The legacy of Year 6 students at Villa Maria Catholic Primary Hunters Hill is safe as houses.
The graduating class of 2015 helped introduce patrons to their four existing colour houses this year. The system used for school sports events has taken on a pastoral care element, with three of the houses named for saints and the values they represent.
Year 6 teacher Anne Marie Stephenson said the initiative was started by the school’s pastoral care committee of teachers with the support of Principal Kevin Turner. Students join vertical groups of peers from Kindergarten to Year 6 for other activities, and will celebrate the feast days of their patrons each year. The saints and priest were chosen by the students based on the research and presentations of house leaders Isabella Pace (Marcellin), Ellena Vozzo (Chanel), Henry Worrell (Mackillop) and Charli Junee (Colin).
“They each presented on two saints and all the children in that house from Kindergarten to Year 6 had the opportunity to vote after the presentations on the saint of patron that they thought represented the values that they wanted to follow,” Ms Stephenson said.
“Their roles until now have been primarily sport based, supporting the PE teacher at our major events apart from being great sports men and women themselves. Now it is broader.”
Each leader read a citation about their house’s new patron at a blessing mass on October 21.
The Red house has become Marcellin for St Marcellin Champagnat, the 18th century priest who guided others to live faithfully. Purple has become Chanel for St Peter Chanel, Green has become Mackillop for Mary Mackillop, Australia’s first saint who worked to make education accessible to children in underprivileged and remote areas. Gold was named for priest and Marist Fathers founder Jean Claude Colin.
“Every year now we’re going to do activities and have stalls to celebrate their feast days,” said Charli, 12. “I’m looking forward to us becoming closer as a house group. When it was just colours, we didn’t have much involvement with the whole team, it was more just for sport carnivals. Now we’re more involved with them in everything.”
Ellena, 11, said the decision to name her house group Chanel came easily to the students who were familiar with the priest as one of their local churches was also named after him.
“Our house chose it because it does represent our school values of faith, hope, courage and generosity,” she said. “I’m really proud of us all for leaving our mark. I’m just looking forward to coming back next year and seeing how it has all come together and how the house has grown.”
Henry, 11, said houses would take on more academic and religious activities along with the traditional sporting ones. “There will be a lot more involved,” he said. “Recently we did a maths competition in our colour house, which was fun. We were all divided with [one student from each grade] in our colour groups and answered different questions.
“I think Mary was a very good role model for all of us and I think she had some great values that all of the kids can learn from, like compassion. She always put others first which is a good value to have.”