What A Term! So Many Opportunities – Jennifer Oaten

As I pause in the calm of my office, the College is now quiet, with students gone for the holidays and staff completing parent interviews. I reflect on what has been an intense term. The start of an academic year always brings a mix of expectancy and excitement for both students and staff. As I look back on the past nine weeks, I am so grateful for who we are as a community and what we have achieved. Through the dedication of our staff and the enthusiasm of our students, we have established new connections, immersed ourselves in opportunities and worked through challenges. I am pleased to share some reflections on the term with you.

Our Strategic Pillar of Faith saw many opportunities for students and staff to develop a deeper understanding of their faith. Our Opening Mass, overlooking the river, focused on our Mercy value of Hospitality, weekly Masses and Rosaries, and our Easter Liturgy provided opportunities for our Ministry Team to lead the way in ensuring we connect faith to the daily lives of students.

Our Diversity and Inclusion Strategy has also been developing through the work of our Diversity Committee with the next step being to seek feedback from students. Harmony Day highlighted cultural diversity, ensuring we are creating an environment where each student feels valued, a key focus of our strategy.

With a focus on raising funds in Term 1 for Project Compassion and Caritas, we raised awareness and funds to contribute to the $11,000 raised for those in need.

Our blog, Faithful Connectivity: Navigating the Digital Landscape with Our Catholic Values, has helped us blend our Catholic principles with the digital era, promoting kindness and ethical online conduct. Additionally, Upholding Catholic Teaching and the Legacy of Mercy has underscored the significance of faith in education, encouraging active involvement in the faith journey for both students and parents.

Our commitment to our Catholic teachings and values aims to create a community where they are not only understood but also practised every day in order to provide a strong foundation of faith that supports every aspect of our students’ lives.

Term 1 has been filled with activities linked to our Strategic Pillar of Learning for Life. Our students have engaged in various enriching experiences that expanded knowledge and skillsets, sparked interest and nurtured potential.

The Year 5 visit to the Gingin Gravity Discovery Centre ignited curiosity about the universe. They were also very excited when they received their new laptops and learned about staying safe online.

Our Year 7 camp participants embraced adventures that challenged them and built resilience, independence, and unity. At the same time, back at school, the rest of the cohort developed an understanding of friendships, how they change, and how to navigate these changes.

The Da Vinci Decathlon tested our sharp minds across disciplines under the ‘Utopia’ theme, showcasing the power of teamwork and intellectual exploration.

The collaborative exploration in the Australian Dance Theatre Workshop encouraged creativity among our dance students. In contrast, others challenged themselves at the Inspiring Women in STEM Year 9 Coding Excursion, which sparked an interest in technology and coding.

The UniReady Program paved new paths to higher education, displaying our dedication to equipping students with the skills and knowledge for the future while our Year 10 students were challenged with confronting road crash stories and scenes at the RAC bStreetsmart.

This year’s Artist in Residence promoted creativity and the development of artistic talents, while the Biology Camp and Geographers Wheatbelt expedition provided case study and fieldwork opportunities.

Year 12 leaders shone at our Swimming Carnival and Running Festival while others presented research on the survival rate of seedlings planted by our Eco-sisters to politicians, scientists, and Rotarians, and other Year 12s developed their surfing skills during the Outdoor Education expedition to Margaret River.

Many students engaged in our Music programs, the big event being Rock Ya Socks Off, showcasing the bravery, skill and commitment our students have to ensure this event was one to remember.

A highlight of the term was our College Production, The Three Musketeers, showcasing the confidence, dedication and talents of 63 of our Performing Arts students. This modern-day version showcases the strength of women when they come together and support each other.

Learning for staff focused on artificial intelligence, their knowledge, skill, and confidence to use these platforms not only in their own work but also in the work of their students. This has led to much work on principles of use and review of assessments.

Together, these experiences reflect our commitment to instilling a passion for lifelong learning, ensuring our students and staff are well-prepared to navigate the complexities of the world with confidence and imagination.

Our pursuit of Social Innovation reflects our dedication to positively impacting the community. The Future Leadership Conference focused on empowering young women with the essential tools and mindset for effective and compassionate leadership, laying the foundation for students to become catalysts for change.

International Women’s Day celebrated the successes of women; it also reminded us how we can all promote inclusion in the workplace and at school for all women and all people.

Our commitment to sustainability was reinforced with the installation of solar panels. This demonstrates our efforts to reduce our environmental impact while educating students on the importance of renewable energy.

Our Young Mercies Cook-Ups demonstrated our community’s generosity, with the students preparing and donating food to those in need, reinforcing our values of compassion and service.

These initiatives, among others, enhanced students’ learning experiences and bolstered our determination to make a positive contribution to society, embodying the essence of our Strategic pillar of Social Innovation.

It has been a dynamic period filled with activities that genuinely brought our Strategic Pillar of Community Activation to life. From the very successful Years 5 & 6 Father-Daughter Camp, where over 100 girls and their fathers shared bonding experiences like archery and bike riding, to the vibrant atmosphere of the 2024 Parent Sundowner, which brought together over 600 community members despite the heat, showcasing the spirit of our community.

The 2024 Alumni Reunion was a testament to the connections and sense of belonging nurtured at Santa Maria as alumni rekindled old friendships and reminisced about their time at the College.

Each event underscores our commitment to fostering strong, supportive, and engaged community relationships, highlighting the significance of coming together to celebrate, support, and uplift one another. It has been a term filled with joy, reinforcing our values and setting a positive tone for the year.

The first term at Santa Maria has been exceptional for our boarding community, with a strong emphasis on cultivating closer connections among all-year groups. Our dedicated team, under the guidance of our Director of Boarding, House Mothers, Head Boarder and Deputy Head Boarder, has been outstanding, going above and beyond to ensure the younger students feel welcomed and settled. They have orchestrated a variety of enjoyable activities – from pool parties and BBQs to talent showcases with plans underway for a beautiful boarding mural and a vegetable garden.

Encouraging participation in events strengthens our boarding families’ bonds. The commitment of our leaders shines as we remain focused on creating a warm, inclusive environment where every girl feels supported and connected.

Reflecting on an eventful Term 1 at Santa Maria, it is clear that each initiative, activity, and event played a pivotal role in enriching the lives of our students, staff, and community. From fostering a passion for learning and innovation in Learning for Life to embodying the spirit of change in Social Innovation and strengthening our community ties through Community Activation, every moment was a step towards fulfilling our mission of Faith.

The unwavering dedication of our students, staff, and families has been the driving force behind the success of this term, proving that together, we can achieve remarkable things.

As we look forward to the next term, we carry with us the lessons learned, the joys shared, and the bonds formed, ready to continue our journey of growth, leadership, and service.

the Winter Appeal and Outreach Mass at Santa Maria College.

Term 2 – Empowering Students and Community – Jennifer Oaten

As we conclude another remarkable term at Santa Maria College, we celebrate the myriad achievements and growth of our students. Term 2 was filled with empowering opportunities, from faith-based activities and learning innovations to social awareness projects and community engagements, embodying our Mercy values and commitment to excellence.

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