Message from President of Ex-Students’ Association

Dear Ex-Students, 

I hope you are staying resilient and strong in these difficult times. I do hope that by Christmas, you are all able to meet with your own family and friends to celebrate surviving this year!

This year has been turbulent for us all, and our Year 12 girls are especially on my mind. They are facing their exams amidst so much uncertainty and disruption, and have had to adjust  important milestones that we all hold dear; formals, graduations, awards ceremonies, and the many small ways they say goodbye to their school days and move on to the next chapter of their lives. I missed handing out the Ex-Students’ Association prizes to the well-deserved recipients and seeing the pride and celebration of recognition for their hard work.

An Ex-Students’ Association committee member met with the Year 12 girls in September via Zoom to wish them well and invite them to join our Ex-Students’ Association. As you can imagine, the girls will not only be anxious about their exams, but also that this year their studies have been so disrupted by COVID-19.  I particularly want to recognise and praise the school staff who have been amazing in supporting our girls and preparing them for their exams.  We wish them well and will keep them in our prayers. We look forward to welcoming them as new members to our Association.

Events

We are preparing our calendar for next year in the hope that we can host some, if not all, events in person. Please keep an eye on our page on the school website and the Alumni Facebook page for further details. 

Events planned for later in the year may still go ahead, but at this stage everything is on a ‘wait and see basis,’ with decisions being made as required. The decision to cancel or postpone any event is not being taken lightly and all possible attempts to reschedule or prevent cancellation in the first place are being made. 

When going through my several folders of Loreto filing in order to pack up, I came across old newsletters from 1990.  There was a ‘call out’ to all members in that newsletter to write to us and let us know about your interesting or unusual careers, achievements and travel.  I thought it would be good to revive this in the time of COVID-19 to enable us to keep in touch with each other.  We do rely on you to let us know how you are all going.   Please send your news via email to: exstudents@loretonh.nsw.edu.au .  We would love to hear from you!

Joining the Committee

I am officially retiring from the role of President at our AGM in December, but will, of course, be supporting the new President and her Committee!    I warmly invite any ex-student who may have the time and energy to consider joining our enthusiastic Committee.     Please contact me if you would like to join the merry and talented band.   We also encourage you to join us at our AGM this year, on Sunday 6  December at 2pm. 

Please register your interest in attending via email at exstudents@loretonh.nsw.edu.au. An email will then be sent with Zoom meeting instructions or further details should we become able to meet in person (dependent on numbers).

Volunteering on our Ex-Students’ Association Committee is not an onerous burden.  Most communications are by email and we have four meetings a year which, of course, are now conducted by Zoom. It is certainly an opportunity to connect and give back to your old school while making new friends or catching up with old school friends.

Mary Ward said: “It will be seen that women in time to come will do much.We haven’t set this world on fire yet, but, please God, our daily presence does make a difference in the places we find ourselves, especially this year.

Special acknowledgments

I would like to say a special thank you to Marina Ugonotti, our Principal. I am very grateful for the inclusiveness and respect Marina has personally extended to me and the Ex-Students’ Association, in general.  I am still in awe of Marina’s leadership of the school in this time of COVID-19.  She has navigated the difficult challenges of pivoting the School programs so efficiently, while caring for the academics and wellbeing of all students and staff, and still retaining her good humour and positivity, thereby inspiring us all.

I would also like to thank the IBVM. I am very grateful for the continued support and guidance from Sr Wendy Hildebrand IBVM (our Provincial) and Sr Libby Rogerson IBVM (who sits on our Committee). Throughout my time as President, I have enjoyed catching up with the sisters at Kirribilli and Normanhurst functions .  I thank them for their wonderful support of our ex-students. 

I have really enjoyed our special relationship with the Kirribilli ex-students over many years and hope this continues in the future. We are a force to be reckoned with when we band together! I would especially like to mention Ruth Tighe who works so hard with me in organising the very successful Loreto Theatre Group nights which are fundraisers for Mary Ward International.  Next year, we have booked 200 seats for 17  June 2021 to see the musical “Come from Away” at the Capitol Theatre and would love you to join us – it is a brilliant production.

I also wish to thank the Development Office staff who have assisted me over many years in running the Ex-Students’ Association. As the alumni database is maintained by the school for privacy reasons, it is vital that we work together to ‘connect’ to our ex-student database.  Therefore, please remember that it is important you update your contact details on the Alumni page on the School website.  

Of course it goes without saying, that I am extremely grateful to all members of my Committee, especially my Executive – Janneke, Vicki and Cathy – who have worked so cheerfully and so hard over the last few years to support our fundraising efforts and raise the profile of the ex-students within the School community. 

I would also like to recognise my own class of 1969 – a special year of Loreto girls!  We celebrated our 50 year reunion last year and what struck me on that occasion was the genuine care and interest in each other and the innate connection of being a Loreto girl.  We have all taken our different journeys, but coming together at that reunion, we seemed to be as one group who celebrated our achievements, remembered those who have passed on and encouraged those who are struggling within our group – support is never far away and I am sure this ingrained in each year group.

I would also like to acknowledge and remember those of our ex-students who have passed away or who have tragically lost family members during this year. You are all in our thoughts and prayers as you navigate this very sad time in your life and will always have the support of the Loreto ex-students with you.

Notable achievements

At each AGM for the last three years, we have provided the Principal a cheque for $10,000. This is to go towards a partial bursary for a student in Year 11 or 12 whose parents may be in financial distress and not have the required income to keep their daughter at the school.  Our donation is therefore used towards their fees and this funding assists them in some small way.  Last year, we were approached by the Principal who identified that there was a critical need for further funding for bursaries and asked us whether we could help out.  As a result, we provided $20,000 towards that identified bursary funding.

As you already know, we provided an amount of $10,500 on behalf of the ex-students towards the refurbishment of the Reception Room.

We also donated $350 towards Buy a Bale on behalf of the ex-students during the drought and I know a number of ex-students made personal donations to this cause.

We were approached by Mary Ward International on behalf of the Loreto Sisters at the Kolkata Mary Ward Social Centre in West Bengal, India.  The Sisters were looking for funding for sewing machines to make hygiene products for girls which would improve their health, confidence and dignity. We, therefore, donated $500 towards this project, called the ‘Landing Pad Project’.

I particularly want to thank you all for supporting our fundraisers.  I am aware of a number of class reunions where ex-students donated back to the bursary appeal and I thank you most sincerely for those donations. I recognise that the current economic climate has impacted many of you, and yet you put aside your own worries and thoughts of others instead. Your generosity and selflessness is very much appreciated.

Farewell, but not goodbye!

As I step down, I think we should celebrate our past achievements, reflect on the present challenging times we live in and build on leaving an enduring legacy for future ex-students.   I do hope that I have lived up to Mother Gonzaga Barry’s wise words: “leave after you something on which others may build“ for the next Committee.

I step down with pride, satisfaction and gratitude for the many opportunities the role of Ex-Students’ Association President has provided me with by way of active involvement in the School community, with the IBVM and with interstate and intrastate Loreto contacts through Loreto Federation.

It has been an absolute honour and privilege to walk in the shoes of previous Normanhurst Ex-Students’ Association Presidents, as I truly believe the focus is on the (historic) common goal of funding our ex-student bursary set up by Pat Taylor in 1961. It was Pat Taylor who invited me to join the Ex-Students’ Association after organising our class reunion in 1979! She certainly set a high bar for the rest of us!

It is easy to lose sight of that goal for bursary funding in our busy lives during the challenging financial times we live in. You have all, however, inspired me with your loyalty and enthusiasm to continue our fundraising work.

As this is my last letter to you as President of the Ex-Students’ Association, I wish you better times ahead and hope that we can catch up in person soon at an ex-student function or at our AGM in December.

 

Sincere thanks,

Patsy Shannon

President, Loreto Normanhurst Ex-Students’ Association