At the heart of Catholic education is the opportunity for every student, staff and community member to engage with the Catholic tradition, through intentional learning, ongoing dialogue and a range of formative experiences, so that they can live full and purposeful lives.
The start of the school year is always a mix of excitement, anticipation and nervous energy, but it is especially so for the children and their families who are commencing school for the first time. For the children, the first days and months of school are full of changes, and everyone reacts differently.
There is a new physical environment, new rules and procedures to learn, new friendships to develop, and more formal and structured learning experiences. There are new oversized uniforms to wear, seemingly giant backpacks to balance and manoeuver, and a world of wonder, awe and challenge that needs to be explored.
I hope that, for all of the students commencing in Reception this year in our Catholic schools, the experience is one that encourages their love of learning and instils in them great hope, both for their futures and for the future of our world.
For families, I know from my own experiences that the first day of school is a significant, emotion-charged milestone. While there is excitement for all of the amazing opportunities that lie ahead, this is tempered somewhat by feelings of pride and anxiety, and the heart-tugging question of ‘Where have those first five years gone?’ I know that the transition to school can sometimes be even more challenging for families than it is for children, and I wish to thank families for choosing a Catholic education for their children, and for entering into a wonderful educational partnership with the leaders and staff who work in our Catholic schools.
I am reminded, too, that new beginnings are not just for Reception children!
Every new year level is a different experience for all children and an opportunity to make new friends and set new goals. For families, we hope that our children will continue to thrive and that, this year, we will be even more patient and supportive than we were last year. Similarly, each new school year is an opportunity for our staff, whether new or returning, to learn more about the children and young people in their care, and to help them grow as learners, as people and as leaders. I hope that 2018 is a successful school year for all of our 46,000 students and their families, and for all of our 6500 staff.
It seems that we have only just finished celebrating the outcomes for our 2017 Year 12 young people, where entire school communities have been able to proclaim that all students achieved their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE). During these first few weeks of Term 1, an important celebration and rite of passage will occur at each of our secondary schools, during which our schools will recognise the excellent academic outcomes of the Class of 2017.
As another year starts, the next cohort of young people will engage with the exciting opportunities for learning that their SACE studies offer, including vocational learning. Parents of students in Catholic schools can have a high level of confidence that their child will be well prepared for the final year of schooling, further study and work. Just as importantly, as parents we can be assured that, through a Catholic education, our children will engage with curricular and pedagogy that will equip them to be more self-aware, skilled in critical thinking and willing and able to take their place in society as leaders for change in the world.
Blessings to all who belong to Catholic Education in South Australia, and may 2018 truly be the Year of Youth, where we acknowledge and celebrate the importance and life-giving presence of young people in the Church and in our society.
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