‘’Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
We begin the season of Lent with ashes on our foreheads. Why this smudging. To put on ashes, to sit in ashes, is to say publicly and to yourself that you are reflective, in a regretful mode… that you are grieving some of the things you have done or lost, that some important work is going on silently inside you. You are, metaphorically and really, in the cinders of a dead fire, waiting for a fuller day in your life.
All of this has deep roots. There is something innate to the human soul that knows that, every so often, one must make a journey of descent, be smudged, lose one’s lustre, and wait while the ashes do their work. All ancient traditions abound with stories of having to sit in the ashes before one can be transformed.
We all know, for example, the story of Cinderella. This is centuries-old, wisdom-tale that speaks about the value of ashes. The name, Cinderella, itself already says most of it. Literally it means: ‘the young girl who sits in the cinders. Moreover, as the tale makes plain, before the glass slipper is placed on her foot, before the beautiful gown, ball, dance, and marriage, there must first be a period of being humbled. In the story of Cinderella, there is a theology of Lent.
The Church taps into this deep well of wisdom when it puts ashes on our foreheads at the beginning of Lent. Lent is a season for each of us to sit in the ashes, waiting while some silent growth takes place within us, and simply being still so that the ashes can do their work in us.
God give us strength. Strength to hold on and strength to let go.
Adapted from: “Daybreaks – Daily Reflections for Lent and Easter Week” by Ron Rolheiser, OMI, pp. 3-4)
Over the past week and into this week Mr Walsh and I have been meeting with each year group in what we are titling “Learning Assemblies”. At these assemblies, we address key aspects about a growth mindset. Each presentation is unique to each year group and aligned with the Elevate study skills presentations. We have been encouraged by the positive response that the students are displaying as they meet the new challenges of 2018 and are positive in their mindset to do well.
As we move into the third week of the school year, all students need to be aware of the great responsibility that has been bestowed upon them as a member of this established community. We have a responsibility to maintain the high standards established by all those students who have walked our corridors during the past fifty-nine years. What does this mean? It means that we need to ensure we respect our teachers, peers, parents, community, the environment and of course, ourselves. We need to promote a positive learning environment so that all (including self) is in control of their own learning. All students have a responsibility to support the College in its religious, academic, pastoral and cocurricula endeavours throughout 2018. By working together, we are able to support each other in fulfilling our responsibility in continuing the high standards and expectations of the College
Review of Semester Reports, in particular DSE scores, has been very reassuring especially with the continued improvement of the students to the learning agenda. Each year group is unique, but the percentage increase in the commitment by students is clearly evident in the data. For example, 2017 Y7 73% of students had a DSE score of 85% or above, while 2017 Y8 over 61% also had a DSE score of 85% or above. These are outstanding figures and proves comprehensively that St Dominic’s students can do anything. Congratulations to all students who have added value to our learning environment.
With so many students demonstrating an improvement in their application, other data demonstrates the strong correlation between those students who did well in their DSE score and those who kept their diary up-to-date with their Home study or Learning Intentions. The diary is an important resource for all students as it provides guidance and structure. I commend the College diary to all parents as we work in partnership to continue to develop our sons and their learning.
The Opening College Mass was postponed from last week to Friday 16th February. Not only does the mass officially commence the academic school year but it also sees the Blessing of the College Prefects for 2018. I invite all parents to attend this significant celebration.
Ash Wednesday officially commences the Lenten period. Tomorrow we will celebrate Shroud Tuesday with the selling of pancakes. All monies raised from this event will go towards our annual Lenten appeal. The College community will celebrate Ash Wednesday with liturgies for all year groups in the Christian Brothers Chapel. Students will receive ashes on their forehead with the words “Turn away from sin, and return to the Gospel”. I encourage all students to hear these words and to look deeply into their hearts and minds as we are called to contemplate the Good News and live the Gospel.
The Year 7 students have settled in exceptionally well with all students finding their way around the College and becoming immersed in and adding to the positive culture. The Year 7 students will continue to develop positive relationships with other students from the year group at their camp next week. The six characteristics of: Respect for others, environment and self; Be prepared and take control of your learning; Communicate effectively; Be supportive; Develop positive relationships with all; Set and meet high expectations are the key characteristics that all students must strive to remain faithful especially as we begin a new year.
Over the past week and early this week, there has been/will be significant Parent Information Evenings for Y7, 9, 10 and Y12. During these meetings, the College has reaffirmed its’ commitment to provide a quality Catholic Education in the Edmund Rice Tradition. For Y7 it provided the opportunity to meet with their sons EMBARK teacher; for Y9 parents the knowledge that the College will be supporting their sons in meeting the demands of the minimum standards; Y10 parents will be introduced to RoSA grades while Y12 Parents were provided with some strategies to support their son’s during their final year at school. These information evenings assists parents in their support of their son’s as they continue on their learning journey in 2018.
As we move into another school year, I would remind all students the importance to use their God-given talents for the betterment of the College. One of the most pleasing aspects of the College is the willingness of students to use their talents for the College. Can I please remind all students and their families of the compulsory nature of using these talents? This commitment includes trialling, training, rehearsals, performances and playing in sport games. If boys are unable to participate in any cocurricula activity, a note is required addressed to myself outlining the reasons for his non-participation. If we are to be the custodians of the traditions of St Dominic’s College, we all have a role to play in supporting the cocurricula program. I look forward to continued support from both students and parents.
Please pray for Mr Levy and his family as they mourn the loss of an influential uncle.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God,
rest in peace.
Let Your Light Shine
Mr M. Ronchetti