Principal’s Update 2017 – 9


National Reconciliation Week (NRW) this year marks two milestones in Australia’s reconciliation journey: The 1967 referendum and the historic Mabo decision, respectively. The theme ‘Let’s take the next steps’ invites all Australians to be part of this stage of the reconciliation journey. This year the College will be responding to these aims of Reconciliation Week by holding an Art Exhibition that celebrates the 2017 theme.

From Mary Bailey House to Year 12 and beyond, everyone in the extended Santa family is invited to delve into, or re-discover, their inner artist and get involved. Mums, dads, grandparents, staff, friends, siblings, ex-students this means you too! Reconciliation needs all of us. In the spirit of Pope Francis, let’s all get involved: “Architects and painters, sculptors and musicians, filmmakers and writers, photographers and poets, artists of every discipline, are called to shine beauty especially where darkness or grey dominates everyday life.”

The College is very excited to now be an authorised world school for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. Our current Year 10 will have the opportunity to undertake the IBDP in 2018. The teachers are very well-prepared, passionate and ‘ready to go’. This has been a very collaborative undertaking involving staff, parents and students, and has been very well supported by the College Board.

While not all senior students will study the IBDP, many of the features of an IB education will be reflected across the continuum of education at Santa Sabina. The Primary students are already undertaking the IB Primary Years Programme, and the benefits are obvious as they cross the bridge to Year 6. We have been engaging for the last few years on the nature of the ‘Middle Years’, including research with Professor Susan Groundwater-Smith (USyd), and Professor Andrew Martin (UNSW). The middle years are typically when motivation can dip, and when girls particularly can lose confidence in their academic ability. As they are crucial years, we have decided to create our own Santa Sabina Middle Years program that will incorporate Years 6-8. This program is being designed to help girls flourish through tailoring their learning, and tapping into their passions. There will be a strong STEM focus; opportunities for gifted students in multi-age projects; capstone projects; and a culminating Year 8 research project. Middle Years students will also have their own distinctive leadership structure and opportunities.

College staff continue to engage in the development and implementation of the College strategy in consultation with the College Board. A strategy reminds us of the bigger picture, outlines our purpose and vision, our key aspirations, and how we aim to achieve those aspirations. This process is ongoing and dynamic as it is responsive to the changing needs of our students.

The constant however is the College Mission that underpins all that we do. As a Catholic, Dominican learning community, we educate our students to achieve personal excellence, to act with justice and compassion, and to embrace the future with an optimistic global vision. We seek to develop our students to be truth-seekers (Veritas) who understand and live out the Dominican pillars of prayer, study, community and service.  The pillars uphold the Gospel and shape our identity, guide our actions and inform our learning. Veritas is choosing to live with authenticity and integrity in relationship with God, with ourselves and with each other.

Reconciliation week is yet another reminder that all of humanity is created imago Dei – in the image of God. In all faces we see the face of God – not just the faces we like, or who are just like us.

I am reminded during Reconciliation week of my visit to the Torres Strait Islands in 2015, and particularly to Mer (Murray) Island, the home of Eddie Mabo. The visit made me realise how little I knew about this part of Australia – both its history and geography. We sometimes know much more about places far away, while living in ignorance about our first peoples. Let’s take the next steps towards reconciliation with an open heart and open mind, a willingness to admit our own ignorance and prejudices, and a determination to do better.

God, who looked upon creation and said, ‘it is good’,
help us to see your face in the faces of all people – not just the ones ‘like us’.
Your words do not discriminate, but rather cast upon humanity
a call to justice, compassion and mercy.
Your Son made this message clear, ‘love your neighbour.’
He made this non-negotiable to those who choose to follow his way.
Not just in Reconciliation Week, but in all the weeks and years ahead, help us challenge prejudice in all its forms within ourselves and others.
Help us to be the peacemakers you call us to be.
Help us to see your face in the faces of all people – not just the ones ‘like us’.
We pray, through Christ our Lord.

Dr Maree Herrett