Oops! Unfortunately there was a technical glitch with the video of Ms Ugonotti’s message this week; however an audio file is available below.
Please press play on the sound recording to hear the Principal’s Message. The full transcript can also be found below.
Principal’s Message Transcript
Good afternoon to all members of the Loreto Normanhurst community, and welcome to the end of Week 5! I’m coming to you from the courtyard of our beautiful Teresa Ball Primary School, and you might hear behind me some cheering, some music because happening in the Learning Common of the Primary School today is the finals of Loreto’s Got Talent. And wow, how much talent we have! The depth and the diversity of that talent… Well done girls, for putting yourselves out there and just giving it a good go and having the courage and the bravery to do so.
And it was lovely yesterday, actually, to welcome so many new families and new girls coming into Years 5 and 7 and also a few in Years 8 to 11, bringing no doubt, all their gifts and talents to this wonderful community and weaving it through the fabric of who we are and what we do. So I know that they’re probably on a bit of a recruitment drive for Loreto’s Got Talent, and we look forward to discovering and getting to know the newest members of our beautiful community over the years and to welcome them formally at the beginning of next year.
That excitement that comes with new beginnings, probably expressed best yesterday, when one of the incoming students hopped out of the car and when asked by a staff member how she was feeling she said, “I’m so excited I could burst like confetti.” Well, what a beautiful description of ‘Felicity’ as we head into 2021, the year of Felicity when we welcome those incoming families.
There was a bookend to yesterday – from the orientation of new girls and families, to the celebration of graduation for our Class of 2020 last night, with a beautiful liturgy and dinner shared with them and their parents and staff. We were thrilled to be able to get to that point and to allow the girls to be together once more, 24 hours after the final HSC exam was written and to celebrate with joy the wonderful achievements of all their years, and the end of 13 years of schooling, and of course to mark the end of this really quite remarkable year that they’ve navigated with such grace and poise. So congratulations once more to the Class of 2020. Well done for getting through those exams with such calm and confidence, and congratulations and thank you once more to your families.
This week, of course across all of Australia is NAIDOC Week, usually held earlier in the year. We did go ahead with marking our planned activities earlier in the year, but have of course recognised that this week is NAIDOC Week and the powerful theme of ‘Always Was, Always Will Be,’ that recognises that this country is criss-crossed by generations of First Nations people that bring such diversity and richness to culture, to story, and to who we are as a society. It’s fitting that just this week in NAIDOC Week, Lua Pellegrini of the Class of 2019 had her debut Visual Arts exhibition. You may recall Lua’s beautiful works for Visual Arts body of work, her work for her Aboriginal Studies, her book for children. I commend her exhibition to you, if you can get to New South Wales Parliament House, to the Reconciliation Wall, where a series of Lua’s works have been included in an exhibition that she’s entitled, ‘Our Past, Our Future.’ Congratulations, Lua. We’re proud of you. And we look forward to seeing the beauty of your works hanging very proudly on the Reconciliation Wall of New South Wales Parliament.
Speaking of alumni, I’d like to extend my sincerest thanks to all of our ex-students who’ve been involved in a new program this year – the Year 11 Alumni Career Chats. Thank you for doing that – it is leaving such an impression on Year 11 girls, having those career chats with you, finding out a bit more of your story, and taking on your wisdom and learned advice and perspective, and then having that as part of such a diverse way in which they’re influenced in knowing that you too, as strong Loreto women have gone beyond these gates to do so much. I want to say my sincerest thanks to all of the alumni who have been involved in that, because it really is planting some very powerful seeds and we look forward to growing that program in the years to come.
Year 10 girls today are having a silent day – can you believe it? I wonder if they’ll be bringing that back home for you parents of Year 10! Not that we want them silent for too long! But they’re having this silent day as the culmination of this year’s ‘Week without Words.’ Year 10 have done so as part of the work that we do in supporting St Lucy’s here in Wahroonga, and they do it annually to raise awareness and to raise funds. This year they’ve really focused on the awareness raising for non-verbal communication. And so today it ends after a series of awareness-raising and educational activities in the theme of ‘every child deserves to be heard,’ with them having this silent day. As part of that initiative, I’m really proud that the Student Council is leading an initiative across the school to teach the whole school how to sing or sign Cruci Dum Spiro Fido, our school song of course, and that key phrase in our school song. This year, we haven’t been able to sing it collectively. We’ve had the recording and we always have that assembly, but with the current guidelines as they are for singing in mass groups of people, we haven’t been able to sing it. So in teaching the whole school Cruci Dum Spiro Fido in sign language, our Student Council is hoping, not only to remind us that we are still connected together, but also adding in adding depth to that empathy piece about the many different ways in which people communicate and the ways in which we can grow in that space as well. So well done to Grace and to Lilly, and to the whole Student Council, and we look forward to those lessons catching up and us getting together very shortly for our first sign of Cruci Dum Spiro Fido.
There’s been so much activity on the oval this week. Our grounds are such a beautiful environment, aren’t they, for us to exist and to breathe and to learn and be in community here. Yesterday morning, there was just so much activity on the oval – there was AFL, there was Touch Football, there were girls just going for a jog and boarders going for their morning walk and athletics and swimming that was happening. It was just beautiful to see our young women in active pursuit and in team-based sports. I congratulate you girls and wish you all the best for the next weekend of sport. I’d like to acknowledge our rowers, who last weekend had their first regatta of the season and really commend particularly those girls who’ve taken up rowing for the first time, especially our Year 7 girls. It’s a tough sport. Having probably foolishly put my hand up a couple of years ago to find out what these rowing programs all about and having a go of it as part of a corporate rowing program, I take my hat off to you and to all girls who are taking part in the rowing program this season. Congratulations, and that first regatta saw three 1st places and two 2nd places. Now, they’re always the cherry on top those places, aren’t they, but I know that they mean a lot and they are the culmination of such hard work. So for all your hard work, you’re grit and your team work, all girls participating in sport, all the very best for this weekend.
I’ve had so many images of hope to cast light in the shadows that perhaps have crept in throughout this year for a whole range of reasons, not only the pandemic but other world events and all the rest of it. And last night as we gave every Year 12 student her candle and invoked her to go and let her own light shine, it really brought home to me that strong message of hope that’s deeply within us as Loreto people. When Felicity, Sincerity, Freedom, Justice and Verity come together, we know that it’s nestled in the depths of our hearts. It called me to think of a quote I read recently of Pope Francis making reference to education being an ‘act of hope.’
Young people bring so much hope into our daily lives. And I thought that that phrase – an act of hope, the activity of education, and what it allows us to do – is so, so exciting and so, so powerful, so much that we could burst like confetti. So I’m going to share with you a beautiful prayer of Pope Francis that comes from his new encyclical Fratelli Tutti. And it’s a prayer to the Creator.
And as we sprint towards the end of this this year and the end of this term and as our Year 10 girls prepare to head into SPRINT Week next week, and as we acknowledge the beautiful diversity of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in NAIDOC Week, and the wonder of this beautiful natural creation, we call a prayer to the Creator, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Father of our human family, you created all human beings equal in dignity. Pour forth into our hearts a fraternal spirit and inspire in us a dream of renewed encounter, dialogue, justice, and peace. Move us to create healthier societies, and a more dignified world. A world without hunger, poverty, violence, and war.
May our hearts be open to all the peoples and nations of the earth. May we recognise the goodness and beauty that you have sown in each of us, and thus forge bonds of unity, common projects and shared dreams.
And with that, and with all this beauty of sunshine that’s bleeding through this Friday afternoon, I wish you all the very best for the days and weeks ahead. Thank you.
Ms Marina Ugonotti