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I’m sure many parents will be relieved we now have some certainty around when students can return to school, following the Victorian Premier’s announcement this morning.
We are delighted to be able to welcome back Prep, Years 1-2 and our Years 10–12 students on Tuesday 26 May.
Due to the large numbers of Year 10 students who are studying a VCE subject, we have also decided that all of our Year 10s will be able to return on this same date. Remaining year levels – Years 3-9 – will come back on Tuesday 9 June. Children in Years 3-9 who are eligible to attend our on-campus blended program may continue to do so until all students return on 9 June.
Today’s announcement was fantastic news and a credit to all Victorians who have followed our State of Emergency and avoided the tragic outcomes seen in other parts of the world. My thanks is extended to governments and the front line health workers who have led us through to this stage. We all know this is not over and we need to move cautiously forward.
We certainly have missed the vibrant energy of the student population and it will be great to see many more happy young faces back at the College.
We all acknowledge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world. While we are fortunate to live in a country that enjoys an outstanding health system, there is no denying that the impact on our community has been significant.
Many people have lost their employment and our society is widely impacted by the government restrictions. It is very strange to have a College without students and staff. To implement social distancing as a key priority is very different to the usual priorities of normal school life.
I can see a positive future with the recent optimistic messages coming from our Prime Minister, Premier and Chief Medical Officers.
Beaconhills College is a community school and our Christian values of integrity, compassion and respect have featured strongly during this time. Our goal is to support all those in need and build on the strong community values that have underpinned our local and international service programs for many years.
Now our community is suffering and this is where we are centring our efforts.
We know it is a very unusual time and all schools are asking families to supervise their children in home learning programs. I wish to acknowledge those families who have sent in their messages of support and congratulations to staff for the quality of our programs. We are all in this together and our staff appreciate the efforts of families who need to be highly engaged in their children’s learning. We have a commitment to delivering learning programs of the highest quality and keeping strong connections with students and parents.
I am pleased to see many Catholic and independent schools, including Beaconhills, have special arrangements for families who have been affected by this pandemic. Like our College, most are focusing on supporting those families in need and ensuring students can continue to learn. Our Board is acutely aware of the need to ensure families are well supported and is currently analysing all aspects of our budget to reduce the financial impact on families.
Little Beacons Learning Centre
During the crisis, Beaconhills has continued to provide the Little Beacons programs at both campuses, for early learning and before and after school care for those who need this service.
Blended Learning programs
We have a large number of families requiring the school-based program, many who work in essential services. We have a range of staff supporting this part of our program while our classroom teachers focus on the online learning. It is a very difficult time for everyone and I am so impressed with the way all our staff have adapted and they are all wanting the best for their students.
The brains behind the Online Learning Program
Our Deputy Head, Stephen McGinley, has led the transformation to online learning. What would usually take months of planning, trials and communication with staff, students and families has been completed in a matter of days. Although many aspects of our online program need to evolve we have received very positive feedback from families
Beaconhills Food Services: another Beacon of Hope program
Beaconhills Food Services teams are using our canteens to prepare food parcels for those in need in the local community. We have co-ordinated this with the Salvation Army and have called on funds from our sponsors to enable this initiative to happen.
Beaconhills’ new Community Garden, now under development, will also help provide significantly more produce for our own use and to distribute to local charities.
All our Beacon of Hope programs have a strong message that underpins our service programs: ‘From those who can to those who are in need’.
I think we know that school is going to look very different for us all in term 2. COVID-19 has certainly thrown us all a major challenge.
I am inordinately proud of our College staff who have worked so hard to prepare our online learning program. Today the program begins in earnest, after it was introduced three days before the end of term. We have had some very positive feedback from families so far. It’s early days, but I feel confident we can continue to deliver the high calibre of education our community has come to expect.
How does an online learning program look for, say, the average Middle School student? We have tried to keep as much structure in the school day as possible. Led by our teaching staff, Middle School students will continue to use apps such as Showbie for their learning resources, our App4 to set and track tasks and Zoom for instructions and video conferencing.
Beaconhills is delivering on-campus learning for children of front line workers, along with places for students in Prep-Year 12 to support families who cannot provide home-based learning. Our two Little Beacons centres are open and continue to deliver early learning programs.
I believe we are firmly on the front foot with our online learning programs. Let’s keep up the great work – and get the most out of term 2.
Suggested Middle School student routine:
• wake: do some exercise
• breakfast and change for school
• 8.45am: tutor check-in on Zoom
• 9am: classes start as per my timetable with video meet check-ins with my teachers. Start working through my tasks on App4 using Learning Resources
• 11am: stop for a break, have some food, do some stretches
• 11.30am: classes start up again with more video check-ins with my teachers
• 1:30pm: stop for lunch, catch up with some friends online (no television, need some off-screen time)
• 2.20pm: final class with a video meet check-in with my teacher
• 3.30-4.30pm: have a break, get some exercise, music practice
• 4.30pm: start your home learning
• 6.30pm: dinner.
I would like to begin by thanking all those who have sent messages of support following the recent launch of our Online Learning Program – in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was new ground for us all, but the spirit of collaboration has been truly heart-warming.
This afternoon, we emailed our families to announce the plans for term 2 programs, so that they might consider the most suitable option.
At this stage, we will continue with the Online Learning Program introduced at the end of term 1 for all Prep – Year 12 students. Staff have done a significant amount of work behind the scenes to deliver this program and we received positive feedback from many families. However, we appreciate there are still many challenges and we all need to work together to ensure the best possible learning outcomes for our students.
Along with places on-campus for children of front-line workers, Beaconhills will also offer limited places for Prep – Year 12 students at both campuses to support families who are unable to provide home-based learning for their children. This may include vulnerable children who need extra support.
Little Beacons programs at both campuses will be ongoing. As the Australian Government recently announced, these services will be delivered at no cost to families at this time.
It is important that children do not attend the College if they are unwell. School-aged children will have their temperature checked at the start of each day and social distancing procedures will in place for all children in the Prep-12 and Little Beacons programs.
On behalf of the College staff and board I wish you a safe and peaceful Easter. We continue to pray for those hit hardest across the world by this pandemic and have faith that a path to a healthier future can be found.
– Headmaster, Tony Sheumack
Beaconhills College is committed to doing its utmost to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic and support our community.
As we finalise our Home Learning Program for next week, we will now offer limited spaces on our campuses for students whose parents are on the frontline in medical, emergency or allied health services and don’t have care arrangements in place.
These parents have a critical role in supporting the COVID-19 emergency response. The Prime Minister has made it clear he wants these health professionals to continue their vital work. We hope this new arrangement gives families further flexibility.
During our three home learning days planned for next week – 25 through to 27 March – we will provide limited learning spaces at both of our campuses for Junior and Middle School students who have parents working in the health care frontline.
I hope this can help alleviate some of the pressures on those parents who are at the coalface of this pandemic.
It’s nearly 40 year ago since Beaconhills College opened its doors. What enormous change the College – and the local community – has witnessed over that time.
I recently had the pleasure of hosting a tour of Pakenham Campus with some of the College founders, including foundation Principal Frank Millett and his wife Joy (also a former staff member).
We hosted four of the five original staff members and six foundation parents, all who played a significant role in those early years. It was fascinating to hear of some of the struggles and sacrifices these pioneers endured to start a new Christian school in Pakenham – without the broader community support or government funding.
Frank Millett envisaged that Beaconhills would be a “small school”. He regards our development and expansion as nothing short of remarkable. From a block of land bought with a “$50 deposit and a promise to pay the rest later”, it is indeed an incredible success story.
Frank Millett shaking hands with College Deputy Headmaster, Stephen McGinley.
This is a call out to suitably qualified people in our community who would like to be part of the governance of our school.
Last year Beaconhills College adopted a new Constitution to meet the changing complex operating environment, while retaining our heritage and Christian ethos. This was an important milestone in our College’s 39 year history. The change gives parents and members of our wider community the opportunity to be involved in the strategic future direction of our school.
The importance of good governance cannot be overstated. We seek forward-thinking people with a diverse range of skills and backgrounds who wish to serve on a variety of committees where positions may arise from time to time. These include finance and audit, nominations, risk and compliance, property and community engagement.
If you value the importance of good governance and the long-term sustainability of Beaconhills College, we welcome your expression of interest. Apply to David.Young@beaconhills.vic.edu.au.
Welcome to the 2020 school year. January has already delivered its own unique set of challenges, but at Beaconhills College we are raring to go for term 1 which starts in earnest on Monday.
I extend a warm welcome to all our new families who have (wisely!) chosen to join our College community and experience the benefits of a Beaconhills education.
Community is a key word associated with our school. It’s a community that supports each other and those who are less fortunate – in our local region and the wider world. We are compassionate, kind and resilient in the face of adversity.
The first day of school can be exciting for some, or overwhelming for others. I would encourage all of students to look out for your friends and classmates. If you see someone who looks lonely, or isolated, give them a smile. Or just say hello. It could make all the difference.
Best wishes to all students for a wonderful 2020.
Recently communities Australia wide have felt the force of the bushfires, which have ravaged homes, habitats and landscapes. The level of trauma caused is unfathomable, and I struggle to express in words the sympathy and horror I feel for all affected, locally and nationally. I would like to express my deepest condolences.
Thank you to the Beaconhills College community for their enthusiasm and involvement in providing charity for those impacted by the fires. I have heard numerous accounts of Beaconhills families who have contributed immensely in their own ways, and I encourage all of you to continue in these efforts of compassion and community spirit.
A number of students have contacted our Head of Citizenship and Service, Clare Tuohy, asking how they can help and we will be formulating a fundraising response ready for the start of term 1 .
I hope for a year of restoration and recovery, where we can continue to address all aspects of bushfire trauma and continue to reflect on an effective means of fire prevention and preparation as a country – to the best of our ability.
Thursday 12 December is an important day for Year 12 VCE students, when results are released. For many students, the anxious wait is over – and the weight is lifted. Some will be jubilant, others will face disappointment.
At Beaconhills College, our motto is ‘Let your light shine’ and indeed some of our students will shine in their exemplary academic results. We will celebrate their well-deserved successes.
But it’s also important to remember that there are many pathways to success. Ultimately, the most important outcome is the person each student has become. The character and values they take with them into their future lives.
My hope is that a Beaconhills education means that our students graduate with a sense of gratitude, not a sense of entitlement. That they are optimistic about their future, have a strong sense of self-worth, a commitment to service of others, care for the environment and are proud of their achievements – whatever the outcome.
It’s not the beginning, or the end, but just part of the journey.
Let your light shine.
Get ready for a return to school
Supporting our community through crisis
Term 2, with a difference
Online Learning to continue into term 2
Support for health care workers
From humble beginnings
Welcome to 2020
Let your light shine
3 meaningful ways for alumni to stay connected
Public v private school funding
Music scholar making the most of time at home
Premier’s Award for our student
ANZAC Day reflection
Boom time for digital borrowings
Relay For Life results
An Easter Blessing from Revd Peggy Kruse
COVID-19 Time Capsule
Garden of hope
21 Day Challenge
Produce donated to charity
How pets help us study
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Gate C, Syme Rd, Pakenham VIC 3810