Last week at our secondary school assembly we celebrated the achievements of the Class of 2019 and welcomed them and their family members back to accept the school’s congratulations as we honoured them and drew inspiration from the example and legacy they have given us. As you know, the achievements of the Class of 2019 were excellent. Ranks and marks however don’t define our character and spirit, and nor do they define the Class of 2019. We came to know them as women of compassion and joy, who work for justice and grow in relationships with one another; cheerfully spirited women who don’t take themselves too seriously.
The holistic approach to learning at Loreto via the Loreto Normanhurst Student Growth Model with its FACE curriculum and focus on relationships and learning has shown that all students can achieve regardless of where they sit on the learning spectrum. These results are significant because they tell the story of dedication and hard work, the pursuit of mastery and what happens when we face and step up to challenge, of how growth comes when the whole person is nurtured and nourished.
At the same assembly we heard from one of our most recent graduates, Mairead Stone, Dux of the Class of 2019, and an alumna of the Class of 1998, Lieutenant Colonel Virginia McDougall. Mairead’s humble message of gratitude focused on the importance of collaboration and quality relationships (with teachers, peers and self) for quality learning to ensue. Virginia echoed Mairead’s words of advice and reflected on the impact of her Loreto Normanhurst education throughout her life and career.
Both Mairead and Virginia had powerful messages of inspiration for all of us lifelong learners – to pursue your interest, to know yourself, to keep a balanced approach to life, to maintain good relationships, to raise up those around you, to stride forward in the direction of your dreams, facing fears and overcoming doubts. We wish all of the Class of 2019 well on their new adventure and congratulate them for being such great role models in their faith, their academic life, their work in community and in their extra-curricular pursuits.
In this Olympic Year, our list of Loreto Olympic hopefuls continues to grow as we congratulate alumna Ellen Roberts (Class of 2009) and Tahli Moore (Class of 2012) who have been selected in the squad of 20 to train for the Australian Olympic Softball team. This will be further reduced to 15 after the squad competes for 6 weeks in an American Fastpitch Competition.
We are so proud of our alumni and we love seeing them back at Normanhurst. Today we heard from members of the Class of 2015 as they took part in a panel session for the Careers Conference. Sophie Cullen, Sarah Croake, Maddie Benson, Polina Nesterova, and Alice Mao, shared stories of their journey since leaving school, and left our Year 12 students encouraged and inspired for the year ahead.
Congratulations to sisters Rebecca (Year 9 Mulhall) and Sarah (Year 7 Mulhall) Zammit, who have both qualified to dance for Team Australia at the World Dance Movement in Italy in the July school holidays. Becca won the national championship for teen student choreography. Together, for their duet, Becca and Sarah won the national championship for teen jazz duo and they were runners up in teen contemporary duo.
Yesterday, 13 February, marked 12 years since the National Apology to Australia’s Indigenous People. Marking the anniversary of this historical point in our nation’s history allowed us as a community to pay our respects to the thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people removed from their families – our ‘Stolen Generations.’ This week also saw the 12th Close the Gap report to be tabled in Parliament; a report which has showed that only two out of seven targets are on track to be met. With our hearts and minds turned to this, in this year of Verity where we are mindful of our need to seek truth and act on it, and in the context of these months of drought, fire and floods, we ask ourselves what truth there is to find and hold in the ancient wisdom of our First Nations People and their deep relationship with the land, its waterways and all of creation.
I hope to see many of you at the Welcome to 2020 Parent Cocktail Party next Friday 21 February.
God of all Creation,
We thank you for this beautiful land,
For the First Peoples you entrusted to care for it,
For its wealth and man Second Peoples who have made it their home.
Australia has been good to us.
We ask now for this land that we will all be healed,
For our ancestors made gains at the expense of Aboriginal custodians.
Lands were taken and families destroyed by the removal of children.
We pray for those who were taken,
And those parents and grandparents whose arms lost little ones.
We struggle to imagine how this would feel, and how it could have happened.
For the pain and loss of identity and culture, we ask healing.
For a callous disregard of human rights, we ask forgiveness and healing.
For willful blindness and ignorance, we ask for your light to shine.
For the descendants still affected by transgenerational trauma,
We ask for ongoing support systems in the name of justice.
May we all be one.
May we be a nation who cares for ‘the least of these.’
Ms Marina Ugonotti