“When the world says ‘Give Up’, Hope whispers, ‘Try one one more time.” Such a simple statement, yet so powerful!
Like our colleagues in Kildare Ministries Schools the core value of Hope became our major focus for 2018. Given a world that is sometimes characterised by uncertainty, instability, isolation and confusion it was with much excitement that we asked our student leaders in late 2017 to help us explore, celebrate and promote this crucial Core Value by developing a motto to define our work in 2018. The result - Purposeful todays transform tomorrow. In many ways we have encouraged our students to understand that what we do today can impact significantly on tomorrow, that making mistakes is normal, that with perseverance and hard work we can improve, and that no matter how difficult or hopeless things may seem, there is always hope for a better tomorrow and a brighter future.
The Resilience Project
While talking of hope, we welcomed the Resilience Project to our school in May. While we had certainly heard about the positive impact this program had in other schools and sporting clubs, we did not anticipate how powerful the message would resonate in our community, nor how intrinsically linked their message is to the ideal of Hope. Martin Heppell from the Resilience Project energised and animated our community (staff, students and parents) like few have before him. While we heard the general message of how gratitude, empathy and mindfulness can be used to improve our mental health, it was also the deeper message behind the stories that reverberated across our school. Martin’s infectious energy and enthusiasm complemented by his unique storytelling ability actually sold a message of hope. In this regard it is normal to admit our fallibility, to embrace the opportunities to learn and grow from our failings and to always keep it in perspective that we actually lead blessed lives and we should be grateful for what we do have, rather than what we do not.
A Commitment to Social Justice
We continue to demonstrate our commitment to Catholic Social Teaching, as modelled to us by Jesus. Our fundraising for Project Compassion through Caritas culminated in our mini-fete on Foundation Day (March 22). Once again we were proud of the significant amount of money our school community raised. We rejoice in the enormous contribution of our East Timorese Immersion Group, who ventured to help the underprivileged in Timor for our ninth journey to this beautiful country. Preparations are already underway for the ten year anniversary in 2019! Recently our VCAL team have returned from Brewarrina, after a week of community service and engagement with the underprivileged in that region. The VCAL team are developing a proud tradition of community service in that area of Australia. In the same week we had a brave group of students and two staff members participate in the annual Winter Sleep Out. This involved sleeping rough for one night to show solidarity forthose who are homeless. The following week we also hosted a number of schools from across the Diocese in a Just Leadership Day. All of these events are underpinned by Catholic Social Teaching, in particular, (i) the need to preserveand keep sacred the dignity of the human person and (ii) a basic moral test to look after our most vulnerable members and put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
Nurturing our Spirituality
In July we held our annual Sabbatical Week. This is a special week for our staff as we take time to reflect and to foster, nourish and nurture our personal spirituality. This included our Staff Spirituality Day where together with the staff of St. Augustine’s Kyabram, we had the privilege of listening to Fr Timothy Radcliffe O.P. Father Timothy is a Dominican friar of the English Province, ordained as a priest in 1971 and former Master of the Order of Preachers from 1992-2001. He speaks regularly around the world on a range of issues and is the author of a number of books, the latest of which is The Hope that is Within You. With this in mind, during the day he helped us explore the concept of hope through two keynote addresses:
1. How does God live in our love?
2. What hope can offer the young?
though the witness of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.
2019 has been a massive year for curriculum innovation. The Curriculum Team undertook an enormous challenge in 2017 to completely restructure our curriculum offerings in Year 8 and 9. We moved to a vertical structure and a more aligned timetable, which allowed movement for students based on ability level - a stage not age approach. The new structure, implemented at the beginning of 2018, not only allowed greater flexibility for student acceleration but also provided them with greater choice and control and the ability to select subjects more relevant to their own interests, skills and abilities. This coincided with the introduction of two new subjects - “Reading Room” and “Clubs”. Reading Room was developed in collaboration with our Learning Leaders, literacy teachers and library staff to develop a more targeted and meaningful reading program at school, with the direct purpose of improving our students reading levels, while also promoting a love for and enjoyment of reading. This occurs once a week, with a clear curriculumprogram to support it. Our involvement in UNMOS has also supported our aims for this program. Early indications are very positive! Clubs was introduced as a special interest subject that students could choose to help explore a passion or area of curiosity. Examples have included - Textiles, Fishing and Golf, Minecraft, Origami, Dance, Eat Clean Keep Fit and so forth. Of course interspersed with all the curriculum offerings have been the myriad of opportunities for extra- curricular activities, from camps to retreats to sporting endeavours to excursions.
In 2018 we also launched our new strategic plan titled, “From Acorns to Oak Trees 2018-2022” This document will become our guiding light and help us to disseminate and discern the important decisions the school will face in the next five years. It is quite deliberately aligned to our Kildare Ministries identity statements, vision and mission and core values but also to the five pillars of the CEO Sandhurst Cossi framework. With a focus on preserving and celebrating our traditions, it also looks forward to how St. Joseph’s College can best serve the needs of our community for future generations.
Our Sports Stars
Well we can certainly celebrate a wide variety of sporting achievements this year at St Joseph’s College.
This is a list of the achievements of our St Joseph’s College Athletes to date:
● LMR Swimming - 13yr 4x50m Freestyle Relay broke record - 24 participants.
● Senior Boys Cricket got to LMR Stage.
● Winner of the the North West School Shooting Event was a Year 12 female student.
● We had 8 participants at the State Swimming.
● LMR Soccer - Inter Girls made regional level.
● LMR Cross Country - 27 students qualified - 13yo boys Team (3rd) - 14yo girls Team (2nd) - 14yo Boys Team.(2nd). 6 of our students went to State level Cross Country.
● In July we had 5 students enter in our Inaugural Equestrian event. 1 rider went on to compete at State Level.
● LMR Soccer - Year 7 Boys qualified for regional level.
● Our Year 8 Boys AFL made Qtr Finals.
● 1 Year 7 female student has qualified for State Shooting.
● Our Year 8 Netball lost the state final by 1 point.
● Our Year 10 Netball Team have come 4th in the overall of State level.
● Our Senior Girls Basketball Team play in the State Final on the 18th of September.
Our New College Branding Recognises our Indigenous Connections
In 2018 our College has reworked its College branding. Part of this process has been a re-imagining of the College’s symbols. The articulation of our new College symbols has worked to express a re-contextualisation of our story in a modern context, keeping the spirit of our Brigidine symbols alive whilst opening ourselves to our new journey with Kildare Ministries. The symbols have also aimed to connect to the Aboriginal culture that is present in the Echuca area and to draw upon relationships past and present with our connections to the local Aboriginal community. Reanna Bono was a student at St Joseph’s College in the 1990s. She is a proud Wiradjuri and Wemba Wemba Woman. Nancy Bono, her mum was the first Koorie Educator at St Joseph’s College. She was a staff member for 13 years. Sadly, Nancy passed away in 2006.
The first set of artworks are symbols derived from our Brigidine heritage with a delicate nod to the Aboriginal spirituality that co-exists at St. Joseph’s. The intention of these symbols was to draw together and promote the interweaving of our College heritage and our local Koorie traditions, symbols and culture. The second set of symbols are based on the river - imagery for all of us to connect to as a school nestled in between the Murray and Campaspe rivers. The great Murray Cod and the Yorta Yorta sacred symbol of the Long Neck Turtle. The last of the designs moved us more than we could have expected. An electrifying aerial portrayal of the Oak Tree located at the front of the school. The repeated dot work that we are familiar with in Aboriginal art leads us in to the centre of the new symbol - like groups on a journey to meet under the tree. Students at St. Joseph’s, hear the phrase ‘Acorns to Oak Trees’ used, as we try to express the growth that we perceive them being on. Traditionally, The Oak was the sacred tree of the Druids of the Ancient Celtic tradition, and later became associated with the Church. It is one of the longest living native trees of Ireland. The Oak Tree in the College grounds grew from an acorn from the original tree in Tullow, Ireland. This acorn was brought to Echuca by our founding Brigidine Sisters. The lineage represented in Reanna's Oak design is unmistakably Aboriginal and Celtic and represents not just these two ancient spiritualities but the respect that we have for all that congregate on the sacred meeting ground at St. Joseph's College, Echuca. Reanna’s artwork allows her and each of us to connect with culture, while telling our story in a new way.
Zane was our Principal for a Day!
The annual Principal for a day (sp4d) is a successful event run by Principals Australia Institute and is designed to give participants a taste of what it’s like to run a school! Principal for a Day aims to unleash and inspire the best qualities in our young people and to highlight the role that schools play in shaping the lives of young Australians and of Australia as a whole. Zane has developed a close relationship with the College. Zane’s Mail Delivery and Pick Up Service provides a range of services to our College. To the great joy of our Office Staff, Zane reliably brings our mail every day of the week! He has developed a special relationship with the Office Staff. Zane’s dream to be the Principal of St Joseph’s College came one day as part of the regular mail delivery. When our Business Manager opened the mail she found a letter from Zane himself. In the letter Zane expressed that, when Mr Delaney was no longer the Principal of the school, it would be a dream come true if he could be the Principal of St Joseph’s College, Echuca. So we decided that Zane could be the Principal! On Tuesday the 4th of September Zane was the Principal for the day! He participated in some of the activities that a school principal might do on a daily basis. He had an opportunity to take a tour of the school and check that all the students were on task, he had the chance to interview the current Acting- Co-Principals and shared morning tea with our Year 10 College Leaders.The morning was to be all about fun but there was also a serious side; it is a dream come true for Zane to take the helm and be the Principal of St Joseph’s College Echuca for the day and it was really important that we are all given the opportunity to make our dreams come true! We couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic and loyal Principal. Thanks Zane for your contribution to our school on your Principal Day and every other day that you walk through our school gates!
Grant Kemp and Kirrilee Westblade