Saint Ignatius College Geelong

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    From the Principal

    Article by Mr Michael Exton

    From the Principal

    Welcome to the 2020 school year!

    On Friday last week, we welcomed 1,335 students, including 250 Year 7 students and 15 new students across other year levels back to school. Each year the number of College enrolments increases. We are well planned for this growth and ready for a great new year of learning.

    As we come to the end of our first week back, we have a lot to look forward to in 2020. This year promises much for our Saint Ignatius students. For those students beginning their journey at our great College, I wish them every success. To students returning for another year, I wish them a challenging but enjoyable, and enriching experience.

    Thank you to Parents/Carers for all you have done to prepare your daughter/son for the new year. We need to work together to encourage each student’s belief in their ability to learn, their sense of belonging to our school community and their engagement in school life. Your support will lead to better outcomes for our students. As we begin a new year with new vigour and enthusiasm, we need to capitalise on the opportunity of a ‘fresh start’ by ensuring we place the priority on schooling in a young person’s day-to-day life. 

    As well as many new students, there are ten new staff members and two returning from leave. Welcome to:

    New:

    Ms Alithea Anderton – Teacher (Eng, Hums, RE)
    Ms Nella Alessi – Learning Support officer (LSO) 
    Mr Jarryd Atkinson – Youth Chaplin
    Ms Tahnee Bruynen – Information Librarian 
    Ms Aleisha Gill – Teacher (Science/RE)
    Ms Kerry Griffin – LSO 
    Ms Isabella Losi – Teacher (Italian, RE & HRT)
    Mr Douglas Montgomery – Teacher (Digi Tech, Science, Maths)
    Ms Rachel Snowden – Library Technician
    Mr Andrew Walsgott – Teacher (Maths, RE)

    Returning:

    Ms Tenille Thomson – Student Wellbeing Coordinator 
    Ms Annaliese Winterson – Teacher (Science)  

    Our first major event, a full school assembly, will be held tomorrow morning. I invite all parents and friends of the College to attend this assembly. Please report to the school office at 10:30 am so a seat can be organised for you before the commencement in the new College Multi-purpose Centre.

    A significant favourable influence on student outcomes is parental involvement in and support of school programs. Over the last few years, there has been a high attendance of parents at our Information Evenings, and I want to encourage this to remain as part of our community’s support of an active learning culture for our students.

    • TODAY - Thursday 6th February – Year 7 Welcome Mass and information session - 6:30 pm
    • Monday 17th February – Years 10, 11 & 12 Information Evening – 7 pm
    • Thursday 20th February –Year 8 Information Evening – 7 pm
    • Tuesday 25th February – Year 9 Information Evening – (time to be confirmed) 

    Parents are also most welcome to attend school events this term as follows:

    • Thursday 27th February – House Swimming Carnival (Kardinia Pool, Geelong)
    • Sunday 22nd March - Open Day 

    On behalf of my colleagues, I look forward to working with you to support the education of one or more of your children and wish your family every blessing for the new year. 

    2019–20 Bushfire Season 

    In welcoming everyone to a new year, I am very conscious that the devastating bushfires have made this a challenging holiday period for many Australian communities, and there is a lengthy recovery period ahead. 

    I have been advised that for all school communities and services impacted by the bushfires, the Department of Education and Training (DET) has set up a dedicated Bushfires 2020 web page at https://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/Pages/bushfires.aspx

    The page contains information about the bushfire response and resources to help schools support students, staff and families. The page will be updated regularly with new advice and support. 

    Given the current situation and extreme weather conditions, further impacts may occur across the state. 

    The College Business Manager, Mr David Fitzgerald, as he does each year, has reviewed the College’s Emergency Management Plan and spoken to staff about this to prepare the College for the start of the school year and in particular so we can better respond to emergencies. 

    The St Vincent de Paul Society has set up a bushfire appeal for anyone wishing to donate to support victims of the bushfire. Further Information can be found on the St Vincent de Paul Society’s website at https://donate.vinnies.org.au/appeals-vic/vinnies-nsw-bushfire-appeal-vic 

    Update advice on coronavirus 

    The safety and care of your children are paramount to our school community and me. As you will be aware, the Coronavirus has generated some concern in the community over recent weeks. 

    This update follows my email message to parents on January 30. It provides new advice from the Australian and Victorian governments regarding the novel coronavirus.  

    All children who have travelled to Hubei Province of China, are advised to stay at home and avoid public settings, including attendance at schools and early learning centres, until 14 days after last being in Hubei province, China. This applies to all students, even if they do not show any symptoms of the virus. 

    Children who are well and have travelled to other provinces in China, or any other areas where there have been reported cases, are NOT recommended to be excluded from schools unless the following applies:

    •  The person is a confirmed case of novel coronavirus 
    • The person is a close contact with a confirmed case of novel coronavirus in the past 14 days

    If you think your child is showing any relevant symptoms of the novel coronavirus, please call the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to discuss further actions on 1300 651 160.

    This advice is also being provided to teachers and other school staff to ensure we mitigate any risks associated with the spread of the virus.

    I have included a factsheet provided by the Victorian Government providing advice and information about the novel coronavirus, including what actions to take if your child is feeling unwell following travel to the Hubei province, and practical steps to avoid the spread of the virus. 

    Novel Coronavirus Factsheet 2020 Novel Coronavirus Factsheet 2020 (87 KB)

    You can also access further information and updates from the following websites:

    In the circumstances like these, there can understandably be a lot of concern and uncertainty about the safety of your child. Please know that I am available to discuss your concerns with you, and will provide any revised advice to you as soon as it becomes available. 

    Building and Maintenance update

    Our maintenance team have been very busy over the holiday break with some significant projects for which we are very grateful. These include:

    • a new bridge on the path to the bus loop;
    • a new brick wall around the ANZAC memorial garden;
    • landscaping and tree planting around the new buildings; and
    • installation of three relocatable classrooms near the oval.

    This is on top of the routine maintenance and cleaning jobs that need to be done to prepare the College for the return of students and staff members.

    Very soon, we will commence construction of the new Loyola Administration Centre. The tender process has been completed, and the signing of contract documents is imminent. I will hopefully be able to announce the successful builder in the next newsletter.

    This new centre will be another significant feature of our school grounds. It will comprise three levels and house reception, student services (including counselling, sickbay, student leadership, IT help desk), meeting spaces, offices, staff room and a large multi-purpose space. This magnificent new building will be located where the old Year 9 classrooms were and therefore in a central position. I expect construction will be completed around the middle of next year if all goes well.

    Limits on student technology use

    Student inappropriate use of technology is an area of concern for us all. As you are aware, young people today are immersed in digital technologies. They use the internet and mobile phones to socialise, study, exchange ideas and play. While online activity has many benefits, there are also risks. In helping manage student use of digital technologies, parents need to be familiar with the digital world their daughters/sons are involved in. The importance of guidance in the home in this area cannot be understated, and parents play an essential role in setting boundaries for their children for appropriate use of all technology. You don’t need to be a technology expert to parent your children online; however, you do need to be informed and proactive in this area. We will provide opportunities to support parents in this area through ways such as parent information evenings and newsletter articles throughout the year. 

    To support student wellbeing and mitigate detrimental effects on student learning, I provide the following advice to parents. We can take advantage of the beginning of the new school year to set the scene and boundaries and to encourage the habits that support student learning. How students manage technology is an essential area for guidance and monitoring. There is growing research that indicates a link between heavy technology use with the surge in depression and other mental health issues among adolescents. I provide the following suggested limits for your consideration as boundaries you could discuss with your daughter/son:

    • no phones or tablets in the bedroom at night; the children use real alarm clocks to wake up;
    • no use of devices within an hour of bedtime; the blue light and psychological stimulation interfere with sleep; and
    • device use is limited to two hours of leisure time a day, plus legitimate use for homework.

    {1. “Put That Phone Away – Now” by Jean Twenge in Time, 1st April 2019}

    At school, mobile phone use is subject to clear boundaries. Given there has been coverage in the media recently about student mobile phone use at schools, I provide the following snippets from the College’s policy to remind parents about our approach and seek your support:

    “Students are not permitted to use phones or portable music devices during the school day (8.50 am – 3.05 pm) unless directed by a staff member. Earphones may only be used in teacher-directed activities. Students are NOT allowed to walk around campus with earphones in or use earphones in designated learning areas at school without teacher direction.” 

    The College’s Mobile Phone Policy is included in the front section of the Student Planner. I ask parents to please reinforce adherence to the College’s mobile phone policy with their daughter/son.

    Combustible cladding audit

    An audit of the College’s buildings has been undertaken. This had identified that combustible cladding was installed on the Food Technology Centre when it was constructed in 2005. No other structures have this cladding. 

    We have been advised that this is a low-risk situation; however, we have decided to replace the cladding. We have engaged a contractor to replace it with non-combustible material. This will happen over five weeks (including the two-week holiday period) during June and July. In the meantime, a risk management plan has been put in place to minimise the risk further. During the replacement works, Food Technology class location and consequently course content may have to be altered as the kitchens will be out of use for about three weeks. The month chosen for these works will have the least impact on the overall Food Technology teaching and learning program. 

    If you have any questions about this matter, please contact me or the College’s Business Manager, David Fitzgerald.

    Sympathy

    On behalf of our school community, I express our sympathy to the following College community members on the recent loss of a family member.

    Ms Fiona Dempster, Matilda Stepto (Year 7) and Harriet on the loss of their husband and father, Nigel Stepto.

    Mr Joe Pannuzzo (Year 9 Coordinator) on the loss of his father-in-law Andrew (Jim) McMillan. 

    “Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.”

    May Nigel and Jim rest in peace.

    Please keep the Stepto and Pannuzzo families in your thoughts and prayers.

    We are looking forward to a rewarding year as we work together to nurture the growth and development of our students. 

    Best wishes for 2020,

    Michael Exton  Principal

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