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Making Time for Celebrating, Gathering and Sharing

NAIDOC Day - connecting people to Country and the Country to people.

Celebrating is an intrinsic element to a healthy community. As families celebrating birthdays and the like are special occasions so too do they add meaning to our lives. For our family celebrating our granddaughter Lily’s third birthday this weekend is something we are all looking forward to. For our ATC community last week we celebrated the official Blessing & Opening on the Middle School Precinct. Once again this was special time for our community as we gathered and shared each other’s company around a special time. Whether it is a birthday or an opening, the celebration is broader than the actual event; for my family it is a time to celebrate the gift of life and joy that Lily regularly brings to our lives and for the Blessing and Opening was also a celebration of the gift that our new school has brought to our wider community. I believe that celebration is about taking time to smell the roses and see beyond the busyness of our regular lives.

This week at Ambrose Treacy College we join with Catholic schools around Queensland to celebrate Catholic Education Week from Sunday 24 July – Saturday 30 July. In Queensland Catholic schools make a significant contribution to the educational landscape. In 2016, there are 299 Catholic schools in Queensland. (193 primary, 74 secondary and 32 P-12 schools). Queensland Catholic schools educate over 146,000 students or about 18.5 per cent of all Queensland students comprising about 60 per cent of students in non-government schools in the state. Nationally there are 1,701 Catholic schools educating 713,000 students. There are more than 17,000 teachers and staff employed in Queensland Catholic schools.

As a Catholic school it is not about being a better school rather it is about being a different school; a school that distinctively and proudly celebrates its Catholicity. As a Catholic school in the Edmund Rice tradition we are called to continue the legacy of the Christian Brothers by calling our community to discipleship and playing an integral part in the evangelising mission of the Catholic Church. Catholic Education Week is an annual event that is held to promote the special ethos of Catholic schools and to highlight the great things that take place in Catholic schools every day. The theme for this year’s celebrations is “Opening Doors in the Year of Mercy”. Catholic education strives to make a difference in the lives of those in our schools and in the wider community by challenging young people to live out the message of Jesus and to reach their full potential as compassionate, contributing, life-giving members of society. Here at ATC we try and live this out through our pillars of learning, leadership and service.

Signum Fidei Breakfast
This week fittingly during Catholic Education week we celebrated with our inaugural SIgnum Fidei Breakfasts. These breakfast events will be held each term to recognise the contributions of a number of our students who continue to live out our values often without fanfare and recognition. The recipients this week were students who are not necessarily the highest achieving students or high profile students. Rather they were selected by teachers as students who typify what we hope all students aspire towards. These students typically are humble students who live out our values by showing everyday leadership in the example that they set for others, work to the best of their ability in class striving for personal excellence and they have demonstrated service through their outreach to others. Our hope is that the students who we recognise at these breakfasts are true signs of faith in our community and are students that might not normally be recognised in the busyness of life here at the College. Our message is simply even if you feel your efforts might not be recognised through our awards structure, your work does not go unnoticed. I would congratulate all the students recognised at our Signum Fidei Breakfast.

NAIDOC Mass and Activities
Somewhat belatedly this week we celebrate NAIDOC Week at the College. NAIDOC Week is traditionally celebrated in the first full week of July and with this falling in our school holiday break we have decided that we will celebrate this important event at the College this week. NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Its origins can be traced to the emergence of Aboriginal groups in the 1920′s which sought to increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians. This week is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique and timeless connection to the land is the special focus and theme of this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations. This year’s theme is Songlines: The Living Narrative of our Nation. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the Dreamtime describes a time when the earth, people and animals were created by our ancestral spiritual beings. They created the rivers, lakes, plants, land formations and living creatures. Dreaming tracks crisscross Australia and trace the journeys of our ancestral spirits as they created the land, animals and lores. These dreaming tracks are sometimes called ‘Songlines’ as they record the travels of these ancestral spirits who ‘sang’ the land into life. These Songlines are recorded in traditional songs, stories, dance and art. They carry significant to knowledge, customs, ceremony and Lore of many Aboriginal nations and Torres Strait Islander language groups. Through learning more about Songlines and how they connect people to Country and the Country to people – we celebrate the rich history and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures – the oldest continuing cultures on the planet. This Friday we will celebrate as a whole school community with a mass in the College Hall at 9.15am. After morning tea year levels from year 4 to 7 have an activity planned to help our students gain a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. I would warmly welcome you to join us for this significant community celebration.

Staff News
I would like to formally welcome Peter Nugent to the College. Peter takes on the role of Business Manager following on from Ben Lawler. The role of Business Manager is a senior leadership role at the College and I am confident that Peter’s experience across a diverse range of industry areas will be a great asset for our community. As is the case with any newcomer to a workplace, Peter is busily getting his head around the nuances of our particular school and getting to know many of our key staff members as well. There will be opportunities to meet Peter as the year continues to unfold. Sadly next week we will say goodbye to one of our school officers, Maria Ejlertsen. Maria’s friendly, caring and supportive work with our Middle school students will be missed and we wish her well with her upcoming study; Maria has been awarded a PhD Scholarship in Educational Sociology at the school of Education at UQ.

With best wishes,
Michael Senior