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The School Newsletter Week 10, Term 2 2020

From the Principal

The A to Z of Term 2 2020 . . . a term like no other

  • A – Asymptomatic.
  • B – Breakfast at 9.00am!
  • C – Corona (the virus . . . not the beer!).
  • D – Daily workouts.
  • E – Empty supermarket shelves.
  • F – Flatten the curve.
  • G – Government restrictions.
  • H – Herd immunity.
  • I – Isolation.
  • J – June 1: First day of winter and 1st day back for the whole school.
  • K – Knights on a winning streak!
  • L – Learning from home.
  • M – Microsoft Teams.
  • N – NRL games suspended.
  • O – Outbreak.
  • P – Pandemic.
  • Q – Quarantine.
  • R – Remote learning.
  • S – Seesaw.
  • T – Tug’o’war.
  • U – Uniforms stayed in the wardrobe!
  • V – Vaccine.
  • W – Welcome back to school!
  • X – X-tra sleeping time.
  • Y – Yearning to be back at school.
  • Z – Zoom!

Okay . . . a few lame attempts here, but happy to hear any of your own alternatives!

Thanks for your support throughout this term. Looking forward to being back in Term 3.

Have a good week.

Peter Green.

TERM 3 CALENDAR

Below is a list of important dates in Term 3. With so many events having been cancelled due to COVID-19, the list looks fairly sparse. The Fathers’ Day breakfast is yet to be confirmed, and we are uncertain as to how and when we will celebrate Book Week this year. These decisions will be based on advice that we are given from the Catholic Schools Office.

  • Mon 20 July: Students return.
  • Wed 22 July: P&F meeting via Zoom at 6.30pm. (See elsewhere in this newsletter for login instructions).
  • Mon 27 – Fri 31 July: Evacuation and lockdown drills.
  • Mon 3 Aug: Semester 1 reports to be made available to parents/guardians through Compass.
  • Sat 8 Aug: Feast of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop.
  • Tue 11 Aug: School photos.
  • Mon 17 Aug: ICAS Science assessment.
  • Wed 19 Aug: Newcastle Permanent Mathematics Competition (Years 5 and 6).
  • Mon 24 Aug: ICAS Digital Technologies assessment.
  • Tue 25 Aug: ICAS English assessment.
  • Wed 26 Aug: P&F meeting via Zoom at 6.30pm.
  • Mon 31 Aug: ICAS Mathematics assessment.
  • Tue 1 Sep: Kindergarten 2021 orientation session #1 (9.00 – 11.00). ICAS Spelling assessment.
  • Fri 4 Sep: Fathers’ Day breakfast and liturgy (to be confirmed, subject to COVID-19 restrictions)
  • Sun 6 Sep: Fathers’ Day.
  • Fri 11 Sep: “Walk Safely To School” day.
  • Mon 14 Sep: Lakes regional public speaking competition (to be confirmed – possible COVID cancellation).
  • Fri 18 Sep: Term 3 interim reports to be made available to parents/guardians through Compass.
  • Wed 23 Sep: P&F meeting via Zoom at 6.30pm.
  • Fri 25 Sep: Last day of Term 3.

FROM THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION COORDINATOR

Reflecting on COVID-198

As we approach the end of Term 2 - a term unlike any other - we are provided with an opportunity to reflect calmly on what matters most, and to respond with hope and imagination.

Our staff will spend time this afternoon reflecting upon the impact of the COVID-10 pandemic on our spirituality. You might be interesting in visiting https://livingspirituality.com.au/resources/resources-series-2/this-changes-everything/.

We will consider the following questions that are posed by Dr Peter Mudge (Senior Lecturer in Religious Education and Spirituality):

  • Are there some blessings emerging for us from this self-isolation and physical distancing?
  • Is this an opportunity for us to ‘(re)find the centre’ of our lives?
  • Is this the time to practise some spiritual disciplines?
  • Is this the time to slow down and return to Sabbath living?
  • Henri Nouwen’s Challenge to ‘Live Larger’?
  • Is this the time to clean the windscreen of our inner life?
  • What is the one virtue necessary?

This Thursday’s act of kindness

Our Mini Vinnies team have given up their lunch times to prepare signs for this Thursday’s ‘Act of Kindness’. On Thursday we will gather at the side fence for the residents at Tenison Apartments and sing our school song, as well as ‘My Lighthouse’ and the ‘Blessing Song’. We can’t wait to reconnect with our friends next door who we have not seen for so long.

Winter Appeal

Thank you for the donations of clothing and blankets for those in need. It is truly appreciated. Please bring bags of clothing and blankets this week. Members of the St. Vincent De Paul Society will pick them up during the school break.

Term 3 Liturgies

As a Catholic school we pride ourselves on providing our community with opportunities to come together to pray and to worship God. Next term we will gather for our liturgies in our outdoor sacred space. Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions mean that we are unable to invite the parents, carers and grandparents to our liturgies, but if this situation is reviewed we will let you know. We will take photos to share with you the joy of these celebrations and we will keep you in our prayers.

  • Grandparent’s Day Liturgy – 24th July (until further notice students and staff only)
  • Mary Mackillop Feast Day – 7th August (until further notice students and staff only)
  • Father’s Day Liturgy – 4th September (until further notice students and staff only)

Leanne Hyland

Our Mini Vinnies team have been hard at work!

ICAS ASSESSMENTS

Our school will again participate in the ICAS Assessments this year. ICAS is developed by UNSW Global, a wholly owned subsidiary of UNSW Sydney. The assessments are designed to target students’ higher order thinking and problem-solving skills in English, Mathematics, Science, Spelling and Digital Technologies.

Participation in these assessments is entirely voluntary. Those students who undertake the assessments will receive a printed certificate and an online result report. The assessments are administered online during school hours at our school, and are suitable for students wishing to extend themselves academically and take up the personal challenge of competing in an international assessment.

This year, the students will have the opportunity to participate in the following subjects:

  • Science: Monday 17th August: Years 2 to 6.
  • Digital Technologies: Monday 24th August: Years 3 to 6.
  • English: Tuesday 25th August: Years 2 to 6.
  • Mathematics: Monday 31st August: Years 2 to 6.
  • Spelling Bee: Tuesday 1st September: Years 2 to 6.

There will be no ICAS Writing assessment this year.

The cost per test is $15.95, including GST.

If you would like your child to participate in any of the subjects listed above, please visit the ICAS online Parent Payment System at https://shop.unswglobal.com.au/pages/pps to make a direct payment to UNSW Global. Our school’s unique access code is: VRR693.

The online parent payment closes on Sunday 26th July 2020.

IMPORTANT: Please enter your child’s name accurately into the system as it will appear on their ICAS certificate.

Please contact Bronwyn Sartori or Peter Green if you have any queries about the ICAS assessments.

P&F BY ZOOM

The next meeting of the P&F will take place on Wednesday 22nd July – the first Wednesday back at school after the July holiday break. The meeting will again take place via Zoom, beginning at 6.30pm. It has been scheduled to run for 1½ hours. Meeting via Zoom will enable you to contribute your ideas without leaving home.

If you plan to attend this meeting:

  • Make sure you have downloaded Zoom to your device.
  • Use this link or copy it into your search bar: https://mncatholic.zoom.us/j/97460683839
  • Click on ‘Open Zoom meetings’.
  • Click on ‘Join with computer audio’.
  • Click on ‘Start video’.

If you are prompted to type a password, the password is 911805.

We are still accepting Enrolments for 2021.

SCHOOL UNIFORM AND LENGTH OF HAIR

The school uniform is about belonging. It is a tangible symbol and statement about our affiliation to a school, a club or a place of employment. When worn well, it says, ‘I am proud to identify myself as a member of this group. Indeed, I am so proud to be associated with this organisation that I am happy to advertise that fact.’ Uniforms tell us that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and something that has existed before we were a part of it, and will continue to exist once we leave.

All students are expected to wear the school uniform correctly. The school uniform items are clearly outlined in the parent handbook which you will find on our school’s website. There are a number of breaches of the school uniform code which are creeping in, and which I ask parents, guardians and students to attend to. Those breaches are as follows:

Shirts: Wearing the winter uniform shirt outside of the pants: In spite of frequent reminders, some boys and girls will not tuck in their shirts. I understand that the shirts do, at times, work their way loose. However, when a student repeatedly enters the school in the morning with the shirt hanging out, it is clear that they never had any intention of wearing the uniform correctly.

Ties: The tie is not an option for the boys. It must be worn on the way to school, during school hours, and on the way home from school. The girls’ tie must be worn with the navy blue slacks. The girls’ tie is not worn with the winter tunic.

Shoes: The only acceptable school shoes are black leather lace-up, buckle or elasticised shoes that are able to be polished. The most common excuse for not wearing the correct shoes is “I cannot find them.” Having somewhere to place their shoes each afternoon would be a good start for those children. If it is that rushed at home in the mornings, the children need to either get out of bed earlier or develop a routine.

Unfortunately, it is a minority of students who repeatedly refuse to comply with the school uniform code. We will issue Minor Behaviour Notifications for those who repeatedly fail to wear the school uniform correctly. If there is a reason why your child does not, on occasion, wear a correct school uniform item, please notify your child’s teacher. Parents should endeavour to replace lost or worn out uniform items as soon as possible.

Hair: For health and safety reasons, all students with hair that reaches the base of the neck are required to tie it back. In this regard, the girls are compliant. We have asked those boys with long hair to tie it back. I thank the parents in anticipation of their support in this matter.

Peter Green

SEMESTER 1 REPORTS and STUDENT-PARENT-TEACHER INTERVIEWS

The extended period of time away from on-site learning, which was brought about by COVID-19, put our teachers behind in their assessment schedules. This has meant that the issuing of Semester 1 reports has been delayed. The Semester 1 reports will be available through Compass on Monday 10th August.

On the following Monday (17th August) we will schedule interviews as a follow-up from the reports. There are two reasons why we would like to conduct these interviews via Zoom:

  1. There was a higher attendance rate from parents and carers when the interviews were conducted via Zoom, possibly because it was more convenient for parents not to have to visit the school. Many parents were able to take a few minutes away from their work commitments to attend the meetings.
  2. There has been a great deal of positive feedback from students, parents and teachers.

At the beginning of Term 3, you will receive an invitation to book an interview time

OUR WRITING MEETINGS

Writing is very high on our school’s professional development agenda this year. Last Tuesday, every parent/carer had to opportunity to meet (via Zoom) with their children’s teachers to set writing goals. Sincere thanks to our teachers who put a great deal of preparation into the meetings, and who provided valuable feedback to the parents and carers. Thanks also to the parents and carers who took time out of their busy schedules to meet with the teachers. Feedback from the parents and carers has been positive, but we will formally evaluate this initiative to determine future directions.

UPDATE ON THE KISS AND RIDE ZONE

Yesterday I spoke with Michael Oost, Investigations Officer, Lake Macquarie City Council, in regard to our request to extend the Kiss and Ride zone as far as the western end of the bus stop on Northcote Avenue. At present, the limited number of vehicles that are able to fit within the Kiss and Ride zone leads to drivers parking in the “No Stopping” zone and across the school crossing. Vehicles that stop in these zones obstruct drivers’ views of people using the school crossing. If the Kiss and Ride zone is full, please drive around the block and come back a few minutes later.

Newcastle Buses has told Lake Macquarie City Council that the buses need the space between the Kiss and Ride zone and the bus stop so that buses can enter the bus zone without being obstructed by other vehicles. Mr Oost has written back to Newcastle Buses to ask whether the bus zone can be moved further east so that we may extend the Kiss and Ride zone. He is yet to receive a response.

Mr Oost has come to the Kiss and Ride zone on two occasions to observe the flow of traffic, and he has suggested five measures that might help the flow of traffic:

  1. Drivers are not to leave their vehicles unless it is necessary to harness a young child who cannot manage a seat belt. This should be done as quickly as possible.
  2. Drivers must move forward as far as possible in the Kiss and Ride zone.
  3. Children will be loaded into the front two cars only. If you are not driving one of those two cars, wait patiently until you are.
  4. Drivers should be educated as to the practices that we are implementing.
  5. The ranger should be notified to issue on-the-spot fines to drivers who violate the parking restrictions.

I must admit that I am somewhat sceptical of some of these proposed solutions. In my view, if drivers use common sense, the Kiss and Ride zone should operate efficiently. I recently witnessed the father of a student park at the western end of the Kiss and Ride zone, walk to the front of the Kiss and Ride zone to collect his daughter, walk back to his vehicle, and drive away. Meanwhile, there was a steadily increasing queue of vehicles stopping behind him, parking illegally in the ‘No Stopping’ zone and across the school crossing. Apart from the lack of common sense, what he did would have attracted a fine if a ranger had been patrolling the area. On another occasion, a grandparent left his vehicle and walked into the school to find his grandchild, an action which led to a dangerous and chaotic pick-up that afternoon.

I am also somewhat doubtful that educating drivers is the silver bullet. We have attempted to do that, but our recommendations can fall on deaf ears. Most drivers follow the protocols, but it takes only one driver to cause a bank-up of traffic. Last week there was a parent waiting in the Kiss and Ride zone while looking at her phone. The vehicles ahead of her moved away while she continued to use her phone, oblivious to the fact that people were waiting for her to move forward so that they could collect their children. Apart from her inattention to the situation, using a phone while the vehicle is stationary and with the engine running attracts a fine.

Contacting the rangers to patrol the area also has limited long-term impact on safety at pick-up time. People have short memories. In the past, I have seen drivers take the necessary precautions following a blitz by rangers, but very soon they fall back into their dangerous and illegal driving practices.

We will follow Mr Oost’s advice and load the students into the first two cars only. Please be patient if you have to wait for a couple of minutes. Remember that we stagger the students’ exit from the school as follows:

  • Drivers collecting Students with last names beginning with A to G will commence at 2.55pm.
  • Drivers collecting Students with last names beginning with H to Q will commence at 3.00pm.
  • Drivers collecting students with last names beginning with R to Z will commence at 3.05pm.

I will let you know as soon as I know whether our Kiss and Ride zone will be extended, thus relieving some congestion. Apparently, this decision is made by Newcastle Buses! I am astounded that Newcastle Buses appears to be the regulatory body that is seemingly responsible for the safety of school children while leaving school in the afternoons! I am equally astounded that the bus company’s operational protocols override the safety of children. I have asked Mr Oost whether it might be possible for school representatives (parents and staff) to meet with the management of Newcastle Buses to relay the urgency of this matter, rather than having the Investigations Officer from Lake Macquarie City Council act as our intermediary. If Newcastle Buses will not move the bus stop further along Northcote Avenue, I will arrange a meeting with the management of the bus company, and I will seek the support of some parents and staff members.

Thank you in anticipation of your patience and your willingness to observe the Kiss and Ride measures that we have implemented. Yasmin Catley, MP for Swansea, is advocating on our behalf.

Peter Green.

HELP REQUIRED

As a caring community we would like to continue to offer our support to the Santamaria family after the loss of their dearly loved father and husband. If you can help to maintain their lawns for the rest of the year, it would be greatly appreciated. Please click on the link below where you will be taken to a lawn mowing roster, where you can volunteer to help on a particular Saturday.

REST IN PEACE

Please remember in your prayers the mother of Dan Leahy – Jane - who passed away last weekend after battling cancer. Jane is the mother-in-law of Rebecca and the grandmother of Ruby Rose, Daniel and Coco (Year 5). This is a particularly difficult time for the Leahy family, who will be unable to attend Jane’s funeral in New Zealand due to restrictions on travel.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen

PARENT SURVEY AND K/1/2 SURVEY

Thanks to those parents and carers who have completed the survey on the home learning programs that took place during the COVID-19 lockdown. If you have not already completed the survey, there is still time to do so! To access the survey, log on to Compass and go to your news feed where you will see a link to a “Parents and carers home learning survey”. If you are a parent of a Kinder, Year 1 or Year 2 student, you will see a link on your newsfeed called “Kinder, Year 1, Year 2”. Would you mind sitting with your child and helping them to complete this survey, perhaps by scribing their answers as they give them to you? Thank you in anticipation of your responses.

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