It has been a delight to welcome back all of our students this week – the energy and excitement around the College grounds is infectious. A very special welcome to our Year 7 students, and to the new students who have joined us in Years 8 to 11.
I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to the new staff who have commenced at the College this year:
- Molly McGuire: Cahill House, English and Humanities Teacher
- Natasha Le Noel: Bruton House, Learning Technologies Leader, Geography and Digital Technologies Teacher
- Mario Gauci: Cahill House, Head of Library, FIONTAR Teacher
- Rebecca Spiteri: Cahill House Leader, Science and Religious Education Teacher
- Daniela Grando: O’Brien House, Italian Teacher
- Daniella Misho: Cunningham House, English and Humanities Teacher
- Giselle Hoath: Cunningham House, Learning Support Officer
- Julia Arena: de Lacy House, Learning Support Officer
- Shellie Murton: Williams House, Sports Administrator
- Lucy Russell: Cunningham House, Performance and Development Leader, Mathematics Teacher
- Reanna Timoney: de Lacy House, Learning Diversity Teacher
- Kelly Milne: Bruton House, College Receptionist
- Loretta Joyce: Williams House, Head of Human Resources
- Jessica Bettinsoli: Italian Language Assistant
Opening School Assembly
Unfortunately, we were unable to gather as a whole school community to welcome in the new year. We did, however, use the wonderful technology we have available to us to run the Student-Led Assembly online. We were privileged to hear from our College Co-Captains about the work they have done with the College Student Leadership Executive in setting the Vision and Mission for their work, and the way they will live and promote our Mary Aikenhead Ministries focus value this year, Hope. We also heard from Mrs Brigitte McDonald, Deputy Principal, about the Student Leadership Review which will take place this year and the Bronntanais o Dhia program, which will recognise and acknowledge students taking advantage of the extensive co-curricular program at St Columba’s. More about this in coming editions of the IONA. Ms Greta Bajada, Head of Learning and Teaching, introduced the College’s new Learn Instructional Model which will guide the work in all classrooms this year. So many exciting developments at the College in 2021.
I also addressed all of the students, and chose to focus on the pervasive and damaging narrative that women are constantly exposed to regarding the value society places on their contribution. The dominant message is that our value lies mainly in how we present ourselves. When we are fed a constant stream of messaging communicating that our main value lies in how we look and what we wear, we risk forgetting about and neglecting those attributes that really matter about ourselves – character, kindness, curiosity, endeavour, compassion, intellect, leadership. These characteristics are not superficial, and speak more loudly and authentically about the type of person we truly are. Using the example of magazine covers marketed directly to young women, I challenged our girls to be super aware of the messages we are being bombarded with – this is what it means to have a critically reflective mindset – to question the status quo, to ask about what is going on in the messaging, to try and understand the deeper meaning of what is being presented to us. We are not mindless consumers but active and informed citizens ready and prepared to raise our voices and to take action against the injustices that we see, especially as we work to re-write the narrative about the place of women in society.
In a book I read recently, the authors suggest that the constant messages that are thrown at us limit and impact “our ability to view gender-based inequalities, imbalances and injustices as unfair”. Instead, we accept that this is how it is. Well it is time to start pushing back.
Our Mary Aikenhead Ministries value this year is Hope – it is probably the value that is the hardest to grasp in terms of what we are called to do in bringing the value to life. Using Jesus as our model of what a truly authentic human life could be, hope arises out of our understanding that from the depths of despair, suffering, and bleakness – such as Jesus’ death – good, truth and beauty prevail; illuminated for us through the resurrection. It is in this hope offered to us, that we know good things are worth fighting for, no matter how difficult the road ahead might seem, and no matter if the impact will be felt directly by us, or in the legacy we leave for those who come after us. This is what we do here at St Columba’s College – we form women in hope knowing, trusting, that this hope will be visited on those who our students will encounter in the future.
This is Mary Aikenhead’s legacy to us – in hope she formed the Sisters of Charity. Women who would go out and be the face of Christ to others in their world of despair. She trusted in God’s providence that the hope her Sisters inspired would be passed on to the generations to come – the gifts of care, generosity, compassion, kindness spreading their wings to make an impact on an ever-widening circle of society. This is what makes us authentic women working to make a difference in the world; a stark contrast to the value of our looks, hair and clothes.