Parent Involvement; Positive Role Modelling

School life demonstrates your interest in education and that School is worthwhile

Monday evening of this week provided us with an opportunity to acknowledge and thank many of our parents and School community members who have been directly involved with volunteering at St Catherine’s this year.

During the evening we welcomed members of School Council, and Council sub-committees, committee members of the Parents’ and Friends’ Association (PFA) and associated Class Representatives, committee members of the co-curricular auxiliaries, members of the St Catherine’s Old Girls’ Association and a number of staff who also directly work with our volunteers.

If I was to count the number of volunteer hours dedicated to St Catherine’s this year by our parents and community members it would be, I suspect, in the thousands – this is an extraordinary achievement for a small School. A School that whilst small in number is abundant in enthusiasm and commitment.

The development of a connected parent community, that openly welcomes new members, is essential to the positive character, friendly and welcoming nature of our School. The collaboration and teamwork of our PFA and co-curricular auxiliaries is reflected in the truth of the expression “You can’t whistle a symphony; it takes an orchestra to play it.”

On many occasions this year, the success of our events falls to the tireless work of teams of parents and Old Girls. Just recently the Christmas Fair was again another example of this commitment and teamwork. The Fair marks our first step into the festive season. The gathering of our community last Friday evening was an encouraging display of the investment and support of our families. Not deterred by the rainy skies above, people simply arrived armed with umbrellas and raincoats to support the enormous work of the PFA in coordinating this evening. I congratulate Mrs Lisa James and her team in orchestrating this event, and the finer detail of the sunshine at 7.00pm was also noteworthy!

The teamwork of the PFA in creating and hosting the annual Ruth Langley Luncheon this year was also clearly evident. This function is a highlight on the School calendar for many Old Girls, past and current mothers. Our Guest Speaker, the Honourable Quentin Bryce, AD, CVO delighted the audience with a very personal walk through her distinguished career. Ms Bryce enticed the School community to ‘be bold’ and to approach life with ‘confidence and courage’.

Particular mention must be made this year of the Yulendj Exhibition and Arts Festival which launched St Catherine’s School’s Indigenous Scholarship Program. This was the culmination of almost a year of preparation and hard work in following up sponsorship from various sections of the community. I wish to acknowledge Mr Shaun Dennison, Mrs Lisa Steven, Mrs Tamsin Renn and Mr Peter Strover. This week long event was ably supported by the Art Action Auxiliary. This was a magnificent fundraising effort, and together with straight donations to the Program, we raised just over $90,000.

The contribution of our St Catherine’s parents certainly remains entwined within the fabric of our School each week. The New Parent Welcome Evening, Year Level Morning Teas, the generosity of families to open their home for Year Level Social Events, the Snowsports Season Welcome, the Junior School Twilight Picnic and the role of Class Representatives to welcome new families, are just a small insight into the extraordinary level of work completed.

On behalf of our School, I wish to thank the PFA for their financial contribution in 2015. Funds raised from this year have enabled the PFA to donate approximately $60,000 to the School for the following priorities:

– The design and 2016 redevelopment of the playground in the Early Learning Centre
– St Catherine’s Scholarship Fund
– Furniture in the Illawarra Boarding House

The commitment of our parent community is also visibly demonstrated through the dedication of the co-curricular auxiliaries. The support provided to our Sporting, Performing Arts and Visual Arts programs is greatly appreciated. Many hours can be spent sourcing auction items for fundraisers, waxing skis, setting up and packing functions and at the coal face, flipping burgers and turning sausages.

This year I have personally enjoyed the opportunity to hone my skills on a pair of skis and remained warm in a new jacket – both purchased for a bargain price at the Snowsports Swap; the ever reliable bag of lollies and coffee at the Drama and Music performances; an enjoyable weekend watching crews at the Barwon River, and I cherished the celebration of our girls’ success at the 1920s inspired Jazz Evening, the annual Celebration of Sport Breakfast, Rowing Presentation Evening and Snowsports Dinner.

This year the Music Auxiliary jointly with the Drama Auxiliary has been able to donate to our School much needed staging equipment. The Heyington Club enabled the purchase of a Quad boat, coaching bikes and an ergo for our Rowing program. The Snowsports Swap continues to draw huge crowds, with over 1,500 recycled items of ski gear tagged for the sale. This event is a wonderful demonstration of our commitment to sustainability and invites members of the wider community to St Catherine’s School.

The Old Girls’ Association launch of the Professional Networking Events this year has also very successfully reconnected St Catherine’s women, of different ages and stages of their careers, across the industries of Law, Medicine and Health, Marketing and the Arts. With a relatively tight employment market for tertiary graduates today, there is an increasing need for women to exist within a network that will look out for the St Catherine’s girl and provide employment opportunities through opening a door to a possible interview, or a tap on the shoulder encouraging someone to apply for a position. I have witnessed many students inspired by the engagement, interaction and connection of our Old Girls.

For the Year 12 parents departing our School as current parents, your membership of the Past Parents and Families Network, kindly coordinated by President, Mr Scott Reinke is a highly effective Network that enables the friendships and engagement with St Catherine’s to continue. As I reminded our departing Year 12 students – the gates to St Catherine’s will also be open.

I would like to also personally acknowledge the work of our School Council and Council Sub-committees who generously provide their expertise, stewardship and commitment towards the governance of St Catherine’s School. It has been with much pride that we officially opened the renewed Senior School this year and, as a whole School, we enjoy the wonderful facilities, such as the refurbished Mary Davis Centre.

The hallmark of St Catherine’s programs is the widespread contribution and dedication of our staff. Both teachers and General staff provide valuable behind the scenes support, in particular from Finance, Marketing and Maintenance. This commitment provides every student with an enriching and engaging academic and co-curricular program.

Most importantly, I wish to thank retiring Deputy Principal, Mr Paul Cross, who has been directly involved in the execution of so many community events over the past 10 years. He is often the ‘voice of reason’, the check point for a risk assessment and is always present until the end of every function. As a community, we whole-heartedly acknowledge his commitment and dedication, great faith in the School and wisdom during the course of this time. Thank you Paul.

In closing, I wish to acknowledge the Presidents of each Assocation, Auxiliary and Sub-committee, I do understand many parents attend the AGMs with every intention of sitting on their hands, and can find themselves leaving the meeting with a role and asking themselves – “how did that actually happen?”

PFA President– Mrs Jane Newton-Brown 
Snowsports Auxiliary Co-Presidents – Mrs Jodie Cody and Mrs Sally Joubert 
Sport and Heyington Club President – Ms Louise Lampard 
Drama Auxiliary President – Mrs Rosemary Philip 
Art Action President – Mrs Tamsin Renn 
St Catherine’s Old Girls’ Association President – Mrs Phoebe Norman (Olsen ’95) 
Second Hand books – Mrs Lisa Steven 
St Catherine’s Aquatic President – Mrs Lucy Fortey 
Community Engagement Committee Chair – Ms Becky Hyde 
Past Parents and Families Network President – Mr Scott Reinke
Music Auxiliary President – Ms Nadene Gilmore 
Chair of the Auxiliary – Dr Larissa Roeske 
Chair of Finance – Mr Allan Holmes 
Chair of Building and Property –Mr James Gray 
Chair of School Foundation – Mr Wayne Kent 
Chair of Governance – Mr John Steven 
Chair of Council – Mrs Clare Cannon

For parents, being involved in School life is a great way to demonstrate to your children that you take an interest in their education and relays the positive message that you consider School a worthwhile experience, as is the importance of being part of this community.

I believe this involvement is just as important for adolescents in our Senior School as it is for the young children in our Junior School and ELC. In short: ‘parents’ involvement’ matters for today’s children.

Barbreck Junior School Music Concert 
Congratulations to our Barbreck students and thank you to all staff involved in the production of the Barbreck Junior School Music Concert last night. The many parents, grandparents and family friends in the audience thoroughly enjoyed the evening and we were all immensely proud of the children.

The Massed Item at the conclusion of the evening, Follow Your Dreams, involving the Preps through to the Year 6 girls (and teachers) was just fabulous to watch. And who could not love Gecko by The Langley Choir!

The organisation throughout the evening was superb with transitions from one item to the next, brilliantly coordinated – a huge team effort clearly. Our students are fortunate to learn from such experienced professionals and the high standard of performance was a reflection of the expertise within our staff.

Well done, and thank you.

Mrs Michelle Carroll 

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