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Head’s Message

Lent, social justice and a focus on cyber safety

FROM THE HEAD OF COLLEGE, GRAHAM LEDDIE

Lent

We celebrated Ash Wednesday this week with a liturgy with all students from Years 5-12. The prefects distributed the ashes and students were reminded that Lent is our season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (the practice of giving to those in need).

Lent is an ancient practice dating back to the Israelites and was mentioned in a number of places in Scripture – particularly the Books of Job, Jeremiah, and Daniel. The sprinkling of ashes, wearing of sackcloth, and practices of fasting were the central gestures of sorrow and repentance for the people of that time. The use of ashes for all of the faithful at the start of Lent began in the 10th century.

Many have pointed out the irony that on the day we hear Jesus speak of prayer, fasting and almsgiving being done in secret, we participate in what may be the year’s most public physical statement of our belief in Him. As we are signed on the forehead with the Cross we are told to, “repent and believe in the Gospel.” We are reminded, just as when we were first signed with the cross in Baptism, that with our faith comes responsibility to live our lives for the Lord.

As children, many people learn to give up treats like sweet foods, television or  limiting screen time for Lent. As adults, we are encouraged to consider not only that from which we want to fast, but the deep hungers we hope Christ will fill as we create a deeper space within. We might consider conserving the money saved in a fast for a work of kindness or charity. To help with this, we will, as always, be conducting the college Lenten appeal throughout this period.

At this time in particular, I also encourage you to take every opportunity to share with others the beautiful gift of our faith and the richness of the Catholic expression of Christianity.

Class of 2017 High Achievers

HSC High Achievers Assembly

Today we held our annual HSC High Achievers Assembly, attended by students from the 2017 Year 12 cohort who achieved outstanding results. We welcomed back over 40 students and their families to celebrate their academic and creative successes and wish them well for the future.

The screens at reception and around the college feature these students’ HSC results and the university courses they have chosen. The opportunity to congratulate our students is important for them, their families and for our current students, many of whom will aspire to be a scholar invited to the High Achievers Assembly.

The occasion also gives us time to reflect on the nature of education that we encourage. As each of our High Achievers was congratulated, I reflected on their considerable contribution to the cultural, advocacy/social justice and sporting life of the college. This is an excellent indicator of the importance of the broad co-curricular program offered at Waverley, which along with the academic program contributes enormously to the development of each student. I encourage all of our current students to follow this example; to strongly dedicate themselves to their academic work but also to avail themselves of the many opportunities that the College offers outside of the classroom.

 

Angus Mullins gave the address at the High Achiever Assembly for the Class of 2017.

James Rusconi with head of Drama, Alison Jinga at the High Achiever Assembly.

Mr Brian Sheedy RIP

A memorial was held this week for Mr Brian Sheedy who taught for 27 years at the College. Every seat in the College chapel was filled as he was fondly remembered as a great teacher and mentor of young men. Old Boys came from far and wide to reminisce and pay their respects to Mr Sheedy. I heard comments such as, ‘firm but fair’, ‘unconventional but passionate’, ‘non-conforming but loving’, ‘great teacher and amazing HSC results’, ‘life-long learner’ and ‘someone who challenged us to be better people’. May Brian rest in peace.

Mr Brian Sheedy

Eradication Of Global Slavery

I attended mass for the Feast Day of St Josephine Bakhita last week at St Mary’s Cathedral. The mass was celebrated by the Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP Archbishop of Sydney.  St Josephine Bakhita is the Patron Saint of South Sudan and victims of slavery and human trafficking. The Archbishop announced a suite of initiatives in the drive to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking in Australia. Independent researchers estimate 4300 people in Australia are slaves. People do not need to be chained up or traded like property to be enslaved. Modern slavery is the control over someone through force, coercion or deception, and the consequent removal of the person’s freedom to say ‘no’.

The initiatives include a process to slavery-proof Archdiocesan supply chains, incorporating anti-slavery topics into the Catholic school curriculum, and equipping welfare services to support survivors of slavery. Archbishop Fisher encouraged the audience to pursue compassion through both personal and organisational change, and through both prayer and action. World wide the estimation of people enslaved is approximately 40 million. It is timely for us all to look at what we purchase and from whom.

Cyber safety protection for your child at home

Digital technology has opened up a world of possibilities for our children. At the same time, it has multiplied potential risks. Our goal is to protect every student from exposure to online threats – from inappropriate content to cyberbullying.

The College is proud to be introducing a new cybersafety package for our families which we will be providing free of charge in 2018. Family Zone is a complete, comprehensive cyber safety system that really works. With Family Zone, parents can opt to provide their children with the same protection they receive during school hours – at home and everywhere in between.

Ever since the college introduced laptops, our parents have expressed concern about managing their child’s access to the internet at home; Family Zone provides a solution to this problem. Chosen by over 300 premier schools, the Family Zone cyber safety ecosystem is a suite of unified products and services that provides an unrivalled cyber safety experience.

To complete the circle of safety for your child, however, we need your participation. By setting up a private Family Zone account, you can apply age-appropriate parental controls on every device your child has access to, in any location.

The college will stage a cyber safety evening in conjunction with Family Zone on Wednesday 28 February at 6pm in the Br J P Lacey Gymnasium. All parents are encouraged to attend this event, when we will explain how to sign up and operate your account.

We have also teamed up with leading Cyber Expert Yasmin London from ySafe for the evening to present a parent workshop on current trends in social media. Informative and practical, the workshop will arm parents with constructive strategies for managing online behaviour. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Cyber safety and online predators
  • Social Media 101- Current trends on popular sites including Facebook,
  • Instagram, SnapChat
  • What kids are doing online that they don’t want their parents to know
  • Strategies for online behaviour management
  • Privacy settings
  • Sexting & the law
  • Pornography
  • Cyber bullying
  • Gaming
  • How to set boundaries around technology
  • Social media and mental health issues

Please REGISTER HERE to attend the Family Zone Cyber Safety event.