Principal’s Blog

Welcome to 2022

It is with a deep sense of gratitude for the amazing work of our staff and students that I share with you that we have had a really smooth start to our year despite the challenges COVID-19 continues to present to us. Staff have ensured that the students have returned to a calm, welcoming and well prepared learning environment. This is giving our students confidence that they can step into the year with some sense of certainty about what is ahead. I have relished the encounters I have had with students in their classes over the past two weeks as they have shared with me their learning and excitement about their new subjects.

Thank you also to the families who are working with us by undertaking the rapid antigen testing, reporting positive cases and supporting their daughters when isolating at home.  Whilst we have had to adjust some of our starting activities, yet again, there is still a sense of hope and optimism about our year.

Our College theme for 2022 is ‘Connecting with Compassion’ reflecting the focus Kildare Ministries core value of compassion. This value is highlighted across all ministries this year. Our theme was developed by our Year 12 Student Leaders who really wanted to build the sense of connection across the College after having two years with so much time apart.

Compassion is as much a part of the values of our secular society as it is of a faith community. The difference is that our model for the fullest expression of compassion as a human is in the life and ministry of Jesus.

In Jesus we see the God of abundance, there is never a scarcity for the capacity to be moved to compassion. There is always enough. Think of Jesus moved by the crowds in the feeding of the 5000.

In Jesus we see a God of relationships. Compassion even when offered to self is relational. Compassion by its very definition calls for being ‘with’ the other.

In Jesus we see a God of the margins.  Jesus sees the bleeding woman, the blind man, the leper, the outsider from Samaria, the tax collector, the oppressors of his time. Jesus not only sees those that others walk past but actively seeks them out because they most deserve God’s love.

And in Jesus we see a God of humility, who emptied himself of everything to suffer with us on the cross in the ultimate display of passion with humanity.

This is not a sugar coated warm and fuzzy compassion but a tough and sometimes unpopular compassion. This was the compassion shown by St Brigid, Daniel Delany and Nano Nagle and the compassion that we are called to in 2022. Let our prayer to God be ‘Give us your eyes’. We pray that this year we have the courage to connect with compassion inspired by the stories of those who walked before us and the great women and men who continue to show compassion every day.

As we begin our new year we welcome our 168 new Year 7students, 19 new students across Years 8-12 and 12 new staff and 4 trainees.

We sincerely hope these new members of our community experience Kildare Ministries’ hospitality and welcome and we look forward to the gifts and talents they will bring to share with us.

This year we begin with a new leadership structure at the Assistant Principal level and with many new staff in positions of Leadership. They will become known to you across the year as they lead various areas of College life. We wish them well in their new endeavors. Our College website is currently being updated to reflect these changes. We also welcome Peter Houlahan as the new Executive Officer of Kildare Education Ministries (KEM) who works with our College on behalf of the KEM Board.

At the first Stewardship Council meeting of the year our new Annual Action Plan for the year was endorsed. This plan will be found shortly on our website and reflects the next phase of bringing to life our School Improvement Plan 2021-2024. This was formulated based on feedback and data analysis from 2021 and aligned to key initiatives already in place. The key focus areas for 2022 from our three overarching aspirations are highlighted below:

This week we welcomed back our High Achievers from 2021 including our Dux Charlotte Fogarty who received an ATAR of 99.25, the 12 students who received ATARs in the 90s, the students who achieved the highest study scores in each subject area and the VCAL high achievers in Intermediate and Senior. They are an inspiration to us all and remind us of what is possible with the right attitude, work ethic and mindset.  Again, a great way to start our year.

In this newsletter I draw your attention to our article on attendance. This is an area that we have identified for improvement in 2022. The saying everyday counts could not be more accurate. Having a day a week off from Year 7 amounts to a whole year of school lost by Year 10. All our data tells us that our highest achievers are our highest attenders. Please look at the resources and information to support us with this goal for improvement.

Thank you for your support of our staff as we ensure uniform expectations are met. The wearing of our uniform has already shown improvement with a concerted effort from our students, teachers, senior student leaders and clarity around ‘active’ wellbeing days. Uniforms are not just about rule following but create a sense of identity and community. We have continued to expand the uniform selection to ensure we cater for the diverse needs of students in terms of academic uniform options. This now includes summer dress shorts.

Please note that our Child Protection Officers for this year are Tania Anticev and Therese Bourke. Our College is committed to ensuring we have a culture of child safety and is supported in this work by the College Child Safety Team who meet once a term. Information about what to do if you have a child safety concerns can be found on our website or in student diaries.

A final thought to conclude this week: 

When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.’ Daniel Goleman