Principal’s Update 2016 – 8

1 June 2016

One of the initiatives of the 800 Jubilee celebrations was the opening of our new museum in one of our oldest buildings of the College. The ‘Mother Bertrand Walsh Museum’, named after the College’s first Prioress, is housed in the lower circular corridor of the 1905 building. It is a very fitting tribute to Mother M. Bertrand honouring the enormous contribution that she made to the foundational years of the College. With both a keen sense of mission and sharp business acumen, she ‘ran’ Santa Sabina, along with her close friend, M. M. Pius Collins, for a period of over twenty years between them. These women are a great model of risk-taking, educational passion, and of course Dominican mission that are still relevant for our students today. In the words of Sr Elizabeth Hellwig,

‘The Museum will be a resource for both students and ex-students and hallows 122 years of faithfulness to the Dominican tradition of excellence in education’. Congratulations to all those involved – particularly College archivist Jenny Allison and Alumni Relations Coordinator Peta Magee – for the creation of a new Dominican treasure. 

As we approach the end of the financial year, you will receive this week the Annual Giving Appeal. We are particularly focusing this year on two major projects; one is the absolutely necessary restoration of the sandstone façade of Holyrood, and the second is bursaries or scholarships. We appreciate the generosity of current and former families of the College in helping us to both maintain our beautiful heritage buildings, as well as providing opportunities for students to have a Santa Sabina education. There is also the opportunity to contribute to the general building fund.

Dominican academic excellence was exemplified across the College in the last week with outstanding achievements in the Da Vinci Decathlon. First places amongst a very competitive field of leading independent schools were awarded to Year 10 students gained in Philosophy, and Year 9 in English. In Engineering Year 6 students gained third place in Engineering, and Year 7 gained second place. Year 5 achieved third place in Philosophy. Congratulations to all students and teachers involved. There was further exciting news from the Shakespeare competition regional carnival. Year 10 students competed in the Scene and Duologue sections against a highly competitive field of State and Independent schools. They came equal first in the Duologue section, and were the judges’ pick in the Scene section. These students will now proceed to the Shakespeare State Carnival against schools from other regions. Congratulations to all students and their teachers.

As highlighted in last week’s Veritas Voice, the College has been honouring Reconciliation Week through prayers, liturgy, and assemblies at both Del Monte and Santa Sabina campuses, as well as through engagement with Cassandra Gibbs as artist-in-residence. It was particularly wonderful to hear Del Monte students ‘sing’ the land alive at their assembly as they acknowledged country in the language of the indigenous people. We continue to educate each other and our students about reconciliation in the spirit of ‘Veritas’, as we embark on the creation of a College Reconciliation Action Plan. This Thursday and Friday I am travelling to Townsville to attend the Queensland Reconciliation Awards. The ‘yarning up’ trip to the Torres Strait islands that I participated in last year, and that was sponsored by the Alliance of Girls’ Schools’ is a finalist in the awards.

Thank you to those families who attended last week’s Veritas Centre’s forum on ‘Just Journalism’. Ex-student and acclaimed journalist Monica Attard was our guest, and she shared her amazing stories of life as an ABC correspondent in the Soviet Union at the time of its collapse in the early 1990s. She traversed a wider area of issues about the changing landscape of journalism, particularly the impact of social media, and the degree to which it is still possible to engage in ‘honourable journalism’. We will continue to host such events as initiatives of the Veritas Centre, and our commitment to social justice. We welcome feedback about the timing, and communication to ensure that we reach as many people as possible.

This first formal day of winter is also identified in the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council’s Diary as the ‘Global Day of Parents’. So I wish all of our parents and carers a very happy day, and hope that you are showered with kindness today and always.

The Benedictine Sister, Joan Chittister, writes that, ‘winter teaches us what it means to close one phase of life so that we can begin something else, totally different, totally new. It gives us the joy of beginning over and over again throughout the whole of life’. May we enjoy winter with that thought in mind.

Dr Maree Herrett