Principal's Report

11 June 2015

Dear Parents and Guardians,

It’s time for a break

The mid-year break is a terrific opportunity for us all to stop and to reassess our goals for 2015. As adults, we hopefully find the moments for personal reflection relatively easy to mark and engage in. Our teens however, need guidance and support to examine their lives in an objective way, and to make new goals for improvement and growth. These holidays, make sure you find time to sit with each of your children, and discuss how the year has gone so far, and what they would like to change for the second half of the year. They might need your help to set up some new routines, to have a difficult conversation with someone important, or to think about whatever new possibilities are out there. 

When the brain has an opportunity to switch off from the regular routines, it opens itself to new ideas and possibilities – we all know that feeling that sometimes during our holidays our mind suddenly becomes more playful and optimistic. How can you help your teenager to tap into this, so that their holidays become more than just a break from school? Research tells us that as a society, we’re losing our ability to "switch off". Modelling the need and practice of having a proper break from the regular routines and pressures of life is an important way of building this practice in your children, and for their mental and physical health, it is one of the most important gifts you can give them.  Even if you can’t take a break at this time, how can you help your child to recognise the preciousness of relaxing and "switching off"? 

The new social media

Every six months or so, a new set of social media sites make their way onto the market.  At the moment, the Big 3: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, show no sign of losing their pre-eminence, but some of the new sites are gaining traction. Some are set up in such a way that users can post comments and images while remaining anonymous. The strength of these sites is that users believe they can make controversial or defamatory remarks without accepting responsibility for their words. Our experience at ACK is that some students take this anonymity for a level of protection, and like other schools, we have had to sift through a maze of "he said-she said" conversations to try to understand and respond to what are usually, normal teenage relationship woes, wrapped up in high-level abuse and defamation. 

It constantly surprises us that our teens are still ridiculously innocent of the legal ramifications of some of the online conversations they have. There are many, otherwise good and respectful young adults, who, once sitting in front of their keyboard or phone, become menacing, arrogant and despicable creatures.

I am raising this in our bulletin because we are increasingly finding that parents/guardians are completely unaware of their child’s language and tone in online sites, and frequently deny their possible involvement until confronted with the truth. I strongly encourage all parents to have regular conversations with their teens about the kind of respectful online communication that they expect from them.  Just as you would have expectations of the way that they speak to people in the real world (and correct them when necessary). It is important to communicate that this is equally as important in the virtual world. Indeed, it is perhaps even more so, since online communications can be saved, passed around and shown to unintended recipients in ways that the spoken word cannot.

I do not think it will be too long before we see reports of teenagers being charged for their inappropriate, deceptive, and even bullying online behaviours. The more we can do to reinforce to our teens that their reputation is built on and offline, the more hope we can have that their future relationships and career prospects will not be damaged by any immature decisions they may make online.

Data Collection

Each year we are asked to provide information to the Federal Government about the kinds of interventions we undertake for students with special needs. Click on the document below for an explanation of this collection. If you have any questions please contact Barbara Radford:

 ‘Let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no"’

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus offers his followers a piece of advice that means as much today as it did then: essentially, Jesus tells the disciples that there’s no benefit in making promises you can’t keep, but instead, we need to ensure that when we commit to something, we give it 100% of our effort. In the same breath, he gives us permission to say "no".  In this, the message is clearly that we cannot do everything, and that we need to discern where our energy and thoughts are best spent.  If we give proper time to prayerful discernment of all the commitments in our life, including our commitment to God’s ways, then we can truthfully say that our "yes" means "yes" and our "no" means "no", without letting others down, or thinking that we need to be superheroes.

Loving God, you know us better than we know ourselves. When we are stretched thin or feeling inadequate, help us to have the courage and the conviction to let our "yes" mean "yes", and our "no" mean "no".  Amen.

Peace and Blessings

Kate Fogarty