The VCAA exams have concluded and the school year is fast drawing to a close. We enjoyed a final celebration with the Class of 2019 at the Graduation Ball on Thursday evening at Leonda by the Yarra. This was the last time they were together as a year level and an opportunity for staff and their parents to wish them well as they contemplate new beginnings beyond Siena College. I know that they will make their contribution as women of integrity and vision. We thank them for the memories they leave us with and for all they have achieved and contributed to Siena College. May the years ahead be filled with life’s joys and many blessings.
As we continue the celebrations and rituals that mark the end of the year, so too we prepare for the year ahead as we welcome a new group of ‘Siena women’. The 2020 Year 7 students arrived last Friday morning for the first of their transition days. It is always a special joy to reflect on the young women they will grow to become and on the ‘chapters’ of the Siena story that they will ‘write’ in the years ahead. The Year 11s begin their transition to Year 12 as they commence a ‘Headstart’ Program and students in other year levels are focussed on examinations and final assessments.
Our new ASPIRE program (Achieve, Shine, Play, Ignite, Reflect, Engage) has been designed to allow local primary school students to work with Siena College Year 8 students on STEM based activities. Head of Science, Assimina Semertjis, says the program encourages the older students to build their leadership skills as well as being ambassadors for Science for their younger counterparts. Together, students will look at the big challenges facing our world and work in teams to investigate possible solutions using STEM skills such as critical thinking, analysis and logical reasoning.
The theme of the first ASPIRE program was World Hunger as a major problem facing humanity is to ensure future food and water supply as global populations grow. Statistics suggest that one in eight people suffers from chronic under nourishment. Increasingly, we are being advised to reduce our consumption of meat, practise more sustainable agriculture and to look to alternative sources of food, particularly protein. Grade 4 visitors from St Dominic’s Primary worked with our Year 8 students over two days this week, analysing this issue. They explored world hunger maps and the question of whether insects might be one of the solutions to global problems associated with food production and distribution. Assimina explains, 'Insects are already eaten in parts of Asia, South America and Africa. We wanted to do something primary school students will get excited about and we think all kids really love insects. Eating them is going to push the boundaries and we are very excited about that.' The students embraced the challenge with great energy and enthusiasm and produced some innovative menu suggestions for the future!
I look forward to welcoming parents and students to the 2019 Celebration of Sport Night and to our Academic Awards Night in the final weeks of the term.
On the first day of December we usher in a new liturgical year. Former Master of the Order, Timothy Radcliffe OP reflects:
The whole liturgical year forms us to be a people with the courage to wait until the Lord comes. Advent trains us in the patience not to begin celebrating too early, resisting the temptation to celebrate Christ’s birth before he comes… Christ is a gift and one respects the gift by waiting for the moment when it is given.
The Latin word for ‘to wait’ – attendere – means to stretch oneself forward; we are attentive, opening ourselves to what will come.
During Advent, we are like people gathered around the bed, we await the birth. But God’s coming was not just the birth of a child; it was the coming of a word… though it needed thousands of years before there was a language in which God’s word could be spoken in the form of Jesus.