An email arrived in my inbox this week citing these alarming statistics:
According to the eSafety Commissioner, reports of serious cyberbullying among young people under 14 have skyrocketed, more than tripling since 2019.
They also found the month of May 2023 was the biggest reporting month for serious cyberbullying incidents on record since eSafety’s cyberbullying scheme began in July 2015.
Source: Project Rockit email, 24 August 2023
We are not immune from these statistics at St Columba’s College. Please be assured that the College takes all issues of cyber-safety extremely seriously and has clear policies and procedures in place.
I must be clear that any behaviour that compromises the safety and wellbeing of another person is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. This extends to all bullying behaviour, online or otherwise.
The College works proactively with students around safe and responsible digital citizenship. We have partnered with ySafe in the delivery of professional learning for staff members, and through this partnership, we have access to a library of materials to support teachers and families to be in conversation with our young people about appropriate and expected behaviour online.
This material has recently been made available to you through the Engage Portal Welcome Page. I ask you to access this material and have conversations with your daughter in relation to both the College’s and your own expectations with regards to online behaviour.
As a reminder, we also have our cyber-safety presentation for families as part of our parent education program, scheduled for Wednesday, 30 August. The invitation with the registration link can be found in your direqt messages in SEQTA Engage or here.
We value our partnership with you in ensuring our young people are kept safe and are developing as responsible citizens of the world, now and into their future. I appreciate parent support of the consequences we are issuing when we discover that there has been a breach of St Columba’s College expectations, and community standards in general, in relation to the use of digital technologies.
We rejoice and give thanks for earthworms, bees, ladybirds and broody hens; for humans tending their gardens, talking to animals, cleaning their homes and singing to themselves; for the rising of the sap, the fragrance of growth, the invention of the wheelbarrow, we give thanks.
We will be acknowledging this week in our College community. This poster will be seen by students on SEQTA notices and displayed on the TV monitors around the College. Students will also be part of a Pledge Wall House Challenge.
It is timely that we will be holding our Cybersafety presentation by Victoria Police about young people’s use of, and laws about, online social platforms. The session will be held in the Theatrette in the Nicholson building on Wednesday 30 August at 6:30pm.
A reminder also that we have added the following icon to the SEQTA Engage Parent Portal which provides further information from ySafe.
The College’s Student Wellbeing Policy was recently reviewed by the Leadership Team. As per the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools policy, we have included sections that highlight how parents or legal guardians can contribute to their own and other children’s wellbeing. There is also a section that highlights how students are able to contribute to the development of their own and other students’ wellbeing. This policy and others can be found on SEQTA Engage – Information – Student Wellbeing – Policies.
Parent Engagement Committee (PEC)
The PEC is always looking for greater parent involvement. If you are interested in coming along to the next meeting on Tuesday 12 September email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. This meeting will be a blended meeting. Feel free to pop along in person (meeting will be held in the Boardroom on Level 1 in the Bruton building) or join us online – meet.google.com/fij-hziu-ymk.
End of Term Assembly – Thursday 14 September
Parents are warmly invited to attend our end of term assembly. Please RSVP via the link on the calendar in SEQTA Engage for parents so that we can ensure seating has been allocated.
Author: Ms Brigitte McDonald - Deputy Principal
Update from the Student Engagement Team (SET)
The SET is excited to share that we’ve been active and steam-rolling towards improving St Columba’s for everyone involved!
While it’s been a while since our focus has been solely centred on niggles— the pressing concerns of the students as a whole— there has been a significant amount of work that’s been put into what could be improved at school, and many changes that are soon to be shared with the College community. These changes were recently presented to the Leadership Team by Matilda Lawrie (Year 12) and Ava Scapello (Year 7) and this information will be shared at the end of term Assembly.
Parents may be aware of the recent House Review where a survey was shared around, asking students what it was that we liked and disliked about our current House System, and of course: what could be improved? The SET played a major role in helping to create that survey. During a meeting with Lucy Caroll, an external Consultant, we looked over the first stages of the survey and helped improve the clarity of the questions. This way, we were able to make sure the data collected was the most helpful and effective in what was to come next. Ms Grima will discuss some of this at the upcoming Assembly.
SET was also visited by Maddy and Alex from Moonee Valley Council to talk about the programs which the Council has made available to young people today. From their “L’s to P’s” program helping new drivers get their hours up, to their other activities hosted by their Youth Council, consisting of other local teens, there was plenty available that could be a great opportunity to make friends, have fun, or have a breather— especially as we approach the end of the year, where exams, tests and deadlines start to pile up and become a great factor of stress for all of us.
The SET’s most recent agenda has been about the teacher’s Code of Conduct which we were asked to review to ensure that it was a student-friendly document.. The SET worked collaboratively to make sure that each policy was succinct as well as ensuring that difficult terminology was clearly explained. These changes were presented to the Leadership Team and to the College Board. Both of these committees endorsed our changes and applauded the work we did to update this policy.
While that’s all for now, there is more to come with a busy future SET agenda.
Author: Taylor Navarro - Year 11 Cahill House Representative and member of the SET
CGSAV Division 1 Soccer Competition
On Tuesday the 22nd of August a group of St Columba’s students were lucky enough to travel to Darebin International Sports Centre to participate in the CGSAV soccer competition. As a year 12 student, I was looking forward to my last sports competition whilst at the college, as well as captaining the seniors team. Entering into the tournament, we had no expectations of winning, and only had a shared aspiration to do our best. We were lucky enough to be coached by Mr Do and John Camburn, both of whom were able to give us tips and guide us whilst we were playing. During the tournament, we won two out of three of our games which put us into the finals. Throughout all our games, we were always making sure to talk to one another and act as a unified team, something which I believe got us the win in the end. The finals ended 0-0 after full and extra time, leading to a stressful penalty shootout. We ended up winning 3-1 on penalties, a testament to not only skill but also great teamwork. I would also like to say a big congratulations to Karina for winning the best player in the final. I am so grateful to have ended my sporting activities at St Columba’s on a high like this, and had such an enjoyable time not only playing soccer but spending time with other members of the STC community.
Author: Carla Reed - Year 12 Student and Soccer Player
Charity Run - Friday 8 September
This year is the 42nd running of the Maribyrnong 150 Charity Run, in partnership with St Bernard’s College. The event will take place on Friday, 8 September 2023. The route will again be the circuit around the Maribyrnong River Trail between the Maribyrnong Road and Afton Street bridges.
This year the money raised is being donated to Edmund Rice Catholic Education Centre (formerly Brother Beausang Catholic Education Centre) and the Ruben Centre in Embulbul, Kenya, who have had a long-standing friendship with St Bernard’s College and St Columba’s.
As brother schools SBC and ERCEC are both charged with a mission to be faithful to the vision of Edmund Rice, seeking to serve the needs of the young people and community to offer a liberating education, based on a gospel spirituality, within an inclusive community committed to justice and solidarity.
Money raised by St Columba’s and St Bernard’s students participating in the Maribyrnong 150, will contribute towards the funds required for the daily functioning of ERCEC and Ruben Centre that provides educational opportunities and health care from the Embulbul community. Educationally, this includes the upkeep of buildings and facilities, teacher wages and resources, as well as a hot meal that is provided to each student daily.
Our inclusive communities will continue to live to support both ERCEC and the Ruben Centre who are agents of positive change in their community and provide opportunities that may not exist with such advocacy and support from communities like ours.
You can get behind STCC and SBC, and support ERCEC and Ruben Centre by donating here.
Author: Ms Shellie Murton - Sports Administrator
Kick Arts was a night filled with unforgettable performances and exceptional talent. It took place on Friday 25th August and brought together students from St Columba’s College, Ave Maria College and St Bernard’s College to showcase their incredible skills and passion for the performing arts.
St Columba’s College’s first act for the evening was Saskia Cardamone and Zee Elefano, both talented students from Year 9, who took the stage by storm with their outstanding rendition of “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” from the Broadway classic “Annie Get Your Gun”. Their captivating performance not only showcased their acting prowess but also their exceptional singing talent. The judges too were taken by their performance as they were awarded first place in the Drama category.
The second act for St Columba’s College was Isabella Vigilante (Year 11) who graced the stage with her powerful vocals and heartfelt rendition of “Tattoo,” the Eurovision-winning song by Loreen.
Every act demonstrated the dedication, hard work, and passion that the students pour into their craft and the talent displayed throughout the night left a lasting impression on all who attended.
A huge thank you to Lauren Ryan-Green (Year 12) and the Arts Captains from Ave Maria and St Bernard’s for organising the event and for hosting the evening. Thank you also to everyone who attended and supported the evening.
Author: Mr Scott Wiseman - Learning Area Leader Arts
Great Book Swap
Year 10 Literacy, in collaboration with the St Columba’s library, will be hosting a Great Book Swap event on Wednesday, September 6th. The event will take place during both recess and lunchtime in the library. If you have any books seeking a new reader, please place them in the donation boxes located throughout the school, including Front Reception. We’re excited to see the books that you donate!
Since 2017 we have had kids reporting what is now known as sextortion.
For me, it started with two little girls on the mid-north coast (they were 11yrs) being asked for photos of their feet and then moving up with demands. Fortunately, they were brave enough to tell me, and the Police were helpful.
Since then, I can’t count how many cases I have been informed of.
I cannot stress how important it is for young people to learn more about how this happens. Unfortunately, a hangover of how fear has been used to teach about Cybersafety that I have witnessed my whole career is what is often stopping them.
Join me for a crucial webinar on sextortion, 30mins tailored specifically for the safety of our tweens and teens. Our approach is different we work without the fear-mongering because fear-based tactics often push conversations into the shadows. I aim to empower you so you can empower kids with knowledge, understanding, and practical tools to navigate the digital world safely. Let’s equip our young people with the right information to recognise, report, and resist sextortion attempts. We can foster open conversations and create a safer online environment for our young people.
Register today and be a part of this transformative discussion.
Trial Examinations – Friday 22 September – Thursday 28 September
Formal trial examinations are an essential preparation for the end of year examinations that will be held at the College. These examinations are an excellent opportunity to consolidate students’ learning and preparedness for the VCAA exams.
All Unit 3 and 4 VCE students are expected to attend examination times as indicated in the trial examination timetable. If a student fails to attend these compulsory examinations, they will be required to attend an interview with their House Leader and a member of the Senior Pathways Team. The Panel will decide appropriate consequences. The feedback from the trial examination will provide students with valuable information about areas for further review and study before the scheduled VCAA Examinations.
These examinations will be held under the VCAA conditions and supervised by VCAA supervisors. Trial examinations will not be rescheduled. Students will only be permitted to bring in approved materials and equipment as per the VCAA regulations. Students who have been granted special provisions for the examinations will have them apply during the trial examination period to the best of our ability. For information regarding the VCAA regulations and approved materials, we encourage students and parents to go to the VCE examination timetable.
The College First Aider and Student Receptionist will be available during the trial examinations to assist the VCAA supervisors with any first aid in the event a student becomes unwell. The College Counsellors are available to students during the trial examinations and VCE examinations in November. We encourage students and their families to email the Counsellors directly if you would like to schedule an appointment time.
The College academic uniform is not required during the trial examination period. Students are encouraged to wear clothing that is comfortable and appropriate for examinations. Students are required to have their photo ID with them and placed on the student desk for the trial examinations.
VCE Study and Examination Period – Term 3 Holiday, 2 October – 15 November 2023
Students studying VCE Music Performance, Drama, Dance and Languages will be notified if they are required to complete a trial mock orals or performance examinations. These students are encouraged to make appointments with their subject teachers during the VCE study period and whilst examinations are occurring. If students are on-site outside of scheduled class time they need to sign in and out at the Front Office. Students are required to wear the full College academic uniform if they are on-site. The College counsellors are available to Year 12 students during the study period. Students can make appointments by contacting them via email.
Unit 3 and 4 Examinations
VCE Examinations commence Tuesday 24 October with the Unit 3 & 4 English Examination. Students studying VCE Music Performance, Drama, Dance and Languages have their examination earlier in October and have been notified by the VCAA and the VCE Leader of their examination times. Students are required to wear the College academic uniform for the written Unit 3 & 4 Examinations.
Recommendations for a successful examination
Prepare for the examination by packing your bag with any necessary equipment such as pens, pencils, rulers, calculators, spare batteries and a dictionary
Check the examination timetable to confirm the examination time
Ensure you have your ID card with you.
Pack some food and water for you to take to school.
Day of the examination
Wake up at normal school time
Where possible ask a parent/legal guardian/other person for a lift to school on the day of an examination
Plan to arrive at school at least 30 minutes before the start of reading time.
In the event a student is running late or is unable to attend an examination:
Ring the College (03) 9337 5311 and ask to speak to Mrs Louise Newton, VCE Leader. We ask that students and parents/legal guardians do not leave a voicemail message
Mrs Louise Newton will implement any arrangements required after liaising with the VCAA.
Author: Mrs Louise Newton - VCE Leader
MAV Maths Games Day
On July 26th, St. Columba’s had the exciting opportunity to take part in the MAV Math Games, a competition where schools put their maths knowledge to the test by tackling challenging problems. Eight students were selected to represent our school, competing against a range of schools.
The event was divided into three segments filled with engaging problem-solving tasks. The initial games, “Kenken” and “Yohaku,” presented equal challenges to all participants, offering an excellent platform to showcase diverse skills. However, the true excitement kicked in during the second round of games, called the “Swiss games.” This segment allowed us to interact with students from other schools and put our mental maths and quick thinking abilities to the test.
In the “Swiss games,” participants formed a circle, with teams sitting alternately, each representing a school. consisted of four rounds, each featuring x and y tables with various numbers and patterns to solve. At times, the competition grew intense as the opposing team recognised the pattern as well as we did, motivating us to complete the table before time elapsed—an empowering experience.
The day concluded with the final game: a relay race where we had to retrieve our question papers and solve them. While my team wasn’t able to effectively showcase our individual skills given the pressure of time constraints, we honed our collaboration and teamwork abilities as we worked together to solve the problems.
In short, the MAV Math Games offered a remarkable opportunity to apply mathematical knowledge creatively, interconnect across schools, and challenge our cognitive capacities. An unforgettable experience that I eagerly anticipate for the next year. I encourage any fellow students to test their maths and critical thinking skills while forging new friendships!
Author: Kathy Vo - Year 11 student
Book Week at St Columba’s College
Book Week 2023 was celebrated at St. Columba’s College with a number of activities for students and the annual staff morning tea hosted by the Library staff.
The week started off with a book themed Kahoot run by Miss Tomelty and was won by Natalie Kelson.
During the week, a guess the number of books in the jar competition ran, and was won by Anabelle Dib who correctly guessed that there were 28 books. A design the cover of a book competition was also run and the winner of that will be announced shortly.
On Thursday the Library staff hosted a May Gibbs themed morning tea for all of the staff. Staff reminisced about books they read in their early years and others were introduced to an Australian childhood favourite.
Author: Ms Ngaire Brown - Head of Library
Vinnies Winter Sleepout
A night of Sleeping Rough, St Columba’s College Winter Sleepout for our partners at St Vincent de Paul’s
A big thank you to our staff and students participating in this year’s Sleeping Rough Winter Sleep Out. On Friday the 25th of August, a group of teachers and students gave up their warm and cosy beds for various degrees of sleeping it rough in solidarity with the homeless this winter. On the night some slept on their balconies, in their gardens, in tents, on the floor or on the couch, we met online to learn about the issues faced by those less fortunate. We shared that it could happen to any one of us and that we shouldn’t take what we have for granted. We learnt that over 80% of calls for assistance this year come from women over the age of 50. They could be anyone’s grandma, mother or sister. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate but people do. Your donations have been pouring in this weekend and we want to give a big thank you to those individuals and families who sponsored and donated to the incredible Vinnies community. We hope that more students can participate in the future to see the tremendous efforts Vinnies make to help create more comfort and warmth next winter for those in need. Vinnies believes that safe and affordable housing should be accessible to everyone. We need your help to ensure that we can continue to support homeless Victorians. Make a donation to Vinnies today to help combat homelessness. Please study the links below when you have time to gain a greater insight on Homelessness. Here’s what some of the STCC participants have to say about their experience:
“Participating in the Vinnies Winter Sleepout this year was an eye-opening experience which allowed me to put myself in the shoes of the thousands of homeless people in Victoria. This was an opportunity for me to reflect on the stigma surrounding homelessness and the unjust treatment of those who sleep rough. For the Winter Sleepout, I slept on my couch in the lounge room, and although my sleeping situation was far more privileged than that of homeless people, it was the symbolism which not only helped me to feel grateful for my home and my bed but also I was able to set a goal to show more kindness and generosity to others, especially those who are marginalised in society, just as Mary Aikenhed and the Sisters of Charity did.”
Tiana Ciavarella, CHLJ1
“Wrapped in a dry sleeping bag, beanie and scarf on the couch, the streetlight is shining on my face and the bare branches create moving shadows across the wall, with a mental bar digging in my back, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m imagining people literally looking down at me as I sit on the cold concrete pavement, I don’t feel good about myself even though I did nothin’ wrong. Night after night, in fear of being beaten up on a Friday night under a bridge, I’m so sleep-deprived from the sounds of the night, workers, cars, people, and rubbish trucks, I drift unconsciously for a few mins, tomorrow is daunting, aching bones, headaches, insect bites, someone gave me $20, tonight I might have enough money for a hostel, I find a friendly smile that greets me face to face and I find hope waiting for the soup van and sharing a warm conversation. I’m grateful for what I have.”
Creative piece by Anon
“Our family watched several episodes of Filthy Rich and Homeless. It was such a reality check, we were all in tears, inspired to help and advocate for others and never take our comforts for granted”
Ms Hilary Breman
“My experience doing the winter sleepout was great. I didn’t realise that the poor people on the streets had to go through so much. I had a friend over and we did the sleep-rough together so I guess that it wasn’t as bad because there were 2 of us, but if I had to do it on my own, I could have been a lot more scared.”
Harriet Carfi Year 7
“The sleepout was an eye-opening experience that helped us to experience the lives of many homeless people and the many struggles that they face. The agony that they must go through and the resilience they must have to continue to push through sleeping on the streets night after night.”
Camilla Morison-Mehmedbegovic Year 7
“I have definitely changed my perspective on how difficult it is to be homeless as a result of my experience with the Vinnies Sleepout. I could hardly get through one of them without feeling uncomfortable and unable to sleep, which merely serves as an illustration for the difficulties of being a homeless person without access to a bed, food, or warmth from my perspective. I’d advise anyone who’s interested to participate in the Vinnies sleepout because it was a significant experience.”
I’m Alyssa currently in 9.6 and I have just come back from my urban experience last week with St Bernard’s class 9b. During my experience over the past 5 days, I have noticed positive change and development within myself and my group members throughout completing the given tasks we were assigned. I enjoyed working out in a different environment outside of school with different people, as this helped me grow as a person mentally and become the best version of myself. I got to make many new unexpected friendships and relationships with my peers, teachers and with the St Bernard’s students.
On the first day we got put into our groups and did some team building activities to warm up. We got to try to make a contraption that moves with the materials we were given by Mr Reedy and Mr Saade. My group worked together to attempt to build a moving object. Even though we didn’t succeed, we learnt that the process was more important than the end result. As when we were applying ourselves in the city, we didn’t always get the end result perfect or completed but we realised that working together rather then finding the correct answer is more important.
When completing activities I really got the chance to engage and communicate with my group and understand them as the week went on. We all got to find out our strengths and weaknesses and build up self confidence. We were able to discover more about each other and gain a better understanding on how to work as a team.
Author: Alyssa Daulo - Year 9 Urban Experience Student
Wednesday 30 August – Days For Girls
Thursday 31 August – Father’s Day Breakfast
Friday 1 September – Charity Run Netball Game, PBL and 9.7 Urban Experience ends
Monday 4 September – Year 11 & 12 VM Directions Excursion
Tuesday 5 September – Junior Netball Competition and STEAM Expo
Wednesday 6 September – Year 8 Maths Games Day
Thursday 7 September – Charity Run Breakfast and FUSE Cup
Friday 8 September – Charity Run
Saturday 9 September – LHD Cabaret ‘Wired in Wonderland’