Dear Parents/Carers and students,
As I have written in previous letters this term the world at present is being challenged by COVID-19 and one which we are learning to navigate together as best we can. Here at St John Paul II Catholic College, our focus is on maintaining the care for each other’s wellbeing. All around us, some people in the community are responding with fear and individualism and we can see that sometimes this is not a dignified way to relate to each other. It is causing unnecessary shortages in supermarkets and unnecessary friction between people. When we only think of ourselves no-one thinks of us. Yet if we look closely, we can see goodness exhibited by many people too which warms the heart. As a Catholic community, we need to be Christ-focused and look at how we can be of service to others.
As a result of COVID-19, we have had to cancel many internal school events for the remainder of Term One. As Principal, I will continue to communicate with you regularly regarding updates and advice and instructions concerning COVID-19.
I wrote most of the following report at the end of Week 7 and many things have changed in the last few weeks.
The students arrived with enthusiasm for the year and have been engaged in their learning during this term. I welcome the Year 7 students to St John Paul II, as well the new students in Years 8 -12. We have seen all the new students settling in well and being supported by their peers and teachers who care for them. As we progress through 2020, we will continue to emphasise to all students the need to do their best, care for one another and concentrate on their learning, making the college a place which has a unique and dynamic learning experience.
This year Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta will celebrate the bicentenary of Australia’s first Catholic school through a continued commitment to growing opportunities of Catholic education for all. This milestone will provide the opportunity to learn from one another, inviting the voices, curiosity, and creativity of our students, teachers and parents/carers to celebrate the gifts of faith and learning.
In owning the history of Catholic schools in Australia, we recognise the hurts of the past. We acknowledge the victims of abuse and injustice and continue to support them in healing together. We acknowledge the history, stories, and Dreaming of the Darug people. We learn from the wrongs of the past, and these challenges guide us to a future that is accepting, welcoming and proudly diverse.
The history of Catholic education in Australia is far from staid, beginning with Irish insurgency in the early colony. We continue to grow from our beginnings in 1820, acknowledging the spirit, determination, and initiative shown by our earliest lay teachers.
Ours is a story of courage and determination with heroes like St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, a woman whose extraordinary faith effectively extended the opportunities of education to ordinary Australian children. We continue to grow from the foundations laid by the religious orders and the legacy of the clergy who dedicated their lives to building Catholic schools and their communities.
The contribution of the earliest Catholic schools transformed access to education for disadvantaged Australians. Today, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta builds on this legacy through leading, transforming learning and teaching and through outreach. Above all, we celebrate all that unites us, and we commit to a hope that defines us, in living out God’s love for one another.
This term we have witnessed other college events which are in addition to the daily timetabled learning and teaching experiences. Some of these events have been our 2019 HSC High Achievers’ Assembly, College Opening Mass/ Ash Wednesday Liturgy, Caritas-Project Compassion Fundraising, Information Evenings, Swimming Carnival, Parent/Principal Chat Groups and our recent Enrolment Open Afternoon/ Evening. Each event has helped develop our great community at St John Paul II and each one has enhanced our community faith formation and educational endeavours.
At the college we recognise that email is a fast and convenient way to communicate with your child’s teacher. As you could appreciate, teachers read their emails at various times throughout the school day. Further, other than in the case of a genuine emergency, they are generally not expected to respond to emails from parents/caregivers and students outside of normal working hours. Please keep in mind that if you send an email to a member of our staff outside of normal working hours, a reply may not be received until the following working day.
If you wish to contact your child’s teacher, please continue to direct your emails to the teacher which will be replied to as per usual practice. We appreciate your assistance and understanding. If you have any questions about this matter, please feel free to contact me at the college.
Communication between parents/caregivers, teachers and students is crucial to ensuring a student’s education and wellbeing is at its best. In response to the ever-increasing digital communications via social media, we have continued to embrace these technologies in a positive and productive manner. Currently we use college website, Facebook, Skoolbag app, intranet, SMS and email as the information is provided closer to the date of the event
During 2020 we will be creating more opportunities for parents/caregivers/students to receive information about their learning. We have commenced implementing Compass with the other schools in the Diocese of Parramatta. Compass is a school platform that assists schools in parent/caregiver, student and staff communication. Compass is designed to assist schools to improve the home school partnership with more timely and relevant communication.
Staff UpdateWe welcome the following staff to St John Paul II Catholic College in 2020: Luke Albery (Science/Maths), Sarah Azzopardi (English/HSIE/RE) Mary Clark (Learning Support/ Diversity), Pascale El-Bustani (English/HSIE/RE) Michaela Evans (Religious Education) Breanna Fitzpatrick (TAS/Agriculture), Anastasia Modderno (Maths), Justine Phillips (TAS/Agriculture). Samantha Valderrama (Visual Arts), Jeffrey Victorino (HSIE), Andrew Valenti (Maths) and Sean Mein – IT Trainee. We also have staff returning from leave, Rebecca Gibson, Naomi Preusker and Nicole Debono.
Parents Representative Council – Diocese of Parramatta (PRC)
Thank you to Mrs Priscilla Pickering for representing the college at the Parents Representative Council – Diocese of Parramatta (PRC). Please contact me at the college if you wish to be the second representative for St JP II CC for the PRC in 2020.2021 Enrolment Update
The Open Evening which was held recently highlighted everything that we do here as a community with staff and students displaying our school to the wider community with genuine warmth and enthusiasm. The teaching and support staff are to be congratulated on their professionalism and dedication to the school during the event. Then we had the students assisting throughout the evening with our tour guides performing magnificently.
Our Open Evening attendance numbers should also serve to remind parents and caregivers that it is important to submit enrolment applications promptly to ensure a place at St John Paul II Catholic College in 2021. If you know of a family that wishes to enrol their son/daughter in Year 7 at the college in 2021 please advise them to contact the college to obtain an enrolment information pack prior to the end of term one vacation break. Enrolments are also available for any other students who are not currently at St John Paul II Catholic College, especially Year 11 for 2021. Offers of enrolment letters are currently being sent to families for 2021.
Staff Learning DaysUpdated information will be provided if any of the following dates are changed in regards to Staff Learning – Pupil Free Days in 2020, noting the return date to school for all students has not been determined at this time. To assist with your planning, our next Staff Learning - Pupil Free Day is Monday 27 April. The other Staff Learning-Pupil Free Days for this year are Tuesday 9 June, Monday 12 October, Thursday 17 December and Friday 18 December. Please contact the college a week before each Staff Learning-Pupil Free Day if you require supervision for your children on these days at school.
If students return to school at the start of Term 2. The changeover from summer to winter uniform for Term 2 is always difficult to determine with our changing weather patterns. However, we have decided that Week 1and 2 being the changeover period when students can choose to wear winter or summer uniforms –– not a mixture of them –– depending on the weather, with the beginning of Week 3 Monday 11 May being the time all students should be in their Winter Uniform.
Finally, I am always happy to speak to you about your child’s education or issues that affect their education. We will continue to provide the best learning at school and on line we can as we work nationally in responding to COVID-19.