Dear Parents and Friends of St Patrick’s College,
Welcome back to school and to Term 2. You will have noticed that the media at the moment is filled with the announcement made by the Prime Minister of the new funding model know as ‘Gonski 2.0.’ Part of the report is that a number of Catholic independent schools will lose a significant amount of funding over the next 10 years. I would like to reassure you that St Patrick’s College has at no time been overfunded by any of the governments, so is not one of the 24 schools that will be most impacted by this change. If the model does in fact align funding with need, we could see a modest increase in our funding for the next funding cycle. As there is little detail at this point, we will have to remain hopeful for a better outcome for the girls at the College. It is our belief that all students in Australia are entitled to education funding, regardless of the sector they choose to provide that education.
Last week, Year 9 girls participated in their camp. This is quite a gruelling camp as there is no mobile phone access, no showers, no flushing toilets and girls sleep in a tent one night and very basic cabins the other. The purpose of the camp is to build resilience. It is the third camp the girls will have attended and each builds on the skills and capabilities of the one prior. Why do we see such value in building resilience in the girls? Our girls, your daughters, live in a very challenging world. They are constantly bombarded with messages both written and in images of what they should do, should look like and how they should act. The mold is very narrow and unfortunately when they don’t fit it, or try to change it, they will find resistance. It is at those times they need to be resilient. They need to be able to reassure themselves that they are okay, that they are good and that they will get through the adversity. Spending three days in the bush, feeling very much out of their comfort zone, helps them to appreciate their own strengths, skills and qualities. In walking out of the bush, they realise that they made it and in spite of the many challenges, they enjoyed themselves. These are rare experiences but very valuable in their development into healthy young women.
Almost every month we come across material that the girls are accessing that has concerning content. You may have come across some of these: a Netflix series called ’13 Reasons Why’ or a new website called ‘Blue Whale’. Both expose girls to very disturbing concepts that can have a significant impact on their health and safety. Sadly, neither of us can protect the girls 24/7 from this type of material. So it becomes crucial that the girls recognise material that is high risk for them and that they feel comfortable to seek advice from you or the College. They need to be resilient to be able to avert the influence of these websites and films and differentiate between what is fiction and what is fact. They also need to be protected by parents and schools through the use of clear expectations, structures and rules which provide them with security and stability. It is not easy raising girls into young women in this day and age. However open communication, being curious and interested in what your daughter does and what she is interested in will contribute to a level of trust between you that will be invaluable when she finds herself in a situation she is not sure she can manage on her own. If you are aware that you daughter has accessed any material that is concerning, please don’t hesitate to contact the College and we can support you and your daughter in managing this.
On 6 June, we are hosting a presentation from Dianne McGrath who is one of the shortlisted scientists hoping to join the expedition to the planet Mars. Dianne will come to the College to speak to the girls about her work and how she was successful in progressing to the next stage of the competition. If you would like to attend the assembly, you are more than welcome. It will begin at 8.45am in the Mary Sheil Centre. Parents were also invited to attend the opening address of the Year 9 STEM day this Friday. Representatives from several universities and industry will be working with the girls in workshops to build cars, solar panels and other exciting projects. I would like to acknowledge the work of Mrs Debra Bourne and the STEM team, who has organised this day for the girls.
Last Tuesday, we held the ANZAC assembly at the College. Federal member Dr Michael Freelander, Mr Walter Robinson from Campbelltown RSL and Mr Jeff McGill were our special guests. The girls from the history committee were exceptional in conducting the assembly. Multi media presentations, poems, playing the bugle and introductions were all done by the girls. I would like to acknowledge Mrs Fran Musico Rullo for her work on the assembly. It was a very moving and fitting ceremony to mark ANZAC Day.
Finally, I would like to wish the debaters all the best as we embark on another season of debating this year. We have a large contingent of debaters, madame chairs and timekeepers for this year. It is wonderful to see so many girls give up their Friday evening to contribute to this very worthwhile activity. I would like to thank Ms Pulham for her organisation and hard work in providing the opportunity for the girls.
In closing, a final prayer as we celebrate the Easter season.
Sue Lennox – Principal
God is on the Loose
The tomb is empty
The stone laid back
The womb is full
The stones cry out for joy
Risen one stand among us
Speak your words of peace
That we may participate
In your just living