Our Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday, and just like the start of each school year, provides a special time for us to ‘reboot’, to stop, reflect and choose a good life, rather than to simply tumble along driven by random or external forces. Prayer and acts of kindness provide a certain way to God.
I hope that parents appreciated our ‘Welcome Evenings’ of last week to not only meet pastoral teachers, but to listen also to significant expert voices, offering support for parents and students alike for the education year ahead.
For Year 12s, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg delighted his audience with a passionate summary of up-to-date neuroscience research and sensible parenting strategies. For students, the advice was simple: regular sleep patterns (of 9 hours), a sensible (ideally Mediterranean) diet and organised study spaces and times, working in groups where possible and taking breaks every 50 minutes. He suggested that parents support their students with regular meals, a space to study, intermittent snacks and words of encouragement rather than undue nagging. Many were surprised to learn of the additional value of certain foods, eg walnuts, eggs, avocado, yoghurt and blueberries!
Sylvia Wellenger from the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and based on the Victorian Government’s eSmart strategy, outlined the power of communication within the home as key to ensuring positive cyber experiences for students in Years 8 & 9. She strongly recommended iParent produced by the eSafety Commissioner of Victoria. This resource provides a wealth of strategies, information and links for parents and is available here and on the Mater Christi College website. As agreed when signing our MCC Acceptable Use of Technology Agreement, she reminded students to THINK before they use social media: T= is it true, H = is it helpful, I = is it inspiring, N = is it necessary and K = is it kind.
Finally, Melinda Tankard-Reist, renowned media commentator and advocate for women and girls, highlighted the challenges for girls within our everyday environment when females are consistently undervalued through sexist images and discriminatory practices in advertising, computer games, clothing and toys. She entreated the students in Years 10 & 11 to be respectful of their bodies, to reject the ‘one-perfect-body-size’ image projected across the media and to seek help if they are stuck in negative body images of their own.
Along similar lines of wisdom from the experts, Faith & Liturgy Captain, Corrinne Carlyon presented her ‘take’ on the Good Samaritan message at last week’s Year 7 Reflection Day. Her message here demonstrates succinctly our Benedictine advice to include views from all, since ‘it is often to the younger that the Lord reveals what is better.’(RB 3:3)
As we gear up for the season of Lent, I think Corinne’s message provides a great starting point, for students and adults alike, especially to support Project Compassion.
Mary Fitz-Gerald, Principal