March was International Day of Happiness and Saturday 21 March was Harmony Day. St Mary's choir sang from the College Balcony last Friday to the street below to share some joy in these difficult times.
Sparking More Moments of Joy!
As we experience the transition into a new world of learning we are experiencing some lovely moments of joy!
Year 7 students Fatima (SUL1), Avia (HAY4) and Emma (BAS8), continued with Food Technology at home and prepared these baked delights, inspired by their
amazing teacher Mrs Anne Keyte!
RSPCA Cutest Pet Competition
Congratulations to the RSPCA Cutest Pet Competition Winners!
For the entry of cutest pet, we had two finalists, Calista (FOL3) and Ellie (LYO8). In the Pet and Owner Look-Alike category our winner was Cassandra (UNG8). For Pet in Costume, the winner was Talya (GIB5) and for Most Unusual Pet category, our winner was Alice (UNG8).
Thank you to everyone who participated in the competition. Your efforts are much appreciated by the RSPCA Club.
Year 7 Hayes MS Teams Religion Lesson
On Tuesday 31 March, Year 7 Hayes students engaged in their first Religion lesson through MS Teams. It was also the start of a new topic â Ways of Praying. Our lesson began with a discussion on how people pray, why people pray and where people pray.
The girls were then asked to set up a prayer space in their own house using objects that hold meaning and significance to them. A prayer space can simply be a quiet place to pray, or a place to gather their thoughts and reflect on their day.
A space like this was recognised as being comforting for the girls to have during this time. Well done to Hayes girls for engaging themselves fully in this lesson and continuing to come together as a community even though we are apart at this time.
Mon 6 to Wed 8 April - Student non-attendance days
Thurs 9 April - School holidays commence
Dates to remember.....
Mon 27 April - Term 2 commences
To review and update your daughter’s details including important medical data please visit https://tass.stmarys.nsw.edu.au/parentlounge/login.cfm
Reminder to Students.....
Please check your emails regularly