Reflecting on Welcome to 2018 | go to Calendar »

Newsletter - Welcome to 2018

1. From The Principal

Dear Families,

A warm welcome back to St John’s for the 2018 school year. Although our year is only a month down we are already into the Season of Lent with its emphasis on personal growth through reflection on those relationships and areas of our lives that may not be working as well as we would like. At St John’s this fits in well with our approach at the start of the year that emphasises our school expectations and classroom norms, which are firmly based in getting along well with each other, being good custodians of our school, and bringing a growth mindset to our learning. A Lenten reflection used at a recent staff meeting, and picking up on some of these themes,is shared below – parents may wish to use this themselves and reflect using the imagery presented.

I Will Turn
(a daily prayer for Lent)

Lord, I will turn,
Turn my face towards you.
I will lay before you the desert areas I hide
And turn to soak in your refreshing words of life.
I will cast aside the barren, selfish pursuits
And turn to rest in the tranquil warmth of your love.
I will draw back from the harsh pull of media
And turn to bathe in the gentle power of your Spirit.
Lord, today I turn my face towards you.

I will turn
To soak in your words of life,
To rest in the warmth of your love,
And to bathe in the power of your Spirit.

(a Lenten prayer poem by Julie Palmer © 2018

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Parent Engagement and Student Success

As we approach this year we are conscious of the need for greater engagement with our parent community. To this end the school’s leadership team are exploring a package available through Catholic Education Melbourne that will enable a targeted approach in this area. I have already been in conversation with our Regional Principal Consultant at CEM around facilitating the first of three or four parent forums and will be sending more details home about this shortly, please keep an eye on note pockets in the next couple of weeks.

One of the aspects I will be planning to share with parents at this event is the efforts we have been making to improve the learning outcomes of all children across the school, and the resulting success we have had. Although we continue to work hard at improvements, we have long been proud of the preparedness of our Grade 6 leavers for secondary school. It is pleasing to hear stories about former students who are experiencing success at secondary school and in their adult life. At the end of last year I was particularly pleased to note that three of our former girls – Mattea Spielrein, Angela D’Souza and Ella Boag – were listed in the top 24 High Achievers at the Academy of Mary Immaculate in a year that saw 28% of their VCE students achieve ATAR scores of over 90. This is a wonderful credit to the girls themselves and an achievement that our small school community can also take pride in as the formation school.

Many of last year’s Grade 6 leavers have made brief visits to the school in this past month to check in with their teachers and past classmates. I am pleased to advise that all seem to be settling in well so far and that they are coping quite well with the demands that secondary school life brings. We look forward to seeing and hearing more of them over the course of this year.


All classes have now had information meetings with parents. The grades 4 to 6 students were involved in their group meeting and were able to share their initial learning goals with their parents while parents of children in prep through grade 3 were invited to one on one meetings so that teachers could discuss specific learning needs. Our teachers are very happy to speak to parents at any time about concerns that may arise and have shared their email addresses with everyone to enable this process. If you have missed this information then the teachers can also be contacted through our website at: There is a pull down menu on this page that enables you to contact any of the staff.


The State Government have recently released revised guidelines about student absences. Schools are now required to contact parents as soon as possible on the day a student is absent unless we have heard from the parents first. If your child is away from school for any reason, please send a quick email to their teacher and the school office or give us a quick phone call to let us know that they are away with your knowledge and the reason why, this will avoid us having to disturb your day and avoid unnecessary concerns about health and safety.

Student Leadership

It was my very great pleasure to be in attendance this past week as the Grade 6 students presented their leadership speeches to their peers from Grade 3 up. Listening to them I was struck by the depth of understanding that the children brought to what leadership actually is. It was very clear that the notion of leadership as service of others rather than self aggrandisement is something that is firmly entrenched in our school. The speeches were in turns humorous, witty, well structured and, above all, very clear on what the various roles would ask of the successful candidate in terms of attitude and values. I congratulate all of our senior students and trust that we are off to a great start for the year.

While I personally would like to have given specific roles to all the candidates, this is not possible. The students who had the difficult task of electing the Grade 6 leaders may have felt the same way, but it was clear to me that great attention was paid, not only to what the Grade 6s had to say, but also to previous examples of care and leadership they had shown. Thanks and congratulations go to all of the Grade 6s but we especially congratulate: SRC President, Meija; Social Justice Captain, Emily; Environment Captain, Isabella; Arts Captain, Allegra; Bosco House Captain, Jack; Aikenhead House Captain, Gus; Harman House Captain, Bianca; O’Connell House Captain, Monty; and joint School Captains, Ollie and Laura.

Congratulations also goes to the elected Student Representatives from across the school who make up the body of our SRC: Sofia G, Annie, Matilda T, Marie-Claire, Katherine, Xavier, Thomas M, Charlotte Mc, and Ned. These students will work with Meija and Ann Nolan to discuss a range of issues affecting the children and will be an important vehicle for student voice within the school.

Grade 5 and 6 Canberra Camp

It was fantastic to see all of the grade 5s and 6s here so early on Tuesday morning and in such good spirits ready for the long journey to our nation’s capital. I am pleased to report that they arrived safely and commenced a jam packed schedule today. The school blog has been updated with some of their adventures so parents are encouraged to check this out and see what they are up to. We look forward to seeing them back with us on Friday evening and to reading some of their recounts in the next monthly reflection.

Deepest Sympathy

I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to Christiaan and Jennifer Jacobs-Vandegeer on the passing of Christiaan’s father Alfred “Fred” Ferdinand Vandegeer, age 68, of Independence, Kentucky, who died on Thursday, January 25, 2018. Fred was the much loved grandfather of Joseph, Luke and Edith. As a community our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon him.

Year 7 in 2020

Students in Grade 5 this year will need to enrol in Catholic Secondary Schools this year. The dates below are set by Catholic Education Melbourne but may vary from school to school so it is worth checking with the individual schools.

Friday 17 August 2018 – Closing date for applications to Catholic schools
Friday 31 August 2018 – Catholic schools exchange lists of applicants
Friday 14 September 2018 – Catholic schools exchange lists of offers
Friday 19 October 2018 – Offers of places to prospective students are posted
Friday 2 November 2018 – Final date for acceptance of offers made

Until next time, respectfully,

Daniel 🙂 


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