What is Life Week?

Every year the College celebrates "Life Week" which highlights the sanctity of life in our world. While the week has been celebrated across Sydney Catholic Schools for a number of years, it is an event that is growing each year at Good Samaritan Catholic College. During this week, schools are encouraged to involve their communities in reflecting on a range of issues so as to strengthen their commitment to respecting the inherent dignity of all people. It is ultimately about learning how to live out our Catholic faith in practice by speaking out for the voiceless and promoting harmony within our world. God made all people in His image and we must never forget that and instead always do what we can to end discrimination and hatred towards our fellow neighbours. Life Week is about following our school motto to journey with compassion.

Why focus on the Holocaust for 2020?

In 2020 the school is celebrating the week in a different way as it will remember the many lives changed forever as a result of a period in history when the sanctity of human life was challenged by those that instead wished to spread hate and cruelty in our world. While the Holocaust is an event that stands out because of its scale and place in history, it would not have taken place if there had not been pre-existing discrimination and racism that had been a part of human society for thousands of years earlier.

Life Week 2020 will therefore highlight how the sanctity for human life can be challenged when we as a society let our world succumb to fear and hate. While this year the world commemorated the 75th anniversary of the liberation at Auschwitz, we still find ourselves in a world where minority groups and those considered different are feared and mistreated. We may believe we have moved on from the dark period of world history in the twentieth century but there has never been a more important time to speak out against rising hatred, racism and antisemitism than in our present world.

How can I be involved in 2020?

The following activities and events will form the basis of ‘Life Week 2020’. Some activities and events may need to be altered for this year depending on Covid-19 restrictions but will hopefully run more fully in 2021 for Holocaust Memorial Week. They will be promoted via the Religious Education Website with teachers and students encouraged to also navigate through the online resources. A more complete description of the website is included as well.

Public Exhibition (Ready2Print)

 

A special exhibition will be held in the school’s Learning Centre to teach students about the lives of children during the Holocaust. History Elective students will be provided with some introductary lessons on the Holocaust as part of their study of genocide. These students will then help to create the exhibition using the resources provided by Yad Vashem’s Ready2Print initiative. Lesson plan and schedule is included in the appendix.

 

Courage to Care Visit

 

Depending on availability, students in Year 10 will participate in activities led by Courage to Care during the week. This will hopefully include a visit by a Holocaust survivor telling their story. If this activity is limited due to Covid-19 restrictions it may be replaced by the use of online resources provided by Yad Vashem or an online program run by the Sydney Jewish Museum.

 

Poster Competition

 

A competition will be launched before the week encouraging students to create a poster that achieves one or more of the following aims:

 

  • Promote awareness of the Holocaust

  • Encourages students to speak out against antisemitism and other forms of discrimination

  • Highlights the sanctity of human life

 

The posters will feature on the Religious Education Website, the College Newsletter, and will be put up on display in the Learning Centre and around the school to help communicate their messages. Prizes will be awarded to the best three posters.

 

Teacher Professional Learning Afternoon (Safely in and Safely Out)

 

A special professional learning afternoon will be offered to all staff at the school as a way of communicating the educational philosophy of Yad Vashem. Teachers will be introduced to the resources provided online and encouraged to consider how they might be able to integrate these resources into school programs. The afternoon will also showcase the various teaching methods and strategies learnt during the program at Yad Vashem.

 

Specific resources and strategies include:

 

  • Yad Vashem teaching and learning programs

  • The importance of testimony

  • How to select and use appropriate photos and sources for the classroom

Friday Mass

 

The week will culminate with a Mass on the Friday dedicated to praying for victims of the Holocaust.

Religious Education Website

 

The Religious Education Website will form the heart of the project as the online resources will become a permanent part of the website. Life Week 2020 will help launch the use of resources but it will be transformed into a dedicated platform for Holocaust Education in 2021 and beyond. At launch, the website will link with the themes of Life Week by promoting the sanctity of human life and will educate students on the importance of remembering the Holocaust. It will promote awareness of Antisemitism in our world today and encourage students to speak out against all forms of discrimination.

 

The main page will be used primarily for promoting events and activities, with other subpages being used to focus on Holocaust Education. It will adhere to the Yad Vashem’s educational philosophy as it includes information for students and staff about life before, during and after the Holocaust. The resources included have been specifically selected from Yad Vashem’s own database so that they are appropriate for the various age groups of the school. In addition there is a section specifically focused on survivor testimonies to ensure that their voices are heard. In the lead up to Life Week 2020, the school’s Youth Leadership team will be given the opportunity to create videos that highlight some of these testimonies while also speaking out against all forms of Antisemitism in our world today. In addition there will be a page for teachers that will continue to be updated with lesson plans that they might be able to use for their classes. These lesson plans will help teachers make use of the website as well as the wider resources provided by Yad Vashem. Finally the website will also feature any other resources created throughout the week including the winning posters and resources used in the professional learning afternoon for teachers.