What a year! For so many reasons, I could be writing about the challenges we have experienced this year and the impact of the global pandemic on students learning and wellbeing across our community. Instead, as I contemplate 2020, acknowledging the times of sadness, sudden obstacles and changes that were part of our journey, I have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the spirit within our staff, students and families that allowed Holy Name to continue to grow and flourish as a vibrant school community. When things got tough, we drew back to what was important. For our community, it seemed easy to describe as we wrote a new vision for the school - ‘Belonging, Learning & Serving, in His Holy Name’. During this year, and for the next chapter for Holy Name, these words will guide our journey.
Having worked through the fires and all that came with experience at the end of 2019, the changes due to the pendemic began toward the end of Term 1 and by Term 2 we had commenced a period of home learning. This became an opportunity for staff to learn new ways of connecting with and supporting students online. It also revealed the strength that exists within our Catholic community. Our school made sure that all families had access to technology and the training to help them access the learning from home. Our Diocese supported families financially and our school physically, by ensuring the COVID-Safe Guidelines were clear and in place to keep us all safe.
The love, support and resilience of our community was vital as we worked through the sudden and tragic loss of Mary Therese Micua, one of our cherished Yr 3 students at the end of Term 2. Our Parish, Catholic Schools Office and Catholic Care supported our school staff and families during this time and our students demonstrated their capacity to work through the grief and loss of a friend, peer and fellow student. Our teachers were courageous in their leadership of students through this process, often grieving alongside their students. Our school community will always hold a special place for Mary in our hearts and hope to continue to connect with Mary Jane and Jose Micua along the way.
We farewelled Miss Teasey and Mrs Power, two longstanding and faithful employees within the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, who both retired during 2020. Miss Teasey held the roles of Religious Education Coordinator, Assistant Principal and Principal during her career as an educator and Mrs Power taught across many grades throughout her career. Their dedication and commitment to students and their generosity of spirit in working alongside their colleagues will be missed.
Our Early Learning team engaged with the Successful Foundations project and made slight changes to the process of transition for our new Kinder students. We held a Pop-up Stall and Open Day, commenced a playgroup in Term 3 that was very well received by families and continued to build relationships with local Early Learning Centres. Next year, our Yr 1 teachers will begin to embed the philosophy of Successful Foundations into their classrooms and learning.
In 2020, the role of the Pedagogical Mentor commenced as part of the Leading Learning Collaborative initiative at Holy Name. We worked alongside other schools in our Diocese under the guidance of Dr Lyn Sharratt to utilise the parameters of her research into effective school improvement. With a focus on reading and problem solving in maths, our teachers developed agreements about pedagogy and collaborated to ensure the learning growth of all students. We learned to use data more effectively, created a literacy resource room, and mentored teachers to develop consistency of practice in teaching reading. We set, achieved, and celebrated the achievement of school goals in reading and in problem solving.
The formation of our new vision, ‘Belonging, Learning & Serving, in His Holy Name’, was evident across many areas of our school but especially through the work of our Mini Vinnies group. Under the guidance of our Pastoral Care Worker, the work of this group was outstanding. They took ownership of their good works and fundraising, utilising their gifts and creativity to positively impact on the lives of others all around the world. They created experiences for students to make them smile, sent ‘Word Birds’ and ‘Word Rainbows’ to doctors and nurses in hospitals, money to charities that touched their heart, and shopped for gifts for those in need at Christmas. As leaders within our student body, we are very proud of the developing awareness of global issues this group has demonstrated and their willingness and capacity to make a difference that we have witnessed through their words and actions.
Changes to the physical aspects of our school this year included the construction of a single net cricket training facility, supported by the Federal Government, the development of a K-2 play space, the demolition of the kitchen space in the garden, and glass doors were added to the Kinder rooms to provide access to the outdoor space of the Infants playground. Our K-6 students engaged with the garden in a new way as our school commenced a partnership with Catholic Care and the Parish of Forster-Tuncurry that saw the Forster-Tuncurry Community Kitchen come to life. We have plans for our Yr 5 & 6 students to volunteer to prepare food in the kitchen for community members who appreciate these lunch opportunities.
Overall this year, I believe that when Holy Name had every reason to have a less than productive year, that we rose above expectations, and with the support of our parents, teachers and students, have commenced a journey in a direction of positive learning growth and new beginnings. I am looking forward to what the future holds for the students, families, and staff of Holy Name.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Parents and Friends Association, led by Mr David Isbel, who continued to meet twice each term and quietly raised funds through raffles and stalls to support the purchase of award prizes for students and equipment such as the new shade for sporting events. I am very grateful for their continued support.
Wishing you all a safe, happy and holy Christmas,
And that's a wrap on the 2020 school year - a year like no other! Merry Christmas to all our families and wishing you peace, health and prosperity in the New Year. Enjoy some time with your family in the wonderful place in which we live.
Student Reprsentative Council
Last week our Year 4 and 5 cohorts voted for our Student Leaders for 2021.The results were:
School Captains Stevie Anderson Nash Syron
Vice Captains Charlotte Cooper Riley Kinkade
School Councillors Abby Moelker Lincoln Anderson
Lucy Ford Byron Donegan
Baran Janjani Ronan O’Reilly
We are really looking forward to working with our new SRC model in 2021. All the Year 6 cohort will be leaders of the school and will be part of a committee: Social Justice/Well Being, Environment, The Arts, Sport and Technology. The SRC will meet once a fortnight and will discuss issues which will lead to actions within our school and the wider school community.
This year has been one we will never forget, however during the worry and unending uncertainty as a faith community we united in affirmation, support, encouragement, and love for each other. St Paul’s letter to the community says in effect, “We are all in this together-your joys are my joys, your sorrows are my sorrows. God is with us. We are one in Christ.” This year more than ever, Holy Name engaged directly in the missionary work of the Church. This enabled our students and staff to experience joy and fulfillment in sharing God’s love with people in need in our community and across the world.
Mini Vinnies took great pride in representing Holy Name to shop for our school Giving Tree, the students selected an age group to shop for and found great enjoyment in selecting beautiful gifts for lots of people in need. The wider community were also very interested and curious to know what the students were doing shopping in school hours for. We loved sharing our giving tree knowledge with them.
Our students and staff have watched the presents grow under our Giving Tree and feel enormously proud of our school community for supporting this initiative. The gifts have been donated to many including The Great Lakes Women’s Shelter, Catholic Care, Brighter Futures and Assisted Living so that many can share in the joy of Christmas.
Our vision is to continue to form missionary disciples in 2021 who will reach out to give life in their local and global communities.
Merry Christmas and wishing you love, good health, and happiness for 2001. God Bless,
Mrs Williamson and Mrs Banham
Merry Christmas everyone,
Families might enjoy looking back at photos below from 2020, what an incredible year it has been!
Thank you to parents and carers who have worked closely with the Learning Support Team and teachers this year to improve outcomes for students with a disability. Together, we have planned adjustments and support strategies that provided a platform for students to grow and shine! I look forward to meeting again with families in Term 1 at the Personalised Planning meetings. This will be an opportunity to share information with the new teacher and revisit his/her support plan.
Starting a new school year can be an exciting time, but can also an anxious one. Lots of kids – and their parents – feel nervous in the build up to their first day back. This is really common, but that doesn’t make it any less stressful! Having your child attend school for the first time or starting a new school can create even more anxiety.
Preparation is key to dealing with situations where there are lots of unknowns. The more things feel familiar and controlled, the more your child or young person can relax and feel confident about what’s happening.
Beyond Blue has some useful strategies and tips to make the transition back to school a positive experience: https://healthyfamilies.beyondblue.org.au/age-6-12/mental-health-conditions-in-children/anxiety/tackling-back-to-school-anxiety
Happy 2021 wishes,
Primary School/Learning Support Coordinator