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Alpha News, Term 4, Week 4

From the Principal

Reopening and rebuilding has been the most important focus for us all throughout all the lockdown periods. The return to onsite learning recently was welcomed by all. Teachers were thrilled to have students back for face to face learning, while students were more than excited to catch up with their teachers and friends and get back to learning in the classrooms.  Despite the complexity of the staggered start, our parents have been incredibly supportive of this transition and are equally delighted to be able to bring their children back to school.

Our Prep students were the first to return to school, and what better way to celebrate the return than with a birthday surprise for Ms Mikahl Venneri organised by the Prep parents. This included a sketch of the class by Mrs Maria Politis, Grandmother to Olivia Politis. The students were also able to share a pancake breakfast as part of pyjama day in what was a warm return to their class after a long absence.

At the time of writing all year levels have had at least their first opportunity to return to onsite learning and settle into school life again.  The recent announcements that all year levels will return to onsite learning from the 1st November bought us much joy.

When some younger students will barely remember what “real” school is like there has quite rightly been much focus on the broad mental health impacts of school closures and potential gaps in student learning.  We also acknowledge that not all students will immediately thrive on their return to the classroom, with its distractions and attendant social complexities.  What we do know is that children are resilient, adaptive and optimistic; for many, the past 18 moths will have been a formative period of resilience building.

The Health and Wellbeing Team have run many sessions on topics such as Emotional Wellness and re-emerging from lockdown.

As a school we have also put in place extra benchmarking assessments to identify skill gaps for students at all year levels.  These assessments will be paramount in identifying those who may have gaps and those who may need extra tools, tuition or mentoring to catch up to their peers.

Vaccinations 

The evolving government directives around vaccinations has naturally made it difficult for both business owners and the public.  This has led to some of our business partners now taking extra precautions to ensure their venues, staff and businesses are safe and can remain open.  Schools too have strict guidelines about COVID practices and mandated vaccines.  I can report that all of our staff and contractors have received their first vaccine and all of our staff will reach their second vaccine status well before the government deadlines for our sector.  Guidelines put in place by external provides and venues is sure to impact some families who have made the decision to not get any of the available vaccines.  For families who are booked in and awaiting their designated appointment, please continue to send through your child’s vaccination status to our School Nurse, Ms Clare Burns at CBU@ags.vic.edu.au.

Our focus for the rest of this academic year will be to ensure that planned camps, excursions, incursions, Interstate experiential programs and school activities continue alongside the academic program.  Alternative dates or activities have been planned and booked for our school, including dates in 2022.  The Heads of School and I will continue to update year levels as the information becomes relevant.

Good to have everyone back and safe.  Enjoy the Cup long weekend everyone.

Exeat Weekend 

I remind all students and families that Monday and Tuesday 1st and 2nd November are designated holidays for the school. The school will reopen Wednesday 3rd November when all year levels can return to onsite learning.

Staff Movements

The Head of Socrates House, Mr Trevor Adams, will be taking Long Service Leave over the course of the upcoming year and is thus reducing his time on campus. In his absence, I am pleased to announce that Ms Samantha Evangelista will be leading Socrates House in 2022. The transition and handover has already begun and as a House Mentor with great experience and deep knowledge of the students, I am sure Ms Evangelista will perform brilliantly in her new role.

I would also like to extend my congratulations to Mr Andrew Bunton, who has been appointed the new Site Manager for our School. For anyone that has had anything to do with Andrew over the years you will know how efficient and friendly Andrew is to work with. He has taken great pride in his work and our school. Our grounds, buildings and facilities have all benefited from his attention to detail. We all look forward to continuing to work with Andrew into the future.

Dr Vivianne Nikou

School Principal