December 2, 2022

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Principal's Message


Notices from the Deputy Principal

Visual Arts Exhibition

PEC News

Maths Competition

Principal's Reading Challenge


Principal's Message

The end of another year

I can hardly believe that this is the last IONA for 2022.  In many ways this has been a more tumultuous year than the previous two, as we have continued to deal with impact of the pandemic while re-adjusting to post-pandemic life at the same time.  I would like to thank you all for your support, patience and understanding as we managed the impact of staff shortages in the best way possible.

I would like to offer my congratulations to all of our students for the way they have engaged with the Transition Program over the last two weeks.  They have settled into their new programs with energy and motivation, despite end of the year tiredness.  Teachers have remarked about the strong level of engagement they have seen from their classes.  Well done to all our students.


The end of the year brings with it other types of culminations and we sadly farewell students and staff moving along different pathways.

To the students moving on to different schools, we offer you our blessing for your renewed journeys.  May your new schools and educational settings bring you fulfillment in your learning and your relationships.

To our staff members following new horizons, may there be much joy and contentment in your renewed professional lives.

We thank each departing community member for what they have given of themselves to the St Columba’s College community.

Celebration of Excellence

We offer our congratulations to all of the students who received awards across academic, leadership and community arenas at our Celebration of Excellence evening on 1 December.  It was a wonderful recognition of the industry and endeavour we see our students give each and every day.  Thank you for the support of families who attended our first evening celebration of this event, and to all staff members who supported and celebrated the achievements of our students. Click here to to view the full list of award recipients.

Christmas Blessings

As we reach the end of the first week of Advent, we reflect on what this period of waiting asks of us.  We come with renewed hearts in our anticipation of the birth of Jesus, and fresh hope in what the promise of the newborn Christ holds for humanity.

I take the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.  I hope that the coming break affords you the time for rest and relaxation.


During advent, our scripture readings invite us into waiting in joyful hope for the coming of the Messiah. Given all that is going on in the world today so many of us live in a state of waiting, waiting for rest, waiting for our voices to be heard, waiting for change. This advent concept of waiting draws us into the story of our faith, so don’t be afraid of it, sit with it, pray with it. Sr Teresa White fcJ explains, “Waiting can give us the opportunity to see and hear and feel things we’re often too busy to notice. And while we wait, we may see other waiting people, pensioners, parents, disabled people, teenagers, young children, and notice the look in their eyes, the joy, the pain, the hope, the despair; we may see beautiful things, ugly things; we may hear a kind word, a cruel word, a baby’s cry, a shout of rage, a snatch of music… Such experiences are all part of the Advent journey.”

There is great wonder and sacredness in this type of Advent journey. We are invited into a new way of being and seeing our world. But . . . you need to be open to this wonder. It is a challenge when we are tiered, particularly having spent our first full year back at school after the pandemic. But I urge you to seek wonder in our world. The moments, however big or small, grand or fleeting, seek the moments that make your heart sing and your face smile. During this Advent season, take a moment to be still. . . 

Search. . .

Reflect. . .

and Love. . .

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed new year. 



Open our eyes to the dignity of all people

And our ears to the cries of the earth.


Let us walk in solidarity with the poor

And cleanse our world from oppression.


Let us shout out for justice for all

And renew our hope for change.


The Lord is coming

Let us share the Good News!


Sue Cooper/CAFOD

Notices from the Deputy Principal

Christmas blessings

Wishing our families, a wonderful Christmas and New Year. Thank you for working in partnership with us to support and nurture your children. We look forward to an even better 2023!

Earthcare and Laudato Si

Catholic Earthcare Australia is a program of Caritas Australia that responds to the ‘cry of the earth’ and ‘the cry of the poor’ working to safeguard the integrity of creation and providing a voice for victims of environmental injustice.

This year, STCC signed up to the Earthcare program and the Laudato Si platform and the various groups around the school have been working passionately around educating our community and actively working towards caring for the world we live in to make a difference.   

With the support of students and staff, our College has attained Level 1 and Level 2 accreditation this year. We will begin working on the next level at the commencement of 2023 and we hope to have more of you involved in the many initiatives that we are planning.

We are hoping to have some parent involvement in the committee. If you have availability during the school day, are interested in caring for our environment and those who are marginalised, and would like to be part of this committee please contact me at the College.

Bronntanais o Dhia Program

Congratulations to the following students who have been successful in their application for an Engage or Learn badge for their blazer.

2023 Year 11 Students’ Blazers for BRAIDING – Wednesday 7 to Monday 12 December

The following information was provided in the last edition of Iona and is provided here as a reminder. All students progressing to Year 11 at St Columba’s College have the opportunity (not compulsory) to have braid sewn onto their Blazer lapels. Our uniform supplier, Noone, offers this service.

The cost of the service is $40.00, payable at the time by Credit Card only.

The final day of term 4 for students is Tuesday 6 December. Following this date, families have until Monday 12 December to arrange for the dry cleaning of the blazer and its drop off to Front Reception at the College. Students who wish to take up this opportunity must submit their blazers (with their payment form) to Front Reception. The blazer must be drycleaned or the braid cannot be applied.  Please do not wear the blazer after it has been drycleaned.

Families were sent a copy of the payment form provided by Noone. Please print off this form or a hard copy payment form can be collected from Student Reception.  Please complete all details on the form especially the expiry date and the three-digit number on the back of the card.

On the day that the blazer is dropped off to Front Reception (no later than 12.00pm Monday 12 December), please ensure that your child’s blazer has been clearly labelled with her full name on the inside pocket, that all badges have been removed and that the payment form is not stapled to the blazer.  The form must be handed in along with the blazer.

If a new blazer is required, please purchase from the Noone Niddrie store before Monday 12 December and pay for the braid at the time of purchase.  Clearly name the blazer.

No late blazers can be dropped to the school or the Noone store.

Blazers will be available for collection on the first day of term 1 2023.


Parent Education Program: How to recognise Autism in girls

Dr Michelle Garnett is a clinical psychologist who has specialised in autism for nearly three decades. She has written six highly regarded books on autism for parents and professionals, including a seminal text on autistic women. For further information visit or via Facebook.

Autism is significantly more common in boys than in girls. This skewed sex ratio has been recognised since the first cases of autism were described in the 1940s. But we’re not sure why autism appears in more males than females. It may be rooted in biological differences between the sexes. Or, some experts say, it may be an artifact of the way autism is defined and diagnosed.

But we also know that many autistic girls remain undiagnosed because many of the social signs of autism are less obvious in girls than they are in boys. One way that girls are “flying under the radar” of a diagnosis is the use of camouflaging as a coping mechanism.

Camouflaging means to pretend to know how to socialise by using observation, imitation, and adopting a persona or wearing a mask to meet social demands. An autistic girl – like an autistic boy – does not intuitively know what to do or say in a social situation. Social challenges are a hallmark of being on the autism spectrum. Compared with most boys, however, from a very young age an autistic girl will often closely observe and analyse her peers before making the first step. She will use imitation and acting to be able to conceal her confusion when socialising with peers.

What to Know about Autistic Girls

Unlike most autistic boys, girls are more likely to be able to accurately interpret and answer questions about social interactions, social situations, and friendship. However, they rely on intellect rather than intuition, so their responses will be slower, making it difficult for them to keep up in a group setting or with typically-developing and more socially skilled girls. Consequently, autistic girls tend to choose single close friendships rather than being part of a group. They often find males more appealing as friends because male friendship dynamics may be perceived as being easier to understand.

Autistic girls often show a willingness to follow the rules, a natural tendency to shyness, and social naivety. Such qualities can mean that they are easily missed in a classroom where louder children gain the teacher’s attention. Autistic girls are usually very hesitant to ask for help. They may fear drawing attention and are often self-directed and perfectionistic, so do not wish to be seen as stupid or making a mistake.

Autistic girls can focus much of their intellectual energy on learning about their social world, hence special interest topics may have more of a social focus, such as mental health, self, friendships, animals, celebrities, literature, and fantasy. Sometimes it is not the topic that differentiates them from their peers so much as the intensity of their hyper-focus on it.

Despite their frequently better coping mechanisms and ability to camouflage their social difficulties, their social difficulties are very real, on a par with those of autistic boys, and cause enormous stress, confusion, and exhaustion. In addition, autistic girls experience sensory processing challenges at the same level or more than autistic boys. These challenges generally lead to high levels of anxiety in the classroom and playground. When this occurs, you may observe an autistic girl:

  • become overwhelmed in social situations
  • be reluctant to participate in class activities
  • be unable to communicate verbally (situational (selective) mutism)
  • feel judged negatively by their peers
  • withdraw from social interaction

During primary school autistic girls can appear to have no social difficulties, successfully ‘keeping it together’ at school. In fact, an autistic girl may be able to do such a great job at “wearing a mask” and fitting in that nobody would believe she has autism. However, the toll on their energy levels and emotions can be high. Girls will often come home feeling exhausted, irritable, and overly emotional, following a day processing both the academic and social curriculum. Over time secondary mental health concerns often develop including anxiety and depressive disorders, self-harm, eating disorders, and suicidality. The average age of diagnosis for autistic girls around the world is 12-13 years old, coinciding with the first year of high school, when the social world suddenly becomes far more complex, and hormonal changes that increase anxiety exacerbate autistic features.

What Next?

So now you know the signs, what do you do if you think you could have an autistic daughter? If you are a parent, approach your daughter’s teacher. Share this article and discuss what they have observed. If you are a teacher, you may approach the parents and ask them how their daughter is going at home. Mention the signs that concern you and share this article with them. Acknowledge that you are not a diagnostician, and you may be wrong, but that you are concerned and wish to do all that you can to assist their daughter.

To take the next step to obtain a formal diagnosis (or at least to investigate), carefully consider the level of experience of the Clinical Psychologist, Paediatrician or Psychiatrist you choose. The field of understanding the female presentation of autism is an emerging one and many health professionals did not receive training as part of their degree. Approach your local autism association for names of diagnosticians who are experienced in signs of autism in girls and women.

Visual Arts Exhibition

The St Columba’s Art Exhibition titled ‘One-Two-Five’ opened on Thursday November 24 and it was wonderful to welcome the community back to our college and experience first – hand the works presented by our talented Years 7-12 students across art, design, and media. It was an impressive and diverse range of artworks that showcased both the incredible artistic talent and deep creative thought and empathy among our students. Congratulations to all our students on the wonderful work they completed this year and for helping us to make our exhibition special.

And as part of our 125th celebrations, this year, we invited staff and alumni to contribute to our exhibition so a big thank must go out to Ms Renee Fleeton, Mrs Kerry McKiterick, Ms Moira Sullivan, Mr Seth Seiderman, Lana Erneste (class of 2016), Sabine L’Eveille (class of 2017), Brigette Pusello (class of 2012), Florence Cooper (class of 2021), Georgia Pricone (class of 2016), Jennifer Tran (class of 2017) and the art staff whose talent was on display on the night and who made our exhibition that little bit more special.  We were also honoured to have Lana Erneste and Florence Cooper say a few words about their time in the Arts at STC and officially open the exhibition.

I’d also like to acknowledge the wonderful effort of the Visual Arts staff who worked tirelessly to make sure our first exhibition since lockdown was a huge success.  A big thank you to Ms Michelle Grant, Ms Hilary Breman, Ms Olivia Zouev, Mr Scott Wiseman and Ms Keira Hudson for their hard work.

PEC News

The Visual Arts Exhibition was an extra special event for the PEC as we announced the winning entry of two very exciting projects we’ve been running.

The first being the PEC Logo Competition open to all Students. This idea came about a couple of years ago and  finally we launched and ran a competition for a student to design a logo that symbolises the PEC. It needed to reflect our purpose as a committee together with the College. This Logo will be used at all our functions and Administration. Thank you to Tanya Almeida from the College who assisted in getting this up & running

We had a great response and such an amazing work of art from the students. It made our decision hard to select, but a winner had to be chosen. So thank you to all the entrants, we loved your spirit and input

So the winner of the PEC LOGO is ASHLEE TASCONE! Thank you Ashlee & to all the entrants: Olivia Varalla, Alyssa Capuana, Bridie Synon, Arshpreet Kaur, Tiana Ciavarella

Our second project is the PEC Annual College Fundraiser Raffle Tickets. After pausing this for the last couple of years during Covid, the Committee re-introduced this agin this year. We had an overwhelming response and thank you to everyone who participated, with $7095 being raised.


1st Prize $3,000 tuition fees/store voucher- K FIRMAN

2nd Prize $1,500 – NICK GALLINA

3rd Prize $500 – GIULIA BONACCI

As a committee, we have such an honour to run projects like this and hosting all the exciting events during the year. Whether it be the Year 7 Parent Meet & Greet, Father/Male Mentor Daughter Games Night or even the Facebook Second Hand Book/Uniform sale.

The commitment of parents to make this happen is beyond generous and grateful. As a community we should not look past what they do or take for granted the running of these events. That’s why it’s important for us to have a committed group to continue on and keep the committee running. So I ask you to consider being part of the PEC to be able to have these events remain, click here for more information.

Maths Competition

Engaging students in maths has never been more important, with mathematics graduates now in high demand within the workforce.  At STC, we recognise it is essential to offer students a range of opportunities to extend and apply their maths skills outside of the classroom.

AMC – The Australian Mathematics Competition

This year we had 55 students taking on the challenge of the annual Australian Mathematics Competition, designed to push students’ boundaries and test how creative they can be with problem solving. Thank you too everyone who participated and congratulations to the following students who are our top mathematicians in each division.

Junior Division, Year 7 : Natalie McDonald

Junior Division, Year 8 : Gemma D’Agostini

Intermediate Division, Year 9 : Zara Cheel

Intermediate Division, Year 10 : Angelina Francis

Senior Division, Year 11 : Maddison Wong

Outreach Research Competition

Every year the School of Mathematics and Statistics Outreach team at The University of Melbourne run a research competition, providing students with the opportunity to tackling some rather challenging problems over the span of a few months. This year, we had five students who took on this challenge. Thank you to the following students for your hard work and creative responses:

Tiana Ciavarella

Gemma D’Agostini

Sophia Malamas

Achol Malek

Ashlee Tascone

To tickle your curiosity, this was the first part of the problem these students worked on:

You’re making an oddly specific trail mix for a group hiking trip. The trail mix recipe requires exactly 314 macadamia nuts. After a trip down to Lovelace’s, your local organic grocer, you see that the packets of macadamia come in three sizes:

  • a small pack of 15,
  • a medium pack of 23, and
  • a large pack of 34.

How many of each pack size do you need to buy in order get exactly 314 macadamia nuts? Is there more than one way to do this?

Principal's Reading Challenge

Once again the Principal’s Reading Challenge for 2022 has come to a close.

Congratulations to all those students who signed up and completed the challenge successfully. Some students even entered twice. What a great effort.

Those students who completed the challenge, were rewarded for their success, with a pizza lunch. Ms Grima also handed each of the students a certificate of completion.
Sophia Library is looking forward to running the Principal’s Reading Challenge once again, in term two, 2023.


On Wednesday the 16th of November, our class, 7.5 and two other year 7 classes visited Scienceworks. It was a fun and enjoyable experience for all the students. We did many fun activities throughout the day like viewing two shows in the Planetarium, free roaming the sports themed science area, exploring the upstairs area called “Beyond Perception” and being able to do all of this in groups with our friends. In the Planetarium, we were lucky enough to watch two shows. The first one we watched was called Moonbase ONE. It was all about a woman exploring how eclipses have an effect on the light on the Moon. The second show was all of us being educated on the different shapes in the stars, planets and other celestial objects in our night sky. In the sports section we learnt about the physical health aspects of science while also playing fun games and learning some sport history information. A lot of people enjoyed the wheelchair racing, soccer goalkeeper and running race games. This was a very great experience and we would love to be able to go back to Scienceworks again.