Monday, August 18, 2014

St Dominic's College ~ a look behind the scenes...

Communication between parents and the school is always important, and the Sisters used the recent parent teacher interviews as an opportunity to both outline the Catholic ethos that guide their work and to give parents a glimpse into the school environment into which they entrust their children.  We thought you may enjoy a "look behind the scenes" as well. 

First some Catholic principles 

"Education is essentially a social and not a mere individual activity".  
 Pope Pius XI, Divini Illius Magistri / On Christian Education 

The Sisters made reference to the Encyclical on Catholic Education by Pope Pius XI to stress the necessary importance of co-operation which should exist between home and school. The sisters expressed their gratitude to the parents who share and support their goal of forming good Catholics, true subjects of Christ the King.  

Our thanks to parents who support the school and school activities as well as parishioners who show an interest and participate in our endeavours.

“Whatever a Christian does, even in the order of things of earth, he may not overlook the supernatural; indeed he must according to the teaching of Christian wisdom, direct all things towards the supreme good as to his last end…….;”   St Pius X

Hence, the importance of a Catholic environment, - assembly with prayers; beginning and concluding lessons with prayers; having the crucifix and images of the Saints and Our Lady in the classrooms; offering our duties and activities to God. 

Weekly assembly (above) and School Mass (below)
“. . . without proper religious and moral instruction, every form of intellectual culture will be injurious - for young people not accustomed to respect God, will be unable to bear the restraint of a virtuous life…….” 
Leo  13th

Equally important then is Catholic doctrine and learning the true faith before all else. 

Examples of class activities in Catholic Doctrine:

Senior classes refuting the errors of evolution...

Junior classes appreciating their faith by looking into missionary activities and the importance of promoting the Catholic faith....  

... fostering love for Our lady as an inspiration for true art and finding examples within a New Zealand context.....

... and increasing their knowledge and love of the Sacred Liturgy.

In particular, the focus of the girls’ school is beauty of the soul, which shines over the body by modesty. That sense of interior beauty is essential, since it gives the Catholic woman the only true beauty which does not fade away. The supernatural life shines through and manifests itself in an atmosphere of honesty, joy and trust.  

One of our pupils received a top achiever award for attaining the highest mark for IGCSE Latin within New Zealand.

Students who received medals in the recent US Latin Examinations  
Academic ties for those achieving an A grade average and with no subject below a B grade.

In selecting subjects for the senior girls we strive for a balance between mastering on the one hand, a good level of depth, and on the other hand, a wide range of topics, for a two-fold purpose:
Firstly -  To ensure as potential mothers, natural and supernatural, they have the necessary abilities to ensure the running of a good catholic home and assist the children with their education.
Secondly - To allow them the entry requirements to university if that be the path God wishes them to choose.

Whatever their future, a good and balanced education will give them a sound understanding of both natural and supernatural truths. This is so that they realise that all truth comes from God and no truth they learn in the world can contradict the truths of the faith.  

Photos from our inter-house competitions and activities – looking at both academic and social aspects:  

Photos from the debating competition for the senior girls and public speaking for the junior 
girls on the feast of St Thomas Aquinas.  The adjudicator seems more interested in eyeing the choc-chip biscuits .  

The college also continues the Home Economics course, where the girls do both cooking and sewing programmes; house competitions are aligned with this aspect – the cooking competition during April feast of St Catherine of Sienna – you can see the joy on the faces of the pupils, their happiness and “hungry looks”.

The day of recollection also promoting and focusing particular on the role of women in Catholic society and motherhood.

One subject which has recently received some development in both the boys’ and girls’ schools is music. Since the days of St Mark, who founded the Catechetical school of Alexandria, with the Gospels, the Apostles’ Creed, and Ecclesiastical Chant as his curriculum, music has been one of the basic subjects in Catholic education. In making music an academic subject in the girls’ school, we are not intending to overburden the pupils but simply to focus their and your attention, more seriously on something, which has always been part of the education offered in the parish.

Our parish has always been blessed to have priests who were devoted to the Sacred Liturgy and instructed the faithful, adults and children, to a like devotion. By formalising the music programme, we hope to continue the parish tradition of participating intelligently and devotedly at what the Dominican Mother Francis Raphael calls, “the solemn and thorough celebration of those sacred offices which, in themselves, comprise a body of unequaled religious instruction.”

Besides continuing from previous years, lessons in music appreciation, which introduces the girls to good music, which they can sing, play or listen to for recreation, we have introduced a new programme, the Ward Method, for teaching sight-singing of both Gregorian and Modern notation.

The hope is that this will gradually make it easier to learn new pieces in the part of the Chant lesson which is devoted to learning new polyphonic and Gregorian pieces for use at Mass.

Pupils are encouraged to use their God given talents to represent the school and themselves in other activities outside the school arena.  "Jam it down" represented the College in a music competition.  

This year the school blazer has been introduced for senior pupils, and worn by pupils when representing the school.

Other activities for this first part of the year included:
 The Impromptu drama competition earlier this month which looked at the life of Mother Aubert –  on whom the theme of the school camp due to take place later this year is based.

        The school have 2 netball teams entered into the Secondary schools competition
          – Our thanks to Mr Foster and Mrs Tangira for coaching.

We conclude by thanking all our families, friends and benefactors for their support and hope to report back soon on our St Dominic's Day celebrations and annual Teachers vs Students  netball game, the spelling bee competition and bike-a-thon fundraiser - all of which is taking place before the end of August which also means the start of term break, and a period of well deserved rest to both pupils and teachers. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

July Events at Signadou Boarding School

Impromptu Drama Competition

On July 2nd, St. Dominic’s held an impromptu drama competition as a chance for the girls to gain points for their houses - Bologna, Calaroga, and Prouille.

The girls were given an hour and a half to write and rehearse a short play
about Mother Aubert.

 This was a wonderful opportunity for the girls to learn about Mother Aubert - who will hopefully be the first canonized saint of New Zealand. They all did a marvelous job, but the judges had to pick a winner. 

1st Place - Bologna
2nd Place - Calaroga
3rd Place - Prouille

A Day of Recollection: 

“All of the glory of the king’s daughter comes from within.”  
On July 16th, girls from the school, with the Children of Mary, spent a day of recollection given by the sisters. Throughout the day, they attended a variety of conferences on various topics regarding the dignity of a woman. 

A sampling of a few of the topics spoken on are shown on the following slides.

In addition to the talks, the girls attended Mass, rosary, and were able to make several visits to the Blessed Sacrament. 

Happy Feast of Signadou!

The boarders celebrated their feast day early with the Sisters on July 20th. On coming back from a week holiday, the boarders were surprised with presents, a decorated refectory, delicious dinner and dessert with the Sisters. 

The girls also had a surprise of their own for Mother Madeleine for her upcoming feast day. They put on a short musical concert featuring several songs from the musical Oliver.

How Signadou got its name...

On July 22nd, 1206, Saint Dominic prayed to the Blessed Mother for a sign to show him what exactly he should do and where he should centre his work. It was then that a flaming ball appeared in the sky hovering over a little abandoned church of Prouille. This happened three times before St. Dominic took the sign as authentic and not a product of his imagination. This miraculous vision is know as Signadou - the sign of God - and was the foundation of the Order of Preachers.

Similarly, the addition of the boarders here at St. Dominic’s has been a work of divine providence. We are very blessed to have such wonderful and loving girls!