Welcome back to school and to the last term of the year.  As we complete the first week of term, it becomes very obvious that senior students and the staff teaching them are focusing on the important weeks leading up to examinations and final assessment tasks.  Our VCE students only have a few weeks before examinations so study time becomes crucial over the next month and a half.  Next week (October 15th -17th ) students studying Units 3 and 4 subjects will complete a series of practice exams, thus giving them a good insight as to what will be expected during the examination period. On the last day of last term all our Year 12 students sat a 3 hour English examination as practice for the longest exam they will undertake during the examination period.  Year 12s finish formal classes on Wednesday 24th October and as I mentioned to Year 12 students last term, the College community expects that last day celebrations will be conducted sensibly and in good taste, as has been the case in recent years. On Thursday 25th October, Year 12 students will be invited to a breakfast with staff and College Councillors. At the completion of the breakfast students will be accompanied back to school to attend an assembly to wish them good luck with their examinations. After this date, students have a week to prepare for the start of the examination period (English Thursday 1st   November).  With this in mind, I believe that it would be inappropriate and dangerous for students to be involved in celebrations that will interfere with their preparation for examinations. As the College prepares our senior students for the final examination program, one aspect of this period concerns me because it is beyond our control; student parties.  At this time every year, we talk to our senior students about preparing themselves for their examinations and ensuring that they give themselves every opportunity to succeed.  We have spoken to them about our expectations in relation to their final days at College. The College does not believe that celebrations should take place before the completion of examinations and therefore does not sanction any functions other than the College’s Graduation Dinner in late November.  The Graduation Dinner is a function where students attend with their family and are therefore under the supervision of their parents.  This year the Graduation Dinner will be held on Thursday 22nd November.

At the end of last term we had three student tours leave the College. Years 9 and 10 students went to Queensland’s Gold Coast for an adventure tour, students studying Indonesian went to Malaysia and a group of students from various year levels visited Turkey and of course Gallipoli. All three tours were very successful and students involved had a good time and saw many new and interesting sights. Students on all the tours were a credit to their school, families and community.  On the Gold Coast tour students impressed locals with their good manners and appreciation of sights and exhibits they visited.  Thank you to all the staff involved in helping to provide our students with some great experiences.

As summer gets closer, it seems ridiculous that we have to remind students about the perils of skin cancer and the need to wear hats while in the yard.  In term one the majority of students came prepared with a hat but there are still some students who don’t appreciate the risk they run by not having a hat.  Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and each year over 1,890 Australians die from skin cancer.  Over 440,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer each year and 90% of Victorians with invasive melanoma in 2004 to 2008 were expected to survive their cancer for at least 5 years.  These are appalling figures considering the publicity given to skin cancer through the various campaigns we see in the media and the work carried out in the Australian community by a range of agencies, including the education system.  Again I ask for parental support in encouraging our young people to ‘cover up’ and to wear their hats when in the yard at school.

Yesterday the College hosted ‘Work on Wheels’ a program supported by the Beacon Foundation and aimed at introducing students to the many vocations reliant on vehicles/wheels for their success. All Year 10 students were issued with a ‘Work on Wheels’ passport to collect information from the various exhibits about work, skills and qualifications linked to the vocations on display.  The day featured exhibits from primary, secondary and retail/service industries. The knowledge gained from experiences where students can engage with primary sources such as employers and personnel working in various vocations, in the Beacon program, far outweigh the classroom lesson.  I would like to thank Ms Morrison, local businesses and the Beacon Foundation for their support in providing this opportunity for our students.

The College’s Talent Show will be held next Thursday 18th at the Paramount Theatre with 22 performances and a special teacher/parent performance at the end of the night. The program is well supported with singers, bands, dancers and comedians. The talent quest is always well supported and I would like to thank the Paramount Theatre for their support and allowing us to hold the evening at their venue. Tickets are on sale now at the Paramount adults $15, concession $12.50 and students $11.  The show starts at 7.30 pm so don’t miss what is going to be Echuca College’s version of the ‘X Factor’.