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From the Principal

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Please spare a thought for those who have genuinely suffered as a result of the recent floods. At least one Galen family has been flooded out and is facing a difficult period of recovery.
What a huge impact the recent extreme weather has had on all our lives! It comes as a firm reminder of our need to be resilient, to be adaptable and to make contingencies because often times there are things that lie way outside our power to influence, the weather being one! Recent events have reminded of a great Woody Allen line: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
Our plans for last Thursday are a good case in point. I was scheduled to be in Bendigo to be part of the ceremony installing our new Bishop Les Tomlinson; half of Year 8 were to be enjoying the middle day of the their three-day camp; Years 7 & 10 students were scheduled to have injections; some PE classes were to be away at the pool for the swimming program and the rest of the school was to run normal classes. By 9.15 am, all this was thrown to the wind after receiving notification from the High School that they had recalled the school buses in order to evacuate their school by 9:30 for fear that if they waited until any later in the day, the buses may not be able to get students home at all.
This is an extremely rare event: in 35 years of working in Catholic schools, this is the first time I have experienced such a situation. Some long-term Galen staff recall a time in the early 1990s when something similar occurred – but that is a long time between events!
In the space of a few minutes, the whole routine of the school had to turn to addressing the logistics of evacuating 1,000 students, ensuring the safe return to school of those on excursions or off-campus for other matters, notifying around 800 parents of our intentions to send the students home, and monitoring the escalating dangers associated with the extreme weather.
Because of the short time-frame imposed upon us by circumstances, the staff was faced with a monumental task. In the end, however, all students were safely evacuated (including bus and non-bus travellers) and we had sent communications via phone, email, website and local radio. Students were safely brought back to school from Harrietville and the pool, and then evacuated. Of course, for very understandable reasons, it was impossible to make direct contact with every parent or to know that the messages we sent had been successfully received and read– eg parents out on the farm, out of phone contact, away from a computer, etc.
As with all major Galen events, we will be reviewing our procedures to identify what worked well and what could have worked better. As part of this process, we will also be meeting with representatives from the High School and other schools to see how the whole process can be made as effective as possible for future reference.
As it happened, the situation eased sufficiently for school to go ahead as normal the next day with only the Yarrawonga bus not running. I congratulate those who had to go to some additional effort to get their children to school on Friday. It was disappointing to note the number of students who were absent on Friday, especially in light of the widespread radio, phone messaging, email and website information indicating that school was open as usual for Friday.

Opening Mass
Our Opening Mass for 2012 will be held in the Galen stadium on Tuesday 13 March starting at 10.00am. The Mass will be celebrated by Monsignor John White, Parish Priest of Wangaratta and the Canonical Administrator of Galen Catholic College.  Parents are warmly invited to attend the Mass which has the theme “To be seen, to be blessed”.

Swimming Sports
Congratulations to all those students who participated in the Swimming Sports and to those parents who supported the event by being there. Special thanks go the Parents Association executive for providing the BBQ on the night.
We will be reviewing the Swimming Sports as part of our regular review processes. This will include a review of the twilight format and of the optional nature of the sports. We will keep you informed of the outcome of this review.

From the Board
The Galen Catholic College Board held our first meeting last week. The major points of focus were around keeping the Board members informed of major educational topics – eg the Gonski Review–and on formulating the next Strategic Plan. We also examined enrolment trends over the past 25 years at Galen and continued our work in exploring a range of demographic data available to us.

Staffing news
Please note that we have a number of staff movements in the coming weeks due to a combination of long service leave and maternity leave. Of particular note are the following:
Gretta Norden and Kylie Girolami have commenced maternity leave already; Kylie Fulford will commence maternity leave from 15/3; Mieka Staley will commence maternity leave from 28/4.
Keith Willett will take long service leave for all of second term. His role as Director of Middle School will be jointly covered by the two Middle school Year Level Co-ordinators, Liz Morrow and James Bourke: Liz and James will also continue in their existing co-ordination roles but with additional time to carry out the extra duties of Director.
Jess Laslett, our Publications & Promotions Officer, will be leaving Galen at the end of first term to travel the world. She will be replaced in this role by existing staff member, Mal Webster.
Bernard Neal
Principal