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Dear Parents and Guardians,

We are racing towards the end of what has been an extremely busy first term. Even in the final two weeks of term we have a number of significant events still to come:
Athletics Day
Caritas Ks walkathon
Interim reports
Parent/teacher interviews

Of course, during the term holidays we celebrate the most important Christian feast on the annual calendar – Easter. I hope that all families, regardless of where they might be on a faith continuum, can take time to reflect over the Easter period on why it is that we celebrate this event as our forbears have done for the last 2,000 years. The death and resurrection of Jesus has forged the course of human history for millions upon millions of believers and non-believers alike for the past two millennia: regardless of our personal faith position, this is a remarkable fact that at the very least demands respectful reflection.

For believers, Easter represents the quintessential core of Christianity in all its variations and manifestations. For Catholics, it is the source of our hope for salvation, for our belief that we can spend eternity with our loving God.

Take time to reflect with your family in your own way this Easter.

Diocesan Conference – school closure days
An important event scheduled for the middle of second term is the Sandhurst Diocesan Conference. This conference will see all staff, including teachers and non-teachers, from all primary and secondary Catholic schools across the Sandhurst diocese come together for two days in Bendigo on May 24 / 25.
Please note that as a result, all Catholic schools across the diocese of Sandhurst, including Galen Catholic College, will be closed for these two days: 24th  & 25th  May 2012.

The theme of the conference is “Re-Imagining the Mission – A Pilgrimage of Faith”.

Because of the importance of this event in the life of Catholic Education in Sandhurst, and because of the fact that school will be closed for these two days,  I have included details below of the major focus points for the conference.

If you have any questions arising from this event please do not hesitate to contact me at the college.

C a t h o l i c   I d e n t i t y
Key Aspects – Social Justice, Inclusion, Tradition, Vocation, Liturgy
The conference will include the exploration of the following and other associated themes:
The history of Catholic Education in Australia and the rich charism and contributions of Religious Orders.
Processes and reflection about defining a lay Charism and the search for vocation in our lives
The findings of research about the Catholicity of our schools and the stages of faith of staff and families.
Reflections about who and how we welcome people into Catholic schools.
Ways in which the prayer, liturgies and rituals of the conference can be built on and developed in school communities in way that are meaningful and relevant.
Exploring further ways to reach out to the poor and disadvantaged beyond our school communities.

A u s t r a l i a n   I d e n t i t y
Key Aspects – Aboriginal Australia, Multiculturalism, Reconciliation   
The conference will include the exploration of the following and other associated themes:
Ways to come to a better appreciation and recognition of Aboriginal traditions and culture.
Celebration of the rich culture of Australia which as been realised since European settlement.
The ongoing awareness of need for reconciliation and justice for Aboriginal people and other cultural groups, especially refugees.
Challenges to recognise what it means to be an Australian in contemporary society.

L e a r n i n g & T e a c h i n g
Key Aspects – Professional Learning Communities, Engaged Learners, Holistic Curriculum
The conference will include the exploration of the following and other associated themes:
The effective utilisation of the open learning spaces.
The building of professional learning communities.
Learning from the research – both academic and action research in our schools.
Contemporary thinking about effective ways to engage students and families in learning.
Effective assessment of, for and as learning.
Conceptualizing holistic curriculum and the place of the Arts in learning.
What does a Catholic curriculum look like in 21st century?
L e a d e r s h i p
Key Aspects – Governance, Collaborative Ministry, Succession
The conference will include the exploration of the following and other associated themes:
Leadership in the context of Church, a baptismal call to ministry at the local Parish.
Ways in which the leadership of students and early career teachers can be nurtured and realised.
Effective school governance including improved understandings about the purpose and functioning of School Boards.
Processes to bring about a deeper understanding of the leadership aspects of being a staff member in a Catholic school.
Parent leadership – imagining new ways into the future.

P a s t o r a l   W e l l b e i n g
Key Aspects – Positive Behaviour (PBIS), Wellness, Parents as Partners.
The conference will include the exploration of the following and other associated themes:
The replacement of punitive measures of behaviour management with Positive Behaviour supports and interventions.
Ways in which parents can be supported in their role & become more engaged in school.
The issues involved with Cyber Safety and increasing awareness of the misuse of communication technologies.
Creation of communities, which build wellness for staff and families.

S t e w a r d s h i p
Key Aspects – Environmental sustainability, Funding, Designs for Learning
The conference will include the exploration of the following and other associated themes:
Increasing awareness of God’s creation and the imperative to be more prudent in our stewardship of the planet.
Being more informed about the funding of Catholic schools and the measures in place for the system to have a political voice.
Design ideas for schools to develop flexible learning spaces.
Creation of a positive future where communities feel they have influence and can make a difference.
Profiles and future planning considerations.

Bernard Neal