Students at St Benedict’s Catholic College, Oran Park have fundraised at their annual College Celebration Day a remarkable $8,000 for CatholicCare Wollongong, with the funds raised to be put towards the development of a program to support students and their parent/caregivers to navigate the challenges and harness the strengths of technology in their daily lives.
It is intended that the program will be built on evidence-based research and be tested for efficacy. Once established, it is hoped that the program will make a positive impact on the well-being of students throughout the Diocese and be a legacy of the goodwill and generosity of the St Benedict's school community.
Held on Friday 18 May, the College Celebration Day began with a feast day Mass that provided the opportunity for the whole school to come together to celebrate and reflect in honour of their patron, St Benedict. Mass was shared with members of the St Benedict’s community and also representatives from St Justin’s, Oran Park.
Fr David Catterall gave a thought-provoking homily about the importance of “listening with the ear of your heart” and how that looks in a world full of “noise” demanding attention. Fr David blessed and presented a variety of awards for students, including the induction of the school's Year 11 Youth Ministry Leaders.
Thanks were extended to staff and students who supported the Mass in service and ministry. The choir, under the direction of teachers Craig Davidson and Jenny Koryzma, performed beautifully and helped create a faith filled experience. The significant Mass was only the start of a wonderful day for the school community to come together in solidarity.
Mass was followed with each homeroom class taking up the challenge to operate their own market stalls - running games and activities, and also selling food and drink through the use of bennies bucks.
Food stalls included pizza, BBQ food, all things sugar, hot chocolate, fairy floss and popcorn! The activities comprised minute to win it, teacher baby photo guessing competition, water bomb dodgeball - staff versus students, a thong throwing competition and paper toss.
A highlight was an ice-bucket challenge, where students raised a set amount of money for their teachers to participate including Assistant Principal, David Costin.
Attributed to the astute money raising efforts of the students, over 20 staff members endured (very cold) bucket showers, eagerly poured by Year 11 students!
The day concluded with a Bennies Got Talent concert showcasing the many talented students at the college, proving to be a fantastic way to end the day full of school spirit.
The funds will help continue the ongoing work CatholicCare does in our schools, and the community as a whole.
Since the school opened, Gloria Melham has been the CatholicCare school counsellor, and has been instrumental in making a difference to the lives of students over these many years, and continues to play a crucial role within the pastoral care system of the school.
Principal Michael Hanratty shared that the funds raised were to support the often much-forgotten, but in reality, much-utilised services of CatholicCare Wollongong. “CatholicCare provides the college with its counselling service and provides many of our families with support through a range of services,” he said.
“We were amazed with the total amount raised, that has culminated in an amazing experience for our students. My congratulations extend to the staff who organised and ran the activities and to the students for their enthusiastic participation. It was a day which reminded us what a true Benedictine school community we have,” Michael said.
The incredible $8,000 was presented to CatholicCare representatives at a college assembly on Tuesday 26 June. Following the assembly, student leaders from various year groups met with CatholicCare staff to discuss the way forward, led by Acting Executive Manager of Family Services, Roseanne Plunkett.
Students workshopped with Roseanne their suggestions about the best way to use the donation. It was decided that instead of spending the money on a 'one off' service delivery, a group work program should be developed for parents to help them to support their children to navigate the challenges of technology, to set boundaries and to keep them safe, essentially meaning that the St Benedict’s students will be contributing to a relevant, long term legacy.
The students candidly shared informative and enlightening perspectives around what they felt their parents need to know.
Roseanne said, “We were impressed with the students' maturity and interest in the topic. The opportunity to hear their voice and to engage with them will be invaluable for our program development. CatholicCare is incredibly thankful for the St Benedict's donation.”
Michael Turner, Middle Leader (and main contributor to the organisation of the College Celebration Day), shared how extremely proud the St Benedict’s staff are of the work the students did with their fundraising and about how their enthusiastic efforts can now help the great work CatholicCare provides.
“The College Celebration Day highlighted the amazing efforts of our students and their ability to help those in need. It was a fantastic community day and we are thrilled that CatholicCare Wollongong have a wonderful plan in place to use this donation towards an ongoing project,” Michael said.
We eagerly await the progression of the project and look forward to further sharing this wonderful work in advocacy and partnership.