Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,
I have been into the empty tomb. I can barely believe that I visited the Holy Land and walked in the footsteps of Jesus, yet for three precious weeks, Ms Murray and I travelled with Bishop Vincent of Parramatta and other leaders to the most sacred sites in Christianity in Israel, Palestine and Italy. Whilst in the midst of these awesome prayer experiences, Ms Murray and I would often reflect on how difficult it would be, upon our return, to share the feelings of awe and gratitude we experienced in these most holy places. It is impossible to express how it felt to share Eucharist whilst on a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, or to chant with the monks at the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem. I can assure you, however, that this community of Caroline Chisholm was very much in our prayers as we travelled. We prayed in gratitude for the gifts of this community, and we sought God’s grace for those who are struggling with the burdens of illness or hardship.
As part of the pilgrimage, we visited the Holy Child school for students with special needs in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. This Catholic school, with very few resources, cares for the most vulnerable children, both Christian and Muslim, who otherwise would receive no education at all. We took to them incredibly thoughtful gifts made by our Year 9 students, as well as 22 second-hand iPads to assist with their learning. It is important for our girls to know that their generosity has a real and joyful impact even on young people on the other side of the world.
I am very appreciative of the work of Mr King, who stepped in as Acting Principal, and Mr Casni, who was Acting Assistant Principal. Mrs Araya worked as Acting REC in Ms Murray’s absence. Even though it was only two short weeks of school time, a great deal of work was done to ensure our students continue to receive the very best learning and care.
We are still working hard to improve the overall attendance of our students from 7 – 12. I was disappointed to learn, upon my return, that some students in Years 10 and 11 have fallen below the acceptable standard for attendance. Year 10 is currently on 72.5% and Year 11 is on 76.6%. Our goal is 90% across the college. We have consistently said that every day of learning is important and unless there is a serious medical or family reason, students must be at school each day of term. If you need our support to get your daughter to school, please contact her Homeroom teacher.
Congratulations to Courtney Hamilton of Year 7 who competed in the Rostrum Voice of Youth Public Speaking semi finals on Monday at Tara Anglican School for Girls. We are so proud of Courtney’s achievements in this competition.
Congratulations, also, to Sophie Douglas-Torrie of Year 12 who was honoured at a dinner hosted by our Penrith Rotary Club for her community service and leadership. She is an asset to the college and, I am sure, a source of pride to her family.
It is assessment season for our junior students. This means serious preparation for examinations and other tasks. It would be typical for parents to see their daughters working harder and for longer periods of time at home, consolidating their learning and practising by doing tests and quizzes. Despite some of the misguided commentary in the media, we know that growth in learning requires hard work, beyond the limits of the school day. Our girls are expected to be doing homework and study most nights of the week to ensure they are actively working towards their goals. Once again, if you have concerns about this, please speak with your daughter’s subject teacher.
Finally, a very happy Mothers’ Day to all our mums and grandmothers. Our Christian faith has always treasured mothers as partners with God in creation and as the first people who taught us to be faithful as children. I am grateful to my own mum who instilled in me a love of God and a strong sense of justice. May God richly bless all our mothers.
A Prayer for all Mothers,
Thank you, Lord, that you fill a mother’s heart with love,
That you have instilled in her very being the need to protect and defend her children,
Thank you for giving her the gift of nurturing her children, of teaching them, of comforting them,
for feeding them and making a safe place for them.
For guiding them to be all that God has created them to be.
Fill every mother with love, wisdom and endurance,
with strength and patience and joy.
Give them ability to forgive again and again.
Enable her to rely on You and call upon You, because You will give her all she needs.
In Your precious and all powerful name,
Mr Greg Elliott