Dear Parents, Friends, Staff and Students of Caroline Chisholm College,
This week we welcomed 192 brand new students for the Year 7 class of 2017. As they walked through the gates, their nervousness and anticipation was so evident. I can only imagine the questions they must have about high school. "Will I make friends? Will I be able to cope with the work? Will I find my way around such a big school?". I can say, with 100% confidence, that the answer to each of these questions is "Yes"! Students, even brand new Year 7 students, manage their school life and they thrive and flourish. The girls spent an exciting day attending classes and meeting their Connected Learning teachers and their new Year Leader, Mr Damien Mills. Many of the parents I spoke to gave me the distinct impression that their daughters were managing this transition far better than they were. I spoke to one mother, for whom this was her first child to enter high school, about her hopes and fears. She summed up the experience of all parents, not just of new Year 7 students, but at any stage of school life, when she said "I hope my daughter makes really good friends and really good decisions about her learning". That's what I hope, too. Most importantly, those two things can only be achieved by the student herself. We cannot make friends or decisions for our teenage children. We can guide and encourage and discipline, but they must step out by themselves and decide the type of friend and student they want to be. Of course, we will be there when things go a bit awry, but it is their journey, we merely point the way.
These students we met this morning will graduate in 2022! What will the world be like when these students leave Caroline Chisholm College and enter the world? Seven years ago, the year was 2009. Farmville was the favourite mobile app. Michael Jackson died. Barack Obama was inaugurated as President. The iPhone was up to the 3GS. In 2022 what changes may have taken place that will impact on these students? One thing is certain; their lives will be rich, varied and uncertain as our shared wealth grows but stability seems to diminish. Of all the lessons our students learn, surely the most important is that they learn how to learn so that they can adapt and think deeply and critically about whatever the future holds. Our challenge as a college is to continually evaluate our curriculum to ensure we are giving our students every opportunity to grow and be challenged in relevant, real-world situations. Our assessments should be open and include elements of both choice and uncertainty, so that our students can demonstrate not just their knowledge, but their thinking and their creativity. We are working to reshape our assessment programs so that they become a more powerful tool in the way students learn and the way teachers respond.
Last Friday, Mr Clerke and the TAS staff and students hosted our assembly and showcased the wonderful products produced in subjects like Tech, Agriculture, Design and Technology and Textiles. It is that area of our curriculum where all the learning is authentic, all the products are real and practical and where students must solve problems and be creative. My favourite part of the assembly was the parade of animals. Sitting in the front row gave me an excellent position from which to enjoy the sights (and smells) of our furry and feathered friends. Meanwhile, our staff team challenged and defeated our student team in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) Tower Challenge. In the time available, the teachers were able to build a 3.6m high tower from straws. The students came close, but a last minute collapse saw them come second (out of two teams).
On Monday night, Danielle Todd (Year 12) represented the college at the Lions Club Youth of the Year event which promotes young leaders in our community. She had to deliver both a prepared and an impromptu speech as well as sit for a panel interview about community issues. Danielle's speech about family values won the Public Speaking component of the award and we are very proud of her achievement.
I would like to remind you that the College, under the leadership of Madeline Haydon (Kenny House Leader) will be walking as a contingent in the Penrith White Ribbon Day walk against family violence. This will take place at 5:30pm on Friday 25 November. We gather at Weir Reserve of Bruce Neal Drive and end at Tench Reserve. You are welcome to join us. Students should wear their sports uniform so that we can be identified on the day.
As the Year of Mercy draws to a close, we give thanks for the many times we have been shown mercy these past twelve months. Let us pray that, even though this special jubilee is over, we will remain committed to being agents of God's mercy to all those we come into contact with, especially those most needing God's healing power.
O God of Infinite Mercy
Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbours’ souls and come to their rescue.
Help me, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbours’ needs and not be indifferent to their pain and suffering.
Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbour, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.
Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbours and take upon myself the more difficult tasks.
Help me, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbour, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness.
Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbour.
I will refuse my heart to no one.
May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me.
Mr Greg Elliott