Dear Parents and Carers,
Welcome to the 2022 school year! There was excitement in the air on Monday morning as students greeted friends and shared holiday stories with each other. We welcomed 21 Kindergarten students and 16 other children in Years 1-6 to our St Benedict’s community. We extend a warm welcome to all our new families and look forward to getting to know you and working with you over the coming years.
It has been a wonderful start to the year. Students have been very settled as they transition with enthusiasm into new routines and their learning. Learning experiences have not only centred around curriculum areas, but students have also been unpacking our 5 Ways of Being and learning dispositions and how they guide our behaviour in both our learning and general conduct. Our Kindergarten students have been a joy to watch and interact with, during their first days of ‘big school’. There have been some tired little faces at home time, after a full day of activity and ‘all things new’. I am sure they will appreciate the down time of ‘Kinder rest/assessment day’ on Wednesday in Weeks 1 and 2.
Although the commencement of the school year has not been ideal, with the cancellation of carnivals, excursions and community events in accordance with our current COVID restrictions, everyone seems to have taken it in their stride. We will endeavour to find alternative dates and make other arrangements for some of these events.
There have been a number of staff changes this year; some announced last year and some that occurred over the holiday break. Our Principal, Miss Rachel Smith, has been seconded to St Clare of Assisi for Term 1 which has then meant some other changes. I will be Acting Principal in Rachel’s absence. I thank our community for the many messages of support and encouragement I have received as I take on this new challenge. We welcome Mrs Annie McArthur as Acting Assistant Principal and joint teacher of 5/6 Blue. We are very fortunate to have Mrs McArthur join our community as she brings enthusiasm and a wealth of experience to the role.
In Year 3/4, we welcome Miss Melissa Taglieri (3/4 Gold) and Miss Madison Acton (3/4 Blue). Miss Taglieri has joined us from Marist College Canberra and Miss Acton comes all the way from Canada. These ladies will form a dynamic duo as our middle primary team! We also have a new Music teacher in Mrs Adrienne Cullity, who brings with her extensive experience as a specialist music and band teacher in a number of schools in Adelaide and Canberra. Furthermore, we have a new language teacher. When we were unsuccessful in sourcing an Italian teacher, we embraced the opportunity to have Mrs Bronwyn Jeffery join us to teach Japanese. This change will enable our students to further develop their understanding of the world and different languages and culture. A very experienced language teacher, Mrs Jeffery is excited about sharing her love of Japanese with our students. I know you will join me in welcoming these new staff members to our team and wider St Benedict’s community.
COVID Safety and RAT Tests
I would like to thank parents and carers for your continued support with the COVID safety measures in place, including mask wearing, not entering school grounds (unless signing in/out your child or attending a pre-arranged meeting), social distancing and our altered practices around drop off and pick-up. Thank you also for your patience and support as we handed out our first allocation of the ACT Government supplied Rapid Antigen Tests on Monday afternoon. We have received our second batch of these tests and are currently preparing them for their distribution on Monday next week. The ACT Government’s preference is for parents and carers to collect the tests in a COVID safe way and so we will continue to hand these over to parents/carers at pick up time. I suggest that families administer the tests twice per week. Please notify the front office via email firstname.lastname@example.org if your child’s test is positive.
Class ‘Meet and Greet’
As we are currently unable to gather as a community, we have decided to conduct our ‘Meet and Greet’ evening via MicroSoft Teams meetings for each stage level. In the near future you will be notified of the date/time of these meetings and will then receive an invite to this online gathering. These meetings will provide an opportunity for teachers to give you some introductory information about class operations and learning that will take place. It is also an opportunity for parents and teachers to ‘touch base’. Each stage level meeting will be scheduled on a different day to enable families with more than one child the opportunity to attend all. We look forward to seeing you all online!
Around the Grounds
In the final week of school last year, our Year 5/6 students worked hard on painting a mural on one side of the brick wall in the under-cover area. The students did a fantastic job in brightening and freshening up the space and in doing so, have left their mark on our school for years to come. In the holidays, this mural was then extended to the other side of the wall.
We also had some work done to tidy up our gardens and general spaces, to help prepare our school for the start of the year. All garden beds have been weeded and hedges trimmed. The Discovery Garden area was also tidied and a garden shed erected near the yellow play equipment. We will purchase some shelving for this space so that gardening equipment can be organised and stored near vegetable gardens and the oval. Repairs to the wooden boundary fence will also be completed this weekend.
I would like to thank Mrs Elisabeth Bredeck for her organisation for a large load of free mulch to be delivered to our school. This mulch will be used to top up and reinvigorate all the gardens around the school.
Can you lend a helping hand? The P&F had planned to organise a parent working bee early this term, however due to COVID restrictions this will not be able to occur. In place of this working bee, I invite any parents/families who have an hour or two to spare to ‘sign up’ to spread some mulch at a time that suits them. In this way, we can gradually work away at the task, without having people gathered together. If you are able to volunteer a little time, please contact the Front Office and let them know when (out of school hours) would suit you. Most of these areas have easy access from the oval. Thank you in advance for any assistance you are able to offer.
We have a great year planned and look forward to working with you all in growing our young students to be ‘the best they can be’.
COVID Safety at St Benedict’s
Risk of COVID-19
Through the COMPASS Parent Portal our school will advise you daily when members of our school community test positive to COVID-19. We will inform you of these positive numbers for each cohort (stage group) of students and also staff who may have worked with these groups.
While testing and isolation is no longer mandatory for exposures in school settings, ACT Health has provided advice on testing and isolation recommendations for the community following exposure to COVID-19. If notified about potential exposure, you should consider this information when making decisions for your child and family.
You are reminded that students and staff cannot attend school if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19. These include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell/taste, muscle/joint pains, diarrhoea, nausea/vomiting, extreme tiredness, unexplained chest pain or conjunctivitis (eye infection).
If symptoms occur at any time, students should not attend school and should undertake a Rapid Antigen Test. If the RAT test is positive, you/your child should isolate as someone who has tested positive to COVID-19. If you cannot access a RAT test, you can attend a PCR (nose and throat swab) testing clinic.
Advice and further resources are available on the ACT Health website, including COVID-19 guidelines and fact sheets for People who tested positive or were exposed to COVID-19. Additional resources are also available on the ACT Government website.
The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff are of utmost importance at all times. As such, we will continue to ensure that all necessary health advice is closely followed.
Communication – Compass Parent Portal
Compass is the preferred form of communication. If you are not receiving regular communication, please check the Compass Parent Portal to ensure we have the correct contact details.
The Compass Parent Portal is an essential online portal that allows you to communicate with your child’s school and access up-to-date information. It is also essential in the notification of student absence. Please ensure ALL absences are sent via the Compass Portal. Please also note that St Benedict’s will not be using SMS and Compass Pay as we already have QKr and other established methods for the payment of school fees and camps etc.
Update Parent Information
We ask all parents/carers to ensure we have up to date contact details and family information (address, email, mobile phone number etc). This can be done directly through the COMPASS app when logging in. You can also navigate to the Tools menu (the cog icon, next to the parent name in the top right corner) and select 'Update my Details' from the drop-down menu. When a parent completes this online form, this will trigger an email to the school, so that this contact information can be updated in MAZE.
Below are some quick links for parents:
A few important dates to note for this term are:
31 Jan School resumes K-6
2 Feb Kindergarten rest day + assessments
4 Feb Opening School Mass, 10.00am
5 Feb Confirmation practice, 2pm
8 Feb School Board Meeting, 6pm
9 Feb Kindergarten rest day + assessments
12 Feb Sacrament of Confirmation, 3pm
15 Feb P&F Meeting, 6:30pm
22 Feb Reconciliation prayer night, 6pm
1 Mar Shrove Tuesday
2 Mar Ash Wednesday mass, 12:30pm
4 Mar First Friday mass, 10am
8 Mar School Board Meeting, 6pm
14 Mar Canberra Day Public Holiday
15 Mar P&F Meeting, 6:30pm
21 Mar Harmony Day
23 Mar First Reconciliation, 5:30pm
1 Apr First Friday mass, 10am
5 Apr Holy Week liturgy, 12:30pm
8 Apr Term 1 concludes
Ways of Being awards
All relevant communication and information is sent via Compass and SZapp.
Please log into the relevant Portal or App to view them.
The following note has been sent home this week:
Happy Birthday to the following children who celebrated their special day during the school holidays: Leilah G, Shreyaan G, Mia C, Liam N, Sophia R, Rafael V, Summah M, Madaline Z, Makayla H, Zoe N, Josephine H, Aanaya P, Harry W, Antoni T and Gurasees G. And to these children who celebrate their birthday this week: Alex N, Eva S and Ava W.
If you require uniform items please email the school:
with attention Mrs Hemphill or Mrs Cox with the list of items required. Please include either your telephone number or email address.
We will endeavour to fill your order and reply to you as soon as possilble.
St Benedict's Parish
Fr Rembert Fernando MGL
Fr Baiju Thomas MGL
Onela Iruthayaraj (Parish Secretary)
Masses have recommenced at the usual times. 170 people are able to attend each Mass in person. Please follow social distancing and sanitise before entry. Face masks are no longer mandatory, but encouraged for those 12 years and above. Parishioners are not required to produce evidence of vaccination. Upon entry please sign in using the CBR app, if you are unable to do so please use the sign in sheets that are available. If you are unwell due to immunity issues it is better to stay home.