News from Catholic Education

26 December 2020
A file image of the traditional nativity pageant organised by students at St Agnes Catholic High School, Rooty Hill, to mark the beginning of Advent. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta/Supplied


Highlights of programs and news events from Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta, as featured in the Summer 2020/21 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.


Have yourself a Merry little Christmas!

Christmas is usually such a time to gather together, whether at Carols by Candlelight or school nativity plays. This year, so much has changed. Yet for the children (and perhaps many of us grown-ups too), ritual, tradition and community are very important. I’m so proud of the thought and care that our schools have put into finding joyful and meaningful ways to celebrate our faith this year, especially as we approach Christmas.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on families in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. On behalf of all our staff, I also want to share a big thank you to all the families at Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta schools for their kindness through the many challenges of 2020. We’re strongly committed to continuing to support families in need.

Together with everyone in the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta community, we are hopeful that this special time will be filled with joy for all children and their families. We wish each and every one of you a happy, holy and very Merry Christmas!

Gregory B Whitby AM KSG
Executive Director
Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta

P.S. I also want to congratulate the 29 Year 12 students recognised through the Bishop of Parramatta Awards for Student Excellence in 2020: so proud of these outstanding young leaders!


Kids get a jump start at Holy Family

Students at Holy Family Primary, Emerton, participate in Jump Start, a free and super-fun school holiday program, run in partnership with the Australian Catholic University. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta/Supplied

Students at one enthusiastic Emerton primary school just love coming to school…even in the holidays! This is thanks to Jump Start, a free and super-fun school holiday program.

Holy Family Primary Emerton Principal John Spradbrow said the success of the program shows that students love learning and having fun.

“The school holidays can be a long time for some students,” John said. “Jump Start is a fun way to reconnect with friends and learn some new things too!”

Fun activities can include sports, games, computer coding, art and science experiments in a relaxed group setting. The kids also enjoy the yummy lunches and morning teas.

A partnership with the Australian Catholic University which supports the program both financially and through staffing, keep Jump Start completely free of charge for Holy Family Primary students.


NSW Training Awards finalist harnesses unique ability to excel

CEDP Delany College Granville student Arthur Sadek. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.

Delany College Granville student Arthur Sadek, who lives with spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, a physical disability with associated short stature, was recently nominated for Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Schools ‘Student of the Year’ at the regional 2020 NSW Training Awards. A driven and assured young man, Arthur followed his passion for food technology and hospitality as he worked towards completing a Certificate II Hospitality course as part of his studies at Delany College Granville. “It was very exciting,” Arthur said. “I was thrilled to be a finalist.”

Four other Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta students were also named finalists for the regional awards. Alongside Arthur in the Western Sydney and Blue Mountains region, Jessica Libreri and Chloe Pelle (Certificate III in Early Childhood Education) from CathWest Innovation College McCarthy Campus were finalists for the School Based Apprentice/Trainee award with Jessica winning and progressing to the state finals.

Yuyin Zhang (Certificate II Business) from St Agnes Catholic High School Rooty Hill was named a finalist in the VET in Schools award while Chantelle Gordon (Certificate II Business) from Emmaus Catholic College Kemps Creek, was a finalist for the VET in Schools Student of the Year Award for the South West Sydney Region.


School garden gurus get down to business

Students from St Bernadette’s Primary, Castle Hill, created their own ‘click and collect’ restaurants. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta/Supplied

Plants, gardens, veggie patches, chickens – growing your own organic produce and learning to care for God’s creation have never been so popular! At St Monica’s Primary, Richmond, the school gardening group’s old-fashioned lemonade stall was a hit with students and a weekly produce stall is popular with the parents.

It’s all about school chickens Chicky, Bobbie and Chikille O’Neal and paddock-to-plate dining at St Bernadette’s Primary Castle Hill.


Students build mental health awareness in schools

Students from St Patrick’s Marist College, Dundas, participate in the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta Schools’ Social Justice Day. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta/Supplied.

130 Year 9 students from 20 Catholic secondary schools across Western Sydney recently met virtually to reflect on mental health at a special Social Justice Day.

The event was also the Diocese of Parramatta’s schools launch of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference Social Justice Statement 2020-21 To Live Life to the Full: Mental Health in Australia.

With the COVID-19 pandemic further impacting on the mental health of many people this year, it is an especially important time to plan ways to raise awareness and combat the stigmas, including in schools.

The Social Justice Day was a collaboration between the Diocese of Parramatta’s Social Justice Office and Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.


Hassall Grove high school celebrates first HSC class

Year 12 graduate Nicola Prescott (centre right) receives a bible and the tau cross, a Franciscan symbol, at the St Clare’s Catholic High School, Hassall Grove, Graduation Ceremony. Image: Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta/Supplied

St Clare’s Catholic High School, Hassall Grove has celebrated the graduation of its first HSC students.

The class of 2020 includes several students who are the first in their families to finish Year 12 such as Justice Sene. As the first of his five siblings to complete the HSC, Justice is a role model for his younger brothers and sisters.

Formerly a Year 7 to 10 school, in 2018 it was announced that St Clare’s Catholic High School would welcome Year 11 and 12 students for the first time to meet local needs.

To support student learning, exciting new facilities have been added, include a stunning new building and two new sports areas.


This article was originally featured in the Summer 2020/2021 Edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine.


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