Last Friday after midday the College received a call from a community member who wanted to let us know how impressed they were with the actions of a small group of our students who came to the aid of an elderly lady who had experienced a fall on the street. This inspired me to ask the staff to send me the name of a student who embodied ‘strength and kindliness’, our College motto. In times where we rarely hear good news I challenged the staff to use a positivity bias to notice what was around them. This small exercise has elicited many wonderful qualities in our students including looking out for others, supporting social justice causes, persistence and effort in their school work, care of our College environment, acts of welcome and inclusion and encouragement of peers. In turn I have sought out these students to share with them that they have been noticed. This has certainly brought joy to my week. In one conversation with a Year 8 student I mentioned to them that they wear ‘strength and kindliness’ over their heart in the College crest on our logo – ‘Fortiter et Suaviter’.

The theme of strength and kindliness caught my eye in a recent Eureka Street article where they reported on an interview with social psychologist, researcher and author Hugh Mackay. The full article can be found via the following link Humility, kindness lead to strength (eurekastreet.com.au).

The interview was speaking about Hugh Mackay’s new book ‘The Kindness Revolution’. Whilst many of the reflections Mackay shared in the interview are timely for us as a community living through the pandemic, his reflections offer us food for thought in the way we live our College motto through our actions and interactions with others.

When asked what the opposite of ‘kindness’ was, he named indifference and self absorption. He said ‘If we lose sight of other people’s needs and allow ourselves to be totally absorbed by our own concerns and ambitions, then we have lost our way to kindness.’ He also spoke about the power of compassion at work in communities. This is the power of accompanying and walking with others in both the good and the challenging times. Mackay further spoke about practicing kindness in valuing the dignity of others, especially those in pain. Valuing the humanity of the other can be challenging when we see difference and not common human dignity. He calls us to be courageous listeners of each other’s stories where we ‘run the risk of being changed’. He believes that through humility, kindness and strength we can bring about change as a result of this pandemic but it is up to each of us as individuals and the choices we make. He says ‘It’s up to us as individuals — household by household, street by street, community by community. After all, revolutions never start at the top: this one will start with quiet moments of grace.’

Perhaps in light of this we can look to our own relationships and notice the good, the strength and kindliness of others. I have taken his words and message into my interactions and decision making this week, where might you contribute to this quiet revolution?

The College has been a buzz with the wonder of Science this week and I thank our Science staff for all they have done to generate a wide variety of activities for the students to engage in this area of knowledge. Our Science Team have also provided comment to the initial thinking around the interior of our new Science and Technology Building in Stage 1 of our Master Plan.

I wanted to make special mention of our Year 12 students at this stage of the term for their resilience and commitment to their studies. Despite the yo yoing in and out of remote learning and the ongoing changes to dates surrounding assessments such as the GAT they continue to focus on getting to the end of their studies putting their best foot forward. Those who are maintaining a

positive mindset and working closely with their teachers are certainly reaping the rewards of their efforts.

Thank you to our parents and families who engaged in Parent Teacher Interviews this week via our Teams platform. Your commitment to your daughters’ learning and progress is important to our work. Next week we will meet with our new Year 7 students for 2022 through our Welcome Conversations. We very much look forward to the opportunity to get to know them a little more and help them feel at ease as they look towards starting with us next year. Lance Houlihan our Year 7 Wellbeing Community Leader has recently gathered feedback from our Year 7 Families around our Connection Conversations which follow on from our initial Welcome Conversation and take place once a term. This feedback was very supportive of the process of keeping connected with families around a holistic view of the girls’ progress.

We received an update this week to say that the MACSIS survey referenced in the last newsletter will be delayed in its roll out due to the current state of remote learning in metropolitan Melbourne. The new dates are scheduled for early Term 4.

Our Child Safe Team recently met to begin understanding the new 11 Child Safe Standards which will come into effect from July 2022. We examined what we currently have in place and what will need to be developed to ensure we have best practices in complying with the new standards. Starting now will ensure we are well placed when the new standards come into effect. We note that our young people are increasing their understanding of what is safe and unsafe, what is acceptable and unacceptable and are growing in confidence to seek supports to report concerns in relation to child safety. Our Child Safe Team meets each term to consider building a child safe culture, policy, risk management in relation to child safety and the empowerment and participation of young people. This team has updated our Child Safety Code of Conduct and Child Safe Policy which have been presented to the Kildare Education Ministries Board for ratification.

Finally as we come to the end of this week, I invite you to pause in gratitude over the weekend for the safety and peace of the place we call home. The events of this week in Afghanistan have certainly brought the human tragedy of this situation to the forefront of our minds. We received correspondence from Sr Brigid Arthur who leads the Brigidine Asylum Seeker Project, who wrote to share how they are receiving many calls from their Afghan people who have family in Afghanistan or worrying about the related issues emerging in Pakistan.

We pray for peace

Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle; the strength to be forgiving; the patience to be understanding; and the endurance to accept the consequences of holding to what we believe to be right. May we put our trust in the power of good to overcome hatred and the power of love to overcome fear.

We pray for the vision to see and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence, a new world where fear shall no longer lead people to commit injustice, nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.

Help us to devote our lives, thought and energy to the task of making peace, praying always for the inspiration and the power to fulfill the destiny for which we and all people were created.

Amen