Reflecting on December 2017 | go to Calendar »

Newsletter - December 2017

1. From The Principal

Dear Families,

Welcome to the final Reflection for the 2017 School Year. We have certainly packed a lot into this year and the final few weeks seem to have been especially busy. It was wonderful to see good attendances at both the Combined Carols and the End of Year Picnic and there was a fantastic community atmosphere at both events.


At the End of Year Picnic we unveiled a memorial stone to Mary-Anne Balmer and all other members of our extended school families who have passed away. This was a project initiated and facilitated by one of our Grade 6 students, Flynn Colyer, and the stone makes a welcome addition to our playground space, sitting as it does at the base of the memorial tree on the bottom yard. My heartfelt thanks to Flynn, on behalf of the community, for his organisation and initiative, including gaining sponsorship from H&R ANZ to cover the costs involved.

There were many great community events this year and I was struck each time by the strength of our school community, the bonds that exist between children and families, and the way people come together to either pitch in or simply participate. My particular thanks go to all of those who coordinated and helped organise social and fundraising events or initiatives, especially Bernadette Montalto, Cass Quilty, Clare Fraser, Connie Cabral, Julia Manickam, Karen Colyer, Karen Evans, Lisa Gatt, Melissa McIntosh, Rebecca Fanelli, Robyn Zwar, and Rose Cosmos, who formed the heart of the P&F for this year (and apologies to anyone I may have inadvertently left off the list). A particular focus of the P&F over the last few years has been fundraising for our playground. We have made an amazing start on our Masterplan and the play spaces have already been vastly transformed with more to come as funds allow.


Behind the scenes there has been an enormous amount of work undertaken by staff to enhance learning and teaching across the school. The literacy and numeracy results in each grade at the end of this year are greatly improved with some children making up to 18 months gain from last year. Our NAPLAN results have also shown that we are making gains over the last two years, especially at the upper end of the school which in the past has been challenging. The work that staff have undertaken has been for the benefit of the children and has been based in the research driven Visible Learning  work of Melbourne University’s Professor John Hattie. All of the professional development that teachers undertake is also referenced against the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) standards to ensure that it is both targeted and rigorous.

Academic standards are not the only thing that has been a focus at St John’s over the course of this year. In speaking to our graduating Grade 6 class this week I reflected on the fact that we turn out well rounded children who leave us with a broad range of skills and the ability to take on a variety of challenges. This is only achieved by working with them in the emotional and spiritual domains, in particular, over the entire time they are with us. While some days this easier than others, the cumulative effect can be seen over time and I believe this is a particular strength of all of our staff members and therefore of our school. By looking at the children at this school as complete human beings, rather than just learning machines, and by setting high standards in all things, we help them to be the very best they can be.


As in other years there are many highlights and celebrations but there are also times of sadness. At the end of the year we say farewell to our Grade 6 students in particular. This is a time of mixed emotions. Sad as we are to say goodbye to these children who we have come to know and care for so well, we are also proud of what they have achieved and hopeful in looking forward to what is next for them. This year we also say farewell to a number of staff, some of whom have chosen to move on to other challenges of their own volition, and others who have come to end of their contracts and have actively sought new opportunities as a result of this reality. At St John’s we come to care deeply for the people who make up our community and I know that many parents and children, not to mention the remaining staff, will miss the departing staff as a result. The staff will also be missed for their energy, enthusiasm  and commitment to the children’s wellbeing and success. On behalf of the school community as a whole I would like to pay tribute to the wonderful contributions that have been made by Bernadette Riley, Brian Booley, Wol Dut, Domonique Heard, Inez Barette, Kath Answerth and Leah Gates over the course of their time with us. There have been many tears shed but, just as our Grade 6s go out in appreciation and hope, so too do our staff members. We have been enriched by their contribution and this legacy will remain.


The Christmas Season is well and truly upon us, both in the secular sense and in the religious and faith sense. The other day I was discussing why this time of the year can bring with it a range of emotions including stress, exhaustion and sadness. My conclusion was that, in Australia, Christmas comes at a time when there is much rushing around to finish things up and meet deadlines prior to both the end of the year and the summer break that so many of us look forward to. This is combined with the rush to ensure that cards are sent, presents and festive food are bought, and friends are visited. Add to these the dread that so many seem to have about having to endure that particular family member over the Christmas pudding and you are presented with a maelstrom of distractions from the essence of the event we are actually supposed to be celebrating.

There is a reason that we wish each other peace and joy at this season. It is because birth, new life and new hope are at its heart. Those of you who are parents, over half of our community, will know first hand the peace and joy that can come from simply holding a newborn child. We are struck with the wonder of creation and the potential contained in this tiny and precious person. When we overlay this feeling with the added wonder that the birth we celebrate at Christmas is that of God among us then our sense of the transcendent is multiplied many times over. Unfortunately it is this that is often lost in the “rush and nervous haste” of our modern lives, especially at this time of year. In order to appreciate the magic of this season we need to take time to stop, breath, and reflect on the mystery that is celebrated in this festival. We need to take the time to look at those around us in this light, people who reflect this mystery of God among us in their own faces and their own lives. We also need to take the time to acknowledge how it is reflected in each one of us too and in the way we contribute to others.

Happy Holidays

In closing for 2017, I thank all of the members of our school community for being part of us and contributing to each other in so many marvelous ways over the course of the year. I thank our parish team lead by Fr Peter for their support and encouragement, or staff for their care and dedication, our parents for their commitment and partnership, and last but never least, our children who give us purpose and allow us to contribute to their lives.

If you are returning to us in 2018 or moving on to new challenges, I wish each of you the blessings of a happy and holy Christmas. Stay safe, whether you are travelling or not, and I look forward to sharing more learning, growth and accomplishments with you when our children return on Tuesday, 30th January 2018.

Respectfully, Daniel

2. From The Parish

Christmas Mass Times at St John’s

Sunday 24th December
Masses for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Italian Mass at 9 am
English and Vietnamese Mass at 10.30 am
(No Vietnamese Mass at 3pm nor English Mass at 5pm)
Masses for Christmas Eve
Family Christmas Eve Mass at 6 pm
Vietnamese Mass at 8 pm
Midnight Mass will be commence with Carols from 11.30 pm

Monday 25th December
Masses for Christmas Day
Italian Mass at 9 am
English and Vietnamese Mass at 10.30 am


Download the latest newsletters from the Parish

Parish Newsletter December 9-10

Parish Newsletter December 16-17

Parish Newsletter December 23-24

Parish Newsletter December 25

3. Holiday Handout from Connecting OT

Our friend, Kate Woods, Occupational Therapist at Connecting OT, has provided some exercises and activities families and children may want to implement over the holiday break. Please click on the link below to find out more.

Holiday Handout – Connecting OT

4. Extra Curricular Noticeboard

5. Community Noticeboard