October 30, 2020

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Principal's Message


Building Resilience

Australian Geography Competition

Book Week

National Maths Talent Quest


CEM Digital STEM Mad Showcase 2020

Careers News

Year 7 2022 Enrolment

Alumnae News

Parents’ Association AGM

Principal's Message

Welcome Back

It has been such a pleasure to have all of the students and staff back on campus.  We are very grateful for everyone’s safe return and look forward to establishing some good routines over the next six weeks.

Just a reminder that we are trialling the new timetable structure I shared with you in my letter of Tuesday, 20 October.  The new structure aims to support students’ full engagement with their studies over the course of the day, as well as providing time after school for home learning, extra-curricular activities, and of course, family time.  We will be asking for feedback about this renewed structure before the end of the term.  It has been remarkable how adaptable this community has been to the shifting times and structures over the course of this year.  While we do not want to be doing this often, we know we have the capacity to adjust to the circumstances as we need to.

Year 12 Celebrations

It was a pleasure to be able to celebrate the “mini-Graduations” with our Year 12 students last Monday and Tuesday, and to pray with them to acknowledge the last 13 years of their compulsory education.  In the absence of our capacity to celebrate together in community, we live-streamed each ceremony for our parents, recorded various elements of what would normally make up a graduation celebration, and will screen the 2020 Graduation Celebration at the Coburg Village Drive-In for our Year 12s and their families next Wednesday night.  I would like to acknowledge the work of Mrs Brigitte McDonald, and the Graduation Team, for the months of planning to ensure that we could provide a wonderful COVID-safe send-off for our Year 12s.

Our official send-off for the Year 12 students took place on Tuesday, 27 October.  While this was not the send-off we would normally anticipate, it was none-the-less a joyful occasion for our girls.  I would like to congratulate them on their maturity and commitment to partnership, in working with us to ensure we provided for them a safe and fun farewell.

I have included the closing comments from my address to the students at the farewell assembly:

As I finish, I want you to imagine that red thread, and what you can do to extend its influence and its impact on others.  That red thread encapsulates Mary Aikenhead’s passion for the suffering poor, the spirit of courage and endeavour of the first Sisters who arrived here in Australia, the tireless and inclusive love that the Sisters show in working with the marginalised and oppressed, the tenacity and resolve to overcome adversity and blockers, and the hope that the Sisters have in education and how it can change the world.  Take all of this with you, extend, make it larger, and by your lives, others will come to know what it means to be St Columba’s women, women of faith and courage, formed in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity – formidable women who are coming to change the world.

So, we wish you good luck in your endeavours. We hope you will enjoy safe travels and stimulating journeys, and that you will return to us in the years ahead to share your stories with those who share your heritage. Thank you, for the privilege of your trust as we have cradled your education in our hearts and our hands.

In closing, I offer you this blessing:

Go out in joy as you celebrate your achievements here today.

Go out with confidence, knowing that the God of love will lead your way.

Go out in unity, take your gifts and give them to the world, in the name of Jesus.

Go out with strength, clothed and equipped with all you’ve learned.

Go out with wisdom, as God renews your mind each day.

Go out in love, with kindness and blessings to give away.

Go out with your learning and our tradition to bless and enrich God’s world.

“Go forth and set the world on fire.”

Grace be to our graduates, grace be to us all.


Staff Changes in the Finance Office

From Tuesday, 17 November we will welcome Mrs Sandra Taylor as the new Finance Officer – Family Accounts for the College.  Mrs Pam Woodhams will move into a different role within the Finance Team.  Many of you would know Pam, and her compassion and dedication to our families over a significant period of time.  I am personally grateful for the support Pam has offered to our families.  We are pleased to be able to retain her expertise as we transition to a new structure within the team due to the resignation of Mrs Cony Wong.  Mrs Elisa Williamson will take on the position of College Accountant.

Increased mental health support 

As part of the 2020–21 Federal Budget, the Australian Government will provide 10 additional psychological support sessions subsidised by Medicare. The purpose of these is for young people and adults to continue to receive mental health care from their psychologist, counsellor or other eligible allied health worker.  

Additional in-person mental health support sessions may be accessed through a medical general practitioner referral until 30 June 2022.  

For people accessing telehealth support services, additional sessions are available until 31 March 2021.  

To be eligible for the 10 additional mental health support sessions, a person must have: 

  • an approved treatment plan developed by their medical practitioner 
  • used their initial 10 individual sessions 
  • a referral from their reviewing practitioner.  

People who do not use all of the 10 additional sessions by the end of the calendar year may continue to access the remaining services in the next calendar year. 

Critical Dates 

  • An additional 10 psychological support sessions for in-person services will be available until 30 June 2022.
  • Additional telehealth services will be available until 31 March 2021.

We encourage all eligible people to access the support listed above, for any enquiries please visit the Mental health care and Medicare webpage on the Services Australia website


A Prayer of Gratitude

As communities and world continue to challenge us all in so many ways, we are invited to express our gratitude for the many blessings we receive, in the tradition of the Sisters of Charity and their understanding of Ignatian Spirituality. Let us use the wisdom, words and insight of Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, an Irish Sister of Charity, a visionary and a woman social innovation.

All is gift

Every moment

Every breath

Every move

This moment

This alive moment

All is gift


A way of being

We become it

It becomes us

The word

became flesh

to teach



Building Resilience

Resilience helps us to deal effectively with the challenges that life throws at us and helps us bounce back from adversity. It’s more than dealing with the challenges, as there is also a strong correlation between resilience and being successful, caring and empathetic. These are traits that we want to instil in our own children.

Simon Dewar from Real Schools presented to parents giving advice on supporting our students to be resilient.

Please find the recording below;

Australian Geography Competition

In Term 2, we had a number of students participate in the 2020 Australian Geography Competition. The national competition had 699 schools enter 66000 students of which 13 were St Columba’s students. Congratulations to the following students who achieved a credit and above:

High Distinction:

Olivia Docherty – Year 11


Adele Roeder – Year 11


Amy Tellefson – Year 12

Tiffany Truong – Year 12

Olivia Kourtis – Year 11

Ally Hornibrook – Year 11

Alanna Haynes – Year 10

Congratulations to all who participated. We hope to see all of you continue your Geography journey in years to come.

Book Week

Curious Creatures, Wild Minds Display 2020

The remote learning period saw Book Week 2020 postponed until Term 4.  This year’s theme ‘Curious Creatures, Wild Minds,’ felt particularly appropriate. To celebrate this theme, the Library invited St Columba’s staff and students to contribute images of things they are curious or wild about. We received some very creative entries, and the results are currently displayed on the Library Think Tank doors. The silhouette on the left-hand door captures the ideas students and staff contributed, and the one on the right celebrates library books that embody the theme ‘Curious Creatures, Wild Minds’. Thanks to Library staff member Allison Tomelty for creating the display, and to Visual Arts for assisting with the printing.

National Maths Talent Quest

During term 1 and the remote learning period, several year 7 students participated into the Maths Talent Quest. This is an annual competition aimed at promoting interest in mathematics and fostering positive attitudes among students, parents and teachers and is open to all primary and secondary students across the Nation.  Students were encouraged to investigate a mathematical problem where they were required to select a topic and collect evidence and data to draw a conclusion regarding their question of investigation. After many weeks of research and tinkering with their data, students submitted their entries in a variety of formats including videos and e-books. Entries were judged at a school level in August. It was a very challenging job for teachers to pick out just two investigations to submit at the State judging level.

This year the award ceremony was presented online in October to celebrate the achievements of students receiving distinctions, high distinctions and special awards. Estelle Tabet’s “Using Maths to Enhance Performance in Tennis,” received a distinction, while Mary Saad’s “Is Memory Affected By Age,” received a high distinction and also the special Casio Education Award. We are all extremely proud of the effort and time each student has put into their project. Well done on a fantastic achievement!


Last week, the College celebrated Enviroweek to bring awareness to the big changes that school communities can make when it comes to protecting our environment. With the guiding theme of ‘Small actions, big change’, we encouraged students and staff to start thinking about how they can make an immediate contribution to helping our planet by adopting more sustainable habits into their lifestyles. This was supported by the launch of the ‘Student Sustainability Resource’ that has been emailed to all students and is also available through SIMON. The resource is a combination of information and sustainability tips that are achievable for students to highlight that everyone has the power to better our environment.

We also aimed to spread some positivity by asking students to share a photo of their favourite spring flower with the Instagram hashtag ‘stcenviroweek’ to garner an appreciation for the natural world and to show how nature can offer feelings of hope, even in these uncertain times. Students on campus were offered the opportunity to watch David Attenborough’s new documentary ‘A Life on Our Planet’ that shared both a concerned yet hopeful message to humanity. We are sure that this initiative has inspired students to actively make a difference and to value the beauty of our planet that is our duty to protect.

CEM Digital STEM Mad Showcase 2020

Mary Aikenhead “Just because it has not been done before does not mean it can not be done now”…

COVID 19 was not going to stop us from participating in the PBL week, let alone entering the CEM DIGITAL STEM MAD SHOWCASE 2020.


The STEM MAD Showcase is designed to acknowledge and promote STEM learning initiatives that address real-world problems and demonstrate how students in Catholic schools take action that matters. Student teams are invited to design a product, service or innovation to Make A Difference (MAD) to others or the environment.


During Term 3 remote learning, Year 10 students worked in job clusters and in collaboration with industry to undertake various design briefs using the design thinking process. During these tough times the girls had to adapt to online learning as well as immerse themselves in various innovative and creative projects. The work produced during PBL week was exceptional and a testament to the dedication and commitment of our students, teachers and industry partners.


It is wonderful to see students developing skill sets and mindsets to thrive. Approximately 75 percent of all future jobs will require STEM! The College is committed to helping students develop future focused skills so that students are inspired to become innovators and solve the big challenges that face our world today


A big round of applause to the winners and runners up who showcased an impressive array of projects!


Click here for the 2020 Finalist videos




NGV Artful ingenuity

The use of STEM in creative & artistic ways AWARD

FIDGET FUN CASE: Alex Arrowsmith, Emma Grogan, Emma Malkoun, Cassie Spiteri



Best Engineered Product AWARD

ANIMOTIONS: Sophie Leighton, Sarina Valastro, Matilda Wellington, Zoey King


CEM AWARD for Wellbeing

MOTIVATION CHAIR : Claudia Velardo, Corrie Sawicki – Bennett, Julianne Cabanayan, Julia Williams




Royal Botanic Gardens ‘Inspired by nature’ award 

PENGUIN ENRICHMENT:  Riannon Pondeljak, Isabella Bourke, Julia Cicilia, Meikah Mercieca, Cailtin Horton-Crundall


Zoo’s Victoria Conservation Award

PENGUIN ENRICHMENT: Riannon Pondeljak, Isabella Bourke, Julia Cicilia, Meikah Mercieca, Cailtin Horton-Crundall


AKORN Best Engineered Product AWARD

REAL DIGITAL INNOVATIVE APP: Nickola La Bruna, Scarlett Wilms, Lucy  Trimboli, Sophia Skinner

Careers News

This week’s careers news includes the following topics:

  • Australian Defence Force – recruitment video and gap year program
  • Australian Defence Force Academy – Year 11 students can start their application early
  • Endota Wellness College – information session
  • CASPer test – for Victorian undergraduate teaching courses and the Bachelor of Nursing at Victoria University
  • Free VCE exam preparation program running this weekend for STEM students
  • VCE Summer School (information for current Year 11 students)
  • Monash University – engineering, languages and a funded overseas immersion
  • SkillsRoad – career development program
  • Free study skills subjects
  • Focus on employment

Access the Careers Newsletter here
Visit the Pathways website here

Year 7 2022 Enrolment

Application for enrolment for Year 7 2022 has now closed. If you have a daughter in Grade 5 and have not submitted an application form, please download the form from the College website and contact me immediately on 9331 9128 or


Notification of students intending to leave St Columba’s College at the conclusion of the 2020 school year would be greatly appreciated as planning for 2021 is underway. We would like to be able to finalise any potential enrolments as there are families who are seeking places for their daughters at the College in Years 8 – 12.

The notification process is for a formal letter or email of notification to be sent to the Principal, Ms Rita Grima at advising of your daughter’s exit from the College.

Thank you in advance for your attention to these matters.

Alumnae News

We are getting excited that we may be able to hold our ‘0’ Reunions early next year. The Alumnae Coordinator is busily collecting photos from the various 0 years and she has found that the College has no photos for the Year 12s of 1960. If you or your mother has any photos or memorabilia that they would like to share or donate to the College please contact the coordinator at

Parents’ Association AGM

AGM 17 November and election of office bearer roles

2020 have been like no other year, and that theme has carried through to the Parents’ Association’s year. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to deliver on our planned program of events, despite starting with a bang with a fantastic Year 7 Parent Meet and Greet Night. Nonetheless, we have continued to meet throughout the year and make plans for 2021. A big thank you to the parents who have continued to participate throughout the year in this way. This demonstrates the important role that the PA continues to play in connecting the College to its parent community. And a big thank you to all 258 parents who responded to our parent survey – this great response will inform how we operate into the future.

All parents are invited, and welcome to join us, for our Annual General Meeting, and final meeting of the year, to be held virtually on 7pm, Tuesday 17 November.

We will celebrate the year that was, confirm the calendar of events for 2021 and officially transition to the new entity for this group: the Parents’ Association will be reborn as the Parent Engagement Committee (PEC) in 2021, signifying an exciting new chapter.

At the AGM, office bearers for 2021 will be elected: the roles of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer will be voted on. Thanks to Suzette Bayona, Angela Whelan and Natalie Donnelly for their fantastic work in these roles this year.

If you’re interested in attending, one of the office bearer roles or just want to find out more, please contact us via