From the Principal
Dear Parents and Carers,
Recently we celebrated the Feast of St Benedict which fell in the middle of the school holidays on 11 July. In normal times, we celebrate the Feast Day at the College during Term 3 and most importantly on Good Samaritan Day. The Feast of St Benedict is an important feast day in the life of St Mary’s because the charism of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan has its source in the Rule of St Benedict. One of the greatest gifts of Independent Schools like St Mary‘s is the gift of the charism, in our case, the charism of The Sisters of the Good Samaritan, that animates the life of the school and community. Charisms are difficult to define but are manifestly obvious in the way in which they permeate the life and relationships of a school community. Essentially, charisms are spirit given ways that enable people to come to know God and share in the mission of the Gospel of Jesus. They provide a point of entry to the Gospel message through the real-life story of, in our case, the Rule of St Benedict and the way in which the Rule is animated by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.
The beauty of the Rule is its simplicity and its relevance. As Joan Chittister, O.S.B. observes; “Benedictine spirituality is the spirituality of the twenty first century because it deals with the issues facing us now – stewardship, relationships, authority, community, balance, work, simplicity, prayer and spiritual and psychological development. Second, its currency lies in the fact that Benedictine spirituality offers more a way of life and an attitude of mind than it does a set of religious prescriptions”.
For me, one of the more endearing characteristics of the Good Samaritan charism is that of kindness. When I was growing up, it was not uncommon to hear of people being described as “kind” or for reference to be made to “acts of kindness”. Perhaps it is me, but my sense is that it is a word less used in 2020. There can be fewer more noble adjectives. Kindness implies gentleness, tolerance, compassion, peace and justice. It captures in a single word, a disposition of the heart that builds community and that is ‘others centred’. In chapter 31 of The Rule, Benedict says “Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17)”
The charism of The Sisters of the Good Samaritan is amply summed up in the word “kind”. In her book; The Good Sams: Sisters of the Good Samaritan 1857-1969, Margaret Walsh, in recording the early history of the Sisters says; “People noticed their kindness and the influence which flowed from it”. At St Mary’s we have been blessed by the presence of the Sisters and by the witness they have given to building a kind community. One need not look too hard to find examples of kindness in our community; between the girls themselves, the girls and staff and of course our community of parents and carers. This is what we celebrate on 11 July and what we aspire to live out in our College every other day of the year.
As we continue to navigate our way through troubling and insecure times, our communities might well be enriched and sustained by an even greater attention to kindness and to the Rule of St Benedict.
Mr Tony Fitzgerald
Recognising and Developing Emotional Smarts
As Term 3 begins we welcome the return to routines and sense of normalcy. With our Victorian neighbours facing another period of remote schooling, we hope that COVID-19 case numbers will be contained and managed without a second lock-down for NSW. Amidst all this I continue to be aware that as much as we head into Term 3 with some lessening of restrictions and return of a variety of activities, there continues to be a lot we can’t do. I am also acutely aware that although on the surface, much may appear fine for our students, they hold worries and concerns about the uncertainty that we are all experiencing. Adolescents feel deeply even though they may not always show it.
This week’s Parenting Ideas article in the downloads section is about emotional intelligence. As parents and carers, you are expertly placed to observe this area of your daughter’s development. The article considers some strategies that can be used to support young people with emotional smarts. As with any area of development, awareness and understanding can make a real difference to growth and development. I appreciate the article’s consideration of differentiating between moods and feelings, accepting discomfort and building an awareness of triggers.
I encourage parents and carers to consider this article and how it may support you with your daughters. Additionally, please do not hesitate to contact your daughter’s House Coordinator or myself if you are worried about how she is managing through the roller coaster of 2020. I firmly believe that a team approach can only be a positive way to navigate the uncertainty and contradictions of this year.
Parent Well-being Hub – Coming Soon
The College Pastoral Team is in the final stages of developing a Parent Well-being Hub. Using Google sites, it is hoped that this will form a valuable resource base for parents and carers. The Hub will provide information on well-being and mental health in relation to adolescent girls.
If you have an area which you would like to suggest the Hub should include, or a resource, book or podcast etc. you would recommend us sharing, please let me know.
Eating Behaviour Support Service
Approaches to eating, food and body image can all contribute to behaviours that can negatively impact adolescents. Grand Pacific Health has advised us of a new service that you may find valuable. This 8-week online group is a prevention/intervention initiative for young people with emerging disordered eating behaviours. Further details are in the downloads section or please contact myself, Kulilla Centre staff or your daughter’s House Coordinator.
Miss Emma Magill
Assistant Principal - Dean of Pastoral Care
Student Absence explanations
In light of COVID-19 and in line with NSW Department of Education rules, it is expected that parents/carers will provide a detailed and justified reason for their daughter’s absences. This applies to full day absences or if your daughter arrives late or leaves the College before the end of her timetabled day.
Please note, whether a reason for an absence is considered justified is at the discretion of the Principal.
Assistant Principal - Dean of Pastoral Care
NCCD Information for Parents/Carers
Nationally Consistent Collection of Data (NCCD) On School Students with Disability is conducted annually.
These documents in the downloads section provide information to parents and carers whose daughter has been included in the NCCD for our College’s Commonwealth census count in August 2020.
The Nationally Consistent Collection of Data counts the number of students who receive additional adjustments or support at school because of a disability. The NCCD helps governments plan for the needs of students with disability.
Please contact Mrs Mary Boyle, Diverse Learning Needs Coordinator if you have any questions.
REMINDER - Parent/Carer College Access
To ensure the health and safety of all members of the community we have made some temporary changes to procedures. Parent and carer access to the College should be limited and for only those occasions that are absolutely essential.
If you do need to access the College please be mindful of observing the social distancing protocols that remain in place for adults and the following key points:
- All visitors to the College need to use Gate 1 (Administration building/student office) entrance only.
- Parents bringing items that have been left at home e.g. laptop, sports uniform etc., are to leave items in the box provided at the Reception entry and notify the Receptionist. Parents are asked to write their daughter's name clearly on the article (pen and sticky labels provided) so that your daughter can collect the item.
- If you need to collect your daughter earlier in the day - could you please phone ahead so we can have your daughter ready to meet you at the front of the school (supervised until you arrive).
Mr David Woolnough
2021 Student Leadership Team
During the last week of Term 2, the 2021 Student Leadership body was announced.
The 2021 Captains will be taking part in a Leadership Seminar this weekend, which will help them set their vision for the year ahead.
Congratulations to the following:
College Captain - Ciara Donnelly
Who's leading the Champion House Race
Year 9 Amp’d Up Student Leadership Incursion
Tamsyn Renshaw (Year 9 Gibbons House Captain) and Alexandra Jones (Year 9 UB House Captain)
Trial Revision Workshops - HSC Religion
Studies of Religion - Webinar, 3 August
Mrs Jane McDonald
Religious Education Coordinator
Service as Action - WISPS
Ms Katrina Wall
Year 12 Community Service 2020
Ms Ellen Marlow
Social Justice Coordinator
Year 11 Hospitality
Hospitality in 2020 at St Mary's College continues to thrive. Hospitality is an elective course that students can select for Stage 6, for Years 11-12. Hospitality is based on industry requirements and provides students with real industry experiences and develops employability skills. This year, we have been lucky enough to be working in the newly renovated, industry approved, commercial kitchen.
Year 9 and 10 Design and Technology
Fortune Cookie Success
Alexandra Jones, Year 9
Virtual Vinnies Sleepout
Ms Ellen Marlow
Social Justice Coordinator
Sport for Terms 3 and 4
Cross Country - Years 7 and 8
UOW Virtual Open Day
Mrs Pauline Judd
Post School Advisor
Mrs Rosina Dowsett
6/7 Aug - Staff PD cancelled, classes held as usual
17 - 28 Aug - HSC Trials
31 Aug - College Photo Day
3 Sept - Father's Day Breakfast - Cancelled
4 Sept - Good Samaritan's Day - Cancelled
8 - 21 Sept - Prelim Trials
Pick up and Drop off
Parents/carers are reminded not to park in designated Bus Zones or No Stopping Zones when dropping off or collecting their daughter.
To review and update your daughter’s details including important medical data, please click on this LINK