Many of our parents who are ex-students and recent students and staff will remember Sr Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Johnson IBVM who passed away peacefully last Friday evening after a length of time in Greenwich Hospital. Sr Elizabeth was a tremendously joyful Loreto Sister with a dry wit and a warm heart. I remember Sr Liz vividly from my own school days as my History teacher. She was diligent in her craft of teaching and knew us all well. We give thanks for the life of Sr Liz and pray for her family and the IBVM family at this time of loss.
As Advent commences and the Year of Mercy officially draws to a close as part of the liturgical calendar it is good to look back and reflect on the year and ask ourselves – have we been people of mercy and have we engaged with Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness? Even though life seems to increase in its complication this simple message of Mercy I hope has persisted in your discussions and through your relationships this year. I know it has been a strong focus here at school this year and I feel it was demonstrated so beautifully again last night in the ‘Barbed Wire and Barricades’ event held at the school which exposed our community to further robust debate on children in detention. All it takes in life for bad things to happen is for us to turn a blind eye to them, I can say that here at Loreto Normanhurst we are doing all we can to keep our eyes wide open to the broader issues of the world and to grow our understanding of them so that we can have a merciful response.
Last week I reported to the community on some long term staff retiring. Mrs Megan Pursche has been unwell this year since August and has resigned so that she can make a full recovery. We thank Mrs Pursche for her dedicated service for many years at the school. As the Director of Learning, Mrs Pursche assisted many families and students as they traversed the learning journey at Loreto and she has contributed greatly on all levels to the development of the school. We wish her well as she leaves Loreto. I thanks Mrs Kieryn Bateman for her work as Acting Director of Learning in Mrs Pursche’s absence. Mrs Bateman will continue in this acting role in 2017.
As part of our fulfilment of the school’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020 there will be changes to staffing as staff step into leadership roles. We will have two new Director roles at the school in 2017 and I congratulate Mrs Elizabeth Parker, Director of Mission, and Mrs Carol Osborne, Director of Professional Learning, for taking on these key roles of leadership. Leadership capacity in an organisation such as ours is very important to nurture and build and I am excited by the capacity of our staff to take on leadership as they do. Many staff will be stepping into new roles of leadership in the school in 2017 and I look forward to seeing them work together to support the students and their families at the school.
We thank and celebrate Mr Michael Book (father of Kate in Year 10, and Alexandra, Class of 2011) who will be stepping down from his role as Chair of the School Board at the end of the year. Mr Book has dedicated many years of service to the school in this voluntary capacity. He has provided wise counsel and guidance in the area of governance within the school, and has been an outstanding supporter of Loreto Normanhurst on all other levels. On behalf of our entire community, I thank Mr Book for his generosity and ongoing contribution to the life of our school.
I am pleased to report that work on the recommendations for the Sports Review has already commenced and I look forward to reporting back to parents next year in February. Thank you to the parents, students and staff who have given feedback for the review and I look forward to seeing the positive outcomes of this work come to fruition in 2017.
For a number of years now our overseas families have been asking if we would visit them as we do our NSW Boarding families when we travel to regional areas on the Principal’s Country Road Trips. After much consideration and planning Mrs Kate Kovacs, Director of Boarding, Mrs Alicia Maunsell, Director of Development, and I will embark on an overseas trip in March next year. Our plan is to meet with our current, past and future families in Hong Kong and then travel to the UK where we will meet with past families and in particular our GAP students and ex-students who are currently located in and outside of London.
I’m sure many of you may know of ex-students or Loreto families who are currently residing either in Hong Kong or the UK – I would be most grateful if you would pass this information on to Alicia Maunsell together with any contact details. I know our overseas Loreto community will welcome the visit and I look forward to the opportunity to connect with them especially as we celebrate 120 years of Loreto Normanhurst education in 2017.
Congratulations to the students who recently took part in the ACSA Speech and Drama Exams. Out of the 35 students, 18 received a Distinction and 17 received a High Distinction, which is an outstanding result.
Good luck to the athletes that won the right to race this weekend in Canberra as part of the NSW All Schools Knockout. Eliza Harvey, Sarah Playford, Zoe Warland, Elizabeth Chippendale, Caitlin Von Behr, Isabella Rudolph and Lauren Marshall. Good luck to these students and thank you to the staff and the parents who will accompany them to the event.
Today we celebrated the graduation of our Year 6 students from the Primary School and their transition into Year 7 next year. It was lovely to mark this special occasion with our group of parents who joined us for the reopening of the Primary School two years ago.
Each year the Boarders host the Boarders’ Appreciation Dinner. This week it was a very special dinner where 53 staff who interact in some way with our Boarders are thanked. From the Doctors and the Health Centre staff, to the Gardens and Maintenance staff to their own Boarding staff and many more. It is a great night to break bread together with the girls and to celebrate their year. We wish all the Boarders a safe journey home and we hope that they enjoy their time with family friends that they so miss during the year.
It is incredible to believe the last week of the school year is upon us and that this will be the last newsletter for the year. The last week will of course be busy with the Senior School Swimming Carnival on Tuesday and the final Liturgy and Awards Evening on Thursday. It has been a great year full of felicity, growth and a sense of purpose. I wish all families a peaceful and Merry Christmas and hope that the joys of the Christmas Season are bestowed on us all.
God of light, shine forth,
show us how
to bring hope to others.
God of mercy, help us
to comfort your people and
share in their joy.
God of hope, make us an Advent people,
preparing the way for life
in all its fullness.
– Catherine Gorman/CAFOD
With prayers of peace and hope,
Ms Barbara Watkins