Term 3, Week 9 - 10 September - 2021
Dear Parents & Carers,
I am excited to welcome our students back to school on Monday 13th September, now that this region of NSW has been moved from Lockdown, and Stay at Home Orders have changed to level 3 COVID 19 restrictions. Our return to school focus for week 10 is Reconnect and Catch-up. In this newsletter, you will find copies of Parent letters explaining the Return to School Plan, and support documents outlining the level 3 restrictions and tips to assist your children as they return to school.
I am very proud of the way the school was able to operate in the last 4 weeks in the Blended Learning environment. We promote ourselves as a place of learning and wellbeing, developing the whole person across all aspects of education, and I believe we have continued to do this while learning and teaching remotely. We are constantly learning and reviewing our practices, so as part of the return to school process we will be asking students, parents and staff to provide feedback on the Blended Learning experience. Thank you for the support, understanding and amazing work you have been doing with your children over the last month. Unfortunately, under the level 3 restrictions visitors, including parents and carers, are unable to come on-site. I look forward to the day when I can invite you back to a school event!
We continue to keep our Year 12 students in our thoughts and prayers as they manoeuvre their way through a new and slightly strange time, preparing for their HSC exams which will now be in November. We are creating plans for weeks 1 - 4 of term 4, which will incorporate lessons, revision, exam practise, as well as wellbeing and farewell activities, including a Graduation. Care packages were distributed to year 12 students last week and Mr Bellamy has included an article in this newsletter.
We usually acknowledge our Mercy history and traditions on McAuley Day. Unfortunately, this is the second year these plans have been affected by COVID 19 restrictions. We will continue to look for ways to celebrate our long and important connection to, and charisms of Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy. Kathy Warby has more information in her article.
Retirement of Rosemary Cureton
It is with sadness that I announce the resignation of Rosemary Cureton. Rose has given over 40 years of service to Catholic Education, the majority of this at McAuley Catholic College and the schools that became McAuley. Rose has taught thousands of students, including me and others on staff, and I imagine a very large number of parents. She has made a difference to the lives of so many people in our school and Diocese. Her love of learning, her dedication to the students, the profession and to the art of teaching; her innovation and support of staff; and her love of Catholic education has been inspiring and greatly appreciated. I hope and pray that we can farewell Rose in a more formal and personal way in the near future.
In this edition of the Newsletter you will find news on:
- R U OK? - because a conversation could change a life
- Year 12 Revised HSC timetable
- Great webinars organised by the Parent Assembly. I encourage you to check these out and register via the links provided.
- Information on Child Protection Week, which was last week, and a reminder about our Family Connect Service which is provided by Sky Pullen.
- News from the Blended Learning Classrooms
I keep in my thoughts the people of Afghanistan and pray for peace at this time. Twenty-five years ago, when I lived in Pakistan, I visited Peshawar where I met a few Afghan refugees, both women and men, who had made it to Pakistan and were trying to make a life for themselves. I was intrigued and touched by their stories, but couldn’t quite comprehend their lives and their experiences. Whilst living in Pakistan, I would read the news from Afghanistan as it frequently filled the national papers, often with graphic descriptions and photos. I made a scrapbook to bring home but I’m not sure why - perhaps to help me understand something I couldn’t comprehend. Still now, two and a half decades on, as I watch the scenes from Afghanistan on the television news, I am unable to comprehend the situation of the country and what this change of government will mean, especially to women. I can't help but think - what would I do? This week I have placed the simple but treasured trinkets I purchased from the Afghani's in 1996 on my prayer table.
Wishing you all the best for the week ahead and a safe and relaxing holiday. School returns for all students and staff on Tuesday, the 5th of October.
“We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.” Catherine McAuley
We acknowledged R U OK Day during our Pastoral Care Lesson on Thursday. This year the message is: Are they really OK? Ask them today.
During this time of lockdowns and uncertainty related to COVID, chances are someone we know might be struggling. We encouraged the students and staff to take the time to offer genuine support to someone to make a difference whatever they are facing, big or small. In challenging times it's more important than ever for us all to stay connected and, for those who are able, be willing to support those around us.
We are encouraging interested students in Year 12 to apply to be a Youth Ministry Officer in 2022 at McAuley. The YMO role supports youth ministry and its development within the school in order to maximise school evangelisation, religious formation and discipleship of students in relationship to the Religious Education outcomes in the school, particularly in the Stage 5 Youth Ministry class. Any students in applying are encouraged to contact Mrs Warby or Mr Montford at the College.
Applications close on the 15th of September and can be made via the Catholic Schools Office Website
In the Catholic tradition, Mercy Day is the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, the patroness of the Sisters of Mercy. Additionally, on this date in 1827 in Dublin, Ireland, Sisters of Mercy founder Catherine McAuley opened the House of Mercy. The house was a school for the education of poor young girls and a residence for homeless girls and women. Venerable Catherine McAuley placed her community under the patronage of Our Lady of Mercy because Mary is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God's mercy. Catherine sought to bring the mercy of God the Father to all those in need.
Two of Catherine’s first co-workers, Anna Marie Doyle and Catherine Byrn, opened the house several months in advance of Catherine arriving.
According to the Mercy International Association, “Miss Doyle remarked that she would be particularly rejoiced to begin her labours on that day as it was dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy, suggesting at the same time that House of Mercy would be a good name for the institution.”
Today’s Sisters of Mercy uphold the values that Catherine McAuley espoused: spirituality, community, service and social justice.
Mercy Day is a special day of celebration and an opportunity for all Mercy Sisters, their associates, and partners in ministry to celebrate and rejoice with Mary, the Mother of Mercy. We take this time to acknowledge the wonderful contribution that the Sisters of Mercy have made to our College and Catholic education within the Clarence Valley.
Each year we acknowledge this special day on McAuley Day and hopefully, we can still do this at some stage within Term 4.
“The simplest and most practical lesson I know…is to resolve to be good today, but better tomorrow. Let us take one day only in hands, at a time, merely making a resolve for tomorrow, thus we may hope to get on taking short, careful steps, not great strides.”
– Catherine McAuley
Assistant Principal - Mission and Wellbeing
I am delighted that we will be returning to face to face learning on Monday 13 September for Week 10 of Term 3, under Level 3 restrictions. All students will be expected back for face-to-face learning on-site from Monday where they will resume timetabled classes. We are mindful that students are all at different stages with the work that had been set during blended learning. Thus teachers will use the week to work with students to clarify misunderstandings and support them with their learning. We believe that this time will be invaluable in re-establishing relationships and reconnecting as a class and school community and we cant wait to see our students again!
We have a lot to be proud of regarding the things that have still happened during the lockdown. McAuley College spirit has shone over the last two weeks and there is much to celebrate since our last newsletter. Our homerooms immersed themselves in online Book Week (week 8), striving to gain house points and completing some amazing activities created by our Librarian, Mr Bellamy. We then continued into week 9 with Literacy Week competitions implemented by the Literacy Coach Ms Jansons. Two very worthy celebrations as we all want our children to become life-long learners, and this happens most readily through regular reading and writing.
It was also lovely to see school spirit promoted with some moving moments of affirmation for our Year 12 students as they came to the College to collect a care package from Mr Bellamy and Ms Thomson in a COVID safe drive through! I am sure the students appreciate the work behind the scenes getting all of the items together.
Congratulations to the Year 12 students who have submitted major works over the last two weeks. These students consistently dedicated time to the continuous refinement of some amazing projects that are now packed up ready for marking. Congratulations also to the music students who have now completed the performance component of the HSC exam. Ms Nicholls and Mr Conaghan did an exceptional job of navigating the NESA requirements for the performance to ensure that our students were not disadvantaged. Our students still had the opportunity to proceed with works that they had been practising all year (with some slight changes due to the restrictions now in place from NSW Health).
By now our Year 12 students have received feedback on their Trial examinations. Assuming we stay under level 3 restrictions we aim to support year 12 students maintain momentum in this time of uncertainty. We will partake in Face to Face lessons for the remainder of this term and during normal school time weeks 1 - 4 of next term. An important point to keep in mind with the postponement of the HSC is that more time is an opportunity for greater improvement. We understand that right of passage opportunities are also important and will endeavour to ensure where possible these still occur. The new HSC timetable was released on Friday 9/9 and students can find their individual timetables via their student online account.
Year 11 students are also showing their flexibility as they venture into new experiences. This week has had students finalising their assessments and exams online, marking the end of the preliminary courses. On all accounts, similar to our year 12 experience, the year 11's have risen to the challenge. Again, there is a lot of work behind the scenes for these changes to run so seamlessly. Many thanks to the Curriculum Coordinator Mrs Lee, Mr Ellis the Year 11 Coordinator, Leaders of Learning and year 11 teachers who implemented assessment changes responding to student needs.
At this time, it is common for some year 11 students to reconsider their subject selections and determine what subjects they are intending to carry into the HSC year. There will be documentation sent out next week regarding confirmation of subjects for the Higher School Certificate credential.
We have continually monitored the engagement of students in their learning over the last four weeks and may spend some time in classes next week revisiting work set during the lockdown to ensure that all students are up to date. At the end of week 10, the term 3 OPAL report will be sent to parents. The report has been adapted to suit the blended learning environment and teachers will be using this opportunity to acknowledge the work and effort that students have demonstrated with online learning.
Learning and Teaching Assistant Principal
Please find here the letter to parents and carers outlining the return to school plan for year 7 - 11 students and resources to assist parent and carers at this time.
Please find below our recent letter to year 12 students and their parents and carers, as well as a copy of the revised HSC timetable.
Year 12 Care Packages
The disruption to our Year 12’s really has been heartbreaking; however, the students continue to display amazing resilience and positivity. With the delay of the HSC exams, now starting on the 9th of November, the final week of school for year 12 will be week 4 term 4. We are planning McAuley "rites of passage” activities and traditions as well as a Graduation ceremony for this time. What this looks like will depend, of course, on the COVID restrictions in place at the time. The College is doing everything we can to support our Year 12 students academically and with their well-being in these difficult times.
On Monday we distributed Care Packages to Year 12 students in a Covid Safe manner at the College roundabout or by personal deliveries. Within the packages were personal affirmations written by their teachers, letters to all of Yr 12 from myself and Mrs Thomson and necessary items to get them through online learning such as chocolates, tea bags etc.
Thanks to all the staff for helping out with this but in particular Mrs Di McGowan and our YMO’s, Eve Dougherty and Quinlan Boyce who had the massive job assembling them.
Year 10 - Romeo and Juliet - Creative Task
Year 7.4 - HSIE - Ancient Egyptian Map Challenge
In Mrs Don's Year 7.4 class students are studying Ancient Egypt and the importance of the Nile river to the daily life of Egyptians. As an extension task, they were encouraged to use items from around their house to create a 3D map model of Ancient Egypt. Students used varying materials from salt dough, paper, lego, spinning tops and one even created a map on top of a cake.
Year 9.1 - History - Cooking Challenge
Year 9.1 are currently studying WW1. Students were challenged to cook 'hardtack', which is a very hard bread with a long shelf-life that soldiers ate during WW1 as it didn't spoil. Students also learnt about how hardtack was often used as stationary to send letters home, as paper wasn't always available.
Book Week 2021
It was a very different Book Week in 2021 within the Blended Learning Environment, still, we managed to do lots of activities, run competitions and have a parade of characters for students and staff. The theme this year was “Old Worlds, New Words, Other Worlds”
Each day there was a very hotly contested homeroom quiz based on the Book Week theme and the final results were: 1st McCarthy, 2nd Champagnet, 3rd Mercy and 4th Tracey.
Students were encouraged to wear their book character outfits to the Pastoral Care on Thursday.
The winners were: Beckett Albert, Tyler Donohue and Miles Jack.On Friday at our weekly Staff Afternoon Tea, many teachers also dressed up as their favourite characters.
The Bento Box Book Challenge was the major competition for students in Book Week. Students were asked to take a photo of their favourite book and arrange items around it that symbolised events, characters, themes etc in the novel.
Congratulations to Savannah Cheney and Lynai Cotterill who jointly won this competition
All students who won prizes will receive them when we return from Blended Learning. Once again thanks to everyone at McAuley that made this a very memorable Book Week.
Students in Year 10 were provided with the opportunity to participate in a Heywire writing workshop run by past competition winner and writer, Katie McAllister, on Thursday 9 September. Heywire is an annual competition run by the ABC and the Australian Government. It begins with a storytelling competition and is open to young Australians aged 16-22 living in regional or rural Australia, providing young people with the opportunity to share their perspectives and experience through the craft of storytelling.
Katie’s expertise allowed students to move through the storytelling process. Students discussed the importance for young people to share their stories and completed a series of activities with prompt questions to help them find a unique true story. Students created lists of what they are passionate about, what challenges they have faced and what are their greatest strengths. Students also listened to and viewed true stories from past Heywire winners and reflected on how these stories made them feel and what thoughts the stories provoked. Selecting one idea from their lists, more ideas were brainstormed, using descriptive words on senses and emotions. This idea was further developed into the structure of a short story with the potential to enter the Heywire Competition.
We thank Katie for her time and expertise in engaging students in the Heywire workshop and further developing the story writing skills and techniques of students.
We would also like to thank Year 10 participants for engaging with the Heywire workshop during Blended Learning.
Entries for the Heywire competition close Thursday 16 September 2021 and can be submitted via the link below.
Leader of Pedagogy
Leader of Pastoral Care
National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) - For Year 12 2022
The last few weeks and months have been tough on all of us with communities across Australia impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns. Year 11 can be a difficult time for many students, and the added uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions shouldn’t add any more stress on discovering what their future studies hold.
Applications are open to students currently in Year 11 to apply for the 2022 National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) Year 12 Program, with the program beginning in January prior to starting year 12. Through the program, the NYSF aims to take the pressure off students who are deciding on their future by introducing them to an array of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) study and career options.
The NYSF 2022 Year 12 Program will run from 12 to 25 January 2022 and offer a life-changing range of in-person and digital STEM experiences. It is the perfect program for students to explore tertiary study options and meet some of the world’s foremost STEM experts.
Applications for the 2022 NYSF Year 12 Program remain open to students currently in Year 11.
The first round of selections have begun, however a late selection round is being offered. Please encourage your students in Year 11 to apply for the program as soon as they can manage or get in touch with the NYSF Office if they have any questions. Please email email@example.com.
Students can seek and receive financial support through Rotary Australia by getting in touch with their local club.
MOTIVATING TEENS: A VIDEO FOR PARENTS
To further support parents of secondary school students during blended learning, Parent Assembly has produced this short video with 3 tips for parents to help keep teens motivated while learning in lockdown. You may like to share this with your parents through your communication platforms. Motivating Teens: a video for parents.
If there is any other support you would like for your parent community, please contact Janita Thomson, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Butterfly Foundation - Be Kind
Being kind to ourselves and our bodies can help build a healthy body image and supports mental health and wellbeing. During September the Butterfly Foundation organises a free annual awareness initiative to encourage everyone in Australia to be kind to their own body and to others; face to face and online. You can receive practical, evidence-informed tips, activities and webinars.
What does Body Kind Families involve?
Body Kind Families is about providing information and resources to help parents/carers connect with the teens in their lives on important topics related to body image and eating and exercise behaviours.
It includes practical help with:
Responding to a young person speak negatively about their body
Building resilience to social media pressures
Talking to your child about appearance and weight, their own and others
Encouraging healthy relationships with eating and physical activity
Becoming more compassionate towards your own body
What to do if the teen in your life is struggling
The 2021 National Child Protection Week theme is ‘Every child, in every community, needs a fair go’.
Below you will find some information from NAPCAN.
If you need assistance we have our Family Connect Worker Skye Pullen who can assist you across a range of areas, particularly helping families accessing services in the community. Please contact the College for more information or Skye directly on 0417004779 or email@example.com
Blueberry and Banana Smoothie
Try this super healthy and super tasty smoothie, that is sure to start your day off the right way!
1/2 cup blueberries
Half of a large banana
1/2 cup chopped Kale
1 Tsp Cinamon powder
1/2 Cup low/no fat greek yogurt
Protein powder (optional)
2 handfuls of ice
mix all ingredients in a blender, enjoy