Christmas Letter from the Principal

I wish you and your families a safe and joyous Christmas break and I am excited about the new opportunities and challenges that await us on our return. May you all have a very happy, safe and Blessed Christmas and New Year.

Dear Parents and Merici College Community,

2017 has been a significant year in the life of Merici College. #UnitedinHope was our theme and focus for the year and started on the very first day of the term when staff gathered to prepare for the semester ahead and begin with a prayer about hope. This quote from Pope Francis was used “Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others”. Hope is the promise that there is something more after the darkness, it is a shared optimism and most importantly is tied to action that is delivered through loving service to others.

This Term has seen a number of services and celebrations for the students in their different year groups. Year 12 students attended a moving Graduation Mass and Awards Ceremony at St Christopher’s Cathedral and we have also had a wonderful celebration with students and their families at the Formal held at the National Museum, it was a magnificent night ending with a rousing rendition of the College Song! We had a beautiful Advent Mass for Year 7 to 10 student, with a special Award Ceremony following for our Year 10 students who had just completed a week of service in our community. The year ended, as it usually does, with a great concert and disco.

As we farewell the 2017 school year, I would like to thank our students for their accomplishments. At the start of the year I challenged the students to work hard, achieve their best and aspire to make positive changes in our community. I congratulate all our students on fulfilling this challenge. Through our academic programs, as well as cultural and co-curricular areas, we have seen so many achievements in all Year groups. From Science, to Maths, English, Sport, Hospitality and Co-curricular, students have excelled and received many awards.  In addition, our NAPLAN results show growth and improvement in the areas of Numeracy, Reading and Writing.

Culturally, we have witnessed compassion and Christian service from our students out in our community helping the less fortunate through their involvement in our Christian Service Program and Social Justice events, as well as our inaugural Immersion Experience in Lombadina. Our Houses have continued their important work raising much needed funds for their charities and our Bridge Benefit Dinner was very successful with over $11,000 raised for a machine that assists in the diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis in the Neonatal Clinic at the Canberra Hospital.

We are very proud to be ranked as one of Australia’s top Innovative Schools for 2017 in the Educator Magazine which has recognised our Sustainability/Healthy Canteen/Kitchen Garden Program. We also successfully completed our registration as a College and look forward to the next five years.

I thank all our students for continuing to strive in the footsteps of St Angela Merici and look forward to continuing our journey together in 2018. We also celebrate our ATAR results and VET achievements. For our graduands, the foundations are set, go out now and strive to fulfil your goals and build futures more wondrous than you dare to dream.

Our Improvement Plan for 2018 includes the following targets and aspirations:

Identity and Faith Formation

  • Continue to refine the Christian Service Learning program for all students on a local, national and global stage, incorporating the International Baccalaureate CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) core area.
  • Embed CSYMA (Catholic Schools Youth Ministry Australia) practices into the life of the College.

Teaching and Learning

  • Implement and prepare as a Candidate school for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Years.
  • Explore and consolidate a model for differentiation and enrichment which is embraced and embedded in practice by all staff in accordance with the Principles of Powerful Learning and in alignment with the principles, philosophy and methods of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
  • Identify programs for students identified as gifted and talented, including preparation for the International Baccalaureate TOK (Theories of Knowledge) and Extended Essay core areas.

Pastoral Care and Well-being in our Community

  • Explore additional opportunities for the participation and engagement of parents and carers.
  • Expand the alumni and engage them in preparing for the 60th Anniversary celebrations.
  • Explore and develop a Marketing Action Plan that contains strategies and opportunities to promote the many benefits the College has to offer potential students.

Leadership and Professional Practice

  • Develop a whole school Professional Learning Plan to provide high-quality professional development that builds staff capacity through workshops and resources designed to strengthen individual teaching practice regarding the principles, philosophy and methods of International Baccalaureate.

Strategic Resourcing

  • Complete Stage 1 of the Master Plan and refurbish buildings and facilities to reinforce best practice in teaching and contemporary learning.

This will bring us to the end of the 2016-2018 Strategic Plan. Which will mean that a focus in 2018 will be to create a new plan for 2019-2021.

To my staff, I thank you for your support and constant care of our students. As several staff are moving to promotional positions, retiring, looking forward to new horizons, moving interstate or retiring and one going on maternity leave, I would like to personally thank you for your professionalism and commitment to educating our young ladies and contributing to the life of Merici College.  I wish you an abundance of happiness and peace in all you do in the future. 

To our parents and carers, I value the partnership we share in educating your daughters and thank you for your support. I appreciated your warm words and encouraging emails.

We are looking forward to 2018, the Year of Youth, with building renovations being completed in Science and the Auditorium, progression in our International Baccalaureate Diploma Years candidacy, our dedicated bus service to areas of South Canberra being launched and many exciting new programs and offerings in the curriculum and extra-curricular area.

The 2018 school year will begin for Years 7, 11 and 12 on Monday, 5 February and for Years 8, 9 and 10 on Tuesday, 6 February. During the week prior to this, staff professional learning, new staff orientation, and staff planning will take place. 

Finally, a Christmas message. I found great inspiration this year from my Year 7 Religious Education class who shared with me the many special traditions they share with their families at Christmas time. It was a joyous time to share those moments and memories that they hold dear. From food to singing, gift giving to games and decorations to prayers. They talked about Midnight Mass or Youth Masses where they are able to play a special part in recalling and celebrating the birth of Jesus. It is these moments in life that they will remember forever and will hopefully become a part of what your daughters do for their future families and friends. I told them about my travelling Wise Men (who move from room to room) and the special moment we place baby Jesus in our nativity scene on Christmas morning. I wish you all a time of peace and joy with your family and friends this Christmas – make great memories, you are never too old to celebrate Christmas.

To those students moving on from Merici College, I wish you every success and blessing for the future. If the move isn’t what you thought it would be, you are always welcome to return to Merici. For those coming back in 2018, I wish you and your families a safe and joyous Christmas break and I am excited about the new opportunities and challenges that await us on our return. May you all have a very happy, safe and Blessed Christmas and New Year.

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