All this talk of normality: when will we get back to normal? Is this the new normal? Is there an ‘old normal’ that will ever be the same again? Some neither want the old normal nor the new normal, so what will normal be like – and will we have some agency over it? What times of flux.
I read of an analogy that these times are akin to white water rafting: each of us is engaging in a very long and extreme experience which is intellectually, physically and psychologically demanding, requiring rapid responses and sustained, complex decision making. The turbulent journey is not over yet as we seek to reach still waters without too much of a drenching! I wish I could speak of white water rafting from personal experience, but the analogy certainly resonated with me.
Despite such disruption for our students this year, and we know of such constant upheaval for many families and indeed every industry, I share with you in this newsletter just some illustrations of the strength of Siena’s values and culture which provide such stability to us in navigating this journey:
It is our students, our families, our staff, our Board and Committee members and our faith which stabilise and inspire us. Siena remains a very special place.
The changing landscape outside my window…
“As we are speaking, there are individuals holding out on frontlines, holding the humane tissue alive in areas of ultimate barbarity, where things are visible that the human eye should never see. And they’re able to sustain it, because there is, in them, some kind of sense of beauty that knows the horizon that we are really called to in some way.
Beauty isn’t all about just nice loveliness, like. Beauty is about more rounded, substantial becoming. So I think beauty, in that sense, is about an emerging fullness, a greater sense of grace and elegance, a deeper sense of depth, and also a kind of homecoming for the enriched memory of your unfolding life.”
John O’Donohue – (The Inner Landscape of Beauty 2017)
Preparing to mark St Dominic’s Day
Since the start of this term I’ve had the pleasure of working with Senior Student Leaders in the preparation of our upcoming St Dominic’s Day celebration in early August. Students have been busy writing prayers and participating in filming various aspects of our online Liturgy of the Word; it’s been wonderful to witness their collaboration, collective wisdom and commitment to making this a special experience for members of our community.
Revolution of Tenderness Podcast
Australian Dr Sandie Cornish shares reflections on Catholic Social Teaching in the current world context. The COVID-19 pandemic takes place in the context of several interconnected crises: an ecological crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of political authority and governance, and a crisis of meaning and purpose. So, what does Catholic Social Teaching have to do with all this? Sandie argues that Catholic Social Teaching encourages us to pay attention to our world, motivating us to care. Second, it helps us to discern our responses.
New reporting initiatives in response to Remote Learning
Due to our return to remote learning, we will introduce two new reporting initiatives in Years 7 to 10 to replace the Term 3 Interim report. This will provide earlier feedback for students and parents. During Term 3, subject teachers will assess students’ online learning achievements in Week 4 and Week 9 and provide feedback on a formative or summative task in Week 5 and 9. Students will also assess their own online learning achievements in Week 4 and Week 9. The online learning achievements will replace the regular Classroom Learning Indicators reported on the Interim report. All feedback will be available on Siena Central in the usual manner.
Term 3 Subject Selection
The 2021 Subject Selection process has commenced with all year levels accessing the subject faculty videos and resources during Wellness periods, or Period 6 Catch Up for Year 10 students. The Subject Selection tile with all the relevant information is available on Siena Central for all parents and students.
The Year 9 and 10 Senior Pathways evening will be a virtual event held on Thursday, 30 July from 6.00pm to 7.45pm. Parents and students will be able to enter the Year 9 (Year 10 2021) and Year 10 (Year 11 2021) rooms via Zoom on the Subject Selection tile.
A Question Form on the Subject Selection tile enables parents and students to post questions prior to the evening. Year 9 and 10 Subject Interviews will occur this year via Microsoft Teams, when students will meet with a senior staff member to work through their 2021 Subject Selections.
All relevant dates are listed in a recent email sent to parents, and are also available on the Subject Selection tile on Siena Central.
We are all impacted by what is happening in Melbourne and the wider community and, as adults, we struggle to come to terms with it. I wonder what our students are thinking about their world right now. How can they make sense of it? In my communication with students, I have asked them to talk to their parents regularly about what’s happening for them.
Take the opportunity to really check in with your child every day about the little things that are going on in their life. By remaining positively engaged in their life, it will be easier to have difficult conversations when the need arises. If your child can trust you to ‘be there for them’, to listen to, love and support them, then they are much more likely to see you as someone to turn to first when they need help in working through bigger problems. Your relationship will be built on trust and open, honest communication. Enjoy getting to know your child as the interesting and maturing person they are becoming.
(Source: ReachOut Australia 2020)
Whilst we wish our circumstances could be different, we know that we still have so much to be grateful for. Our middle school students are engaged with their learning at home, our senior students are grateful that they are able to attend face to face classes and I am ever grateful for the support of staff and parents. These circumstances magnify the partnership between home and school and the need for clear communication.
Please click here for some wonderful resources for parents regarding coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whether your daughter is learning from home or onsite at school, Heads of Student Wellbeing remain the first point of contact if you have any concerns during this time. Our College Counsellors will also continue to provide support to the school community. We encourage any parents with concerns regarding their daughter/s to contact the College Counsellors at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our community was saddened to hear of the passing of Sr Maura McAvoy OP, past Principal of Siena College (1968, 1973, and 1982-1989). Maura had sadly suffered ill health for some time before being admitted to care in 2018. She was 83 years old.
Born in Ireland, Maura came to Melbourne in 1960 and taught with the Brigadine Sisters in Mentone. Her long career of teaching and administration included positions in Watson (ACT), Strathfield, Siena, Newcastle and Maitland. Her keen interest in Catholic education often took her beyond school boundaries, and she was heavily involved in leadership programs and various Dominican committees. After her time at Siena she became Deputy Director of Catholic Education in Tasmania, a position she held for five years.
An extract from the poem Sr Sheila read to Maura the last time she saw her:
O you are not lying in the wet clay,
For it is a harvest evening now and we
Are piling up the ricks against the moonlight
And you smile up at us - eternally.
(Patrick Cavanagh, Collected Poems)
College Colours are awarded in order to recognise and acknowledge participation, contribution and excellence in a number of cocurricular endeavours. Colours are based on cumulative criteria and are awarded at three levels: Level 1 (Black), Level 2 (Silver) and Level 3 (Full - braid). Level 3 (Full) Colours are only obtained after a long term commitment, valuable contribution and notable achievement in the relevant endeavour.
The Learning Diversity Department is very pleased to announce that College Colours will now be awarded for Chess. Students who have been involved in Chess over the past four years will be automatically considered for this category.
The points system and levels of achievement will operate as per other cocurricular activities acknowledged at Siena.
Factors that will be taken into consideration include:
The current Siena Career News is indeed a bumper edition with loads of information to assist students who are choosing their VCE subjects, or considering future study and career plans.
As we head into the busiest time of year in the Careers Office, I would strongly recommend students take time to consider their interests, strengths, learning styles and possible future directions when choosing their subjects. Your main criteria for choosing subjects should be those you enjoy and those you have done well in. Having a few ideas about what you would like to pursue once you leave Siena would be useful as there are certain tertiary courses that have prerequisites. Year 10 students can view these via the VTAC Guide for Year 10 Subject Selection, Prerequisites 2023 (links emailed to all Year 10s) and available on Siena Central and the Siena Careers Website.
VTAC applications open on 3 August for Year 12 students, so refining your list of course preferences should be the focus. All of the University Open Days are virtual this year (links to all of these are in the Siena Career News), so there should be no excuse not to attend. Many of the Tertiary Course Information webinars from the various Institutions have been recorded and are available for students to listen to if they missed the actual session. It is such a bonus to be able to listen to these at your leisure.
In this week’s Siena Career News you will also find information on University Early Entry Programs, University Course Information webinars, Virtual Open Days, a snapshot of Box Hill Institute and course comparisons with Business/Commerce and Science/Biomedicine degrees.
As we continue the enrolment process for Year 7 (2022) students, we would like to remind any current families with daughters in Grade 5 to please ensure that you have submitted an enrolment form.
Applications and supporting documents can be submitted online via our website. Offers will be made in October of this year.
If you have any further enquires please contact Tracey Lawson at email@example.com
We would like to extend a warm welcome to the following staff who have recently joined Siena College:
Mia Ryan – Learning Diversity Officer
Nicole Kapiniaris-Anson – Learning Diversity Officer
Rada Tochalna – Instrumental Music Voice
Bethany Gallagher – Science Teacher
Anna Page – History and Learning Diversity Officer
Emily Black – Emergency Teacher
Congratulations to College Counsellor Millie Holmes and Ben on the safe arrival of baby Rosie, a sister for Daisy and Maggie.
Danielle Soccio, who resigned after twelve years of teaching voice to our students. We thank her for her contribution to the College and wish her well as she pursues other opportunities.