A principal reflecting on life at St Brigid's Primary School

St. Patrick’s Day


St. Brigid of Kildare is a patroness of Ireland and inspires us to care for the earth, and work for justice, equality and peace in our world. Our School’s values of Knowledge, Strength, Faith and Hospitality in our motto are all virtues St. Brigid expressed throughout her life.

Our senior students have been thinking of ways to raise money for Caritas during this Lenten Season for Project Compassion. Caritas is the International aid and development organisation of the Catholic Church in Australia. They provide much needed aid, emergency relief and support to the poorest people and they work tirelessly to ‘help people help themselves’ by providing long term development programs. Caritas is an organisation where all people are treated with respect and dignity regardless of this gender, ethnicity or religious beliefs. An easy way to raise money was to wear green for St. Patrick’s Day for a gold coin donation yesterday, March 17th.

Fiona from McAleer Dance School facilitated an Irish dancing presentation for our students. Several of our St. Brigid’s students learn Irish dancing with Fiona and she organised for these students along with former St. Brigid’s students in Year 7 to perform for us.

It was delightful to see the enthusiastic dancers and along with the sea of green, they filled the multipurpose room with an atmosphere of fun and merriment that is so in keeping with St. Patrick’s Day.

Thank you students and McAleer Dance School for this wonderful experience.

St. Brigid died on 1st February, 525AD. She was buried in Kildare but later in 835 , to protect her remains from Norse Invaders, her remains were moved from Kildare to be interred in the same grave that holds the remains of St. Patrick and St. Columba in grounds of the Cathedral in Downpatrick.

 

St Patrick's Day 15 3

St Patrick's Day 15 2

St Patrick's Day 15 1

Meet ‘Miles’


Miles is my companion and he will be travelling around the Learning Centres to see all the wonderful learning our students are engaged in.

Miles was present at our first SRC meeting today. With representatives from each class we discussed school rules, using sports equipment wisely and types of sports equipment we could have at recess and lunch times.

I put forward my idea of developing a vegetable garden with the hope that once it is up and running efficiently we will be able to supply organically grown vegetables to people in our Parish community. I envisage being able to supply home ‘school’ grown, wholesome fruit and vegetables to those in our parish who are struggling and going through some kind of hardship or the elderly.

As discussed with the SRC it would be a garden of many advantages to our school community. Firstly the social justice involved in working hard to assist others and trying to actively do something that will benefit those in need. Secondly it would enhance our school environment and provide a place for learning and outdoor lessons. It would also give the students additional areas to visit during the day and learn about important issues regarding sustainability, organic gardening, recycling, worm farming, crop rotation and self-sufficiency.

The mention of a chicken coop was well received by the students and I am sure they will enjoy telling their classmates about it and all the others things we discussed today

Miles popped into the photo of the members of the SRC today.

Miles popped into the photo of the members of the SRC today.   

Miles is very interested in our Vegetable Garden project

Miles is very interested in our Vegetable Garden project

School Camp


Our senior students in Years 5 and 6 enjoyed the adventures of camp this week. They will all have memories of the days spent climbing, canoeing, walking, getting dirty, spending time around the camp fire and most importantly spending time outdoors.

Camp provides students with another educational experience away from the routine of a regular school day. They learn to be more confident and able to talk to people who are not necessarily their closest friends. Living in an environment close to others and experiencing an active, challenging time together creates the ideal setting to form new friendships and get to know each better.

Each year our Year 4 students and Year 5/6 students attend Camp. Usually one year of the Year 5/6 is an outdoor adventure camp and other is a more instructional/educational based camp such as Sovereign Hill in Ballarat. This camp takes students back to times past in Australia history and supports the inquiry approach to learning. It provides the opportunities for students to be outdoors but is not as physically challenging as river crossings, flying foxes and abseiling.

From my experience of taking students on school camps over many years I have seen the way camps build students self confidence and self esteem and the independence that comes from making their own decisions in the safety of the camp environment. It gives the students an opportunity to be relaxed and gives them a greater appreciation of the wonders nature has to offer. 

Here are some of the photos I took while attending camp for the first two days.
  

I am always looking for new camp environments for our school camp. If you have any outdoor adventure camp suggestions in Victoria, particularly in the central or south eastern regions I would be happy if you would post your comments.

Ash Wednesday – Lent


Today is Ash Wednesday and we begin the Season of Lent. As a Catholic School Mass was celebrated today where we received Ashes on our foreheads as an outward sign of our humility and our willingness to journey with Christ to the Cross. The Ashes are a symbol of penance and repentance and are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year.

Growing up and still today in my own family, we observe the penitential Season of Lent with fasting, prayer and almsgivings. It is a time when we look inwardly at ourselves and turn to God for forgiveness for our wrongdoings.

The tradition of giving up of all sweet foods, especially chocolate, limiting our meal portions and not eating meat on a Friday for the period of Lent seemed to a young boy to be a very long time. We weren’t bitter or didn’t walk around as though life was tough we went through this time joyfully knowing that we were journeying with Christ and in our small way we were doing as Jesus did in the desert. Our Project Compassion box always sat in a prominent place in our house where we would go without to place donations in the box for people in need. We were encouraged to help others, pray and be attentive at Mass, listening to Scripture to be able to better understand the significance of this period on the Catholic calendar.

Hot Cross Buns were not eaten until Good Friday and Easter Eggs were never consumed before we attended Mass on Easter Sunday. The joy of cracking open the egg to find an empty hollow was so meaningful after listening to the Gospel and being a part of the celebration of the Resurrection. The significance was immense and we truly celebrated in the joy and freedom Jesus won for all of us.

Many people today ask what is the use of giving up something. I still feel today based on own upbringing that self-denial, going without, is an important part of our awareness of our dependence on God. This self-discipline allows time for reflection and contemplation of how we live our lives and what we could do better. We are able to celebrate in the triumph over hardships and difficult times through out trust in God and share that joy with others. Repentance for our actions is crucial for us to move forward and bring about peace in our lives. We must forgive those who have hurt us and show love for one another just as God has shown his generosity and forgiveness to us.

These traditions have been shared with my own family. We have much pleasure in bringing along our filled Project Compassion boxes to Mass to offer our donation to the most needy through Caritas and waiting until Good Friday to consume Hot Cross Buns and Easter Sunday to eat an Easter Egg. I have a grin to myself when I see Hot Cross Buns in supermarkets immediately after Christmas and the ‘Eat Fish for Lent’ slogan on their advertising.

I have shared only a small part of my tradition during Lent. I would love to hear of your traditions and how they have had an impact on your life today.

Welcome to the 2015 School Year


Welcome to a New Year of reflections that I hope you will enjoy throughout the year.

The 2015 School year has commenced with staff and students focused and ready to learn. The energy around the school is evident with happy faces and an enthusiasm to make friends and an eagerness to fit into the daily routines of school.

Teachers have worked hard over the school holidays to create vibrant learning spaces and provide a rich curriculum to engage students and motivate all to learn.

We will be holding a Bush Dance this Term as a way to welcome everyone back to school and to invite our new families and students, especially our Foundation students to be active participants in the life of St. Brigid’s. With the help of our Social and Fundraising Committee this will be a fantastic evening for everyone.

Our senior students will be off to camp shortly and I hope to visit and stay a night to experience the adventure with the students and their teachers. I am sure I will have some great photos to share upon my return.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


 CEHCH406

May the true meaning of Christmas

fill your hearts and homes with joy and peace.

May your New Year be one of happiness

that lasts throughout the coming year.

 

The End of the School Year


While I was writing the final newsletter for the year I began to reflect on the year we have had.  I am confident that there has been a tremendous amount of learning and growth in our school not only in our students but our staff as well. We have shared our gifts and talents with each other and made friendships along the way. In faith and hope we have faced the challenges that have come our way.

We have become very confident in our approach to 21st century learning and our students are engaged and motivated to learn.  The End of Year Reports go home to parents this week and I urge parents to offer words of delight in their child’s progress throughout the year and encouragement to keep focused ahead for the learning journey continues and should never be stagnant.

This week our Year 6 students graduate from their primary education and move onto the next phase in their life’s journey – secondary school.  They have been worthy leaders in our school this year and have taken on the leadership roles of School Captains, House Captains, members of the student Faith Team, Sustainability Team and ICT Team. Each Year 6 student has contributed to the life of St. Brigid’s in a positive and meaningful way all throughout the years have been a part of our community.

Our St. Brigid’s community is spirit filled with a warm and generous heart. Our parent community is supportive and they contribute substantially to our school, not only in raising funds but also in the way they rally together to help one another, especially those in personal need. Through their efforts we have been able to achieve a great deal for our students. Their help in the learning centres, uniform shop, excursions, camps, providing food for functions, working bees, and the overall general way they help our school is very much appreciated and we are so grateful for their time and hard work.  Above all we appreciate the positive manner in which they speak about our school and the hospitality they show to others.

As we say a fond farewell to some of our staff we are delighted to be welcoming new staff for 2015. Already they have been to visit and met their students. They have also been involved in the planning and preparation for next year.

As we dwell on the ending of the year and the promise of new beginnings next year the following poem reminds us to live today well. 

 

Look to this day

For it is life– the very life of life

In its brief course lie all

The realities and truths of existence

The joy of growth

The glory of action

The splendour of beauty

For yesterday is already a memory

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today well lived makes every

Yesterday a memory of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of

Hope—

Look well, therefore, to this day.

Ancient Sanskrit Poem

 

 

 

Country and Western Fair 2014


Our Country and Western Fair was held last Saturday and once again it was a huge success.

The fair was successful because a great group of parents volunteered to be part of a team to prepare, plan and organise this event. Without their tremendous support it would be impossible to hold a fair. It requires a commitment from dedicated people who are prepared to meet regularly, approach organizations for donations, liaise with community groups such as the CFA, Guides, and Scouts, investigate suitable companies for rides, market stalls and food vendors and take part in extensive promotion.

Our whole school community needed to be supportive of the fair and were asked to contribute donations and their time on the day to man stalls. I am pleased to say we have a very good response.

Our school staff also took part and generously gave up their time to assist. Two of our staff members, Elyce and Leanne are involved in dancing and together with the students from the dance company performed on the day. The performers were students of St. Brigid’s school.  The Master of Ceremonies for the day was a staff member who engaged the community by introducing presentations, interviewing and interacting with the crowd.  Well done! Damian.

Events such as fairs or fetes are great community builders. They bring together people who are all united in working for the school community to raise funds and socialize. It builds community by the hospitality and warm welcome we show to others and the sense of purpose with everyone working together for the benefit of all.

At the end of an exhausting day the work still continues with stocktaking and evaluating the preparations and the outcome of the day. We will note the things we did well and the things we can do better for next time.

A special thank to everyone involved, especially those who went above and beyond to ensure the day was so successful and those who came along to enjoy the fair.  

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Starting School


Our Foundation Year 2015 students have commenced the orientation process at St. Brigid’s.  We recognise that starting school is an important stage for young children and their families. It has been described as, “One of the major challenges children have to face in their early childhood years.” Victorian Department of School Education, 1992, p.44.

In the eyes of a child starting school is a scary prospect. Leaving the confines of the family home and heading off to join a community where there are lots of children and adults, most of whom you do not know, and having to fit in with the school routine, lots of rules and make new friends is very daunting for a child. Kindergarten has hopefully prepared them for some of the changes in their lifestyle such as having to go to bed early to be able to get up in the morning and socializing and sharing with other children.

Starting school is also a time of excitement, anticipation and longing. Children instinctively want to learn new things, create and explore.  They want to join in with other children and be more independent. As educators, we must tap into this energy and engage and motivate these young children in their learning.

We have developed an orientation process that hopefully addresses some of the anxieties children face and aim to develop effective partnerships between home and school.  Regina Nelson, ‘The Social Context of Readiness’, 1995 wrote, “That it is generally the case that children who experience similar environments and expectations at home and school are likely to find the transition to school, as well as school in general, easier.” Children who find school unfamiliar and unrelated to their home life tend to be more anxious and experience difficulty.

Our orientation process has been designed to help our new Foundation students become more familiar and comfortable with our school. Our Foundation Year teachers meet with the various Kindergarten teachers and a series of school visits and activities take place that provides the opportunity for the children to be active in their learning and get to know other classmates and their teachers.

Parents are able to assist their child in this transition from kindergarten to school by establishing positive relationships with us and having honest and open communication. Allowing children to be a little more independent, carrying their own school bag and encouraging them to look after their belongings is important for getting them ready for the school routine.

We understand when a child starts school for the first time parents are also a little anxious and afraid. In an effort to provide support we have a designated Parents Retreat where parents are able to go to meet other parents who are new to the school and who are experiencing the same feeling of leaving their child in the hands of the teachers and the other parents who have already established relationships in the school community.

The transition to primary school does not end with the child starting school on the first day of the school year. The Foundation Year teachers recognise this is a long process. Establishing good relationships where the child and the teacher get to know each other, having clear guidelines and expectations and providing engaging learning experiences are paramount to successful transition.

 

Languages other than English (LOTE) Program – Japanese


The LOTE – Japanese program offered at St. Brigid’s from Foundation Year to Year 6 is taught by a specialist Japanese teacher. The students are immersed in the Japanese language and culture. This assists with the development of communication skills and knowledge that contributes to the development of inter-culturally aware citizens who can participate and engage in positive multicultural relationships in a global society. Research has shown that the experience of learning a second language improves our knowledge of how languages work and enhances our thinking skills.

Students are engaged in a range of activities that include but are not limited to speaking, reading, writing, listening and singing. Through comparison and reflection of the Japanese language and the development of an understanding from a different cultural perspective students come to appreciate some of the social, historical and cultural aspects associated with the Japanese people.

Last Friday our Japanese teacher facilitated a Japanese Day that began with an Opening Ceremony that included Taiko Drumming performed by students from St. Francis Xavier College, Officer. The Secondary School students welcomed the opportunity to perform for an enthusiastic audience and enjoyed the experience.

Students were invited to dress in Japanese costume, which added to the atmosphere of the day. They took part in a Fashion Parade and then moved on to activity sessions before enjoying a Sushi lunch.

The day concluded with a Closing Ceremony with presentations from each of the Learning Communities. Each group sang a song in Japanese and two of our Year 6 students sang a Japanese version of ‘Let It Go’. They were all very entertaining.

Our Year 6 students will have the opportunity to visit St. Francis Xavier College for an Immersion Program later this month. They will interact with Year 9 students who are also studying Japanese and will share experiences with each other.

Japanese Day photo-25     Japanese Day photo-23                Japanese Day photo-26          Japanese Day photo-24