March 18, 2022

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Principal's Message


Notices from the Deputy Principal

Sports Update

Visual Arts and International Women's Day

The STEAM Lab Brings You The Precious Plastics Program Make It Monday Series

Year 10 - CBD Excursion

Challenging Cognitive Distortions

Academic Excellence Scholarships

Parent Education Session With Real Schools

Year 7 Parent/Guardian Meet and Greet

Save The Date - Mother's Day High Tea

Principal's Message

International Women’s Day

It was a very special assembly gathering this International Women’s Day in the year of our 125th anniversary.  Our guest panellists, Alumnae from over several decades, spoke about their paths, and the impact that this College had on who they are today, and what they chose to do with their lives.  It was inspiring to hear their insights and to share with them an acknowledgement of the impact of this very special school on generations of young women since 1897.

I spoke to the girls about what International Women’s Day helps to bring into sharp focus for everyone, especially in relation to “breaking the bias” to allow the full participation and flourishing of women, which in turn supports the full flourishing of society in general.

There was a latent sexism at play here that made an assumption based on gender, it wasn’t personal – and this is what we continue to contest – the pervasive attitudes, assumptions and mindsets that relegate us to second place, that send the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) messages that we are not enough or good enough because of our gender.  This is not just our fight for our own individual rights and recognition – it is about the path and the foundation we set for the generations of women who will come after us.  It is walking in the legacy of great women who have gone before us – who step by step, incremental change by incremental change, began to shatter those glass ceilings, so that there are vistas of opportunity and possibility opened up before us – no limits, especially because of our gender.

I wonder how much we really understand about the generations of Sisters of Charity whose hard work and toil have gifted not only this school, but a feminist legacy.  One author writes of the sisters in the 19th century “women who achieved much because they dared greatly.  They were among the signal achievers of the nineteenth century.  Feminist historians sometimes fail to see that the convent offered women of that time rare opportunities to head complex enterprises such as hospitals and schools.  These women were among the great entrepreneurs of that day and their monuments survive to this day.”  The book describing the early ventures of the sisters in Australia is titled “A cause of Trouble”.

The story of the sisters, and especially for us here in Australia, is one 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 men (or the Church) in their time.

What do we know of the character of the Sisters who were headmistresses and teachers, administrators and learning supporters of this great school – strong, resolute, open to new ideas, forward-thinking, creative (often in radical ways).  We are the inheritors of the story of a great group of Iconic women whose spirit lingers on in this place that nurtures and sustains us today.

All of us here follow in their footsteps.  All of us have a responsibility to that legacy and to the generations of women who will come after us.


In recognition of Catholic Education Week, and the commemoration of St Patrick’s Day on 17 March, this beautiful prayer inspires our hope in God’s shield providing protection in our daily lives.

St Patrick’s Breastplate: A Prayer for Protection

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left…

Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise…

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me…

I arise today Through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness of the Creator of creation.


Notices from the Deputy Principal

International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day was held on Tuesday 8 March this year, with the theme #BreakTheBias. In recognition of this day of female empowerment, we were honoured to be invited to attend an International Women’s Day breakfast – organised by Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia – that was held at Parliament house a few days prior to the significant event. In accompaniment with strong female students and leaders from other girls’ schools in the surrounding Melbourne area, we were privileged to have the opportunity to actively listen to Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp, talk about her experiences as a female leader in a male dominated industry. Sally’s speech was filled with captivating and compelling stories about momentous women who have contributed to making a difference to Women’s Rights. Following her speech, we were also able to participate in a Q&A session, where we were encouraged to ask Sally questions regarding how we are able to support one another in the further empowerment of women in our society today.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp at the IWD Breakfast at Parliament House

As you can imagine, when International Women’s Day is celebrated at an all Girls’ School, it is a very significant day in the calendar. Our International Women’s Day celebrations at St Columba’s consisted of many exciting events and activities that ultimately aimed to empower students to be whomever they want to be and to do whatever it is that they want to do. We began the day with an assembly where we invited members of the St Columba’s College alumnae to form a panel and talk about their experiences at the college, how their experiences at St Columba’s empowered them to explore the industry that they’re a part of and some of the experiences that they have faced during their careers, particularly as successful women. The panel included women from various successful backgrounds:

  • PE/Health and head coach of AFL Academy program at Diamond Valley College
  • Assistant coach at Hawthorn VFLW/AFLW
  • Mentor to future coaches

  • Chief Executive Officer of Mitcham and Waverley Private Hospitals

  • Executive Director of Bahay Tuluyan in Manila, Philippines (an organization that promotes and protects children from abuse, violence and exploitation)

  • Executive Officer of HerSpace (a not-for-profit providing well-being and mental health services to women (aged 16 and over) that have survived modern slavery in Australia)

  • Executive Director of Design – Global  Buick and GMC in Warren, Michigan

  • SBS news and current affairs in Melbourne
  • Facilitates her own entertainment podcast

We, as a community, are grateful to have the opportunity to be able to collaborate with past St Columba’s students who are the definition of strong, brave and inspiring female role models. Our interactions with them on International Women’s Day highlighted some of the similarities of the experiences which we shared with them during their time at the college. This includes the support and kindness shown by teachers, as well as the encouragement of being told that there was never anything that they couldn’t do.

The stories and experiences that were shared by our guest panellists have without a doubt, inspired us and other members of our STC community. It was a truly wonderful and memorable experience to be able to connect with these successful St Columba’s College Alumnae and we hope that we are able to maintain these connections with not only these female panellists, but also other alumnae long into the future.

The team in the Sophia Library also held some activities to mark the day including a fun Kahoot that saw a lot of students get involved.

Collectively as a community, this International Women’s Day, we were all empowered to face the challenges that are thrown at us, particularly as women in society. We were encouraged to take on every opportunity that comes our way and stand up to the injustices that we see in the world. As a body of strong, brave, kind and unique females at St Columba’s College, we were inspired to come together in solidarity to help break the bias by further educating ourselves on the feminist movement and empowering girls around us in any way that we can.

Adriana Cilia & Annalise Ferbrache – College Co-Captains

Intergenerational Photos

We were thrilled to welcome back many more Alumnae at our Intergenerational Photo opportunity on 16 March as part of our 125th anniversary celebrations. Tanya Almeida and I were ably supported by our Year 12 VET Events students for this special event.

Vaping Detectors

In the 13 August edition of Iona, in 2021, I wrote an article about the growing concern about vaping amongst our young people. In this article I included a few useful links to provide additional information. Please revisit/visit this article to access this information if required.

Since then, a number of parents have expressed concerns about vaping and their young people.

In the later part of 2021, the College liaised with other schools and explored the idea of installing vaping detectors. Vaping detectors in toilets, and CCTV outside of toilets, have now been installed along with signage for students.

There have already been a few incidents where vaping detectors have been activated which has resulted in investigations by the House Leaders. Consequences have been issued for students who have been involved.

If you have any queries regarding vaping, please do not hesitate to contact Ms Nakkita Egan (Head of Students) or myself.

Sports Update

With everything back, sport has definitely hit the ground running!  And what a first term we have had.  Kicking off with our College Nunan Cup tennis tournament, being held over two nights, we once again had a fantastic turn out.  Our winners for each division were: Madeleine Thompson (Juniors), Minuki Hewa (Intermediates) and Olivia Bourke (Seniors).

Teams chosen from this tournament to compete in the inter-school SCSA Tennis Competition were:


Singles:                Madeleine Thompson

Doubles A:          Gemma Reddoch and Charlize Bellette

Doubles B:          Paige Hutchinson, Grace Johnson and Matilda Gruar


Singles:                Minuki Hewa

Doubles A:          Zahara Gruar and Sophie Conroy

Doubles B:          Zoe MacLaren, Estelle Tabet and Elizabeth Haynes


Singles:                Olivia Bourke

Doubles A:          Isabella Giampiccolo and Eloise Sexton

Doubles B:          Alanna Haynes and Julianne Cabanayan

Our teams did extremely well this year in the SCSA Tennis Tournament held at Boroondara Tennis Centre on the 10th March.  Our Juniors and Intermediates coming in at 2nd place and our Seniors coming 1st!   Also, a big congratulations to Madeleine Thompson (Junior) and Olivia Bourke (Senior) for both winning the single finals and being awarded the player of their final match.

Stay tuned for the full run down on both the Swimming Carnival and Athletics Carnival including results in the next IONA edition.

Visual Arts and International Women's Day

To help celebrate International Women’s Day, the Year 10 iDesign class created digital portraits to promote this year’s theme #BreakTheBias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Action is needed to level the playing field. The students were photographed striking the pose and then created their portrait in the style of WPAP (Wedha’s Pop Art Portraits). WPAP is a geometric pop art style (sharp lines and wild, vibrant colour schemes) that was popularised in the late 1990’s by Indonesian artist Wedha Abdul Rasyid.
Congratulations to Mr Wiseman and his Year 10 students for contributing to IWD by creating images that were printed as posters and stickers that were handed out to the College community throughout the day.

The STEAM Lab Brings You The Precious Plastics Program Make It Monday Series

Over the last couple of weeks, the STEAM lab has hosted a Precious Plastics Program series for our lunchtime Make it Monday activities. Students participated in three workshops where they were given the opportunity to experience the recycling process from plastic bottle lid stage all the way through to using the plastic to make their own jewellery. 

The Precious Plastic workspace in the STEAM lab is where plastic gets transformed from waste into valuable raw materials or products. The workspace includes a Shredder/granulator, plastic sheet press and plastic former machines.

Workshop one held on Thursday 3rd March involved students sorting plastic bottle lids based on their Resin Identification Code (RIC). Most of the plastics that come into the College and collected by students have the RIC of 2, 4 and 5. 


With the plastic lids sorted, students were given the opportunity to operate the plastic granulator/shredder to process the lids into plastic confetti-like granules in our second workshop. Following this, students placed the plastic granules into the sheet press where they were melted to create one sheet of plastic. Each sheet of plastic removes approximately 150 plastic lids from going into landfill!

An advantage of granulating the plastic and subsequently turning it into sheets of plastic, is the reduction in the need to purchase acrylic for the College’s laser cutter. The use of acrylic is currently not a sustainable practice as the off-cuts are often not used.


In the final workshop held on Tuesday 15th March students used the plastic they produced to make earrings. The plastic was cut into various shapes and sizes using the laser cutter. 

If you would like to read more about Precious Plastics and how we are a part of a growing community along with Monash University, head to:

Remember to collect your plastic bottle lids and place them in the recycling bins in the STEAM lab! 

Year 10 - CBD Excursion

The Year 10 VCE Foundation Maths class went on an excursion to Melbourne CBD to observe geometry in some of the city’s architecture. We looked at right angled triangles at Fed Square, circles in the Gothic architecture at St Paul’s Cathedral, we made some estimations of the size and mass of the parts of the clock at Melbourne Town Hall and completed some designs using Penrose rhombuses at Storey Hall, RMIT.

Challenging Cognitive Distortions

Challenging Cognitive Distortions 

In the last IONA, we learnt about identifying cognitive distortions. This week, we will be learning about how to challenge unhelpful thinking styles with a technique called “examining the evidence.” Evidence testing is all about trying to be objective about our thoughts. It is about asking questions that will help you look for other information and make an informed decision about your thoughts, instead of just accepting them as fact. 

There are four main types of challenging questions:

  1. Questions that act as a reality check:
  • What is the evidence for and against this thinking?
  • Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
  • How can I find out if what I’m thinking is actually true?
  1. Questions that seek alternative explanations:
  • Are there any other ways that I could look at this situation?
  • What else could this mean?
  • If I were being positive, how would I view the situation?
  • If I was giving advice to someone I care about in this situation, what would I say?
  1. Questions that put things in perspective:
  • What’s the best thing that could happen?
  • Is there anything good about this situation?
  • Will this matter in five years’ time?
  1. Questions that are goal-directed:
  • Is this way of thinking helping me to achieve my goals?
  • What can I do that will help me solve the problem?
  • Is there something I can learn from this situation, to help me do it better next time?


Unhelpful Thinking StyleDisputation Questions
Mental FilterConsider the whole picture
-Am I taking all the information into account?
-What else is going on that I’m ignoring?
Jumping to ConclusionsYou know what they say about assuming…
-How do I know this?
-What are some alternative explanations for this?
-If I was feeling differently, would I still think this?
PersonalisationFind all the causes
-Was this entirely my responsibility?
-What other factors might have affected the outcome?
CatastrophisingPut it in perspective
-What are the possible outcomes – best, worst, most likely?
-Am I jumping ahead of myself?
-How important is this in the scheme of things?
Black and White ThinkingFind the shades of grey
-Am I being extreme or rigid?
-Is there an in-between where things are not perfect but not a disaster?
Shoulding and MustingBe flexible
-Is this a strict rule, or is it a desire or possibility that didn’t work in this instance?
-Can I replace this with a “could” or “would have liked to”?
LabellingJudge the situation, not the person
-Does this behaviour or situation reflect how things always are?
-Are there examples where this label hasn’t been true?
OvergeneralisingBe specific
-Does this apply to all situations or am I overgeneralising?
-What are the facts and what are my interpretations?
Disqualifying / Ignoring the PositivesAcknowledge the good
-Am I downplaying or ignoring some of the evidence?
-What are the good things in this situation?

Adapted from:—11—Challenging-unhelpful-thinking-styles.pdf

Academic Excellence Scholarships

St Columba’s College is offering Academic Excellence Scholarships for students entering Year 7 2024 as well as Year 9 and Year 11 in 2023. Students are encouraged to take up this opportunity and will receive a report of their achievement levels for each area tested. Further details and online registration are available on the College website.

Registration closing date is Friday15 July 2022

Scholarship testing date is Saturday 23 July 2022

Please note the College does not have practise papers for the testing as this is conducted by an external organisation, Academic Assessment Services.

Parent Education Session With Real Schools

Restorative Practice and Shame

Parents, carers and the wider community are invited to join us for an online Information Session on Monday the 21st of March at 7pm. Facilitated by Simon Dewar from Real Schools, this one-hour session will provide an overview of Restorative Practice, and more specifically, shame. Please join us via the zoom link

What is Restorative Practice?

Restorative Practice is a whole school approach that encourages supportive and respectful behaviour. A restorative approach focuses on building, maintaining and restoring positive relationships with all members of the school community, especially when incidents involve conflict or wrongdoing.

How do we help our children when they feel shame?

Shame is our social regulator. It triggers our conscience and lets us know that we’ve done the wrong thing. We often feel it negatively, and it gets worse if we don’t take action to improve a situation. If our children mess up, we want to help them clean up. Using the principles of Restorative Practice, we’ll talk about how to support your child and help them to work through the feeling of shame.

Year 7 Parent/Guardian Meet and Greet

For the Parent’s of Year 7’s, please don’t forget to submit your RSVP for the Parent’s Engagement Committee Meet and Greet Event by COB Friday, 18th March, to

For those attending the event, we look forward to seeing you there next week!

Save The Date - Mother's Day High Tea