‘Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.’

This quote by Marianne Williamson resonated with me as I sat down to reflect on the things to share with our community in this week’s newsletter.

The joy of the Easter season
In our school we do not mark Easter with just one Sunday, rather the Easter season lasts for six weeks. Over that six weeks the gospels of each Sunday bring to us the message of the life giving presence of the risen Jesus.
Sr Marilyn Lacey in a blog titled ‘What difference does Easter make?’ reminds us that
‘the first Easter transformed a motley band of fearful, confused disciples into joyful witnesses to the risen Jesus. Their experience of Jesus as the Christ changed them into fearless proclaimers of the Good News in the face of persecution and to the ends of the known world.’
It is this same experience that inspires Kildare Ministries to be a transformative presence in our world. Easter provides us with a sense of hope for all humanity. The values that we espouse as a Kildare Ministries school come alive through the stories of Easter Sunday and the events that took place in the days and weeks that followed, including Jesus appearing to a doubting Thomas, the road to Emmaus, the Good Shepherd parable and so on. Whilst we might usually only focus on Easter Sunday, Sr Marilyn suggests ‘the Easter stories in scripture are giddy with surprises and delirious joy.’
You might wish to read more in her blog What Difference Does Easter Make? (plough.com)

The joy of learning
This week I was delighted to visit our Year 7 classes and I was particularly impressed by the speaking and gesturing of our students in their French class reciting to me the story of the Three Little Pigs. From this they were then able to construct other sentences in French scaffolded by the gesture strategy. This year our Year 7 classes have daily language instruction to support their fluency and engagement with language.

The joy of student voice
Each morning this week I have met with a group of students from different year levels using a community circle conversation. We have chatted about a number of different things in connection with some of the areas we have identified in our annual action plan. Our senior students reflected on some of the benefits they are finding with our new timetable including the reintroduction of double periods and the start to each day with their wellbeing class. I shared our instructional model with our Year 7-9 students. This outlines the evidence based high impact teaching practices we have identified and agreed to for the different phases of a lesson. The students were then able to share with me what they were noticing their teachers were doing in their classes and how this helped them with their learning. Our Year 7 students were extra courageous in their sharing. I asked them for one word to describe their first few months at Clonard and they shared the words connection, exciting, safe and vulnerable. I was curious about the word vulnerable and on further inquiry the student shared this was in relation to being able to have so many opportunities presented.

The joy of Year 12 Retreat
The slow, dark and wet drive to Daylesford on Wednesday night was worth every minute as it meant I was able to share the evening with our Year 12 students and the staff who had accompanied them on retreat. When they returned to school on Thursday evening, when I checked in with the staff they shared how this group had been outstanding and quite exceptional in the way they had engaged in the program and more importantly how they were together as a group. My time with them captured some of the intangible essence of Clonard. The respectful and prayerful joining together in Liturgy as a community grounded in the story of Jesus expressed in our Kildare Ministries values came alive as 150 candles joined together in our central prayer focus. Following liturgy there was the annual fun and celebration of the Year 12 Retreat talent quest…..the bar was certainly set high this year!! The way in which the students participated, encouraged and included each other and didn’t take themselves too seriously was who we are in action. A huge thank you to the staff who prepared the retreat and supported the students through the experience.

The joy of rekindling our connection with Viqueque, Timor Leste
‘We are so glad we have not been forgotten!’
This was the sentiment expressed by our friends in Viqueque when myself, Carmel Brown and Michael McCallum recently visited. This was the first visit since the pandemic. Whilst we only had two days in Viqueque it was wonderful to visit Uaimori school where we support the Library, Librarian and English program. The library was alive with books and pictures and the names of the previous Clonard students who have visited. There have been 92 students who have gone through the English program and at Viqueque 01 Secondary school, Year 7 students proudly read their English to us. The Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools partnership began in 2006. The mission of the partnership is:

The focus of our activities is to improve educational opportunities for the over 4,000 students living in the district of Viqueque, Timor-Leste (East Timor). In Timor-Leste, we help Viqueque District students to have a better education by assisting with the provision of school resources and teacher training. In Geelong, we help Geelong students to have a greater understanding of the conditions and challenges of a developing country though school activities and visits to Timor-Leste and education.

Further information about the partnership can be found on their website Geelong-Viqueque Friendship Schools – “Developing social responsibility and connectedness with Timor Leste” (wordpress.com)

Last year our TriUMPH funds went towards the training of teachers through the Baucau Teachers College. We met with Br Paul from the College who shared some of the work they are doing. At the Good Crocodile, health clinic, another organisation who has been a friend of Clonard we met health educators who have completed their training through the College and now teach health education in schools.

The joy of welcoming new families to our community
Applications for enrolment in Year 7 2024 close today. It has been wonderful to start to get to know prospective families. We have introduced a new online enrolment system this year and we have been grateful for the way families have embraced this process whilst seeking out clarification or support where needed. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Registrar Marianne Casanelia.

The joy of welcoming new staff to our community
We would like to welcome our new staff to Clonard this term, David Tripodi (Maths), Melinda Fearby (Art), Vince Lo Grasso (Facilities and Maintenance), Kim O’Brien (LSO) and Penta De Bauza (Indonesian Assistant).

There is much to be thankful for as we commence our term. Our Mothers’ Day event next week has been sold out and we look forward to connecting with many of our families.

Perhaps you can ask your daughter sometime in the next fortnight what is good, what is bringing them joy. Joy and all that is good that reminds us of the message of Jesus: ‘I have come that all may have life and have it abundantly’ John 10:10. This is a message of hope, the hope of the Easter season.