May 21, 2021

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Principal's Message


Notices from the Deputy Principal

VCAL Achievement Awards


Bahay Tuluyan

The Great Book Swap

Year 9 Mock Interviews

Father/Male Mentor Daughter Night

Supporting Our Neighbours in Timor Leste

Library News

Careers News

Principal's Message

Professional Learning

It was a pleasure to spend the day with colleagues this past Wednesday, learning together, to ensure that we continue to provide relevant and up-to-date programs for our students. The focus for Wednesday was student wellbeing. Teachers and learning support staff members spent the morning with our Real Schools Partner, Simon Dewar, revisiting some of the key elements of the Restorative Practices Framework, and then moving our understanding and practice to a new level. In particular, the morning focussed on the use of formal and informal restorative practice techniques that foster the expression of emotion, and how students can deal positively with both positive and negative emotions. The staff also learned about the innate effect of shame, and how we work with young people who have transgressed, in a positive and life-affirming way.

Teachers also spent time learning from colleagues about the sexuality and consent education programs we have in place, to support an inter-disciplinary approach to these topics. The afternoon session was focussed on re-visiting basic counselling skills with the staff working directly with our students to ensure that we are equipped to support students appropriately when they come to teachers and learning support officers with various issues. Understanding the operation of the various structures we have in place is a vital step in our provision of the appropriate levels of care and support for students. It was great to see the expertise within the staff being utilised to share these learning experiences.

College Activities

The Father/Male Mentor – Daughter Night hosted by the Parent Engagement Committee was a huge success. Dads, grandads and step-dads engaged in various activities with their daughters, participating in friendly competition and having a bit of fun along the way. It was great entertainment to watch our dads navigating their out of practice dance moves as they tried to keep up with “Just Dance” on the big screen. Thank you to all the families who supported this great event, to Mr Terry Reade and the VET Sport and Recreation class for facilitating the activities, students from the VET Events class for supporting the organisation of the evening, and to the parents on the Parent Engagement Committee (PEC) for their hospitality and the very tasty BBQ at the end of the evening. I would also like to acknowledge the work of Mr Frank Bonavia and Mrs Janet McGuire who support the work of the PEC.

I was privileged to attend the Instrumental Music Concert this past Thursday evening. A wonderful opportunity to hone and polish performance skills for a live audience after a year of performing on-screen to an audience in tiny squares. Congratulations to all the students for their individual and ensemble performances. Our gratitude is extended to the staff of the Performing Arts Department – Ms Pei Sun Lai, Ms Amber Lomanowicz, Ms Emma Downing, Ms Sandra Boicos, and all of the Instrumental staff for their support and encouragement of the students. Thanks also to Mr Terry Reade and his Back-Stage Crew for their support to ensure the performances ran smoothly.


Pentecost prayer

For the Spirit of Peace

that calms our mind and stills our life,

we give you thanks.

For the Spirit of Love

that touches hearts and reaches out,

we give you thanks.

For the Spirit of Joy

that lifts our soul and gives us faith

we give you thanks.

For the Spirit of Understanding,

that gift of grace for us, your church

we give you thanks.

Notices from the Deputy Principal

Mothers’ Day High Tea

Recently, we celebrated the 96th anniversary of Mother’s Day in Australia. This special annual event promotes peace, supports and recognises the role of women and is a day for families to come together and reconnect. We were really pleased to have 130 mothers, daughters, grandmothers and staff to begin Mother’s Day celebrations.

It was a special and joyous occasion with lots of connecting, chatter and laughter. The food was delicious and many mothers went home with lovely gifts to enjoy. The girls were invited to send me a photo with a statement about what they most value about their mother. These were put into a slideshow to surprise the mums present.

Thank you to all those who attended and for your valuable feedback following the event. We hope to see you back next year along with many other mothers.

Finally, many thanks to our VETEvents students who provided wonderful support in the planning for the day as well as their hard work on the day to ensure that it was a special occasion for our guests.


Student Leadership Review

Sincere thanks to all the parents who provided their feedback regarding the Student Leadership Review via the survey in term 1.

The 2021 Student Leadership Review provides the data that was collected and a list of recommendations that were discussed at a Leadership Team meeting.

A small committee is now tasked with responding to these recommendations. We hope to present to staff and students at our end of term College Assembly and to our parents via Iona.


Virtual Parent Teacher Interviews Survey Results

Recently, we surveyed staff, students and parents about the Virtual Parent Teacher Interviews. Thank you to the members of our community who took the time for provide us with their feedback.

A good number of participants responded:

Staff – 32

Students – 156

Parents who attended the interviews – 216

Parents who did not attend the interviews – 21


Teachers chose a number between 1 (Strongly Agree) and 5 (Strongly Disagree) based on their view of some statements. Here are some percentages of teachers who chose either 1 or 2 for the following:

  • Using Google Meets to conduct the parent teacher interviews was effective – 90.6%
  • The parents appeared to be using Google Meets effectively to access the interview – 90.7%
  • The 10 minute time slots were sufficient to discuss student learning progress – 87.5%

96.9% of the respondents indicated that they preferred to conduct Parent Teacher Interviews virtually and 81.3% of respondents prefer to allow students to self-regulate their learning by completing set class work during the Parent Teacher Interviews.

The majority of respondents indicated that it was challenging to maintain focus in front of the laptop screen for the length of the day.

Teachers provided some suggestions for improvements that the Leadership Team will be discussing in preparation for the next Parent Teacher Interviews in term 3.


92.3% of students who completed the survey attended the interviews with their parents. We asked them to indicate why they attended the interviews.  The majority of students said that they felt it was important for them to hear about their progress in subjects and to receive feedback from their teachers and to talk about ways to improve their outcomes. Here are a few of their comments:

  • I attended the interview so I could get a good understanding of my learning and where I am at.
  • To ensure that if I had any questions or queries to talk to my teacher about, I was there. Also, to get an understanding of where I am at and where I’m doing well and how I can improve.
  • I attended the interviews with my parent so that they could have an understanding of my progress in my classes. I attended so that I could also help them with setting up the laptop and getting onto the meetings and also clarifying things that they may not have understood.
  • Because I like to know what I need to improve on to do better. I can also tell the teachers how I think I am going in their class so they know how I feel about that subject.

Some students admitted that they attended the interviews because their parents and/or teachers said that they should be there.

The students chose a number between 1 (Strongly Agree) and 5 (Strongly Disagree) based on their view of some statements. Here are some percentages of students who chose either 1 or 2 for the following:

  • I was given the opportunity to ask questions – 63.4%
  • The teachers offered specific strategies to support my needs – 51.2%
  • The opportunity to discuss my progress was a positive experience – 66%
  • I enjoyed working independently at home on the two Parent Teacher Interview days – 60.3%
  • Teachers provided clear instructions about what students were expected to work on – 55.2%
  • I completed the learning tasks that were set by my teachers – 74.3%

The graph below shows what students believe is important for their teachers to be sharing about them at the interviews. They were able to tick as many as they felt were applicable.


Parents were asked to choose a number between 1 (Strongly Agree) and 5 (Strongly Disagree) based on their view of some statements. Here are some percentages of parents who chose either 1 or 2 for the following:

  • I had no difficulty in accessing the Google Meet to conference with my daughter’s teachers – 80.5%
  • I was provided with relevant information regarding me daughter’s academic progress this year – 85.7%
  • I was given the opportunity to ask questions regarding my daughter – 90.3%
  • I was given the opportunity to address specific academic concerns I have about my daughter’s performance – 88.4%
  • The teacher offered specific strategies to support my daughter’s needs – 81.1%
  • The opportunity to discuss my daughter’s progress was a positive experience – 88.9%
  • Overall, the virtual parent teacher interviews met my expectation – 89.3%
  • I feel my daughter’s teacher encourages two way communication – 84.2%
  • The opportunity to participate in virtual parent teacher interviews was convenient – 88.9%

87% of parents indicated their preference to have Parent Teacher Interviews online.

Parents who did not attend the interviews were sent a different survey link. In response to ‘I did not participate in the recent virtual parent teacher interviews because…’ the following data was collected:

The times were not convenient for me – 5 parents

My daughter’s teachers were fully booked – 5 parents

I prefer face to face interviews – 8 parents

I was not confident in the use of technology to participate in the virtual interviews – 3 parents


Conversations with the Leadership Team

A reminder that 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.


Celebration of Excellence

In term 4, we will be celebrating the wonderful achievements of our students throughout 2021. Not only do we want to celebrate all that they have achieved at St Columba’s College, we also want to acknowledge their achievements beyond our school setting.

If your daughter has been successful in an external endeavour (eg. passed a Music examination, represented the state in a particular sport etc) this year, please forward the following to Tanya Almeida via this email address

  • Name of student
  • Achievement
  • If possible, a relevant photo

VCAL Achievement Awards

The Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) Achievement Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of young people who have participated in and completed a VCAL qualification. 

15 students were recognised for their achievements and excellence in Applied Learning out of the 26 000 students enrolled in VCAL in 2020. 

We are proud to announce that Year 12 student from the class of 2020, Ella Brebner was awarded the VCAL Student Achievement Award in the category of Senior Work Related Skills. 

A presentation ceremony was held at Deakin Edge, Federation Square where Ella was awarded her certificate by The Honourable James Merlino, Deputy Premier of Victoria. In his message to the recipients, Deputy Premier Merlino acknowledged ‘the challenges all students faced during the unprecedented year, particularly its impact on practical hands-on learning, …it required extraordinary commitment and patience. I commend you for your enthusiasm and resilience throughout that difficult year’. 

Whilst undertaking VCAL, Ella completed a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance. She also completed work placement at Good Start Early Learning and The Royal Women’s Hospital.  

Since graduating from St Columba’s College, Ella has been successful in securing an ongoing position at The Royal Women’s Hospital and was accepted into a Diploma of Nursing at Australian Catholic University. 

St Columba’s College would like to congratulate Ella on her outstanding achievement. She is a glowing example of the many benefits of VCAL and the pathways it can offer young people.


On Thursday May 6th May, students from the University of Melbourne’s Robogals chapter visited the Year 9 Code Name Bot class. 

Robogals is an international not for profit organisation that aims to inspire, engage and empower young women into engineering and related fields. The Robogals volunteers are typically university students. Visiting us were students studying a Bachelor of Science/Mechatronics, Computing and Software as well as a Research Candidate currently exploring the use of augmented reality and game based learning in education.

Introducing female engineering students to girls at a young age fosters exposure to the fields of engineering and technology (where girls are underrepresented) and cultivates self-confidence in students in these areas.

More about the workshop: 

The Robogals: Cynthia, Uni, Jennelle, Annie and Quynh introduced themselves and talked about the different types of engineers. These included: biochemical, biomedical, electrical, mechanical and civil and structural engineers. – which specialise in building things to help people. For example, a biomedical engineer designs prosthetic limbs, their job is improving the lives of others. Civil and structural engineers design tunnels and buildings, things that are unmoving. 

Then the Robogals introduced us to the Arduino. The Arduino is a circuit board that is able to read inputs such as a finger pressing down on a button. It uses a breadboard (a thin plastic board used to hold electronic components that are wired together), wires, resistors and a program called Scratch for Arduino to work. We completed several challenges constructing and coding the arduino. These challenges included the stoplight challenge. We had to place several LEDs in the breadboard and connect them using wires. To connect an LED we used two wires and one resistor and made sure that everything lined up perfectly or else the program wouldn’t run. Once it was confirmed by one of the girls that everything was in tiptop shape, we plugged in it into a laptop and started programming. Programming the sequence wasn’t that hard for us, it just made sense. We programmed the Arudino to blink for two seconds and then off for another two seconds in a continuous loop.

It was inspiring to see young women currently studying different types of engineering. We had so much fun learning about what they do and what pathways are available for us in the future. 

Year 9 students Bella Page and Maddison Papadatos

Bahay Tuluyan

On Friday the 30th of April the annual Bahay Tuluyan bike ride took place. Bahay Tulyan is a charity based in the Philippines. Locations in Manila, Laguna and Quezon use their programs to work towards preventing and responding to exploitation and violence against children. Due to the epidemic, the inability to fundraise and decline in tourism have impacted the organisation’s source of income. This having a detrimental effect on the children and families that rely on their facilities and programs to assist in aspects of everyday life. So the girls were more than grateful for the opportunity to ride 40km for a great cause.

Over 33 students and staff members made the trek down to Williamstown. The day was blessed with some sunshine that made the ride all the more enjoyable. Senior Constable Jill Kilpatrick assisted us down to the rowing club and on our return to the College. From there on it was a breezy ride beside the river and all the way to Williamstown beach, where we were keen to go get some food. With everyone a bit tired but eager to make the most of the day, we all made it back in one piece.

Overall, the ride was a great opportunity to have some fun and support such an amazing charity. It was lovely to get outside and enjoy the last few days of sunshine before Winter sets in. A big thanks to all the staff who made it possible to ride: Ms Fleeton, Mr Bramham, Ms Coyle and Ms Robinson. As well as all the girls who came along. The day wouldn’t have run so smoothly without each of you.

The Great Book Swap

Indigenous Literacy Foundation

Year 10 PreCAL Literacy in association with the St Columba’s library is holding a Great Book Swap on Wednesday June 16 in Gayip Biik at recess and lunch. Our goal is to raise $500 (hopefully, more) to support Indigenous Literacy. We need your help.

If you have any books in need of a new home, please leave them in the donation box located in Front Reception before Monday June 14. We can’t wait to see what wonderful books that you donate!

You can also make a direct donation to the Great Book Swap at

*Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

Thank you for your support, PreCAL Literacy

Father/Male Mentor Daughter Night

The Parents Engagement Committee held the annual Father/Male Mentor Daughter Games Night for Years 7-9 on Tuesday, 18th May at the College. Once again it was a very successful event with approximately 130 fathers and daughters in attendance. There was lots of excitement and energy to release, especially from the fathers who were eager to get involved in the activities on the night. ‘The best part of the night was the Just Dance’ said one Dad and ‘What a great event held for the daughters and fathers, we had lots fun’ said another!

The evening finished on a high with a delicious sausage sizzle proudly provided and served by our committee members. A big shout out to James, Natalie, Tracey, Maria and Suzette for volunteering on the night. Also a big Thank you to the VET students together with Terry from the college who assisted and organised all the activities. Well done to them for keeping our fathers and daughters entertained and active. A very big Thank you to the Leadership team of the college who are always supportive in our events. Thank you Rita, Frank and Janet.

For those keen to participate and be involved in future events held by the Parents Engagement Committee, please email us on:

Our next upcoming event will the PEC Social (including the alumnae) on August 28th, 2021 and the Art Show on October 21st, 2021. So watch this space!

Supporting Our Neighbours in Timor Leste

Last term, Endless Events (a working division of Cert III in Events) raised an awareness for our neighbours in TImor Leste. In association with the Keilor Gateway Cluster Team (Days for Girls) we launched a toys and clothes drive for the people in Timor Leste

The much needed donations will support the development of the Women’s Centre (day care) located in Timor Leste, which will be useful for many different children who are unable to receive essential items such as baby clothes or toys.

We helped the local secondary schools in Timor Leste by providing  needed particular materials that needed certain stationary for students to be able to use.

We at St Columba’s have the privilege to afford materials such as display folders, rulers, or even pens which we often throw away when others would consider them useful. We asked our school community to donate these items so that secondary students in Timor Leste would have these basics for their schooling needs.

We were overwhelmed by the generosity of our community including parents of our students who happily donated to our collection.

On behalf of Endless Events we would like to thank everyone who has contributed and made a difference to the lives of students as well as the Women’s Centre.

Library News

Library Opening Hours – Term 2

Monday – Thursday   7.45am – 4.30pm

Friday                          7.45am – 4.00pm


Principal’s Reading Challenge

Over the last few years, St Columba’s College encouraged students to participate in the annual Victorian Premiers’ Reading Challenge. However, as interest had waned, Library staff decided to overhaul the concept, launching the inaugural Principal’s Reading Challenge!

Thus far, 71 students have signed up to the Challenge, which is wonderful! The Challenge has been designed to allow students to read the type of books they really enjoy, rather than having to read from a particular book list.

Registrations are still open – and students have until the end of Term 3 to complete the Challenge. Each student that registers will receive a point for their house, and students who complete the Challenge will go into the draw for prizes. The main prize will be for the House group with the most students who’ve completed the Challenge – a pizza lunch hosted by Library staff!

The Principal’s Reading Challenge is off to a great start – we hope that students who have registered are enjoying it…and if they haven’t registered? It’s not too late – they can come to the Library desk and Library staff can get them signed up!

Careers News

In this week’s careers Newsletter topics include:
  • Apprenticeship and traineeship resources
  • Exciting STEM resources
  • Chat to a Monash University science student (Year 12)
  • Animation and Interactive Media – rankings
  • University – early entry programs (Year 12)
  • Australian Defence Force Academy
  • Law at University of New South Wales (UNSW)
  • Flinders University, South Australia – UniTest
  • Studying undergraduate teaching courses in Victoria and NSW
  • Upcoming career events

Access the full newsletter here.

Visit the Pathways website here.