The final two weeks of the school year are upon us, and as you know, our students are beginning their 2021 program with a fortnight of their new MyMAP, VCE and VCAL classes. Our teachers are keen to introduce students to their new fields of study and enable them to begin learning new content and skills that will challenge and inspire them.
With this year hopefully well in our rear-view mirror (what a horrible thing to have to say!), it is important that students come to sense something of the ‘new beginnings’ before us. It is fortuitous that we align this new approach to the student’s learning with the start of Advent. Advent is a time set aside by the various Christian traditions to begin the spiritual and psychological preparations for Christmas. While there are lots of important things to do to prepare to celebrate with family and friends, the true work of this time is to allow head-space and heart-space to a new way of being, symbolically shared with us through the retelling of the birth of Jesus Christ. Of course, the retelling is simply a means to invite us into the journey of allowing peace, love and joy to be reborn in our hearts, minds, relationships, attitudes and behaviours.
As we begin the MySTART week, I hope and pray that your children, and your family more broadly feel something of the ‘freshness’ of Advent. I also invite you during this time to join us in supporting our favourite local charity, St Vincent de Paul (Vinnies), as they work to help families in our region who are in need of assistance to celebrate together this Christmas. As we can all imagine, their resources have been stretched rather thinly this year, and any means by which you can help them along in their work will be greatly appreciated.
With the beginning of MySTART, we have around 40 new families joining us this year. Some fifteen new students are in residence in the boarding house, and another twenty five have joined us in classes. There will also, of course, be more new families in our midst at the beginning of next year, but for the time being, we welcome those new to us and look forward to getting to know you a little over the coming fortnight. As usual, we will host a parent function at the beginning of next year, and all being well, look forward to seeing you there.
At the end of this year, two remarkable and dedicated women will hang up their chalk for the last time. Jo Cross and Deb Blackall have both contributed to the care, learning and growth of adolescents for many, many decades. While both Jo and Deb are reluctant to use the ‘r-word’, neither has any direct plans for full time work over the coming years. Jo has been teaching for forty-five years, including thirty-four here at Assumption. Deb will also continue to live in the area and is keen to still be involved in Marist endeavours, including here at Assumption.
Other staff we will be farewelling at the end of the year are: Nicolette Cavanagh and Mukesh Soni (concluding contracts), Greg Robinson, Michael Ericson & Louise Pope (moving to schools closer to their homes) and Ban Koshaba (family care). Matt Eid has finished his Sports Traineeship and Narae Blackwell is concluding as Sports Director.
All of our appointments for 2021 have been made, and I’ll introduce you to the new staff at the beginning of the year. We wish all our concluding staff all the very best in their future endeavours.
This year, the Marist Association has provided a series of weekly prayers to assist with our preparations for Christmas. Part of the reflection in this week’s prayer comes from one of the key Marist guiding documents ‘Water from the Rock’:
Our world and its peoples always need hope. We can be both beautifully creative and mindlessly destructive. We may fear the “other.” If we then tend to see ourselves as the centre of the universe and our way as the “only true way,” conflicts will arise - in families and communities, but also between nations. Living as sisters and brothers offers a hopeful and caring means by which our differences enrich our communion. Marist fraternity becomes a sign of hope for the world with a growing need for tolerance and peace. Water from the Rock n.120
Loving God, may we be a sign of hope for the world as we practice and work for justice, tolerance and peace. As we prepare our hearts and minds to welcome you anew this Christmas, let generosity of spirit and care flow from us bringing life and joy to those whose lives we can influence and materially change for the better. Amen.