Opening School Liturgy
Despite COVID restrictions, last week we held a beautiful outdoor liturgy and leadership ceremony that the whole school was present for. The liturgy was ‘in the round’ meaning we were seated around the sacred space, rather than the more formal ‘out the front’ focal space. There was a gentle breeze in the air, reflective music drifting across the space and special words spoken and absorbed. It was a lovely way to start a school year and centre everyone in faith.
Why are liturgies like this so important?
Liturgy celebrated well helps us grow in holiness, builds up the body of Christ and gives glory to God. What could be more important?
As a leadership team we will read, meet and discuss what the change in COVID regulations will look like for our school and share this with you over the next couple of weeks.
What we do know at this stage is that:
- Visitors to school sites can attend regardless of vaccination status. Note: anyone working on a school site, including volunteers, contractors, and external providers, is still required by the Public Health Order to meet vaccination requirements.
- All visitors only need to sign in with the Compass Kiosk in the office foyer area, not the QR codes
- The canteen can serve the children over the counter, providing we have enough registered volunteers.
- Staff and students do not have to be wear masks from Monday 7th March, though if people would prefer to do so, that is acceptable.
We will recommence our regular Monday morning assemblies that involve the band and whole school singing, where parents are welcome to attend, from Monday 7th March. We ask that this coming Monday you allow us the time to work out where we will position everyone so that they are once again together but still taking into consideration safe practices and working with the band to find a new location for them and to have a practice in front of everyone as well as teach the children, particularly the younger ones, what happens at assembly, when they stand and sit, what direction they face etc. We look forward to you joining us for these assemblies, especially for those of you who will experience this for the first time.
Save the Date: Monday March 7th Parents Return to School Assemblies
We will send home the final allocation of RATS over the next couple of weeks. In total, you will have 8 tests per child including what you have picked up this week. Remember, if your child has had COVID in the last 28 days they are not required to undertake a RAT. Any positive results, RAT or PCR, need to be shared with the school as well as with NSW Health.
With the easing of restrictions we will be able to have volunteers to assist with activities such as excursions, carnivals, canteen, uniform shop and classroom activities. If you would like to volunteer you need to register for this by completing the following process, which has been streamlined this year.
What you need to do:
- Watch diocesan video about volunteers (this hasn’t yet been completed, so we will share the link at a later stage once it is finished)
- Go to Volunteer Registration Form
There is no longer any need to print off and complete any forms that are in the Volunteer Policy or the Code of Conduct resource that are included on this page.
- Answer the questions, then you will receive an email explaining about the police check with Verify Now. Complete this process.
- A WHS induction including school site specific information is to then take place. We will offer this via a quick Teams meeting with you, so that we can do all volunteers at the one time rather than individual visits.
- Once we have been informed that your police check has come back, we are able to enlist your services. We have been told this process can take up to 3 weeks and our experience last year was that it was even longer. So, if you think you might like to volunteer for something this year, even if is just one activity, we strongly encourage you to start the registration process as soon as possible.
Don’t forget to complete your contact details and expression of interest regarding being a class parent using this form. We would love it if you could do this by next Thursday 3rd March.
Thank you for assisting us to implement our uniform policy regarding school shoes. It appears the visual images in the letter shared with you last week are proving to be helpful. The staff have really appreciated the increased communication where parents have taken a minute or two out of their time to inform the teachers of the reason why their children are not in uniform. We ask that you continue to do this throughout the year if the situation calls for it.
Ms Emily Butler will be joining our community next week as our Creative Arts teacher – Music, Dance and Drama. We are so excited about this as Emily has some brilliant activities planned for all grades and I am sure you will be hearing great things regarding what is happening up in the Music Room.
Year 1 Gold
As announced at the recent Parent Information evening, Mrs Felicity Peart will remain on leave for the rest of this term and Miss Emilia Flaherty will continue to teach the class fulltime.
Year 2 Gold
Mrs Joanne Standing will be leaving us for the remainder of this year to take up a temporary position at Holy Spirit Primary School in Kurri. Jo will be the new Learning Support Teacher there for Terms 2-4. Her last day with us will be next Friday 4th March. We wish Jo all the best and look forward to hearing how she is enjoying the new location and role. Her replacement will be Ms Chloe Murray, who will work with Mrs Delore. Chloe has been a regular casual with this us nearly every day this year, so the children are familiar with her, and she has become familiar with our routines and practices. We welcome Chloe to our St Joseph’s community.
Social Emotional Development
The pandemic affected the lives and social-emotional (SE) experiences of every student to some extent. Along with the unprecedented closures of schools virtually all social activities ceased. Students were cut off from their teachers and there were few opportunities to see friends and family in person or engage in extracurricular activities. What schools are noticing is that after two years of this, students’ social and emotional skills seem to have been impacted.
What this looks like is: children who are unable to work through relatively simple friendship issues, children who are perhaps less tolerant of their peers or less considerate of others’ feelings, children having shorter fuses than normal or being ‘over emotional’ and crying, withdrawing or being more aggressive than usual.
Schools were able to continue academic learning over this time however children’s social emotional development was not able to be attended to in the same way, due to the very nature of what it is and the isolation practices taking place in society.
“Social-emotional development” is the broad set of competencies and skills that support student success in school and in life, such as persistence, self-awareness, skillful communication and collaboration with peers, and self-regulation. SE Learning is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.
As a result of this impact we plan on not only incidentally working with your children on SE Development but through specific practices such as our regular PBL lessons, Kids Hotline connection, specific programs for certain age groups such as Friendship Saver and Bullying No Way! Lesson sequences. We hope this helps to improve students’ social-emotional learning and help us meet students’ mental health needs. All children and young people need opportunities for social-emotional learning and development. Just as physical education promotes healthy lifestyle choices with long-term health benefits, social-emotional learning helps students build foundational skills to navigate life, such as self-knowledge, resilience, and collaborative problem-solving. We look forward to seeing and hearing our children confidently and respectfully talk with peers, in an age-appropriate manner, in the playground to sort out issues they may be having; knowing when it is time to seek the support or help of an adult; seeing them display increased tolerance for one another, especially those who are different to them; and being less reactionary.
We will share resources with you that we hope you find useful in helping you to further your understanding and skills in this area also. Together we can form a cohesive system of support at home and at school for all children.
Beginning of New School Year Liturgy
Last week, we celebrated the beginning of the school year and prayed for God’s blessing for the year ahead. At the end of the liturgy, we inducted our Student Leaders for 2022. Congratulations to our Student Leaders who were presented with their badges. It was wonderful to see the parents and family of these student leaders join us to take part in this very special ritual.
It was lovely and heartwarming to receive these kind words from one of the parents who was present at this ceremony:
“It is with a big heart and a few words that I would like to thank you for this morning's Opening Liturgy... a pure moment of grace, created by a beautiful setting, by a crowd of listening children, by inspiring prayers and reflections, and by lots of smiles. Thank you.
Thank you for making St Joseph's Liturgies so special that they touch our hearts.”
A child’s catholic faith journey began with the Sacrament of Baptism and continues by the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation, Confirmation and First Eucharist. The preparations for these sacraments in the Inner Newcastle Parish run between February and June of every year and is designed for children going into Year, 4, 5 or 6 in 2022. Preparations are done as a family with online activities and volunteer work within the community. Enrolments are now open for the 2022 program. If you are interested in being a part of the program this year please visit the parish website and complete the online enrolment form.
For more information please contact the office on 49791101 or email@example.com
During Lent we are invited into prayer to renew and refocus our relationship with God, with ourselves and others, so we can fully celebrate the Paschal Mystery and live life to the full.
The theme of Project Compassion 2022 is ‘For All Future Generations’ and reminds us that the good that we do today will extend and impact the lives of generations to come. It invites us to make the world a better place by working together now and finding longterm solutions to global issues. We encourage you to put your compassion into action this Lent through your prayer, fasting and almsgiving by supporting Project Compassion.
On Shrove Tuesday, we will gather in our classrooms to launch our school activities with a design competition. Each class winner will receive a pancake mix to make at home with their family.
Our SJSJ team will be having a DVD sale on Tuesday. Children can buy one for a gold coin donation.
Contributions towards Project Compassion can be made via QKR throughout the Lenten season.
In conversation with your loved ones discuss the following questions:
- What memories do you have about Project Compassion?
- As a Catholic Church, why is it important to support Project Compassion?
- What does the 2022 theme mean to you?
- Share a story you can remember from your childhood that you have passed on to the next generation or one that your parents have told you from when they were a child?
- What is a story you remember or have experienced with your grandparents?
- Share a message you would like to pass onto the next generation.
Each week we encourage you to watch the videos from each of the communities that Caritas is supporting in 2022 and reflect on how we can support those in the program and within our local community. To learn how our Diocese is continuing on our synodal journey this Lent, click here
Watch Anatercia's story
Social Justice Statement – CRY OF THE EARTH, CRY OF THE POOR
In the 2021-2022 Social Justice Statement Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor, Pope Francis reminds us that encounter, dialogue, and listening with an open heart enable God’s transforming love to move more powerfully in the world. Artists are invited to create a work based on the themes found in the Social Justice Statement.
Works can be 2 or 3 dimensional no larger than 1 x 1 metres. Name, title of work, school, parish and phone number need to be clearly labelled on the back.
This information, plus a 150 word (maximum) artist statement, must accompany the work and be emailed before 29 April through to firstname.lastname@example.org
Delivered to Catholic Schools Office reception, 841 Hunter St, Newcastle West 2302
Exhibition date: Saturday May 14 Location: TBA Time: 2pm– 5pm
Categories: Stage 3, Stage 4, Stage 5, Stage 6, Adult. $150 prize for the winning entry in each Category.
Understanding Change, Loss and Grief
This seminar is an educational experience, so the activities are designed to be objective rather than tap into Participants personal stories of loss and grief.
This session will provide you with an opportunity to:
- Examine the meaning of grief
- Review the range of changes and losses experienced in life
- Explore grief reactions and factors that influence them
- Identify different styles of grieving
- Explore strategies of empowerment, including the role of choice in the grief journey and the importance of networks of support
Date: Saturday March 12 Time: 9am-12pm Venue: Diocesan Office, Toohey Room, Newcastle RSVP: by March 1 to email@example.com or 0408 895 951
2 March - Ash Wednesday Liturgy in classes
Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL)
This fortnight our schoolwide PBL focus has been Be Respectful: Include Others.
On the playground staff are keeping an eye out on how students are including others as they are playing. In the classroom students are learning about the definition of ‘inclusion’ and ‘exclusion’ and having discussions about the associated feelings connected with each of these. It is reinforced for students that including others is important because we
- celebrate everyone’s differences (their individuality)
- display kindness as we are empowered when we care for others
- want to be ‘shepherds not sheep’ (idea of not following the crowd)
- if we notice exclusion it is each of our responsibility to do something about it
Please take the opportunity at home to discuss how we can all be inclusive with your child.
It is great to see the excitement students are displaying around the Dash tokens so far this year! Our first mid-term final count is going to take place at the end of next week. The winning sport colour house will enjoy a special reward.
The school, across K-6, is subscribed to Typing Tournament. By completing fun quests, this resource is used to teach students how to type using all 10 fingers. We know that typing is a life skill that students require, even at this early age. With NAPLAN moving online as well as other assessments, typing skills should not have to be a barrier to their level of achievement. St Joseph’s is a Bring Your Own Device school for students in Years 4-6 and typing skills are needed across all subject areas. This resource is used as a lesson break at school. However, if the opportunity arises, we encourage students to complete more activities at home. Students have been given information with their username and password at school. Maybe there are a couple of times during the week where students can practise at home? For more information, click here.
Bus Safety Week
Bus Safety Week runs from Monday 21 - Sunday 27 February. This week acts as a reminder to families to discuss road and bus safety practices.
Some of the key messages from Transport NSW include:
- If your child catches the bus to or from school, remind them to always wait until the bus has gone before choosing a safe place to cross the road. Keep our children safe. They’re counting on you.
- Lights flash on the back of buses to warn motorists that they’re picking up or dropping off school children. Slow down to 40 kilometres per hour when the lights on buses are flashing. Keep our children safe. They’re counting on you.
- Always supervise your child and hold their hand when walking to and from the bus stop or interchange and when crossing the road until they are at least 10 years of age
- Always meet your child on the same side of the road as the bus stop – never call your child across the road
- Encourage your child to take a seat quickly when they get on the bus and to buckle up if the bus has seatbelts
- Motorists may not expect to see, or find it difficult to see, a child crossing the road at an informal bus stop.
If you would like further information regarding bus safety for school students, you can access the Transport NSW brochure online
What a wonderful and busy start we have had to the year. It is so lovely to be back amongst our beautiful school grounds. I’m looking forward to a fun year ahead with lots of cultural activities and celebrations.
Recently I met our new Kindergarten students and I can’t wait to spend more time with our newest little people!
As we ease back into school life- I have been working with our Indigenous students at St Joseph’s. Together, we looked at artwork by Aboriginal artist Michael Nelson Jagamara who is of the Anangu people of the desert. We talked about how the traditional Anangu people “painted” in sand long before the permanent materials that are used by today’s contemporary artists. Their stories were inscribed into the earth and these images were danced on then left to the elements.
Drawing inspiration from the traditional practices of the Anangu people, students gathered natural materials around our school to create their own artworks that represent ‘their story’. We discussed how the purpose of our artwork is not to look good (although they did), but to share information with each other- as traditional Aboriginal peoples have done for thousands of years.
Check out these awesome stories!
Grace – “My Story”
The round wood represents my cousins. The big rocks are the big people in my life- my brother, sister, mum and dad. The leaves are my aunties and uncles. The sticks are the special people in my family who I love a lot.
Alice “My Story”
The medium rocks are my family – Dad, Mum, and my brother and sister. They are also my dog who died and our little budgies. The sticks are all of us in the group. The two big rocks are there to look good.
William “My Story”
The rocks with the pebbles inside is from when I went on holidays. We were camping and we cooked marshmallows on the campfire. The other circle is my family, and we are cooking marshmallows
Patrick – “My Story”
The five stones represent my mum, dad, my sister Lexi, my sister Josie and me. The small pebbles inside represent the life we have so far. The sticks are Grandpa, Grandma, Poppa John and Nana. The people I have friendships with are the leaves. Some of them stay, some of them go.
Ellery – “My Story”
Mum is the stick because she is big and strong, and my dad is the rock. We are in a sandpit so babies can’t get out and the mums can look after them. Some of the rocks are the door so the babies can’t get out.
Lewis – “My Story”
My artwork is everyone cuddling. We have a good life with each other and we appreciate all they give us.
National Apology Day - 13th February 2022
We at St Joseph’s Merewether recognise National Apology Day recently held on Sunday 13th February.
This event marks the anniversary of the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous peoples in the House of Representatives on 13 February 2008 by former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, apologising for past laws, policies and practices that have impacted on Australia’s First Nations Peoples, particularly members of the Stolen Generations.
Many members of the Stolen Generations were present in the Chamber to hear the Apology, including our own Aunty Chris who visited our school last year.
Over several decades, roughly one in five First Nations children were taken from their families between 1910 and 1970, countless communities broken up, and cultures forcibly suppressed.
The motion was supported by the Opposition and passed through both houses of Parliament. With this, finally the wrongs of the Stolen Generations were not only acknowledged by the government but apologised for.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teacher
Remi, our school support dog in training, has been working hard in classrooms over the past 2 weeks to gain the skills required to become certified. Kelly from Kaysadale Farm once again visited to check on Remi’s progress and teach the learning support team new skills in training and handling. Over the next month Remi will be working on the command “leave it” and we will be having some fun with games to help her gain this skill. Remi has nailed the commands “on your mat”, “sit” and “down” but we will continue to reward her with her favourite treats so that she continues to improve. The PDF file below provides some more information on Remi and the training she is receiving. Remi loves the training but as you can see, she also loves to listen to the children read.
Diocesan Swimming Carnival
On Tuesday, 22nd February, 2022 we had 16 talented swimmers from St Joseph’s represent our school at the Diocesan Swimming Carnival at Lambton Pool. The children were competitive, they demonstrated sportsmanship and raced like champions. St Joseph’s received some wonderful results in the pool and each child should feel enormously proud of their efforts.
Please congratulate the following swimmers for their participation and efforts: Evan B, Joseph C, Harrison C, Luke C, Archie D, Jacob F, Ava K, Ava K, Vincent M, Sidney M, Lewis M, Katharina M, Adelaide M, Audrey O, Alexandra S and Hannah W.
Please also congratulate the following students who have now made it to the next stage – Polding: Ava K, Ava K, Adelaide M, Katie M, Harrison C, Luke C, Archie D, Sidney M and Jacob F
Winter Sports Trials
The Central Regional Winter Sports trials for cricket, soccer and netball were held on Thursday 17th and Friday 18th February across Newcastle. Several enthusiastic and skilled students from St Joseph’s were selected to participate in these trials. At this stage, I have been notified about the following successful competitors who will now move through to the next stage of selection, representing themselves and our school at the Diocesan trials. They include
Netball - Mabel H
Tennis - Harry H
Touch - Callum V, Mason V, Aurelia F and Edward M
AFL Girls - Aurelia F
AFL Boys - Elliot M, Callum V, Mason V, Jacob F and Theo S
Cricket - Isaac M and Mason V
Rugby League - Edward M, Sidney M, Callum V and Harry H
Rugby Union - Hugh M, Edward M, Luca W, Max L, Spencer S and Sidney M
Please note: there will be no Regional trials this year for AFL, Rugby League and Rugby Union. Selected players will progress straight to Diocesan. Parents for all sports progressing through to Diocesan are to set up an account and register through csnsw.sport. Students have been notified if they have been selected for Dio.
The yearly Cross Country event will take place this term with the date yet to be confirmed. Students will have the opportunity to train for this event during their PE lessons, however, it would be wonderful to also encourage your children to train for this event outside of school. Further information regarding Cross Country will be provided in the upcoming weeks. Please see the information below for times and distances.
|Age Group||Distance||Qualifying Time|
|8, 9 & 10yr boys||2klm||11 mins|
|8, 9 & 10 yr girls||2klm||13 mins|
|11 & 12 yr boys||3klm||14 mins|
|11 & 12 yr girls||3klm||16 mins|
Premier’s Reading Challenge 2022
The challenge for 2022 begins on 28th February. We challenge every student at St Joseph’s to complete the PRC challenge. Students in Kinder to Year 2 experience 30 books from a list.
Students in Year 3 -6 read 20 books from the challenge list. The challenge finishes in August. More details, with student logon and passwords will be sent home in the next few weeks.
Please visit the Premier's Reading Challenge website for full lists.
Due to circumstances beyond our control we are pleased to be able to send home 2021 PRC Certificates this week.
For obvious reasons our school musical was unable to proceed in Term 3 last year, however with hope in our hearts we're forging on and have rescheduled the performances for Week 5 Term 3 this year. Please mark this down in your calendar.
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