September 9, 2022

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Principal's Message


Notices from the Deputy Principal

Heart of Columba

Charity Run 2022

Columba Live - PBL Podcast

Winning Film

St Bernard's Wellbeing Day Assemby

Library News

Year 12 Ministry Retreat

Year 11 Chemistry

Numeracy Week & Supporting Maths

Precious Plastics Workshop

Principal's Message

Spring Music Concert

What a joy it has been to welcome back those events on our College calendar that bring to life the vibrancy of learning within our school community.  The Spring Music Concert, held on 8 September, is one of those events.  This showcase of staff and student talent gives witness to the depth of talent, and the commitment to practice, teamwork, and collaboration, that were evident in abundance as we enjoyed the performances from ensembles, choirs, and our talented VCE Music students.

Congratulations to the St Columba’s College music and instrumental staff, and to all of the back-stage crew, for working with our students to present such an engaging and polished performance.

125 Year Gala Dinner

The Gala Dinner was held at Hyatt Place, Essendon Fields, last Friday evening and what a festive celebration of the College it was.  With alumnae in attendance from across decades (the oldest graduating in 1953), as well as current families, staff members, past and present Board Directors, members of our Alumnae Committee and colleagues from sister schools, it was a special occasion to acknowledge the impact of this College on generations of women.

Hosted by Lana Wilkinson, alumna, we were entertained by College graduates Wendy Stapleton and her support vocalists, all past students, as well as Georga Byrne, alumna, and her band.  Our silent auction raised $2840.00 for the Sisters of Charity Foundation, and we are grateful to all attendees for their generous support, and to our sponsors for the gifts and donations.

I have included an excerpt from my introduction below.  I would like to extend my gratitude to our Deputy Principal, Brigitte McDonald and Donna Kellett, her assistant, for their fabulous organisation of a wonderfully enjoyable event.

It’s a privilege to be sharing this evening with you – many of you whose connections with the College are decades and generations deep. Your stories are the ones that bring this community to life. Your stories are the ones that cement this College as the exemplary provider of girls’ education, and the ongoing school of choice for young women in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

My association is probably one of the shortest – having commenced as the principal in 2018.  In that short time, however, the College has had a profound impact on me as a leader, as a committed woman of faith, and as a strident voice for the equal participation of women in society.

On reflection, it occurs to me that this impact has been about the gifts of the Spirit that are thriving within the College community, ones which have been etched into the culture and being of the school through the work of the Sisters and now Mary Aikenhead Ministries, and the generations of teachers and support staff who wanted to be a part of that story.

The works of the Sisters of Charity continue to inspire and are revelatory – these works have been borne out of industry and endeavour, initiative and innovation, hard work in the name of God by women who did not have a place in the hierarchy of their time.  To think of the legacy they have left, in their schools and their health services is staggering, especially against the back drop of a patriarchal society.  It sets both a challenge and aspiration for those of us connected with the story in how we go about our own personal and professional lives.


Notices from the Deputy Principal


It was lovely to finally celebrate the special men in our young people’s lives at the Father’s Day Breakfast last Thursday. The last time we did this was 2019. More than 130 men and their children came along to share food and enjoy quality time with each other.

We hope that all fathers enjoyed their special day on Sunday.


One of our major events to acknowledge our 125th anniversary was our Gala Dinner which was held on Friday 2 September at the Park Hyatt, Essendon Fields.

We were thrilled to be able to have some performances by our students – the College Band played in the foyer on the arrival of our guests and we were treated with a special dance performance by a talented group of dancers prepared by Linda Henderson. Thank you to both Evan Clements, who prepared the College Band and to Linda.

It was also wonderful to have special alumnae back to perform on the evening. The amazing Wendy Stapleton, her daughters Shani Kassis and Ally McNaughton and her nieces, Billie and Angela Stapleton and the talented Georga Byrne and her band all contributed to an outstanding night. The buzz on the night was electric.

A feature of this evening was a Silent Auction which allowed us to raise funds to support the important work of the Sisters of Charity Foundation – an organisation that assists those who are marginalised. We were able to raise $2840 for the foundation. We wish to thank our sponsors who were so generous.


A uniform should establish a sense of pride, belonging, purpose and identity among students. One of the most recognisable features of any school is the uniform worn by its students while on campus and in the wider public. The College uniform and the way it is worn provides a statement about the way we perceive ourselves, and the way in which we hope members of the public will perceive us. Uniforms also help build school spirit.

Since 2011, Year 12 students have been allowed to wear a commemorative windcheater as part of the celebration and acknowledgment of the significance of being in Year 12. We are continuing this tradition in 2023.

The current Year 11 students, in dialogue with the House Leaders and College Leadership Team, have designed this windcheater. The hope is that the Year 12 windcheater will be a unique design each year after a similar process of consultation. Students are currently voting on their preferred design.

A letter will been sent to Year 11 families with further details about the purchasing of the windcheater. In order to ensure that the windcheaters are ready for delivery to the College for the commencement of the new year, the online or face to face purchasing at Noone needs to occur by Saturday 8 October in order to give us the best chance of a start of term 1 delivery.

Students who miss the 8 October deadline will have until Saturday 29 October to put an order in. No orders will be accepted after that. Any orders after 8 October should understand that they will not receive the windcheater until the commencement of term 2, 2023 at the earliest. Questions about payment should be directed to Noone Imagewear, in the first instance.

Students and parents should be aware of the expectation which will form part of the 2023 Year 12 Agreement:

“I understand and accept all my responsibilities regarding the Year 12 Windcheater and accept that I am permitted to wear it every day as an alternative to the College jumper. Should I be found to be in breach of any grooming or uniform expectations on 3 occasions, I accept that my windcheater will be confiscated for four school weeks. I am then able to continue to wear the windcheater provided I comply with all uniform and grooming requirements.”

Any students or parents unprepared to comply with the above are advised not to purchase the commemorative windcheater.

CYBER SAFETY – A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat Family Center

Snapchat is another very popular app used by young people. I recently came across this article and thought it was a good one to share with our parents.

Heart of Columba

The St Columba’s College archives are filled with 125 years’ worth of photographs, objects and uniform pieces, which until now, have not been seen by many people. On Saturday 8 October we will officially bring our archives into public view, with the grand opening of our heritage centre ‘The Heart of Columba’.

To mark this significant milestone, we are also hosting a general reunion for all St Columba’s College alumnae.

So come along and visit the Heart of Columba, tour the College, spend time with old friends over afternoon tea and celebrate 125 year of St Columba’s College.

When: Saturday 8 October 2022, 3.00pm to 5.00pm
Where: St Columba’s College, 2 Leslie Road Essendon

This event is open to the College community and alumnae, we look forward to seeing you all there.

Register your attendance here:

Charity Run 2022

Finally after two year’s of being run virtually we are back running the Charity Run Event at the Maribyrnong River!

Our runners have been going since 4am, and will each run a minimum of 16kms.

It is a huge commitment and achievement so we are calling out to our St Columba’s community to show their support by donating HERE.

No donation is too small and 100% of funds raised will go to the Sisters of Charity Foundation to help countless groups and individuals across Australia in these times of need.

Columba Live - PBL Podcast

As part of PBL week, the Generators Cluster worked with Making Media to produce a podcast – Columba Live. Columba Live is a collection of interviews highlighting the learnings from PBL week, dissecting the design thinking process and outlining the incredible work our students undertook throughout the week.

Tune in Tuesday 13 September at

Winning Film

Alissa-Rose Probyn (Year 12 OBNS2) won the Valley Youth Film Festival for the second time in a row on Friday 25th August for her film “I have a secret”. The film is a coming-out film about a shy, intelligent, comedic genius Elliot Davis who thinks that he has his life under control. But with teenagers having phones at their hands and the internet at their feet, Elliott is unable to hide his long-kept secret.
There was no specific theme for the film festival but given that the films were being screened on Wear It Purple Day, Alissa-Rose used that as a starting point for her film.
Alissa-Rose is studying Year 12 Media and is currently putting the finishing touches on a music video clip that she has been working on. She hopes to study a media production course next year.

St Bernard's Wellbeing Day Assemby

On Friday 2nd of September, we attended the St Bernard’s College annual Wellbeing Day assembly, where we were able to use our platform as school captains to address the importance of focusing on mental health. At the assembly were we privileged to be able to speak to the staff and students, and provide them with our perspective as young women, about the pressures that we face in relation to wellbeing, and the techniques that we use to overcome moments of struggle. 

This visit to St Bernard’s was very important to us, as it enabled St Columba’s and St Bernard’s to come together as a unified community of young people to combat the issues surrounding mental health. One of the main focuses of our speech was emphasising that young people, regardless of their gender, all share similar experiences and stressors in their everyday lives. We expressed the importance of being able to recognise the positive things in a negative situation, whether these be big or small, and we also talked about how the ability to establish respect for others stems from having a respectful relationship with yourself. One of our favourite parts of the speech included ‘… what we hope that you have taken away from what we have said today, is that we’re all in the same boat, and we’re all here for you. Everyone’s mental health varies during their life. Putting off talking to your friends or a partner about how you’re feeling because you want to uphold the ‘good man’ stereotype, and subsequently remain silent, although it may feel like the easiest option, only continues to feed into a culture that we all don’t want to bring into the future. Like most things, fixing the mental health of our community isn’t going to happen in a day, but focusing on your own mental health not only brings benefits to you but also helps you to be able to support your loved ones.’  Which we feel really emphasised the notion that issues that our generation and community faces are defiant of gender, identity, culture, sexuality and more and better that are about being truly honest, inclusive and combating these issues together. 

Not only did it feel incredibly empowering to be given a platform to speak on such important topics, but it allowed us to be incredibly grateful to be given this role where we’re able to use our role in a way that is constructive not only for ourselves and the St Columba’s community, but for the wider community. Part of this we truly have to thank our school for!

Library News

Every year the Children’s Book Council of Australia promotes reading by celebrating Book Week.

This year’s Book Week theme was ‘Dreaming With Eyes Open’.

To mark this special event, Sophia Library hosted a Get(lit)erary Festival for students, with fun activities in the Library every lunchtime.

Year 7 students received a visit from YA author Will Kostakis, who talked about the power of storytelling, and staff enjoyed a Narnia-themed morning tea. There was a great turnout from students and all participants went into a draw to win some great prizes.

Year 12 Ministry Retreat

On the 1st and 2nd of September, a group of year 12’s participated in the Year 12 ministry retreat. This retreat focused on doing outreach activities with charities that are easily accessible after graduating from high school.

On our first day, we began with reflecting on what we are hoping to accomplish during the retreat. We then made our way to the house of an asylum seeker woman in Broadmeadows in partnership with Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project. The team of girls as well as Sister Brigid and Bert helped her around the house with cleaning and doing household projects. As a single mother of four and currently struggling with health issues after a car crash, she was extremely grateful for both our help and companionship. 

Throughout the day she showed us many pictures of her children and their “student of the week” certificates. It was truly heartwarming to see someone who has experienced such hardships in her life have such deep love and pride for her children. She was also kind enough to share some of her personal experiences with us and give us some advice. As a group we all agree that she is one of the strongest women we’ve ever met.  

We ended the day with some reflection activities, and a fun rest of the night of free time with a  feast of pizza and ice cream, doing just dance with Viv and Miss Wallace, playing table tennis, and not so fun – studying for looming SAC’s.

On the second day, we made our way to the ‘Big Group Hug’ Warehouse in Bundoora. ‘Big Group Hug’ is a charity that works with local communities to respond to the immediate material needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children and their families. After giving the volunteers a range of children items we had donated and having quick tour of the warehouse, we were tasked with cleaning donated children’s toys, checking puzzle pieces and testing the quality of toys so that they were ready to go to a new home. Although this charity doesn’t have direct contact with the people they help, it was still extremely rewarding to know that we were, somewhere, making a child smile. 

This retreat was a true insight on how a simple action has a larger impact on the community. 

Being high school students and especially year twelves, it’s extremely easy to become hyper focused and stressed about whether you are going to pass a SAC, or get the ATAR you want; so going on this retreat really brought a new perspective into our lives, and not only reminded us to be grateful for what we have but that we have the capacity to do whatever we set our hearts to. 

Although the activities were action packed and at times hard-work, the time flew by quickly, and we felt accomplished in what we had achieved. When first arriving at the retreat we had the preconceived notion that to do Ministry you had to have a strong religious connection. However after the experience we realised that it’s more so about being open and compassionate, connecting with the community, and putting in time and effort for others.

Overall, the experience was extremely fulfilling and we encourage you to take up this opportunity if you get the chance in the future!

Year 11 Chemistry

Over the past week Year 11 Chemistry students have been refining their skills to perform a titration for their Outcome 3 Experimental design.  Their goal is to complete a form of quantitative analysis that allows chemists to determine unknown concentrations of a particular reagent present in a sample. For their task, students will determine whether the active ingredient in a sample of drain cleaner is correct. All students have mastered the skill of completing risk assessments, making standard solutions, and understanding the importance of accuracy when completing this process. We are very grateful to the College’s Laboratory technicians who provided the students with guidance and assistance during this process.

Numeracy Week & Supporting Maths

To celebrate Numeracy Week, the maths department prepared a series of daily brain teasers to test students’ problem-solving skills. We had a total of 78 students tune in over the week. Thank you to all the students who participated and all the parents who pitched in at home!

Finishing with perfect scores, we would like to congratulate:
Siena Sands (Year 8, OBNJ1) and Serena Cooper-Nolan (Year 11, BRNS2)

A special mention to Millie Moody and Estelle Tabet for being able to figure out the hardest quiz question.

For those curious minds, see if you can rival our top challengers:

Ms Nguyen rides her bike to school and arrives 15 minutes early by traveling at a speed of 30 km/h. If she is traveling at a speed of 25 km/h, she will arrive at school 1 minute early. By how much time will she be early or late if she travels at 20 km/h?

Tips for supporting children with tricky questions (or maths homework!)

  • Student often get stuck because they don’t understand the life context that is set up in the question (those tricky worded problems!) Start by drawing a diagram with your child, even if you don’t know how to explain the mathematical concept.
  • Ask guiding questions, for example, “how do you think this links in with what you have learnt at school?” or “do you think this answer make sense?” You may find that your child will be able to answer these questions, even if you are unsure.
  • Encourage your child to give explanations, this really heaps to clarify their understandings and misconceptions. And who knows, maybe you might discover a new love for maths!


Solution: Ms Nguyen is 20 minutes late to school

Precious Plastics Workshop

On Thursday 8th of September, the STEAM Lab hosted Yr 11 VCAL students from St. Joseph’s College Geelong. Students are currently conducting a unit on polymer recycling and came to visit our school to gain insight into possibilities relating to the circular economy. The workshop began with the sorting of lids according to the Plasgran guide to plastic recycling grades. Environment Captain, Julianne Cabanayan spoke to the students about our school’s approach to the collection of plastic lids and our vision to become a collection point for the local community. The STEAM Lab assistant, Jennifer Tran spoke to the students about the origin of the Precious Plastic movement and how it is being implemented here at the College. Students were then given the opportunity to create their own plastic coaster using plastic sheets formed from the granulation and pressing of donated plastic lids. 

A reminder to the school community, that we need a continual supply of plastic lids coming into the College. Plastic lids are granulated and then pressed into plastic sheets and are used to make products. Together we can all contribute to the circular economy and make a difference to the environment.