Dear colleagues, parents and caregivers, and friends of Catholic education
The end of Term Two is just a couple of days away, and as our lives at school, work and home in Western Australia become less and less restricted, looking back on this year so far gives a truly remarkable perspective.
There is much to be grateful for with the COVID-19 situation continuing to improve in our State, to the point where our Catholic schools and colleges not only have students and teachers in classrooms, playgrounds, labs and libraries, but students are able to look forward to camps and enjoy many co-curricular activities again.
I know that schools and staff across our Catholic education system have received wonderful support from parents all year, and from their colleagues, and I thank all of our parents and families for their support of their school communities.
While the pandemic this year has understandably caused anxiety, worry and uncertainty for some students, parents and staff, I am grateful that the response measures have meant that there have not been any student-to-student transmissions of the virus in WA.
Catholic schools will of course continue to monitor the situation and maintain rigorous safety and hygiene practices, to ensure our schools are environments where students are safe, feel safe, and are able to learn and grow with their friends.
I would like to acknowledge the great work done to ensure students have the best possible opportunities in their school experience, especially considering that some activities and important events could not be planned as normal this year.
The Arts in particular are a big part of school life for many of our students, and there have been innovative examples of schools and colleges finding alternative ways to allow students to engage in productions and performances rather than cancelling these activities.
Catholic Arts, whose annual program of events benefits thousands of Catholic school students from across WA, have changed the format of their Angelico Exhibition and Performing Arts Festival to allow students to show their work and perform even where public events are not going ahead.
I would like to also acknowledge the work of those in our school and parish communities who have continued to support the work of Caritas, fundraise for Lifelink and other Catholic agencies, and take direct action to serve those at home and around the world who are marginalised or affected by poverty or injustice.
Pope Francis regularly reminds us that, as Catholics whose actions should be guided by the Gospel, we have a responsibility to seek justice in the world; in recent weeks he has highlighted the need to ensure the protection of refugees, our responsibility to care for “the common home” that is our environment, and declared that “we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form”.
As we approach the holidays, I encourage you, whether you are a leader, an educator or a parent, to reflect on our dual responsibilities of teaching our young people, while listening to and learning from them.
We have a duty to lead lives that demonstrate to our students and children what love, welcome and generosity look like, but we also have the opportunity to be inspired by their perspectives and their passion for creating a better future for themselves and those around them.
I hope that you enjoy the break with loved ones and look forward to continuing our journey together to serve our students in Term Three.
Dr Debra Sayce
Catholic Education Western Australia
(Main image – Students in class at Matthew Gibney Catholic Primary School, High Wycombe)