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The School Newsletter Week 8, Term 3 2021

From the Principal

The advice that we are giving to parents and carers during this period of home learning is the same that we give to our students . . . which is to go really gently at this time. As lockdown and remote learning continues, juggling too much and not taking care of yourself can be overwhelming, so we all need to ensure that structures and routine are in place. A lack of structure and routine can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing. Adequate sleep, eating well and regular exercise are where we can start to take care of ourselves.

Practising daily gratitude with your family is another thing that has been shown through research as a key to wellbeing and happiness. We tend to focus on what is going wrong. The news certainly does not help with that, but we need to take the time to celebrate what is actually positive in our lives and how lucky we are in many respects. I am personally grateful for the technology that has allowed me to remain connected with my family members and our students. Can you imagine if we had gone through a pandemic 30 years ago when we were not so connected digitally? I would hate to think of the impact from a learning and mental health perspective.

On the subject of gratitude, our staff is incredibly grateful for the messages of support that we are receiving from both the students and their families. These affirmations have given us a boost, quite often at those times when our spirits are flagging. Thank you so much.

When I heard last Thursday that remote learning would continue for at least another two weeks, I was not surprised. Only the supreme optimist would have thought that lockdown would finish last weekend. I think I heard a collective groan from many of our school’s families and staff when this news was announced. But we will all soldier on in a spirit of partnership.

On a final note, I would love to hear of your ideas for how our school community - students, families and staff - might celebrate our return to school. Give me a call or send me an email.

Hang in there!

Peter Green.

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HAPPY FATHERS’ DAY

Fathers play multiple roles in the lives of their children, from shaping our childhood to guiding us in our teenage years and beyond. Our fathers are the benchmark by which we judge other men. They help us to form our values, they teach us discipline, and they provide us with valuable support at the most important times of our lives. They perform thankless jobs for us until we become independent. Fathers’ Day is a wonderful opportunity for us to return the favour!

As we continue to grapple with the COVID pandemic, Fathers’ Day festivities are bound to be rather low-key celebrations at home this weekend. Nevertheless, we can still make our dads feel special. Try some of these:

  1. Nothing beats a warm hug to remind a dad that he is loved and cherished.
  2. Surprise your dad by cooking his favourite meal.
  3. Draw a picture of your favourite “dad” memory.
  4. Nothing beats the thrill of receiving a handmade card that will show your dad that you made an extra effort to make the day special for him.
  5. Watch a movie with your dad – one that he likes. If you have to sit through yet another Steven Seagal movie, grin and bear it!

To all of the dads, grandads and other special men in the lives of our students – have a Happy Fathers’ Day. (And a special shout out to those men who are doing the hard yards with the home learning).

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Tournament of the Minds

Over the past seven weeks, seven students from Years 5 and 6 have been involved in an extra-curricular activity called “Tournament of Minds” (oM). This is a nationwide tournament that happens once a year, and 2021 is the first year that St Patrick’s has entered this competition.

At the beginning of Term 3, our team, which consisted of Lara (Year 5), Peppa, Tamika, Sheridan, Macey, Lacey and Aisha (Year 6) were given four disciplines to choose from. The disciplines were: Language Literature, The Arts, STEM and Social Sciences. Each discipline consisted of a different problem that the team needed to solve. They were to complete this challenge without any help from parents, teachers, friends or siblings. It had to be completely independent.

This year, the team chose Language Literature. Before lockdown, they were required to solve the problem through a 10-minute performance that was to be held at Newcastle Grammar School last week. However, due to the restrictions in place, the ToM organisers decided to change the submission to an online performance that was to be filmed and submitted online by last Sunday. To say the least, this changed our plans quite a bit!

The challenge that the team needed to complete was “Reboot My Classic”, in which they had to re-make a classic film (e.g. Gnomeo and Juliet is Romeo and Juliet, The Lion King is Hamlet) and promote it through their performance. They could do this through any promotional technique that they wanted. Our team chose: radio, interviews, trailer and posters. The criteria stated that they were not allowed to give away the name of the classic they were remaking until the end of the performance, but to give subtle hints throughout the performance. The team took on a huge challenge by signing up to this tournament, and an even bigger one once they were given the new criteria!

The commitment and dedication of Tamika, Sheridan, Lara, Lacey, Macey, Aisha and Peppa was incredible. Their final product would not have been of such a high standard without their enthusiasm and determination in the face of a number of obstacles along the way. There were some testing moments throughout the production of the video, but they persevered and completed the task with a smile every step of the way.

Congratulations Team ToM! We are all very proud of your hard work. Below is a link to the girls’ entry:

Layne Wiseman (ToM coordinator, St Patrick’s)

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MISSING YOU

Our learning support assistant, Kylie Kearney, has assembled a few pictures of our staff in their home learning environments. Enjoy the photos and a huge thanks to Kylie.

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OUR RETUERN TO SCHOOL IN TERM 4

In order to bring the students back to school in a COVID-safe way, there will be a staggered return to face-to-face teaching from October. The students will return to face-to-face learning with NSW Health approved COVID-safe settings in the following order:

  • From 25th October: Kindergarten and Year 1.
  • From 1st November: Years 2 and 6.
  • From 8th November: Years 3, 4 and 5.

If stay-at-home orders are lifted in the Lake Macquarie LGA before 25th October, all students, including those living in the Central Coast LGA, will return to face-to-face learning.

If COVID cases in the Lake Macquarie LGA increase significantly, learning from home will resume until case numbers drop.

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OUR WELLBEING TEAM – WHAT A TEAM!

Last Wednesday evening we held our second Parent Engagement Group (PEG) meeting. The topic of our presentation was “The Wellbeing of Students at St Patrick’s”. I am most grateful to Kerry Cumming (learning support teacher), Melanie Dawson (school counsellor) and Lisa Ridgewell (pastoral care worker) who spoke of their various roles at the school, and the ways in which their roles are complementary.

Although all three of these people have been working at St Patrick’s for a relatively brief period, they have established a close professional rapport with one another. Kerry, Melanie and Lisa recognise the importance of being present to our students, and this has led to them having made some incredibly valuable connections with many of our students. Now and then, you might see one or more of these people fishing with a student in Black Neds Bay, playing table tennis with a student, cooking with a student, or just having a chat on the playground. It is these informal encounters with the students that has enabled Kerry, Melanie and Lisa to build these relationships.

We are very fortunate to have Kerry, Melanie and Lisa on our wellbeing team, and I am indebted to them for the service that they give to our school.

Our next PEG meeting will take place on Wednesday 13th October. The topic for the presentation will be “Gifted Education at St Patrick’s”, and the presenters will be Cathy Curk (our Gifted Education Mentor / Year 4 teacher) and Layne Wiseman (school coordinator of Tournament of Minds / Year 5 teacher). Our incoming principal, Lucy Harvey, will also attend the meeting. This will be a wonderful opportunity for us to meet Lucy. As COVID restrictions will still be in place, we will again be required to run this meeting by Zoom. Further details of the meeting will appear in next week’s newsletter. In the unlikely event that meeting restrictions are eased before 13th October, we will consider meeting face-to-face at the school if we deem it safe to do so.

Peter Green

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OUR NEW SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

Last Thursday you were notified of the appointment of our new principal – Ms Lucy Harvey - who is due to commence duties in January 2022. Lucy is currently the Assistant Principal at St James Primary School, Kotara South. Throughout her time at St James, Lucy has also held the positions of Acting Principal (three years), Primary Coordinator and Religious Education Coordinator. Lucy has also served as a classroom teacher at St John’s Primary School Dubbo and Corpus Christi Primary School Waratah.

Lucy is well qualified to take on this role, with a Diploma in Teaching, a Diploma in Religious Education and a Bachelor of Education. In addition, Lucy is currently studying for a Graduate Certificate in Mission and Culture at the Australian Catholic University.

Lucy is an active member of the Blackbutt South Parish, and she comes highly recommended by her parish priest, Fr Joseph Figurado.

I am looking forward to welcoming Lucy to St Patrick’s. There will be an opportunity for the parents and carers to meet with Lucy, hopefully face-to-face if lockdown restrictions are lifted soon.

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