How lucky we are for our children to be able to return to full time school in a week’s time! Two months ago, we couldn’t have predicted when this was going to be possible but now it is upon us we are so very grateful. I am sure you are excited about this ‘return to normal’ as well.
Last week, on the days that all Infants and then when all Primary students returned, we held a virtual prayer service via Zoom as a way to welcome everyone back and to reconnect with their community. As part of this ritual the children were asked to share what they were grateful for and the most common responses were: “seeing and being with my friends again”, “for all the work that our teachers have been doing to help us keep learning”, “for their family not to be sick” and “for those who have worked so hard to keep us safe and healthy.” It was heart-warming to hear how the people in their lives are the things most valued by them.
On the playground they also had the opportunity to write on our freshly painted chalkboards, a message about returning to school. The most popular words I noticed were “awesome” and “fun” along with phrases such as: “Thank you”, “School is exciting”, “good 2 b back”, “no longer so bored”, “I finally get out of the house and my pjs”, “I love being back at school”, Yay! We are back!” and this acrostic:
Over the moon
It was wonderful to see how much our children appreciate, value and enjoy St Joseph’s.
Entry and Exit Points
From next week we will have both Farquhar St and Union St gate open for morning drop off. Please note, that parents still need to drop their children outside the school gates. If you feel your child may need the support of a staff member to come into school, please use the Union St gate. If you are using Kiss and Drop of a morning at Union St please do not stop directly at the school gate as what has been happening, and will no doubt occur even more so with all the children back at school each day, is the build up of traffic back to, and around into, Kenrick St. This can be avoided if you drive up a little further away from the school gate.
We will start to put a coloured cone to help indicate where to drop off when it is peak time. Thank you for your assistance with this. Once again, thank you for the consistent efforts you have been making with pick up. The staff, students and even passers-by have noticed how efficient and effective our practice has now become. Keep up the good work by always displaying your name car in the windscreen in a way that staff can read it (not on your dashboard, please) and checking that your children know their last name.
Of an afternoon if you are entering the school playground for pickup we ask that you leave via the Convent gate in order to keep our one-way thoroughfare practice happening. Please ensure that you keep the walkway clear once you come in and continue to spread out across the playground, maintaining social distancing.
Return of Devices
If your child has borrowed a school device for home learning please continue to use it until the fulltime return to school in Week 6. On returning to school, ask your child to take the device to the office with their name attached to it. If your child has experienced any trouble with the device please just attach a short note explaining the issue.
Continue doing …
On reflecting on the last couple of months and considering ‘where to’ from here, in light of your children and their development, I would like to offer you the catch phrase of “Continue doing…“
Continue doing those practices that have led to increased independence in your children. Eg Kiss and Drop, rather than being escorted in and out each day; carrying their own bags; logging in to the computer; locating things for you at home or putting things back where they belong after using them; starting their chores or homework without needing you to be with them the whole time …. We have heard so many stories about what your children have been doing and you have seen how capable they are so- do not stop. Continue fostering their independence and letting them to show you and themselves what they are truly capable of. It’s also a great way of building their self-confidence and self-worth.
Continue being involved in your child’s learning. Keep up the conversations you have been having as a family around what your children are learning. Continue to ask them questions – no doubt you have a better idea of the types of questions to ask now, or the topics, as you have had more exposure to the learning that happens here at school. Research shows us that the more engaged parents are with their children’s learning the greater their learning outcomes.
Continue doing the fun family things together that we have been hearing about at school. Your children have really valued these experiences. It is these types of things that they will remember about their childhood more than anything else.
The current situation with the CoVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do things. For some, initially, this caused panic, and understandably so. Never have we lived through such a time, such an experience. From the beginning there was ‘Breaking News’ nearly every hour and life as we knew it stopped. Phrases such as ‘self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘essential worker’ became part of our everyday vocabulary. At home, your children may have been asking, “Are we going to survive?”, “Are we safe?” or “Why can’t I go to school?”. Questions like these may have been difficult to answer because you were unsure of how much information you should give your child. This is understandable! We know children are so intuitive. They are perceptive to their environment and indirectly pick up so much information. Now, more than ever, the strength of our relationships has helped us along. Parents, extended family members and teachers have had to reassure children that we’re all in this together and that we will get through it. During this time, we’re drawing on the foundations of love and trust present. As we journey through this time let’s continue to help our children feel safe whilst still understanding what is happening. Below are some points that may be useful when communicating with your child:
- Stay with the facts. Be truthful and talk to your children.
- Be careful with the news media. You will be surprised with what children hear and retain from the media.
- Practise good hygiene. Continue to encourage your children to wash their hands with soap and water frequently.
- Don’t pass on your fear. Research from the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic showed children’s fear of the disease was significantly related to their parents’ fear of the disease. So even if you feel stressed, you need to make sure you don’t pass on this fear to your children. Show them you are calm. Don’t be a carrier for fear.
- Keep on living. Continue routine as much as possible. Enjoy family time together.
- Work together.
Be kind to others and practise mindfulness with your children. These activities remind us to stay in the present and can help alleviate any feelings of worry and anxiety. A great app for this is Smiling Minds. Visit their website here
This time has forced our students to work online. Greater reliance on devices has been unavoidable, especially for our older students. For all, including staff, this has been a whole new learning experience. With children being online more often now, it is a timely reminder of online safety. The safety of our students online is everyone’s responsibility. This includes parents, teachers and the child themselves. We know that cyber safety lessons are explicitly taught at the beginning of each term by our Teacher Librarian, Dee Milgate. Lessons continue in class as teachers remind students of the importance of always keeping our passwords secure, of using an alias where appropriate or how to keep away from cyber bullying or reach out for support if necessary. At St Joseph’s we have clear expectations of online behaviour communicated through our Cyber Safety Code of Conduct.
If you would like to know how you can support your child at home then the eSafety Commissioner website is an excellent resource. This resource provides support with topics such as:
- Time spent online
- Unwanted contact and grooming
- Cyber bullying
- Sending inappropriate messages or pictures
There are also resources that could be used when having a conversation with your child. Some of the topics include:
- Someone is being mean to me online
- How to get the most out of gaming
- I saw something online that I didn’t like
- Things to watch out for online with friends
The website can be found here
Here in our Maitland Newcastle Diocese the Office of Safeguarding have also complied a number of resources to support online safety. These too are very practical resources that support parents in their own knowledge and understanding, as well as providing age appropriate resources for their children. These links can be found below.
This Sunday 24th May: Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, Year A
Homily at Home – Reflection by Greg Sunter (Liturgy Help)
The short gospel passage for today is taken from the final words of the gospel of Matthew. It is known as ‘The Great Commission’ as Jesus is portrayed commissioning his disciples to go out to the world and spread the good news. They are charged to ‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations.’ This is the basis of much of the missionary work of the Church that has gone on ever since then.
However, the focus of today’s feast is much more on the first reading than the gospel. The opening verses of the Book of Acts, from the author of Luke-Acts, describe the final instructions of Jesus to his disciples and then his ‘lifting up’. The Luke-Acts writer is the only gospel writer to actually describe the Ascension. The fact that the other gospels don’t discuss the Ascension in any detail at all is a good indication that this description should not be taken literally.
However, the message of the Ascension is a powerful one. It reminds us that Jesus, the human incarnation of God on earth, was limited to a specific time and place in history. Despite the physical limitations of his life on earth, Jesus ensured that his message and ministry would continue through those he had taught. Knowing that the disciples would need time to grieve and come to terms with all that had occurred in a relatively short space of time, Jesus promised that the Spirit would come upon them in the days to come. That visiting of the Spirit upon the disciples at Pentecost was the motivation to set about doing what Jesus had charged them to do. Without the Ascension, there is no Pentecost.
Pentecost Sunday 31st May
Pentecost will be celebrated in each class with a short liturgy on Monday 1st June.
- May 16-24 - Laudato Si’ Week
- May 22 – International Day of Biodiversity
- May 26 – National Sorry Day
- May 27-3 (June) - National Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week – May 27- June 3
- Information from https://www.reconciliation.org.au/national-reconciliation-week/
In 2020 Reconciliation Australia marks twenty years of shaping Australia’s journey towards a more just, equitable and reconciled nation.
Much has happened since the early days of the people’s movement for reconciliation, including greater acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights to land and sea; understanding of the impact of government policies and frontier conflicts; and an embracing of stories of Indigenous success and contribution.
2020 also marks the twentieth anniversary of the reconciliation walks of 2000, when people came together to walk on bridges and roads across the nation and show their support for a more reconciled Australia.
As always, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and Australians now benefit from the efforts and contributions of people committed to reconciliation in the past.
Today we work together to further that national journey towards a fully reconciled country.
Reconciliation is a journey for all Australians – as individuals, families, communities, organisations and importantly as a nation. At the heart of this journey are relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
During the time of learning remotely, many students across the school have been engaged in enrichment projects to encourage and nurture their curiosity, research skills and engagement in higher order thinking. Students in Year 4 completed a project based on the novel “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.
It was amazing doing the Wonder project, I learnt information that I probably never would of otherwise and it was challenging as well as engaging. I learnt about really cool facts like the genetic makeup of the syndrome and how the syndrome is caused by changes in any of several genes.
I was excited when we were told to do the Wonder research project because I love finding out new information about interesting things. I also would like to be a doctor when I grow up (if I can't be an actor) so I thought it was cool that I could learn about a syndrome because I have always been interested in finding out about medical conditions and diseases - Miller Charnock
The Wonder project was amazing. I liked it because it was challenging and fun at the same time. My favorite part of the Project was looking the information up on the Internet. It was probably my favorite project I have done in a long time. My precept - If you have a choice between being kind or looking normal. Choose kind! - Elliot Mole
This project was super fun, I loved it but it was quite hard so my parents helped me a little bit. It made me think about how it would feel to have Treacher-Collins Syndrome. I know they might get bullied at school (if they go ) and that would feel really sad. Personally if I had Treacher-Collins Syndrome I would beg my parents not to go to school because I would get bullied and I don’t like to get bullied as it always makes me feel sad and upset. I really feel for the people all over the world that have Treacher-Collins Syndrome so please don’t judge a person by their face - Isaac Moran
Year 5 completed an interest project based on the science unit of work. I researched gravity.
Gravity is the force by which a planet or other body draws objects toward its center. The force of gravity keeps all of the planets in orbit around the sun. Why do you land on the ground when you jump up instead of floating off into space? Why do things fall when you throw them or drop them? The answer is gravity: an invisible force that pulls objects toward each other. Earth's gravity is what keeps you on the ground and what makes things fall. I created a diorama of the solar system to show where gravity is evident in space - Mattias Flynn
CSO Virtual Art Gallery
All students in our school have been invited to participate in the CSO Virtual Art Gallery project. The Virtual Art Gallery will go live in Week 10 of this term. Students are encouraged to submit work with a positive, hopeful and uplifting message. Many classes are creating artworks as part of their school work however if students would like to submit additional art they can do so but bringing it to school or emailing a scanned copy to the school email address by week 7. For more information please contact Mrs Belinda Pearson.
Term 2 2020 was such an unusual start to our return after our holiday break, but we quickly adjusted to a mix of home learning and face to face teaching.
Some positives from the experience have been a huge development in our IT skills as well as a positive approach to problem solving.
Time did not stand still in our educational journey as we made mazes for boot camp, wrote special Mother’s Day letters, learnt how to do complicated algorithms and much more. In addition, the special opportunities we were able to experience by simply being at home with our families, were priceless.
Everyone had different ideas about a favourite part of learning from home.
Here are a few responses to the question, “What do you enjoy about home learning?
“I like how we could learn different computer tricks.” Emma
“I was able to finish more work at home.” Daisy
“I liked the way we got to spend more time with our parents and learn their way of teaching us.” Luke
“I learnt that some of the activities were really challenging but I could still do them.” Teddy
“I always wanted to know what home schooling would be like.” Evie
“I liked home schooling because we get to stay in our pyjamas and in bed.” Isabella
As we move towards a full return to school life, we move forward with a new appreciation for what we have, and a feeling of pride for what we have achieved.
Below are some photos of things we enjoyed.
Welcome back! We are so excited to see everyone again!!
We are all back at school just in time for National Simultaneous Storytime.
This year we have a great book to read, Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas by Lucinda Gifford. So, this Wednesday, 27 May, the whole school will stop at 1.00pm to read the book simultaneously. There will also be some fantastic activities and it should be great fun!
Borrowing may not resume for a few weeks as we are still trying to get everything clean and work out ways to stay safe in the library.
Premier’s Reading Challenge Keep reading those books and logging them on the Premier’s Reading Challenge website. Mrs Collins will be checking those shortly
Overdue Books There are still a lot of books out on loan, over 150! While it has been difficult to remember to bring your books back to school, it would be great if you could return them on the days that you are at school next week. The children have received several notices to remind them, but it would be great if you could given them a gentle reminder also.
The Diocese of Maitland Newcastle is very conscious of the significant financial impact COVID-19 is having on our families. Our number one priority is to support our families through this crisis and ensure your child has stability in Catholic schools. For ease of access we have attached the CSO website
In order to assist we are taking the following measures:
Part A –Defer Payment of School Fees until July 2020
To access this deferment, we refer you to our website where you can click on the link called ‘COVID-19 School Fee Deferral’. Please complete the form and submit it. Please ensure you complete all relevant fields thereby enabling us to monitor your postponed payment.
Fee payer’s postponement of school fee payments will include:
- CDF direct debit – contact the CDF (4979 1163)
- Centrelink - parents will need to contact Centrelink directly.
- BPay – suspend payment from your bank account.
Acknowledgement of postponement of fees will be recorded by the school as soon as practicable.
Part B – Request for COVID-19 School Fee Concession
In instances of ongoing financial hardship, fee payers can apply for a fee concession. This concession is accessed via the CSO website by clicking on the link called ‘COVID-19 School Fee Concession’.
Families are encouraged to complete this form if they require financial assistance.
Where to find the COVID 19 Fee Relief Forms
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"The Mark Hughes Foundation would like to thank you for your support in the past of our Beanie for Brain Cancer fundraiser through your schools beanie day. This year we ask if you are in a position to do so, please buy a MHF beanie to support brain cancer research. Brain cancer is still the biggest cancer killer of children under 10 and adults under 40, yet receives only 5% of government funding.
The MHF beanies are available from 1st June 2020 online at our MHF Shop and at selected IGA & Lowes Australia stores and this year includes our first kids beanie!"