Term 3, Week 1 - 16 July - 2021
Dear Parents and Carers,
Welcome back to Term 3 after what I hope was an enjoyable break. Our return to school looks a little different to the way we were operating at the end of term 2 with the new COVID restrictions and regulations. Unfortunately, parents are unable to visit the College, unless it is an urgent or serious event; students are to wear masks on buses to and from school and when on buses during school time; masks are recommended for staff and students when inside and visitors to the school are to wear masks. All staff and visitors are to sign into the College. Students and staff are to stay home if unwell and have a COVID test if symptoms exist. Please check the COVID section of the newsletter for more information.
At the end of Term 2, we held our annual Athletics Carnival. Even though our attendance was down, possibly due to the weather conditions, those that attended had a great day, participating and encouraging others, especially those with a disability. Our inclusive environment and acceptance of others are two of the things that I love about the school. Congratulations to Mr Hand and his team of helpers for their organisation of the day, and to all the students who attended and participated. The winning house and age champions will be announced very soon. We were unable to make these announcements this week as Assembly was dedicated to celebrating NAIDOC.
Our NAIDOC celebrations were memorable and emotional. Unfortunately, our original NAIDOC plan had to be modified due to the COVID regulations inhibiting visitors to be present. Our special Assembly acknowledged the 2021 NAIDOC theme - Heal Country, celebrated the life of Rachel Johnson whose anniversary was the day of the assembly and we congratulated the winners of the Rachel Johnson Touch Football competition. There were many highlights in the assembly - the presentation of the RJ trophy by Darnell Robinson-Johnson on behalf of his family, to ME3; the prayer and speech by Tracey, Wil, Eli and Lachlan; and the dance performed by our Indigenous students. I felt immensely proud of all our students, particularly our dancers, both boys and girls. We have always invited Indigenous students from South Grafton High school to dance for our students during NAIDOC week, so to watch our students perform in front of over 500 students and staff was a momentous and emotional occasion. Thank you to Taylor Jarrett our acting IEW and trainee Wil Bancroft for preparing the students and producing the assembly.
As always I encourage you to engage with the news provided in this newsletter and I thank you for your support and understanding in these current times.
“We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.” Catherine McAuley
I am pleased to see the students and staff have started the term well. I thank everyone in our community for your patience as the unpredictable influence of the COVID pandemic has impacted again. Due to the level 2 restrictions we have had to modify events across the school, however I have been extremely proud of the way in which our school community has adapted so seamlessly.
Firstly, NAIDOC day was modified. I know that there is a detailed report on NAIDOC week and the NAIDOC assembly in the newsletter. I would however, like to acknowledge the wonderful cultural dance and participation by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff. It is always amazing to see the exceptional work of our students and the fantastic way in which they participated in such a culturally significant event and represented our school community. A special thankyou to Taylor Jarrett and Wil Bancroft who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to choreograph, supply props and costumes and prepare the students in this endeavour.
Secondly, although the year 12s have been given an extension to their Trial Exam*, they too have been working well. Many students and staff participated in study workshops at school during the school holidays, and the year 12s are working hard in study periods. I would like to publicly thank our staff who offered these holiday opportunities for our students. Keep up the hard work year 12, the end is in sight!
Finally, there are a number of parent opportunities that will continue to occur in a modified format to support the positive working relationship between parents and the school. Lena Jensen, the school’s Literacy Coach has a section in the newsletter highlighting a literacy strategy each fortnight that we would appreciate home support with. There will also be informational videos created on topics that parents had identified as an area of need. The school has also modified the parent-teacher evening. For the parents who had made bookings, Parent-Teacher Interviews will continue but will be held by Zoom next Tuesday, 20th July.
The Year 8 into 9 Curriculum Evening will also go ahead via Zoom in week 3. More information will go out to year 8 parents but please save the following date Tuesday 27th June 6 pm.
*Trial Dates: Monday 9 August to Monday 23 August 2021
Learning and Teaching Assistant Principal
Welcome back to Term 3. We started the term with an assembly which focussed on providing the students with some very clear COVID safe practices and procedures that we need to have implemented within the school. These are some of the points that need reinforcing:
NSW Health and Catholic Schools NSW, although not mandatory, have recommended that all staff and students in secondary schools wear masks. When we had lockdowns last year the research on the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of the disease had not been published, now we know how beneficial they are. For the students' own safety and for the health of others it is recommended that masks are worn inside.
Masks are mandatory on public transport. This applies to students aged 13 years and over, and staff when travelling to and from school and during school excursions by public transport or by chartered or private transport services.
Masks will be available for students each morning at the front of the school by the Meet and Greet staff and will also be available at the front office. Students may bring their own appropriate masks (no offensive logos or imagery).
If your child is unwell and has cold or flu symptoms, please follow the health advice, get tested and stay at home while unwell. Students who are unwell and attend school will be sent home with the request to get tested. This is required to help minimise the spread of any infections.
As pointed out in the last newsletter of last term, uniform has become a concern for some students. We have a very clear Uniform Policy and Procedure which is outlined in the College Planner that each student is given. Of major concern at the moment is:
HAIR - Hair is to be well groomed and tidy. Long hair over the collar must be tied back. Extremes of hairstyle, including extremes of colours are not permitted
JEWELLERY - Jewellery should be modest and kept to a minimum.
NAIL POLISH - Fingernails are not to have coloured nail polish.
SPORTS UNIFORM - All students must arrive and leave the College in full school uniform – not sport uniform (except Thursday) and in line with the procedure for PDHPE.
It is important to remember the following:
The full College uniform is to be worn to and from school and at all times during the school day unless there is a timetabled practical PDHPE/PASS/SLR/DRAMA lesson in Periods 1 and/or 2 or Periods 5. The following rules apply:
Students who have a practical lesson (PDHPE/PASS/SLR/DRAMA) in periods 1 and/or 2, wear their sports uniform to school and change at recess
Students who have a practical lesson (PDHPE/PASS/SLR/DRAMA) in periods 5 and/or 6, can change at lunch and wear their sports uniform home from school
Please support the College by ensuring your child follows our policy. The procedure for uniform infringements is below:
- Students who wear the incorrect uniform and do not have a uniform pass will attend lunch detention.
- The following list outlines the action for repeat offenders or students that don’t turn up:
Detention 20 minutes
3 notifications / warnings -
Stage 1, Interview with Year Coordinator, Letter home, Uniform, Monitoring, Detention
Ongoing uniform issues, non-compliance, No shows at detention:
2nd Official Warning
Parent Contact, Uniform Monitoring, Interview with Year Coordinator, Withdrawal of Privileges
3rd Official Warning
Parent Contact, Uniform Monitoring, After school Detention,
Interview with Assistant Principal, Withdrawal of Privileges
4th Official Warning
Suspension, Interview with Principal regarding enrolment at school, Uniform Monitoring
If a student DOES NOT attend detention (No-show)
Students who do not show for detention
- Students are recorded on Schoolworx for 2 more detentions.
- Year Coordinator has a discussion with the student.
- If another ‘no show’ (and the Year Coordinator judgement is that the student is deliberately avoiding), then official warning letter to be sent home, move to Stage 1.
Each newsletter I will aim to share some information with you from various sources to help support parents in issues concerning teenagers. This week there are resources from Reach Out regarding supporting your teen during coronavirus and how to help your child develop skills for coping with stress.
I have also added a great resource from the Butterfly Foundation to support you in having conversations with your child about body image and the warning signs to keep an eye out for if your child is having issues or concerns with their body image.
You will find these in the Parent Education section of the Newsletter.
Assistant Principal - Mission and Wellbeing
Dear Parents, Carers and Students,
I hope this finds you well and rested after the holidays despite the current climate with COVID and the implications it may have had on your holiday plans!!!
Last term certainly was a big term with lots happening in the Pastoral area to support our students.
The big ticket item for me was the success of the first McAuley Fest!! What a wonderful student led initiative that showcased the talent that exists in our school!! Well done to our Student Leadership Team and a big thank you to all the families that attended on the night.
While helping out with positive events like McAuley Fest is one part of my role, another part is monitoring the discipline incidents and attendance of our students.
In this newsletter, I’d like to talk more about attendance.
The Catholic Schools Office Student Attendance Policy has set a goal that each student has an attendance rate of 95% and above each year.
The Policy states:
“Regular attendance at school for every student is essential if students are to achieve their potential, and increase their career and life options. Schools in partnerships with parents are responsible for promoting the regular attendance of students.
While parents are legally responsible for the regular attendance of their children, school staff, as part of their duty of care, record and monitor part and whole day absences.
Schools, in providing a caring teaching and learning environment, which addresses the learning and support needs of students, including those with additional learning and support needs or complex health conditions, foster students' sense of wellbeing and belonging to the school community.”
Attendance letters will be sent out early Term Three for students whose attendance is a concern. Please understand the importance of our College and families working together to improve attendance for each individual student.
If you have any concerns about your child and their attendance, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the College on 0266 431434.
Alternatively, you can email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before I finish, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Indigenous families and students a happy NAIDOC Week. I hope this week has been a great celebration of culture and reconciliation for you all and I am proud to be in a community that places such importance on the recognition of our Indigenous people.
Leader of Pastoral Care
- a summary of the current COVID restrictions and recommendations for the College
- a copy of the Parent letter emailed to all parents at the end of the holidays
- a letter from the Director, Dr Sally Towns, welcoming families back to school and outlining the current situation.
Literacy Coach Report
Recently Year 7 Parents and Carers were asked to participate in a Parent Engagement Survey. The results highlighted significant interest in learning more about how to read an Assessment Task Notification. We are pleased to announce that in Week 3 of this term, we will be providing a video developed by the school on this topic. We will continue to provide the best support to help your child grow throughout their schooling years.
Fortnightly Literacy Strategy:
It is essential to return to the basics when helping your child learn at home. Even though we know they have learned the basics in their younger years, mobile devices and computers have led to some common mistakes appearing in writing. These include:
- Not using a capital letter for the personal pronoun “I”.
- Incorrectly capitalising words in the middle of a sentence.
It would be wonderful if you could support your child with the capitalisation rules below so we can work together to improve their writing!
University of NSW Civil and Environmental Engineering Work Experience.
The UNSW Civil and Environmental Engineering work experience program will be going ahead from Monday the 6th of September until Friday the 10th September at this stage.
We were fortunate to have two of our students chosen from all of the NSW secondary schools to be involved in this great program.
Congratulations to Dean Chapman and Matthew Morgan for being selected for this tremendous opportunity.
Year 11/12 Post-school Options Day
Jobs of the Future: Computing and IT
Tuesday 20th July: 5.30pm - 6.30pm –
Register now to hear the insights of Dr Alex Mendes, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and Software Engineering and Associate Professor Karen Blackmore in Information Technology, on the changing world of work and the skills you’ll need to thrive in it.
You will also get to hear about what it’s like working in the field today from one of our computer and IT alumnus, and what it’s like to study a computing and IT degree from a current student.
PLUS, make sure to stay for the Q&A session where you can get answers to your burning Jobs of the Future questions and take part in our virtual computing and IT quiz game. There are prizes to be won!
Jobs of the Future: Engineering
Wednesday 21st July: 5.30pm – 6.30pm - Zoom Webinar
You will also get to hear about what it’s like working in the field today from one of our engineering alumnus, and what it’s like to study an engineering degree
PLUS make sure to stay for the Q&A session where you can get answers to your burning Jobs of the Future questions and take part in our virtual engineering quiz game. There are prizes to be won!
Jobs of the Future: Science
Thursday 22nd July 2021: 5.
Register now to hear the insights from Dr Bonnie McBain in geography and environmental studies and Professor Michael Bowyer in chemistry, on the changing world of work and the skills you’ll need to thrive in it.
You will also get to hear about what it’s like working in the field today from one of our science alumnus, and what it’s like to study a science degree from a current student.
This week we celebrated NAIDOC and due to the current COVID-19 restrictions we had to make some changes and postpone some activities until the restrictions ease.
We were able to go a head with the Rachel Johnson Memorial Touch Football grand final and NAIDOC assembly.
The touch football grand final was an exciting game to watch between Homerooms ME3 and MC7 with ME3 taking home the trophy with a 5-4 win in a very close game.
Our Indigenous students really showed pride and worked extremely hard in the lead up for the NAIDOC assembly. Eli Honeyman, Tracey Cassidy and Lachlan Johnson spoke beautifully and Darnell Robinson-Johnson presented the touch football winners on behalf of Rachel Johnson's family, thank you Darnell.
For the first time ever we had our very own Indigenous students perform a dance which moved some members of the audience to tears. These students should be extremely proud of themselves because we could not be more proud of them with the effort and pride they displayed in their performance and I think they all deserve a mention. Well done Peter Hammond, Zahlee Kilduff, Lani Cole, Heather McGhee, Elle Fisher, Nate Laurie, Koby Culling, Jimmy Hammond, Bailey Chivers-Smith, Noah Burchell, Matthew McGhee, Kaydence Killduff, Shakayla Grieves, Sandi Skennar and Jara’na Dutton.
I would also like to say thank you to our PE staff who have incorporated Traditional Indigenous games into their PE prac lessons this week.
Our full Athletics Carnival report will be included in the next newsletter.
On the 17th of June, four Year 11 students, Taylor Powell, Charlotte Hayes, Isabelle Brennan & Oscar Hanson attended the 2021 Street Retreat in Brisbane. The Street Retreat was also attended by students from the other schools within the Lismore Diocese, from Port Macquarie to Banora Point. Throughout the retreat, from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, the students worked with a range of social justice initiatives in Brisbane and surrounding areas. Through their participation, the students were able to reach out to those less fortunate and get a greater sense of the call of Jesus to serve the poor and marginalised. Below are recollections from the students about their experience at this year's Street Retreat.
On our exciting trip to Street Retreat, we visited various locations around Brisbane investing in a variety of activities and implementing our purpose of Faith in Action. We attended Street Level activities and heard some amazing yet devastating stories of local residents, as well as feeding the less fortunate through the charitable work of Rosies. Other experiences include beach clean up at Red Cliff and a Walk of Reconciliation. This experience rivals anything I have ever attended in my schooling career and would encourage others to attend if the opportunity arises.
This experience exposed me to the truth and reality of homelessness. It uncovered information about how organisations work together to help those in need while involving the community to impact the lives of others. I was lucky enough to be involved in Rosies, a small organisation providing support for those living in poverty among the streets of cities and towns. At first, I was a little scared, frightened of not being able to do enough or that I might feel useless. However, I was amazed by the work and commitments these people have towards Rosies. Being able to actually see and interact with these people opens your eyes to the realisation that this isn’t just something our parents say when we're being ungrateful, but there are hundreds upon thousands of people living like this daily. The fact is, we don’t realise how lucky we are. If I’ve learnt anything it’s that showing a smile or giving a bit of money goes a long way. We are all equals, so let's start treating people that way.
Going into Street Retreat I wasn't really sure what to expect or how I would fit into such a large group of people in which I knew only a few. But it turned out to be my greatest high school experience yet. We moved around Brisbane with newly assigned friend groups each day, roaming the city and meeting some amazing people, who had truly remarkable stories. We visited various homeless shelters, served the homeless, listened to their life story and gained an overall new perspective on gratitude, respect and appreciation for everything I have.
This experience was one like no other. I didn't know what I was in for when I put my name forward, but I knew it would be a change. I met so many awesome people along the way. While going around the city at various times throughout each day, we would visit homeless shelters and help as many people as we could. I met some awesome locals working at each place, and also met and became friends with some of the people from the streets. This was one of the best things I've done; it was eye-opening and, if I could, I'd do it again.
I would like to congratulate the students on the way they conducted themselves throughout the Street Retreat and I cannot commend them enough on their humility and work throughout the four days.
The video below is an insight provided by other students of the Street Retreat experience.
NAIDOC Week Prayer - Heal Country
This video is a prayer sung by NATSIC Councillor, Aunty Dolly. The song 'To You Oh Lord' is accompanied by iconic images from the country and people of the Diocese of Lismore. The theme of NAIDOC Week 2021 is Heal Country. As you watch the video, take a moment to consider the country within and around you. Where do you seek healing?
Praying with Music
Supporting your teen during coronavirus
Between the non-stop media coverage, the physical distancing guidelines and the general uncertainty around school and business closures, we know it’s a very challenging time to be parenting a teenager.
It can be really difficult to know how to talk to your teen about coronavirus (COVID-19), especially if you’re feeling stressed about it yourself. While you can do your best to remain calm, it's very understandable if you find having these conversations challenging. There may be stress around either having to work from home while your teen is around, or job loss or financial stressors. For tips on how to talk to your teen about money issues, go here.
If starting this conversation feels too hard right now, you can connect with an experienced family professional through our free, online One-on-one Support service.
Manage your own feelings
Children and young people are really good at picking up on their parent's feelings, so take some time to work through them. Remember that it’s okay to feel stressed, and to show your young person how you are managing those feelings.
Some ways to do this include:
- Write down what you’re feeling and reflect on why you feel this way.
- Share your thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend or family member. This could be over the phone or via video chat if there is no one in your household you can talk with.
- Practise self-care, such as doing some exercise, making home-cooked meals and getting enough sleep.
Know the facts about COVID-19
Inform yourself about the facts from trusted sources, such as Healthdirect (for Australian health advice related to coronavirus) and World Health Organization (WHO). Be aware that things may change rapidly, so be sure to have the most up-to-date information.
Knowing the facts will make you more confident about keeping the discussion rational. It’s likely that your teen has been consuming constant COVID-19 content on social media, so it’s important to try and keep the panic levels down. That said, it's understandable if you're stressed about the situation and of course advice must be taken seriously.
Here is some essential information about coronavirus as background for your discussions:
- COVID-19 has affected a lot of people recently. The majority of those who get COVID-19 experience only a mild illness. Health experts are working hard to develop treatments and a vaccine.
- You can reduce your risk of getting the virus by practising healthy hygiene habits. For example, cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow (and dispose of the tissue immediately afterwards); don’t touch your mouth, nose and eyes; and wash your hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds.
- Listen to the advice from the government, Healthdirect and WHO – they are the experts and will tell us what we need to do.
Get extra support
As we’ve never dealt with something like this before, it may feel overwhelming, even if you’ve been practising your parenting skills. As most people will be physically distancing or self-isolating, telephone and online services are great options.
Jump on to the ReachOut Parents Forums to connect safely with other parents and learn from them how they’re managing the stress of parenting teens through this challenging time.
You can also access our ReachOut Parents free One-on-one Support program over the phone and online. You’ll be able to connect with an experienced family professional who will listen, guide you through identifying your specific challenges, suggest practical strategies you can try and provide evidence-based resources.
Lifeline (13 11 14) and Parentline can be accessed for phone and online counselling, with Lifeline phone counsellors on call from 7 pm to midnight, and Kids Helpline available 24/7. If it’s available to you, you could consider calling your GP or mental health professional for extra help (but make sure to follow the advice of Healthdirect if you’re showing symptoms or are in self-isolation). You could also ask your mental health professional if they could chat over Skype/FaceTime if you’re in self-isolation.
For other resources from Reach Out please follow this link
Help your child develop coping skills for stress
Teens coping with stress in a healthy way involves building stress-reducing strategies. This can mean helping your child to identify what is causing them stress, and what actions are within their control to manage it. If you're not sure how to cope with teenage stress, it can help to talk with them about the following things:
What are the things causing them stress?
Is it something they can control, such as feeling unprepared for exams, or is it something outside of their control, such as world events?
If the cause of the stress is within their control, assure them that there are things they can put in place to help, and that you’ll be there to offer them support.
Encourage them to write down the things that are within their control and discuss together how they will manage them. For example, if your child is stressed about doing badly at school, help them to identify what they need to do to succeed. You can then make a plan together to help them achieve that result.
Encouraging your child to write down the things that are causing them to feel stressed and then working through them in this structured way will help them become aware of what they can do to keep stress under control, and will give them confidence that they’ll be able to get through stressful times.
You might also want to suggest that your teen consider adopting some mindfulness techniques, including deep breathing or meditation. If their anxiety seems to go beyond normal feelings of stress, you might consider encouraging them to see a medical professional such as your GP.
Our body image is formed by the thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs we have about our bodies and how we look. This includes our shape, size, weight, gender identity, and the way our body functions for us. Attached is a great resource from the Butterfly Foundation with tips for Parents.