May 7, 2021

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Principal's Message


Notices from the Deputy Principal

Where are women in the Catholic Church?

Learning and Teaching at St Columba’s College

All State Jazz Competition

VCE Drama Returns to the Theatre

Careers News

Academic Excellence Scholarships

Thank You To Our Amazing VCAL Girls

Principal's Message

Back to Normal (Almost!)

A sense of “normal” school life has returned as our students have resumed many, if not most, of the activities that add so much to their schooling experience.  The whole school assembly on Monday, 26 April showcased the extent of student involvement with the learning and co-curricular programs at the College, and gave us the opportunity to mark ANZAC Day with a solemn and respectful commemoration.  The Year 12 Student Executive spoke powerfully about female empowerment and engagement, using the stories of strong, committed and courageous women such as Grace Tame, Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann, Isobel Marshall and Rosemary Kariuki.  The voice of women advocating for and empowering other women is more important now than ever before, and our girls taking up this mantle for one another is inspiring.

Since the assembly, students have participated in several other events that were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.  A group of students participated in the Bahay Tuluyan Bike Ride last Friday, 30 April, supported by teachers David Bramham, Angelique Robinson, Jane Coyle and Renee Fleeton.  The girls rode 40kms to raise funds and awareness for Bahay Tuluyan in the Philippines, the children’s rights organisation providing programs and services aimed at preventing and responding to violence against children.  The College has a long and committed relationship with this organisation, and it is good that we have been able to resume this activity in our support of Bahay Tuluyan.

Students in our Big Band, led by Leon Duncan, competed in the All State Jazz Festival on the weekend and were awarded second place (out of 11 bands) in their division.  In addition, three students were selected as members of the All-Star Band in recognition of their individual performances:

  • Siana Larkin – Vibraphone
  • Julia Speranza – Trumpet
  • Alissa-Rose Probyn – Tenor Saxophone

We congratulate all of the students and staff on their achievements across a range of activities that give students an opportunity to refine, and be celebrated for, their unique gifts and talents.


A Mother’s Love

There are times when only a mother’s love

Can understand our tears,

Can soothe our disappoints

And calm all of our fears.

There are times when only a mother’s love

Can share the joy we feel

When something we’ve dreamed about

Quite suddenly is real.

There are times when only a mother’s faith

Can help us on life’s way

And inspire in us the confidence

We need from day to day.

For a mother’s heart and a mother’s faith

And a mother’s steadfast love

Were fashioned by the angels

And sent from God above.

Notices from the Deputy Principal

Mothers’ Day High Tea

We are looking forward to celebrating Mothers’ Day with you at our High Tea event on Saturday 8 May.

Wishing all mums, and special women in the life of our students, the happiest of days this Sunday.

Conversations with the Leadership Team

Last term parents were sent a short survey about Conversations with the Leadership Team. Thank you to the 91 parents who took the time to provide their opinions. As a result of the feedback, our next ‘Conversation’ will be held on June 10 between 5.30 and 6.30pm. Once again, parents will have the option of attending onsite or online via Google Meet.

The topics to be discussed are:

  • How to use data to support your daughter’s learning
  • Consent education

We look forward to meeting with, and speaking to you.

Child Safe Policies

I am currently working with ten Year 7, 8 and 9 students who have shown an interest in working through three College documents relevant to child safety. The three documents are:

  1. Child Safe Policy
  2. Child Safe Code of Conduct
  3. Professional Conduct Policy (including Staff and Student Professional Boundaries)

The girls and I will be developing a more succinct and user-friendly version that will be more accessible for our students. We hope to present our work by the end of this term.

Where are women in the Catholic Church?

How would you respond if your daughter asked you this question? There are many ideas to consider, do we look at the structure of the Church, do we look at our own parish structure/ involvement, do we look at doctrine? Do we talk about our personal experiences? 

I would like to offer this video about significant changes happening at the Vatican. Sr. Nathalie Becquart, a member of the Xaviere Sisters in France who has been named as one of 2 new undersecretaries for the Vatican’s office of the Synod of Bishops. Before becoming a sister, she studied economics and business and worked as a consultant in marketing and advertising. 

While she is not the first woman appointed to a post at the Vatican she does have the right to vote at the synod. It gives women a form of visibility that has not been experienced. Importantly She acknowledges her nomination was made possible by other women before her. She describes her appointment here:  

My appointment can be read on three different levels: I am a nun, a woman and a layperson. I see it as a sign the synod will want to listen to the people of God.

Synodality, in today’s sense is emphasized by Pope Francis, who is calling for a synodal church, this means that the whole people of God who by their baptism are called to participate in discernment.

The video is not long so maybe you can watch it with your daughter and share thoughts or wonderings.

Learning and Teaching at St Columba’s College

Elevate Education is hosting a free webinar series for parents on preparing their children for the start of the 2021 school year. The next session will focus on Memory, Focus and Strategies for Effective Revision on 19 May at 7 pm and is relevant for parents with children in years 7-12. If you are interested in the event please register at: You may also wish to register for the upcoming webinar topics Exam Preparation 2 June and Stress and Wellbeing 16 June.

To access the recent webinar on Time Management – how to end the battle over homework deadlines, study schedules and prioritisation please access the Time Management webinar here and the resources here.

All State Jazz Competition

On Sunday, 2 May, St Columba’s Big Band performed at the All State Jazz Competitions at St Leonard’s College, Brighton. Under the directions of Mr Leon Duncan, the ensemble performed three pieces.
The first piece performed is titled ‘Teddy the Toad’. This chart was originally performed by Count Basie and his Orchestra. Our soloists for this chart, Luci Srour (on trumpet) and Sibelle Speranza (on alto saxophone) played their respective solos with great flair and creativity.
For their second piece, the band played a haunting ballad called ‘Once upon a time’. This ballad featured Alissa Rose-Probyn playing the melody beautifully on tenor saxophone.
The final piece performed by Big Band is titled ‘Hit the bricks’. This is a funky arrangement written by Gordon Goodwin who is the leader of the famous Big Phat Band. The piece begins with a shaker (played by Siana Larkin) and funky bass line by Allanah Hessey on bass guitar. Julia Speranza (on trumpet) and Alissa Rose-Probyn held their solo lines with great confidence.
Our girls performed extremely well and were placed second in their section. The adjudicators spoke of the sense of camaraderie which the band exuded from their performance.
Three of our girls who were outstanding in their sections were listed in the Super Band. They are:
Julia Speranza (trumpet)
Alissa Probyn-Rose (tenor saxophone)
Siana Larkin (vibes)
These girls will receive a Super Band cap as a recognition of their outstanding skills on their instruments.

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A big congratulations to all the members of Big Band and Mr Duncan for achieving amazing results! The members include:
Saxophone section 
Alissa-Rose Probyn
Claire Ostrowski

Sibelle Speranza

Trombone section

Juliana Basilone

Trumpet section 
Luci Srour
Julia Speranza
Nadia Dal Corobbo
Meghan Price

Corrie Sawicki-Bennett

Rhythm section
Allanah Hessey (Bass guitar & Double Bass)
Serena Cooper-Nolan (Keys)
Siana Larkin (Aux percussion, vibes)

Imogen Rawlings (Drums)

Finally, a special shout out to Big Band assistants, Ms Lomanowicz and Mr Li for the additional support in the preparations of this successful performance.

VCE Drama Returns to the Theatre

On Saturday 24th April, year 11 and 12 VCE Drama students attended Jekyll and Hyde a play by A Slightly Isolated Dog at Chapel off Chapel in Prahran. The performance was the first live professional drama work attended by the girls since pre-pandemic and it was well worth the wait. Inspired by the Novella by Robert Louis Stevenson, the performance blurred lines between seats and stage, calling on the audience to participate and bring the story to life. To the delight of the girls, our own Miss Catherine Ohlsen was drawn on as the love interest of Mr Hyde improvising lines on the spot and inevitably breaking the heart of the protagonist, before building bridges in the final scene. VCE drama students are currently working on their own devised performance and will analyse the production for one of their VCE outcomes.

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Careers News

This week’s newsletter looks at:
  • Explore your university course options by speaking with course advisers
  • Sports Physiotherapy versus Clinical Exercise Physiology
  • Medicine and Dentistry applicants (Yr 12) – applications for the UCAT are closing soon
  • Victorian Careers Show – coming soon!
  • How to prepare for a Careers Expo
  • Explore your global university options
  • Careers in sport
  • Future of work predictor – how will jobs change over the next 10 years?
  • Apprenticeships and traineeships
  • Casual employment resources
  • Parent/guardian resource – from school to work
  • Careers in business, economics, and commerce
  • National Youth Science Forum – applications now open! (Year 11)
  • Natural health courses
  • Careers with the Australian Federal Police
  • UNSW – medicine information sessions
  • Upcoming career events

Access the full newsletter here.

Visit the Pathways website here.

Academic Excellence Scholarships

St Columba’s College is offering Academic Excellence Scholarships for students entering Year 7 2023 as well as Year 9 and Year 11 in 2022. 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 Monday 12 July 2021

Scholarship testing date is Saturday 24 July 2021

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

Thank You To Our Amazing VCAL Girls

As you may know the Athletics Carnival scheduled for the 25th of March was cancelled due to poor weather conditions. In the devastation that followed the cancellation, our VCAL girls stood up and showed extraordinary adaptability and initiative, in a very short period of time these girls planned novelty events for every year level, along with table tennis, games and mario-kart in Gayip-biik. On top of this the girls hosted a very popular barbeque with all proceeds donated to Caritas. I, along with many others will be ever grateful for the hard work of these girls, they created a joyous environment which received praise from all participants and onlookers. In the chaos of a busy year, efforts like these often go unnoticed but these girls deserve great praise for their ability to plan an amazing day. Thank you girls for all your work!