From the Principal
Shortly before my 30th birthday, I spent two weeks in the Faroe Islands. The Faroes are an archipelago of 18 big islands and hundreds of little ones, just inside the Arctic Circle, about halfway between Iceland and Norway. I was there in the European summer, and I can recall the sun fully setting only once. Having grown up in the sub-tropics in South East Queensland, everything about the place seemed other-worldly. The Faroes are the descendants of Vikings, and many Norse customs had been maintained well into the nineteenth century. It remains one of very few places where the populace can legally kill and eat whales, for instance.
As the Islands had modernised, after World War Two, a lot of investment had gone into roads. Building roads to serve an archipelago with really rough terrain meant building tunnels - lots of tunnels. So, it would not be unusual for a car trip between towns to involve about half of the journey underground, or underwater.
The same was true for hiking.
I can remember walking on the island of Eysturoy one morning when I came to a tunnel. The road itself was pretty old and I assumed the tunnel had a decent pedigree too. Unlike the more modern tunnels there were no amber beacons lighting the way, no reassuring fans giving the impression of the recycling of air. None. From pretty much two metres in, there was darkness. Reminding myself that I've never been scared of the dark, I ventured in. After five metres, I reminded myself of that again... then I reminded myself that humans are born with only two fears, and we develop the rest. I kept walking.
I waited for my eyes to adjust to the lack of light. They didn't. This was not like a moonlit sky or a shadowy street. There was NO LIGHT. The entrance I had walked in was now out of sight, and I could see nothing - genuinely nothing - ahead of me. It was only the moisture of the tunnel wall that kept me affirmed that I was going straight.
The tunnel itself was (I knew from the OS Map) only 1.9km long. Just over a mile. Beyond it was a village where I would stop for a cup of tea should I survive this. I can remember being scared. Not a sense of peril, or a specific fear. I can remember completely the fear of a loss of direction and control. I was scared of the unknown.
Right now, we are about to walk into a tunnel. Just like my 1.9km walk on the island of Eysturoy, we cannot go back, and we need to have faith moving forward. We - on all levels - are about to lose control. We will at times struggle for direction. We are right to fear the unknown. There will be times when we want to go back, but we cannot.
At the end of the tunnel (and that 1.9km seemed to go for a very long time) there was a bend. A sharp bend. Where, all of a sudden, everything lit up. The Arctic sun hit the road and the rock and I chided myself for being even just a bit worried. I was wrong to do that though! We are used to having control and we are used to knowing where our next steps will land. But just like my hike in 2005, the tunnel ends, the light comes in, and everything goes back to normal.
I have asked that this newsletter focus on the positives of term 1. I am incredibly proud of the progress we have made as a College since February. For even a brief while, please forget about pandemics and celebrate our journey.
Every year, Toowoomba Catholic Schools award nominated staff in the areas of Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Excellence in Leadership, and Excellence in Education Support.
I have been incredibly proud and very much humbled by the work being completed by the teachers and admin staff at Mary MacKillop this year. You might want to, as parents, consider nominating a member of staff here. Visit https://www.twb.catholic.edu.au/about-us/about-us/toowoomba-catholic-schools-excellence-awards/ for more details.
School Work over the holidays
A number of parents have asked for additional school work to be sent to keep children busy over the break. I have asked staff to wait until Term 2 to send this. I can envisage a considerable period of online learning and I think two weeks of a genuine break will make that much more bearable. I do hope parents understand my thinking in that regard.