Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,
Last Friday was Caroline Chisholm Day. On this day each year we stop to thank God for the gift of the college and to celebrate our identity and community with Mass in the morning and a carnival all afternoon. I am grateful to the many parents who could join us at Padre Pio Church for Mass and the blessing of catechists, new staff and new students. There were a few tears of joy as our Year 7s led us out of the church while singing our college song 'Together'. We also welcomed our new Parish administrator, Fr Suresh Kumar, who later joined us for the carnival. We hope and pray that Fr Suresh's time in our community will be richly blessed. Over the course of a very hot and muggy afternoon, the student led stalls and activities raised over $10,000 for Project Compassion, Caritas' annual Lenten appeal. This is an extraordinary sum, and we are teaching our students that this generosity is part of their intentional discipleship as followers of Jesus. My thanks to Ms Morley, Ms Murray and the small army of helpers who ensure Caroline Chisholm Day is such an unforgettable experience for our community.
The week prior we welcomed back our HSC High Achievers from 2016. We recognised the many students who scored marks over 90 and who achieved ATARs over 90. We also were honoured by the presence of our Federal Member for Lindsay, Ms Emma Husar, who presented our Lindsay winners for 2016. Maddison Farrugia from Year 12 2016 received the Linsday Award for her success and her grace in the face of adversity. Having lived with cystic fibrosis since she was a child, Maddison did extremely well in the HSC and was an example of determination and generosity. We also congratulated Mrs Rebecca Zammit who won the Lindsay Award for her dedication and creativity as an early career teacher. Our guest speaker, Professor Katherine Holmes, from Western Sydney University, inspired the students to prepare for a future where science, maths and technology will be central to every career path. She encouraged the girls to seek out stories of women who have made such stunning contributions to science and technology, but are rarely recognised as leaders in their field.
In our first newsletter for the year, I wrote to you describing our concerns about attendance, and I stressed that every day counts for every student. As I write this newsletter, we are already below our attendance goal for the year. We are aiming to achieve 90% attendance or more for 90% of our students. We are sitting on 84.6%. Of the absences so far, 287 days have been for leave granted for various reasons, which represents 37% of our absences to date. That's 287 days away from school in just a few weeks. Meanwhile, there are entire Home Rooms where they are working together to achieve 100% attendance, celebrating every day that no student is away. I am looking forward to seeing a general improvement in our attendance level over the coming weeks and months, and I appreciate the support of our parents in achieving this. If you have any concerns or questions about attendance or leave, please contact your daughter's Home Room teacher.
I want to invite you all to our first Parent Forum for 2017 on March 13 at 6:00pm. We will be focussing on how to support our young people to develop healthy relationships and navigate the complexity of the adolescent social world. We want you to join us for some input and conversation so we can work together to teach our girls to be stronger, happier and healthier. I sincerely hope to see you there.
Finally, I leave you with a prayer that acknowledges the work done by the young women in our college, and by women around the world to address poverty and injustice. Let us pray together:
Lord, we honour and are humbled by the strength of women around the world
who work faithfully, in overwhelmingly challenging circumstances,
to provide for their families and build resilient communities.
May we, your Church in Australia,
work as courageously and as tirelessly
as advocates for their rights and opportunities.
We give thanks for the many
who have already lifted themselves out of poverty.
And we pray that the glimpses of a tomorrow we see now in part,
may soon become the glorious whole.
Mr Greg Elliott