A Traditional approach -John Paul College

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Catholic secondary school John Paul College in Frankston takes a traditional Catholic approach to education but has thoroughly adopted modern compassion as well.
The college has become renowned for its compassionate and comprehensive social justice, where the entire curriculum is defined by gospel values and the spirit of Catholic Social Teaching.
The program encourages and promotes an awareness and responsiveness to social issues in the community by engaging students and staff in social projects.
The college facilitates a student directed social justice group for Year 7 to 12 students who have an interest in helping others, as well as many volunteer opportunities.
“The main part of the social justice program is the Community Companion,” representative of the college Bridie Keily said.
The Community Companion project is a way for students to direct their compassion and energy into helping a particular part of the community that is especially vulnerable. “This is a self-funded project where all the funding was raised by students and staff and we all worked together to create it.”
The John Paul College Community Companion was launched in 2014 and since then has been providing the most vulnerable members of the Frankston community with much-needed help. The student designed food trailer travels into the community to provide those most in need with food, drink, conversation and general support.
“We go out every Tuesday night with staff and students into the Shannon Street Mall in Frankston,” Ms Keily said. “Our aim is to connect with the wider community and really for a bond and a relationship between the school and the community.”
It was through this hard and dedicated work on the Community Companion that in 2015, John Paul College had the honour of being presented with an Order of Australia Association Schools’ Project Award.
John Paul College has many other charitable opportunities and projects for students and staff as part of the social justice focus of the school.
These projects and programs include opportunities to prepare meals for the homeless and marginalised; work with the St Vincent De Paul Soup Van; participate in the Frankston Community Breakfast; lunch preparation for the homeless and marginalised in Frankston; classroom exchange/assistance at Nepean School; and the blood donation program with Red Cross Blood Service.
Students also have opportunities to participate in community conferences to discuss problems and solutions from a religious social justice perspective. Parents, staff and members of the wider school community are often encouraged to get involved in the programs and work closely with the school to enrich students’ education.
Ms Keily said the social justice focus of the school gave students opportunities to build a strong foundation in community work, but also learn the lessons of religious charity first-hand. “Our aim, as a Catholic school, is we want to serve as Jesus did and serve the community and give back to the community that gives us so much These programs and projects give a lot of life lessons and build students’ skills.”
The social justice program has the added benefit of giving students the chance to step out in the wider community and understand first-hand the differences in their communities.
“The students get to see a world beyond what they might normally see and this lends them perspective and compassion,” Ms Keily said.
Through the focus of social justice, each year the student leaders from the four houses at the school will select a cause to fund-raise for. Fund-raising for the social justice projects at John Paul College is planned and enacted through the school Houses Chaminade, D’Houet, Olsen and Turner and are in keeping with Archdiocesan Guidelines.
The efforts of the students across the school are consistently astounding with more than $10,000 being donated through the school year. “Every year our students and staff are rewarded with an expanded sense of social responsibility,” Ms Keily said.
There is also an ongoing and committed global social justice aspect John Paul College has incorporated into the learning experiences of the students.
With programs that run in East Timor, the Philippines and India, students have the chance to broaden their horizons while working to improve the lives of marginalised people.
John Paul College has made a name for itself as a premier educator with core values steadily in line with the Catholic faith.
In recent years, the college has added to its impressive social footprint through the social justice focus of the learning and experience programs.
Manager at Community Support Frankston, Steve Phillips, has worked alongside students from John Paul College in the community many times. He said the programs run through the school had been great for the community education of the students and he sees a great group of young future leaders in them.
“The college is working on a number of community projects, such as the Community Companion van, and with a reduction in services such as city life and church breakfast no longer running, what the students are doing is just fantastic,” he said.
“The students are all really community-minded and community spirited and they definitely think about how they can help out.”
Mr Phillips said he could see the difference the social justice programs at John Paul College had made in the students he had worked with. “The students have a better understanding and empathy for their local community than some other young people around,” he said.
The college sets out these tenets in their social justice policy that says the Gospel values include: dignity of the person; community; equity; inclusiveness; reconciliation; justice; freedom; non-violence; peace; option for the poor.
It is through the two streams of quality education and compassionate learning experiences that John Paul College embodies the teachings of Christ and imparts strong Catholic values in the students.