Dear Parents

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection (or prayer), almsgiving (something given in charity to those less fortunate), and fasting. All prepare us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday. We receive the ashes on this day "to humble our hearts and reminds us that life passes away on Earth". Ashes are a symbol of penance made sacramental by the blessing of the Church, and they help us develop a spirit of humility and sacrifice.

The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. They are christened with Holy Water and scented by exposure to incense. Ashes symbolize penance and contrition; they are also a reminder that God is gracious and merciful to those who call on Him with repentant hearts. God's mercy is of utmost importance during the season of Lent, and the Church calls on us to seek that mercy during this time.

Ash Wednesday Mass (Years 3-6) is to be celebrated in the parish of Ss John and Paul with our students from years 3 through 6 attending the 9.00am Parish Mass. From a logistics perspective we need to be well prepared in advance for this. There are some options as to how children physically get to the church and return to school afterwards. Please attend to the permission slips sent home with your child today so that we have an accurate record of the movements of students.

Ash Wednesday Liturgy (Years PP-2) will be celebrated here at school at 11.00am on this day (school hall). This will be a prayer service with the distribution of ashes also taking place at this time. Parents are most welcome to attend.

Parking

I would like to make the following points when it comes to safety around our school.

  1. There are over 400 students enrolled here at Orana with over half of these being seven years of age or under. The habits that these children are developing now and will become entrenched for the future based on what they observe and experience. If they see adults (with or without children) crossing the general car park area in preference to walking on the designated pathways, or worse still, children being led across the same area by an adult, then we must expect that it is only a matter of time before this action is copied by others. Probably no great deal if an adult is present who is more visible to motorists and able to react quickly if required. I am not so optimistic that a five year old, acting impulsively and without thinking of possible dangers will stand as much chance should the worst take place - yet daily a select few have little regard for this safety measure on school grounds.
  2. We roster staff on duty to assist with the departure of students from the school until 3.30pm each day. If you were to delay, even by 5 or 10 minutes the time you pick your child up, the whole process becomes a one-minute exercise. Most days by about 3.20pm the car-park is relatively smooth flowing.
  3. There are designated areas in the school that are no parking areas at certain times of the day. Immediately out the front of the green shed for example is one such area as cars need to move through this area unimpeded by parked vehicles.

Parent Information Sessions

Next Monday the information sessions for Years 3,4,5 and 6 will take place. They serve to ensure that the lines of communication between school and home are established and built upon with important information particular to that class or year level being presented. Each meeting will commence at 6.00pm in the classrooms with an expected finish time no later than 7.00pm. Whilst we see these as being important and that each family should be represented, it is possible for you as parents, to receive a hard copy of the content of these should you not be able to attend.

In-school Tutor Wanted

The school is seeking the services of a qualified person willing and able to support a new student here at school with English tutoring approximately two to three times per week on a short-term contract basis. The person is required to assist the classroom teacher in developing the English language for this student who speaks both Cantonese and Mandarin. Please contact me at school to discuss further.

P&F Meeting

Next Wednesday commencing at 7.00pm is the first P&F Meeting for 2014. All are most welcome to attend. The meeting will be held in the library.

Mathletics Subscription

This year again the school has subscribed to Mathletics for Pre-Primary to Year 6 students. The intention is to offer this interactive, engaging and self-paced tool to classroom teachers and parents to assist students to improve their outcomes in Maths.

The school, by subscribing across these grades, has brought the cost of individual enrolment from $99 to $10 (parental contribution), which will be billed through school fees. I would encourage all parents to give their children access to Mathletics at home. The programme works on Macs and PCs as well as on a free APP on iPads.

It is important to keep in mind that there is no prescribed way to use Mathletics in the classroom and it is only one strategy that teachers use to cover the Maths curriculum. It is not the basis of our Mathematics programme but should be viewed as an additional and complementary strategy that is both engaging and educational. Each classroom will operate differently with its use of Mathletics and it is not appropriate to compare the way it is used within different classrooms.

Swimming Lessons

The beginning of the school year would not be the same without having swimming lessons included early on in the school year. Children from Year 4 to Year 6 are to participate in these lessons to be conducted daily at the Riverton Leisure Centre commencing on Monday 16 February through to Friday 27 February inclusive. Swimming lessons are almost a necessity for children here in WA given our climate, our proximity to the ocean and because of the many backyard swimming pools in existence. No lessons next Wednesday 18 February given as this is Ash Wednesday and not possible for students to attend both.

Assembly (Special Leadership Assembly)

This Friday the year 6 students will be commissioned as school leaders at a special leadership assembly. For this week only the assembly starts at 10.10am followed immediately by a shared morning tea for year 6 students and their families.

Honour certificates will be given to students in the middle and senior classes.

David Barns

Principal