Principal’s Update – 14 February 2019

Last week’s community Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral was a truly beautiful way to commence our 125th year at Santa Sabina. It was very special to have Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP preside, not only because he is Sydney’s Archbishop, but because he is also a Dominican, and truly embraces and understands the traditions and heritage of the Dominican Order. Archbishop Fisher spoke about the importance of educating the “whole child” and we have always been committed to that goal. We pursue academic excellence but equally support students’ social, emotional, physical and indeed spiritual development. The bonds between our students within Houses and across year groups were on display on that day, as they all gathered on the Santa Maria Del Monte campus after the Mass to join in House-based activities.

Students from Kindergarten to Year 12 were involved, getting to know each other, learning the Dominican story and having a good deal of fun. It was very special to see so many Dominican Sisters at the Mass, and to have the opportunity to celebrate their contributions to the development of the great school that we are. As well, families and alumni added to a vibrant sense of community – of people who have been part of the Santa story, and who are currently adding to it. It was a day when we could all be really proud of being members of the Santa Sabina community. I received beautiful letters from Year 3 students expressing why they are proud of their school, and would like to share just some of them with you:

I am proud of the great tradition and the brave Sisters.

I feel proud of this school because I learn new things. I make new friends. I have amazing teachers and a lot of other things.

I am proud of the Dominican Sisters. They were very brave.

I am proud of being a student at this school because we have a huge community. I am grateful that we study a lot. I am proud that the Dominican Sisters built this school.

And my personal favourite…
I am very proud of our school because it hasn’t been knocked down for 125 years.

While we will have several opportunities this year to celebrate together, we are also committed to living out our Catholic Dominican faith in a particular way in 2019. Education for justice has always been central to Dominican education, and we see examples regularly of students taking up a justice issue, and passionately advocating for it.

As a way of honouring the Dominican mission to educate for justice, we are embarking as a community on a Journey for Justice in 2019. Through a process of consultation and focus groups with students and staff, we will identify a key justice issue to support as a whole community. The question of what constitutes a justice issue is not simply answered. So we will align justice issues to one or more principles of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). This process helps educate students and staff about CST, and provides a framework to support discussions. Term 1 will be devoted to this initial process of discussion in groups. We anticipate that there will be several compelling justice issues nominated. Then the true task of respectful dialogue really begins, as we have to decide on ONE justice issue that the community as a whole will support and advocate for. By the end of Term 1, we will have made that decision.

In Term 2 students and staff will be immersed in learning more about the issue, rather than rush straight to solutions. It will be a term of education in forums, pastoral care time, curriculum and staff meetings. We plan to engage guest speakers, and ensure that our aim is to learn the facts and gather the evidence. Terms 3 and 4 will provide opportunities for community response and action. Our “Journey to Justice” is a year-long process and is as much a commemoration of who we are, as are any of the special events to be held. If parents are interested in being part of the process through parent discussion groups please do not hesitate to let me know, and we can facilitate this through our Parents & Friends’ Association.

I do hope that all of our new Prep and Kindergarten students have settled in well, and that they leave school each day with a very big smile. I have two granddaughters who have each started Kindergarten this year at different schools, and one is so excited for homework, while the other is joining up for drama and choir already. I love witnessing the enthusiasm of our youngest students, and wish the same for all of our Santa students. On the 6–12 campus, our great student leaders have been hosting “Love Week” – love your faith, others, yourself, the environment and your school. There have been a series of activities each day including “war on waste” in our playground, affirmations sent from the “big sisters” in Years 9 and 11 to their “little sisters” in Years 6 and 7; healthy physical activities such as a lunch time Zumba class which I happily joined.

And fittingly in “Love Week”, I would like to share this beautiful prayer from Corinthians about the nature of love.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” – 1 Corinthians 13

And as our new Head of Religious Education (Years 6–12), Ms Charlotte Burton, encouraged staff to do, pause for a moment and replace the word “love” in the prayer with your own name. It is a challenge – but a good one – for what it means to be at our best.

Dr Maree Herrett