St Catherine's School, Waverley
An Independent Day and Boarding School for Girls
St Catherine's School, Waverley offers AIEF Scholarships for boarding students.
St Catherine's School, Waverley – 2019 Report
Dr Julie Townsend, Headmistress
2019 has been an exciting year for Indigenous education at St Catherine’s. This year we held our inaugural ‘Charidy’ fundraising event to raise awareness of the Indigenous education program and to increase financial reserves to ensure that it continues to strengthen and grow. The twelve indigenous students, including seven boarders and five day students, are embracing the many different aspects that contribute to school life. We have encouraged all students to embrace learning, to act with integrity, to have the courage to try new things and to rebound from failure. We have challenged them academically and supported their endeavours from sport to service education and leadership. Three new AIEF Scholarship Students have joined the St Catherine’s boarding house this year; Aysha and Alana in Year 8 and Mae in Year 10.
At the core of our commitment to the program are high academic expectations. These students face many academic challenges and those students who need some assistance with curriculum content are assisted through the use of tutors in the boarding house and the expertise of past students who come in weekly. This support has allowed the students to be better prepared for assessments tasks and to build a more positive attitude to learning. Eden, a Dharawal student in Year 10, continues to excel academically and it was wonderful that Alana in her first year has involved herself in debating.
St Catherine’s recognises the important role that sport and service education have in developing an all-round student. Sport develops physicality and builds camaraderie and friendships both inside and outside of the school community. All the students this year have played in one or more school teams enjoying sports such as netball, softball, touch football and basketball. Lailah, a Kamilaroi student in Year 11, continues to chase her dreams through rugby league and this year made the grand final with her All Blacks team. She has also been selected to trial for the very prestigious Tarsha Gale Cup side at the end of the year. Jada in Year 9, a Gurindji student from Darwin, had a hugely successful year in basketball. She was selected to train in the NSW State Performance Program and then selected into the U16 NSW State Team which played at the National Championships in Darwin. It was wonderful for her to be able to play in front of her family. Jada has now been selected into the U18 State Training Squad for next year. Aysha and Kayla will aim for selection to representative netball and soccer teams respectively.
Service education is a key component of our education. In April, Eden and Kayla participated in a two week service education trip to Cambodia. The trip was challenging and the conditions confronting but they both thoroughly enjoyed the experience and gained valuable knowledge about another culture and others who are less fortunate. Mae in Year 10 joined the service trip to Cape York where she had the amazing experience of meeting some remarkable elders and learning more about life in remote communities, and her heritage.
As part of a commitment to working with the local community we have started to build a relationship with the Jarajum College in Redfern. Our girls can have a very powerful role as mentors and role models for these young students. Lailah, Mae, Kayla, Eden and Jada attended a cultural afternoon at the school where they participated in storytelling experiences and their students reciprocated by attending our NAIDOC celebrations. This relationship will hopefully benefit all students and continue into 2020.
The school continues to recognize our Indigenous heritage through celebrations such as the Sorry Day Assembly in May and NAIDOC Week in July. It was exciting to welcome Sally Walker (Heads Liaison Prefect 2005) to Reconciliation Week, and to hear her speak around the 2019 National Reconciliation Week theme, ‘Grounded in Truth Walk Together with Courage’ and how this relates to the La Perouse community. The theme for NAIDOC this year was ‘Voice, Treaty, Truth’. The aim was to raise awareness of the work around the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’ and the opportunity for our First Nations’ people to have a voice in decision-making. It was amazing to be able to welcome Jada’s grandmother Mrs Josie Crashaw who has worked so closely in the area with community groups and who spoke passionately about the need for change. Following Mrs Crawshaw’s speech, the students were entertained with the Walangari and Diramu Aboriginal Dance Group who delivered a Welcome to Country with a smoking ceremony before entertaining us with dance and song. These celebration days are a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate leadership as the students are responsible for the running of the assemblies and events. Kayla and Eden in particular, have shown they possess exceptional public speaking abilities by taking a lead at these events. Eden’s leadership ability has also been recognised by her appointment as a house official for 2020.
As we move into a new decade, we will continue to reflect on and adjust the program to try to achieve the best outcomes for students and their families. We aim to see the program continue to grow in strength and we are committed to fostering our strong relationship with the Nowra and Wreck Bay area, the local community and other independent schools. We have started to develop a network group amongst all the girls’ schools in the Eastern Suburbs and hope the gatherings, which may include cultural activities, will become a regular event each term. These meeting we hope will be a way for students to build relationships and strengthen cultural knowledge. Our Indigenous students are a diverse and dynamic group who are an asset to the school community.