Principal 1/7/22: A term of challenge and joy

Term 2 Recap

As Term 2 wraps up we have had a great fortnight of school activities involving all members of the school community. Our senior school parent teacher evening provided the opportunity for students, teachers, and parents to discuss progress for students engaging with their first semester of Stage 6 studies and for those preparing for their Trial HSC examinations. This week we conducted the Year 11 (2023) Subject Selection evening at which students and parents had the opportunity speak with teachers and learn about different subjects and the expectations of senior students in striving for their ‘personal best’ at school. Our youngest students enjoyed the beautiful clear weather for the Prep to Year 2 ‘Fun Run’ activity afternoon. This event included a wide range of fun activities for our students cheered on by both parents and teachers. The Year 3-6 ‘Shades of Shakespeare’ performances were, once again, great fun and a fine display of some of our primary students’ acting skills. 

Proactive actions to prevent vaping at school

On Monday evening the ABC aired the program Vape Haze: The new addiction of vaping. You can view the program via this link.

The program tracks the explosion in vaping amongst teenagers leading to nicotine addiction and the booming black market which is thriving in Australia due to a failure to police the rules. While nicotine vapes are a controlled item (legally available by prescription only), the response has been to create a large market for these vapes or for manufacturers just to adjust the ingredients list or go ‘underground’ to avoid regulations.

Thankfully, our school does not experience the severity of vape use compared to some Sydney schools. Unfortunately, we do need to semi-regularly respond to incidents of students vaping at school, which also requires family interviews. Not only is this problematic for the school, of greatest concern, vaping poses negative health impacts for students both now and in the future.

For this reason, I write today asking families to take proactive steps to engage positively with your children to address the dangers that e-cigarettes/vapes pose for young people. Talking about topics such as vaping can be stressful for both parents and children. To help you in having constructive conversations about vapes, this article provides strategies to reduce stress while talking about the popular drugs. These include information about:

  • Getting the conversation started
  • Ask, listen, inform
  • Set a good example
  • Let teens know where you stand
  • Technology can help

Staffing changes

I would like to let you know that it is with great sadness we farewell three long serving staff members at the end of this term.

Joyce Bootsma is retiring from her position as Kindergarten Teacher and Coordinator of Early Stage 1. Joyce joined the school in 1999 and has been a passionate educator at a crucial point in our students’ school lives. In her words “It has been an absolute pleasure and delight to have had the opportunity to teach . . .. I have always loved working with Kindergarten students and seeing their progress over the year.”

Kim Barry is moving from her role as Head of Technologies and VET Coordinator to take up the position of VET Consultant with the Association of Independent Schools. This is confirmation of the outstanding work that Kim has undertaken on behalf of our High School students, not only in leading the teaching and learning in this area, but also in the way she has always gone out of her way to provide the best opportunities for her students. She will be missed from the classroom, however, our sector will continue to benefit from her passion.

David Johnson is retiring from his position as Bible and Mathematics teacher. David has maintained a wisdom and gentleness in his love for teaching and students. It is his intention to engage in further reading and writing, enjoying a different speed of life, as he moves out of the Sydney area.

We prayerfully wish the best for each of these staff members as they leave our community. I am also particularly thankful for the incoming staff taking their places in Term 3. I will introduce our new staff to the community in the first newsletter next term.

Final Thoughts

This term has again been a mix of challenge and joy. The challenges of winter months and interruption due to ill health has been disruptive for many. However, I continue to be thankful for the many great things we have enjoyed this term, including Matilda the musical and camps, along with lots of sports and community activities. It has also been a particularly sad term for our Primary as we mourned the passing of one of our students.

I would like to acknowledge our hard-working staff who have carried an increased load due to the current disruptions experienced across all schools. Our staff are committed to provide the best for our students and have again persevered throughout the term while carrying additional responsibilities on a weekly basis.

I pray that the break will provide a time of rest and refreshment for all our school community, so that we can be prepared for the new term and all that it holds.

Yours in Christ,

Keith McMullen