A MESSAGE FROM OUR PRINCIPAL

With the start of this third week of the season of Advent, we are halfway to Christmas.

So, as we prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ and for the second coming of the Lord, we light three candles, including a special one of a different colour.

Lighting the lighter-coloured candle this week is a sign that what was dark is getting brighter, and joy is on its way. We can hardly wait to rejoice and sing at Christmas. We know that the wonder of the season tends to push all our sadness and sorrow away, so we start to feel that special feeling already.

The prophet Isaiah, in this third week of Advent, recalls for us what that joy is like. Feeling God in our lives lifts our spirits. St. Paul reminds us to pray, to be Holy and to not let anything quench our joyous spirit.

 

Dear Parents, Carer’s and Friends of Bethany,

Welcome to the final newsletter of 2020, a year that we will never forget, hopefully not because of adversity but for what we have learned by being thrown into new circumstances so quickly and new situations with unknown pathways or time limits.

Throughout the year, it has been heartening to see so many girls show resilience in coping with changes to routines at school, assessment variations for remote learning and for hardship experienced in family life. I thank each girl for her effort this year and for her sense of compassion which is needed as part of a Catholic community for embracing reduced social routines in respect for the greater good of society. We indeed have valuable lessons to hold onto as we look towards next year.

Today is our final day of lessons for students, with Year 7 – 10 Zoom Parent Interviews to be held on Monday and Tuesday. On our final day, it was wonderful to affirm students whose efforts and achievements have been acknowledged at our Semester 2 Academic Awards ceremony today. Having read all College reports over the last week, I can see the progress made by so many students. For those students who have experienced growth in their progress, I congratulate each of you. The holidays are a time once the Christmas season is over and the girls are well rested, to set new goals and standards to reach. Conversations at home about progress are fruitful as all that we ask of each girl is to work towards her best and not worry about the results of other students.

We also officially closed off our Academic Year with Mass today. As Fr Janusz continues to recover from recent surgery, I thank Fr George who is the Administrator at St Michael’s for being so generous with his time for celebrating Mass with us today and in past weeks. Whilst it is disappointing that we cannot sing at Mass, the messages in prayer today were inspirational and linked to the preparation for our Saviour in the coming weeks.

Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

The end of the Academic Year signals some staff finishing up their time at the College. This year we farewell four extraordinary educators who will be retiring – Mrs. Robyn Allan, Mrs. Wendy Munro, Mrs. Peta Fitzgerald and Dr. Lynette Trent. Amongst these four inspirational educators is over 150 years of teaching, much of which has been with Catholic Schools and indeed Bethany. Each of these ladies leave Bethany with a heavy heart yet all the better for being part of our wider family. Through various conversations, I know that it is with some sadness that they have made the decision to retire, alongside the excitement of having more time to spend with family and on their own interests. On behalf of the entire Bethany community, we thank you Robyn, Wendy, Peta and Lynette for the thousands of lessons that you have delivered, on the genuine warmth with which you taught and for inspiring thousands of students to make a difference. We will truly miss each of you.

Best wishes for 2021 to Mrs. Moroney who will be on maternity leave as she awaits the birth of her first child.

After 23 years at Bethany, we wish every happiness to Mrs. Rachael Colreavy who will leave us to continue with her teaching career at another Catholic School. Rachael has had a diverse role at the College and she is known for her creativity and enthusiasm in the classroom. We wish Rachael success at her new school.

We also farewell the following staff who have been on short term contracts with us – Miss Marie Challita, Mr. Scott Rynberg, Miss Irena Jajcevic, Miss Perrin Jones, Mrs. Ramonda Dib, Mrs. Lisa Kekatos, Mr. Dane Scerri. We hope your time at Bethany has been rewarding and we thank you for your wonderful service.

I would like to pay particular tribute to a few parents who have given great service to the Parents and Friends Committee and unfortunately, we have not been able to meet since Term 1. These three ladies have attended numerous meetings, supported the leadership of the College and have been creative in their support for fundraising. Thank you to Jane Gleeson, Sonia Bennett and Raquel Spratt. Each of these ladies have daughters who graduated in 2020 and thus they will be leaving us. The support and encouragement from parents to a school is invaluable and I hope that we can have more parents show an interest in our meetings next year when hopefully they can return.

In 2021, we will be moving to a 5 period day timetable with lessons being 1 hour in length. The reason for this is to deepen learning at the College by having fewer changeover times and movement around an ever increasing student population. This will mean some changes to the school day as listed below:

Monday – Wednesday, Friday Thursday (Sport Day)
Warning Bell: 8.40  Warning Bell: 8.40
Homeroom: 8.45 – 9.00 Homeroom: 8.45 – 9.00
Period 1: 9.00 – 10.00 Period 1: 9.00 – 10.00
Period 2:  10.00 – 11.00 Period 2:  10.00 – 11.00
Recess: 11.00 – 11.30 Recess: 11.00 – 11.30
Period 3: 11.30 – 12.30 Period 3: 11.30 – 12.30
Period 4: 12.30 – 1.30  Lunch: 12.30 – 1.00
Lunch: 1.30 – 2.00 Period 4: 1.00 – 2.00 (Sport Years 7 – 10)
Period 5: 2.00 – 3.00 Period 5: 2.00 – 3.00 (Sport Years 7 – 10)

As you can see by these changes, our school day finishes 3 minutes later. There will be no changes to the current school special bus arrangements. The main change for us all to adjust to is that we will increase the recess break to 30 minutes but decrease the lunch break to 30 minutes. Most Sydney Catholic Schools have been operating on this model for a number of years. Crucial to learning is a healthy diet. Our meal break times will be later and I encourage students to have a decent breakfast before coming to school each day. Our canteen will treat each meal break as equal and will have equivalent meals available at recess and lunch breaks to accommodate these changes.

Finally, I wish every family a Merry Christmas and hope that you can truly find time for Christ in Christmas. May the holiday break be one of peace, hope, joy and good health. I thank you for your support in 2021 and thank the staff for their unwavering attention keeping abreast of changes and their dedication to trying to cater for each girl in the school to meet her needs. We may not always get it right but I can attest to us trying to cater for your needs as well as your daughter’s. After a restful break, I look forward to seeing you all, hopefully in person in 2021.

 

Robyn Rodwell

College Principal