Thursday, 25 February, 2021
Another fantastic week has been had at St Damien’s. Swimming lessons have concluded for all students in Years 3 to 6 and they are all to be congratulated for the way they participated in these. With the long weekend happening this week, I hope all families and staff enjoy their well-deserved extra day off and get the opportunity to relax and reset for the busy period ahead.
Lent is a time of conversion for all, where we strive to be better versions of ourselves. During this period, Catholics are called to ‘Give Alms’ to those in need, as one of the ways to convert to a better life. The central lesson in the giving of alms is to help us understand the suffering of others and to support those in need.
Whilst ‘Alms Giving’ can be about sharing our time attending to others in need, as a school we call on families to make financial donations that will be used to improve the lives of those more vulnerable. To support our Catholic Mission during Lent, a ‘project Compassion’ box has been left in each classroom and in the front office, for donations to be made. Your support for this initiative goes a long way in improving the lives of others and is greatly appreciated.
Parent Information Sessions
Parent Information Sessions will be held next Tuesday 2 March and Wednesday 3 March and are a great opportunity for the parents/carers in the school to get an insight and clear understanding of how each class functions in 2021. The Parent Information Sessions allow the Year level staff to meet the parents/carers of their students and give the parents/carers the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the daily routines and procedures of the classroom.
This year we have had to compact the timeline of the Parent Information Sessions, due to the delayed start to school and the impact the COVID-19 restrictions had on parents entering the school earlier in the term.
Below is the schedule of the sessions, which will all be held in the Steve Dowie Hall:
Tuesday 2 March
|Wednesday 3 March|
(* a Sacramental meeting will be held at 7:15pm, for Year 6 Confirmation candidate students and parents/carers)
The Parent Information Sessions are for parents/carers, only. Supervision will be provided for children of families who attend the sessions, if required, in the Kindy middle area and playground, by school staff.
Information presented during the Parent Information Sessions will be made available at the end of next week and accessible to any parents/carers who could not attend the sessions.
Congratulations to all of the students who participated in the St Damien’s CPS Swimming Carnival on Tuesday. It was amazing to see how all students, no matter what their swimming ability, try their very best during the carnival. The weather provided a very warm day which complemented the students getting in and out of the pool so regularly and also allowed some staff to take a quick dip to cool off during the event.
The final outcome of the day for our factions houses was as follows:
- 1st: Melros
- 2nd: Bouvard
- 3rd: Wannanup
- 4th: Florida
There were some outstanding individual efforts on the day, with a number of our students being awarded with both ‘Runner’s Up’ and ‘Champion’ Boy and Girl swimmers for each Year level. Congratulations goes to these students for their individual successes.
We had great support from the parent community as volunteers during the carnival. A big thank you to all of the parents who did volunteer and contribute to the success of the carnival.
A special thank you to Miss Sanders for all of her efforts in planning, coordinating and running the swimming carnival this year. She did an amazing job ensuring all students got the opportunity to participate and enjoy the event. She was supported by all of the school staff and I thank them for their efforts during the day, as well.
Some of the students in the school qualified to compete in the upcoming Inter-School Swimming Carnival, which will be held on Monday 29 March 2021. More information regarding this will be shared in the coming weeks.
School Advisory Council
On Wednesday evening I attended the first School Advisory Council meeting for the 2021 school year. It was a great opportunity to meet members of the council and continue the ongoing discussion relevant to the operations and capital works of the school. I will strive to keep the community updated on all major outcomes and achievements of the Advisory Council, as they present throughout 2021.
Over the past week some students have been sent to my office to receive a Principal’s Award for completing some exceptional work. I congratulate Hayley Jensen and Tahlia Hart for their work in Italian, Davey Ellis, Kai Boettiger, Angus Riley, Harry Moore, Bryce Seymour and Evie Chalwell for their work in the classroom and Arlo Jacques for his work in his times tables. Well done and keep up the great work!
The school’s Friday afternoon Beach Sports program will resume tomorrow, Friday 26 February, with the students in Years 4 and 6 heading to the beach in the afternoon.
There is a Friday morning assembly tomorrow, 26 February 2021, at 8:45am. This assembly will be lead by our Year 1 students, with Principal Certificates and St Damien’s Awards being announced as well.
We also have our Friday afternoon assembly on tomorrow, beginning at 2:45pm, with House Points, Wicked Work and Rising Stars awards being presented.
Our start of the week, morning assemblies, will resume next Tuesday (due to the long weekend), beginning at 8:45am, and will continue on Monday mornings for the remainder of the term.
Thursday, 18 February, 2021
This week has been a busy one at St Damien’s, particularly for the students in Year’s Three to Six, as they have been participating in their swimming lessons during the week along with competing in swimming trials on Tuesday. The staff have continued to work hard during this time, establishing routines and getting into their Learning and Teaching programs for the term.
In his message for Lent 2021, Pope Francis calls on the faithful to “renew our faith, draw from the living waters of hope, and receive with open hearts the love of God.”
This week we began the Lenten period; the most significant and important period in our liturgical calendar. We celebrated the beginning of the Lenten period with our Ash Wednesday Mass for all of the students in Years 3 to 6. During the Mass, Fr Vincent reminded the students that Lent is a time of conversion and a time to deepen one’s faith, demonstrating and sharing it through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
All of the students in Kindy to Year 2 participated in an Ash Wednesday Liturgy, held in the Steve Dowie Hall. Again, Fr Vincent celebrated the liturgy with the students and spoke to them about where the ashes used for the liturgy came from and how they can pray and try to be really good over the next 40 days.
Students will be learning about the significance Lent has in the lives of Catholics and will be engaging in activities which promote the life and love of God, throughout the term. Project Compassion boxes are now placed in each classroom, for all members of the school community to contribute to, as part of our mission to support others in need. Thank you to Janine Hart for preparing the Ash Wednesday Mass and Liturgy and to all of the staff and students who assisted in these celebrations.
Parent Information Sessions
Parent Information Sessions have been scheduled to occur in week 4 of the school term. Traditionally, these would have been held earlier; however, due to the delayed start of school, we have pushed these sessions back to the later date. The Parent Information Sessions will be held over two consecutive nights, from Tuesday 2 March to Wednesday 3 March. Each year level will be allocated a 30-minute time slot on one of the evenings, where parents/carers will be invited to attend. More information regarding these will be corresponded to parents/carers next week, once the schedule has been finalised.
Thank you to all families who have adapted to the new COVID-19 safety operations in the school. As these have been somewhat eased for the school this week, it has been great to have parents onsite and mask-less, particularly during drop off and pick up times. A safety guideline we do need to conscientiously adhere to is the need to maintain our safe social distance from other adults, especially in closed spaces, which is why we have limited the number of parents/carers in classrooms at any one point in time to 6. All parents and carers are to be thanked for understanding the need for this limit and for supporting the safety and wellbeing of all staff, students and other adults on the school site.
A very important part of my role as Principal is to acknowledge the wonderful work that goes on in the school, by all members of the community. This week a student was sent to my office for the fantastic work he had completed in class. Well done to Kayden McStay for his efforts in writing, where he produced a brilliant poem about a personal prized item. Kaden is new to St Damien’s CPS this year and it is great to see he is already working hard and experience success in his learning.
Swimming Lessons: Years 3 to 6
Swimming lessons have continued for all students in Years 3 to 6 this week and they are all to be commended for their efforts at the beach. The lessons are going very well and the students seem to be very organised each day with all of their swimming. I thank the parents and carers for supporting this and ensuring that their child/children have everything they need to swim each day. Swimming lesson do conclude this Friday.
On Tuesday all students in Years 3 to 6 participated in the swimming trials, in preparation for the school swimming carnival next week. As the starter for the trials, I got to see all of the students swim down and acknowledge the high level of swimming competence that exists across the school.
Like any sport, there is always a range of abilities within the students, and swimming is no different.
There are very competent and fast swimmers in the school and there are students who find swimming a bit of a struggle. No matter what the competence level, all of the students are to be highly commended for giving their best effort in all of the trials they participated in.
A special thank you and well done to our PE specialist, Hayley Sanders, for organising the trials and also to all of the parents and staff who assisted in the running of the event.
Our school swimming carnival is taking place next Tuesday 23 February, at the MARC. Students will be allocated events to swim in, based on the results of the trials held last Tuesday. A program of events will be emailed to families in the coming days, once it has been finalised.
Parent volunteers are being sought for the carnival, to assist with the timing and marshalling of students. If you are able to assist, please contact Miss Hayley Sanders via email on: email@example.com.
The weather is looking to be a moderate 30 degree day, which will be great for the carnival. I wish all of the students the very best and hope they enjoy the day as they try their hardest swimming for their house factions.
The school’s Friday afternoon Beach Sports program will resume next week, beginning on Friday 26 February. More information regarding this will be in next week’s newsletter and will also be corresponded to the students via their classroom teachers as to which classes will be attending the Beach Sports Program over the coming weeks.
School Healthy Food Policy
Part of my introduction to St Damien’s CPS was to become inducted in our school’s Healthy Food Policy. This policy has been developed, since the inception of the school, as a proactive and effective way of supporting the health of all students in the school. By maintaining the Healthy Food Policy, students’ physical health and cognitive functioning is benefitting by having sustained levels of energy, sourced by healthy foods, throughout the day.
Whilst packing a lunch box each day for your child/children can be a difficult and somewhat tedious task, the purpose of the school’s Healthy Food Policy is to support parents in selecting foods that are going to benefit their child/children each day. The permittable foods listed in the policy and parent handbook hopefully assist parents in making it easier when having to select foods to go into the student lunch boxes each day, also knowing which foods don’t go in. Staff are always scanning lunch boxes each day, affirming the positive choices being made and also reminding students when alternative food need to be packed. This process, again, is to support families when packing lunch boxes for school each day.
Link to Parent Handbook , as a reference point for parents. Please have a conversation with your child’s classroom teacher if you need some clarification regarding the Healthy Food options for students.
The start of term has been an extremely busy one, particularly with class groups engaging in swimming lessons and other activities each day. School assemblies will be back on the program in Week 4, once all classes are back onsite and able to attend.
Thursday, 11 February, 2021
It has been wonderful to see how well all of the students have settled into class and the routines of school in this first week back. They are to be congratulated for their efforts in learning the new class expectations and their responsible behaviours in the class and out in the yard. All parents are to be thanked for ensuring your child/children have transitioned well back into school routines after coming off the long holiday break.
The staff have also had a great start to the term. This week they have not only been working hard to get to know each student in their class on a personal and social level, but also have been conducting some year level entry assessments, particularly in the areas of Literacy and Numeracy. In doing this, the staff are getting a better understanding of where the students are with their learning and can develop units of work to suit and extend the students’ current level of understanding.
Possibly, like all residents in the Perth and Peel regions, we are eagerly awaiting to hear what the Premier’s upcoming announcement will entail, which will lay out the COVID-19 roadmap for all of us past 14 February 2021.
The recent restrictions and lockdown period have certainly impacted the start of the school year for St Damien’s, with plans and events having to be deferred and/or canceled due to the COVID guidelines the school is mandated to operate under. I will endeavor to keep the school community updated of any changes to the school’s operations, once they are known, after this weekend’s impending Premier’s announcement.
Thank you to all parents for ensuring your child/children have returned to school in the correct school uniform. It has been great to see all of the students return to school taking pride in their uniform and ensuring they are wearing the correct school and sports uniforms on the designated days of the week. I please ask for your continuous support with this, as it certainly is an important and defining feature of St Damien’s School and one which will be upheld throughout the year.
For you information, the school’s uniform policy can be accessed by clicking the following link: Uniform Policy
Please contact the school office if you have any questions or concerns regarding wearing and/or purchasing of school uniform.
Swimming lessons have started this week for all students in Year’s 3 to 6. It was great to see all of the students participate in these at Avalon Beach and enjoy jumping into the water and having a go.
A big thank you to the students and parents for having all swimming permission notes returned within the very short time frame; your assistance and urgency with this was greatly appreciated.
Classroom Overviews will be distributed to all families this Friday 12 February. Please feel free to contact your child’s classroom teacher if you have any further questions regarding the classroom rules and routines for the year ahead.
On Tuesday I sat in with the P&F Committee for their first meeting for the year. It was great to hear about some of the fun and exciting events they are planning to host throughout the year, in support of all of the students in the school.
I wish the P&F President, Natarlie Woodman, Vice President, Helen Reeves and the entire P&F Committee the very best as they plan for a very inclusive and successful year ahead for the St Damien’s community.
Swimming trials are on next Tuesday 16 February for those students in Years 3 to 6. The trials are an important event for all students, particularly those who are striving to excel in the School Swimming Carnival in the coming weeks. A permission note has been sent home for the students to participate in the trials and I asked if these could be returned to each child’s classroom teacher soon as possible, if not already done so.
I thank Miss Hayley Saunders for all of the work and effort she has put into organising the swimming trials and I wish all the competing students the very best of luck for these and hope they all swim their best.
It has been a very busy week, particularly at pick-up time, for parents and carers parking around the school. As mentioned in my previous correspondence, I do acknowledge this as being a significant issue for the school and one that is being dealt with as a priority to seek a long term solution, which will ease the current levels of congestion and improve the efficiency and flow of traffic around the school.
Compounding this current issue is the presence of the local council, ensuring that no traffic and/or parking rules are being violated. To this end, the safety of the students and members of the school community must remain pertinent and I thank you in the way you have all been tolerant and patient, given the parking situation. I will keep the school community updated as progress is made in improving this situation, in the coming months.
Wishing you all a ‘lovely’ Valentine’s Day’!
Thursday, 10th December, 2020
Tomorrow will be the final day for our students, and I must say that their behaviour and conduct has been exemplary giving the excitement and fatigue they must be all feeling. I believe a special thanks and acknowledgement must go to our Year 6 students who, in their last ever week of Primary School, have been amongst our most enjoyable and well-behaved students, ensuring that they all can look back at the end of their Primary School lives with joy and fond memories.
I am very aware that Christmas Holidays can mean different things for different families and I am truly hopeful that all families can enjoy as much recreation and important family time as possible. In this most tricky of years where family connections and travel are made harder, we all are realising how important these little things we take for granted are.
On a personal note, I would like to say thank you to the School Community for the amazing kind words that I have received in the last week after I announced my plans for 2021. The support you have given me (and the school) throughout 2020, and well before, has not gone unnoticed and I hope that in all of my communications you could feel my gratitude. Mr Gooch is very lucky to inherit you all! I hope that I can see you all around Mandurah and we can stop and have a chat, but please remember you can call me “Brett”, or even “Crebo”.
What’s happened in the last week…
Since last Friday we’ve had an enormous amount of events and all parents have done very well to keep up with all the uniform changes and support needed (e.g. transport and food). I’d like to thank the team at St Damien’s especially the Administration, for keeping on top of:
- Lots and lots of Class Parties (I have a sneaky suspicion some classes snuck two in!)
- Lots of Christmas Cards, gifts and Candy Canes handed out!
- Waterslide Day for Bouvard (and also a little splash for everyone else)
- Year 6 FIRST Lego at Armadale High on Saturday, and again at Curtain University this Saturday
- Kindergarten Graduation on Tuesday – thanks to Mrs Burns, Mrs Hilson and the Year 3s for helping!
- Year 6 Graduation on Wednesday – thanks Father Vince for a great outdoor Mass and Mr B for coming along.
- Year 6 Beach Day today – thanks Mrs Parker, Mrs Cadwell, Mrs Craig, Mr Lilly and Miss Sanders.
- Mrs Dowie’s sharing of the new “Amber Dawn” book today, – thanks Miss McMahon.
Our Leadership and Administration Team have managed supporting all of these great initiatives whilst trying to manage the business of running a school, including the all important Yearbook, 2021 Class Lists and 2020 Semester 2 Reports.
Mrs Caroline Leighton
I’d like to give a very special thank you to Mrs Caroline Leighton for all of her amazing efforts recently, in 2020 and in all of her time at St Damien’s. Mrs Leighton is a tireless and dedicated servant of our community, her passion for Student Development and the Well-Being of our community, be it academic, spiritual or emotional, is second to none. Some of you have had the privilege of working very closely with Mrs Leighton on student matters and you would be able to vouch for the extreme lengths she goes to, to ensure the best possible outcomes for our kids.
If you’ve never noticed the impact she has on our school (in all fairness she is the ‘quiet mastermind’ behind the scenes) – I can assure you that her impact on every child in the school is immense.
St Damien’s is very fortunate to have her, I hope you all know this.
Change of Bell Times
Yesterday I sent a letter to all families in regards to a proposal for Bell Time changes for 2021. May I please ask all families to please read and consider what is listed. Everyone’s voice matters. If you have feedback, either positive or negative, please send it to our School Email.
On Friday 11th December all students will have their Semester 2 Reports and 2020 Yearbooks handed to them to take home. If you require any other arrangements (e.g. absent child, multiple copies for family circumstances) I ask that you contact our School Administration Team. Please be aware we won’t release Reports earlier. Our staff is at school from Monday – Thursday next week, so Reports can be collected. Parents will be notified next week, by email, of their child(ren)’s class and teacher for 2021.
Start of 2021 – What if ‘it’ happens again?
We must be mindful of the small chance that over the Christmas Break something could happen in WA, or the world, that can alter how we start our school year. If there is any significant changes (and I’m talking about “Remote Learning” being required to be implemented again), I can assure our community that we will work with you all to determine both the capacity of the families, and the school, in delivering the best education possible. It’s not a nice thought to consider; however “Hope for the best, plan for the worst.”
I’d like to finish my time at St Damien’s by sharing with you all my speech from the Year 6 Graduation yesterday. I know that I could’ve played it safe by giving the ol’ “Study hard and eat your veggies” speech, but in my experiences so far, I’ve found that all of things we wish for our children as they grow older seem so critical on who they are surrounded by. I like the old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” – meaning that there are so many influences on their lives. If my speech had a title it would be…
“Who in your lives seems genuinely interested in the best version of you, now and into the future?”
I am very grateful that I could be one of those influences and I hope that all children and families have seen me as a positive one or, at the very least, one who had positive intentions.
Thank you St Damien’s for all you have done for me, I’ll never forget my time here and I cannot wait to see and hear your amazing stories in the future….
Good Morning Parents, Families, Guests, Staff but, most importantly of all, Year 6 Graduating Students. Today it is my honour to be standing in front of you for one of the most important milestones of your young life, Year 6 Graduation. Like the recent Sacrament of Confirmation, this moment is one of great importance to you, as it is a recognition of your transition into a more ‘grown up world’, a world that all of the adults here today know will be full of amazing opportunities, enormous challenges and many key moments that will define your lives, or ‘Core Memories’ as the great movie ‘Inside Out’ puts it.
If I have one goal from my speech today, one thing I want you to take away from Year 6, or even one thing you remember Mr Crebert for, it’s the following question:
“Who in your lives seems genuinely interested in the best version of you, now and in the future?”
Let’s think about that person – the best version of you. Shut your eyes, imagine where you’d like to be when you’re 21, what job you do, what type of person you are, and what you do for fun? Are you a Video Game Developer, Forensic Scientist, AFL Player or, dare I say it, a Youtube influencer like Pewdiepie? Whatever that dream is, keep it, it’s worthwhile and well within your sights and abilities.
Here’s a truth that you need to know – you are young, and the whole world is at your feet, from this point on you are still capable of achieving whatever you want if you’re willing to work for it. Nothing is set. You are not little Jedi’s who get told when they are babies whether they have it or not. No one has their destiny laid out for them from birth. If you want to be a Jedi, there’s still time. In all honesty, some people have it harder, some people have it easier. But, as one of my favourite ever sayings goes:
“The only thing standing between you and your goals are the excuses you tell yourself as to why you can’t achieve them.”
Over the next few years there are going to be plenty of people who wish to help you get to your goals but unfortunately, there are going to be those along the journey, who will try and stop you. All I want is for you to know, recognise and respect the difference. I genuinely believe High School, your teenage life, and the amazing journey afterwards is all dependent on who you are surrounded by and how they help you, and how you help others.
My goal for you is to recognise these people, and be the good friend that supports others and their goals and dreams and respects their wishes.
Surround yourself with people who respect you when you say “I’m sorry I need to go to training”, “I’d love to but I need to study”, “Tonight is my rehearsal night” or even “I’m not really up for that”, “It’s not something I like / want to do” or “My family doesn’t believe that is right”.
Let’s talk about one of those groups of people – your parents. They love you and would move mountains for you if needed. How do I know? Look at them. Every choice they’ve made for you in your life so far has been about what’s best for you, and every choice they make from here will be the same. They’ve lived the journey you’re about to have, they’ve had all the joys, but sadly experienced all the lows you may feel over the next few years. They are proud of you, but also petrified for you. They are so glad that Social Media wasn’t around when they were young to capture all the naughty things they did (and they haven’t yet told you), but they’re also so worried about what these platforms might do for you. They want you safe and happy now, and well into the future. And sadly, do you know how they often show you this? By nagging you. We all do, we know you don’t like it, and afterwards we all wish we didn’t do it either (trust me – adults hate nagging). Being an adult is often easier than being a teenager because we have all had the ups and downs of High School where we learnt many lessons, most often the hard way, about how to tell the difference.
To the mums and dads in the crowd, I remind you of something you already know, let your children have these experiences, let them rise and fall, but, most importantly, make sure you are there for them, showing love unconditionally, when they fall and need you. They will.
Your friends you surround yourself with will be extremely important to you. Think about these friends, are they interested in the ‘best you’ possible? Are they the type of people who will share and support your dreams and aspirations? If they are, fantastic. Hold onto them and look after them.
But sadly, some friends have ‘conditions’, they make you do things you don’t want to do in order to earn and keep their friendship. They’ll try to convince you that alcohol, drugs, vicious Social Media posts are what you need to feel good about yourself. These friends are toxic, and not part of dreams. You owe them nothing, even if they make you feel like you do. Don’t tolerate these people, don’t be these people.
Some friends are only in it for themselves, they think about what they can get from your friendship, without offering much back in return. They’ll convince you to do something to someone else just for their own amusement. They don’t mind you making decisions that hurt the ones you love, or ruin your own futures. These friends are toxic, and not part of dreams. You owe them nothing, even if they make you feel like you do. Don’t tolerate these people, don’t be these people.
To give yourself the best chance in life, surround yourself with friends you can say “no” to, and they’ll still be your friends. Friends who respect your decisions and you don’t have to change who you are in order to impress them. Friends who you never hear saying mean things about other people, I assure you, if you’ve heard someone talk meanly behind someone else’s backs, they’ve probably done it about you too. All it takes is one good friend. I don’t know Pewdiepie personally, but I’d like to think that if he had the choice of his 100 million subscribers, or one great, real friend, he’d tell you that no amount of ‘pretend friends’ can substitute a real one.
I have a phrase I use with you often, it’s a horribly mean phrase, but it has its purposes. I only say it for ‘shock impact’ to remind you that you have more control of your destiny than you think. Whenever I hear someone say “Good Luck!” I respond with ….. “Luck is a concept invented by the weak, to explain their failures”. Its terrible, I know it is, and there is a nicer version out there that maybe I should use:
“Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.”
By surrounding yourself with the best possible people, listening to their advice and feedback, you’ll be best prepared for those opportunities you want. They’ll be out there.
Opportunities are everywhere, we as the teachers and parents in your life spent so much of 2020, this most horrible of years, worried and panicking about what you’ve missed out on in your final year of Primary School. We wish you had a better year, we really do, but think about your year as a young Australian, is life really that bad? Yes, you missed out on a lot of PSSA sports, some excursions and maybe more chances to perform in public, but who is really stopping you from joining a sporting club or performance group, or asking your parents to take you and your friends out on an adventure. Remember what I said:
“The only thing standing between you and your goals are the excuses you tell yourself as to why you can’t achieve them.”
I’d like to finish off with a huge story from my life, something you don’t know about me, and I honestly never really had reason to share with you.
There used to be an Airline in Australia called Ansett, and it was about as big and popular as Virgin and Qantas and back in 2001 it just shut down, basically overnight and 20,000 people lost their jobs. A lot of good people, who had worked really hard all their lives, needed to find a way to support their families. Fifty of them ended up working in a huge warehouse in Brisbane for the shop ‘Crazy Clarkes’, which is like a giant “Red Dot”. In this warehouse people basically just spent all day lifting boxes from one pile, and putting them on another pile. Ten hours a day. Boxes goes from here, to here. Wrap pile in tape. Move pile. Start Again. Shift starts at 2pm, finishes at midnight. Move box, over and over. These people went from working on airplanes to stacking and lifting boxes, all to help make sure they had money for their families. It was embarrassing for many of them, and most certainly not where their plans had intended them to be at this point in their lives.
I was already a worker there, finishing up my University degree, working ten hour shifts to pay for the lifestyle a 21 year old wants. I was recently promoted to Forklift Driver, which I thought was the coolest thing ever, as lifting these boxes all day was tiring, smelly, dusty and boring. But to fight the boredom we all talked to each other, shared our stories and looked after each other. 18 year olds at their first ever job working side by side with 60 year olds who lived a whole great life, we shared a lot of stories.
Then, at the start of 2002, I earned my first teaching job at Living Waters here in WA. I was getting out! Moving away from the boxes and masking tape, the boring stuff. I remember not knowing how to tell all of my work mates I was leaving them. I was afraid of “Oooooh – look at Crebo, off to be a fancy teacher and leaving us here behind with our boxes”. I misjudged them.
But then the most amazing thing happened. I received a farewell card from all the workers who knew how hard I worked at University for my dreams and they were so happy for me and demanded I take the opportunity and never look back, just like a scene from Good Will Hunting. I still treasure this farewell card and keep it with my most prized possessions at home. So many messages supporting my journey, telling me to get out of there and don’t look back, reminders of people who shared enthusiasm for my goals.
I’ll never forget these amazing men and women, people who had had the toughest of runs, who were still celebrating and supporting my growth, what’s best for me. Their final words to me were not selfish, not about what they wanted. They were happy to see someone else succeed, whilst their own lives had taken a terrible turn. I sincerely hope when (not if) you meet people like this in your lives, you recognise them. This is all I could ever want and hope for you. If you remember one thing from me, whether you’ve know me since Kindy, or we’ve just met, it’s:
“Who in your lives seems genuinely interested in the best version of you, now and in the future?”
Like I will never forget them, I will never forget you St Damien’s, thank you for all you have done for me over the years. It has been the privilege of my life to work at this school and I look forward to seeing you all grow, well into the future.
Friday, 4th December, 2020
What a great night we had on Wednesday Night, and what a fantastic finish to 2020 we are having. It has been an extremely busy week with many events that you know of (Christmas Concert, Beach Carnival, Class Parties, Green Team Assembly) but also our dedicated staff is working furiously behind the scenes on other critical requirements for our school to succeed in 2021: most notably the meticulous combing through 2021 Class Lists and Parental Feedback forms by our teachers and Administration, but also Mrs Leighton’s dedication to holding ‘Transition Meetings” for the families and teachers of students with special needs, to ensure that their start to 2021 is as positive as possible.
Next week is no different, with our Kindy and Year 6 Graduations, Year 6 Beach Day, Year 6 FIRST Lego competition on Saturday, Winning House Party, Class Parties, P & F and School Board End of Year Event and, no doubt, a dentist nightmare in the controlling of massive amounts of candy canes being exchanged within our school grounds!
It’s busy, but it’s needed. The kids deserve to go out with a ‘bang’ in 2020 and ensure that their final memories of what has been a pretty tough year are as wonderful as possible.
Today we held our 2020 Beach Carnivals, it was chilly and a bit windy, but the students found their own pace and hopefully enjoyed a day with their friends. Some chose to stay on the sand and build castles, some braved the water – whatever kids decided to do today was OK.
BOUVARD WINNING HOUSE
Congratulations to Bouvard as our winning house for 2020, they were deserving winners and I think deep down we knew it was going to be them all year – every week there were lots of kids from Bouvard receiving Rising Star awards, and they are very worthwhile champions.
We have decided to let all houses take part in the Water Fun Day next week – but we will make sure Bouvard has a bit of ‘extra special’ time and reward.
YEAR 6 SPECIAL AWARDS and 2021 STUDENT LEADERSHIP
We congratulate our Year 6 Award Winners and our 2021 Student Leadership Team.
Our 2021 Student Leadership Team is as follows:
|Head Boy||Jai Barker||Student Council||Jonn Sedenkov|
|Head Girl||Amelia Isaac||Student Council||Noah Schwarzbach|
|BOU Boy||Zachary Sun||Student Council||Beau Brion|
|BOU Girl||Lilly Caine||Student Council||Connor Carey|
|FLO Boy||Jai Brown||Student Council||Luca Hegarty|
|FLO Girl||London Pavlovic||Student Council||Archie Nicholson|
|MEL Boy||Declan Burns||Student Council||Isabella Romero|
|MEL Girl||Lucinda Parke||Student Council||Ruby Jones|
|WAN Boy||Connor Blair||Student Council||Katie Robinson|
|WAN Girl||Claire Besson||Student Council||Madison Flentjar|
Our 2020 Year 6 Award Winners are:
DUX : Amali Revett
Principal’s Award: Mitchell Earl
St Damien’s Medal: Maria Szarzanowicz
Amber Field Award: Lillian Boyd
6B Academic Award: Leonardo Davenport
6B Aspiring for Excellence: Grace Simmons
6B Christian Leadership: Isabelle Clausen
6G Academic Award: Tahlia Polmear
6G Aspiring for Excellence: Alexia Hatto
6G Christian Leadership: Daniella Naglewicz
Sports Award: Zaide Wilson
Sport Aspiring for Excellence: Xavier McKenzie
Italian Award #1: Amelia Pavlovic
Italian Award #2: Mali Graves
Music Award #1: Madeline Clarke
Music Award #2: Tia Duckrell
Science Award #1: Mitchell Earl
Science Award #2: Shaye Parish
Christmas Concert Awards and Leadership
In a last minute panic about the night taking too long, I scribbled out about 5 paragraphs from my speech (and I’m sure you are grateful for this!) – this is one paragraph I removed:
Tonight, we will acknowledge individual excellence through our grades awards, Year 6 Awards and the 2021 Student Leadership. I ask all families to share in the celebration and congratulations of these students. Please be assured that all of our staff spend an enormous amount of time considering who is worthy for these awards and feel genuine remorse for those students who miss out, we weigh up every decision very carefully with the information we have. We hope that our winners can be gracious in their triumph and we hope the students who do not receive awards or leadership remain very aware that they are also amazing and valued young people. As I could not name everyone tonight who is worthy of acknowledgement, I hope that those students without awards, or the leadership positions they were hoping for, can feel that they are seen, heard and appreciated.
I hope all families know this to be true, that we are extremely mindful of the impact of having ‘selections’ within a school: Awards, Leadership, Sporting Teams. At St Damien’s we put in all reasonable efforts to ensure that every child, across the year, can feel valued and have the opportunity to succeed and enjoy school.
Thank you again everyone for the great year and, in the last 24 hours, your very kind words, they have meant the world to me.
Take Care, God Bless.
Thursday, 26th November 2020
As we approach the end of the school year, we are faced with the realities of staff leaving our school and taking their journey as teachers forward in new directions. Whilst we will sorely miss the following teachers, we wish them all the best for their future careers as educators and we can only reflect, with joy, that there are other students in schools in WA who will benefit from these teachers sharing their amazing gifts.
Mrs Fiona Anderson has been successful in gaining a Leadership role at Mandurah Catholic College in 2021. Fiona has been with us since 2018 and has had a profound impact on our school, not only through the exemplary approach she has to meeting the needs of all of her students and their families, but also leading our staff team as our Literacy Coordinator. Fiona has been a mentor to many and has always prioritised the needs of others and our community. In 2020, she has also assisted in supporting the Admin Team, with great loyalty and dedication. We thank Fiona for her commitment to the wellbeing and growth of our community and wish her all the very best for the next phase of her journey. Our loss is most definitely MCC’s gain.
Mrs Aideen Cadwell will be moving to Frederick Irwin Anglican College in 2021. Mrs Cadwell has taught at St Damien’s since 2015. In this time she has taught Years 1, 3, 5 & 6. Not only is she a committed teacher, but she is also an active contributor to extra-curricular programs, most notably with her support of Liturgical Choir, singing programs, school performances and in recent years, her assistance with FIRST Lego and other Upper Primary initiatives. Mrs Cadwell can always be relied upon to be a safe ear for students and has passionately campaigned on their behalf if she ever saw a student in need. Frederick Irwin is very fortunate to have her on their staff in 2021.
Mr David Logue has resigned from St Damien’s Catholic Primary School to pursue other teaching opportunities. Mr Logue has taught at St Damien’s since 2012. In addition to his dedication to the teaching of his students, his contributions include countless hours, outside of school time assisting students with Mathematics, continued assistance in coaching school sporting teams and always having a leading hand as a director / supporting actor in Year Level Assemblies. Whilst a reputation for his Mathematics prowess always preceded him, he has a true passion for English, bringing many Australian novels and other great books into our school and inspiring a love of reading in students.
It is with great pleasure I welcome Mr Damien Forrester and Mrs Kym Abbott to St Damien’s Catholic Primary School in 2021. Mr Forrester and Mrs Abbott have both had careers in Catholic Education WA and bring a wealth of experience and perspective, that will surely help our school grow in 2021.
Whilst it is easy to look at staff turnover as a negative, we must always consider that, in every school, it is the reinvigoration that new staff bring that can quite often bring the best for a community. We will miss Mrs Anderson, Mr Logue and Mrs Cadwell and will look fondly upon their time at St Damien’s, but we must also look forward with optimism that the school is more than a ‘sum of its parts’, but rather it is actually a larger, living community whose combined purpose will drive and support the students, staff and families well into the future.
Take Care, God Bless
Thursday, 19th November, 2020
It with with great joy I sat with members of our Parent Body last night to witness the nomination and selection of our 2021 P & F Executive and School Board, which will be titled ‘School Advisory Council’. More information will come soon about our selected Parent Representatives; however what was clearly apparent that, in the handover, two amazing teams have guided us through 2020, and two amazing teams are ready to help lead our school in 2021. Please see below my Principals Report which I read last night.
To commence Term 4 2019, Mr Joe Bartucciotto and I sat down to talk about 2020. I was finishing my Postgraduate Studies and Joe was looking towards the sunset years of his Principalship and time as an educator – “Let’s be kind to ourselves in 2020” he said, “Nothing big or new for the school, no unnecessary stresses or burdens – let’s just enjoy a year, and let the kids enjoy it too.”
I could never have imagined that twelve months later, I’d be writing the 2020 St Damien’s Catholic Primary School Principal’s Report and reflecting on a year that has been undoubtedly the most challenging year that Australian schools have faced in living memory, and the most challenging that many families have also had to face.
My year could be summed up, as if I feel like I’m still standing in the St Damien’s Car Park, Walkie-Talkie in one hand trying to coordinate the community and make decisions ‘on the go’ with the ever-changing information that was pouring in. I stand looking proudly at my staff who keep working hard for the students, I’m watching parents show endless tolerance with rules and guidelines that they don’t fully understand and I’m smiling as students continuously amaze us with their resilience and positivity. I watch 3 Year Old Kindy students have their first ever day at school, without their parents being unable to come in with them, they were teary, the kids were not, they were ready. I stand in that Carpark trying to convince myself (as we all do as parents) – “I am getting this right; I am getting this right.” I sincerely hope I did, but I am very aware I did not get everything perfect in 2020. I am extremely proud and grateful for the school community which made 2020 work so well and I sincerely hope the platforms we laid this year can help with the school’s growth in 2021.
I first of all would like to thank the Parent Community of St Damien’s for their continued patience, understanding and flexibility with the challenges of 2020. You are an amazing group of people who have the shared vision that we have for our students. One of the biggest pleasures of 2020 has been interviewing new families and one of my first questions is, “Why St Damien’s?” with the answer nearly always containing the words “reputation, community, high expectations and teachers that care”. I continuously hope that the promise we hold, is an experience you feel. If it is – please tell our staff – a nice word goes a long way. If it isn’t – please tell our staff – but also remember that a harsh word goes even further, and lasts longer. They are an extremely hardworking and dedicated group, who continuously strive for the best for our students, and if 2020 didn’t show you this, nothing will.
2020 put forward some enormous challenges for our staff and I was very proud that when COVID-19 first struck in Term 1, they took on the challenges and worked at an extremely frenzied pace in order to best support our children. Legally, they were provided with many ‘outs’ that they could have used to stay away from school, but they didn’t take this option, they chose to ‘stay’. They came to school, taught students under extremely stressful and trying circumstances, learnt new technologies and modes of lesson delivery in preparation for Remote Learning, worried about their partners and families and quite simply, displayed all the qualities of ‘Frontline Workers’ who formed the backbone of flourishing societies. We had staff who had family members pass away in 2020, and were unable to be with them in those final moments, whereas any other year they would’ve. They were here, at school, working hard for our children, your children. The parents and students are extremely fortunate to have our staff.
One of the most common cries from teachers in the second half of the year is “When can we let the parents back in?” – they genuinely miss interaction with you, sharing your children’s success and looking for opportunities for you to work together towards the growth of your children.
Even though it felt like it lasted an eternity, the ‘Remote Learning’ period of 2020 was a short-lived, but extremely critical phase of the future of our school. During this time, we learnt a great deal about communication with parents, effective lesson delivery and how we can better link the needs of the curriculum to the real-world experiences of a child. The education world is currently abuzz with discussion about the impact and consequences of this phase, but also the learnings we took away and how our mindsets have changed. At St Damien’s we have grown in many areas of our planning and lesson delivery due to our ‘Remote Learning’ discoveries and, in the event that ever needed to take these steps again, I feel we will be leaders in the community regarding how to best support the children and their needs.
One of the most interesting developments was how the laws and restrictions of 2020 impacted our Parish activities, most notably our preparation for the Sacraments. Our Sunday Night family Masses (a response to managing crowd sizes at Mass) have been beautiful I thank Father Vince for his eternal patience with both the school, and the Parish.
We have had a small turnover of staff in 2020. Mrs Michelle Doy and Miss Jaimie Shanahan both left the school to give birth to children, and our Custodian, Mrs Carole Pudney, retired. We welcomed Miss Jordyn Sheldrick to Year 4, Miss Hayley Sanders to Physical Education and Mrs Leonie Large and Mrs Natasha Cundy to our Custodial Staff. Mrs Fiona Anderson, Mrs Katelin Lampard and Miss Kim Welten have supported the Leadership Team, down one Assistant Principal in 2020, with great loyalty and dedication and both their own personal growth, and their supporting the growth of other staff, has been enormous, and will see the school grow in strength in 2021. Unfortunately, the school will lose Mrs Fiona Anderson in 2021 as she has accepted a Leadership role at Mandurah Catholic College’s Primary School, and we wish her all the best.
The staff member who truly deserves her own section is Mrs Caroline Leighton. Caroline, as the lone Assistant Principal, has shown more leadership, compassion and patience in one year, than could be expected from any mere mortal. She is the shining example of “What Would Jesus Do” in our school and I can assure you; she is deserving of a personalised thank you from every member of our school community. The impact she has had on every child, parent and staff member, whether they know it or not, is monumental, and will be felt for a long time.
In any other year, a Principal transition would’ve been the biggest impact on the school community. Mr Joe Bartuciotto is an amazing leader in Catholic Education and his impact on St Damien’s CPS will be long felt and remembered. Mr B was skilled at cutting through distractions, what mattered to him was what is most important to children – are they happy, safe and learning? Joe taught us all that in our decision making if this wasn’t our primary goal, it wasn’t worth pursuing, and he is right. Mr Bartucciotto’s farewell was an amazing event and the School community should feel very proud of how they gave him the farewell he deserved. It was always the intent that we would return mid 2020, and most likely give the school a good couple of years before he considered his next career move but, like all matters in 2020, personal and professional priorities changed and he made the right decision for himself, and the Bartucciotto family. Deep down, it was never Mr B’s style to go out with a ‘bang’, he was always going to quietly walk away, smiling at the memories he had from our great school.
The process in selecting a new Principal for the school was rigorous and it is with great pleasure that we welcome Mr Daniel Gooch as our Principal in 2021. Mr Gooch is currently the Principal of St Kilian’s Primary School in Bendigo, Victoria, and brings a wealth of experience and qualifications that will only see the legacy of the school grow into the future. I can assure the school community that even though Daniel will bring his own ideas, perspectives and wishes to the school (which is honestly what a Principal needs to do) he will be mindful and attentive to the history and culture of our school, but hopefully bring his own flair to help our great school grow even further.
Mr Gooch will no doubt be supported by an amazing School Board and P & F in 2021. These groups have been pillars of our school community for so long but, as circumstance would have it, are currently undertaking an upheaval of membership. Whilst we are saddened that many long-standing members of these groups will not be returning in 2021, we are optimistic about the promise that new members, with fresh ideas and perspectives will bring. I would like to thank Mr Matthew Edwards, as outgoing Chairperson of the Board for his many years of service and dedication to the school, but also Mrs Robby Naglewicz and Mr Wayne Goring also, for their years of commitment and service to the School through their commitment to the Board. I thank Mr Ben Dell for his continuous service to the Board, as Treasurer, Acting Chairperson and representing the Parent Community so well during the Principal Appointment Process and Staff Interviews.
I wish to also thank Mrs Rebecca Cattanach, Mrs Cat Meunier, Mrs Kristie Tonkin and Mrs Lisa Norwell, for their service to our P & F this year and for all years they have been involved. 2020 has been a unique year where we haven’t been able to deliver on some of the goals and aspirations of a P & F, but I can assure the community that their council and input has been invaluable. These four amazing ladies will not be returning to our P & F in 2021 and I sincerely thank them all for their commitment and dedication to the school, the families and the students.
Despite the challenges of 2020, we maintained a financial position that has put us in the best possible position moving forward. The realities of global, and local, economics could very well lead to short term and long-term financial challenges, and the school must be cautious about matters of financial planning and fund allocation; however, our School Board and our Bursar, Mrs Michelle Farcich must be complimented on their outstanding management of the school. Our extended Administration Team – Mrs Michelle Stevenson, Mrs Simone Salmeri, Mrs Fiona Stoove and our Groundsman, Mrs Chris Salmeri, have also had outstanding and meaningful involvement in management of the school, and future planning and I cannot thank them enough for how they guided the school, and myself, though 2020 – with one eye on the now, and one on ‘the future”. I am extremely pleased to announce that we currently have 11 more enrolments in our school than at the same time last year, with full classes projected for 2021 in Early Years, with growing waiting lists. It is shaettering to turn families away, particularly those who have young children wishing to get into our school, but at the same time it is a compliment to our school, that our reputation is growing.
Whilst reflecting on the past, we turn one eye to the future, with optimism and hope that whatever is around the corner will bring better for us all. Our school developed its next Strategic Plan in 2020 and the voice of the students, teachers, parents and community should be well heard and felt in the directions we take moving forward. Thank you to Mrs Katelin Lampard for her coordination of this process. Whilst we no doubt have academic success as one of our goals for all students, we understand that student well-being, anxiety and resilience, are probably the two biggest challenges facing educators currently and we will ensure that, in the words of Mr Bartucciotto, we aim that all students “Feel safe, happy and learn.”
I would finally like to thank my own family, especially my beautiful wife Lauren, and the families of all of our staff, who have been so supportive with the stresses and challenges we’ve faced, especially whilst we tried to ‘learn on the run’. Whilst we locked ourselves away in rooms for Zoom Meetings and prayed our kids wouldn’t barge in and turn us into overnight internet sensations, there was always support with us, in the form of our family members.
It has been the honour of my lifetime to serve as Principal of this amazing community in 2020, I hope you have all felt that I, and my team, have done nothing but strive for the very best for your children, as we promise to do for the rest of their time at St Damien’s Catholic Primary School.
Take Care, God Bless
Thursday 12th November, 2020
I hope that all of our families were able to make great use of the long weekend, and spectacular weather, that was provided last week. Even though Friday was a day off for all in our school, our staff were busy at school on Thursday with Professional Development in areas of student safety and wellbeing. All staff completed their annual training for Asthma and Anaphylaxis response, and we had a guest presenter from the CEWA Head Office to help us review and discuss our ‘Keeping Safe Curriculum’.
One of our main points of discussion was how we keep a good, open dialogue between parents and the school about the curriculum we teach in Catholic Schools, what concepts we’re covering and how do we support families who haven’t had the experience, or confidence, to discuss some extremely tricky content, especially which has sexual implications (i.e body parts, inappropriate online materials, discussions about ‘consent’).
STUDENT WELL-BEING WEBSITE
For the last couple of years, our school website has had a link to some supports for students an families. In hindsight I should have made more of an effort to continuously promote this to families, but I also believe that at St Damien’s we have many avenues available to students and families to seek support. If we try to put all resources on a webpage, they become messy and overcrowded, but we also need to ensure parents and students know where they can go to find a ‘starting point’ for support if needed. Some of the features of this page are:
- Buttons for students, and parents, to lodge anonymous concerns
- Links to our Schools Codes of Conduct and Documents that show our support structures
- Explanations of programs St Damien’s puts in place to support students
- Links to Keeping Safe Curriculum Documents
- A link to Kids Help Line
Any feedback is always welcome on what parents would like to have at their fingertips for supporting our children. We recognise that a website shouldn’t be the answer to all problems, it’s the ‘face to face’ discussions, interactions and relationships that will build real strength; however every so often students, parents and families may need the support of such resources.
Yesterday I sent an email in regards to security at St Damien’s and upcoming changes. I thank the community for their supportive responses that I have received. We will develop a clear outline of the exact changes to be made. I ask parents to please be ready for gates to be locked throughout the day. We will be unlocking gates at approximately 2:30pm for parents to come for pick up of your children. As we move forward and make changes, please feel free to discuss any concerns or observations with me; however I ask all parents to be aware that the decision between student safety versus conveniences, is not really a decision at all.
P & F and AGM
Yesterday our P & F had their final regular meeting for the year and I thank all parents who came and discussed important matters. In recent posts I have put a link for nominations for the 2021 P & F Executive Please click here for survey link – if you would like to nominate yourself, or someone else in our community, please take the time to put their name down. All nominated parents will be notified over the next few days, and invited to accept the nomination and come to our AGM next week in order to have their name put to vote by members of our parent community.
NAIDOC & REMEMBRANCE DAY
Our students have been busily bringing the past into our present this week by commemorating both NAIDOC Week and Remembrance Day. I thank the staff and students for their participation, reverence and respect they have given to both of these crucial links to our culture and history. Our Head Boy and Head Girl attended the Dawesville RSL Service and they represented our school with the pride we would expect.
Thursday 29th October, 2020
How the days and weeks are disappearing quickly now! We are counting down to the end of the year, but excited for all the great events yet to occur. Signora Bava is putting the finishing touches on the Italian Assembly for next Wednesday and I’m sure many parents are out there asking “So…..what are the ‘2020’ rules for Trick or Treat this weekend?” But the truest indicator of how quickly this year is now finishing is the discussion about the P & F Movie night turning to “Is it too early have a Christmas Movie?” (Spoiler – we said “No!”)
World Teachers’ Day
Today is “World Teachers’ Day” and I’d like to thank all of the staff at St Damien’s Catholic Primary School for their continued dedication for our children. I have been extremely proud of the teachers (as I have all staff!) of the school this year and their continued dedication to the students has been outstanding. As parents, please never underestimate the value of positive feedback about their impact on your children and remind the kids that a small word of gratitude can go a long way.
Parents & Friends News
Today I have be sent an email in regards to many of the upcoming P & F Events in the school, but most importantly is setting up the group for 2021. Unfortunately all members of our current P & F Executive (President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer) are unable to continue in the roles and we invite all families to nominate suitable people for the positions in 2021.
I’d like to thank Rebecca Cattanach, Lisa Norwell, Kristie Tonkin and Cat Meunier for their service and dedication to the P & F, and our school community, in 2021 (and prior!). All families should be very grateful for their contributions and mindful of this team in both growing our school and maintaining student and family well-being.
Next Wednesday we have our 2021 Italian Assembly and I would like to thank Signora Bava, with the support of Mr Lilly and all teachers for their outstanding preparations, I’m sure that, once again, the event will be an amazing experience for all students. Traditionally, this Assembly is our most watched by parent and guest visitors but as we are still under restrictions I ask the school community please respect the following wishes:
I apologise if these expectations seem unfair; however, I hope all families can see that that the intent is to ensure that all parents have the best opportunity to watch their own children.
- Parents and visitors sit only in designated areas and chairs which will be set up outside the hall.
- Parents and visitors do not ‘claim a chair’ for upcoming performances.
- Parents and visitors stay only for their own child(ren)’s performances, and do not take chairs when their child(ren) is not performing.
- Parents and visitors may of course wait behind the crowd when their children are not performing, and we will announce upcoming events for fairness.
Approximate times for each performance are as follows:
9am Opening & Welcome to Country
9:05am Year 6
9:15am Year 4
9:20am Year 5
9:25am Year 1
9:30am Year 3
9:40am Year 2
Uniform and Watches
In accordance with our Uniform Policy and in line with ensuring safety and focus for our students I ask that all families please support our policies, and the guiding principles from which they are derived. In 2020 we have made every effort to be accommodating and supportive with minor variances that have appeared; however, we have clearly noticed the impact on members of our community and consistency of expectations with the large amount of variances we have.
Notes will be sent home today for shoes that are not in compliance with the following criteria:
“School Sports Shoes Mid or high-top boots, skate shoes or shoes other than cross trainers are unacceptable. Shoes must be WHITE, lace-up, without any inappropriate signage or advertising (no velcro). No wheels or lights. Laces, lace holes and the sole edges of the shoes must be white. Signage or logos may be; any shade of blue, black, grey or silver. Shoes must be in good condition.”
As technology grows, so do that additions to watch technology. I ask that any watches that fit the following criteria do not come to school:
- Watches that have messaging / internet capabilities
- Watches that have gaming capabilities
- Watches that have photography capabilities
Apple watches (and similar) cannot be used by students and if your child has a ‘Fitbit’ (or similar) it cannot have any of the above capabilities.
One of our key principles with our Uniform Policy is the idea of reducing unfair competition / pressure on our students and parents to have the “best stuff”. Any watches that are ‘excessive’ in size, nature or colour may also be requested to stay at home.
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday 22nd October, 2020
What a great celebration today was of “Book Week 2021” and I thank the school community (that means you parents!) for the manner in which they helped their children come to school in great costumes for the day. We were all very happy with the smiles, laughter and ‘cheekiness’ of all the children. I also did enjoy the good humour shown by many of the students who were unable to get a costume ready, some of their last minute efforts to put a post it note on their foreheads to justify their uniform was quite hilarious. If you can’t laugh at yourself….
Next week is “Book Fair” and we will be having the traditional set-up in the Library of books for sale for our students; however we ask families to please be aware of the following guidelines and details:
Monday 26th October – Wednesday 4th November
Before School 8:15am-8:45am (Parents and Students welcome)
After School 3:00pm – 3:30pm (Parents and Students welcome)
Lunchtime for students who choose not to interact with adults (they may buy books)
Disposable gloves will be provided at entry and requested to be worn if adults are handling books.
Safe patron numbers maintained and Social distancing will be required
Eftpos strongly encouraged (for adults!)
YEAR 6 CONFIRMATION
Thank you to our Families, Mrs Parker, Mrs Cadwell, Mrs Leighton, Mrs Burns, Mrs Craig, Mrs Chalwell, Mr Karl Brown, Father Vince and Father Tony who all helped put together the most amazing of Confirmation Services on Sunday night. Their contributions were not only seen in how the actual ceremony was run, but in the preparation of the Year 6 students in the lead up to the event. I must also thank the Year 6 students who came as “Prayer Friends” and those students in other grades who supported in the Choir.
The students reverence and understanding of the commitment they were taking was of the highest quality and I sincerely hope that they will look back at this Sacrament with positive reflections.
Is is unfortunate to think that some of our families won’t be returning to us in 2021, but we understand there are realties that make it so. We ask that if any families have knowledge that they are leaving can they please notify us as soon as possible, especially as it allows us to ensure that any families on the waiting lists are given appropriate notice and opportunity to join our community.
PHASE 4 & Remote Learning
A ‘hypothetical’ was raised at our Board Meeting this week (especially in light of Phase 4 extension announcements this week) “What would Remote Learning look like at St Damien’s if we had to do it again in the future?”
This was a very fair question, especially coupled with the reflections that during the March / April period where we were all running on high, and reactive emotions (and I once again would like to say how supported the school felt by parents) we can now, in hindsight, look back with greater reflection. Now we also have the ability to judge the impact that time had on our students education.
One of the realities is that how parents feel they can best support their child(ren)’s learning during Remote Learning is actually very closely linked to how they help during normal times. As I wrote last week, to think that a child will grow academically without parent support is actually quite unrealistic. We don’t expect parents to be qualified educators, but our knowledge of your children, and helping them real what they learn in class, is crucial.
In the next few weeks I will send out an opportunity for parents to have that level of feedback. It’s important we know how parents felt overall, but also with the specifics. I fully understand their was patience from the parents with the understanding that our staff were adapting and learning as they went, but I also believe that if we had to do it again, we’d be expected to be fully prepared.
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday 15th October, 2020
Welcome back to Term 4, I hope you had a great break. I know that many more of our families are taking advantage of Western Australian holiday locations and this is a great thing, especially for our students who still have areas and regions in our own ‘backyard’ that they haven’t explored yet. These experiences can be as valuable learning, and life lessons, for our students as the education we promote at school.
There is an enormous amount of content and skills that our teachers are tasked with helping our students develop, and we do an enormous amount of work and discussion as to how we achieve this, but one of the realities of meaningful learning is that the relationship between what students learn at school must be in line with their ‘real world’ experiences.
We talk at school about areas we are concerned about with student progress, and two areas that have come up (as an example) recently are: money and reading ‘time’.
Back in the good ol’ days (a saying I’m frightened to use more often) our skills at knowing the value of 1c,2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c and, if the heavens were kind, a $1 coin was amazing. We could ride our bikes to the local Corner Store and buy lollies for all of these different values. We became skilled at mastering 13 Teeth will cost 26c and 5 Milkos will cost 25c, so 50c isn’t enough, we’d give a ‘teeth’ back and buy a freckle instead. We also knew that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was on Channel 7 at 4pm each day, and our skills at reading our watches to determine how much time we had left to get home we were ‘to the second’, accurate.
Our ‘unfortunate’ children in 2020 rarely have the opportunity to have these experiences anymore due to the (outrageous) costs of lollies, and the instantaneous nature of Netflix, ABC iView and YouTube access means they don’t always need to wait for their favourite show. This is not the students’ fault, or ours, but they have fallen into some of the trappings of being ‘Generation Now’. As parents we need to look for those rarer opportunities for the real world to reflect the development they need.
The good news is that hopefully there are a lot of fun and engaging opportunities for our children to learn outside of school. Our eyes were opened to many new insights during ‘Remote Learning’ about how kids, and their parents, adapted, and we will hopefully take this well into our future.
ST VINCENT DE PAUL CHRISTMAS APPEAL 2020
In our Newsletter this week there is an indication of how our school can support the St Vinnies Christmas Appeal. They have provided indications of what food would be suitable, and we support this as their knowledge of the needs of those families requiring support, and how the items should be best used,
As always, we ask if families can give – that’s great, if it’s not the right time, or you have committed to other initiatives, that is completely OK also.
BOOK WEEK DRESS UP DAY Thursday 22nd October
This years theme is “Curious Creatures and Wild Minds” (they know our students well it seems) and students are more then welcome to come on Thursday 22nd (Wednesday 21st for Kindy) in Dress Up. As always we love for these events to be a celebration for the children, but we would like families to know that we don’t expect, or try to promote, too many ‘bought’ costumes, any thrown together ‘mish-mash’ is OK in our eyes.
TERM PLANNER & SCHOOL PHOTOS
This week our school photos have gone home and there are still a few Family photos in the office to be collected. Today our students will have their Term 4 Planners sent home. We do everything within our power to ensure that we don’t move dates; however, there will most likely be events that require us to make adjustments, and we apologies for any inconvenience. If we do need to make changes we will email all families involved.
We have put our Term 4 Beach Dates on the Term Planner. Please be aware that if students are attending extra curricular events (e.g. PSSA Interschool Athletics) they will not attend the beach. I ask all families to remember in regard to our Beach Program:
- Many of our teachers are qualified by Surf Lifesaving to supervise the activities. Our Teacher to student ratios are fully compliant with requirements.
- Please ensure that your child brings their towel, Rashie, thongs (good quality please – ‘plugger blowouts’ are not fun when we’re walking back!) and goggles, if required, on their days.
- Please assume Beach Days are always on, regardless of weather forecasts. We have had plenty of Fridays where its starts cold, wet, windy and miserable, but the weather turns quickly. We usually make our final decision by Midday. Please be aware we never intend to take students if we don’t believe the conditions are safe and enjoyable.
- We do our best to ensure all activities are safe, fun and accessible to all students. We are very aware of the various levels of confidence, abilities and enjoyment our students take from the beach; however, we do ask cooperation from all students and families in taking part. Students who ‘forget’ their swimwear add supervision complications for our staff who have other roles.
SUNSCREEN AND WARM WEATHER
Please ensure your children are wearing suitable and appropriate clothing for our current weather. The start of Term 4 is wildly unpredictable and inconsistent with weather and temperature and students need to be ready for all possibilities. We teach our students the Noongar calendar Click here for Noongar Calendar (it’s pretty amazing!) which reflects our local variances. We do ask that families try to send their children to school in the morning with Sunscreen on if the UV Factor seems high, and we will also provide Sunscreen at school and apply other measures for student safety.
RECYCLING SCHEME – Containers for Change
St Damien’s CPS will have, next week, a station for Containers for Change and will have a station set up for families to drop off. Proceeds raised from this initiative will go towards the school. More information will come but I can tell families:
- Our station will be set up in between the Steve Dowie Hall and the Kindy Area (behind the Beach Trailer)
- The best times for parents and students to drop items off will be 8am-8:15am as we will be able to have students there to help.
- We will communicate other times and arrangements for families who cannot come at this time.
- We will also, as a community, work towards setting goals for our ‘wish-list’ of what we use the funding for.
Sadly, our Parish lost one of its great members recently, Mr Con Schaper. He was a much loved and generous gentleman who would often Acolyte for our School and Staff Masses. He loved the school and was extremely supportive of efforts to bring more children to the church. His Funeral is Next Thursday at 10am. As with all funerals in our Parish church, we block off the church from vehicle access for our staff and families to allow the attendees easy access. Con’s popularity within Mandurah and beyond will no doubt see many people come to say their farewells so I ask for the School Community’s patience with the traffic and parking.
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday 24th September,
I hope all of our families are going to be able to find some quality time together over our break. In many ways, it is hard to belive our year is three quarters finished, but in many other ways it feels we’ve packed a few years into one! Please remember Term 4 starts on TUESDAY 13th October with our students in full, Summer Uniform. We are currently proof reading our Term 4 Planner and it is with great relief we see so many of our regular events return to the calendar, especially for our Year 6 students who have had their final year in Primary School so interrupted. Camps, Interschool Sport, Concerts and Assemblies are everywhere on the next Term plan, much to the delight of all of our students.
I must extend my most sincerest gratitude for both the turnout of parents, and the attitudes (and costumes) of the students for the day. In true Mr B style, he wanted the day be not focused solely on him, but to also give all the students and families good closure and have the chance to close a very important chapter in our schools history. Mr Bartucciotto was touched by the turnout and loved his ‘last day’ with us.
Mrs Michelle Doy
Mrs Michelle Doy will sadly be leaving our school at the end of term as she prepares to welcome her second child into the world. Mrs Doy came back to St Damien’s in 2020 after spending some years in the Northern Territory, before this she taught at our school for a few years under the name “Miss Hookway”. She brought laughter and joy to the Year 3 classes and her time and energies were greatly appreciated and will be sorely missed. Fortunately we have very capable teachers in Mrs Bright and Mrs Pachimuthu who will be in Year 3 Blue for the remainder of the year, ensuring the learning and laughter will continue.
Keeping Safe Note
At St Damien’s Catholic Primary School we, as a Catholic Education WA school, work under a “Child-safe Framework” https://childsafe.cewa.edu.au/and one of the important aspects is the education we provide the students about their safety and well-being. This program is called the “Keeping Safe” Curriculum and is used by all CEWA schools. Historically we have asked each teacher to send out information each term; however we feel it’s important, as a whole school, to send one message, to show how the program links across the grades. I ask all families to please take the time to read this note and understand what is being taught. Of course, if you have any questions in regards to the content that is being taught in class, please reach out to your child’s teacher.
Concerns about before and after school play and early arrivals.
I am having increased concerns about the amount of students, and their behaviour, on our school grounds before and after school which will require us to undertake measures in Term 4 to ensure that a consistent expectation is upheld. For a very long time at St Damien’s we did not allow students to play on our equipment, or in our Nature Play areas after school and we have trialled to see the impact as we do see value in ‘happy and active’ children; however the school does need to protect itself within it’s own Duty of Care, obligations to our Out-of-Hours care providers, and the safety and maintenance of our facilities. Please be aware that beginning Term 4 students (even if supervised by parents), on our grounds:
- Should not be playing dangerous games (i.e. tackling)
- Should not be running on bricks or jumping off walls.
- Cannot use the Nature Play or Playground areas.
I, and our staff, would appreciate parent support in these areas. I understand parents have used phrases such as “You better stop that before Mr Crebert sees you” (and I’m happy to help where needed), however I believe it’s important that our students hear the same message coming from the school and parents.
Our class doors (which by extension means ‘our school’) open at 8:15am. This is our official opening time and we offer supervision in our Kindy area as a courtesy from 8am to support families who need that extra bit of time. No students should be on our school grounds before 8am unless at Fun-A-Rama or at a pre-organised event (e.g. Runners Club) that has designated teacher supervision. Students who arrive at school between 8am and 8:15am are to go to Kindy area immediately and remain seated until the bell goes. The school does not have the means to supervise and support students on our grounds before 8am and I ask families to please make other arrangements with their children (i.e. with other families or out of hours care providers) if you cannot get your child to school after 8am.
I understand the tone of this last section may not be the most appreciated by all members of the community, but I would not be writing this if I did not have serious concerns about the safety and well-being of our students, but also being protective of the staff and facilities of the school which we value so dearly.
I truly value seeing our families talking and and enjoying each others company after school, I belive its one of the great aspects of the school (and also quite helpful whislt waiting for traffic to clear!) but we must make sure that we are being mindful and safe during this time, as is the school’s responsibility.
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday 17th September, 2020.
Dear St Damien’s Families,
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday 10th September, 2020
In the email you received today it was included a note to all families to promise a 0% fee increase for 2021.
I do hope that in challenging times this small promise from the school, and consistent across CEWA schools, can provide support in some way. The note can be found here:
St Damien’s School Board
I would like to thank Mr Matthew Edwards for his 8 years of Service on our St Damien’s School Board. Mr Edwards recently resigned from his position as Board Chair and I believe the school community owes him, and all members of the School Board, a sincere thank you for their counsel and influence over school matters, especially with regards to financial management. Mr Ben Dell will undertake the role of Board Chair in an acting capacity until the completion of 2020, with the Annual Board AGM at the completion of the year having the opportunity to nominate and select positions for 2021. Mr Edwards will be acknowledged to the School Community at End of Year events.
I ask parents to continue along the same lines as you have in recent months in your excellent adherence to the CEWA expectations of parents in our schools. You may not 100% agree with the rules and regulations required of parents within our schools, but they are the expectations and implemented with the best interest of the students, staff and other parents in mind. I understand that the expectations of families within our school may be stricter than family’s own personal beliefs and practices outside of school; however, it should be expected by all families who send their children to school that all adults (staff and parents) will act accordingly.
I ask all parents to please not wait until ‘someone tells us to move’ and do everything they can to make the carnival run smoothly for our children. I am aware that many schools have not allowed spectators at their carnival and I hope that our day can be positive for students, staff and parents.
We will endeavour to provide as much suitable seating for families as possible. I am sorry, but I cannot support families breaching social distancing requirement in order to ‘get a better view’. May I please ask families, as basic rules:
- To stay in designated zones and not enter student zones.
- To be fair and reasonable in understanding why we cannot grant ‘exemptions’ without proper planning or notification.
- To stay away from groups of students at events such as Long Jump and Throws.
- You may interact with your own child at Jumps and Throws, but only when away from other students and parents.
Directives from CEWA in regards to expectations for large scale, outdoor events, are as follows:
- Physical distancing requirements for students (regardless of age) is not mandatory.
- Students can be seated together.
- Parents and Spectators should not be attending events if they are unwell, and are expected to practice exemplary personal hygiene before entering and when within the school.
- Parents and Spectators should avoid ‘bottlenecking’ or gathering in areas that will block access for other visitors, staff and students.
- Physical distancing between adults from different family groups and school staff is mandatory. Members from the same family may be seated together with no physical distancing between individuals. However, a 1.5 metre ‘bubble’ should be planned around each person/family group.
Mr Bartucciotto’s Farewell and Dress Up Expectations.
Mr B is coming to our school next Friday (18th) to say farewell to the school. We have invited all students to come dressed as something that reminds them of Mr B (e.g. Superman, Biker, Elf, Eagles Supporter etc.). Please remember (and I say this as a parent myself) we don’t intend for ‘Dress Up Days to be stressful, or a financial burden on families, and if any student cannot come dressed as something ‘Mr B’ish, then of course it’s OK to come in normal free dress; however, I would really appreciate the school community’s support in making the effort for a gentleman who gave nothing but his absolute heart and soul for our school.
At St Damien’s we do enjoy allowing our students to have Dress Up Days. For students this is a great expression of self and we know the children love the days but we are always mindful of the extra we put on parents. Please know that as long as the students are wearing appropriate and safe clothes, we never expect any outlandish or expensive outfits. We hope all families understand this and can embrace these days.
Thursday 3rd September, 2020
I was always amazed how (in the olden days) AFL Footy Show host Eddie McGuire would always open a show with the line “What a big week it’s been in footy!” – how could each week be bigger than the last? I feel the same each week when I sit to write a Principal’s Blog, but this week I can truly say – “What a big week it’s been at St Damien’s CPS!”. In saying this, the simple fact is every week is a big week for
footy our school, for the students, the staff and families and, at any given moment, the most important thing in the world is most likely happening to someone in our school, be it positive or negative. We all just need to be mindful of this moving forward, to celebrate with each other, but also to support each other in times of need. At last night’s P & F Meeting we discussed how we remember all of the critical learnings we have made, especially about priorities, in 2020, and how we never forget these.
Bethany Parker and the Queensland Bottle Tree
Parents and students may have noticed a new tree in our school – a beautiful Queensland Bottle Tree down by the basketball courts. This tree is not simply part of a greenery project, but has a special meaning for our community. On Tuesday, 1st September it was the 1 year anniversary of the passing of our former student, Bethany Parker, who is also the daughter of our Year 6 teacher, Mrs Michelle Parker. Our staff gathered for a “Tree Planting” and reflection ceremony. Bethany’s birthday is on the 2nd of September and our staff took the opportunity to be positive and proactive with the legacy we give Bethany, and hopefully we can continue to plant more trees and take more actions to preserve the memory of a truly wonderful young lady. The Parker family, and all families who are experiencing hardship, especially with the loss of loved ones, continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.
Mr Daniel Gooch – St Damien’s CPS Principal 2021
It was announced this week that Mr Daniel Gooch will be Principal of St Damien’s Catholic Primary School in 2021. I have had a great conversation with Mr Gooch this week and I can vouch that his enthusiasm and commitment to our school community is as high as our community would expect. Mr Gooch currently is the Principal of St Kilian’s Catholic Primary School in Bendigo (Vic) and I am sure families understand that, for current reasons, it will be challenging for him to come and visit our school; however, his eagerness to talk with our school community and use technology to meet with and learn from our staff and students shows the dedication to our school that we would all hope for. Mr Gooch has strong local connections with family and friends and is committed to being not only a part of our school, but the wider local community.
Mr Joe Bartucciotto & a fitting ‘Send Off’
We continue to wish the best for “Mr B” in his post St Damien’s life. So our families are aware he is continuing in his role at CEWA as a ‘Regional Officer / School Improvement Advisor’ – essentially supporting school communities and Principals with their needs and linking with the CEWA Head Office. (Think of a nice version of Super-intendant Chalmers from The Simpsons!). This role is a critical one for our system to work as well as it does and requires all the skills, patience and experience that Mr B has, especially with the patience and consideration he gives to all his decisions, reflections and advice. In saying this, it’s no secret his true passion was the students at his schools and I can tell all of our families his misses you all very much.
Mr Bartucciotto is coming back to St Damien’s to say a proper ‘farewell’ (for now!) on September 18th. We are currently organising a series of events that will include time for Mr B to spend time and say good bye to the kids.
More information will be sent soon; however, the school is looking at making September 18th a “Dress Up Like Mr B Day” (Please remember that shaved heads are not in our uniform policy!). If students are able to we invite them dress how Mr B would: a biker, Superman, an elf, a squash player, and Italian King – however we remember Mr B best. We obviously don’t want any families to feel the need to spend money on costumes, and we are OK if students costumes are very basic, but we’d love for our students to try to come in some way, shape or form, representing a gentleman whose service to the school was enormous.
We are hoping to get Mr B away from classes from 2:30pm-3pm so that any parents who wish to come and say some nice words can have the chance to.
Athletics Carnival – 16th September
We had hoped that we’d be able to have our Athletics Carnival without any restrictions on our community, but we unfortunately are still required to. Over the next week we’ll be considering our layout and timing, but the simple fact is we need to rely on our parents to adhere to Social Distancing. I cannot compliment parents enough for their cooperation with regards to distancing and respecting our requirements at school, and I am sure that whatever we decide, parents will support us.
The Back Up day is September 18th, which you may have just read is Mr B’s day. Late next week we’ll re-asses the weather and notify parents of our plans. I believe we have many opportunities to reschedule an Athletics Day, but we only have one chance to properly acknowledge Mr Bartucciotto, as his workload is quite high currently.
From the P & F…
The P & F Committee met on Wednesday 2 September to discuss everything from Strategic Planning, Maths Programs and School Community building activities. Key takeaways included:
- We are all committed to continuing to support the excellent leadership of Brett Crebert and Caroline Leighton for the remainder of the year and will welcome the 2021 Principal Daniel Gooch with the same enthusiasm and offer of support. We are also expecting Mr B back for a visit soon, look out for information on how you can make this a special thank you from your children.
- It would be wonderful for parents to have an overview each term of the key concepts in each learning area that their children are focussing on for the term. Parents who wish can then take the opportunity to embed learning activities into everyday life and recreational activities to support the formal learning at school. Teachers have been working on simplifying the curriculum into more digestible learning outcomes so that this may occur into the future.
- The Strategic Plan is progressing with discussions to continue with staff and the Board to ensure the values of the school are incorporated in a way that echoes school sentiment and provides clear guidance.
- The P & F would love to restart community building activities such as School Banking, Parent Morning Tea’s, and fun “get- togethers” for families but are also cognisant of the need to abide by COVID restrictions. As a result we are unable to provide a cake stall this year at the Athletics Carnival, parents are encouraged to purchase food from the canteen and beverages from the coffee van that will be on site. There are no firm plans for term 4 activities. If parents have ideas about community building activities for 2021 please send them in.
- There are P & F funds available for school resources and community building activities. We discussed the idea of a mural incorporating kids favourite memories of 2020 to remember the difficulties, learnings and resilience shown during the year. We would love your thoughts, ideas and input into this potential initiative – please talk to Cat Meunier or Kristie Tonkin, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post in the year Facebook groups.
Thursday, 27th August, 2020
It’s hard to believe that Winter is nearly over, in some ways the slowest year of our lives is also proving to be the quickest. (Just a quick reminder that it’s nearly Father’s Day – I’m sure there’s lots of mums and kids who love to go out this weekend and find a cool pressie!). The weather has been absolutely amazing and we have our fingers crossed that the blue skies and warmth can hold for a few weeks longer, especially so that our PP-Year 2 Swimming Lessons can be a success, and our 2020 Interhouse Athletics Carnival can be a great day also.
NEW PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHER
I’d like to introduce Miss Hayley Sanders as our new Phys Ed Teacher. Miss Sanders had previously done relief in our school and brings a great deal of enthusiasm to our school, she is a Mandurah local, and has a long sporting history. We wish Miss Sanders all the best in taking on the role halfway through Athletics Season, and filling the role that Miss Shanahan grew into so well in our school. Miss Shanahan will no doubt be around in our school in the future, and we wish her all the best as she welcomes her first child into the world.
STUDENT FREE DAYS
We hope all of our families were able to capitalise on the great weather and opportunity to be together for the 2 extra days last week, and we are grateful to all families for supporting the school on these days. Our staff was able to work together revising our Mathematics and Numeracy approaches, with guest speakers coming to guide us through the best practice and knowledge currently available. Four of our staff travelled to Yanchep to look at our Talk 4 Writing Program and learned a great deal from a school that has had enormous success in the program.
I know that “Mr Crebert’s Surveys” are often more fun for me to write than for parents to fill out – but at St Damien’s we would always love parent feedback on our Mathematics Program, how you feel your child is travelling, any ares for growth and how you feel you can best support your child. Feel free at any time to talk to your child’s teacher, or myself or Mrs Leighton about Mathematics.
CONFIRMATION ENROLMENT MASS AND YEAR 2 LITURGY
Well done to our Year 6 students who today Undertook their Enrolment Mass for the Sacrament of Confirmation. It was a beautiful Service where Father Vince asked all of our Year 6s to find time to focus on the small things in life that help us grow. Our Year 2 Liturgy was also a great event with our focus on families, and we were entertained thoroughly by many of the student responses as to why they love their family.
Whilst we thank all of our teachers and Father Vince for all of their efforts in these events, I would also like to make sure the community knows that the awesome, and sometimes overlooked (Sorry I forgot to mention you today!) efforts of Mrs Majella Burns in preparing our choir, who add such an amazing aura of reverence and celebration to the masses.
PHASE 5 UPDATE
Based on the latest health advice, Phase 5 of the WA COVID-19 roadmap, has been delayed until 24th October. This continues to affect aspects of our school life, but I thank all staff, students and parents for their cooperation and flexibility.
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday 13th August, 2020
Thank you for your outstanding co-operation with our school’s requirements for the effective running of our Assemblies. We sorely missed these gatherings, and it was fantastic to be able have our Year 5s present as our first class and we eagerly look forward to our Pre Primary Assemblies today.
TRAFFIC and PARKING
May I please assure the community that I am working with the Mandurah Council, CEWA and the developers of the land south of the school to ensure that all reasonable and safe measures and considerations are taken into account in regards to the local traffic situation. The school is extremely aware of the issues and challenges faced.
All families need to be aware that in the immediate (within the next month) future, the parking at the south of the school, the dirt track on Wickepin Pde, will be closed off for the development. There are currently no confirmed plans of substitute parking (please see below photo).
I am happy to welcome any constructive feedback in regards to the situation that impacts our community; however, I ask that parents please consider the legal and financial processes and considerations the school currently operates under. With regards to matters of traffic I am sure all families recognise that there are various duty of care factors that influence our actions, as well as important distinctions of responsibility between the school, Council and developers.
Whilst the school will do everything within its power to support the needs of the community, I ask parents to please consider Public Transport, bike riding, walking and car pooling (all within age, and situation appropriate capabilities) as considerations to help the local congestion. The exit at Bailey Bvd (Caltex Service Station) should be considered by all families, even if your home is north of the school.
I also ask families to please adhere to all laws and regulations that surround parking, speed limits and safe driving on the roads. The school understands the situations of traffic, but does not condone any illegal or irresponsible driving behaviour, especially if it:
- Endangers student safety or other drivers (e.g. overtaking traffic on Ocean Rd)
- Blocks or impedes other driver vision, or safe driving. (e.g illegal parking or standing near driveway or carpark access)
Please also understand that the school does not have legal authority on the roads, our guidance and recommendations are made in the ‘good faith’ that, like our staff, all parents act in a manner with student safety as a priority. It is hoped that all parents in the community treat each other, and school staff, with respect in regards to traffic and parking issues.
STUDENT FREE DAYS
Please be aware that next Thursday and Friday (20th and 21st of August) are Student Free Days.
In Term 4 the student free days will be the 5th and 6th of November (The Thursday and Friday of Week 4).
PHASE 5 UPDATE
Based on the latest health advice, Phase 5 of the WA COVID-19 roadmap, due to be implemented on Saturday, 15 August, has been delayed.
The new tentative date for Phase 5 will now be Saturday, 29 August. A final decision on whether Phase 5 can proceed on this date will be decided in about 2 weeks time.
Thank you and God Bless,
Thursday 30th July, 2020
Thank you again for your support of your children, their teachers and our school as we are now well and truly into the 2nd half of the school year. We continue to welcome back the normalities of school life, but do so still with an element of care. What a tremendous sight it was to see many of you in our school (doing your best to behave!) witnessing our students at the Interhouse Cross Country last week and we are looking forward to more and more parents coming back into our school and participating with the students.
We are extremely proud of our Cross Country Squad who yesterday represented our school (20 students from Year 4-6) at the annual PSSA Interschool Cross Country. It is absolutely fantastic that I get to report that our team came second overall, out of over 20 schools in the Peel region! What this success clearly shows is not only the health of our students, but the dedication shown by students to attend Runners Club with Miss Shanahan and Mrs Parker, and no doubt some training outside of school, culminated in this extraordinary success.
It would be unfair for us to teach our kids that success comes easy, or some kids are just ‘born with it’. Sometimes this is true, but any opportunity we have to show our students that “Good things come to those who go out and earn it” and “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation” (I’m a huge fan of inspirational memes and quotes!) is important in helping our children grow into confident and capable young adults.
So thank you to Miss Shanahan, Mrs Parker and all the parents and support who helped prepare these students, by either focusing on training regimes or simply by promoting and living a good, healthy, active lifestyle – those kids have certainly earned their accolades.
I have continued my conversations with members of Mandurah Council and local developers and I feel that it is important, that looking forward into the future, both the communities of the 2 schools in this precinct be prepared that part of the solution to our traffic and parking situations will be the efforts that we as parents make. I understand that due to the age of many of our children, and their proximity to the school and public transport, that cars are required for drop off and pick up; however, I also would like families to be more mindful of safe and appropriate opportunities for children to walk, ride bikes or scooters, catch the bus or even car pool with other families. There will come a time in our future when the vacant land around our school is not available for parent use and whilst the school will do everything in its power to support families and work with the council and developers, it is important that families understand their role in helping the situation.
I must continually emphasise that the school does not support unlawful behaviour as a response to the traffic and parking woes our families face, i.e. overtaking slow or stopped cars in a school zone, parking in a Kiss N Drive, using the end of Moora Close as a holding pattern whilst waiting for students.
To the joy of the children, and the disappointment of parents, I must request that the time honoured tradition of parents coming into the Steve Dowie Hall and using a licked palm to neaten their child’s hair before the Family Photos does not occur next week.
We will have a system in place for parents but I must request that parents support the continued efforts of the school to ensure appropriate distancing occurs between adults and students. We will do everything in our power to help the students stay neat and presentable.
You never know – 2020 might be the year our children convince us they can take care of these last minute adjustments themselves!
PHASE 5 Update.
As you are no doubt aware “Phase 5” was pushed back from the WA Government to be reviewed on the 15th August. The announcement of Phase 5 will have implications for our school. In saying this we are all extremely proud and grateful for how the school community continues to work with the current expectations, especially the challenging ‘no parents in class’ rule.
Thank you and God Bless
Thursday 23rd July, 2020
Welcome back to school for Semester 2, it has been an absolute pleasure to have all of the students and families back into our grounds and enthusiastic for a second half of 2020 that we are all hopeful will be more ‘consistent’ than the first half of the year. To walk around the school on the first day of term and see how quickly the students adapted back into school, and how happy they were to see their friends, was a true gift, and a pleasure to witness.
Reading back through all of my blogs, I notice that I quite often start with matters of COVID-19, “Phases” and rulings, from now on I might just leave that for my last paragraph moving forward, I understand it’s not the most inspirational topic to start with!
MR JOE BARTUCCIOTTO
It was with great sadness that our School Community learnt on Monday that Mr Joe Bartucciotto will not return as Principal of our School. Mr “B” has indicated, with a heavy heart, that he is making this move not only for his own personal reasons, but to ensure that the school is able to move forward with as much certainty as possible.
Mr Bartucciotto will be fondly remembered for his time in the school as a leader who was always ‘student first’, he followed on from the fantastic foundations built by (literally) Mr Steve Dowie, and worked with the strengths of our community in helping the school grow from strength to strength. All of his decisions and ideas were based around the best interests of the children, but not at the expense of parents or teachers. He like playing ‘hide and seek’ with the Office Staff as he could rarely be found in his office, but was always out in a classroom, learning with and joking with the students.
To the staff at St Damien’s, Mr Bartucciotto was extremely supportive of the growth and development that we were capable of, it was constantly his priority to ensure that teachers were supported in not only their own growth, but in their capacity to further help the school and inspire change.
As there are not enough superlatives (and internet space) to fully express my gratitude to Mr B, please know that he will most definitely be around to say a better, more formal ‘goodbye’ and in the lead up to that event it will allow us all time to better construct a more appropriate ‘thank you’ than my ramblings today.
PRINCIPAL APPOINTMENT 2021
The Principal Appointment process for 2021 and beyond has begun and is conducted by leaders in CEWA (Catholic Education WA). This process has commenced with consultation with the Staff, School Board and members of the P & F Executive. CEWA will work through this process quickly, but thoroughly, in order for stability and assurance to be provided to our school. Please feel free to contact me, the P & F or the School Board if you have feedback or questions about this process.
I can assure you that when the announcement of the next Principal is made, we will work with them as quickly and well as possible to ensure that they are welcomed into our community, have the chance to understand our unique nature and history and feel that they are a valued and supported member of St Damien’s.
CROSS COUNTRY & MISS JAIMIE SHANAHAN
Yesterday was an absolute triumph for our School Community, and the efforts of our staff and students. Thank you to all of the parents who came and watched and cheered for the students and I am also extremely appreciative that the general parent population made the appropriate efforts to respect our social distancing requirements. Thanks also to all of the parent volunteers who helped, and the teachers (and Priest!) who encouraged and supported the students so well.
At the end of our Cross Country we are always proud of our students who achieve so highly, but the school is equally proud (and so should you as parents) of how our students who are not strong runners get out there and give it their absolute best, all the way to the finish line.
The top 5 boys and girls from Years 4-6 will represent St Damien’s Catholic Primary School at the Interschool Carnival next week and we know they will represent our school with pride.
I would especially like to thank Miss Jaimie Shanahan for her efforts yesterday. The carnival was put together very well and it was great to see many of the initiatives that she has brought to the school (e.g. Runners Club, new ribbons) come to life at the carnival. This will be Miss Shanahan’s last Interhouse Carnival before she leaves the school on Maternity Leave and we are all very grateful for her time at the school.
This week Jeff Thorne, who collaborates with many Catholic Schools in WA, came to work with our staff and parents on the development of our next Strategic Plan. It was unfortunate that we needed to cancel the Parent Session; however, with the 133 responses we had from the survey we posted last term, and the two sessions that were held with our Staff and School Board / P & F Executive, it was felt that the pulse of our school was well and truly represented.
There are many areas to celebrate and promote in our wonderful school, but we are realistic enough to understand that there are most certainly areas for growth. We aim to work with the School Community to ensure we understand the needs of the families and students moving forward, and how do we, the staff, best prioritise these needs within the scope of providing the best Catholic Education we can.
PHASE 5 Click here for WA Roadmap
Western Australia is still operating under Phase 4 of the ‘roadmap’ in moving forward through COVID-19 and we understand that there remains an impact on families due to both matters in school, and out of school. Currently the projected date for PHASE 5 is August 1st, and as I have previously mentioned, we will indicate to families as quickly as possible what this means for St Damien’s CPS.
We are still required to operate under CEWA’s PHASE 4 Guidelines Click here for CEWA Stage 4 Guidelines which are still the guiding factors for some areas in our school which we are all hoping will return soon, such as: School Assemblies, Parent helpers in class and shared / high touch items. I cannot praise enough, the commitment of the St Damien’s staff, and the patience of the families and students of the school, during this time.
Thank You and God Bless
Thursday, 2nd July, 2020
We’re nearly there!
The excitement we can feel amongst the parent community about the sheer unbridled joy that you all have to have your children for 2 weeks – without your phones ‘chiming’ every hour to indicate a new “Online Learning” task has been submitted, is not unnoticed!
On behalf of a very grateful staff – thank you for all the amazing support you have offered your children, and our school, through this most complicated first half of the year.
PLANNING, PARTY and SPECIALIST DAYS
This week we have rearranged our “Specialist Days” to allow class teachers to have a day of planning for Term 3. During “Online Learning” we experimented with a few new ideas that the school has been wishing to implement for a long time in our classroom planning and delivery. Whilst the kids were out having Footy and Netball Comps, cooking Bruschetta with Signora and enjoying each other’s company in class parties, our dedicated team of staff have been busily focusing on Term 3, which promises to be very exciting for our school.
Thank you for all of your support with the parties, the uniform changes, the awesome platters of food, the co-operation with teachers. Usually our end of term parties are only for our classes that have earned one due to “Dynamo Points” but if there was ever a reason for all classes to earn a party, it’s been for the huge efforts so far this year!
STRATEGIC PLANNING SURVEY
We have had a fantastic response to the Strategic Planning Survey that was sent out last week. We are currently at over 100 responses and the quality of the responses has been outstanding. Supportive, but constructive. Honest, but fair. Helpful – most definitely!
If you have not already completed the survey, please take the time to have your voice heard. You may be thinking “They already have 100 results, what more could my feedback contribute?” The answer is – a lot! Ensuring that we start the next phase of our school by ensuring every parent has had a voice is crucial, Especially with the supportive feedback comments.
KEEPING SAFE NOTE
Attached to the Email I sent to all families was a note about our Keeping Safe Curriculum. The Keeping Safe Program is extremely important as it helps educate our students about their rights and responsibilities in ensure that they feel, and are, safe. This curriculum is honest and descriptive; however all research has indicated that this is the required learning for students to undertake. I put a link in the note to the school website where all of our information is stored, and this includes links to the curriculum which can also be found here:
SCHOOL ANNUAL REPORT
Please see the below link to our School’s Annual Performance Report for 2019.
TERM 3 – PHASE 5.
The pattern is now pretty consistent on how changes are implemented in schools and if I had to guess (after a lot of practice!) I would say that, based on the WA Government plans (Click here for WA Government COVID-19 Page) the details will be:
1. WA Government is planning Phase 5 for July 18th (Last Week of Holidays)
2. CEWA Head Office may send support guidelines simultaneously; however, it has been consistent that CEWA needs a few days to ensure that the changes they direct are completely in line with all expectations.
3. When StDCPS (and all schools) receives these guidelines it may take a couple of days to ensure that our school has fully considered all implications to the school, and briefed our staff, on changes.
By this rate, I would predict that any major changes are implemented at the start of Week 2; however, if there are any changes we can make earlier, we will notify immediately.
Please have a safe and enjoyable holiday. Cherish the time you have with your families and come back to school as the same amazing bunch of students, staff and families that you all are!
Thursday 25th June, 2020
I’d like to thank Mrs Fiona Anderson, Mrs Michelle Doy, Mrs Janelle Bright, Mrs Meena Pachimuthu, Mrs Caroline Leighton, Father Vince and, of course, the wonderful students of Year 3 for their preparations for the upcoming Sacrament of Reconciliation which will take place on Monday and Tuesday night next week.
This Sacrament was originally scheduled to occur earlier in the year but was unfortunately interrupted. As more of our regular events begin to take place within the school, it is so rewarding to know that events that reflect our key values as a Catholic School, are able to occur.
Like all areas of our lives, extra flexibility and allowances have been required to be made and I believe it reflects fantastically on our community, that staff, students and parents have responded so positively to these requirements.
I wish the Year 3 students taking part, all the best for this experience, their 2nd Sacrament (after Baptism) and I also would like to thank all of their friends and classmates who, although not undertaking the Sacrament themselves, have provided support and encouragement throughout the journey.
Our Sacramental Programs are designed around Reconciliation (Year 3), First Holy Communion (Year 4) and Confirmation (Year 6). If any families require more information in regards to the Sacraments, please contact the school and we will happily guide you through the process.
STUDENT FREE DAYS TERM 4
As previously notified we were required to move our Student Free Days from Term 2. The dates the school would like to have these days occur is On the Thursday and Friday of Week 4 in Term 4 – the 5th and 6th of November.
The Thursday will be used for staff development and the Friday will be a “Catholic Day” which is a day where no students or staff are expected at school.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns regarding the dates, I will confirm these dates, or any changes, before the end of the term.
EMAIL SENT TODAY
Today I sent an email in regards to a matter that has occurred in WA Schools. Please take the time to read what I sent.
It was announced this week that on Saturday 27th June “Phase 4” will begin in Western Australia. Whilst it has been made very clear in the media what this means for Footy in the state, the implications for schools are yet to be finalised.
Of particular note is the rule that “gathering limits only determined by WA’s reduced 2sqm rule”.
It is expected that in upcoming days schools in Catholic Education WA will be provided with clearer information in regards to school matters and we will indicate to parents immediately, the changes that will take effect.
STRATEGIC PLAN SURVEY
Yesterday I sent to all families an email link with a survey that will help us gather important information. May I please clarify some immediate questions that have come up:
- The survey is sent to an independent consultant who is working with our school to provide support and guidance from the perspective of an “outside observer”.
- The survey is anonymous.
- The parent perspective for Section 1 (“Our Market”) is important, if a parent is unable to answer the question, it’s OK to choose a “3”; however, what parents believe or perceive about our strengths and our growth is important knowledge for us.
I thank you for your support and please know the reward you receive for your contributions will be a stronger school for your children.
Mandurah Rangers were present yesterday, at Moora Close, due to rising concerns raised by the parents and staff of both the St Damien’s Catholic Primary School and Ocean Road Primary School communities, especially when it is felt that student safety is put at risk.
One of the main issues is that cars are using the end of Moor Close as a ‘queue’ for student pick up. This is causing congestion and confusion with other cars and pedestrians and unfortunately staff have witnessed drivers being required to take unnecessary risks to move around these cars.
I would like to make sure that families of the school understand St Damien’s position that:
- We understand traffic and parking is limited; however, we do not support any unlawful or unsafe practices.
- We offer supervision at our church Kiss and Drive to assist families.
- We will support any decisions and or directives from Mandurah Rangers or WA Police in regards to warning and notifications given to drivers who act inappropriately.
I ask all drivers to please take the time to observe and understand the rules of the area and understand that whilst the school will do anything, within our reasonable control, to support families and make life easier, we must always prioritise student safety above convenience.
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday, 18th June, 2020
Thank you for your continued support of current school rules that are either requested by the school, CEWA or Government Regulations. A few weeks ago, the teachers at St Damien’s were pleading with me “When can the parents come back into school?”, now it is shifting to “When can the parents be allowed back into the classroom?”
Whilst I outlined last week the very clear benefits we discovered for the children in regards to their resilience and organisation when being forced to undertake the morning routines themselves, it is clear that the parents are missed in the school and the time when you can return, either as a volunteer or just for a chat, is something we have noticed is missing from our lives.
As always – as soon as I know – you will too!
Your child’s School Report will come out towards the end of week 10 of this term. Please be aware that the School Reports for students in schools in Western Australia (all schools) will look different to past years. Obviously this is due to the interruption of schooling that COVID-19 restrictions placed on us all. One of the key factors for teachers, when completing reports, is the accountability that they have when allocating a mark or grade. Whilst we were extremely proud of our parents and students for how they handled the work set during “Online Learning”, a school’s capacity to assess student progress in such varied and unfamiliar circumstances was greatly challenged, especially with complete accountability of student work.
What you will notice in these reports:
1. Students will only have grades for subjects that the teachers feel confident that students have had enough opportunities at school to demonstrate their capacity and abilities.
2. There are no A, B, C, D, E grades. Students are only graded at “Above Expected Level, At Expected Level or Below Expected Level”.
3. There will be a statement provided that covers work that students were asked to complete during “Online Learning”, for example:
During ‘Online Learning’ the Year 6 program for the subject of English focused on Narrative Writing, application of Spelling concepts and Reading Comprehension Strategies. The intentions of this unit were for students to include descriptive language and apply their spelling concepts into their writing and to identify the main idea in a text.
4. There are comments about student achievement that are taken straight from the WA Curriculum “Judging Standards”. These comments will only be provided if a child is being graded in that area.
4. There may be some subject areas not covered this Semester, they will be covered in Semester 2, in your child’s end of year report.
Please remember, as a parent, you are free to make contact with your child’s teacher in regards to their progress if you require more information.
It is important that all parents understand that the school knows you did your absolute best during “Online Learning”. St DCPS most certainly sent out a lot of tasks for the students, and we know that some family circumstances meant that students progressed through the work at different rates. This is completely fine, and was a reality for students all across Australia. Please be aware, one of our goals and priorities moving forward is supporting all students as they have returned – either academically or emotionally and ensuring we do everything we can to help them, and their families.
STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT.
You may have noticed, but I will be attempting with more regularity to share links to, and discuss, important school documents, procedures and polices with the school community. Some of these may be posted just because “we haven’t talked about these things in a while” but some may be of more pressing importance.
Today I’d like to share our “Student Code of Conduct”. This document was previously developed in our school with our staff and students to outline the expectations of students. The Student Code of Conduct deals in broader statements, rather than specifics, and this is actually a benefit to setting our standards. Writing a set of exact, and precise, rules can often result in more confusion, but a clear set of statements that all behaviour can be linked to, is more often than not the preferred point of reference for outline to students what is the expectations within our school.
It is also critical that students know that if they are having troubles at school, there are many avenues for them to discuss their concerns. Our first preferred point of contact is the Classroom Teacher, as they have the highest chance of supporting the needs of a child, but there are more options available.
SOCIAL MEDIA / MOBILE PHONES
In this ever changing world, one of the most reviewed policies in a school is the Information Technology Policy, as technologies, social media and educational practices are changing constantly – when we as teachers, or parents, believe we have a handle on one aspect of safe use of technology, another challenge appears unexpectedly. In our post “Online Learning” world we are all adapting to the benefits of Microsoft Teams, Zoom Meetings and other technologies that connected us, but we always need to be mindful, and set clear expectations for students and staff. We will be conducting a review of our IT Policy as a result of these changes.
May I please ask parents and students to be mindful of two areas first and foremost:
1. If you child is required to have a mobile phone at school for communications, the phone must be handed in to the Class Teacher upon arrival, and it will be given back at the end of the day. Students, for a variety of safety reasons, are not to store Mobile Phones in their bags, or keep them with themselves throughout the day.
2. The school is very mindful of technology that connects students, and we expect all students and families to adhere to current laws and decent practice on these tools. Microsoft Teams was a great example of how technology can be used effectively to communicate; however, we were, on occasions, required to remind students about appropriate conduct. The benefit of this system was that teachers and parents had access to all communications of the students, and the school will not endorse any system that does not allow adult supervision, or is not aimed at Primary School students.
ADMIN AS FIRST POINT OF CONTACT FOR COMMUNICATION
Please remember if you need to pass on information to your child – our Admin can help!
It has been great that parents have been allowed in the school and been able to begin conversations with teachers, and we thoroughly enjoyed many of the kind emails that were received recently; however, may I please remind families of the need to ensure our school’s Administration Team (email@example.com) is included as part of correspondence? The reasons for this are:
1. Teachers are very busy, and if an important email from a parent is missed, especially if it is urgent, it may cause further challenges. If an email comes to our Administration Team, part of their role is to prioritise the messages, and will make sure teachers see it if necessary.
2. Our school Administrations team’s “superpower” is that they are amazing at combining all relevant information and factors about students, staff and the school to ensure that all matters are managed appropriately. A small pice of information about one student might have implications with another matter in the school which the Class Teacher was not aware of. As a parent, I myself am eternally grateful for how our front office staff manages and coordinates the enormous amount of happenings within our school.
As I indicated in the above “Flow of Concerns”, there will obviously be matters where confidentiality is to be trusted and a factor, if you have questions about this communication, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday 11th June, 2020
What a wonderful sight it has been to see you all back in our school, we are certainly reminded of how valuable you are to our community.
I’m sure that after a weekend of Footy returning there’ll be some very clear purple, blue and yellow lines drawn again in our school, and how we missed the good hearted banter. We hope the students enjoy Footy Friday tomorrow and the lunches, but most of all, we hope they enjoy getting back into one of our more traditional, fun, whole school events.
P & F MEETING – 11th JUNE 2020
Last night, we held our first P & F Meeting in the Staffroom since the Online Learning period began, and it was great to welcome back the voice of the parents into our school.
There were two main points discussed at the meeting last night, which the P & F wishes to continue to build upon, with the support of our school community:
- The well-being of our staff, students and families post COVID-19.
- Engaging more parents of our school in the P & F (and making sure parents know that being a part of the P & F doesn’t mean you have to take on the organisation of a fund-raiser!)
It was discussed in the P & F about planning for what supports (including bringing in a guest speaker who can work separately with staff, students and parents) we can offer our community to address the needs we are facing in a post COVID-19 world. We acknowledge that all staff and students have gone through different experiences and have handled the situations in their own unique way; however, if there is a pattern of concerns, how can we help families?
The P & F has complied a note which has a list of valuable links to local (Mandurah) services that families may wish to access if they feel they need assistance, or even if they know someone who needs a hand.
Please see the following link for the letter. Mandurah Support Services for post COVID-19
BECOMING A P & F MEMBER
Please remember, it’s completely OK to just turn up to a meeting to listen and hear what is being said. There are some fantastic constructive conversations held at these meetings and it is a great forum for the school to hear both the concerns and congratulations of the parents, as well as for the parents to get greater clarity on some very complicated school matters.
There is the opportunity to present small, but valid, opinions on topics that you, as a parent, never knew you were able to provide.
In Term 3 we are still pulling back from many of our fund-raisers in order to help both the School Community, and the P & F, settle back in and re-establish priorities moving forward.
We’d love to encourage more parents, a couple per grade would be outstanding, to come along and feel they can be part of a crucial team, without feeling they are required to make a larger commitment than they can possibly manage.
Believe it or not, there’s even light-hearted moments as last night we finished with discussions about “International Day of Pretending to be a Time Traveller” (it’s apparently a thing) and a rather fiery discussion – which is better, traditional or Aldi Tim Tams!
One of the most critically important documents a Catholic School (or any organisation) has is its ‘Strategic Plan’ Link to StDCPS Strategic Plan 2017-2020. This document guides and informs our community as to not only what our goals are, but what the underlying values, history and understandings are that inform our decisions.
Our current plan was designed to cover 2017-2020, and the school has begun the process of developing the plan for the next 4-5 years. Whilst it is crucial to have a Strategic Plan, the actual process of developing a Strategic Plan is just as important. Our school has employed the services of an independent consultant to assist with this process, and we look forward to having a ‘outside observer’ provide feedback and guidance that will help us grow.
For this to occur, parental involvement will be critical. Over the next few weeks I will send out information to families as to how your voices and opinions will play an important part of building our ‘Strategic Direction’. I can let you know there will be a survey sent to all families and we would love to have 200+ responses. Our last “whole school” parent survey only had 13 responses which wasn’t enough for us to gauge accurately what we needed to know.
In saying this, I know you are extremely busy, and no doubt exhausted from school surveys after Online Learning!
We will look at all options available to engage parents in this process, not only to get information, but to ensure that parents as important contributors, and I welcome any thoughts and feedback. Our consultant will not doubt work with our School Board and P & F, so please feel free to contact any member of these groups for further support.
Thank you and God Bless.
Thursday 4th June, 2020
It’s official, you may come back into the school as of next Monday (8th June) and what a great sight it will be to see as many of you as possible in the school! Please see the attached flyer from Catholic Education Click here for CEWA Stage 3 Flyer which outlines what schooling will look like in “Stage 3”. We are grateful that CEWA puts of these consistent messages to families; however there always some small areas of ‘interpretation’ for schools to consider, especially as their grounds and resources are always different. More details will come through from the school over the next week; however, the key points for families are:
- Parents may come back into school, but not into classrooms yet.
- Parents are still required to adhere to Social Distancing (with each other, staff and students) within the school, and we ask that parents please do not congregate near class doors also.
- The school is still required to implement cleanliness and hygiene requirements, and this may still impact on our classrooms and protocols for having meetings / allowing parents in the school.
- Larger gatherings in the school are becoming increasingly allowed, but still not yet to the point of our Assemblies returning.
PARENTS IN THE CLASSROOM
- Parents to be able to come into classrooms in the morning to see what’s happening the classes.
- Parents being able to talk to and develop relationships with teachers.
- Parents to be able to have a look at their own children’s work and achievements.
- Parents being able to observe their children, how they handle the morning, who they say “Hello!” to how they interact with their friends.
- Parents to be able to come in and help with the children (reading / playing games) etc.
- Parents feeling like a valued part of the community at St Damien’s.
- Please allow the students to get their items out of their own bag, zip it up, carry items into class and do their morning routines independently (as required).
- Whilst we want parents and teachers to have morning conversations, please be aware that some conversations (either due to their nature, or the amount of time they will take) may be required to be organised for another time.
DROP OFF AND PICK UP
We know so many parents loved this system, and honestly we did also, but the reality was that it was extremely time and resource demanding on our staff, students and families. As such I regret to inform families this system will not continue, but this doesn’t shut the door on conversations for the future about how we support families with traffic concerns.
Whilst having EAs out every morning and afternoon was great, I’m sure we can all agree, we need them back in the classrooms, supporting the learning needs of the children.
Our systems and regulations will return to what they previously were in the past, including End of Day Bell at 3:00pm (2:45pm for Kindy).
We have for a long time, used our Church Carpark for a “Kiss and Drive” Pick Up and we will continue to use this moving forward. I will send out more information soon on how this worked for families who never really used this system, but would like to in the future.
Please be aware that in the afternoon:
- The safety of our students and families is of utmost importance to us, so there is no need for any students to walk through any school carpark without supervision. We do not support or encourage students to walk / run through carparks to their parents waiting on the other side, parents must walk their children through the carpark, or students must walk around on the paths.
- In our school carparks – please support us to ensure there are no students entering or exiting their parent’s car without the car being parked in an actual carpark (i.e. please do not stop in the middle of the carpark and have your child enter / exit the car, regardless of how few other cars there are).
- Cars who are in the Kiss and Drive queue have priority over cars parked in our Car Park. This is to ensure this queue does not flow onto Nyabing Pass or Moora Close. If you park in our Main Car Park in the afternoon, please be patient with these cars. I know that most cars who use this Car Park are Kindy, who are often gone by 3pm.
The above requests from the School relate to our “Duty of Care” to the students, staff and families within our school grounds. I take the safety of all parties very seriously and am appreciative of the support of families in the community in adhering to these requirements, and promoting to your children that they are required, even if not always convenient.
Thursday 28th May, 2020
I sit here in my office on a very cold and wet Friday afternoon re-writing my Principal’s Blog that I had prepared earlier today. I had originally written a very detailed passage about the current uncertainty about when restrictions will be lifted in WA, and for our schools.
And then during our Lunch Break I walked into our Staffroom and saw one of our teachers jumping up and down screaming “The parents can come back in, the parents can come back in!”.
Little did I know WA Premier Mark McGowan had just made his announcements for the plans for WA to move into Phase 3.
I ask all families to please be patient over the weekend and next week as these governmental directives filter through to the WA Education systems, most notably Catholic Education WA. As always, I will immediately notify families of any changes we will make. Please remember, if there are further restrictions that may require our school to make certain arrangements (like our Drop Off and Pick Up) it’s often hard to send these out to parents immediately.
I assure you – the entire school community has been longing for the announcement that our parents are allowed back into our school, as I have mentioned before – the school has been very quiet without you! One of the most amazing sights I have witnessed over the last few weeks is the bravery from parents (and the children) who have had their first day of school at St Damien’s, or their first day of 3 Year Old Kindy, and being so strong in walking to class without the traditional mum and dad coming in on the first day.
I thank all of our staff, parents and students for their outstanding flexibility and patience as the school implements requested standards, and modifies existing protocols appropriately.
SCHOOL BOUNDARIES AND PICK UP
Our Drop Off and Pick Up continues to be a lot of fun, even when challenged by the wet weather. Our Kindy and PP families have been coming at 2pm to alleviate the traffic load on our community and I thank all parents of older students who usually came a bit earlier to avoid the rush, who have been patient in not coming to school before 2:30pm to allow the younger students to leave.
A common question asked by parents is “Are my students allowed to walk or meet me at the back of the school or carparks elsewhere?”
The answer is “Yes” – if you, as a parent decide that your child is able to walk and meet you (safely) at a prearranged location outside of school grounds, this is essentially your right and responsibility as a parent. We ask parents to be mindful that:
- These students will only be dismissed at 3pm
- We are unable to send staff members to supervise and support areas outside of our school grounds to help.
- Our schools capacity to help coordinate pick up locations and arrangements with families is limited (e.g. if a family agrees to meet behind the school, and goes to another location, we cannot promise we will be able to help).
Some parents have also asked if they can still pick up their children from “Pick Up” at 3pm, and this is also completely fine; however, we will have all students who are using the Pick Up ready to be picked up from 2:20pm.
Will the Drop Off and Pick Up continue long term? There are many parents and teachers who are loving the system; however, we have to respect the fact that is uses a lot of carparks, and EA hours. Discussions are being held about this and any and all feedback from the community is welcome.
WINTER UNIFORM CLARIFICATION
Currently our school is operating off our standard Uniform Policy. Unfortunately our Uniform Shop (which has never been more in demand!) has been unable to provide all items required by families, and we have ordered new stock in. Students who have not been able to access the correct uniform in their size have been notified of what appropriate School Uniform can be worn in place whilst the stock is being re-filled.
During the first 4 weeks of term, the school, in attempts to be supportive of families and the difficulties at the time in sourcing appropriate uniform and hair support, modified uniform expectations. We ask that all families are adhering now to the standards required, especially in regards to haircuts. Students whose current uniform or hair cut does not fall within School Guidelines will be requested to make arrangements to align presentation with the required standards.
Please be aware:
- Students may wear Short or Long Sleeved StDPCS Formal Shirts.
- Girls may purchase tailored trouser pants from our Uniform Shop to wear in place of skirts if they choose.
- Students should be wearing StDCPS rain protective clothes as part of our school uniform.
I recently sent out a post on Facebook to allow, in the current extreme weather that was expected on Monday, that students could wear other rain protection to help them. This will not be a long term uniform allowance but was aimed at ensuring, whilst the students were required to run back and forth from the cars, they had adequate protection.
SEMESTER 1 SCHOOL REPORT
There will be Semester 1 Reports for all students (Pre Primary – Year 6) provided at the end of this term; however, they will not be in the standard format that families would traditionally be used to. There is standard requirements that all schools in WA are expected to follow; however, each school, based on their own unique circumstances, is required to create a report that reflects the learning that has occurred in the school throughout the Semester.
In coming weeks the school will provide further information as to what is going to be presented on Semester 1 reports.
HOMEWORK AND ITEMS COMING BACK AND FORTH (Kindy – Year 2)
All schools are required to maintain certain hygiene and cleanliness standards with “high contact” or shared items at school. This affects some of our homework practices that the school traditionally has implemented in the Early Years. Please be aware that:
* Laminated items (such as Sight Words and Flash Cards) have been appropriately cleaned at school, and quarantined, when brought back from one family before they are sent to another.
* Home Readers will not be sent home anymore due to challenges that the school has experienced in appropriately cleaning these. Students will be encouraged to use “Wushka” reading program that was used during “Online Learning”.
* If families cannot access “Wushka” we ask that they contact their child’s teacher to make suitable arrangements.
* “Wushka” is not intended to be a long-term program for our school. When COVID-19 standards are no longer required, our intent will be to return to printed books for reading.
If any families have any questions about this process please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teacher, or the school.
We hope all families enjoy their long weekend and that the weather can break for just long enough for families to enjoy some great outdoors time. Please remember there is school on Tuesday, our “Catholic Day” was postponed to a date later in the year that is yet to be decided.
Thank you and God Bless
Friday 15th May, 2020
I apologise that last night I was unable to send out more information in regards to upcoming arrangements next week. As you can appreciate it takes a significant amount of time to adjust a school’s procedures and I assure you that St Damien’s will make every effort to accommodate the needs of the community in upcoming weeks.
In today’s blog I will attempt to clarify the main questions coming from our school community in the last 24 hrs. Catholic Education WA, and the Western Australian Government released a series of information sheets also that I have attached below. If you feel I have not answered your questions, please try and find the answers in these sheets, or contact the school.
My child has legitimate reasons to remain at home (Please see above handouts) how do I notify the school? What support will I receive?
Please send an email, with any supportive documentation (if required) to firstname.lastname@example.org. This information will be passed onto both myself and the class teacher(s). We ask families to be patient and supportive early next week as we will ask our teachers to make contact with parents to discuss a learning support model that is fair and realistic for the needs of the student, family and teacher.
Will my child receive access to education if they are absent from school for other reasons?
Our regular procedures will be followed which will take into account the nature and duration of the child’s absence, also considering the fair and realistic expectations placed upon Class Teachers.
For how long do the new standards and rules apply?
We do not have a current date range that outlines how long these new guidelines apply.
What will the school be doing for cleanliness and hygiene?
The school will continue the same practices of cleaning all “high touch” frequency items and ensuring children and staff follow a strict hand cleaning regime. All reasonable efforts to ensure that students are not ‘bunched’ together will be made.
Will my child receive a face to face education next week?
Yes. St Damien’s will be returning to the model of education that was provided before the “Online Learning” phase began. This may include some modifications that the school has decided that “Online Learning” has taught us about the potential of technology and different modes of delivery.
Will parents still have access to the programs, communication, live streaming, support and activities that were available during “Online Learning”
Short answer is “no”, but our staff are looking at the successful elements of our “Online Learning” that may have a future at St Damien’s. The families that have students at home due to legitimate reasons (see above handout) will be able to develop a plan with their teacher, but as our teachers are required to deliver a full teaching load from next week, the expectations placed upon them must be fair and reasonable.
Can Parents come onto School Grounds Yet?
No. Your patience has been amazing and we appreciate your support. Yes – parents are allowed in the areas around the school boundaries (e.g. public carparks, footpaths etc.) and we appreciate that our families have been respectful of each other, and the children in our area.
Can students leave the school grounds on their own and walk to an agreed location to meet their parents (or ride bikes)?
Yes! I strongly encourage any parents with children old enough, and trusted by their parents, to use this method in the morning and afternoon. This will relieve some of the strain on our Drop Off and Pick Up system. Children who are leaving the school in this manner will be dismissed at 3pm.
Will Drop Off and Pick Up continue?
Yes. But with modified rules and expectations. Please read these at the end of today’s Blog.
What is the School Uniform Next Week?
We will remain in Sports Uniform for Week 4. It will be the expectation that from Week 5, all students will be in full adherence to the schools Hair and Uniform Policy. There is the potential for our Specialist Roster to change and families will be notified if there are changes to Sports Uniform (PE) Days.
Is the Uniform Shop Open?
Please contact our school admin on 9583 2500 to make arrangements if uniform purchases are required.
DROP OFF AND PICK UP
Our Drop Off and Pick Up will continue; however, we would like parents to be aware that (although our staff have loved doing it!) it has been a system that has placed quite an enormous demand on our staffing. We will remain supportive of the needs of our families; however, we ask families to please ensure that if there are any measures that they believe can be taken to support us, they are strongly considered.
Some key points:
- In the afternoon, all students using Pick Up will be sent to the front for the process to begin at 2:30pm (not 2:00pm).
- On Fridays our 3 Year Old Kindy students (and their siblings) may come out at 2pm.
- Drop Off in the AM will be supervised from 8:15am-8:45am. Our school has supervision for students whose family circumstances require children to be dropped off at 8am; however, we would appreciate that students who do not need to be at school before 8:15am, do not arrive until 8:15am.
- Families are requested, if they do not already have a family name sign for their window, to please make one, these are extremely useful and make the process run more smoothly. If possible – it would be great if the sign indicates if there is a child in either 3 Year Old or 4 Year Old Kindy, or Pre-Primary.
- Please (safely) move closer to cars in front to avoid large gaps between vehicles.
- It is the responsibility of drivers to obey all road and traffic laws. I apologise if our Drop Off and Pick Up system overflows onto Nyabing Pass and Moora Cl; however proper conduct should be expected by all in our community.
I thank you again for your support, and hope that all families can enjoy a great weekend.
Wednesday 13th May, 2020
I cannot thank all members of the school community enough for their patience, support and demonstrations of appreciation with the school and our staff.
To the children at St Damien’s – you have returned to school, or continued to work hard from home, and shown so much of the determination and resilience we have come to expect from you. Your behaviour at school has been amazing, and your co-operation with the tasks required to be done at home has been brilliant.
To the parents of St Damien’s – You have taken on enormous roles and responsibilities in recent times, not only with matters of your children’s schooling, but no doubt with your own concerns and challenges that the world has bestowed on you. Your consideration and understanding of the little things that have not worked well from the school in this time has been appreciated, heard and hopefully, responded to efficiently.
To the staff of St Damien’s – The rules changed for our teachers, EAs and support staff virtually overnight, and continued to keep changing. Over the last 8 weeks our teachers took on more professional development, changes to accountability standards and modifications to their regular roles and expectations than would have usually been asked for them to consider over a year. An amazing effort from an amazing team.
I say thank you to our community, not only because you deserve it, but we can also strongly sense the ‘itch’ that is coming through from all students, parents and teachers, that ‘itch’ for school life to return to normal as soon as possible.
As soon as more information, policies and direction, comes through (from both the WA Government and Catholic Education WA) about the next phase in education, our school will prioritise the immediate implementation of the procedures and directives we are required to uphold. There will no doubt be factors that are required to be immediately effected; however, some decisions may require the school to take into account its own needs, environment and resources (e.g. how our Drop Off and Pick Up operated). These decisions may take a little bit longer to finalise, or require our school to have a ‘testing’ phase, but please be assured that:
* I will communicate all information to families as quickly as possible.
* We will implement immediately what is required of us.
* Our efforts will be centred around our absolute best efforts to focus on the educational development of all of the students in our school fairly, whilst upholding the safety and hygiene expectations that allow our families to feel that their child is as safe as possible at St Damien’s.
DROP OFF AND PICK UP
The 1hr and 15 min (Yes, we know exactly how long we are out there!) our staff supervise and run our Drop Off and Pick Up at the front of the school has been one of the absolute highlights for our students, parents and staff. It is fantastic to be able to welcome all of the families to school each day and listen to parents when they say “We should do this for the rest of the year!”, “This makes it so much easier to not have to get my baby out of the car.” or even “C’mon Mr Crebert, you’ve asked my name 3 days in a row now, surely you can remember?”
We have strongly considered keeping it running when the school returns to normal; however, the reality of this systems success has been:
* The staggered timetable – which stops major traffic build up. We won’t have the staggered timetable forever.
* The amount of staff present – which we will not realistically be able to provide long-term.
* The removal of half of our parking spaces in the area, which may be required when we’re at full capacity.
May I ask that parents, if they would be interested in using the Drop Off and Pick Up system in the future, please take the time to fill out the below survey?
UNIFORM AND HAIR
As you are aware, it was notified to the school community that during the start of Term 2 we were allowing students to wear their Sports Uniform to school for a period of time, and we have also been respectful to families of the fact that opportunities for families to get to the hairdressers has been limited.
Please be aware that we will be requiring all students to return to the usual Uniform Policy (i.e. days for Formal / Sports) and expectations for hair, and we hope that all parents feel that an appropriate amount of flexibility was provided in regards to allowing families to make the necessary adjustments, but also understand the requirement to return to the consistent standard that our families, students and community expect.
Hang in there St Damien’s – you’re doing great!
Thank you and God Bless,
Thursday 7th May, 2020
We are nearly finished our 2nd week of the Term and school is beginning to feel as if it is returning to normal, the main issue being, is that the place is so quiet at the moment, we miss the noise! Maybe this is due to the fact we have less children, maybe its due to our restrictions on assemblies, but I think we all know the truth – it’s actually the parents who must’ve been making all the noise!
I am extremely appreciative to all of our parents who have co-operated with our boundary restrictions, used our Drop Off and Pick Up systems (and remembered their Family Name Signs!) and shown understanding when we haven’t been able to fulfil their requests to come into the school. Your presence has been missed, especially the amazing community feel you bring in the mornings and afternoons, but your co-operation, especially with the staggered starts and finishes, has made an enormous difference to our capacity to mange the school and students.
Retirement – Carol Pudney
This week our school sadly has lost another one of the ‘original’ staff members who have been with the school since it’s very beginning. Carol Pudney has been our schools Head Cleaner since its origin and unfortunately for us she has decided to embark on the next phase of her life with her family. Whilst we are sad to know she won’t be with our school, we all celebrate both her time at the school and her adventures to come.
Parents may have noticed that our school has put out an expression of interest for the cleaning position.
Families may have noticed that there has been less updates or correspondence from the school in regards to policy and procedural changes (as compared to the last few weeks of Term 1!). This is because, quite simply, there hasn’t been any of major influence that haven’t been shared already. I also thank the staff of StDCPS for working so well with what was set up for families in Term 1, they have been able to quickly adapt these into the new circumstances.
Many families have asked if I know anything about what’s coming up. I can honestly tell you that everything I’m aware of, that may impact family decisions and planning has been passed onto you and that in the next weeks CEWA will continue to review current expectations and communicate these with schools. As you can appreciate, State and Federal Government decisions play a role in the direction moving forward.
Student Free Dates
A note has been sent to all families in regards to St Damien’s postponing 2 upcoming Student Free Days. Please see the link below. We hope families understand our reasons and if there are any questions or concerns please contact me.
Modification of Education
St Damien’s Catholic Primary School Teachers are continually monitoring and evaluating the learning programs undertaken in class. Currently there exists a very fine balance in making sure that if we are to consider any changes or modifications to how we are delivering our educational experiences, that we do so in a way that doesn’t require our staff, students or parents to adapt to another new style of learning. We recognise that an enormous amount of effort has been made by everyone in our community to adapt to the new platforms, and understand that further changes may not be as easily integrated.
All of our decisions in regards to modifications to our ways of teaching must also consider our capacity to continue to support students at home.
Parents and Friends
Last night a P & F “Zoom” Meeting was held and it was extremely pleasing how often the idea of supporting our community and engaging with our parents was raised. As we all hope that our school returns to ‘normal life’ in the near future, please feel as if the P & F is open to all families to take part and contribute in ways that may help support our wonderful community.
As always, I wish all the best to our families and no doubt join you in longing for the days where all of our lives can return to what they were before these circumstances, but I must continue to praise and thank the support of all of our families and efforts of our staff to ensure we have progressed through these times as well as possible.
Thank you and God Bless.
Tuesday, 28th April, 2020
Thank you for all the support you have provided our school over the last 10 days. The directives from Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) as well as the Western Australian and Australian Governments provided instructions as to the the return of students to school in Term 2, 2020.
Based on feedback I have received in the last 10 days, or conversations I’ve been made aware of, I have complied a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) and provided the answers in the best language possible, I hope these can help support families.
Can I send my child to school if I wish?
Yes. The choice to send students to school in Term 2 2020 lies with all parents with the knowledge that schools have done their best to create a safe and secure environment. All schools have implemented systems for education, pastoral care as well as health and well-being for the students. We asks parents to consider what is best for their own family circumstances and we aim to ensure that parents feel their decisions have been supported by the school’s processes.
I thought school was only for children of Essential Workers?
Not anymore. This was the intended direction at the end of Term 1, based on the information we had at the time regarding Term 2. It has since changed (during the Easter Break) and was communicated to families.
Can I send my child to school if they present with symptoms of general “winter” sickness?
It is preferred not and we ask families to consult with a GP, who should be able to provide certainty as to your child’s capacity and suitability to attend school.
Please see the below statement from Dr Andy Robertson, Chief Health Officer, WA.
“If your child/children are well, I encourage you to send them back to school this term. If they have symptoms of a cold or have a fever, please keep them at home until they are better. If you are concerned they may have contracted COVID-19, they can be tested through our COVID Clinics or in private collection centres.”
This statement has been take directly from the following notification…
I wish you and your child/children all the very best in health and education for Term 2.
What has the school done to ensure they are prepared for students to return?
A lot, and I think our ‘bombardment’ of communication, Teams and Seesaw messages will prove that! We long for the day where all students have returned safely to our school. We have endeavoured to make sure:
- We have set up supportive systems for all families who have made the choice to keep their children at home.
- We have made the school as safe as possible for students, staff and other visitors.
Is the school prepared for all students to return?
Our attendance numbers have been lower than half this week, and whilst we miss all of the students who were not at school (we love seeing you on our video sessions and Drive-Bys!) the circumstances have allowed our staff to better prepare our education and safety procedures. We anticipate student numbers will progressively grow over the next few weeks, and we are confident we’ll be able to adapt to the needs of our community. Each day our processes and procedures will strengthen and our communications and understandings from the Government and Health Officials will give the school greater clarity with its abilities.
As parents, our current employment position is putting us in financial stress, do we have options at the school?
Yes, Catholic Schools do not wish for any family to feel as if their child’s enrolment is in jeopardy due to unforeseen financial hardships. All families are invited to contact Michelle Farcich (Bursar) if they need to discuss options to support fee payments.
Is 3 Year Old Kindy Running?
Yes, and in Term 2, 2020 we will not be asking for families in 3 Year Old Kindy to pay fees.
What does “Online Learning” actually mean?
At the completion of Term 1 – our teachers worked incredibly hard to create systems for meaningful and supportive, learning experiences that all students should have been able to complete at home, in the event that schools were not accessible to the majority of students. During the break they have adapted these lessons to be able to suit both the students at school and at home, at the same time. Students at home will have access to all materials, support videos, and maybe even some Live Streaming of what’s happening at school, but may require an element of parent support. If parents believe that the activities are too challenging, or too easy for their children, we ask first that they check if the activity had options (i.e. different questions) to support these students, or otherwise contact your child’s teacher.
What type of instruction and support will be my children receive at school?
The lessons set for “Online Learning” will form the basis for what is done at school; however, students at school have access to the class teacher’s guidance and support. Students at school will not simply be learning from their iPads. The Class Teachers will assist where appropriate and required as per normal (i.e. based on student needs).
Ipads and Work Packs.
When a child returns to school full time, we request that these items return with them. iPads must be checked in through the Front Office before being used again in class. iPads will not be sent back and forth from home and school, once they are brought back. Students who are not intending to return to school “full time” (e.g. 2 days a week at home) are recommended to keep the iPad and Work Packs at home, as our capacity to provide alternatives at school is likely to be greater. This does not mean we will provide another iPad, but our teachers will be able to provide access to the activities posted on the Teams and Seesaw platforms.
I have a child with Special Needs, will they still receive support at school or at home during this time?
Absolutely. All children will have their needs catered for during this time; however, if your child usually receives any one to one support, or has an Individual Education Plan and you are unsure of what is happening to cater for their needs moving forward, please contact your child’s teacher, or Mrs Leighton.
What will my child do at school when they have completed Online Learning?
Our school has been endeavouring to look at meaningful activities for the students at school if they complete their Online Learning; however, we are discovering that these activities are taking the majority of the day. When the staggered ‘Drop Off and Pick Up’ times are factored in, the students at school are having a full and meaningful day.
What if the school is not ‘relaxing’ health rules and recommendations seen in the media, as quickly as expected?
StDCPS will ensure that all due consideration is given to any major changes in our policies. When a directive is required to be implemented by our school we must process what this means for our own current policies and understanding. This can sometimes take extra time to consult with CEWA as well as our own staff and families. We aim to make changes as quickly as possible and adapt in such a manner that does not inconvenience or disadvantage any family, and is as supportive to staff as possible.
Can I send my child to school on varied days that fit my own work schedule and my choice as a parent?
Currently – yes, and we hope that our educational delivery system supports parents if this an option that they feel they must take.
Some of the rules about Drop Off / Pick Up & School Boundaries seem overly “strict” – are they really needed?
Yes. This week we have learnt a great deal about these systems and how they worked for our parents, staff and students. It will be far easier for the school to relax some of the rules and boundaries and adapt progressively, rather than impose more systems as the term progresses. In saying this, our procedures will not over-rule any expectations or directives from CEWA.
I have a child in Early Years (including 3 Year Old Kindy), will I be allowed to drop my child off at class and pick them up?
No, not at class. Our Drop Off and Pick Up guide (emailed previously – see below link) has endeavoured to help with an easy transition. EA’s and teachers of the Early Years will be stationed (rostered) at the Drop Off and Pick Ups to be a welcoming face, so that no child is unsafe, or out of direct supervision of an adult.
I have a child with Special Needs, will I be allowed to drop my child off at class and pick them up?
We are happy to work out individual arrangements between families and teachers about Drop Off and Pick Up; however, the rules about parents not being in the school grounds must still apply. These agreements may take the form of the teacher being at a certain point at a certain time to meet the student.
Will my child be able to wash their hands before and after eating?
Yes absolutely. It will be the expectation.
What measures will the school take in order to ensure a safe, clean and hygienic environment?
The school is enacting hand-washing procedures for eating, drinking and toilet use. Twice daily our staff are cleaning and disinfecting high frequency areas (e.g. Door Handles) and each day we clean our “Hands-On” items, if they must be used by the students.
If we are keeping our child at home do we need to take part in the morning “Check-In”?
Yes please, these will be part of Attendance checking for our school, and hopefully all families find these check-ins useful to clarify some of the questions for the day. If you were unable to take part in the Check-In, and are still taking part in the Online Learning, please notify your teacher of how you participated on that day.
If we are keeping our child at home do we need to take part in all “Online Learning”?
It is preferred that families make the best efforts to do what they can with the Online Learning. The school understands if family circumstances make it challenging to keep up with the activities at home, and we trust parent judgment in doing the best they can with the activities. If any parents are struggling with the content, or require further teacher assistance we ask that they email their teachers, or arrange a phone meeting with them. Aside from the safety and well-being of the staff and students, all of our efforts have gone into setting up fair and reasonable systems for educational support of students at home.
How do we ensure students at home are not disadvantaged in their education?
The school will do its best to make sure that students at home have access to meaningful lessons. Teachers have worked hard to develop packages of learning that mean, to the very best of our capabilities, that students at home have access to the same learning opportunities as those at school, and adequate support from the teachers.
Will the students still undertake Specialists Lessons?
Yes, but these will be modified. On occasions (due to timetable challenges) Specialists will be supervising students during times of the day where the students may be undertaking other activities.
Will Fun-a-Rama still operate for before and after school care?
Yes, and we encourage parents to contact Fun-A-Rama well in advance as their places may be limited.
Will the school have staggered Lunch & Recesses?
We have started Term 2 with these (Kindy, PP-3 and 4-6 having different Recess and Lunch times), and will continue to monitor the success of this strategy
Will the Uniform Shop remain open?
No, as parents are not allowed on the school grounds; however, please call our Front Office and they will be able to help organise Uniform Items if required.
and most importantly…..
Will the canteen be open still?
Thursday, 23rd April, 2020
I would like to thank all families who have already completed the survey I sent out this week, we have had well over 200 responses so far. This survey:
- Is required to be filled out by all families at St Damien’s.
- Only needs to be filled out once per family.
- Is an extremely valuable tool for our school’s planning for Weeks 1-4
If you haven’t filled out this survey yet I ask that you take the time to submit it before 9am on Tuesday 28th April.
Of course, we expect family situations to change between now and Tuesday, and over the next few weeks, this is completely fine. I will inform parents if I intend to implement any official systems to notify changes, but currently the basic information we have received has been extremely helpful in our planning.
It’s a long Principals Blog today!
There is so much to communicate to families at the moment I’m sorry. Whilst I don’t expect all families to read everything I write, my intent has been that if any families feel they are missing information they can come back to the blog first and check if I’ve mentioned something in here that can help.
Catholic Education WA
St Damien’s Catholic Primary School will continue to follow the directives from Catholic Education WA and the Executive Director, Dr Debra Sayce. I can assure all families that there has been an enormous amount of time and energy dedicated by the CEWA Executive to developing plans that are as supportive, and protective, as possible to the staff, students and families who have chosen a Catholic Education. The CEWA team is continuously working towards the best outcomes for all families and staff at Catholic Schools and I feel we are fortunate to have this team.
St Damien’s Catholic Primary School, and all Catholic Schools, have a certain / limited amount of flexibility in areas and we continue to use staff and parent feedback to guide these decisions. We will continue to do our absolute best, taking into account all feedback we receive, but are required to operate under the parameters that CEWA has directed, and the promises our families expect.
The following 2 notes have been provided by CEWA for our school community:
3 Year Old Kindy
Our 3 Year Old Kindy program will resume on Friday, 1st May. The 3 Year Old Kindy Program in CEWA schools operate under different funding models to 4 Year Old Kindy to Year 6. CEWA schools have made arrangements with our families that are consistent with Childcare agreements in the state.
What next week will look like
Tuesday, the 28th of April, will be a Staff Development Day, which will also be a Student Free Day. Our staff objectives for the day are as follows:
- Review our Educational Plans for the Term in light of the changes required.
- Review our Daily Timetables and Operational Procedures, based on the information we have about intended student attendance
- Review our Safety, Well-Being, Hygiene and Cleanliness Protocols and Procedures.
- Explore the possibilities, strengths and challenges of implementing “Live Streaming” of class instructions to support students at home.
- By 12:00pm, teachers to post on Teams (Yr 1-6) and Seesaw (Kindy & Pre Primary) the weeks activities for Week 1.
- Between 3:00pm and 3:30pm , teachers to post the Learning Activities for Wednesday 29th April.
- Between 3:00pm and 3:30pm, teachers to post to families any expected online interaction times and support information, e.g.:
- A morning online “Check-in” session for all students and families still at home. This will be video for Years 1-6, on teams and will be a parent Check-in on Seesaw for Kindy & Pre-Primary. This Check-in will be used as an Attendance check (like a daily ‘roll call’) for students who are at home.
- Some teachers may choose to ‘live stream’ some of their classroom conversations with students, if they make this choice families will be notified (E.g. at 9:50am we will ‘Live Stream” my instructions to the class about the Handwriting Activity)
- The previously notified time of 12:00pm-1:30pm each day will have teachers available online to discuss any student / family concerns with the learning activities.
Wednesday, the 29th of April, will be the students first day back and whilst we will provide access and support to the Online Learning Programme, the school will use the day as a test of the plans and processes we have implemented for:
- Student Health & Well-being (e.g. Social Distancing, Staggered Timetables, Cleaning Routines).
- Our staff capacity to support students both at home and within the school.
- The success and viability of the timetables the school has developed previously, and make any alterations we may need to for the next 4 weeks.
Wednesdays had previously been listed as a “Catch-Up Day” for students who were unable to complete (and we are also expecting some students to have sporadic attendance this term); however, for this first day, we will post the intended lessons (from our planning before we went on break) for Tuesday for the students to engage with.
In saying that the day is a “tester” for our school, we hope that as many parents as possible can provide honest and constructive feedback as to how they felt the systems worked for them, their children, and their own family needs.
From Thursday, the 30th of April, the school will be running at their best capacity to support the Online Learning Packages provided to students at school and at home.
The Learning conducted at St Damien’s in Term 2
I understand there is confusion amongst our school community (and in all school communities across Australia at the moment) as to what the learning will look like at Catholic Primary Schools for the first 4 weeks of Term 2. A lot of the discrepancies can be found within the language used, I hope the following can clarify.
- Aside from Health and Well-being, the direction CEWA has chosen to take, places great emphasis on trying to ensure that students whose parents have chosen to keep them at home have minimal disadvantage compared to the students who are at school with the teachers.
- The school will not simply provide ‘Supervision’, “Busy Work” or “Baby-sitting” to students.
- The term ‘Online Learning’ refers to our educational product being supplied, it does not mean that at school the students will simply be asked to access Teams and Seesaw individually, they will still be supported and guided through the activities.
- Teachers at school will still teach and assist students at school with the content provided within the Online Learning.
- For the most part, this will be the child’s regular Classroom Teacher, or the EAs or possibly other grade teachers.
- The ‘extra activities’ will be planned carefully. Our intent is to have meaningful, productive and engaging activities and experiences for the children who are at school; however, it is critical that the school runs these activities (to go back to the CEWA directives) that does not disadvantage any students at home.
- In saying this, we have felt amazing support and understanding from our families and I’m sure that, as we evolve, those parents who have made the choice to keep their children at home will understand, and not feel unfairly treated, if they found out that in order to best support the children at our school, we were undertaking and experimenting with some fantastic ideas and initiatives. (In the same way that at home many of our students get access to more amazing experiences than we can offer at school).
Staggered Start / Finish times and Drop Off and Pick Up Arrangements
This is a situation as complicated as most others, and I ask families:
- To support the school’s requests, and understanding our reasonings all have to do with Safety and Well-being.
- Respect that many of our decisions are made from directives that we do not have the capacity to modify, ignore or overrule.
- To please maintain a dialogue with your class teacher if you feel there are critical individual circumstances that our school plans do not support (E.g. Student with Special Needs, Student Anxiety etc.) We will endeavour to make any arrangements we can, within our capabilities.
Please see the following directive (from CEWA) that Catholic Schools are expected to follow, and the schools response, plans and clarification. Families should have also received today, access to a package to better explain our Drop Off and Pick Up Procedures.
“From the start of Term Two, parents and caregivers are to be advised that they are not permitted to exit their vehicles when dropping off or collecting their children. If parents and caregivers are walking their children to and from school, they should undertake their drop-off or pick-up at the school gates. Schools are required to make arrangements for parents and caregivers to drop and collect students at designated locations. A designated drop-off and collection point and attendance of a staff member should be arranged for younger students (Three-Year-Old Program, Pre-primary and Kindergarten) and students with a disability.
“From the start of Term Two, parents and caregivers are to be advised that they are not permitted to exit their vehicles when dropping off or collecting their children”
- The school is developing a plan to help make the best, safest and easiest Drop Off and Pick Up system in our main carpark.
- This will obviously put strain on a school complex (StDCPS and Ocean Rd) that already has enormous Traffic Difficulties.
- This is the main reason why the school will be requesting families, if possible, to drop off and pick up at different times.
“If parents and caregivers are walking their children to and from school, they should undertake their drop-off or pick-up at the school gates.”
- The physical nature of our school is complicated. The language of “School Gates” usually refers to a school that is completely fenced around the external boundary of the school’s property. Our school gates do not delineate our school boundaries, they are well inside our boundaries. This decision was made to assist the aesthetics of the school, and until current issues arose, posed no issues to our procedures.
- Which means that currently I cannot support our parents walking to these gates to drop off their children. Alternate plans need to be made.
- Car Park considered on school grounds – complicated language about our gates. Our gates are “in the school” many other gates are outside of the school.
- Many of our gate areas, especially near the early years, could be described as “Bottlenecks” which, for regular times, pose no issues, but when Social Distancing is a priority, these gates are not ideal areas for the school to support Parent Drop Offs.
- It is critical that any students at our school have clear paths to walk through, and large gathering near our gates will cause problems.
“Schools are required to make arrangements for parents and caregivers to drop and collect students at designated locations.”
- We are still developing these plans based on the best information we have access to.
- Our main carpark will be turned into a Kiss and Drop / Kiss and Drive, complete with signage and ample staff support.
- The school will collaborate with our Out of Hours Care provider, Fun-A-Rama, to support their needs for student drop off and pick up.
“A designated drop-off and collection point and attendance of a staff member should be arranged for younger students (Three-Year-Old Program, Pre-primary and Kindergarten) and students with a disability.”
- The school will place as many staff and systems in place at Parent Drop Off and Collection points as possible to make the process easy, safe and calming for the students. For example, during the designated Kindy and Pre Primary drop off times, families can expect to see familiar faces (EAs or Teachers) awaiting them, to help them from the car and guiding them to class.
- The school is happy to support, if required, individual arrangements; however, we will need to ask families to collaborate with our needs, plans and commitments. For example it may be required to arrange a parent / teacher handover of a student who is affected by anxiety concerns, this handover will need to ensure that it is fair and reasonable to the teachers responsibilities and commitments.
Homework for the Weekend…
I will also put this on Facebook but I invite all families to:
- Share any pictures of your family on ANZAC Day (Standing on the Driveway, Artwork etc.) for us to compile into one video / slideshow to share with our community.
- Make a poster (A3 or A4) with your children’s names (surname and first name), that can be put on the dashboard of your car to help us when you pick up your kids at our designated Pick Up points (if parent use our pick up systems). When school returns we are happy to laminate these posters for parents so that they stay protected and have a long life.
Thank You and God Bless.
Mr Brett Crebert
Tuesday, 21st April, 2020
I hope you are all staying safe, healthy and well during this holiday break, mostly I hope that families have found time to connect with each other and find small opportunities to forget the stresses of the world around them.
On Friday 17th April, Premier Mark McGowan announced the Term 2 arrangements for Public Schools in Western Australia.
Catholic Education WA (CEWA) has spent a great deal of time since then, applying these arrangements to the context of our system, and now it is time for the individual Catholic Schools to apply the CEWA expectations for their own schools.
Student Attendance in Term 2 – the “Delicate Balance”…
When we finished school in Term 1, the expectations for the start of Term 2 was that the only students who could attend school were those whose parents were “Essential Workers” (or needed the support of the school to continue their employment commitments).
It has since shifted, for the commencement of this term, to the language being “parents and caregivers may choose to keep their children home”.
I will be honest, my deepest fear at the moment would be that our school has acted (in our communication for our requests and recommendations of families, especially when we were requesting students to stay at home) in a manner that has made parents feel not welcome at school, or not welcome to come and discuss their concerns with us. St Damien’s Catholic Primary School prides itself on being a ‘community’ and in a strong community – we need to make sure that all families and students feel they are welcome and included.
One one had, I most certainly do not wish for the school to seem uninviting or unwilling to have students return. This is far from the truth, we miss the students terribly and long for the days where we can return to normality.
On the other hand…
The COVID-19 crisis is not yet over, and our key priority is the health, safety and well-being of students and staff (I’m sorry to say this, but our staff are much closer to being ‘Senior Citizens’ then a lot of them would care to admit! There are health concerns for the adults in our school that cannot be ignored). The idea of having too many students return, which would stretch our capacity to provide adequate supervision and safe distancing, will provide use with immediate challenges that will require a great deal of adaptation.
I hope that our families continue to understand and support our school in making the best decisions. If any families feel the school is not welcoming or is inaccessible to them, please let our team know as soon as possible.
We are happy to look at as many options as possible to help all of our families, including financial support.
As families have (again) been instructed to inform the school of their intent to attend in Term 2. I will send home another survey in the coming days to allow parents to provide the school with all the information about their children’s attendance that can help us develop the best possible plans.
The key points we need families to understand to start with…
- Tuesday 28th is a “Student Free Day” to be used for Staff Development and application of the changes placed upon schools.
- Wednesday 29th April is the official first day for students who are attending school.
- Parents are not allowed on the school grounds. The School will develop Drop Off and Pick Up plans.
- All learning at school will follow the same plans as the Online Learning packages sent home. No extra “face to face” learning activities will be offered to students at school. This is to ensure that families do not feel pressured into sending their child unnecessarily to school to gain an ‘edge’.
The questions we hope to answer…
I understand families have many questions that they need answered; however, I ask for your continued patience (patience which we are so appreciative did not run out last term!) to allow the school to formulate best plans.
Throughout the week I hope to notify parents of:
- Uniform arrangements for the start (first 4 weeks) of Term 2.
- Our Staggered Drop Off & Pick Up Times (including locations).
- Daily Timetables for Learning and Teacher Accessibility.
- Expectations for students at home (work, attendance notification, uniform etc.).
We continue to wish all of our families the best for the remainder of the holidays and look forward to the hopeful day where we can all look back at the COVID-19 experience as one where we consolidated our strengths, family ties and commitment to what is important in life.
Thank You and God Bless.
Thursday, 9th April, 2020
From all of us at St Damien’s we wish you a happy Christ-filled Easter Holiday Break, and we thank you from the depths of our hearts for not only the support you’ve given our staff, but for the manner in which you helped re-affirm that our students are the most important things in our lives.
We understand that this holiday will be unlike any we’ve ever had before, and to all those families who’ve asked for the Online Learning to continue over the holidays as you’ve enjoyed your children having something to do our answer is a very simple, polite….
“Not this time!”
However, we hope that all families can see the pattern and intent of what we have been sending, and can feel like they have the ability to carry on with their child’s learning.
Over the break the school (through our webpage and Facebook, not through class pages) will continue to push out activities, ideas and communication, and we hope that families feel like we are still connected.
Over this Holy Weekend please keep up to date with the St Damien’s Catholic Parish webpage and Facebook pages for Father Vincent’s amazing Masses.
Any changes to our School Policies or Procedures will be communicated immediately via email and SMS.
We will also continue to update families on our Term 2 plans.
We wish families all the best, we miss you more than we ever thought we would.
Tuesday, 7th April, 2020
I’d like to formally thank all of the members of our school community for their amazing efforts and commitment this Term, most notably in the second half of the Term, in which our school, and the world, faced uncertainty at a level not experienced in modern times.
To Our Teachers & Educational Assistants ….who have worked tirelessly modifying and adapting their teaching styles, preparing educational resources, supervising children, photocopying, scanning and, most of all, staying positive and committed about the path moving forward.
To our Support Staff ….who have prioritised their roles in supporting our teaching staff, families and students whilst maintaining such level heads which has kept us all aligned on our goals and priorities.
To our Parents ….for being so supportive of our schools’ expectations, wishes and new processes. We have not been perfect, and we are learning with you, but your support and understanding has allowed us to focus on our collective goals – the health, well-being and education of our children.
And not to forget….
To our amazing and brave students – What is happening in the world is not fair to you (or mum and dad!) but I know that in so many families your resilience, respect and hard work has been keeping your families running strong.
KEEPING CHILDREN AT HOME
Thank you also to our community for your respect in keeping your children away from school if there was not a valid reason for them to attend. This has allowed our staff to feel generally safer (please appreciate how challenging it is for staff to appropriately support children from such a variance of families with relative unknown health history). This has been extremely challenging for our staff, and I could imagine it would be more so if we didn’t feel that the majority of our community was being so respectful.
TERM 2 2020
Catholic Education WA, through Correspondence from Dr Deb Sayce (Executive Director) has indicated that to begin school in Term 2, 2020, schools need to be prepared for the possibility of:
- Schools delivering Online Learning in a manner that has been setup in the last few weeks.
- School being open for children who need to attend (i.e. children of Essential workers who have no other options).
- The school appreciates family support in not sending students for our supervision who do not need to be at school.
- Students who are at school will only be offered access to the Online Learning posted by teachers.
- These students will be supervised by staff; however, this structure is yet to be determined. No staff member will be asked to be present at St Damien’s unnecessarily or unfairly, where other options can be provided for them to work from home in a safe, secure environment.
- We thank parents for their support in ensuring our staff can remain safe during this time.
This model is being proposed for the first 4 weeks of Term 2, with the possibility of running throughout the whole term. As I’m sure families are all very aware by now, these expectations can change quite quickly, at the shortest of notice, and the school will endeavour to ensure that all families are informed of any and all changes and updates to this expectation.
Dr Deb Sayce has also indicated a position that St Damien’s CPS is happy to endorse that in light of these current global circumstances that:
No family who wishes to access Catholic Education will be denied.
If your financial situation changes during the COVID-19 saga and you are concerned about any financial issues relating to your child’s enrolment at St Damien’s Catholic Primary School, we ask that you make contact with our Bursar Michelle Farcich (Michelle.Farcich@cewa.edu.au) who will happily provide support and assistance.
The school will still communicate any changes or updates that may be relevant to families during this time.
We encourage all families to reach out to our support networks (especially P & F) to maintain valuable contact with other families and to share ideas and support mechanisms.
HOLY WEEK & EASTER
In the St Damien’s Principal Blog yesterday key dates and ideas were added by Mrs Caroline Leighton (Assistant Principal).
Holy Week 2020 will take on a new dimension for our families, whilst the Religious and Spiritual connections we ask families to make with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ will remain as always, we believe that all parents and students will have a new context this year to consolidate their understanding of sacrifice, support , family, community and selflessness that were central to Jesus Christ’s teachings, life and gift to us all.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.
Monday 6th April, 2020
I hope that all families coped with not having their Online Learning packages posted on Teams and Seesaw this morning! Whilst the kids earned a break and a start to their holidays, I assure you the teachers are hard at work preparing for the start of Term 2.
Thank you to Mr Mark Chalwell (and his graphics department) for his fantastic idea to still hold the Fathering Project Campout on the weekend, I am sure that many of our families took part in setting up their yards, patios or even rooms in their house for the campout.
Little ideas like these are crucial for our community spirit moving forward and I encourage all parents to share these ideas with myself, our P & F or Fathering Project Committees.
Are finished for Term 1 2020 (Weeks 1-7) and can be picked up at the Book Pack Pickup described below.
Book Pack Pickup
This week we have some items that we are going to ask parents to drive by the school and pick up.
Our teachers have put together a ‘booster pack’ of books, activities and resources that they would like the students to have and we have set up a system for families to drive by and collect these items. These packs are aimed at setting up for longer ‘Online Learning’ to be completed in Term 2.
In these packs are your child’s Term 1 2020 Interim Reports, these have been based on what has been observed from Weeks 1-7 only.
These book packs will be available at the very first ever St Damien’s CPS ‘drive-thru’ service. Families are asked to drive through our church carpark and collect their items and do a loop back out of the car park. Treat us like your local take-away, to help our staff know whose packs, and from what grades to find them.
“I’ll take one Pre-Primary Crebert, and two Year Three Creberts please!”
In order to make this process more manageable, we are asking families to try and spread out their pickups.
Wednesday 8th April 8:30am-10:20am – Families with surname starting with A-G.
Wednesday 8th April 12:00pm-2:00pm – Families with surname starting with H-O.
Thursday 9th April 8:30am-10:30am – Families with surname starting with P-Z.
We ask that families remain respectful of Social Distancing rules and expectations. Whilst you may be very excited to see your friends and other families, the intent of this pickup is only for the children’s book packs. If these time slots do not suit your times, please feel free to come at another time; however, we hope that our families understand our reasons for splitting up the pick ups.
A message from Mrs Leighton:
I hope you are all safe and well and we miss seeing your smiling faces at school.
This week is Holy Week and we would like to invite you all to take part, from the safety of your homes.
The heart of our Christian faith is the life, death and resurrection of our friend Jesus. The events during Holy Week are central to our faith and we join with our community to walk with God and his son Jesus as they make the ultimate sacrifice, so we will have life and have it to the full. Please join us, during this time of isolation and uncertainty. All Holy Week Masses and our weekly Masses can be accessed via the St Damien’s Parish Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/DawesvilleCatholics/
The following are some ways children and families could engage with each other for Holy Week:
On Holy Thursday, one family member could wash another family member’s feet during the Holy Thursday Mass – Thursday 9th April, 5pm.
On Good Friday, 10am, the students and parents could make 14 Stations in the Family home and follow with Father Vince during the Stations of the Cross. The following is a link to the Stations of The Cross for children and families – https://media.loyolapress.com/assets/lent/stations-eng/stations-eng.html
There is a Saturday Night Vigil where the students could light candles with their family – Saturday 11th April, 7pm.
On Easter Sunday there is a Mass and the students could help set the family dining table for Easter Breakfast or Lunch, to bring their family together – Sunday 12th April, 8:30am.
Thank you and God Bless.
Friday 3rd April, 2020
For the first time ever, I believe the idea of holidays starting, is the exact opposite of what our kids (and parents!) want. I’d love to think that if the school could open for everyone on Monday, we would have all 450 students flood in happily, be loud, laugh and do silly things with each other – wouldn’t that be great to hear our school so vibrant again!
Unfortunately the reality is not this, and the students start their break. Next week there will be no Online Learning offered by the school, and the only students who should be at St Damien’s are those who need to be there, these students will be supervised, but not undertake any educational programs. The school is not offering care for those families who the service is ‘convenient for’, only essential, and we ask all families to email the school if they intend to send their child on these days.
The week is aimed at allowing our staff to continue their preparations for Term 2, which very realistically, looks like being a continuation of Online Learning, for the first few weeks at least. Thank you for your co-operation in allowing our staff to be able to take on this enormous overhaul of educational delivery.
Throughout the next week our staff will be reviewing and modifying the Online Learning systems we have developed over the last couple of weeks, and we will communicate all of our updates and changes with families each day. There will be some minor changes to our ‘test run’ over the last few weeks. We hope that parents continue to feel that the school has provided enough information, clarity and support moving forward – we would rather be sending out too much, rather than too little.
Unfortunately, not all of our communication is great news, and I ask all families to please take the time to also read this letter from Mr Joe Bartucciotto:
Thursday, 26 March 2020
Dear Families and Students,
As a consequence of the current issues impacting upon our society and staff requirements at Catholic Education WA, I have been asked to extend my term as a School Improvement Advisor at Catholic Education until the end of 2020. The current circumstances have been exacerbated by the unrelated long-term illness of a colleague at CEWA that has left a staffing gap in the School Improvement Team. I have accepted CEWA’s offer confident in the knowledge that St Damien’s will continue to thrive.
I would like to pass on my congratulations and thanks to the entire St Damien’s Catholic Primary School community for the way in which it has pulled together to ensure that the well-being of the children, the families and the staff has been catered for in the best possible way. These have been very trying and emotionally challenging times; however, knowing that others ‘have your back’ makes it possible to overcome the current problems we face and also provisions us well with the tools with which to overcome potential future trials.
I have always held the belief that any leader should be able to step back from their role, confident that progress will continue uninterrupted. From what I have seen, heard and witnessed I am confident that St Damien’s continues along its journey towards excellence. The care, attention, tenacity and sheer endeavour of the Leadership Team, led by Mr Brett Crebert (who will remain as Acting Principal for the duration of 2020), the staff, the Board, the Parish and the P&F, with the support of the families and the wonderful children, is a testament to the wonderful culture of St Damien’s Catholic Primary School evident since the school’s inception.
Since its Foundation, St Damien’s has invariably confronted difficulties flexibly and always exited all the better for the experience. Our school has always been conscious of the role it plays in the well-being of its own community as well as understanding its mandate to help to better the lives of the poor and marginalised outside the school. This wonderful work continues thanks to your wonderful combined and collaborative efforts.
I look forward, God willing, to catching up with everyone once we have overcome this hurdle. I wish to echo the school’s wishes that you all stay safe, healthy and well both now and in the future.
Tuesday, 31st March, 2020.
The countdown to the ‘holidays’ begins! Only 3 days left until St Damien’s stops with the ‘Online Learning’, but our staff keep on plugging away…
It has been an amazing, and often hilarious, sight to see our staff each day at 2pm, jumping onto our newly discovered Video Conference system to have a quick meeting and to train and support each other with ‘the new way’. From the vantage point of my office I could hear all the screams (mostly good spirited!) across the school as the staff had a good laugh with each other whilst developing their own skills. I know there are most definitely professions and workers in Australia, and the world, who are having a tougher time than our teachers at the moment; however, the speed in which our staff is learning, adapting and conquering at the moment is truly amazing.
Today all staff learnt how to make a “Microsoft Form.” This is a program that can be used to make Survey’s and Quizzes. Over time this tool may be more used by our teachers to connect with families.
In the morning the teachers will push out a ‘test video’ to support an activity. Over the next 2 weeks at school we are testing our delivery of video support files. It is hoped that these videos help parents and students understand the tasks.
During the morning the teachers will also post a survey on the GENERAL Channel of TEAMS, and on Seesaw for Kindy / PP. This survey will also be emailed. It would be great if families can try and access the survey through Teams or Seesaw first (it’ll help our continued efforts to train parents to use Teams). There is no need to do the survey more than once.
This is the only work that will be posted on Teams. Moving forward, Wednesday will be a ‘catch up day’ for our families.
Please be aware that we will keep on planning, programming and setting up our future systems in Week 10, but for families, this is basically an early start to the holidays. The only students at school should be those who NEED to be here.
If you are having trouble with any of the technologies, please contact the school on 9583 2500.
Monday, 30th March, 2020.
Hopefully all families had the opportunity over the weekend to take the foot off the accelerator and do their best to enjoy a ‘normal’ weekend. I say this knowing that for many of our families, the idea of normal has changed dramatically and I respect that we all need to respond the best we can, hopefully families feel the school has been a supportive agency during this time.
At St Damien’s we are tirelessly preparing for setting up the very best Online Environment possible, for the possibility that Term 2 will begin with the students still at home. Our systems are by no means perfect, but we believe we have formed the basis of a very strong system of communication including the pushing out of activities.
About the school this week:
Attendance: The only students attending school this week (and in Week 10) should be the students who absolutely need to be at school.
Online Learning: Will continue in Week 9, but not in week 10. Basically Week 10 is a ‘bonus’ holiday week off for our students and the 400 newly appointed “Homeschool Teachers”! My Principal’s Blog last Friday was aimed at trying to reassure parents that even though our staff are working hard on providing a lot of work, and our systems are very ‘busy’, we don’t want, for one second, families to be stressed by the work at the moment, and we allow for flexibility.
Week 9 Goal: We are aiming to make sure that IF Term 2 starts with all students involved in Online Learning, we have set up enough resources, procedures and supports so that no student, or parent, feels like they haven’t had the chance to learn the systems, or contact the school for support.
Week 10 Goal: Week 10 has been determined to be a PD week due to the teachers needing to prepare for Term 2.
Wednesdays: We have decided that on Wednesday we will NOT post work in the morning (except Kindy!) and this day will be a ‘catch-up’ day for students and families. We will still be online from 11:30am-1:30pm though.
THIS WEDNESDAY: (And this is not an April Fools joke!) We will invite all parents to be involve in some ‘tests’ of our system. We are aiming to push out some teacher videos to support our lessons and also be sending out some surveys to see how our families are handling the new systems.
Printing: You shouldn’t need to print anything, please ask the teachers for guidance if you’re not sure how to set up the work in your child’s books.
I am aware that today there were more announcements made from the Australian and Western Australian Governments, but at this point there is no official statement of their impact on our school. Tomorrow my bring new information, but until then, I wish all families a good night and a great week.
Friday, 27th March, 2020
Thank you again for your patience with the school, and our responses to the requirements put on us. Yesterday’s news happened extraordinarily suddenly, and the school, and even CEWA, was required to respond way too quickly with a clear message to our schools, who then needed to translate the message to their communities.
So parents are aware, the only children who should be at school next week are those who must be due to family or parent work circumstances. We ask that every child who does not need to be sent to school, is not sent to school. We are aiming to provide the safest environment possible for our staff and students who NEED to be here.
I thought I’d try and speak a bit more ‘from the heart’ in today’s message to try and clarify our viewpoint. I don’t believe any of our parents will use my blog today as an ‘easy out’ or excuse, we value the efforts of our staff, and we value the importance of our children’s education, but we must be realistic about the challenges we’re facing.
Parents, it’s OK to:
- Feel overwhelmed and panic about the Online Learning! You are new to this. We are new to this. We learn together, but the most important thing is that we don’t give up on the education of our children.
- Be completely bamboozled by Microsoft Teams and Seesaw. Our teachers had a two year head start, and they are still learning! It’s the best we have, and we will be patient and learn together.
- Feel like you are struggling to ‘Keep up with the Jones’ – I like the saying about Social Media – “Never compare someone else’s Highlight Reel to your ‘Behind the Scenes'” and whilst I love the idea of parents sharing their ideas, resources or things they’ve done to drive away the insanity, it’s OK (and normal) to sit back and wonder how they found the time or energy to pull it off!
- Make a mistake on Teams, put a comment in the wrong spot or miss an activity. It’s OK.
- Skip an activity here and there, whilst our ‘new lives’ take shape. If the school work is stressing you out it’s OK to have a break every so often and do something else with your kids, especially if you feel it keeps you sane!
- Take the initiative and change it up, make it meaningful at home.
- Prioritise the education of your kids, if you feel like there’s too much being sent, especially if you have children across multiple ages. Personally I feel for parents of students in Year 11 & 12, and I understand if the supervision and assistance of these students becomes one of your main priorities. I also understand (as a parent of a Pre Primary student), if a parent decides to dedicate time to the younger students in order to support reading, speaking, counting and listening.
- Be a day behind with activities – if it suits your family to do activities at 5pm, then thats OK too. The only thing we ask parents to remember is our amazing teachers have been ordered (by their mean old boss) to only be online from 11:30am-1:30pm
- Be a parent. Make the call on what’s best for your child, yourself and your families health, safety and sanity!
Are we being boring? We have intentionally held off from all of the online games, subscriptions, resources. These will come in time. We need to make sure our families and staff are comfortable with our new expectations and systems. The introduction of these new ideas will come soon enough, but small baby steps are needed. This is not to say there are not great ideas out there at the moment, it’s amazing what resources are available, but not yet, not for us.
One of our main aims is to make sure (in the event that Term 2 looks ‘different’ and involves more Online Learning) that all families and staff feel confident with these models for when the term starts in late April.
Online Learning may be more formal in Term 2, with more structured (i.e. timetabled lessons) and we want to know that over these next couple of weeks we did everything in our power to set every student, teacher and parent up for success.
One of my goals, besides everyones health, is to make sure that everything we do at St Damien’s, in this period, makes all our families feel cared for, respected and – most of all – not forgotten. Contact us if you feel like you need help, or are worried about fees or financial support moving forward. You are our world and I will be honest, saying goodbye to the 91 kids in the school today was the hardest part of this entire saga for me as a Principal, I hope you can all help in looking after our precious students who we ‘loan’ to you each night and weekend!
Stay safe, we’ll see you all soon.
Thursday, 26th March, 2020
It is essential that all families read, understand and act accordingly in response to the following 2 notes:
You are all amazing, and in our thoughts during this time.
Wednesday, 25th March, 2020
Letter re Support
Today I have sent home an important letter that reflects the school’s position on supporting our families through this time.
I’d like to take this time to acknowledge the School Board, who (as parents of our school) are extremely mindful of our families current situations, and how we can best support families, and the long term interests of our school.
Please see a link below for the letter if you were not able to access by email.
I also sent an important email (they all seem to be these days!) which asks families to check how they’re prepared for Online Learning, please check this email, if your answer is “No” for any of the questions, please contact our school.
Professional Development Day
Next Monday 30th March, St Damien’s Catholic Primary School will have a Staff Professional Development Day. All CEWA schools have the option to arrange this day with unprecedented short notice, in response to supporting our teaching staff through these times.
One of the conditions from CEWA: It is reasonable that we ask all families to keep students from school on this day (to allow teachers to focus on their planning); however, any family that NEEDS to send to send their child to school, may do so, with the knowledge that they will be supervised by our staff.
It should be agreed that our teaching staff have done an amazing job in the school and deserve this chance to review what they’ve accomplished, and build further resources and material in the event of further Online Learning.
Families will be notified if there is Online Learning to be provided on this day.
Ruby Jones – World’s Greatest Shave
Well done to Ruby Jones for going ahead with the Worlds Greatest Shave! She did an amazing job, and thank you to all of our parents who watched online with our school’s first ever attempt at ‘Facebook Live’, your feedback was being watched by Ruby the whole time, and you were amazing.
Please be advised of the schools current daily timetable in regards to Online Learning. Activities undertaken at school currently reflect this timetable, with the main difference being that from 9am-11am, 11:30am-13pm and 2pm-3pm all students have access to a supervising teacher.
The school’s timetable (both currently and in the event of a ‘shutdown’)
By 9am – Daily Work Upload: By 9am each day teachers will have uploaded reminders, resources and instructions for the Daily Tasks (These tasks will be on the ‘Weekly’ Planning Sheet; however, there may be some alterations).
9am-11:30am – Teaching Face to Face / Planning Time: Teachers are not present online. This time is used for ‘face to face’ teaching (if the school is open) and for teacher planning, collaboration and resource gathering. The school acknowledges that all teachers have family responsibilities and, in the event of a shutdown, allows this time for teachers to attend to their own commitments and needs.
11:30am-1:30pm Teacher Online Presence Time: In this time there will be at least one Teacher, per year level, present on Microsoft Teams to provide support or feedback to parent’s questions in regards to the daily activities. Microsoft Teams is the only platform the school will use for this support. Please see our support page if help is needed.
1:30pm-2:00pm Teacher Break Time
2:00pm-3:00pm Staff Professional Development From 2:00pm-3:00pm each day staff will be online only for the purposes with collaborating with other StDCPS Staff, School Admin or CEWA Professional Collaboration Networks. In this time they will not be expected to collaborate with families. Whilst the school remains open this may involve one teacher online, whilst the other teacher supervises students across both classes, with the support of an Education Assistant.
Monday, 23rd March, 2020
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
In line with the latest advice from Commonwealth and WA Governments, St Damien’s Catholic Primary School is planning to remain open at least until the end of term to provide the best possible education to your children.
In line with Prime Minister’s and the WA Minister for Education’s advice, parents may choose to keep their children at home during this unprecedented time.
Please make your own family decisions based on not only what you feel is best for your safety and well-being, but for the safety and well-being of others. Families are expected to adhere to any guidelines for absentees (e.g. recently returned from overseas).
We ask that all parents, in whatever course of action they choose, remain respectful, flexible and patient with the staff at the school, who are planning and learning new technologies at an unprecedented pace.
State and Territory Premiers and Chief Ministers have committed to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advice that says that it is safe to keep schools open.
In considering the potential risks associated with COVID-19, our school has been working with Catholic Education Western Australia in conjunction with the WA Department of Health and the Department of Education throughout the evolution of COVID-19 to ensure we have the best possible preparedness and response strategies in place.
I am aware at this time that different schools in Mandurah are reacting differently. We maintain what is best for our school, whilst working with our expectations as a CEWA school.
We are working hard to ensure our teaching and learning continuity plan supports students to engage in remote learning should our school be required to close. Those students who are not attending school because parents have chosen not to send them willbe able to engage with their learning by:
- Testing their Microsoft Teams account from Monday 23rd March
- Accessing Student Work from the StDCPS Website from Tuesday 24th March(to test if parents can retrieve the work).
- Engaging with Teachers online from Wednesday 25th March, asking for feedback and guidance.
- Parents using the resources provided to best help guide their children through the activities when directed to by teachers (ongoing).
- Online Learning Activities can be completed with correspondencefrom teachers from Thursday 26thMarch
Please be aware that the teachers, and the school, are currently developing realistic and efficient work environments and expectations for our teaching staff to pull off this enormous task. If we do not meet the above deadlines, I will communicate with the community.The health and well-being of our teachers is a priority.
A decision was also made today to send home the Year 3-6 iPads for Online Learning.
Please be assured that whilst the school remains open, social distancing will be enforced and cleaning regimes will continue to be completed to the highest possible standards to mitigate risks associated with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. I ask that you also have conversations with your child about the importance of these measures. If your child is feeling unwell in any way, please keep them at home.
In acknowledging the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 for families in our school community, I also assure parents that we remain determined that no family seeking a Catholic education for their child be denied the opportunity due to financial difficulty. Catholic Education Western Australia is addressing potential concerns relating to fees and affordability that may arise as a result of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a changing situation that is affecting many areas of our lives, and it is normal for all of us to feel anxious and worried, your child included.
Our teachers and other school staff are doing a wonderful job in providing pastoral support to students at this challenging time. It is important to remember that as parents, you can help your child process all the information they are receiving and the changes that are taking place around COVID-19. You can stay informed and provide factual, age appropriate information about COVID-19 that will help your child feel informed and empowered, rather than afraid.
Everyone in the community has a part to play in helping control the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to follow the latest advice of the Department of Health. I will keep you informed about any changes for our school as updates become available.
Thank you for your support at this time, and as a Catholic community I encourage all of you to pray for those coordinating our response in Australia, and for all of those in Australia and abroad affected by COVID-19.
As always, I ask that you contact me directly if you have any concern that may relate to your child.
Mr Brett Crebert
20th March, 2020.
What a week and what an honour is has been for our staff to have felt so much support and appreciation from you, the school community. I would not call many of the positive events in our school this week a ‘miracle’ simply because staff, families and students attitudes were at the level we had previously come to expect – no surprises there!
I would like to acknowledge Mrs Caroline Leighton for her outstanding support of the school, students and families this week, her correspondence with families, and support in making some challenging decisions. Mrs Stevenson, Mrs Salmeri and Mrs Stoove have also been unflappable in handling the situations that arose throughout the week.
And the teaching and support staff….wow!
Please click below on the parent survey that will allow the school to gather information about the supplies, resources and skill sets available in our community, from which we can adjust our planning.
The last question is for open feedback, may I please request that this remains only for the purpose of information regarding the families capacity for Online Learning.
From next week we will begin to send home PARENT HOMEWORK!
Our staff will work with our families to set up help and support so that parents can test and get support on our Online Learning capabilities.
Unfortunately all aspects of the Year 3 Reconciliation have been cancelled today. Mrs Leighton worked with the Year 3 families to come to a realistic way for the event to occur, but the ‘powers that be’ decided to cancel all School Sacrament preparations today. We must work in conjunction with these decisions.
We have done everything we can at St Damien’s to ‘hang on’ to as many of our activities as possible, and we will hang on as long as we can!
Closing Message for the Week
I’d like to say “Enjoy your weekend, put your feet up and enjoy the footy!” but unfortunately many of our families still have parents working and committed. I believe many of our families need to be applauded for their roles in keeping on at work, supporting either their family, or the community at large. Everyone is playing their part and the positivity is evident.
19th March, 2020
From the School Board
Our School Board, chaired by Mr Matthew Edwards, met tonight (19th March) and had very clear and constructive conversations about the School’s current and future positions, in both the current world-wide climate, and if events were proceeding ‘as normal’. It was clear that our previous Principals, Mr Joe Bartucciotto and Mr Steve Dowie, had set up the school in a manner that we are as well-prepared financially and structurally, for any instances, as a school could be. This level of excellence could not have been achieved without the amazing skillset that our School Bursar, Mrs Michelle Farcich, has provided over the 15 years of the school.
In order to respond to the quickly changing dynamics of the modern world, the School Board has agreed to hold more regular meetings to discuss any changes that may be relevant to the operation of our school, initially by holding another meeting next Thursday at 7pm.
The School Board has clear priorities of monitoring and maintaining the financial well-being of the school and this includes maintaining a line of support for our families. It is understood that many parents have a lot of priorities to consider at the moment, and decisions to make. The Board invites all families to reach out the school if any level of support, or clarification, is required to guide families through the times ahead.
From the Principal
Thank you to our community for the feedback we have received about our communication. I am very mindful that we have sent a lot of emails and updates, but we hope that families have felt we’ve provided enough information that clarifies our school decisions, our thought processes and our plans moving forward. Our planning has moved at a hectic pace; however, we have been deliberate in what we have chosen.
I’m trying personally to limit my own Social Media time at the moment (however we are absolutely loving all the hilarious memes about home-schooling currently out there!) and there is currently an enormous amount of ideas, resources, and free subscriptions out there for parents and schools to access. I would like families to know that the school is very aware of all of these great ideas, but will not initially be using them as recommendations for our students for Online Learning. The school will only support, and provide feedback for, resources and platforms that we have indicated as part of our programs. In saying this, we reserve the right, if awesome online ideas and resources seem manageable for our school, to make them part of our program!
Communications to the Principal
May I ask the parents direct all of their concerns or queries to me via the school email at email@example.com? Our School Leadership and Administration Team are working together closely at the moment and all members of this team are in a position to potentially help, if I am unavailable. I am finding that currently it is taking me longer than 24hrs to reply to parents, and I don’t feel that is fair for you, if there was an opportunity for other staff to potentially help.
If the matter is sensitive, or a direct reply to individual correspondence I have sent, then please feel free to email me.
Friday Beach Sport has been cancelled as will other gatherings that may have involved bringing in large groups of people (e.g. Class Liturgies etc). Our decisions are made with consideration to a large amount of directive and internal support factors.
We are traditionally a very ‘busy’ school, we aim to provide an immense amount of extra-curricular and pastoral offerings for students. Sadly, as we cancel these events it has proven to be a reminder of how important these activities are for the students morale and enjoyment of school life. Please know we are open to ideas and feedback from the community in ways we can continue to support our students, in order to keep an ‘upbeat’ environment.
Today we will trial a new way of handing out our awards. We invite all parents of children receiving awards to be present at your child’s class at 8:45am for the Classroom Teachers to present the awards.
At 8:55am I will announce over our loud speakers all award winners, and give all kids in the school my blessing to cheer as loud as they want when they hear their team-mates names called out. I want everyone in Dawesville to hear the roars!
After re-reading my blog from Wednesday, I reflected my language may have seemed ‘harsh’ (I re-emphasise that the school is not endorsing students staying away from school (without legitimate reason). Families may be aware that even our politicians are using more direct language when discussing the situation many families are facing.
I understand families may though be finding it challenging to understand the exact rulings on how should / should not / can / cannot attend school. Currently schools and families are required to consider all directives from the government and consider these. I ask, that if you are having troubles understanding these, please email the school at firstname.lastname@example.org
At St Damien’s, we believe we are providing a safe and supportive environment for our children, and we are working hard to provide this consistently.
An important parent survey will be sent home today for all parents to fill out in regards to families capacity to support online learning. We ask all parents to fill out the questions. It will be simply a ‘tick a box’ type of survey. I understand the parents may wish to contribute other thoughts and feedback, however the school does not, at this point in time, have a capacity to process all of these requests and give them the time required.
18th March, 2020
Thank you for the amazing support you have given our school this week. St Damien’s would not be the school it is without you.
Online learning support packs have gone home today, as was indicated in yesterdays email.
I re-emphasise that the school is not endorsing students staying away from school (without legitimate reason). The best access to education is still through attendance and participation at school, with our amazing staff.
Our reasons for sending the packs home is to support students who are unwell, or have, according to Health Department Regulations, reason to isolate and/or self-monitor. We also believe that it is our responsibility to be adequately prepared for the most unpredictable of all circumstances – a school shutdown.
Our staff spent an enormous amount time considering the implications that these packages may send the wrong message, we thank all parents for understanding they are only intended to be sent for extreme circumstances.
This morning Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced further expectations upon Australians in regards to our conduct and capacity to hold certain events. We take such notification in addition to our own internal feedback and capacity when making decisions.
Unfortunately this morning we cancelled the Year 3 Liturgy and the PP Assembly, which was intended to be shifted to a student and parents of Pre Primary only event, but unfortunately, that could not proceed.
The following events have also been cancelled;
- Runners Club
- Interschool Swimming Carnival (Year 4-6)
- Term 2 Interschool Winter Sport (Year 5/6)
A decision will be made tomorrow about Friday Beach Sports.
Today I have also sent home two notes regarding Microsoft Teams use and School / Parent communication.
17th March, 2020
In the last 48hrs the staff at St Damien’s Catholic Primary School have worked extremely hard and put in an enormous amount of consideration to ensuring that the students of St Damien’s have access to the best, safest and healthiest schooling experience possible. We are contending with factors, variables, resources, media influence and the ‘court of public opinion’ that are wide, varied and constantly changing.
Please know we make all our decisions with the priorities of:
* The health and well-being of our students, staff and families.
* Guidelines, laws and regulations we, as a Catholic School, are required to follow.
* Best knowledge and judgment of how we can modify, if possible, our events, or cancel if decided.
May I ask parents to please be aware of the following:
Unfortunately our Canteen may experience some supply issues with items used to create our delicious lunches and recesses. Best efforts will be made by the canteen staff to update our Online portal as to what foods are not available. If you use the ‘paper-bag method’, or the online portal has not been updated, our canteen staff will do their best to:
- Find a similar item in price and type. (Mrs Rubie and Mrs Taylor know what kids like!)
- Have the student come to the canteen to pick another item.
- Send home change (after exhausting all efforts to find suitable food replacements)
In the event that some of our providers are still able to supply items that we usually only allow one day per week (I know you’re all wondering about the pies and sausage rolls!) we may consider extending these days temporarily.
Note home today
I have emailed a note home today to all families in regards to the schools current plans for “Online Education” in the event of mass absences, or School Shutdowns. There is currently no indication from our governing authorities that either are predictable, set in place or have an outlined timeline; however, as a school we believe it is crucial to be well-planned. Catholic Education WA is advising schools to involve students and parents in ‘testing technologies’ as soon as possible with the students at school, and with families at home.
We are fully aware that by taking these steps, parents and students may get the impression that these events are closer than expected, and it may concern some families. I ask all parents to take the time to talk with their children, use the resources available (e.g. what I sent yesterday) to make sure they have the chance to understand why we are taking these steps. It is crucial that parents at home support these decisions and show that this is in best interest of the children. Obviously we would love to know that all our efforts with preparing Online Education were not required, but we are not in a position to take that chance.
Attendance and Community mis-information
We are aware of many families who are making the decision to keep their children at home at the moment due to concerns about health and well-being. All current advice from the governments of Western Australia and Australia is that school absences are required if there are certain international travel circumstances, confirmed exposure to or diagnosis of COVID-19 and personal health signs and symptoms that may indicate possible infection (in which case it is recommended families seek Medical Advice). Many of these circumstances can be clarified by calling the Coronavirus Hotline, checking with WA, Australian and CEWA Information pages, or even contacting the school.
We will not exclude a student from our school without proper consideration of what is legally expected and / or without opening up an open dialogue with the parents.
We hope that all families see our school as a safe environment that they have no real reason to keep their children away from without valid reason.
Please ensure that if you have heard anything about a family, student or staff member at the school, you take measures to contact the school directly to either notify or get clarification on the circumstances before making a decision and discussing with other families. The school has spent an enormous amount of time today trying to clarify mis-information in our school and it has taken away from other important tasks. We understand parent concerns, and wish to be available for support when required.
Currently, we are focusing our efforts on preparing and responding to as many situations as possible. May I ask that families please be mindful of the nature of the individual requests being put forward to our Administration Team and Teachers at this time?
Student Health, urgent matters, and whole-school planning are our current priorities, and we would like to make sure that our whole team is able to direct their efforts accordingly.
As stated, our teaching staff are currently developing plans for Online Learning in the event of higher absentee rates, or other circumstances. As they are developed we are confident in these being accessed by students who are sick, or, for various reasons, required to stay away from school; however, until they are finished I will not be asking teachers to prioritise sending home work for students who are absent. Currently their priorities must be the education of those students at school, and the planning we are undertaking.
16th March, 2020
Yr 5 Triatholon – 17th March
Yr 6 Triatholon – 19th March
League Tag – 20th March (No 7am training sessions either this week)
Water Polo – 20th March
All assemblies until further notice ( Monday morning, Friday morning and Friday afternoon).
Awards will be handed out in class.
We apologise for any inconvenience.
Please see below advice from Western Australian Health. Click here for WA Health Page
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by practising good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough etiquette. This includes:
- frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand gel
- refraining from touching mouth and nose
- if coughing or sneezing, covering your nose and mouth with a paper tissue or flexed elbow – dispose of the tissue immediately after use and perform hand hygiene
- avoiding close contact with anyone if you, or they, have a cold or flu-like symptoms (maintain a distance of at least 1 metre).
Please see below the updated version of the CEWA Coronavirus Page Click here for CEWA Page
Updated: 16 March 2020
Information for Parents and Caregivers
Catholic Education Western Australia is acting on the advice of the WA Department of Health to take the necessary precautions for schools and staff.
If there was to be a confirmed COVID-19 case at a school, the decision to close a school is based on the expert advice from the WA Health Department’s Chief Health Officer.
The Chief Health Officer will, if there has been a positive COVID-19 test result in a school, close the school temporarily while assessment and tracing of exposure is conducted. A thorough school clean will then be carried out to make the school safe for the return of students and staff.
In this situation, all families will be immediately contacted by the school and provided with the relevant information.
The Prime Minister has announced that as of 12.00am 16 March 2020, all people returning from international travel must self-isolate for 14 days after the date of return to Australia.
Parents/carers must notify their school that their child will be absent from school for the isolation period and confirm the date of arrival into Australia.
Parents may want to seek alternative arrangements for their child’s remote learning keeping in mind that the isolation period, provided the person remains well, is a maximum of 14 days.
Students do not require a medical certificate or clearance to return to school but must remain at home until 14 days.
The Australian Government has announced that all organised, non-essential mass gatherings attended by more than 500 people must be cancelled from Monday 16 March 2020.
Each school will inform parents/carers about events and activities that will need to be cancelled or postponed.
Updates will be provided as any new information becomes available. Please check back regularly to ensure the information you have is up to date.
The Department of Education, Catholic Education Western Australia and The Association of Independent Schools of WA will continue to respond as a collaborative team to advice from the WA Department of Health and provide updated advice to schools and staff as appropriate.
For more information
- WA Department of Health: www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/coronavirus
- Call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
- For general or travel related queries about coronavirus please go to the healthdirect website.
- Visit the Australian Department of Health website or details about the novel coronavirus.
- You can also visit the World Health Organisation website for more information about coronavirus and for updates.
12th March, 2020
It is with pleasure that the school supports one of our Year 5 students, Ruby Jones, on her quest for raising awareness and funds for the Leukaemia Foundation. Over the next couple of weeks, the school would like to support her in the following way:
- Ruby is appearing live on Breakfast Radio 92.9FM on Friday 13th March to share her story (with rumour that Xavier Ellis may shave his head!). We will try to get access to this interview and play later in the day for the kids.
- On Monday, 16th March, Lauren from the Leukaemia Foundation will talk to the students at our Monday Assembly.
- Over the period of 16th March – 24th March, Ruby will promote awareness in our school.
- On Wednesday the 25th March, Ruby would like to do the ‘World’s Greatest Shave’ in front of the school, and she would also like for the entire school to have a ‘Crazy Hair Day’ to support her (obviously – we said “YES!”)
- On this day, we are working at setting up some engaging and fun filled experiences for the kids, in addition to the Crazy Hair Day.
Whilst the school will set up means for families to donate to the Leukaemia Foundation, either online or in ‘money tins’, Ruby has made it clear that her main goal is raising awareness in our School Community. Ruby’s efforts have been amazing within the Mandurah region and I encourage all families to support her cause, in whatever way possible.
Ruby’s idea of a whole school ‘Crazy Hair Day’ is a great initiative, and I would like to support all families in doing what needs to be done to enjoy the day (I’m even happy to let colours stay in until the weekend); however, I ask all families to consider if they are in a position to spend money on their ‘hair-dos’, would it possibly be an opportunity to spend a little bit less on colouring, gels and accessories and maybe consider donating a little bit more to this great initiative?
Thank you again for the way our community has responded to the Coronavirus concerns. At this point in time I feel that the information and guidelines provided by the media is generally correct (from a school’s perspective) but I continue to ask parents to confirm and clarify any concerns or questions with a authorised body before taking any action. Please feel free to contact the school; however, sometimes an email may be more appropriate, as it allows our Administration Team time to consult and more accurately provide feedback.
Family, Staff and Student cooperation with these guidelines and expectations is essential for our collective health and continued delivery of education.
Do you remember being at school and needing to write a story, report or poem and being told “Here’s what you need to do, it’s due in two weeks.”? There is very little about that process that actually supports student academic growth, especially when, along the journey, a student is offered minimal guidance or feedback.
At St Damien’s we use an approach called “Talk 4 Writing” Click here for Talk 4 Writing Link which allows the teachers and students to break down story creation into small, meaningful phases.
This week we had the pleasure of Dean Thompson, a Talk 4 Writing consultant from England, come to our school and work with staff for a day, on developing our school’s capacity to deliver such a program. We hope all of our parents see great progress and creativity in all of our students’ written pieces. I thank all staff for their enthusiasm towards this program.
Thank you to the P & F for putting on a fantastic Movie Night. It was an absolutely wonderful turnout and the children loved their viewing of “Secret Life of Pets 2.” We ask all parents to consider if they can attend, contribute or participate in any small way with our P & F. Hopefully parents feel it’s a great two-way network for parents to contribute to the school, but also to help parents feel that they are a valued member of the school community.
Our Weekend Children’s Masses were a fantastic success and yes, the rumours were true, ice-creams and choc-chip muffins were offered to all the children who attended. Will this be something that happens again at future Weekend School Masses?
Guess there’s only one way to find out……
5th March, 2020
How the world changes in a week…
Good morning families,
We have received communication from Bishop Gerard Holohan regarding precautions our Bishops are putting in place during all Masses to reduce the potential of contracting coronavirus.
Considering our School Masses are this coming weekend, we felt it necessary to inform you of these changes prior to Fr Vincent discussing them during Mass.
The following changes will be put in place in preparation for our Masses this weekend:
- Holy Water will be removed from the entrance of the church.
- There may be hand sanitiser available at the entrance.
- During the ‘Sign of Peace’, we will say the words “Peace be with you.” rather than shaking hands.
- The host (bread) or ‘Body of Christ (after consecration)’ will be the only species of Communion offered, there will not be any wine or ‘Blood of Christ’.
Father Vincent will discuss these changes at Mass this weekend and we look forward to seeing you on either Saturday night at 6pm or Sunday morning at 8:30am.
Thank you and God Bless.
We’d like to thank the teachers, families and students of St Damien’s for their conduct, patience and understanding with what is happening in the world with the Coronavirus.
We believe the parents and teachers of the school community are doing an amazing job at keeping our children as safe, healthy and as mindful as possible, without placing undue concerns or worries onto them. Stress and anxiety is certainly a concern for the young in our communities, and the current world situation should not be added to young people’s load.
Our children need to see that we are calm and measured in our actions, but they also need to listen when we tell them “wash your hands again, properly this time…..”
As information comes through from CEWA and Health Departments we will keep families informed. I can assure you that the authorities above our school are tirelessly developing plans and responses to support the students.
The main directives we are operating at the moment are:
* Not to travel to China or Iran.
* All International School Trips (except to New Zealand, Canada or the USA) are to be cancelled.
However, as new communication comes through, we will send updates to our parents.
We received the above communication this morning from Bishop Gerard Holohan in regards to safe practices being asked in church. The advice makes complete sense as a church is an open community, with varying ages of members.
This weekend’s Masses remain special ones, as they are both the Year Three Reconciliation Enrolment Masses as well as the Staff Commissioning Masses. The St Damien’s church is still a safe and welcoming environment, and I warmly invite all families to attend (6pm Saturday or 8:30am Sunday) to come along and share the celebration, but just to be mindful of these small changes.
I am proud to be a part of a Church that is so swift to look at their own practices and put in place sensible and realistic measures to support their community.
Last night’s P & F Meeting was a positive event for our school, especially for our Kindergarten and Year 6 classes who had funding requests granted. The Kindergarten will see new, bright and engaging equipment in their area and the Year 6’s are purchasing a group set of the Morris Gleitzman book “Boy Overboard”. I’d not only like to thank the attendees for voting to approve these items, I would also like to thank all the parents who assisted with our initiatives (Mothers and Fathers Day Stalls, Colour Runs, Easter Raffles as well). We hope that all parents who helped with these initiatives feel proud of their contributions.
In saying this, please be aware that being a part of the P & F does not mean you will be allocated a job instantly. It is perfectly acceptable to attend a meeting simply to hear what is happening, share a voice or opinion, or even just to help discuss with your friends about what is being done in this amazing group.
One of the greatest joys to witness at a P & F is where a parent is able to share an idea, perspective or contribution that they had no idea, going into the night, that they would have had the opportunity to share.
Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each Month, in the staffroom at 7pm. All are welcome!
Thank you to Miss Kimberly Welten, Miss Rayne Lynes, Miss Tahlia McMahon and Mrs Nikki Budgen for their undertaking of the Early Years Testing over the last couple of weeks.
Their patience and understanding in administering these assessments, whilst ensuring that their classes have strong, meaningful lessons planned for the relief teachers, is sensational.
I could not acknowledge their effort without also giving thanks to Mrs Kerrie Brion, Mrs Meagan Glenn, Mrs Jessica Mondello, Mrs Katie Moore and Mrs Tracey Honter who, as EA’s (Educational Assistants), have also been the reason classes have run so smoothly. I’d also like to thanks Mrs Fiona Stoove for her endless efforts in making sure the classes have good, reliable relief teachers. We are truly fortunate to have them on our team, I hope all the parents and students know how lucky they are to have these educators in our school.
Policy in Focus
Thank you for your support of the Crunch N Sip initiative at St Damien’s Catholic Primary School. “Crunch N Sip” is in full effect in our school and we are inviting all families to feel they are welcome to take part. As this initiative is a new one, we are slowly introducing allowed fruits and vegetables, and we appreciate the support of all families, in following the policy below.
Please click on the below link for our Crunch & Sip Policy:
I hope to see as many families as possible at the Movie Night tomorrow night (Friday 6th March, 7pm – Secret Life of Pets 2) and the School Masses on the weekend!
Mr Brett Crebert
27th February, 2020
First of all I will remind all families of what the kids (and teachers!) already know – there’s no school on Monday! (Labour Day Holiday) Enjoy the extra day, we hope the weather is great for families.
I always ask teachers and parents to be mindful of the ‘facts’ and ‘evidence’ reported about teaching, education and learning that can be found on Social Media and blogs, there is definitely truth and research based evidence to be found, but there are also sponsored content and reflections that may have best suited other children and families, but may not be relevant to ours, in many cases both perspectives can be right.
In saying this – I’ll admit it – I follow Maggie Dent’s Facebook page, and she often shares great material. Recently she promoted a quick blog page in which the benefits of handwriting were outlined. Link to Handwriting article As educators we are always mindful of our approaches to teaching handwriting: there are times when technology, art or drama is a better method of communication, there are times when having students simply write without the pressure of ‘being neat’ also has it benefits.We also want to encourage all kids to draw, colour-in, paint and build in experimental ways. We believe in the opportunities that iPads provide, but they are never intended to replace handwriting.
There can be little doubt; however, that the development of handwriting has its critical applications in developing fine motor skills and retention of information. At St Damien’s our classes are investigating a focus on student handwriting in order to support this development, which will initially see our Year 1-3 students working with a specific Handwriting textbook.
Every fortnight a student from each class at St Damien’s receives a “Wicked Work” Award where we acknowledge a piece of ‘pride’ work, a document where the student has specifically focused on their best presentation. The samples of work from these students can be seen on display in our front office and we congratulate all of our winners, especially those who have focused extremely hard on improvement, and are able to show their progress and efforts.
On 15th March at 2.20pm our Extension Performing Arts students will perform at the Crabfest Festival. Students from Years 4 to 6 are participating. We will be performing the Footloose dance and some special solo performances from Year 5 and 6.
Other Upcoming events:
Friday 6th March 7pm March P & F Movie Night – Secret Life of Pets 2
Saturday 7th March School Mass (Year 3 Reconciliation/Enrolment Mass) 6pm
Sunday 8th March School Mass (Year 3 Reconciliation/Enrolment Mass as well as Staff Commissioning Mass) 8:30am
I thank the school community for their understanding and co-operation with many of the new staffing structures we have at St Damien’s CPS. Mrs Brooke Dunning (Year 5), Mrs Emma Hicks (Staffing Support) and Mrs Meena Pachimuthu (Year 3) have all taken on roles in classrooms to support teaching staff with extended responsibilities, all of which should be able to be seen in the growth of our students.
St Damien’s is extremely lucky to these 3 teachers as part of our team in these roles and when called on for relief.
There were two main stories that have dominated the news cycles in the past week, both of which have gained world-wide attention for the devastation and impact on the families, but also the manner in which the voice of the Australian people has, with one voice, shared great sympathy for the families. A school Newsletter is not the place to dwell on the details of these stories; however, it’s can be a place to put forward a few resources to support students, families and educators. A website should never replace the support that good, human interaction can provide; however, the advice and resources within can be a helpful guide.
Policy in Focus
Walking on paths, playing on grass!
We are extremely proud of our grounds at St Damien’s and we love nothing more than seeing the students playing on our ovals, grassed and nature play areas. We also love seeing parents sit down in the afternoon on our grass and catch up. It is a privilege to offer our grounds to community sporting teams when they wish to train at our school, and the feedback we receive from visitors is that our grounds are second to none.
We strategically place an emphasis on caring for our grounds to help reinforce to our students about taking pride in their school, we have provided amazing facilities and we have a shared responsibility to maintain it.
It is asked that in our school the students, families and visitors, reinforce this by using our paths to walk on, and using the grass for play and relaxation. It would be fantastic to see more of the students to take the little bit of extra time to follow the paths, rather than take the short cuts. Will a child cutting across the grass to get to the office, deliver the canteen box or get to class quickly ruin it? Absolutely not, but as the year progress there are some key points of wear and tear on the grass which we’d like to keep as green and lush as possible. When kids play, they are amazing at distributing the wear and tear evenly!
Well done again to Melros for their victory in the Year 3-6 Interhouse Swimming Carnival. The final results were:
1st Melros – 434 Points
2nd Bouvard – 413 Points
3rd Florida – 393 Points
4th Wannanup – 357 Points
Our next Interschool Carnival is Cross Country, in Term 3; however, there are a lot of other events to occur in the meantime!
20th February, 2020
At the time of writing this Newsletter our Year 3-6 Swimming Carnival is in full swing (I’m sneakily typing this part from the scorers tent!) and I would like to thank the school community for their support of this event. I am especially proud of the standard of swimming of our students, congratulations to our champions and to all our swimmers who gave their best efforts. A special mention must go to the kids who know that swimming is not one of their strengths, but in order to help their house, or prove a point to themselves, they pushed on!
I thank Miss Jaimie Shanahan for all of her efforts in putting together such a well run carnival, and to all the teachers and parents who supported all of the students – we could not have had the day without you!
Whilst on the subject of determination and facing adversity, at Monday’s Assembly I showed the students one of my favourite all time video clips this week. If you have a moment, search for the video “Everyone needs a friend like #50”. It is a great video from a child’s basketball game. I encourage all of our students to “Be like #50” and when you see a friend, classmate, or any student from our school (or anyone for that matter!) in need of help, consider how your own small actions can mean the absolute world to someone else.
Thankyou for your support of the Heartkids fundraiser last week, we raised $479.50. Throughout the year we will continue to support Heartkids initiatives and we appreciate our school community taking the time to support this cause. Some families may have also seen an article in the Mandurah Mail recently where one of our students, Ruby Jones, is on her own personal crusade to raise both funds and awareness for the Leukaemia Foundation. More information will come through the school about her plans (and she most certainly has a few rippers!) and how she would like to engage and educate the school community.
On Tuesday we held our PLC (Professional Learning Community – it’s a fancy term for “Staff Meeting”!) in the Library and our staff broke down the Catholic Education WA’s document “Vision for Learning” Click here to access “Vision for Learning”
This is a great planning document that feeds further requirements that Catholic Schools are expected to work with, however a key point from our session was how strongly the StDCPS Staff emphasised one of five target areas, “Quality Relationships” as critical for a child’s success in education.
All schools face the challenges of catering for a large variety of student and family needs and we are very fortunate to have such a great staff who make enormous efforts for our students. We always invite parents to maintain a constant and constructive dialogue with our school if it is felt that there are areas in regards to their children in which we can help in supporting.
We are introducing “Crunch N Sip” at St Damien’s Catholic Primary School in 2020. Our staff have been collaborating to decide what the program will look like within our school. A “Health Committee” was formed and discussions about how the program will look have occurred. Families need to be aware that we did not take the lists directly from the “Crunch N Sip” Program, we have modified based on the schools needs. It is the intent that as we move forward there will be opportunities to grow and expand the program, however it is important that the start to the program is a smooth one. Whilst we finalise our policy and present parents a version that includes all details, I will let parents know that to begin the program, only the following foods are allowed:
- Carrot sticks
- Celery sticks
- Capsicum slices
- Cucumber slices
- Broccoli bits
- Cauliflower bits
- Sugar snap peas
- Apple slices
- Pear slices
Other fresh fruits and vegetables are still allowed at Lunch and Recess (in accordance with our Healthy Foods Policy). This initiative will not replace any aspect of Lunch and Recess.
Policy in Focus
Students on School Grounds before 8:15am and after 3pm
At St Damien’s we understand that our parents and families are very busy and the work demands faced can sometimes be challenging, especially with drop off and pick up times.
Many of our families have taken advantage of the Before and After School Care Program we offer through our providers “Fun-A-Rama” Click here for Fun-A-Rama Website and we are fortunate to have this service on-site.
In reminding families about our school’s rules in regards to students being on the grounds outside of school times we ask that you remember the ‘duty of care’ is on our school when students are on our premises. I hope that St Damien’s is never required to be a school that needs to consider locking all gates overnight, as we intend to work with families to support their needs, however our capabilities in providing staff and supervision are not unlimited.
We ask of students and families:
- No students should be on StDCPS grounds before 8am unless in a directly supervised program or event (Fun-A-Rama, Runners Club, Meeting with Class Teacher). In these circumstances, students only stay in a supervised environment.
- All students arriving between 8am and 8:15am are to move to the fenced Kindy Area. We ask that this includes students with their parents also.
- Students in the Kindy Area are asked to sit down with their friends / family until the 8:15am bell rings.
After 3:00pm students still on school grounds are assumed to be under the direct supervision of a coach, teacher (running a program such as Lego) or their parents. We ask that all students on the grounds follow school rules that apply during the day, including staying in uniform, with shoes and socks on. Student safety is not only our concern, but as stated, our duty of care, and we wish nothing more for our students than that they remain safe and happy.
Quite a few events are on the calendar to occur over the coming weekends: P & F Movie Nights, School Masses, St Damien’s Parish Beach Day. Keep an eye out for these events as a lot of our staff and members of the school and parish communities put in an enormous amount of effort to make these events the best they can be for our students. We’d all love to see as many families there as possible.
Mr Brett Crebert
13th February, 2020
Holidays are now a distant memory, although you wouldn’t know it from watching our Year 3-6 students swimming at Avalon Beach everyday! At St Damien’s we not only value, we prioritise student safety and understanding of being safe in our waterways, as we are surrounded by water. It fills us with great confidence to see so many of our students swimming in open water at such a competent level. We receive the most glowing feedback from the Swim Instructors in regards to both the standards and behaviour of our students. It’s great to see proficient stroke techniques, but it’s even better to see smart, aware, fit and healthy children tackle the beach and waves with such confidence.
Miss Jaimie Shanahan has worked hard in preparation for our Year 3-6 Swimming Carnival. Tomorrow (14th Feb) our students will have their Swim Trials, which allows the students to be put into the most perfect, and fair, race divisions and next Thursday (20th Feb) the students will swim in the carnival at the MARC. Our swim carnival is always a great event and we look forward to another strong turnout from parents in support.
This Friday, 14th February (Valentines Day!) we are extending the invitation for all of our students to bring a gold coin donation and wear red (anything – shirt, shorts, socks, hats) in support of Heartkids https://www.heartkids.org.au/
Those familiar with the history of the story of our school will be aware that we have students and families in our community that have been impacted by various heart conditions. Heartkids has been an amazing support for those families and it is always a privilege to be able to support this organisation in return for their amazing efforts.
On Tuesday we held our Parent / Teacher Information Sessions. We used a format that the school used in years past to ensure that all meetings happened on one date and we could coordinate our message. I recognise that there were challenges, especially for parents who had children in two (or more) grades; however, we don’t feel the numbers were significantly lower from previous years. If any parents feel that the presentations, either in class, or by the School’s Leadership Team, left questions unanswered, please feel free to contact your child’s teacher, Mrs Leighton or myself, and we will do our best to ensure you get the information you require.
This week I had the pleasure of attending both the P & F Meeting and the Parish Pastoral Council and was thrilled to see and hear the enthusiasm for ideas and initiatives that involve engaging and supporting our students, parents and families not only in what we do in the school, but what we do in our community.
There were many great ideas put forward that show that both groups have one key priority – bringing people together.
The school fully supports any initiatives that the P & F and Parish Pastoral Council puts forward, as we understand the enormous amount of effort and consideration that goes into their events.
The first event we’re looking forward to is a P & F Movie night on March 6th. This will be a free screening of The Secret Life of Pets 2 and all of our school families are invited to attend. The Parish is also hosting a Family Beach Day on Sunday 23rd February at 10am, down at South Florida Beach.
This year is shaping up to be a big one for our team, and our new President Rebecca Cattanach, and I invite all parents to attend the meetings and feel free to have both a listen and a say. The conversations held are relevant and allow the voice of the community to be heard. You don’t need to be a class representative to attend, and it most certainly does not mean you will be allocated a job if you are at the meeting! In saying that, ‘many hands make light work’, and if you would like to help in a small way, or are unable to make meetings and you would still like to contribute, please reach out to Rebecca, your class representatives, or the school and you will surely be listened to.
Policy in Focus
At the P & F Meeting last night, there were two main areas of concern / clarity raised that will involve further communication from the school to the parent body: Traffic Concerns and consistency of message for our Healthy Food Policy.
The school will continue to provide information to our families about issues we have with traffic, with the concerns raised being about traffic congestion having two schools share such a small space, and some general ‘courtesies’ we’d like parents to be aware of:
- We would like to ask all St Damien’s parents, if it is appropriate for their needs, to consider exiting the school ‘precinct’ onto the Highway on the exit via the Caltex Service Station. This would help alleviate the traffic in front of Ocean Rd.
- Please be mindful, if using Kiss and Drive in the afternoons (pick up at the church) that when the queue is long and extends into our school carpark, that waiting cars do not block empty carparks or cars waiting to leave.
- At the intersection of cars at the roundabout near the church, we ask that cars please respect a ‘one for one’ exiting approach where for every car that turns right off Nyabing, one car from the ‘dirt track’ at the back of the school is allowed to exit.
Last week I wrote about the need for drivers to be mindful of their speed, I’d like to reemphasise that the dirt track is not a road and should be driven very slowly and carefully, and I thank all parents who drive around our school with student safety in mind.
The school will continue to push out information in regards to the Healthy Food Policy, mainly our reasons for the Policy and why it is structured in such a manner and also the justification and efforts we have made historically to ensure our canteen operates in a manner that is consistent with the healthy food message and principles.
Thank you to the kids at St Damien’s. The students of our school are not only the reason for our existence, but the beating heart of all that is wonderful within our community. What an amazing group they are and the start they have had to the school year has been outstanding.
Mr Brett Crebert
6th February, 2020
Welcome Back! (or even simply “Welcome” to our new families). I hope that all families have had a wonderful and refreshing summer holiday and are keen and excited to start the 2020 school year. There were many different angles I was pondering for this first Newsletter; however, I’d like to share a quick story, and why it’s important.
We have had many highlights already in such a small space of time, but I’d like to share one from our Staffroom, at this week’s PLC (Professional Learning Community).
One grade excitedly shared their class’s spelling results from the start of year “pre-test”, and the levels of student performance were exceptional. We celebrated the efforts of the students, teachers and parents (I’ll come back to the parents in a minute!). We reflected on this group of students learning Spelling under a consistent program and approach all the way from the beginning of their schooling, in Kindy. The school has collectively, in recent years, analysed, evaluated and rebuilt its Spelling Program and we are proud to see the work and efforts put in translate to student learning.
It was a great way to start the year – with a celebration and it made me remember once being at a Seminar with some amazing Educational Speakers, having vigorous debates and sharing lots of facts, statistics and research and one quote about ‘what works in homework’ stuck with me:
“The success of homework in supporting learning all hinges on whether or not the student, teacher and parents are all on the same page.”
Now back to the parents! I thank the supportive parents of students who play such a strong role in the growth of their children. You may not even be aware of what you did to help, you helped with Sight Words, you practiced correct pronunciation or you may have pushed yourself hard to remember to read a story before bed each night; however, I am confident in saying that such great results could not have occurred without the excellent teaching and support staff of our school, and the commitment parents show in supporting their child’s learning and growth.
This is true across all of our school. As you send your children back to St Damien’s, we know that you do so with faith in our school, but with a willingness to play your role in supporting our children in their development. It is when the kids see and feel that the school and families are a cohesive unit, that they flourish.
Our children are very fortunate!
The transition of staffing between 2019 and 2020 has been quite sizeable at St Damien’s, but the standard of professional discussion and planning that has been occurring is fantastic. As teams are formed and new, exciting ideas have been shared, we look forward to what this great team can bring.
Mr Joseph Bartucciotto and Mr David Logue have taken leave from the school for the first 6 months of 2020, with our beloved “Mr B” taking the opportunity to guide and support schools and Principals in the CEWA Network. Mrs Natalya Simon has moved to another education role and we wish her all the best.
We welcome Mrs Trish Fernando to our school (Year 4) as our only “new” teacher. Mrs Janelle Bright and Mrs Michelle Doy have worked at our school previously and have returned in 2020 to teach Year 3. Mrs Emma Hicks will be joining our Early Years Team in the 3 Year Old Kindy. Mrs Jackie Craig has transitioned from her role as Canteen Manager to being the Education Assistant in our Year 5/6 Block and we also are proud to extend the employment of Mrs Fiona Stoove, Mrs Katie Moore, Mrs Jess Mondello and Mrs Shae Chalwell, all of whom had various relief / temporary roles with our school in 2019. Mrs Lynette Rubie and Mrs Kelly Taylor are running our School Canteen to its usual excellent standards.
In 2020 we will be working with an increasing number of staff into various Leadership Opportunities, and these roles are being warmly embraced. Mrs Fiona Anderson and Mrs Katelin Lampard will be part of the School’s Leadership Team, and we are grateful that they have taken on these roles whilst balancing the classes and other responsibilities they share.
Parent Information Sessions
Next Tuesday (11th February) we will be holding our Parent Information Sessions. These Sessions have been strategically timetabled to all occur on the one afternoon. We apologise if any families are unable to attend all their classes (due to multiple children); however, the teachers are more than happy to help you catch up on any important information you may have missed.
What we are planning in 2020 is two sessions from the School Leadership Team. In these sessions, Mrs Leighton and I will talk about a variety of school, and Parish policies and programs. There may be time for Q & A during these sessions; however, it is best thought of as a presentation. We will notify all families early next week as to the content of the Presentations; however, it will include School History and Culture, School Policy Explanations, Sacramental Information, Students with Special Needs, Accessing School Support Services, Year 3-6 iPad information etc.
Student Supervision We will be able to provide support for Kindy and Early Years classes; however, from 4pm there will be no Student Supervision Services Provided. Children are welcome to sit with their parents at the 4pm-5pm sessions; however, we ask that they are respectful. Supervision will occur in the Kindy play area when offered.
The times for the sessions are:
2:15pm-2:40pm School Leadership Presentation for Kindy Parents (Staffroom)
2:50pm-3:20pm 4-Year-Old Kindy Parents Information Session (Kindy Rooms)
3:30pm-4:00pm Pre-Primary – Year 2 Parent Information Sessions (Classrooms)
4:00pm-4:30pm School Leadership Presentation for Parents (Steve Dowie Hall)
4:30pm–5:00pm Year 3 – Year 6 Parent Information Sessions (Classrooms)
“High Expectations” and St Damien’s Uniform, Hair and Lunchbox Policy.
In 2018, I was blessed to have my first experience as Acting Principal of the school and upon reflection, one of the most rewarding aspects of the role was interviewing potential new families to our school, especially in Kindergarten. To have the opportunity to learn what parents wished for, and expected, from St Damien’s was a fascinating, and re-affirming insight. The most consistent response from parents to the question “Why St Damien’s?” was “High Expectations” and “High Standards”.
At our school, we are fully aware that our expectations regarding Uniform, Hair, Behaviour and Healthy Lunchbox are at this high standard, we pride ourselves on it, and the positive environment and results they have fostered. We believe strongly in the core values that underpin our approaches. A commitment to enrolling your child at St Damien’s carries with it the understanding of these expectations and the agreement to comply with the school standards.
Uniform and Hair notes have been sent home this week to students who, for various reasons, may not have returned to school in accordance with these policies. We understand that is not what some students or families hoped for in their first week, and there may have been circumstances (white sport shoes shortages across stores in Mandurah!) that were out of your control.
We ask though, that all families take the swiftest possible action in ensuring that their children are presented each day in the manner expected, ready for a great day.
Speed Limits and Parking
At St Damien’s we are realistically aware of the parking and traffic challenges we face, and we are in constant discussion with the council in order to ensure the best circumstances exist for the safety of our children.
We have requested an extension to our School Zone Area of 40km/h, to go further than it does currently; however, I ask all parents to please consider all of the roads around our school precinct as 30km/h (not a typo!) as the amount of children, families and cars around our school(s) is quite high. (See picture below roads in yellow) The dirt track behind our school is also a very busy area and I cannot see reason for cars to be travelling over 10km/h in there. We also request parents reverse park in our carparks, and in the vacant areas around our school to provide maximum visibility. I am aware I cannot legally enforce this; however, as a School Leader and a parent of 3 children in the school, I feel strongly about the safety of our kids and I know many of the parents in our school feel the same way.
Mr Brett Crebert
12th December 2019
I wish you all a very happy, healthy and holy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
Thank you to the staff for their care and attention of the students. Thank you also to all the children who have worked hard so hard throughout 2019 and to all those parents who have given us such excellent support.
I will be undertaking some work for Catholic Education WA in Semester of 2020 but am pleased to leave the school in the very capable hands of Mr Brett Crebert, who will be in the Principal’s Role and Mrs Caroline Leighton who will be continuing her wonderful work as Assistant Principal assisted by some senior staff. I know that with the support of great staff, parents and students, 2020 will be yet another wonderful year.
5th December 2019
Congratulations to all children and staff for a fantastic End of Year Awards Evening. It was wonderful to hear the various spectacular items and having the opportunity to acknowledge the recipients of the many awards. What was even more gratifying was hearing the conversations and deliberations teachers were having deciding which of the numerous worthy recipients to whom they would actually allocate the awards. We are indeed blessed here at StDCPS with many, many talented and hard-working students who deserve recognition for their efforts irrespective of whether they are the final recipient of an award or not.
May I pass on my thanks to the staff for coordinating and conducting such a magnificent evening, to Mr Crebert and his band of assistants for the organisation of the events, the 2019 student leaders for conducting the proceedings, the children for their excellent items, the parents for their participation and support and to the staff for their wonderful conclusion to the night.
Congratulations to all award recipients and student leaders. Congratulations to them and a special congratulations to all those other wonderful students of St Damien’s who equally deserve to be acknowledged for their efforts and dedication.
28th November 2019
Congratulations to all the students in Year Six for the magnificent manner in which they conducted themselves throughout camp at Rottnest. From all reports the children had a great time, learned a great deal about themselves and working collaboratively with others. Well done to all involved and thank you to all the staff who assisted at camp and took on extra duties at school to enable so many staff be away. Thank you also, for the trust you placed in us knowing we would look after the children in such a careful and diligent manner.
I look forward to catching up with the youth of the parish (9yo ish to 40yo ish) on Sunday for a quick game of 5-a-Side soccer or netball, basketball on the school oval at the conclusion of mass. Stay for half an hour, hour or a couple of hours. Free sausage sizzle and drinks available. No cost involved but younger students will require parents to be on site for supervision.
The next few weeks have many, many, many different things going on and I implore you to keep the school website calendar as a favourite on your browser or phone for the very latest pertinent information.
This year reports WILL NOT be given out after the concert; however, there is a spectacular event at the conclusion of the evening and it is an expectation, as well as common courtesy, that all children remain for the entire evening (rugged up and warm, please).
Reports will be delivered to families on the last day of school along with the name of their teacher for 2020. There have been a number of staff movements made for the 2020 school year on order to deliver the very best educational opportunities to all students.
I would also like to once inform you that the Director of CEWA, Dr Debra Sayce, has offered me the position of School Improvement Advisor for a six month period commencing January 2020. I really do apologise for the lateness of this announcement; however, the position was only recently vacated.
I know the wonderful, supportive and nurturing community of families for which St Damien’s is renown will ensure that the culture and values built up over many years will retain the standards of excellence that have been a hallmark of St Damien’s throughout its history.
Mr Brett Crebert will once again undertake the Principalship of the school as he did previously. He will again be ably assisted by Mrs Caroline Leighton and all staff. Special extra duties will also be undertaken by other senior staff. I have full confidence that the Leadership Team will maintain the improvement trajectory the school consistently strives to achieve.
I look forward to returning at the beginning of Semester Two, to complete the 2020 school year.
21 November 2019
I am pleased to report that all our Year Six campers from Rottnest have returned safe and sound; albeit, very tired and full of stories. We now enter that period of the year when things go from moving fast to frenetic as we get everything prepared for the end of the year. Please keep your eyes on the school calendar, notes and other communication from the school to keep abreast of all that is going on. It should be a wonderful end to what has been a very successful year.
Last night we held the Board and P&F AGM and it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to hear the reports of the various executive members as well as having the opportunity to personally thank them, on our behalf, for all their work, support and guidance. It was sad to farewell Mrs Andrea Kelly (P&F President) who will be leaving the school as her daughter will be graduating at the end of the year, Mrs Claire Reid (P&F Secretary) who will be undertaking other roles in her life Mrs Amanda Reid (Board Treasurer) who has other commitments that will preclude her from completing her duties for the school. I sincerely thank them all for their contributions and wish them all the very best. Mrs Rebecca Cattanach was elected to the post of P&F President, Mrs Kristie Tonkin was appointed as our Vice President of the P&F in her absence, and Mr Ben Dell is our newly appointed Board Treasurer. I thank them for offering their services and we will be soliciting others to nominate for some still vacant roles in both groups in the new year.
We are still working on the final composition of both teacher and student placements. Thank you to all parents who registered their preferences. While we would like to accommodate everyone’s requests, I am certain you understand that this would be patently impossible. We will always make every effort to place children into the classes with peers and teachers who will be able to provide them with the very best opportunities to grow, learn and thrive. At present we are working on ascertaining which teachers will be returning and which may choose to undertake opportunities elsewhere. While there is generally little variance from this point forward, we are keenly aware that changes may be required right up to the very last day. I thank you for your patience and for following the protocols in registering your preferences.
Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
14th November 2019
A warm, warm greeting from all the fortunate campers on Rottnest. From the reports I have been receiving they are having a wonderful, albeit exhausting time not only discovering new sights, sounds and experiences but in also spending quality time with their friends. My sincerest thanks to their teachers and the staff who have gone over to ensure they remain, safe, sound and happy. We look forward to seeing them return tomorrow afternoon, exhausted but all the better for the experiences they would have encountered.
Last week I had the pleasure of being with the Year Fives on camp at Fairbridge. I want to commend the children on their excellent behaviour, demeanour and for the wonderful collaboration and leadership many students displayed. Again my thanks is extended to the staff who made the camp such a huge success. Thanks also goes to those members of staff who, while not on camp directly, contribute through the extra jobs they pick at school to ensure everything remains smooth for the students of St Damien’s.
The St Damien’s Parish is having an informal sport day at school on Sunday 1st December, following the 8.30 mass. Youth (between 9ish to 40ish) are invited to come along after mass and take part in some 5-a-Side Soccer / Basketball / Table Tennis for a couple of hours, have a free sausage sizzle and drink and spend time with their fellow parishioners. We look forward to seeing kids and their families come along after mass and enjoy some fun. Thank you to Fr Vincent and the Parish Youth Committee for organising this event.
Could you please complete the RSVP attached to the newsletter so we can have an estimate of numbers for catering.
We look forward to the Colour Run being staged by the P&F on 29th November. (PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ensure your child has old light coloured clothing to wear for the event and appropriate change of clothing if going home by bus). This is the event that the students selected as their choice for a fundraiser and I believe it will prove to be a great deal of fun. Thanks again to all involved.
I have noticed that some students are attempting to leave school on their scooters or bikes without wearing the legally required helmet. Quite apart from the $50 fine that can be meted out by the police (as they did recently to one member of our school), it is potentially very unsafe and our school rules clearly state that it is a requirement that children riding to and/or from school are required to wear an appropriate helmet.
Finally, as the weather warms up please encourage your children to remain SunSmart.
Wishing all a safe and relaxing weekend.
7th November 2019
Greetings from Fairbridge. Today the students in Year Five have been exploring the wonderful experiences offered on camp at Fairbridge Farm. I am certain they will gain a great deal from their activities and from the opportunities to share challenges, good times and friendships with their peers. We look forward to returning tomorrow all safe, sound and exhausted but most of all, thoroughly enriched by their many and varied opportunities to learn about ourselves and others.
I also wish the Year Six students Godspeed for their ‘Rotto’ Camp next week and I look forward to hearing many fabulous stories come back from their time away.
Congratulations to the Year Fours on their liturgy yesterday. Thank you to all the parents who came along to support the children and to the teachers who worked in preparing and running the Liturgy. As always, thank you also to Fr Vincent for his wonderful words of wisdom.
The parish has organised a Sport Fun day on Sunday 1st December. Please refer to the flyer accompanying this week’s newsletter.
Wishing all a safe and happy (and warm) weekend.
31st October 2019
Congratulations to all involved in yesterday’s Italian Assembly. The students’ performances were extraordinary, and all present were enthralled by the quality, fun and celebration evident throughout the event. It was a pleasure to have Mayor Rhys Williams, The Italian Consul, Dr David Balloni, Mandurah Councillor Merv Darcy and Catholic Education WA Language Consultant Marisa Schiavi attend the assembly. Along with all others in attendance I am certain they thoroughly enjoyed the many and varied acts. The event began with a stirring acknowledgement to country and continued with its accustomed frivolity and fun. It was evident to all, that language learning is a vibrant enterprise at our school.
Many thanks to Signora Bava for her preparation and coordination of the extravaganza; it was yet another hugely successful fun-filled assembly. Thanks also Ms Hilson for her technical support, Mrs Burns for the musical accompaniment, Mrs Craig for the lovely Italian treats and to all staff, especially Mr Logue (although I do question his dubious casting choices) who went over and above the call of duty to ensure this event retains a special memory in the hearts and minds of all involved.
This week there will be a special survey going home to ‘allow’ parents the ability to pass onto the administration team any information they would like us to consider before we place students into their 2020 classes.
THIS WILL BE THE ONLY MEANS BY WHICH WE WILL CONSIDER YOUR STUDENT PLACEMENT SUGGESTIONS.
In the previous two years, in which we have allowed parents to have the opportunity to have input into the process, we have received letters, notes, phone calls, napkins with suggestions and many other forms or correspondence. Sometimes important information, worthy of note, has not been received until the very end of the year, (and even the beginning of the new year) when it is far too late to make adjustments. Please feel free to discuss placement with your child’s teacher; however, ALL PLACEMENTS ARE MADE BY THE ADMINISTRATION TEAM. Teachers are NOT in a position to promise you that your request will met.
The closing date for the return of the surveys is Thursday, 14th November.
The St Damien’s School community passes on its sincerest condolences to Mr Steve Dowie on the sad loss of his beloved mother, Maxine. We offer Steve, Jenny and their family our deepest sympathies and will keep them all close in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.
24th October 2019
Congratulations to all students who participated in the PSSA Athletics carnival last Friday. There were many meritorious efforts and several children achieved personal bests in both their accomplishments and in their representation of the fine name that our school has developed over the years since its inception. We are always proud to honour those children who achieve top academic and athletic results; however, as a school we are equally as proud to know that each and every person who represents our school and wears our emblem, does so in a manner which pays homage to the high standards we purport to hold.
Well done to all our athletes, our supporting peer students and teacher/staff trainers who attempt to maintain the highest of standards at all times. I also offer a sincere thank you to the parents who invariably support our efforts to achieve excellence in determination, effort and progress.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy end to the week and an enjoyable weekend.
17th October 2019
Welcome back to what promises to be yet another exciting, educative and fun-filled term. I hope you had some time to recharge, recuperate from the winter chills and prepare yourselves for another great term at St Damien’s. The year has certainly passed quickly and we now find ourselves at the point of honing our children’s skills, knowledge and learning.
This term we welcome Mrs Katelin Lampard and Ms Emma Hicks to Year Two Gold. We know that having two such talented teachers take the helm will allow us to continue the great work commenced by their previous teacher, Mrs Peta Ryan who unfortunately needed to resign at the end of last term. We are fortunate to have two wonderful staff to run the class and I am certain that their collaboration, co-planning and wonderful fresh ideas will only enhance what was already a fantastic class.
During the past weeks we have received a number of ‘report’ cards on our school’s performance; NAPLAN and our Registration Audit Report. Both have shown that thanks to the hard work of staff, the support of parents and the endeavour of students, StDCPS is progressing very well educationally and our policies, governance, catholicity, structures and practices are conducive to providing a sound education to all students and a safe environment to all who work and visit our school.
My congratulations to all involved in making this school such an exemplary institute of learning and in carrying forth the wonderful vision commenced many years ago by previous administrators, staff, parents and students.
As mentioned, this is a very busy term, so I advise that you refer to our planner which went home yesterday, and to circle significant dates. I also commend you to support our wonderful advertisers on the planner as their contributions to our school deserve our patronage.
For the most up to date version of our calendar ALWAYS refer to our website calendar which can be found at http://www.stdamienscps.wa.edu.au/calendar-new/ as dates and plans can change.
Good luck to all our athletes competing in tomorrow’s PSSA Interschool Carnival at Frederick Irwin Anglican Primary School, Meadow Springs. We wish them all the best and thank them and their trainers for their endeavours.
I wish you all a successful, safe and fruitful term.
19 September 2019
I was a real joy to be a part of the wonderful Interhouse Athletics Carnival yesterday. The spirit in which the children competed was exemplary and the support shown by families for all students displayed the spirit and culture we enjoy at St Damien’s. They say that it is the ‘one percenters’ that make the difference between good and great. Yesterday I saw at least three. The first involved a mum who congratulated another parent whose child had just pipped hers in a race, the second was a little group of our senior boys who were encouraging one of their peers, from a different faction, because they genuinely wanted him to do well and, though not related to the whole sporting theme, I don’t know of many P&Fs who would eagerly suggest that the funds raised through their Cake Stall, around $550 be donated to a charity, Asthma Australia, rather than go into their own coffers.
If this doesn’t define a real catholic school, culture and community then I have been in the wrong game for too many years. Congratulations one and all!
Well done to our overall House Champions- Wannanup and to our Team Games Champions- Melros.
Special thanks to Miss Jaimie Shanahan for organising such a great carnival and to the far too many to mention helpers, supporters, assistants and mentors for making it such a wonderful. Greatest thanks to all the students for letting us share your journeys with you.
Tomorrow we officially open the Wardarn-bo Djenabidi Indigenous Bush Tucker Garden. Thank you to all who assisted in creating this wonderful resource for our children and for allowing our students to gain a greater understanding of the fact that the land upon which we walk, live and learn forms part of a culture of custodial stewardship that spans well over 40 000 years.
12th September 2019
The condolences, kindnesses and messages of support have been graciously and gratefully received by the Parker family and by all of Bethany’s friends and loved ones. They have been a wonderful source of grace for Michelle. D’Arcy, Regan, Cameryn and their families at this most unimaginably difficult time. As a school community, there have been incredible gestures of love that are as poignant as they are beautiful and caring.
I have no words that can make sense of this tragic loss. I only know that we were blessed to have had Bethany with us at St Damien’s for the time she was amongst us and we are honoured to have had her share her life with us. May God bless her and all those who walked with her on her precious journey.
May her legacy to us be the continuation of that compassion, empathy and love that permeates our school community at this time. May we truly treat each other with the dignity, love and respect that each one truly deserves. We are not in control of the length of time we have but we are in total control of the quality of life we live during each and every second with which we have been gifted.
5th September 2019
On behalf of the St Damien’s Catholic Primary School family, I offer my deepest and sincerest condolences to Michelle, Darcy, Cameryn and Regan Parker, along with their extended family, relatives and many friends, on the sad passing of Bethany, their beloved daughter, sister, relative and school mate. There are no words to adequately convey the grief we feel about Bethany’s death, nor is there any way in which her passing can be fully comprehended. However, the outpouring of love, prayers and support has been indicative of the calibre of this community. St Damien’s has been tested on numerous occasions and in my experience, it is yet to be found wanting.
I pass on my thanks to staff for the ongoing support they are providing Michelle and the family, to the parents for their many offers of assistance and to the children for the precious messages of love they have passed on.
I know that the sentiments, the love and the offers of help are simply a part of the wonderful culture St Damien’s has developed and strives to maintain every day and it is an honour to be a part of this community.
My sincerest thanks one and all.
29 August 2019
This week we salute the wonderful dads in our school for the pivotal role they play within their families. There is a visibly special bond between a child and their parent and it is always a joy to see the way children seek the support, love and reassurance of their dads and mums. At St Damien’s we are blessed with parents who have the best interests of their children at heart and paying homage to them is always a joy.
I was fortunate enough to be in a Three Year Old Kindy class at the end of the day a few weeks ago and to witness the love and affection children received from their parents as they left at the end of the day. It reaffirmed to me, as have similar scenes across many other year levels, just how loved, revered and fortunate the students at St Damien’s are.
In our society there are various iterations of family; however, the essence always stems from love and that bond that is inexorable, life-giving and a true reflection of God’s desire, irrespective of any individual family’s makeup.
To our wonderful dads, who in conjunction with our mums, provide such a nurturing environment for my precious students, I offer my gratitude and thanks for the unwavering support, love and joy you bring.
I also wish to honour our beautiful mothers and dedicated fathers who at times work on their own to cover both roles and who do such magnificent jobs bringing love to their children.
Parenting can be a complex task and their contributions can never be extolled highly enough; however, the rewards parents receive are immeasurable and beyond description. A sincere thank you to all our parents; mums, dads and carers for who you are, what you do and for offering us the privilege and honour of having your children with us at St Damien’s.
We wish all our participants in tomorrow’s One Big Voice all the very best. There have been many, many hours of rehearsals and the children are extremely excited. Special thanks to Mrs Majella Burns for her dedication and for putting in the all the extra hours to prepare the children for this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Congratulations to all the students from Year Six who received the sacrament of Confirmation last Sunday. Special thanks to Fr Tony Chiera for conferring the sacrament, Fr Vincent for his ongoing guidance and assistance, our wonderful Prayer Buddies for their support, Mrs Anderson and Mr McCloskey, and to all the staff, parishioners and families for sharing the celebration with the children.
Happy Fathers Day to all dads and carers.
22 August 2019
Today we have been participating in an audit of our school’s processes, procedures and practices. The audit is part of the registration process conducted by the government to ensure that St Damien’s is fulfilling its duties under its charter. As always, audits are wonderful ways to highlight those aspects of our operations that are going as expected as well as identifying those that may benefit from realignment and improvement. I am pleased to report that preliminary feedback has been positive and has provided a great summary of the areas in which we may continue to improve. My thanks goes to the many staff, parents and students involved in the process. Their input is greatly appreciated and has provided excellent data. Special thanks to Mr Brett Crebert, who with the assistance of Mrs Caroline Leighton and the staff, have overseen the data creation, collation and collection process, and to Mrs Fiona Stoove, along with many others in the office, for recording and conveying all relevant information onto the relevant authorities.
In week seven of this term, we will be sending out a survey from CEWA in order to continue to align what we do as a school to the needs of our students, families and the relevant authorities. I hope as many response as possible are submitted so that we can glean the most complete summary of the perspectives our stakeholders hold.
This Sunday morning the students in Year Six will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. I wish them all the very best and I sincerely thank their teachers, Fr Vincent and their parents for the faith formation and modelling that has been provided to them. All families are warmly invited to come along and support Fr Tony Chiera as he bestows the Spirit’s blessings, gifts and graces upon them all.
If you have a spare moment this Sunday (after Confirmation of course), feel free to come on down to Bunnings in Halls Head where the Dads from the StDCPS Fathering Project will be conducting the sausage sizzle. Thanks to all the Dads who have volunteered to assist. It should be lots of fun, as these occasions generally end up being.
Have a wonderful week.
15 August 2019
Today, the students had the pleasure of attending the mass offered in celebration of The Assumption of Our Lady. Special thanks to all involved and to Fr Vincent for once again presiding over another meaningful and joyous celebration. The children in Year Six were blessed to have had a visit from Fr Tony Chiera in preparation for their reception of the sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday the 25th August. Fr Tony has the wonderful gift of bringing together faith and action. His words of wisdom were gratefully accepted by the students who were fortunate enough to chat with him.
We have started to implement some of the new uniform requirements as mentioned previously and others changes are on the way. There will always be some teething problems during these transition periods and I ask that you let us know of any concerns and queries. I would like to thank all involved in this process. May I remind you that if you wish to purchase a new uniform article from our school, you can come in when the shop is open or, if you know the size, simply call the office, pay by card and the item will be sent home with your child or you may pick it up anytime from the office? Special thanks to the P&F, Uniform Committee and the School Board for their diligence. Thanks also to Mrs Michelle Stevenson for all her work behind the scenes to allow the changes to occur with a minimum of disruption and cost to families and the school.
We look forward to all the fun and excitement of the Book Week dress up next Monday. I just want to remind you that the theme for this year is ‘Reading is my Secret Power’. I know that while many excited students are already preparing their outfits for Monday, others may test their parents’ secret powers by letting them know Sunday evening or as they drive in on Monday.
Could I please reiterate that parents/guardians must follow our parking and Kiss & Ride rules. You are not to stop in the carpark to collect students or drop them off. In the interests of child safety, we expect all parents/guardians to park in one of the allocated bays before the children are collected or disembark. We are still encountering a number of cars stopping in the car park blocking others and children can be seen going in between parked cars to get to the footpaths. I will not allow our children’s safety to be compromised. I realise that on occasions, someone unaccustomed to the school may drop the children off and may not be familiar with our directives. Please inform them and request that they adhere to our rules.
I hope all families have a great long weekend. Staff will be participating in Professional Learning at school in order to gain competence in providing ‘Culturally Responsive Pedagogy’. We thank you for the opportunity to participate in this invaluable learning opportunity.
Wishing all a safe, successful and happy week.
8th August 2019
Last weekend our school community celebrated the Eucharist with the children preparing to receive the sacrament of Confirmation on the 25th of August. Thank you to all the children, staff and families who came along to participate in these special masses. Special thanks also to the choir, altar servers and special ministers for their support and help.
We also conducted our Busy Bee on Sunday and to say it was a great success is an understatement. Not only did the work completed exceed our expectations, the fun, camaraderie and sense of community enjoyed by the 70 or so people working in harmony at the school was wonderful. The Indigenous Area and Bush Tucker Garden looks fantastic as does the other work that was done around the school. It was a brilliant community building exercise.
While my sincerest thanks is extended to all who came along to help, special mention and thanks go to the P&F for their support, to Mark and Shae Chalwell for organising us this opportunity and coordinating the input and support of ALCOA. Thanks also to Wayne Goring for the endless supply of mulch, machinery and workmanship to ensure we had everything in place to complete the various projects around the school, to Jules McKay for assisting with the horticultural needs on the day, to Clifford McCombes for assisting with the relocation of the fencing and gates, to Chris Salmeri for conducting all the preparatory work and donating the centerpiece stone of the garden and to ALCOA for providing funds and workers to assist on the day.
The area looks grea and will be a wonderful link between the current students and families at our school and the Indigenous children and families who roamed in this same locality for possibly as long as 40 000 or so years. There will be an opening ceremony on the 20th September, attended by a number of dignitaries including Zak Kirkup and parents are most welcome to come along to the opening.
As you know our Code of Conduct aims to drive our actions and interactions as a school and therefore, it is valuable to revisit it periodically to understand what the expectations and responsibilities are for all in our school community. I have included links to the Staff/Parent Code of Conduct and the Students’ Codes of Conduct along with the System for Students in the newsletter for you to revisit. The students are aware of their code and what they can do to offer suggestions, raise concerns or make complaints.
Parent feedback and student feedback buttons have been added to the school website and we will be adding new features by the end of the week. Please spend some time, from next week, in looking through the many ways in which parents and students can raise concerns, present ideas and suggest improvements.
Parent and student ideas have led to many new initiatives being implemented throughout this year. In conjunction with the in-class learning opportunities offered throughout the school day, we provide numerous ways in which all children at St Damien’s may have fun, progress and excel. Thank you to the parents, students and staff for providing us with many great ways to continue to improve what we do at St Damien’s.
Some of the extra curricula activities currently on offer include Miss Shanahan’s Running Club. Thanks to the families and the children who advocated for the running club and are now participating in it and supporting it. We anticipate that as the weather becomes more favourable, there will be even more children, staff and families in attendance. There were about 50 participants in the first session and around the same yesterday morning from 7:30 am. Special thanks to Mrs Parker, Mrs Newbold, Fr Vincent, other staff members and the parents who came along to help and have a bit of fun.
Thanks also to Mrs Carmody-Blythe and Mrs Cadwell, who are assisting children in the upper years with the production of a school newspaper. The children who have chosen to participate come together fortnightly, on Thursday afternoons, to compile this wonderful production.
Art Classes, Music Instrumental Tuition and Swimming Training are going from strength to strength and will continue for families choosing to avail themselves of these offerings. Thank you to Veronique Besson for coordinating the swimming.
Mrs Burns also conducts the choir and a wonderful performing arts program for students who will excel in their performances in the’ One Big Voice’ performance on the 30th August at Perth Arena. All children who auditioned received prominent roles and will perform in front of 7500 other students from 135 schools as well as a full auditorium of spectators.
Robo-Cuppers will show their wares at the statewide competition held tomorrow at Curtin University in Bentley. Thanks to Mr Crebert for the many sessions before and after school and during school holiday sessions he has made available to the teams who have nominated for selection in the Robo-Cup and First Lego teams. First Lego students have built their robots and are using some wonderful technology and problem solving in preparation for their completion on the 8th of December in Secret Harbour.
The Mathematics Extension Classes are in full swing and the children are finding innovative ways, every second Thursday afternoon after school, to solve real world problems using logic, problem solving skills and mathematics. Thank you to Mr Logue for assisting the children to develop a love of everything ‘Mathematics’.
There are certainly lots of extra curricula activities which together with excellent lessons in class and the sporting opportunities that take place during the regular program of events at school, provide avenues for all children to gain the most from their time at St Damien’s. Thanks to all staff for providing so many ways to engage the students, in and out of the class, ways that motivate them, extend them and most importantly, allow them to have fun.
I look forward to hearing from students, parents and staff about other ways in which we can improve our offerings to all students at St Damien’s.
1st August 2019
This weekend, the children and families are invited to attend our Family Mass on either Saturday evening or Sunday morning. The children in Year Six will also be attending these masses in order to enrol for the Sacrament of Confirmation. I look forward to catching up with as many families as possible at these liturgies.
Last Tuesday evening, the Year Six teachers, Mrs Anderson and Mr McCloskey, led a highly informative parent and student Confirmation information session. My sincere thanks to them and to the families who came along to participate.
This Sunday 4th August, we will be conducting a Busy Bee. Although the weather does not look overly promising, it is our intention to still complete as many of the allocated tasks as possible, especially the Bush Tucker garden. Thank you to the families who have already signed up to come along and assist. We have decided not to send out task cards as we anticipate a number of jobs may be weather dependent. Please just come and see me when you arrive and we will allocate an appropriate job. Again, a huge thanks to ALCOA for their generous support through the provision of volunteers and resources.
St Damien’s Running Club commenced this week and was a spectacular success. Miss Shanahan was happily inundated with runners, all keen to take part. I look forward to its ongoing success.
Congratulations to the students who participated in the Inter House Cross Country carnival last Friday afternoon. There were many meritorious efforts and numerous excellent displays of long distance running prowess. The children followed this up with a very successful Inter School Cross Country Carnival this week where they again excelled and achieved well above their anticipated level, coming 4th in Division A. Well done to all the athletes on their great results and even more importantly on the excellent manner in which they deported themselves and the excellent sportsmanship they displayed when representing their factions and school.
Term Overviews have been sent home by all class teachers in order to keep parents informed about what will be covered by your child at school throughout the term. These overviews allow families to assist their children as they encounter new adventures and undertake new learning opportunities. Copies of all Term Overviews can also be found on our school website.
We have been asked for help by one of our parishioners, Mr Tony McAlinden, who is heavily involved with working with families of those who have been incarcerated, to help make the lives of these prisoners just a little less stressful. As we may imagine, often these situations impact adversely on all members of the prisoners’ families and sadly the children are often the most vulnerable.
Tony has asked if we can assist by collecting any unwanted toys, either new or in good condition, to help make the environment less dour for the children who need to go to visit a parent at Bunbury Prison. Boxes have been placed in the front office and I thank you for your consideration.
Have a great week.
Christ Shines25 July 2019
Welcome back to all students and families to what promises to be yet another productive and enjoyable semester. Hopefully the fine, sunny weather will start to peek through once we have received sufficient rain. It has been wonderful to catch up with the students and with many parents over the past week. I wish you all every success this term.
At the end of last term, the children from Pre Primary to Year Six, received their progress and achievement reports. I sincerely hope you have had the opportunity to go through the reports with your children so that you could discuss with them the things they need to do in order to continue to succeed. It is also vital to look at the ways they may develop new skills and practices that will allow them to progress even further and achieve even greater results. As always, my advice is for you to see the class or specialist teacher if you ever have any concerns or queries.
As mentioned last term, on Sunday 4th August, St Damien’s will be conducting a Busy Bee. Thank you to those families who have sent back their forms. We will be sending out ‘Task Cards’ next week so that everyone can be gainfully occupied on the day. Sincerest thanks to all who responded and to ALCOA for their generous sponsorship and allocation of workers for the day. We will be working on a number of projects throughout the day and many hands will make light work.
I would also like to acknowledge the great training and skill development being achieved by the children attending Swimming Club Training through the “Dawesville Sharks” on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings. I would like to thank Mrs Veronique Besson for taking on the coordination role voluntarily and for ensuring all goes well before, during and after the sessions. I am certain she would appreciate some help from other club members’ parents. It is important to note that the club runs solely through the efforts of volunteers. While it is associated with the school, it operates as a separate entity and all funds, supervision and responsibility is borne by the parents of children in the Dawesville Sharks. Some places are still available for children on certain mornings and if you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact Veronique via email at email@example.com.
This term, the children in Year Six will have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on the 25th August. Sacraments are important milestones in children’s development. The families and sponsors of these children play a vital part in the sacraments. They set the values, faith and beliefs as children prepare to receive the sacrament, they stand with them when they receive it and they support them in the years ahead. Their roles are pivotal and without their endorsement, modelling and support, the chance of the sacrament transcending beyond a mere celebration, special event or series of lessons, is significantly reduced. Thank you also to the staff, Fr Vincent and the parish for their support and assistance.
I am thrilled to inform families that St Damien’s Running Club will be commencing shortly. Special thanks to Miss Jaimie Shanahan for her efforts and coordination. I look forward to seeing as many students as possible having fun, developing their fitness levels and enjoying the company of others. All the best to the students taking place in the Interhouse Cross Country carnival this Friday afternoon. We hope to see lots of spectators there to show their support for the athletes.
We have had some requests from families to allow online uniform ordering. The office staff are very happy to accommodate, but the logistics of going to online ordering makes the process more involved than it needs to be and also requires you to pay the online company a processing fee. However, we believe we have an even better solution. If you know your child’s size, please call the office anytime and the ladies will collect your order and deliver it to your child. You will need to pay by card over the phone to avail yourself of this service but there is no extra fee to pay. If you are unsure of your child’s size, feel free to talk with them when you call and they will be only happy to help.
Have a wonderful week.
4th July 2019
I would like to thank you for your support during the first semester of 2019. I look forward to continuing to work with the children, families and staff in providing high quality education. I wish all families a safe and refreshing vacation and I look forward to seeing everyone back in the new term.
Over the past few weeks I have had numerous discussions with students, staff, parents, P&F representatives and Board members to hear concerns, opinions and ideas that will allow St Damien’s to better serve the needs of our current and future students. One recurring point pertained to the school uniform, and while it remained very clear that everyone wanted to see the high standards for which our school is known maintained, a case for making adjustments that better suit our students’ comfort was clearly made by the students, parents and staff. The cost of the uniform was also discussed. A committee was consequently formed and met last week. The committee proposed a number of recommendations which will now go to the Board to be discussed, costed and in all likelihood, ratified. Thank you to all concerned. A full list of the ratified outcomes will be published following that Board meeting.
On a troubling note, I am extremely fearful of the potential for a tragic accident to take place in the car park on Nyabing Pass, adjacent to the Kindy and Administration building. While the vast majority of parents go over and above the call of duty to ensure their children and all others are safe, some parents, a small but significant number, are stopping and letting their children disembark without actually parking. This is not only inconvenient to other parents and students, but more importantly, it places all children at risk and will not be allowed in our school car park.
I am also concerned with the speed at which some parents are driving in and around school, especially if they are running a little late. Quite apart from the danger and illegality of the practice, there is simply no reason to do so as I can assure you that no child will be left unattended after school if they are waiting in the designated areas.
I do wish to sincerely thank the vast majority, as mentioned previously, who take all precautions to ensure safety is paramount in their actions and I call on those who do not, to raise their standards for the sake of all our precious children.
27th June 2019
Congratulations to all of our Year Four students who received the Eucharist for the first time on Saturday evening. The mass was a wonderful celebration of this pivotal moment in their spiritual development. It was a pleasure to see the Prayer Friends also honoured for their development, commitment and support. I wish all students who received Communion and the Prayer Friends who supported through their presence and friendship, all the blessing our Lord may bestow upon them.
We would like to thank Fr Vincent for leading us in the liturgy and for his assistance in preparing the children to receive Communion. Thanks also to Mrs Parker and Mr Logue, who along with many staff members and parents prepared the children over many years, to receive the Eucharist. Thanks to Mrs Leighton who prepared the liturgy, staff and parishioners who offered their ministry, the choir and liturgical dancers and all others who assisted in the sanctity of the liturgy through their presence and prayerful participation. Thank you to all the parents who braved the weather to share this sacred meal with their children and their friends, and to all the Year Three families who prepared the supper for the children to enjoy after mass.
Congratulations to all the students who auditioned for roles as soloists, rappers and comperes for the upcoming One Big Voice Children’s Choir at the Perth Arena in August. I am thrilled to announce that all six of our music extension students were successful in securing extremely several of the coveted roles. They will perform in front of at least 7,500 students and what will no doubt be a full Perth Arena on Friday, 30th August.
- Ruby Arbuckle secured a position to display her wonderful singing skills in the special talented vocal group,
- Amelia Pavlovic and Madeline Clarke were selected to showcase their rapping prowess,
- Clodagh and Daniella Naglewicz, were asked to provide their compering talents to the performance and
- Bronwen Jones was recognised for her extraordinary singing talent by being chosen to sing in the vocal group and three individual Solo performances, one of which will be to sing the National Anthem of on her own to open the concert.
A huge thanks to Mr Burns for providing the children with the opportunity to audition for this wonderful event and for assisting them through their journey.
We wish all our PSSA competitors all the best for tomorrow. Thanks to all participants for the effort they have put into training and a special thanks to their coaches.
We hope the Term 2 Fathering Project – Peel Thunder v Swan Districts on Saturday at Rushton Park, (kick off 2.15pm), is a great success. Thanks to the organizers for providing yet another great opportunity for our fathers and father figures to network and have some collegial fun together.
20th June 2019
Thank you to all the parents who were able to come to school on Tuesday to attend the Parent/Teacher Meetings. There were over 300 families who booked appointments and it was a great opportunity to conduct formal meetings to share information, records and wisdom that will be used to assist children in attaining their very best level of achievement across all areas. Thank you to the staff who prepared, conducted and listened so diligently, professionally and caringly. Please remember that while these formal meetings are invaluable, you can always have a quick chat with the teacher or make an appointment at any convenient time to discuss your child’s progress.
We also had a large number of families come in on Tuesday morning to enrol their children into Three Year Old or Kindy for 2020. They had a great tour and asked many great questions. Many thanks to our Enrolment Officer, Mr Michelle Stevenson, Mrs Caroline Leighton and all the staff and students for the way in which they rolled out the welcome. It was a pleasure to chat with both existing and new families as they commenced new and exciting journeys.
Today we have sent home a sign-up form for a Busy-Bee we will be having on Sunday 4th August. The day will enable us to catch up on some jobs around the school. We will also be completing, with much appreciated sponsorship from ALCOA, a ‘Bush Tucker’ garden at school. We would love to have you come along for as long as you would like on the day, regardless of any skill set you may or may not have. If you have equipment, skills or experience in any particular areas that may be useful, please let us know so that we can plan and allocate appropriate tasks where we can? Children can also come along and play although there may be limited supervision. Please return the form before the end of this term to help us with our planning and catering.
Thank you to all who completed the Uniform Survey or indicated that they were satisfied with the current uniform as it exists. We have collated the responses and they will be discussed by the Uniform Committee comprising of representatives from the P&F, School Board, Staff and Admin. There was an extremely wide array of views as was expected; however, there were also some common themes that certainly warrant consideration and possible action.
This weekend the St Damien’s school and Parish community come together to celebrate the reception of First Eucharist by the Year Four students. I would like to thank all families, staff, especially the Year Four teachers, parishioners, Fr Con and Fr Vincent for preparing the children for the reception of this spiritual nourishment for the first time. I look forward to sharing this sacred meal with those children for many years to come.
I would like to wish Happy 40th Birthday to Fr Vincent for tomorrow. We thank him for his gentle guidance and direction and we pray that God blesses him abundantly for the wonderful work and presence he provides to our school and parish.
I have just received notification that our poets from Year Six have scooped the prizes at the Lion Club’s “Bush Poets Competition” run this morning at Port Bouvard Recreation and Sporting Club. First Place was awarded to Clodagh Naglewicz, Second Place to Kalahni Brown and Isla Menzies was awarded an Honourable Mention. Congratulations to all our participants, to their poetry mentor, Mr John Pannell and to their teachers, Mrs Anderson and Mr McCloskey for the fabulous support they have provided to all the children involved.Well done one and all!
13 June 2019
The children have done well over the past week navigating the showers. While the rain is certainly welcome, we look forward to a few less interruptions to Phys Ed and Sport access, and Recess and Lunch play times. Hopefully the weekend ahead will provide children and families with opportunities to get out and enjoy our beautiful environment.
Super Hero Dress-up
Super Hero Dress-up Day last Friday, was a fantastic way for the school community to stand alongside those children who undergo treatment for not only Congenital Heart disease, but for all who suffer with conditions that impact upon their lives and those of their families. Children and staff dressing up as characters who have super-human strength is a great analogy for the heroics of many children, their families and their friends. To see so much support on Friday, as is always the case at St Damien’s, speaks volumes of the ongoing care and compassion of this school community and is a poignant acknowledgement of past, present and future struggles. Together we managed to raise $602 for Heart Kids. Congratulations one and all!
Enrolment and Affordability Forums
Over the past month I have been conducting a number of Enrolment and Affordability Forums. Thank you to the parents who attended and gave their invaluable input. We have also sought student feedback and I will be meeting with the Student Council again tomorrow to continue those discussions. Some issues that have been raised are being attended to, and a number of sub-committees are already operating. You will have noticed a survey regarding school uniforms went home earlier this week. Please fill the form in and return it if you would like to have your ideas considered. This feedback will be collated and submitted to the Board for their consideration and to allow our school to plan for the future.
I had the pleasure of attending our Pre-Primary Liturgy on Wednesday morning. Never is the altar more resplendent than when it adorned by precious little faces praying. Thank you, Fr Vincent, for allowing the gospel to live and thrive in our church, Matthew 19:14 – Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”.
We are also looking forward, as a school community, to celebrating First Eucharist with the children in Year Four on Saturday 22nd June at 6.00 pm. Their spiritual preparations are going well and they are gaining a rich understanding of the meaning of receiving Eucharist in communion with others.
Parent Teacher Interviews
Next Tuesday we will be conducting the Parent Teacher interviews to allow parents to discuss with the teachers how their child is progressing. This year, as I am sure you are aware, the process has been placed online in order to streamline it and allow efficient, effective and fair allocation of interview time slots for all parents. Please consult the information that went home earlier in the week to book your time. If you have any queries, feel free to call the office.
Have a wonderful week.
I hope the extended mid-term break was a good chance to refresh, recharge and relax. The staff were busy on Friday working through a number of policies, practices and procedures to ensure we plan for, and maintain the best environment in which all children can thrive, achieve the very highest of standards and enjoy the journey.
Tomorrow is the day children are invited to come to school as their favourite Super Hero to raise funds for Heart Kids. I look forward to seeing lots of heroes come to school dressed up to honour the memory of Amber Field and to stand alongside all the Heart Kids who battle against the odds each and every day.
Thank you to all those who have sent their recommendations, ideas and suggestion regarding –
What, if any, are the impediments to enrolling at St Damien’s?
What barriers do you believe currently exist, real or perceived, that may stifle applications?
What is it about an education at St Damien’s that is appealing and worth your patronage?
We have had a number of extremely useful ideas come to us already and I look forward to hearing from as many families as possible. You can attend one of the two remaining forums listed below or simply email your suggestions to Joseph.firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday 7th June 2019, 9.30AM St Damien’s CPS Steve Dowie Hall
Wednesday 12th June 2019, 9.30AM St Damien’s CPS Steve Dowie Hall
Later in the year, we will be sending home a more detailed survey from Catholic Education WA, to look at what we can do as a school community to further our improvement journey.
Thank you to all who came along to the masses last weekend to support the children enrolling to receive the sacrament of First Eucharist on the 22nd June. Thank you to Fr Vincent for leading the celebrations and to all staff members who attended and assisted in the preparation and running of the liturgies.
NAPLAN for 2019 is now over and I would like to convey my sincerest appreciation to the staff and students for the way in which they handled the IT issues that arose throughout the country as ACARA transitioned to online testing.
Congratulations to the Year 5/6 girls who participated in the PSSA GIRLS AFL DOCKERS CUP at Rushton Park on Tuesday. The girls once again made us proud with their effort, skill and fair play. Both girl’s teams had a great time and St Damien’s A was narrowly beaten in the Grand Final. The girls have been training for many weeks and it paid handsome dividends on the day. Special thanks to Mr Logue and Miss Shanahan for their training and coaching, and to the parents who came along to support the teams. Well done one and all!
There will be a number of forums continuing next week to allow families to come in and assist us in making decisions for our school’s future. Please check the calendar on the website for times, dates and venues. Later this year a more formal survey will be sent to families, from CEWA, to continue to assist us in learning what our St Damien’s school community is telling us about our school’s strengths, challenges and opportunities for growth.
We hope all families have an opportunity to recharge their batteries over the midterm break. The staff will be undertaking some Professional Learning during part of that time (as well as recharging their own batteries) so that they can continue to hone their skills and keep on improving our educational policies and practices.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our great school so far this year and I look forward to seeing families back on Wednesday next week.
We will celebrate the feast day of the Patron Saint of Australia, Our Lady Help of Christians with a school mass tomorrow afternoon at 2.00 pm. The Church prays that through Our Lady’s intercession, God will “grant wisdom to our leaders and integrity to our citizens”, so that “under her protection Australia may be granted harmony, justice and peace”. Thank you to all involved in the preparation of the mass and to all who will use their ministries to share the liturgy with our community. While all families are welcome to this mass, being during the day it is predominantly for students.
However, this Saturday evening and Sunday morning we will also be conducting our weekend masses to which all families are invited. These masses will incorporate the Communion Enrolment Masses. There will also be a collection at the end of mass in support or our parish’s work with leprosy, the main ministry of St Damien. I have asked children to see if they can bring along some of their own ‘earned’ or ‘save’ money to donate rather than merely asking their mums or dads to contribute. The intention is to provide an opportunity through which their donation contributes not only to a dollar amount to this very worthy cause, but also informs their social conscience and builds loving hearts.
There some very exciting extracurricular activities coming on stream over the next few weeks to try to provide as many opportunities as possible for students to find ways to enrich their physical, social, spiritual and educational experiences at the school. Numerous teachers give up innumerable hours of their own time to provide these experiences and I sincerely thank them for their efforts.
Thank you to Ms Michelle Parker, Mr David Logue, Mrs Caroline Leighton, Mr Brett Crebert and Fr Vincent for leading the children and their families through the First Eucharist Information Evening on Tuesday. It was a very informative and educative evening and we look forward to joining the Year Four students at this weekend’s masses as they formally enrol into the preparation program to receive the sacrament of First Eucharist on Saturday 22nd June.
I would also like to invite you all to the Amber Field Memorial Round – Mandurah Makos on Sunday, in celebration of Amber’s beautiful life and soul which we still miss each and every day. The day also raises some valuable funds and awareness that may assist other precious HeartKids.
Good luck to our PSSA Year 5/6 AFL Girls Team who will be taking part in the Dockers Cup next Tuesday at Rushton Park. We know they will be great ambassadors of our school and worthy competitors.
Over the past two weeks the students in Years Three and Five have undertaken the NAPLAN suite of Assessments. I am proud of the way the students and staff have approached all NAPLAN tests and I wish all children success. While all generally went smoothly, there was one writing task that encountered various, serious connectivity issues throughout Australia. The parents of children in Year Five have been consulted regarding the opportunity for their children to re-sit the test next Wednesday, as re-sitting the test is optional.
The issues encountered were significant and could have an impact on the validity and reliability of the results when they are forthcoming. I have written to MCC to outline my concerns and my desire to ensure that no St Damien’s student is unduly penalised as a result their 2019, Year Five Writing Assessment. I am certain that MCC is aware of these widespread issues and will deal with them in their usual professional and pastoral manner.
NAPLAN is administered by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). I have had to have numerous discussions with SCSA, which is our WA authority, over the past days I must report that they have shown a genuine care, compassion and understanding of the issues. Furthermore, at no time have I felt that any decision they made have had anything but the best interest of every student at the core of their determinations.
In my opinion, they are to be commended for the measured, caring and wise manner in which they resolved the problems encountered by many schools.
16th May 2019
I hope all mothers had a lovely day last Sunday and that the gratitude and extra care continues throughout the rest of the year, as it so richly deserves to do. A special thanks also to all those, be they mums, dads, grandparents, cousins, aunties, step parents, partners and others who often step in unselfishly and have as their only intention to love, care for and raise our beautiful children. It is a privilege and joy to thank our mums but equally we offer our love and gratitude to all the other, often unheralded, precious and loving role models in our lives. As the saying goes, it truly does take a village to raise a child.
Child Safe Framework- School Community Information Session
Last week we offered two sessions to discuss the measures we employ at St Damien’s to ensure all children are both safe at school and also have the opportunity to learn the practices and habits that will enable them to remain safe beyond the confines of the school. Please follow the link in the newsletter to see a copy of the presentation. Ensuring our children are safe is one of our very highest priorities.
NAPLAN Writing Assessment- Year Five
As I mentioned previously, there was a serious issue with the NAPLAN Writing Assessment for Year Five on Tuesday. Some students encountered connectivity obstacles that were beyond their control and outside the scope of our school’s systems. Special thanks to their teachers for maintaining calm and nurturing environments in the midst of the potentially distressing circumstances that arose from the issues attributable to Australia wide difficulties emanating from out of school system failures. The teachers, test supervisors, support staff and NAPLAN Coordinator (Mrs Caroline Leighton) all did a superb job. Thanks also to Ms Sandra Hilson for ensuring all the connectivity within our control operated as it was intended, that our systems were secured and that all the devices were operating effectively. For the very latest information regarding this matter, please read the memo from Mrs Eileen Climo- Director of Teaching and Learning from Catholic Education WA. Click here to access document
9th May 2019
This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day. The traditional cuppa, the breakfast in bed, the gift or the handmade card are memories we will treasure forever. We will recount anecdotes from Mother’s Day fondly from time to time, but the hugs, the love, the sweet little kisses will form part of our hearts, minds and souls every single day of our lives even when they are distant memories somewhere in the deep recesses of our busy minds. The miracle is that these beautiful hugs, kisses and love are so very, very precious because they are given by, received by and form the lifeblood of both the giver and the receiver.
We know that our Mums gave us life and we also know that they can support us as we grow into the person we will eventually become. I would like to pay tribute to all those mothers who work tirelessly each and every day in a myriad of ways, often with wonderful support from their families and partners, sometimes against great odds, to sustain the life they have helped create and form it into the blessed and unique creation God always intend us all to become.
In my privileged position as a principal I am always in awe of the many valiant, hardworking, selfless, tenacious and loving mothers I encounter, who want only the very best for their children.
From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank all mothers, and if I can be indulgent, I would like to personally thank and send my love to my own mum, Maria for the life, love and influence she has had in my life.
02 05 2019
Welcome back to all families. I sincerely hope you all had a restful and joyous Easter break. Term Two is always a very busy one, especially leading up to the mid-year reports. I believe it is important to remind children at every opportunity that the best results in any pursuit are achieved through consistent and sustained efforts rather than irregular spurts of exertion.
I would also like to thank the following sponsors of our recent Fathering Project Sleep out for their kind patronage of this wonderful event. Special thanks to Bunnings Halls Head, Woolworths Miami and Spud Shed in Mandurah. Their extremely generous assistance is greatly appreciated.
I wish all our competitors in the PSSA interschool sporting fixture this Friday against Lakelands all the very best. I wish to thank their coaches for their dedication and all supporters for their generous backing.
This week the swimming squad, renamed as the St Damien’s Sharks has recommenced thanks to the wonderful dedication of a number of parents especially Mrs Alicia Sun and Mrs Veronique Besson. The squad only has a couple of places available for the Wednesday Training Session. This is a fantastic achievement and will benefit the children attending greatly. Thank you to all concerned with reforming the squad.
I would also like to thank the P&F for their excellent Easter Raffle and to all the students who generously provided Easter Eggs as prizes. Thanks also to the P&F for once again providing opportunities for the students to purchase a gift for their precious mums at the Mothers’ Day stall being run next week. There is a great deal of planning, care and attention that goes behind providing this service and I appreciate their efforts, as do all our students (and mums).
Have a wonderful week.
Catholic Education WA requires all schools to maintain relevant and comprehensive forward planning documents (these documents are available for your perusal on our website). Periodically I will add excerpts from these plans to indicate how and why we may be undertaking various programs or decisions throughout the year.
This month I would like to highlight the following:
From our – Strategic Plan- Learning
Point 7. Introduce the tenets of New Pedagogies for deep learning
1. Character education — honesty, self-regulation and responsibility, perseverance, empathy for contributing to the safety and benefit of others, self-confidence, personal health and wellbeing, career and life skills.
2. Citizenship — global knowledge, sensitivity to and respect for other cultures, active involvement in addressing issues of human and environmental sustainability.
With the addition of the Champion Life Program and the maintenance of the various long established recycling/sustainability programs and life skills initiatives, including our Healthy Food Program, I believe we a are not only providing lessons on Character Education, we have continued to supply the means by which children can build their skills through the daily opportunities St Damien’s provides for us all to ‘walk the talk’. The recent ANZAC Day Commemoration showed the reverence, gratitude and admiration the children have for those who have made great sacrifices to maintain our freedoms as well as an deep understanding of the value of peace and the need for tolerance and mutual respect for all.
From Our – School Improvement Plan- Accountability – Embed Keeping Safe curriculum-
Staff received more training on Mandatory Reporting on Monday’s Pupil Free Day to ensure all staff are aware of their duty in regard to keeping children safe as well as ensuring they are fully capable of exercising their duties judiciously
From Our – Evangelisation Plan -The Experience of Christ and Church
Being drawn closer to God through Christ’s redemption
Deepening awareness, being loved by God
Inspired by Jesus as the model of holiness
Deepening experience of God – changing us from within –
Through various liturgies, Monday Gospel reflections, Parish Priest visits, Sacramental retreats, School Masses, Patron Saint Mass for St Damien of Molokai, Our Lady Help of Christians Whole School Mass, Communion Preparation Masses and Whole School Weekend Masses children continue to be given opportunities to be provided with in school and out of ways to embrace God’s love in fellowship and communion with other members of our school community and parishioners.