What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath -
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that you are connected
In ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now)
Know that our lives
are in one another's hands
(Surely, that has come clear)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love -
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Going into the final week of term we find ourselves in a frontier space. From next Monday, Siena College will operate using an online model of learning and teaching. Any frontier space brings with it all manner of emotions – fear, vulnerability, scepticism as well as excitement, innovation and energy. Maybe a combination of these emotions and more! Our frontier as educators at Siena College is to continue to provide excellence in learning and teaching and excellence in care and connection for all within our faith community. This is our foundation, our commitment and our endeavour in these strange times. As the saying goes, by this necessity we have become mothers of invention.
I am very pleased and proud of all staff at Siena who have demonstrated such commitment to our students and to each other. This week in particular saw the bringing together of Learning and Teaching, Wellbeing, Information Technology, Marketing and Development and others to produce guidelines for student learning and wellbeing in an environment of online learning. We even have our College Captains, Laura and Adrienne issuing regular student friendly messages of connection to all. Parents and students will receive this very impressive support material this week. I reassure all members of our community that we are not closed off from each other next week; all can make contact with each other via telephone, email or Teams. My thanks to all families who have extended their appreciation to staff for their extended work at this time, all for the benefit of their daughters.
Our VCE students have raised very reasonable questions regarding their learning in the weeks ahead. We met with Year 12 students yesterday and will issue correspondence to all parents and students of Unit 3 and 4 studies, outlining very specific expectations and supports. In addition, we remain in very close contact with VCAA to be updated on the latest processes for delivery of course material and assessment. Like every school, we are working to ensure consistency and adherence to regulations as they are developed in this circumstance.
These final weeks of term also take us into the final weeks of Lent. Our prayer in this newsletter reminds us of the value of ‘centering down’ with God and others during this time.
I wish all families abundant blessings of hope and joy as we enter the Easter season - new life!
Year 7 Reflection Day
Last week all Year 7 students participated in their annual Reflection Day, held at Edmund Rice Centre Amberley in Lower Plenty; this day was facilitated by Year 7 Religious Education teachers and members of the Mission and Identity Team.
The focus was our role as contemporary Dominicans; what is important for us is to see and hear truth and to speak for those who have been silenced…such as Indigenous Australians, the asylum seekers who come for refuge and the poor who nobody remembers by name.
Sessions included a practical workshop reflecting on the 2020 College Theme ‘Who Do You Say I Am?’ and an exploration of what it means to be a Dominican Doer. Activities took place in House Groups where students also articulated a pledge based on principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
The Sweet and often Bitter truth about Easter
One indisputable truth - chocolate is delicious. We know this because at Easter Australians spend millions of dollars buying hundreds of kilograms of chocolate to eat and give away.
Another indisputable truth is that the cost of some chocolate is a child’s education, and sometimes his or her freedom. That’s because much of our chocolate is made using cocoa beans harvested by children, often in the West African region.
So, as we move toward Easter here’s a snapshot of chocolate…
Slavery-free chocolate is chocolate that is certified. Look for chocolate with one of these three logos on it – Fairtrade, UTZ or Rainforest Alliance.
How we as Dominicans can change things:
Where to buy your chocolates
There are some slavery-free chocolates available in most large supermarkets. Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand has a comprehensive list of slavery-free certified chocolates. Find it at: http://fairtrade.com.au/Fairtrade-Products/Chocolate-cocoa
Thank you for your understanding and patience regarding the changed arrangements for the recent parent teacher interviews. The teaching staff hope to have completed all emails to interview requests by the end of Friday, 20 March. Please download a copy of your daughter’s Term 1 Interim Report from Siena Central.
Last week we presented to all year levels on how to access the Online Learning program for next week. The girls responded positively and with great anticipation about the potential of a new way of learning. I would like to acknowledge the fantastic work of our staff in preparing for their regular classes next week. It will be a learning experience for all of us.
We ask that you are across all of the communications that we have sent you, in particular the recent ‘Student Online Learning Guidelines’ that we have created for you and your daughter to assist you next week. We have also created a short video tutorial that covers the main topics shared in the year level assemblies. This will be a useful refresher for students who still may have questions and for any student who has been absent. You will also find a list of important contacts if you have any questions regarding your daughter’s online learning.
Happiness and Gratitude
Happiness is a term that captures a huge variety of positive emotions such as humour, serenity, optimism, joy, pride, inspiration, love and hope. Happiness means different things, to different people and is essential to your understanding of emotional literacy. Throughout history, philosophers, religious writers and poets have pondered on the meaning of happiness and how it might be achieved. In the last few decades, scientists and psychologists have researched this further by studying a field of science called positive psychology.
The result of this research suggests there is a strong correlation between gratitude and greater happiness. Practising gratitude helps you shift your focus to positive memories or experiences, noticing the good in your life. Over time, this will re-wire your brain to create new neural pathways, increasing your state of happiness and overall wellbeing.
SchoolTV offers parents and care-givers some ideas about how to achieve happiness and the benefits of practising gratitude. These can be shared with the whole family, at work in a range of social settings. Here is the link to this information on happines and gratitude.
Coronavirus - a guide for parents
Coronavirus is an evolving international health concern. Around the world, people are being affected in many ways. Individuals of all ages from numerous nationalities are being diagnosed with the virus – it doesn’t discriminate. Although children are considered at lower risk of infection, they are not immune to the multitude of news reports regularly seen or heard in the media.
This epidemic is a cause for great concern to parents, but it is also very worrying to young people. Many are wondering how best to discuss this epidemic in a way that will be reassuring to young people without making them feel more worried than what they may be already. Parents should not avoid such a discussion with their children. Not talking about something can often make them worry more.
Although most children will have already heard about the coronavirus, it is important for parents and caregivers to take this opportunity to convey the facts about it and set the emotional tone. This may help them feel more informed and reassured. Involving them and encouraging self-efficacy can also give them a sense of control and purpose.
Parents and caregivers will be provided with some guidelines on how best to approach this topic whilst still ensuring the wellbeing of their child in this edition of School TV.
Parents may also find these articles helpful:
An enthusiastic group of Year 7 students have been participating in the Pillars Leadership Program over the past three weeks. They have been discussing what it means to be a leader in a Dominican community, reflecting on the characteristics of effective leaders, and meeting some of our current Year 8 and 9 leaders to find out about what it’s like to be a leader at Siena College.
Further leadership opportunities for Year 7 students will be available in Term 2, including a leadership skills series which will take place at lunch times. Details will be made available on Siena Central News next term.
This week the Siena College Student Leadership Team hosted their first “Student Forum” which was organised and run by the Student Leaders. This provided a great opportunity for all interested students to come and talk with the SRC about their thoughts and ideas to improve the learning and community experience at Siena College. Our student leaders facilitated discussions on a variety of topics, and as a result have some exciting projects they will work on over the course of the year in partnership with interested students. The SRC will continue to facilitate Student Forums over the course of the year, to provide the student community an avenue to engage with the SRC, and have their ideas and suggestions heard.
On Wednesday, 18 March the SRC held our first Student Forum, and it was a great success. We had quite a few students, particularly from younger year levels, come to share their thoughts and ideas of ways to improve the school and SRC. Our Principal, Mrs Hanney, also attended the forum and came around to each group, hearing what they had to say about the various topics discussed. The Student Forum gave students the opportunity to have their voice heard directly and discuss topics of interest and concern within the school, with members of the SRC, staff and other students. The SRC is aiming to have at least one of these forums every term in order to increase student involvement in voice and action. We encourage everyone to get involved and come to these forums in the future!
Grace Hoy (Year 11 Kurrajong Leader)
“If you must rush, rush slowly”
– Kazakhstan saying
Siena students were privileged to spend a lunch with author, adventurer and filmmaker Tim Cope last Wednesday. Tim spoke with the students about his most renowned journey - a three year, 10,000km horseback trek from Mongolia to Hungary across the great Eurasian Steppe with his best friend, canine companion Tigon. Tim’s passion for adventure and personal challenge was evident in his presentation as he shared stories of incredible physical hardship, misadventure, loneliness, moments of personal triumph and friendships forged in the most desolate of places.
Tim’s presentation was accompanied by stunning photography and extracts from his documentary films which enabled our students to journey far beyond Camberwell to the vast open planes, valleys, mountains and landscapes of countries such as Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Interwoven in his presentation were phrases of local wisdom which assisted Tim to interpret his experiences with a new philosophy.
Tim encouraged our students to consider the benefits of choosing alternative paths and to be open to the idea of experiencing different cultures and choosing adventure. He taught our students the value of learning patience, acknowledging how counter cultural this concept is in a world of instant gratification.
All three of Tim Cope’s published books are available from the Albertus Magnus Learning Centre for loan.
During Term 1, we have been running gaming in the Learning Centre during Monday lunchtimes. The benefits of gaming include cooperation, team building, problem solving and lateral thinking. Girls have the opportunity to be competitive as they mingle with other like-minded students whilst working on hand eye coordination and spatial awareness. It is always great to see high fives when someone gets a megastar achievement!
Nintendo Switch games have been very popular and we have also set up the Virtual Reality Vive headset from time to time. Games such as Mario Kart 8, Supersmash Brothers, Mario World are on high rotation and more recently Just Dance 2020 resulted in a Learning Centre full of students dancing. In the Virtual Reality world, students have been engrossed in Beat Sabre, an Art program where they can draw in 3D. They also enjoy playing sport games like golf and learning more about the solar system or the human body.
One of the most important benefit of gaming, especially for girls, is spatial awareness. Studies show that 3D games in particular can lead to improved performance in perception, pattern recognition and cognition, all helpful skills for engineering and mathematics. As always, moderation is key of course as the negative consequences of playing almost always involve people who are excessive video game players. We also have board games, card games and jigsaws in the Learning Centre as ongoing activities.
If you have any questions about certain games that your child is playing, please feel free to contact the Learning Centre staff. I am an avid gamer and have been playing since the Atari first came out. And yes, I have clocked Space Invaders multiple times...
You can find more information about gaming and the benefits to your brain here: https://theconversation.com/playing-video-games-is-good-for-your-brain-heres-how-34034
In Siena Career News this week students will find information on three universities providing campus tours and school holiday events. These events provide students with the opportunity to see a university campus in action, speak to staff and students about courses, admissions, work integrated learning opportunities, study abroad possibilities and scholarships.
Also in this weeks edition, an Information Session on joining Victoria police as an officer, GAP Year applications open for the Australian Defence Force and for aspiring zoologists and vets, a “Be a Keeper for a Day” program at Werribee Zoo.
Year 12 students who are interested in studying at ANU or the University Of New England can apply for early entry programs and scholarships that can help with the cost of studying interstate, information on both in Siena Career news.
James Cooke University is a tertiary institution of interest to students keen on Medicine and Veterinary Science. This week’s Siena Career news has some fast facts about this North Queensland tertiary institution.
Fashion Design is a popular choice with many students at Siena College, in the current Siena Career News you can compare the many fashion courses offered by various institutions in Melbourne.
In celebration of our 80th Anniversary year, we have partnered with Prospect Wines to produce a range of wines available for purchase. Please complete the order form below and email through to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 May, 2020.
We thank you in anticipation of your support. Please download an order form here