March 20, 2020

< All Issues


Principal's Message


Community and Academic Grants

Laptop Covers

Power Disruption to College

Moomba Birdman Rally 2020

Mentorship for the Day

Williams House Feast Day

FIONTAR Excursion to Edendale Farm

SCSA Tennis

International Women's Day

Library News

Alumnae News

 First Aid News

Year 7 Parent Meet and Greet

Careers News

Principal's Message

Coronavirus Update

Thank you to all families for your support as we navigate our way through very uncertain times. We feel we are well planned and prepared in the event of any school closures, and to continue our support for students who are required to self-isolate for various reasons. At this stage our schools remain low-risk environments, based on the advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer. I have included a letter here, from the Chief Health Officer, received yesterday, outlining some of the reasons schools are currently remaining open.

I understand that some families have decided to keep their daughters at home at this time. I ask that you keep your communication with the College open. If you decide to keep your daughter at home, please ensure that you notify the College. In addition, if you had previously let us know that you were keeping your daughter at home, and decide on a return to school, please inform the College of this change.


Staff Changes

It is with sadness that we will farewell Irene Wloch at the end of this term. Irene has been a long-standing staff member of St Columba’s, and has made tremendous contributions over time at the College in various roles. Irene started her work at the College leading the Special Needs Department, ensuring an inclusive learning environment for all students. In recent years, Irene has worked as a Mathematics teacher. Her gentle and encouraging manner has instilled a sense of confidence and a love of learning in her students. We are grateful for all that Irene has contributed during her time at St Columba’s and we wish her well.


In times of perceived scarcity

These uncertain times have led to a perception of scarcity, and in some instances a lack of generosity and solidarity with our neighbours. I am wondering if we can call on the generosity and graciousness of our St Columba’s College community and ask for donations of those items and groceries that are getting harder to source. If they are hard to find for communities like ours that are generally well-resourced, imagine those who are most vulnerable and living on the margins. Donations can be left with College Reception and we will organise for these to be delivered to a local St Vincent de Paul chapter for distribution. As businesses close or limit their activities, and job lay-offs increase, there will be an increased demand on organisations such as St Vincent de Paul to be providing support to those in need. Thank you in anticipation.



Prayer for a Pandemic

May we who are merely inconvenienced, remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors, remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home, remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close, remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips, remember those that have no safe place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market, remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home, remember those who have no home.

As fear grips our country, let us choose love.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.


Community and Academic Grants

Applications open in February each year and close on April 30.


Moonee Valley Foundation Community Grants

Community grants support local community-minded initiatives that aim to improve the lives and experiences of people in the City of Moonee Valley. Community grants support initiatives that:

  • Meet an identified local community need, and/or
  • Promote and enable community access, participation and/or inclusion, especially to diverse, disadvantaged or marginalised communities.

Grants up to the total value of $20,000 are available for community and academic grants.

For application forms, click here MVF-Grant-Application-Form-2020


Moonee Valley Foundation Academic Grants

Academic grants recognise educational excellence in a chosen field of interest. These grants may be used to fund expenses such as:

  • Costs associated with education or training
  • Travel to and attendance at a conference or event
  • Tools and equipment
  • The commercialisation of academic projects

Grants up to the total value of $20,000 are available for community and academic grants.

For application forms, click here MVF-Grant-Application-Form-2020



To be eligible for a Moonee Valley Foundation Community or Academic Grant, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be part of the Moonee Valley community, i.e. live, work, play sport in the municipality.
  • Be between 17-32 years of age.
  • Be able to use the funding within 2 years of receiving the grant.

Selection Criteria

Written applications and personal interviews are assessed on the following basis:

  • Community benefit of the activity.
  • Demonstrated excellence in your field of endeavour e.g. academic, competition results, involvement in extra-curricular activities, professional recognition or community involvement.
  • Importance of proposal to your chosen field of endeavour.
  • Personal presentation skills and ability to advocate on behalf of your application and field of endeavour.

Laptop Covers

As stated in the hand book, the hard-shell covers supplied with the 1:1 program laptops should not be removed as they are important in ensuring the safety and protection of the devices. The College’s IT Department has received numerous requests for new covers because students have removed them, and broken them in the process, or misplaced them. As of the commencement of term 2, the college will not be replacing misplaced or broken covers and the responsibility will lie with the students and/or the parents to purchase an appropriate hard-shell cover for the protection of their device.

Power Disruption to College

The College will be closed on Thursday 2 April due to the power to the College being disconnected for the instalation of the new sub station – which is part of the new Slater Building extension capital project.

Moomba Birdman Rally 2020

On Sunday 8th March, the Birdman Rally was held at Birrarung Marr as part of the Moomba Festival. It was the second time the College participated in the event.

The construction of Fidelis et Fortis II, the craft for 2020, involved a lot of engineering and knowledge of physics. We applied our understanding and experience from last year’s competition to the design and construction of this craft. Different materials were sourced and the design of the craft modified in order to improve on last year’s achievement of a flight of seven metres.

Alongside the construction of the craft, the Birdman Rally team fulfilled the fundraising component by selling icy poles and personalised drink bottles for the Sisters of Charity Foundation who provide support to people in need through their Community Grants, Tertiary Scholarship and Asylum Seekers Housing programs. The final total amount raised for the Sisters of Charity Foundation was $6020 and this included the Audience Choice vote prize of $500 and first prize in the School’s Category where another $500 and a trophy was  awarded. Fidelis et Fortis II piloted by teacher Ms Camille King traveled across the Yarra River for 8 metres -a wonderful achievement for our second year of participation!

Congratulations to the students who spent hours fundraising and constructing the craft a team of 10 students ranging from years 8 -11, Sarah Pamment,Amber Dao, Ciara Cashin, Sarah Rodgers, Juliana Basilone, Nhi Nguyen, Mikaela Mihocic, Luci Srour, Rachel Dunne and Sabrina Chard. A huge thank you to our CSIRO STEM Professional, Ms Kelsey Rowe for providing advice to the students during the initial planning stage and Mr Frank Rowland STEM Lab Assistant for assisting the students during both the fundraising and construction phases of the event and of course to our pilot Ms Camille King who braved the Yarra River to pilot the craft.

As STEM Curriculum Leader it has been amazing to support and guide students on their creative journey to solve the problem of designing and creating a craft light enough to take flight from a platform off the Yarra River. Students have been involved in the design and engineering of the craft since Term 4 last year. The College is committed to providing real-world experiences for our students and while other schools are involved, St. Columba’s College is the only all-girl school to participate, proving that there is a keen interest in STEM amongst our girls.


Mentorship for the Day

On the 11th of March 2020, 9 year 10 students took a trip to the city and visited White & Case. White & Case is a truly global law firm that practices corporate law, White & Case have over 100 firms globally, from places such as Egypt to Switzerland. The company provided us with plenty of food, drinks, throughout the day and we also left with some memorable merchandise. The students who participated in this have learned many valuable lessons for life, such as, keeping your options open, there are different pathways a person can take to get into one’s chosen field, ‘just because you have started in one field of work doesn’t mean you have to finish there’ The theme of the day was about one having determination as the key to trying new challenges and opportunities that may pass us by. Some Interesting facts about the day were, not all lawyers go to court, you can get a position in a law firm without having a degree but work in different ways to be part of a team, there are many different ways to become a lawyer and work in law firms, there are many different positions a person can take up that all contribute to the firm in someway. This day allowed the students to talk with inspiring female leaders as partners and consults who have balanced a healthy work and home life, as well as conversing with female junior associates who are just starting in the workplace and seem to have so many opportunities ahead of them. This day was truly inspiring and thank you to Girled World and Ms. Cirillo who organized this eye-opening day.

Attended by Kaideesha, Rachel, Bijanka, Sophie, Sarina, Imogen, Nickola, Jacqueline, Alexia and Ms Cirillo

Williams House Feast Day

On Friday the 6th March, Williams House celebrated our Feast Day to acknowledge and honour the life of our House Patron, Sister Mary Xavier Williams. We began the day together in the chapel with our House Representatives leading us in the Williams prayer, and I then told the story of the life and mission of Sister Mary Xavier Williams.

The House Representatives and I then decorated and prepared for our House Feast at lunch, which included cake, juice, lollies and lunch rolls, courtesy of Benny and Me. We served our House the lunch as a sign of our leadership and had an amazing time sharing a meal together. We ended with a cutting of the Williams cake as we passed out slices and students left with our Williams lollie bags and a full stomach. The day was a complete success as we all celebrated as a whole House community, honouring Sister Mary Xavier Williams and all she did within her life as her mission continues through the Sisters of Charity.

Below is the excerpt that I read to Williams House at our Feast Day:

Our House draws our inspiration from Sister Mary Xavier Williams. Born in Ireland, Kilkenny, near Dublin, on 12th July, 1800, her parents named her Eliza. She learnt the virtues of trustworthiness, perseverance and courage from her parents.

Sister Williams was one of the first five Sisters of Charity who courageously travelled by boat from Ireland on 18th  August, 1838, and arrived in Sydney, on 31st December, 1838. She was still a novice when she headed to Sydney in 1838, as she had only entered the Sisters of Charity two years earlier, following her mother’s death.

On 9th April 1839, Sister Mary Xavier Williams became the first woman professed on Australian soil. The ceremony took place at St Patrick’s church, Parramatta. This was a very special occasion, not only for the sisters, but for the colony’s burgeoning Catholic community, inspiring other young women to join.

Sister Williams believed that being a Sister of Charity brought with it the responsibility of caring for, and helping others. She once said her work was to “bring hope” to people’s lives, “these people need some inspiration and that is why we have come”.

This tenacious little nun was always ready to serve everyone she met. She ministered to the outcast convicts, visited the poor, the sick or grieving in their homes, taught children and adults, and proved a compassionate and loving mother-figure to the orphaned.

Sr Williams joined Mother Cahill and Sister O’Brien in furthering the congregation’s work in Hobart, Tasmania. There they visited the female prison, an institute of far more misery than the female prison in Parramatta. They also visited schools, the sick and poor in their homes and in hospitals. Bishop Wilson said the three pioneering sisters in Tasmania did as much work as 15 sisters did back in Ireland.

Sr Williams became Tasmania’s first religious school principal at St Joseph’s Girls’ School in Hobart and established a St Joseph’s orphanage in 1879, at the age of 79.

About 300 destitute women and children enjoyed a feast as part of her golden jubilee celebrations in 1889. A year later Sr Williams retired having seen the Tasmanian and Sydney congregations amalgamate.

Sr Williams passed away on 8th March 1892, aged 91 years old, and was buried with other Sisters of Charity in the Carnelian Bay Cemetery in Newton, Hobart. Today, we therefore reflect on her life as part of our Williams Feast Day and also note that this sunday is the commemoration of her death, as well as International Women’s Day.


Sister Williams displayed many personal qualities which are both relevant and meaningful for us today.  These include respect for human dignity, courage, confidence, trustworthiness and compassion. She was a great leader and a highly visionary woman, willing to take risks and to endure personal hardships.

 As members of Williams House, we are encouraged to remember and follow the footsteps of the person of whom we are named. May the Spirit of Sister Mary Xavier Williams protect and guide us in our lives and everyday actions at St Columba’s College.

FIONTAR Excursion to Edendale Farm

Going to Edendale Farm in Eltham with my own FIONTAR group and other 3 groups was really fun (even though the weather wasn’t great!)

In our first session, we learnt about how to save energy so we don’t burn a lot of coal because burning coal has a large impact on climate change. During this session, my class used two bikes to create energy and then used this stored energy to make popcorn in a microwave. Even though the popcorn didn’t have any seasoning, we all enjoyed making it and it was also great exercise since we had to cycle as fast as we could! Right after the first session, we had free time (YES! Who doesn’t like free time?) to spend with my friends from other groups. Listening to what they had done in their first session was really interesting.

After our break, we learnt about Fast Fashion and how it is affecting people in developing countries. By doing multiple activities like looking at where our clothes are made and the effect that making certain materials has on the environment, we were able to understand a lot more about Fast Fashion than we learnt in our Transition Lessons. After our Fast Fashion lesson, we went for a tour around the farm to see the animals. My favourite part was feeding the goats (who jumped all over us) and also the sheep -even though they sneezed a lot! Our guide also explained a lot about sustainable building design as we toured the farm.

 After our tour, we came back and ate our lunch before we went back to school. The ride back to school was really lively and fun as everyone was extremely happy and was laughing non-stop all the way.

Going to Edendale Farm was a great experience and I really enjoyed it!

SCSA Tennis

On Thursday 12th March 6 dedicated schools competed in the SCSA Division 2 Tennis Tournament hosted by St.Columba’s at Boroondara Tennis Centre. Each team fought with great determination throughout the day with the intermediates coming out undefeated at the end of the round robin and making the Grand Final.

All teams’ demonstrated great skill and competitiveness with the intermediates winning their category, juniors making the semi-finals and the seniors just missing out on the finals.  A special mention to Olivia Bourke who took out the MVP for the intermediates category.

A huge congratulations must go to all the students involved on the day for displaying excellent sportsmanship throughout the tournament and helping contribute to a very successful day.

A special thank-you to the coaches Joan Dillon, Therese Smyth and Nathan Farrugia for their commitment to the girls over the past couple of weeks and on the day.

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action to accelerate women’s equality around the world.

International Women’s Day was celebrated on the 10th of March and the 2020 theme was “Each for Equal”. As a student executive we organised a day of activities that brought our whole student body together to remind us that we, as women, have an important place in the world. We wanted this day to be a reminder for all students of the power of their voice in the world and provide an opportunity for all voices to be heard in our community at St Columba’s. It is important we all embrace the message of International Women’s Day and join part in the movement of achieving equality between women and man.

The day started with our Student Executive, welcoming girls on the front gate by handing out purple ribbons. Purple is the colour of International Women’s Day, so by wearing these ribbons it connected us together and represented that we are a part of this movement. On outside whiteboards in the learning courtyard, we proposed the question ‘What makes a compassionate woman?’ and welcomed responses from staff and students, sharing their own thoughts on what this day means for themselves. During lunchtime, music by female artists was played around the college, to celebrate empowering female musicians. The executive team also handed out lollipops attached with a small note to share and remind students of the theme of the day “Each for Equal”.

We would also like to thank the event girls for organizing our lollipops for the day!

Library News

Book Recommendations

Meet me in Monaco – Hazel Gaynor

As a fan of Grace Kelly – and a perfume enthusiast – I was very keen to read this book. It’s in Historical Fiction, but has a romantic bent. The focus is on people who COULD potentially have been involved in Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier – photographer James and perfumier Sophie.

The most enjoyable aspect of the book is that so much is based in fact, but the characters and storyline provide a brilliant alternative view of the time. I was very engaged in the ‘journey’ of all the characters, but I also enjoyed thinking about what else might have happened behind the scenes.

A really enjoyable read – highly recommended for staff and senior students.

Emma Bruty, Librarian

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland – Jim DeFede

The basis for the highly successful musical ‘Come from Away’, this is the true story of how thousands of plane passengers from all over the world came to be stranded in the small Canadian town of Gander on September 11 th , 2001. Told with wit, compassion and a journalist’s eye for a story, this is a fascinating account of the day the world will never forget, told through the eyes of the passengers. What could have been a nightmare turned out to be an unforgettable experience due to the kindness and hospitality of the locals. For all reading levels.

Suzanne Hemming, Head of Library

Student book review: Apple and Rain – Sarah Crossan

Apple has lived with her Nana for a long time now, ever since her mum left in the night. No warning, no goodbye. When her mum shows up 12 years later and wants to take Apple back, Apple knows this is the moment she has been waiting for her whole life. But her mum has a surprise. And that surprise is a bit of a handful. Along the way, Apple faces the challenges of family, friends and having to ask for help. This book absolutely made my day and broke it too. I would recommend this book for anyone having issues with family or friends, or just wanting a good read. Star Rating: 5/5, because I loved it so much.

Sabrina Polakovic, OBNJ2

Blind Date with a Book

Here are the key stats from the successful event:

Library term break Opening Hours

At this stage, it is our intention to open the Library during the term break for individual private study during the following hours:

Week 1: 8.30am – 4.00pm Monday – Friday

Week 2 : 8.30am – 4.00pm Monday – Thursday

The Library will be closed for the Easter break.

Alumnae News

Keep in touch with Alumnae activities and be sent a link to the revamped Alumnae Newsletter. Are your details up to date, if not update them at


The information will be stored with the Alumnae and Archive Coordinators and will not be released unless permission has been given.

 First Aid News

Reminder to parents/guardians to keep students at home if they are unwell. This includes colds and flu.

There have been a number of students continuing to come to school  when they are clearly not well and/or “at the end of their illness”.

Your support in this endeavour is greatly appreciated.

Year 7 Parent Meet and Greet

The Parents’ Association was delighted to host the Year 7 Parent Meet and Greet event last Friday 13 March. It was fantastic to see so many parents come along and take advantage of the opportunity to meet other parents sharing the “Year 7 experience”. Some great House and Core Class connections were made.

Much thanks as always to the College leadership team for their support for the event. And thanks for the amazing work of PA members Maria, Kathy, Franca, Natalie and Helen who catered and hosted the event, making sure that the parent guests had a wonderful night.

Keep an eye out for Parents’ Association news throughout the year. If you have any questions about the Parents’ Association or would like to get involved, please contact us via

Careers News

This week’s Careers Newsletter includes the following topics:

  • New filmmaking course at Collarts
  • Health and Medical Science courses at The University of Melbourne
  • Information about studying in the UK or the US after school
  • 4 amazing jobs you can from studying physics at university
  • Filmmaking competition
  • Focus on engineering courses and careers
  • Book a 1:1 meeting with a course adviser at William Angliss
  • Electrical apprenticeships – book in for a pre selection test
  • Dates for your diary (all dates to be confirmed)

Click here to view the full newsletter.