Last week, during our whole-school assembly, the College rightly celebrated ‘International Women’s Day.’ This gathering was not only an opportunity to sincerely acknowledge the collective leadership and expertise of the women who work in the ERC community, but it was also a timely occasion to speak with students about the ongoing public and national conversation concerning respectful relationships between men and women.
As a Catholic College in the Edmund Rice tradition, we have an essential responsibility to provide age-appropriate guidance, education and support about respectful relationships and appropriate behaviours. While our curriculum programs in PDHPE include age-progressive units on topics, which explicitly include respectful and consensual sexual relationships, our Religious Education and Pastoral Care programs also focus on each person’s human dignity. But while our College plays a vital role in fostering inclusion and equality through each of our Touchstones, topics such as these cannot be compartmentalised into faculties or left to individual teachers – we all have an obligation in this regard. That is why a united partnership with parents and carers is an effective way to support our young people in understanding how to foster respectful relationships. In this way, conversations between young people about appropriate healthy relationships can become more normalised.
As a parent myself, I appreciate that conversations with adolescents that further support themselves and others can be confronting; however, they are essential if we genuinely want our younger generation to learn from previous experiences. As I mentioned to the students at last week’s assembly, directly after they learned some startling national statistics highlighted by the ‘When Will She Be Right? campaign from the UN Women Australia, which focuses on gender inequality in Australia and the UN’s goal of achieving equality for women globally by 2030: “You each represent society’s future. You can each lead the change for a safer, respectful and equal society for both women, men and children. But, we must start now to make that change.”
Today, on this Feast Day of St Joseph we are reminded of his example as a loving and devoted spouse and father who was a humble, steady and loving support throughout turbulent times. Such a heightened model of respect is precisely the message that ERC endeavours to promote with all staff and students so that we can proactively engage with the broader community. This is important because, essentially, we can always do more.
As always, if you do have concerns about the wellbeing of your son, please never hesitate to contact his Year Coordinator/Home Room teacher in the first instance.
I am very pleased to announce that the newly appointed Director of Pastoral Care and Wellbeing is Mrs Jodie Hughes. Jodie is currently the Assistant Principal at Bethany College, Hurstville and prior to that was the Director of Pastoral Care at St Patrick’s College, Sutherland. Jodie, who has previously been a Leader of Wellbeing at Loreto Kirribilli and REC at Aquinas College, Menai comes to us with over 23 years’ experience as a member of various Leadership Teams. Jodie has worked in a range of all-boys Catholic schools, including Marist College, Kogarah and Marcellin College Randwick.One of her postgraduate qualifications includes a Master of Education – Student Wellbeing from the University of Melbourne. We look forward to Jodie commencing in her role from Term 2.
Earlier this week, the parents and Friends Association members acknowledged the incredible service and sustained dedication of Mr Sam Tadros to the ERC community over the past 40 years.
Following this week’s Annual General Meeting for the Parents and Friends Association, we congratulate the following parents and carers who accepted the endorsed nominations as the 2021 P&F Committee:
Presidency (Shared): Rob Tomasiello & Francis Fenech
Vice President: Katrina Sinclair
Treasurer: Martin Carolan
Secretary: Ainsley Eckermann
On behalf of ERC, I sincerely thank the 2021 P&F Committee for their ongoing commitment and generous support of our community. It is a reminder that all parents and carers are warmly welcomed to attend and contribute to the planned activities throughout the year ahead. Please note the following upcoming events:
Year 7 Welcome BBQ – Saturday 24th April, 3.00 pm-5.00 pm, on the ERC grounds
With the recent lifting of NSW Health restrictions, I am pleased to advise that the previously postponed Year 7 Parent Welcome BBQ is now scheduled for early next Term on Saturday 24th April. This event promises to be an opportunity for new parents and their families to gather and establish supportive connections within an open social environment. We encourage parent/carer and student volunteers to support this event by contacting:
Adriana Clark – firstname.lastname@example.org – mob 0407948 311
Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea – Thursday 6th May, 3.00 pm-5.00 pm
We look forward to students gathering with their mums to celebrate Mother’s Day with our annual High Tea. This event will once again be advertised during the early stages of next Term, and we encourage those who are able to assist in contacting:
Francis Fenech – email@example.com – 0413 908 107
Parent Award – Wednesday 5th May
The Edmund Rice Feast Day is on Wednesday 5th May. Each year during this annual celebration, the College awards a parent or carer for their outstanding service to ERC over an extended period of time. Parents and carers are invited to make nominations for this award by emailing Ann Preston firstname.lastname@example.org by 19 April 2021
UPCOMING EVENTS AND/OR DATES
26 March – College Athletics Carnival
30 March – Parent/Teacher Afternoon/Evening (Yrs 7/9/11)
1 April – Easter Show Reward Trip
1 April – Final Day of classes for Term 1
2 April – Good Friday
From the Deputy
Year 7 Camp – Fitzroy Falls (Wednesday – Friday)
Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Year 7 Camp. I was even more privileged to assist a group of Ignatius boys in completing the activities. The way in which all the boys interacted, encouraged and supported each other was testament to not only themselves but their families as well, especially when they were challenged with heights, strength and overcoming their individual fears. Such activities included abseiling, mountain bike riding, high and low wires, team challenges and the giant swing to name a few. Staying overnight for some boys was challenging, not to mention being out of their comfort zone for a couple of days. I was impressed with the resilience of many boys not only from my group but witnessing others interacting throughout the three days. The way in which they dealt with overcoming their anxiety and working with the staff to have the opportunity to experience different things and to endure the entire camp. We were fortunate with the weather and I thank all of the staff who gave their
time away from their own family so the students could have such a valuable experience in what is an excellent way to continue transitioning to high school.
College Advisory Council
In 2020, Edmund Rice Education Australia sought to clarify the role of EREA School Boards. While there was broad understanding among Board members as to their advisory nature, it was unclear how well this was understood by school communities. It was apparent from talking to Board Chairs that the term ‘Board’ perhaps created expectations and unhelpful assumptions and alternatives were considered. Many Boards had already adopted the term Advisory and the decision of the EREA Board to adopt the term College Advisory Council went a step further towards removing any residual ambiguity. This was not designed to be a cosmetic change, nor to diminish the influence and contribution of the existing School Board. The change of name accompanies a broader look at the existing role and responsibilities of the Councils in light of changing expectations of school governance.
The Edmund Rice Colleges’ Advisory Council meets regularly. Most of the Council’s work revolves around Mission, Planning and Review, Policy, Risk Management and Finance. These are managed through the formation of subcommittees to cover specific areas for the College. At our recent Council Meeting we welcomed members back to another exciting school year, introduced the College Principal and Deputy Principal to members present and online. For 2021, our Board Chair is Mr Chris Lyon, who has had a long association with Edmund Rice College. Other members include Mr David Chard, Mr Brendan Pearce, Ms Peta Renkin, Mr Matthew Hennessy, Mr Barry Formosa, Mr Brendan Pearce, Mr Michael Brannon, Mrs Belinda Hughes, Mr Stephen Gough – College Principal, Mr Barry Walsh – College Deputy Principal, and Mr Darren Jeffery – College Business Manager. Apart from the usual financial, risk management and budgetary matters, business conducted included the Principal’s report on what has
occurred throughout Term 1, updates from 2020 and information about the priorities for the Edmund Rice College community, namely the 2021 Annual Improvement Plan which has been developed by the College Leadership Team.
On the Feast of St Joseph, we recognise that this whole liturgical year is dedicated to celebrate the example of St Joseph, declared by Pope Francis in Patris Corde. I recommend the whole Apostolic Letter which you can find here but I want to draw your attention to one part this week. Pope Francis writes:
“Often in life, things happen whose meaning we do not understand. Our first reaction is frequently one of disappointment and rebellion. Joseph set aside his own ideas in order to accept the course of events and, mysterious as they seemed, to embrace them, take responsibility for them and make them part of his own history. Unless we are reconciled with our own history, we will be unable to take a single step forward, for we will always remain hostage to our expectations and the disappointments that follow….
Joseph is certainly not passively resigned, but courageously and firmly proactive. In our own lives, acceptance and welcome can be an expression of the Holy Spirit’s gift of fortitude. Only the Lord can give us the strength needed to accept life as it is, with all its contradictions, frustrations and disappointments.”
During the week, the Year 11 students participated in a liturgy about what it means to be ‘Men of Honour’, based on the examples of St Patrick, St Joseph and Blessed Edmund Rice. We focussed on a sense of vocation, honouring the gifts that God has given each of us and the dignity of each person who is capable of responding positively to God by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us. We may not always understand the direction of our lives, but if we remain close to God, we will surely find the path we are meant to be on. We thank Mrs Knowles for her assistance in preparing the liturgy and the students who lead us in prayer.