During 2022 we are focussing on the touchstone of Justice & Solidarity as a means of understanding our relationship to God and to the world. The interesting thing about the touchstones is that they do not exist in isolation, so while we highlight Justice & Solidarity, we are always developing our awareness and engagement with all of the core values of the College. Over this fortnight, we have had several important experiences, including the Year 12 Retreat, Year 10 Reflection Day and our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community breakfast, each an opportunity to build solidarity and relationships.
Finally, As part of the wider community, and along with Healthy Cities Illawarra, The Catholic Diocese of Wollongong and the Catholic Women’s League, we are hosting the Illawarra Women’s Day of Dance and Culture on Sunday March 6. We would love to see women from our community come along and celebrate International Women’s Day with us. As a school for young men, it is extremely important that we develop opportunities to prioritise the engagement of women in our community. This is how we learn to respect each other, to think about how we are making a difference in the life of the wider community.
Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Community Breakfast – Ms Neal, Aboriginal Education Coordinator
This morning we held a Welcome Breakfast for all our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their families. It was a fantastic way to start the day and the Year, enabling the families, staff and students to get to know each other and build respectful relationships. We are proud to say that we had over 65 people attend, including one of our Aboriginal Community Mentors – Zach Stewart a proud Kamilaroi man. We celebrated the finalization of our schools’ Reconciliation Action Plan and the tremendous achievement of currently having eight of our First Nations students in prefecture roles. We look forward to working together as a community to build solidarity and reconciliation throughout the year.
Year 12 Retreat
Year 12 students have started the Year with their Senior Retreat, focussed on Becoming a Man for others and having hope in the future. Whilst the program was changed due to our limitations of time and space, the student feedback demonstrated that they appreciated the time to step away from normal lessons and to think about their own futures and their relationships. We asked them what was the best thing about Retreat, and while many of the activities got a mention, there was one overwhelming positive aspect, as you can see in the word cloud – the letters from parents. The retreat is an opportunity for us to affirm the importance of the relationship between home, school and student so that we are all working to support your sons to become all that God has created them to be. We thank the 17 staff who accompanied our students on this experience and all of the parents and carers who made it deeply personal and meaningful to each student. Here are some of the feedback comments.
A great time to get away from the hustle and bustle of Year 12 and be out in nature to reflect and prepare ourselves for the future, long term and short term. – Jonathon Panteli
This retreat was really good and refreshed me. It was great for bonding with my mates in the free time and sharing personal stories. It also made me realise what I have to do in Year 12 and what my goals are after I complete Year 12. – Harrison Hooper
I honestly think the whole experience was pretty cool. It was quite emotional with the letters and the mediation was pretty good too. – Riley C
The retreat was a great experience for taking some time away from school and reflecting on ourselves and our journey through Year 12. – Jet Heferen
The retreat was a wonderful opportunity to come together as a year group and reflect on what has been an incredible journey, and to look forward to a bright future beyond high school. Opening the letters from our parents was such an amazing experience, and I think everyone had tears rolling down their faces after that. – Will Douglas
The retreat was an amazing experience – going into it, I didn’t know what to expect, but throughout the retreat I became more and more comfortable within group activities. Seeing different sides of people you don’t talk to as much is a really enjoyable experience that leads to new friendships and you becoming closer with those people. – Zac Mangelsdorf
Retreat was a much-needed break from school work and all the craziness of the start of the year. It was nice to reflect on our high school lives together and get to hear about where our journeys are taking us all, and what we want from the next few years of our lives. I definitely think that after the retreat experience the year group is more connected and everyone has a better understanding of the troubles and challenges we may face over the coming year. – Matt Armitage
It was a very enjoyable experience that allowed me to reflect on the many years of my high school life. – Mark Souffy
Scary at first to look within but once you understand it, you have no reason to be afraid. – Toby Schuback
The retreat gave me a chance to not only reflect on the man I want to be in life, but also the importance of the boys and community around me in achieving our goals together. – Nathan
The retreat was an affirming and fun experience which called on us to reflect on ourselves and our peers. – Marcus Stevanoski
The retreat is a great experience for the year 12 cohort as not only does it open the minds of the boys but allows them to gain an understanding of themselves and their teachers. – Josh Happe
It was a very interesting experience; I learned more about myself and my peers in two days than I had my whole school life. – Billy Foster
Year 10 Reflection Day – Mr Toohey, Religious Education Coordinator
On Thursday 17th February Year 10 gathered in the Br Pelin Hall for a new Reflection Day Program facilitated by David Kobler from ‘Your Choicez Media’, focussed on the theme ‘Respectful Relationships’.
Guided by David and their teachers, students took some time aside from the usual daily routine to reflect on the topics of Relationships, Sexual Decision Making, Pornography, Consent and Sexual Ethics, Identity and Pressures and Love. The program was designed to give the boys relevant and up to date information about these important topics in order to break common misconceptions, provide clarity and empower them to make informed choices moving forward.
The boys were thoughtful, challenged and reflective on the material presented. The thought-provoking information provides much opportunity for further reflection as the boys head off to camp in Week 5.
“Great experience for Year 10 boys” – Raul
“Reflection Day was a great day filled with beneficial talks and topics that were key in shaping a mature young man. The awesome talker provided an engaging experience, while being educational and providing the right information to the boys, at the right time they needed to hear it. It really helped in taking a step towards maturity and furthermore shaping what the College hopes for each student to leave with after school, commonly termed as a fine young man” – Taj
“It was a good experience with plenty of eye opening information and great advice” – Marcus
“Awesome education for young men like us “ – Flynn
“It really helped me gain an understanding of how my teen life relates to my peers. The experience taught me that we all hold the same struggles and it strengthened our year 10 community” – Kalani
CSL Opportunities – Mr Pullella
Over the next two weeks students in Years 8 – 12 will get a refresher about the requirements of Christian Service & Solidarity Learning. One of the priorities of our COllege has always been to support our students to develop hearts that are open to the needs around them. CSL requirements are spelled out in the College Diary, but as a rough guide, Years 7-9 students are asked to do 10 hours of service over the Year whole Years 10 – 12 students complete a Senior Project at one agency. Currently we are recruiting for the Monday Bushcare group and Edmund Rice Camps. Please contact Mr Pullella if you have any questions.
The Opening Mass was an excellent opportunity to celebrate as a community, even though we were socially distanced. Bishop Brian Mascord spoke about the importance of remembering that our focus on Justice and Solidarity for this year as one lens on the Gospel and that the motivation for prioritising the marginalised and vulnerable is so that they can experience the light of Christ in their lives. College Captain Balunn Simon reminded us that every day is an opportunity to grow to your own potential and that every act of solidarity builds our community. As people in the Edmund Rice Community in 2022, we are striving to be a community where all people may know their value and all may have ‘life to the full.’ (John 10:10)
Director of Identity