A message from the Principal, Maureen Ryan was delivered by Maureen at the Annual General Meeting of the NSW Sacre Coeur Association on Thursday, 14 October.
We began 2021 with much optimism, while keeping in mind the importance of maintaining a COVID safe environment at KRB. Our Sacred Heart Goal “A Personal and Active Faith in God” emphasised the importance of active engagement in our faith and in our relationships with others. We were delighted to welcome our boarders back to KRB and at the same time were mindful of our international boarders were not able to return home over the break, and who stayed with guardians in Australia. Some of our boarders have been away from home for over eighteen months, and have shown great strength and determination to succeed in their studies.
In following COVID restrictions, which stated we are not able to welcome parents and guardians on campus for school events at the beginning of the year, we continued to create virtual events to include family and friends. The parent class representatives really demonstrated a wonderful sense of community in organising off campus events for each year group, as a means of connecting with current and new families.
As first term progressed, we saw the lifting of COVID restrictions, more opportunities for our young people to engage more fully in their sport, debating, music and other co-curricular life of the School. We were delighted to be able to celebrate Procession of the Lanterns and Sacred Heart Day in Term Two.
We also saw parents back at the School initially at the Year 6 Student Leadership Ceremony and then two dinners for new families who started in 2020, and one for those who began in 2021. We were also pleased to celebrate mothers and their children at our Mothers’ Day events.
We were so happy these restrictions eased in time for us to attend the magnificent showcasing of Matilda. All involved in this outstanding production are to be commended and we were proud of their individual and collective resilience, as this performance took two years to come to life, due to COVID in 2020.
We were delighted that the Sacre Coeur Association was able to celebrate International Women’s Day in Term Two, with a panel of alumnae and a current parent. The webinar provided an opportunity to celebrate women’s ability to pivot when life’s challenges are faced, and to show how important those moments in one’s life can be, to growing and developing character and perspective.
This year has also focused on the important issue of Consent, and the petition that followed the article by Chanel Contos. As a staff, we have spent considerable time listening to each other and trying to determine the best way to move forward to address some of these issues and we have also involved students, alumnae, parents and staff in these discussions. We will be making a number of changes to our curriculum and continuing to involve all members of the KRB community in these discussions. I have been impressed by the honesty and commitment of our young alumnae, who wish to facilitate change and who support us in the best ways we can deal with these issues. It is only when we work together and have open and honest discussion and feedback that we can make change that will benefit all young people in the future. I have also appreciated the work of the Sacre Coeur Association and Georgina Senes’ collaboration with other schools, to look at the best ways to deal with this issue.
The values of care for other remain at the heart of KRB and have been exemplified in many areas. They include The “Cut Curls for Cancer” event where a group of 40 students cut at least 20cm of their hair for to raise money for cancer research. It’s wonderful to see so many of our students participate in such a worthy cause and highlights the values that we cherish here in a Sacred Heart School.
We were able to successfully implement our learning and teaching and wellbeing strategies and continue to provide an outstanding remote learning platform, when NSW went into lockdown at the beginning of Term Three. The staff worked tirelessly to provide the best quality remote learning possible for all our students. Feedback from parents and students has helped us to continue to assess the quality of our remote learning and we adjusted our programs throughout the term to better it. This is continuing and we will have all students and staff back on campus by 25 October. I am so proud of our students who have kept motivated, engaged and contributed to their learning throughout last term and the beginning of this one.
Our Year 12 students have had a very different final two years than they would have ever imagined. They have had to respond to many challenges, including sitting for their HSC assessment trials remotely and then learning that their HSC exams had been postponed until 8 November. We were pleased to celebrate their final day of Term Three, which would have been their Vale day, on 17 September, where every student, including those in regional NSW and interstate, were sent a lunch and a red rose, so they could celebrate together, albeit from home. We shared a very moving video prepared for the girls by staff and students from each year group, celebrating their time and contribution to the School and all that they mean to us. We look forward to their return to campus next week and we will celebrate their Vale Mass/Liturgy and Graduation Ceremony in the School Chapel on Thursday 2 December, followed by lunch with their parents at Doltone House.
As we move forward and while we have been dealing with issues relating to COVID, we continue to look at the best ways that we can continue to provide a quality education for all our students. We are deeply fortunate that we belong to a network of sister schools – 150 schools across 42 different countries. This enables us to really educate our young people with a globalised mindset and to that end we formed a new position and appointed Sarah Daff as Director of Global Citizenship & Education. Sarah is examining the School’s global learning and development and look at ways we can enhance this. We will be working with our international sister schools to learn from each other. We will also be building a program of study – around ‘social entrepreneurship’. This program will be provided by an external international provider – like Oxford University, so the students graduate with an additional certificate that will help prepare them to shape the world from where they are at.
The Bursary Fund continues to grow with over $8million in the Fund and we have six students on named scholarships – the Alison Stephen, Margaret Kirkpatrick, three in the name of Sister Philomene Tiernan, two of which have been generously provided by Denise Dunphy for boarding students and the Mary Shanahan rscj OAM scholarship for a day student. We are so grateful to our current and past parents and alumnae who have supported the Sister Tiernan and the Sister Shanahan Scholarships and as well continue to give to the Bursary Fund. Next year we will be welcoming four new boarders to KRB as recipients of the named scholarships. A day student who is currently in Year 10, has been awarded the Mary Shanahan rscj OAM scholarship. It is becoming more important than ever to offer financial support to country families and this is occurring in boarding schools all over Australia. Boarders create a richness and diversity to our school, and we are committed to continue to offer this opportunity to as many boarders as possible.