Principal’s Message: Week 1, Term 1, 2019

Principal’s Message: Week 1, Term 1, 2019

To the family and friends of St Edmund’s College,

I would like to offer our students, families and wider school community a very warm welcome to the new school year and I trust that you have all had a safe and happy holiday.  It was encouraging to see all of our students start yesterday with new energy and refreshed spirits – we had a very successful first day.  On Monday of this week, we welcomed our new students to the College and I wish them every success as they now become part of the St Edmund’s story.  We will welcome their parents with the New Families Welcome Evening which is scheduled for this evening.  Our new students and families now become part of the rich tradition of St Edmund’s College – the oldest continuing Catholic school in Canberra.  Together we will celebrate 65 great years in 2019, and I sincerely hope that all members of our community will be able to participate in at least one anniversary event this year.

College Prayer, Hymn and Scriptural Theme

“I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me”
Philippians 4:13

As part of our 65th anniversary events, this week we have introduced a formal College Prayer and a College Hymn, both of which will now stand beside our College song as items which are the very fabric of the St Edmund’s identity. You will find the new College prayer at the end of this article.  The College Hymn is “Christ Be Our Light” – a hymn with which most of our students are familiar, and a hymn that is so closely connected to the College motto, Christus Lux Mea (Christ is my Light).

This year we also commence the tradition of having an annual Scriptural Theme – a theme from scripture that provides guidance, motivation and direction throughout the year.  In our 65th anniversary year our scriptural theme is taken from St Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.  Paul wrote this letter toward the end of his life while he was in prison, and addressed the Christian congregation he had established in Philippi (Macedonia). Apprehensive that his execution was close at hand, yet hoping somehow to visit the Philippians again, Paul explains that he was imprisoned for preaching the gospel of Christ. As Paul believes he is near to death, he urges his distant congregation to remain strong and hopeful, and says to them that even as he approaches death, he is still capable of “all things” as he finds his strength in Christ. This is not a clichéd statement by any means – our Christian teaching tells us that a belief in Christ is also a belief in the people around us, a belief in helping our neighbours, a belief in the dignity and potential of others, a belief in inclusion and acceptance, and a belief in the strength that comes from community. This is what it means to be Christian.  So the scriptural theme does not imply that a simple prayer to Christ will result in anything you want; our scriptural theme strongly implies that anything is achievable through positive relationships and strong community. It is the strength of relationships and community that is the very foundation of St Edmund’s College.

Academic Focus

This year we continue our academic focus as we consider a number of ways to create and maintain focus in the classroom.  YouTube can be a very powerful learning tool but it can also be a source of much distraction. As of Friday this week, students will only have access to YouTube through embedded links provided by teachers in their Canvas pages.  Whilst at school, students will not be able to view any You Tube material from the original source itself.  Before students are able to access any YouTube clips at school they will need to install a file, called a certificate. This file will be emailed to students’ Office 365 email address along with clear instructions on how to install the certificate onto their computer. Students can also download the file from the Daily Notices page in Canvas. The IT staff will of course be available to help any students who are having difficulties with this.

The other step towards creating and maintaining focus in class is to further refine our mobile phone procedures. Mobile phones have become a way of life, a technological convenience that has impacted all of our lives in one way or another. We acknowledge that students are provided with a mobile phone to increase personal safety and security whilst travelling to and from school and that there are many valid educational uses of mobile phones. However, the use of mobile phones during school time or in school activities must be carefully regulated and considered to prevent inappropriate use.  Students’ engagement in learning, development of positive relationships and healthy social interactions should never be compromised by inappropriate use of mobile phones.

Students will be able to use their mobile phones appropriately before school, during recess and at lunch breaks. Mobile phones must be switched off and out of sight during class time (including morning tutor group) and during movement between classes.   Mobile phones may only be used during a class with the direct instruction of the teacher for clear educational purposes.

It is not acceptable for students to have their mobile phone turned on or visible in class without direct instruction from the teacher, nor are students to have their mobile phone on or in use during College meetings (assemblies, house or year meetings) or during special events, e.g. Masses.

Students are not permitted to take photographs, video or record images or voices of other students or staff members without their consent. This action is against the law in the ACT.

Students must not use their mobile phone to contact their parents and/or arrange to be collected from school if they are unwell. Students should go to Sick Bay. College staff will then contact parents if appropriate.  Members of staff at the College have a duty of care to students whilst they are at school. Parents are asked not to use mobile phones to by-pass College procedures in relation to school-parent contact. Parents must contact Reception to pass on any significant messages rather than directly contacting the child (i.e. the need to leave a class early, etc.). Simple messages may still be left for your child on his phone in the usual manner as students will be permitted to check phones at recess and lunch. This may not be your first choice as a parent but it is the only choice the College has so as to meet its statutory requirements in regard to the duty care in terms of attendance and departure.

New Staff

Just as we have welcomed new students to our community, we also welcome new staff.  The following teachers have commenced with us this year:

  • Mr Ian Garrity, Deputy Principal and Mathematics
  • Mr Arnold Choi, Science, IT & Junior School Music
  • Ms Anouk Schröder, French
  • Mrs Maryanne Larkin, Teacher / Librarian in the Junior School
  • Mr Matthew McDonald, Mathematics
  • Mr Craig McMahon, Junior School Term 1
  • Mr Anthony Pitt, TAS
  • Ms Kylie Rose, Head of SOSE
  • Ms Tanya Shegog, English
  • Mr Jeremy Taylor, Religious Education

I have spoken to our new students and new parents about participation, community and communication. If the College and families work in partnership then our students will make the most of the excellent range of opportunities provided by the College. I wish all of our students a very successful and happy 2019 school year and look forward to another dynamic year here at St Edmund’s.

New College Prayer

Dear Lord,
Grant that we may live each day to the full, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Let us cast away all worries and concerns into your divine care.

Christus Lux Mea

Give us strength to confront all challenges that we face with hope and faith.
Let our community seek truth in all that we search for.

Christus Lux Mea

Let us stand for others always giving generously without counting the cost.
Amen

Blessed Edmund Rice, pray for us
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever

Joe Zavone (College Principal)