August 13, 2021

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Principal's Message


From the Deputy Principal

Ministry Retreat

Year 7 Drama - Recreate Art

Girl Asleep - Senior Production

Plastic Free July

Year 10 PBL Week

Principal's Message

Lockdown 6.2…

Thanks to every member of this community who has demonstrated an amazing level of agility in adapting to our ever-changing circumstances.  I appreciate your understanding as we provide teachers with the time to plan for online classes, which is very different and more time-intensive than the planning required for face to face classes, especially when considering how to best keep students engaged and motivated in the online space (which is becoming more challenging with each lockdown).  Activities that are appropriate in a face to face classroom do not necessarily translate well in the online space, especially as teachers ensure they are creating an environment that encourages self-direction and self-determination in the learning process.  The latter is especially important for us, as the feedback provided by the students last year indicated that they really appreciated having online access to all resources and activities so that they could self-pace their learning and access their teachers during the online lesson time.  As per our usual processes, we will continue to review and evaluate to ensure we are providing the most relevant and up-to-date programs.

What the research is saying about students who attend all-girls schools

We are the proud members of the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia, and one of the membership benefits is the steady stream of research that we have access to that supports us in our review and improvement planning at the College.

One of the most recent studies shared with us comes from the UK and “has found that girls who attend single-sex girls schools are generally more confident and in control than girls attending state and independent co-educational schools”.  Here is a summary of that research. The full research summary can be accessed via this link.

Mental toughness has been used to describe “how a person deals with challenges, opportunities, stress and pressure”, and is related to the mindset that a person adopts in whatever situation they find themselves in, regardless of the circumstances.  “Mental toughness is closely related to growth mindset, character, resilience, grit, learned optimism and other similar characteristics.  It is also strongly correlated with performance, wellbeing, positive behaviours, aspirations and employability.  Like a growth mindset, mental toughness can be learned and developed over time”.

Overall, the updated analysis found that girls attending UK single-sex schools possess higher mental toughness scores than girls attending co-educational schools, particularly for emotional control and confidence.  Students at girls’ schools demonstrate greater commitment, greater life and emotional control, higher interpersonal confidence, and greater confidence in their own abilities.”

The “good news” is that mental toughness is a trait that can be developed and improved.  Mentally sensitive individuals who are open to changing their mindset will “consciously seek to change”, resulting in improved coping mechanisms to deal with stress and pressure.”

This research resonates with the findings from the Mission Australia Youth Surveys 2020 which found that students at girls’ schools reported better than the national female average in the areas of physical and mental health, and this was during the pandemic.

While we certainly pride ourselves on the academic achievement of our students, we know that supporting mental health and wellbeing, and providing a robust social and emotional curriculum, will lead to long-term benefits for our students.


As a FIRE Carrier school we take particular action to stand for the rights of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Australian’s. So this week we acknowledge International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

On December 23 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples shall be observed on 9 August every year. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. In 1990, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 1993 the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 

Each year, UNESCO marks the celebration of the Day by sharing information on projects and activities that are relevant to the annual theme. 

Indigenous peoples live in all regions of the world and own, occupy or use some 22% of global land area. Numbering at least 370-500 million, indigenous peoples represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity, and have created and speak the major share of the world’s almost 7000 languages. Many indigenous peoples continue to be confronted with marginalization, extreme poverty and other human rights violations. Through partnerships with indigenous peoples, UNESCO seeks to support them in addressing the multiple challenges they face, while acknowledging their significant role in sustaining the diversity of the world’s cultural and biological landscape.

Creator God of all people,

We come to you as your many children

to ask for guidance.

Remind us that none of us were

discovered since none of us were lost,

but that we are all gathered within the

sacred circle of your community.

Guide us to restore the truth of our

heritage and

help us to confront the racism that divides us.

Call us to kinship and mend our hearts.

Let us live in justice and peace so that all people might live in dignity.


Adapted from the Native Ministries of the Episcopal Church

From the Deputy Principal

What’s really happening in the minds of teenage girls?

Lisa Damour is the author of an excellent book entitled, ‘Untangled’. We’ve provided an excerpt here which provides advice about how to support your young person with the emotional highs and lows that they are experiencing at this stage in their development. I recommend this to you as a good read.

Vaping Students – an ongoing concern

Current media articles on vaping and the increasing instance of students following this worrying craze, is not only found in our schools but continues to impact on our youth globally.

Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or other vaping device. E-cigarettes are battery-powered smoking devices. They have cartridges filled with a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavourings, and chemicals. The liquid is heated into a vapor, which the person inhales. That’s why using e-cigarettes is called “vaping.”

Paul Dillon is the Director and founder of DARTA (Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia) and he is passionate about ensuring that the community has access to accurate and up-to-date alcohol and other drug information. He remains on task, educating the community through his blogs.

Paul’s latest blog deconstructs the vape (image below) and highlights “5 issues for teens to consider when it comes to vaping”, which includes asking teens to think about why vapes have particular flavours such as bubble gum or cotton candy when they were originally developed to help smokers quit or cut-down on smoking. CLICK HERE to read the whole blog. A useful blog for parents too.

I would ask all parents to please be vigilant and start open and honest conversations with your child. Students have also been educated throughout the year in both PDHPE classes as well as during Tutor time and Wellbeing sessions on the dangers of vaping. The students are young and impressionable and parents together with schools need to fight this battle and educate our students on the dangers of vaping. Our students need to understand that vapes do not only have a negative effect on their health, at school, their use and possession of vapes will result in serious consequences.

Recently I was made aware of an interesting Podcast series that discusses the issues surrounding vaping. If you are interested in how vaping began as a way to help smokers quit and developed into a product marketed at our teens you might like to follow this podcast. “The Vaping Fix”

Should you have any concerns about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Students, Ms Nakkita Egan, or myself at the College.

Ministry Retreat

Ministry Retreat is open to Year 12s, and gives our students an opportunity to work with various organisations who service marginalised members of our community.

We are asked some of the students to reflect on their participation in the Ministry Retreat, here are their thoughts:

Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project

The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project was a fantastic experience where we were able to meet the head of the organisation, Bridget as well as those living in a residence of the foundation. Here we helped them with inventory and engaged in conversation with the family who lived there. 

One resident, Fatima, gave us great insight into her struggles and stories about her journey to Australia with her family. It was incredible to hear first hand the real hardships of the world outside of Australia. It highlighted how much we take for granted in our everyday lives. Especially during this pandemic, the residents do not get to see many people because their family and friends are in another country.  As a result, they feel isolated. However, when we came, they invited us into their homes and it was heartwarming to see that just us visiting and listening to their stories was enough to bring a smile to their face.

Work with the Sisters of Charity

Mononia was an aged care home that houses the wonderful Sisters of Charity where we were able to meet with these Sisters and share in their experiences in the Ministry. We also got to meet head coordinator Kate, who put us to work in the kitchen making biscuits for the Sister’s morning tea! (the chocolate biscuits were definitely a winner over the almond!) 

Most of the sisters we met were still active in ministry, using their free time to volunteer at hospitals such as St Vincents, where most previously worked full-time before retirement.  It was incredible to hear just how dedicated these women were to their faith, and the places ministry took them to help those in need. Amazingly we were able to chat with Sister Josephine who is 103 years old! She didn’t let this stop her though and provided us with an insight into her awe-inspiring contributions to the Sisters of Charity. Not only did she publish and write numerous accounts of the Sisters of Charity’s history, but was momentous in reforming the actual records and documenting the SOC formation and involvement all over the world. It highlighted the significance of our faith and where this can take us to help people in need, not only in Australia but across the world. 

I implore Year Elevens to join this trip next year. It is such a rich experience and the feeling that you have when you know you have helped someone even just a little bit, is too good to miss out on by passing by this opportunity. Plus a cheeky Macca’s run on the way home and late night karaoke never hurts!. 

Cambridge House

Cambridge House is an aged care facility located in Collingwood, run under St Vincent’s. It was truly eye opening to see how much COVID has affected the way aged care facilities run, and how heavily they have been impacted. Residents are not allowed visitors and all staff have to be in full PPE at all times. Despite this setback most of the residents we met tried remaining optimistic. At times it was hard to communicate, however, the biggest take away from the experience was putting a smile on their face. Even though we couldn’t do much, sometimes company is all people need, and I’m glad that our one small visit could have impacted another person’s happiness. 

After going on the trip and being exposed to the lives of individuals within each ministry I see just how much more can still be done for these people and it is something that I’m now considering after high school. So being someone who didn’t even know this trip existed to now considering possible after school pathways really shows the impact this program had on me and I’m sure I can speak for the rest of the girls who went on this trip. I really urge year 11’s to get involved next year!

Year 7 Drama - Recreate Art

While isolating at home, the Year Sevens have been getting artistic again, using their creativity and their expressive skills to recreate characters featured in Art. Last year, The Getty Museum in LA, the MET in New York and the NGV in Melbourne ( just to name a few) challenged people to recreate their favourite artworks using themselves and found objects around the home. The St Columba’s girls, unsurprisingly, took up the challenge with extraordinary enthusiasm. Below are a few examples from the work this semester. A special thank you to all the family members (and pets) that were also willing to feature in their Art.

Girl Asleep - Senior Production

Matthew Whittet’s wild and colourful 70s theatre extravaganza, ‘Girl Asleep’, was staged in the final hours prior to lockdown earlier this term. A ‘part fairy tale and part lipstick-smeared vigilant escapade’, the 2021 Senior Production was a true celebration of the talent, resilience and leadership that exists at the college. It is a show that explores ‘the closing of the doors of childhood, and the opening-up of the strange and crazy doors of adolescence’. In a case of life imitating art, the cast and crew did a remarkable job at bringing this show to life in such unpredictable times. As evidenced by the struggles the broader Theatre industry is experiencing, creating and performing live work is tricky and stressful in our current climate. We were originally due to perform during the previous lockdown, much of our rehearsals were conducted remotely, audience capacity was iffy and masks made rehearsals difficult. But the St Columba’s girls tackled these obstacles with determination, creativity and talent. Of particular note were the student directors who steered the rehearsal process and created a wonderful sense of community within the cast. 


During this tumultuous time of change, the Performing Arts are important in schools as they build a sense of belonging, boost individual self-belief, encourage social-emotional development, builds leadership skills, develops collaborative problem-solvers and students who are confident communicators. Thank you to all involved for continuing to nourish the arts during such tricky times.



Georgia Cutajar

Annabelle Collier

Angelina El-Tawil

Maria Petropoulos

Melina Borrelli

Luci Srour

Olivia Amenta

Lisa- Maree Agrest

Aimee Piro

Charlotte Foster

Sofia Rice Samayoa


Student Directors

Juliana Basilone 

Imogen Rawlings 

Delta Lynch 

Alissa-Rose Probyn



Sabrina Chard

Rosaria Grasso

Plastic Free July

Last month, the College celebrated Plastic Free July by sharing plastic free tips in the bulletin and hosting a competition. The competition involved students submitting social media style photos with ‘#plasticfreejuly’ to show how they incorporate plastic free alternatives into their lifestyles. We had so many creative entries but the most outstanding was submitted by Sophia D’Aspromonte (Year 7) who showed her zero-waste lunch box alternatives. The Environment Group promoted the importance of not limiting these conscious actions to July, but rather, the month aimed to spread awareness of our need to reduce our plastic waste and how collectively, individual change can make a significant difference.

Plastic-free tips:

  • Instead of using wrapping for your food try alternatives like containers, beeswax wraps and paper bags. 
  • Bring a reusable cup, straw and cutlery when dining out (the canteen gives a 50c discount for bringing your reusable cup!)
  • Start making your own snacks rather than relying on individually packaged foods
  • Take a foldable tote bag with you when you shop
  • Shop at bulk food stores

Year 10 PBL Week

Don’t forget to save the date for Year 10 PBL Week! More information on how you can tune in, to come.