Dear Parents and Caregivers
Over the past fortnight, I have spent some time in the Year 5 and 6 classrooms talking to the students about expectations around attitude and behaviour. I must say, that on the whole, I was very impressed with the quality of their responses and most of them are displaying excellent leadership qualities and great personal values. One word that came up a few times was ‘Bully’. I asked the students if they actually knew what the two conditions were that had to be in place before you can say you were being bullied. Quite a few knew the correct response, which is 1. it must occur repeatedly over a period of time and 2. there must be an imbalance of power. For example, if we had students in the same year level having an argument in a game of soccer and it leads to a person being pushed over and getting hurt, it is not bullying. It is poor behaviour and making bad choices (which are still not acceptable), but it is not bullying. However, if a Year 6 students was hurting a Year 4 student in soccer games over a couple of weeks, then it is bullying as it occurs over a period of time and there is a difference in size and age. Once we clarified this point, I asked the students if they thought we had much bullying at Mary MacKillop. Just about all students said that we didn’t. I can also assure you, that I have worked in eight schools over the years, and the behaviour here is some of the best I have seen, and we don’t have a lot of issues with our students compared to what I have seen elsewhere. Like any other school, we have a few incidences of poor behaviour and decision making, which are dealt with swiftly by the staff. We also focus on what is known as restorative justice. This means practising forgiveness, fixing the problem and restoring the friendships so the students can move on and be friends again. If you ever want a good example of restorative justice, please read Like 23:34 (have a look at my Lenten reflection below).
Also, the issue of social media came up. I asked the students whether they accessed it or not. Unsurprisingly, most of them told me they either have their own accounts or used their parent’s accounts. I then pointed out to them that legally, they must be at least 13 years old before they can have any form of social media account. It’s also interesting to note that over the past few years, we have had a number of incidences where Year 5 and 6 students were using social media inappropriately after school and on the weekends, which caused distress for some students. Even though this is not a school issue, it unfortunately flowed into the school. Therefore, I ask all parents to make sure your children are not accessing social media until they are 13 years old. If they are, please monitor it closely and keep an eye on what is being communicated and what they are accessing. A lot of it is very inappropriate for young people and can cause serious harm.
Awareness/Compassion Reflection True compassion means not only feeling another’s pain but also being moved to help relieve it.
First Reconciliation Please keep our Year 3 students in your prayers as they will be receiving the Sacrament of Penance for the first time on Saturday 18 March in our parish. I would like to thank the Year 3 teachers, Mrs Robertson, Mr Maxwell and Miss Koncurat for preparing them so well.
Lenten Reflection Some of the most powerful words spoken by Jesus occur in Luke 23:34 as he was suffering terribly on the cross, about to die. Many people in the time of Jesus were very disappointed with him. They were hoping for a powerful general of a big army who would crush all enemies and let them have their lands back so they could live in freedom. Instead, they had a man of compassion and love who said these words, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they are doing.” This is restorative justice at its best, not the punitive justice everyone was hoping for. This Lent, please think of the ways in which you can be like Jesus and show restorative justice to your friends and family.
NAPLAN This year’s tests commence this week, and I wish the students in Years 3 and 5 all the best. Please remember that they are only a snapshot of the students’ performance on one day and are not necessarily a true indicator of their capabilities. The data collected is used as a guide by us to find trends so we can make adjustments.
Swimming Carnival I would like to thank Mr Sam Boyce for the fabulous job he did in preparing for our swimming carnival this week. It has been a daunting process for Sam as he has only started his career as a PE teacher and within weeks, he has organised a very good carnival. A big thank you is also extended to all the staff who supported Sam as well as the parents and grandparents who came along to cheer for our swimmers.
Whole School Mass All parents and grandparents are invited to come along to our Mass on Thursday 16 March at 8.45am as we celebrate St Joseph’s feast day. Mary MacKillop’s nuns were known as the Sisters of St Joseph or the Josephites. Therefore, this is a special day for our community, so please come along to the Mass in our Church.
Caritas Appeal for Turkiye and Syria I started this newsletter by saying how impressed I have been with our senior students this year. Our Year 6 students have asked if as a whole school, we can raise some money to support the people of Turkiye and Syria who have experienced those devastating earthquakes. Therefore, on Friday 24 March, we will have a free dress day where all students are encouraged to donate as much money as possible so we can help our fellow human beings who are suffering so much on the other side of the world. The students can wear free dress in the colour of Lent, which is purple (or red and blue which make purple). Your generosity will be greatly appreciated.
School Photos Please note in your diaries that the annual photo shoot takes place this year on Monday 3 April and Wednesday 5 April (which also happens to be the last day of term for the students).