February 5, 2021

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Principal's Message


Tutorials to Support Families

Face Masks

Review of Student Leadership Program

Columba's Coaches

yLead Leadership Conference

Library News

Careers News

Tutoring Group Returns for 2021


Class of 2019 Reunion

New College Website

Principal's Message

Welcome Back

It has been a delight to welcome back all of our students this week – the energy and excitement around the College grounds is infectious.  A very special welcome to our Year 7 students, and to the new students who have joined us in Years 8 to 11.

I would also like to extend a very warm welcome to the new staff who have commenced at the College this year:

  • Molly McGuire:  Cahill House, English and Humanities Teacher
  • Natasha Le Noel:  Bruton House, Learning Technologies Leader, Geography and Digital Technologies Teacher
  • Mario Gauci:  Cahill House, Head of Library, FIONTAR Teacher
  • Rebecca Spiteri:  Cahill House Leader, Science and Religious Education Teacher
  • Daniela Grando:  O’Brien House, Italian Teacher
  • Daniella Misho:  Cunningham House, English and Humanities Teacher
  • Giselle Hoath:  Cunningham House, Learning Support Officer
  • Julia Arena:  de Lacy House, Learning Support Officer
  • Shellie Murton:  Williams House, Sports Administrator
  • Lucy Russell:  Cunningham House, Performance and Development Leader, Mathematics Teacher
  • Reanna Timoney:  de Lacy House, Learning Diversity Teacher
  • Kelly Milne:  Bruton House, College Receptionist
  • Loretta Joyce:  Williams House, Head of Human Resources
  • Jessica Bettinsoli:  Italian Language Assistant

Opening School Assembly

Unfortunately, we were unable to gather as a whole school community to welcome in the new year.  We did, however, use the wonderful technology we have available to us to run the Student-Led Assembly online.  We were privileged to hear from our College Co-Captains about the work they have done with the College Student Leadership Executive in setting the Vision and Mission for their work, and the way they will live and promote our Mary Aikenhead Ministries focus value this year, Hope.  We also heard from Mrs Brigitte McDonald, Deputy Principal, about the Student Leadership Review which will take place this year and the Bronntanais o Dhia program, which will recognise and acknowledge students taking advantage of the extensive co-curricular program at St Columba’s.  More about this in coming editions of the IONA.  Ms Greta Bajada, Head of Learning and Teaching, introduced the College’s new Learn Instructional Model which will guide the work in all classrooms this year.  So many exciting developments at the College in 2021.

I also addressed all of the students, and chose to focus on the pervasive and damaging narrative that women are constantly exposed to regarding the value society places on their contribution.  The dominant message is that our value lies mainly in how we present ourselves.  When we are fed a constant stream of messaging communicating that our main value lies in how we look and what we wear, we risk forgetting about and neglecting those attributes that really matter about ourselves – character, kindness, curiosity, endeavour, compassion, intellect, leadership.  These characteristics are not superficial, and speak more loudly and authentically about the type of person we truly are.  Using the example of magazine covers marketed directly to young women, I challenged our girls to be super aware of the messages we are being bombarded with – this is what it means to have a critically reflective mindset – to question the status quo, to ask about what is going on in the messaging, to try and understand the deeper meaning of what is being presented to us.  We are not mindless consumers but active and informed citizens ready and prepared to raise our voices and to take action against the injustices that we see, especially as we work to re-write the narrative about the place of women in society.

In a book I read recently, the authors suggest that the constant messages that are thrown at us limit and impact “our ability to view gender-based inequalities, imbalances and injustices as unfair”.  Instead, we accept that this is how it is.  Well it is time to start pushing back.

Our Mary Aikenhead Ministries value this year is Hope – it is probably the value that is the hardest to grasp in terms of what we are called to do in bringing the value to life.  Using Jesus as our model of what a truly authentic human life could be, hope arises out of our understanding that from the depths of despair, suffering, and bleakness – such as Jesus’ death – good, truth and beauty prevail; illuminated for us through the resurrection.  It is in this hope offered to us, that we know good things are worth fighting for, no matter how difficult the road ahead might seem, and no matter if the impact will be felt directly by us, or in the legacy we leave for those who come after us.  This is what we do here at St Columba’s College – we form women in hope knowing, trusting, that this hope will be visited on those who our students will encounter in the future.

This is Mary Aikenhead’s legacy to us – in hope she formed the Sisters of Charity.  Women who would go out and be the face of Christ to others in their world of despair.  She trusted in God’s providence that the hope her Sisters inspired would be passed on to the generations to come – the gifts of care, generosity, compassion, kindness spreading their wings to make an impact on an ever-widening circle of society.  This is what makes us authentic women working to make a difference in the world; a stark contrast to the value of our looks, hair and clothes.


2021 sees us celebrate the year of Hope at St Columba’s College. Mrs Grima has spoken at length to students and staff about hope playing a significant role in each of our lives. She has drawn on the words of Pope Francis who time and again gives advice about how to teach people, especially young people to remain full of hope.  No matter “where God has planted you, hope. Always hope,” he says, explaining that “prayer opens the door of hope.” Mrs Grima explained that hope is our faith in the promise of God’s Kingdom made visible and real to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Hope is our belief that there is good worth working for in this world. In our community here at St Columba’s, hope reveals itself in the relationships we form and, in the action and advocacy we undertake to ensure that the promise of a bright future is within everyone’s reach.

Prayers of Hope

Jesus, the hope of all who trust you;
the power of all who serve you;
the wisdom of all who follow you;
the uniter of all who worship you.
Grant us light at the beginning of this year;

Fill us with strength and boldness according to your promises,
That we might reach our needy nation, with your love, in this season of Hope.
We humbly acknowledge our weakness and failure,
But our eyes are fixed on you.
Fulfil your purposes and plans that your name may be honoured in our land.
In the name of Jesus Christ,  Amen.

Thank you that in a world of despair,
You are our Hope.
In a world of darkness,
You are our Light.
In a world of sorrow,
You are our joy.

Help us to share the Hope of our hearts with one another
Enable us to give Hope to others through Your work amongst us…

– Jane Holloway, World Prayer Centre.

Tutorials to Support Families

Families have access to the Parent Access Module or PAM, where important information is located or can be found. PAM allows you to remain connected to the events at the College and progress of your daughter.

Here is a link to our PAM Tutorial to assist you in navigating this platform.

Last year, the College launched its online shop where you are able to order food from the Benny & Me Foodstore or purchase or pay for other items or activities as they become available at the College. Here is a link to our Shop Tutorial.

Face Masks

All students must bring and wear their own mask to school. Each student in Year 8-12 has been given an STC mask also.

Masks must also be worn on public transport at all times. There have been concerns raised with the college that STC students are not complying with this law.

Students are also reminded to be mindful of the public and to allow them to board buses and walk on paths without being obstructed by students talking in groups.

Masks available at student reception are for emergencies only.

Names will be recorded if you collect a mask from here to ensure that students are using it for emergency scenarios only.

It is recommended that students have spare masks available for them in their locker and bag.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Review of Student Leadership Program

This year, the College will be undergoing a review of our Student Leadership Program. Feedback provided by staff, students and parents during the School Focussed Review in 2019, and from the Year 12 Student Exit Survey at the end of 2019 suggest that our community would like to see an expansion of formal student leadership opportunities from students in years 7 to 12.

The review will commence with surveys that will seek feedback from parents, students and staff. A link will be emailed to parents. We would appreciate as many parents as possible to complete the survey. We will then follow up with Student Focus Groups where more in depth discussion can occur as well as interviews with staff.

Once we have our data, a team will collate and analyse the information and a report will be provided to the Leadership Team with recommendations. From there a new Student Leadership model will be developed.

Columba's Coaches

I am excited to write to you about a new initiative– the introduction of a new role for recent graduates, the Columba’s Coach.

This program aims to:

  • To create opportunities for recent graduates to remain connected and engaged with the St Columba’s College community
  • To promote these connections to our broader community
  • To provide a tutoring service to our current senior students which will support our goal to improve student learning outcomes

A Columba’s Coach will be a high performing student in their chosen subject and will have a desire to work with and assist the learning of other students. The Columba’s Coach plays an important role in supporting student learning across Year 11 and 12 Unit 3/4 students.

A letter will be sent to families of Unit 3 & 4 students providing more information and explaining how students may sign up to participate in the program.

yLead Leadership Conference

It isn’t everyday that you get an opportunity like the 2021 Student Executive did during the Summer Holidays, to go on a Leadership Conference with an organisation as incredible and inspiring as yLead. yLead is an organization that creates unique learning experiences which empower young people to be the best possible leaders that they can be. Within an instant of walking into the conference space, we all immediately felt at home thanks to the inviting and lively atmosphere created by the yLead team. This team consisted of a range of diverse members, many who participated in the conference themselves just a few years ago, therefore have an immense amount of experience and knowledge when it comes to leadership. 

Even with such a welcoming atmosphere present, we couldn’t help but feel a little anxious as we were bracing ourselves for the unknown. Not knowing what to expect was our biggest fear as we walked through the gates of the University College garden. Upon our arrival, we were welcomed by Faye, a member of the yTeam and our 2019 College Co-Captain, who assured us that we were fortunate to be part of such a rewarding experience. Soon after settling in our rooms, we made our way down an abundance of stairs (the cardio was amazing) and we began getting to know the hundred other like-minded students through a range of engaging activities. After successfully completing our activit, we made our way into a big hall where we were welcomed by the loud beat of music, and before you knew it, over 100 people were freely dancing, without even the slightest fear of judgement. That was when the real bonding began. After a few seminars about building a strong sense of identity and self-confidence around individual strengths, passions and abilities and a guest appearance from the remarkable and inspirational Ben Pettingill from Limitless Vision, we found ourselves getting ready for our trip to funky town, aka retro night!! The night started off with many failed attempts at dancing, but once the hesitation left the party bus, we were on a roll. Dancing and singing our hearts out to ABBA at 10:00 pm. And just like that, quicker than you can say dancing queen, the night of laughter and excitement was over, and we found ourselves in bed reminiscing about the special night that we were fortunate enough to partake in.

After a much needed rest in our luxurious rooms, we were up and ready for day two of this incredible journey. Day Two’s overarching theme was exploring the power and importance of relationships and team dynamics. Once again, we had a few seminars, and played a few different games that assisted the yTeam in showcasing to us the value of teamwork, especially in a leadership team. I think the whole Student Executive would agree with us when we say that the most memorable part of Day Two was the “Real Me” experience that night. As the name suggests, this night consisted of us sharing the absolute realest and rawest versions of ourselves with each other. You’d think it would be awkward, considering we‘d only known each other for just over 24 hours, but as we said earlier, the atmosphere at the conference was so unique and special, that we had bonded so deeply in such a short amount of time. It was a night where we could be the truest versions of ourselves, and not be afraid or ashamed of that, and most importantly, it was a night that we will all hold very close to our hearts, and never forget. 

After waking up from such a memorable night, the realisation that we only had a few hours left kicked in. With two seminars left which consisted of developing the skills, tools and attitudes to create positive change at school, within the community and beyond, we finally had the chance to meet with our own executive team and undergo some planning for 2021. With the momentum of the past few days of conference, we came up with some ideas that we are currently working on implementing and making effective at school. We then got ready for the closing ceremony performances that we had all been working on in our groups, and after much anticipation the time to turn on the spotlights had finally arrived. Even though we were performing in front of over 200 people (thanks to the audience tuned in on the FaceBook live-stream, which is still currently available to watch on the yLead facebook page), there was never a time where any of us were made to feel embarrassed or anxious about our performances, and the roaring applause at the end of each performance never managed to quieten even after the last group had performed. 

And that basically wraps up our yLead experience in 1000 words or less. If you can’t tell, it was one of the most spectacular and rewarding things that we could ever have possibly received as leaders and we cannot thank the College enough for this opportunity, as well as the yLead Team for the amazing tools and skills that you have given us in order to be effective leaders within our school community. We are beyond excited to put all that we have learned and gained over this weekend into action at the College. If you ever have the chance to experience the magic of yLead, we all highly recommend it.

Library News

The Sophia Library staff welcome all students back to the school year.  We look forward to working with all students and staff, continuing to promote our reading culture and supporting the information needs of the College.

The librarians have purchased many new fiction and non-fiction titles over the summer some of which include the following. See one of the Library staff for the complete list of new titles.

If you have any suggestions for titles please let one of the library staff know.

Upcoming Events

Library Lovers’ Day!

The theme for Library Lovers’ Day 2021 is ‘Make a date with your library’.

The Library staff are pretty keen on libraries, but we’d love to know what YOU think about them! It can be Sophia Library here (valid!), or perhaps you use your local public library?

Either way, we’d love for you to pop in and tell us what you love about Libraries – so come and visit the Library, and fill out one of our forms. We’ll collect your responses over the next couple of weeks and then feature them in a display in time for (you guessed it!) LIBRARY LOVERS’ DAY! The day itself falls on a Sunday, but we’re going to celebrate it until the end of the month.

Opening Hours

Monday 7.45am – 4.30pm
Tuesday 7.45am – 4.30pm
Wednesday 7.45am – 4.30pm
Thursday 7.45am – 4.30pm
Friday 7.45am – 4.00pm   


A reminder that all Library items borrowed before the holidays are now due.  Student overdue reminder emails are sent out weekly.

As Year 7 students do not presently have a Student ID card, they may borrow from the Library Desk.

What can I borrow?

Students may borrow up to 5 items at a time for a duration of 2 weeks. Items may be renewed, if not reserved by another student. These include items from fiction, non-fiction, manga, biographies, picture storybooks, audiobooks and LOTE novels.

Magazines and newspapers can be enjoyed in the Library, but cannot be borrowed.


Don’t forget we have a great range of eResources available to students, including EBSCO for senior students and Britannica Online for junior students. All are available via the Library Home Page or check out the link below:


Students may also borrow items from our e-platform OverDrive.

The OverDrive collection is an extension of our physical library – but it’s online, with 24/7 access to eBooks. It’s convenient for students to check out titles at home, on the weekends or during school breaks with no worries about misplacing a book – these digital titles automatically return at the end of the lending period!

To use OverDrive, students can browse our secure custom website and borrow anytime, anywhere on a computer, tablet, smartphone or eReader.  Students will be required to login using their College email address. Books can be read through a browser, or via the OverDrive app – students can search the Apple/Google Play store for the app and download it free

Mobile phone usage

Parents and students will be aware that mobile phone usage within the school is restricted between the hours of 8:35 am and 3:00 pm. As with the rest of the school, phones cannot be used in the Library during these times.

Careers News

This week’s Careers Newsletter includes the following information:

  • Welcome back
  • Employment tips and resources
  • Australian Defence Force – work experience and Cadets
  • Parents/Carers – school to work resources
  • The Hotel School Melbourne – information session
  • Year13 – learn about careers in Business, Entrepreneurship, Finance and Accounting
  • Start the school year by setting goals
  • Careers in international trade, freight and logistics
  • Competitions – writing, leadership, photography, audio engineering, social justice, fashion design, art
  • Interested in pursuing an apprenticeship or traineeship?

Access the newsletter here.

Visit the Pathways website here.

Tutoring Group Returns for 2021

The St Columba’s Tutoring Group is once again being held each Thursday after school from 3.05pm – 4.00pm, in the Library.

The sessions are facilitated by a Learning Support Officer and a teacher. Attendance is free of charge.

Students are invited to attend with any class work they need to complete, revision or simply to get some help with understanding a topic or task.

No prior appointments need to be made. Students do not necessarily have to remain for the whole time and they will need to make their own travel arrangements after leaving the College grounds.For further information please contact Olga Angelini, Learning Support Officer, either via 9331 9144 or at


SWAT are recruiting new members next week.

Be part of a great team, who work to promote and raise awareness of student wellbeing.

Contact the Counsellors for more information.

Class of 2019 Reunion

The unique circumstances of 2020, meant that we were not able to host our usual College reunions. We are excited to announce our Class of 2019 reunion on Wednesday 24 February, onsite at St Columba’s College. We invite all 2019 alumnae to join us, click here to book your place.

New College Website

Throughout last year the College Marketing Team worked on updating and refreshing the College website. The team focused on the navigability, clean design and key information for families.

We are very pleased to showcase our new site to our community. Visit and take a look around.