You know it has been a good day when there were so many students participating in events that the staff relay had to be postponed. This was the case last Thursday as the College travelled to Landy Field for our annual Athletics Carnival. Amongst the high levels of participation and house spirit we had some outstanding individual performances, with multiple records broken on the day, including the fastest ever 100m, 200m and 400m sprints, and the breaking of a 25 year record in high jump. We were so pleased to be able host this event and experience school and house spirit in action again. Attendance and engagement at these events help to build connection for students. We congratulate Finian for their convincing win of the overall carnival. A more fulsome report on the Athletics will appear later in this newsletter.

Last week we welcomed over 900 people to the College through our Open Day sessions. I wish to acknowledge the involvement of our student leaders from across Years 8 to 12 who helped to lead tours and answer questions from our visitors. We received many instances of positive feedback about our students who presented themselves as wonderful ambassadors for the College. It is timely we remind current families who may have daughters in Year 6 that enrolments are currently being taken for Year 7 2023 and close on Friday 6 May. Enrolment forms can be found on our College website.

Just as we look to the future, we revisit our past this weekend with the annual Reunion of classes from the decades of 1962 through 2012. With over 80 guests already registered preparations are well under way to ensure their time with us on Saturday will be an opportunity to reconnect, share stories and memories and tour the College to see the development since their last visit. The College Archive Team Linden Young and Josephine Ryan have been working on cataloguing our current archives and historical treasures so that we can preserve our history and have it in an accessible for in the years to come. We also embrace the opportunity to gather stories from past collegians which are often shared in the Crosslinks publication and add new members to our data base. Each year the College engage our past Collegians in a number of activities including an annual session with our student where they share their pathways following their time at Clonard.

Partnerships with parents is something we value at Clonard College. Over the past two weeks Years 7 and 8 families have engaged in the Connection Conversations for Term 1. This opportunity connects parents, students and the Wellbeing teacher for a holistic conversation about the student. Our Term 1 Parent Teacher Interviews will be conducted over the next 2 weeks. Booking can be made via PAM. We strongly encourage families to make the most of this opportunity to check in with teaching staff. At times teachers might request a meeting with parents. We encourage families of Year 12 students to check in with staff and their young people as we support them in their final year of study. Yesterday we sent home to families the Parent-School Code of Conduct which outlines our expectations for respectful relationships between home and school. I encourage all families to ensure you have seen this document.

In a recent article from the Melbourne Archdiocese of Catholic Schools (MACS) the importance of both explicit and implicit approaches to wellbeing in schools was reiterated. The article referenced Professor Lea Waters from the University of Melbourne in suggesting that the explicit approach includes implementing a formalised approach to learning and teaching of wellbeing skills and knowledge, in the same way that schools approach the learning and teaching of literacy and numeracy. By ensuring an explicit approach it signifies to all members of the community the value of the learning; and provides opportunities to surface issues and develop strategies for students, staff and families. At Clonard our explicit Wellbeing curriculum that is taught from Years 7 to 12 is based on the PERMAH model of wellbeing developed by Martin Seligman.
PERMAH stands for:

P – Positive Emotions
E – Engagement
R – Respectful Relationships
M – Meaning and Purpose
A – Accomplishment and Achievement
H – Health

Whilst Wellbeing is taught in dedicated classes the principles can be applied in all classrooms. On Monday afternoon staff engaged in a professional learning session around Accomplishment and explored potential strategies for application in their classroom practice. One of the simple techniques that families can apply to support Accomplishment is the use of process praise, rather than person praise. This highlights effort, persistence, problem solving and the capacity to overcome challenges in the process to successful outcomes. By using process praise we are affirming a young person’s capacity to repeat the success in similar or other contexts.

As I come to the end of this blog post, it is hard not to reference the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, especially in a year when as a College community we are thinking about the value of compassion. Fr Michael Trainor who was working with Kildare Ministry Principals and Managers early this term spoke about how we live in a culture of discarding not treasuring. Humankind can be discarded in the smallest of ways through exclusion or marginalization or on a scale like we are seeing in Ukraine. To be people who are moved with compassion, we can let someone know they matter by befriending one who is different and letting them trust us with their story. In that moment they are treasured. We can also be people of compassion by joining with the international community of faith as Pope Francis calls us to a day of prayer today Friday 2March, the Feast of the Annunciation, as he performs an Act of Consecration to the Immaculate heart of Mary. Pope Francis is calling it a “gesture of the universal Church” to invoke an end to the violence and suffering of innocent people. In the act of consecration we are called to pray….

Through your intercession, may God’s mercy be poured out on the earth and the gentle rhythm of peace return to mark our days. Our Lady of the “Fiat”, on whom the Holy Spirit descended, restore among us the harmony that comes from God. May you, our “living fountain of hope”, water the dryness of our hearts. In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.

Peace and Blessings