May 15, 2020

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Principal's Message


St Columba's College is Ready

Transition Statements

First Aid News

School Assembly

STC Rock Challenge

Reflection on Remote Learning

Cahill House Feast Day

Bruton House Feast Day

Arts Update

Sports Update

Social Justice

Year 9 Virtual Mock Interviews

SCSA Sports Competition

Music Update

Maintaining kids' Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Academic Excellence Scholarships

Year 7 2022 Enrolment

Principal's Message

Phased Return to Classroom Learning

Thank you for your extraordinary support during this period of significant change.

While in some ways this has been a challenging and difficult time, it has also provided us with the opportunity to learn new ways of working with our students, our families, our colleagues and our communities.  One of the exciting tasks ahead is to work together to ensure that what we have learned is captured, refined and shared.  A ‘return to normal’ is not what we will expect, as we reflect on the challenges we have surmounted which have changed the nature and shape of our work, forever.

I am writing to provide details regarding the staged return to school for students commencing on Tuesday, 26 May.  The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff continues to be a driver in our planning for a return to onsite learning.


VCE and VCAL Students Return to School

1. All Year 11 and Year 12 students will commence on Tuesday, 26 May.  Year 10 students in a Unit 1 and 2 acceleration study will also be expected onsite.  This does not include Year 10 Unit 1 Religious Education.  Unit 1 and 2 Year 10 students will be asked to sign in at Front Reception when they arrive, and sign out when they are leaving the College.

2. Year 10 Acceleration students can attend classroom lessons for their regular Year 10 subjects while teachers are conducting remote learning onsite, if there is not enough time for them to travel between school and home for their lessons.

3. Students in Years 7-10 will return on Tuesday, 9 June.  More information about this stage of the process will be provided in coming weeks.

4. Students in Years 7-10 who are vulnerable or who cannot be supervised at home, may access their remote learning onsite at the College between Tuesday, 26 May and Friday, 5 June, before their return to school on Tuesday, 9 June.  To assist with planning for the supervision of students participating in remote learning onsite, and in keeping with the COVID-19 Safety Management Plan, a survey has been sent to all families today asking if your daughter(s) in Years 7-10 requires onsite remote learning.  We require all families of Years 7-10 students to please complete the survey by 9.00 am on Tuesday, 19 May.

5. Teachers of Years 7-10 subjects will be conducting online classes remotely from the College between Tuesday, 26 May and Friday, 5 June.


Learning and Teaching 

6. The first week after each staged student return will be assessment-free, ie assessment-free for Unit 1-4 students from 26 May until 1 June and assessment-free for Years 7-10 students from 9 June until 15 June.  Experience and feedback from colleagues in schools in other states has suggested that the return to onsite learning has been overwhelming for students, and needs to be carefully managed.

7. At this stage, the last week of Term 2 will be an ‘assessment week’ for VCE students.  We are currently preparing an assessment timetable for Unit 1-4 classes that teachers will be able to utilise to schedule SACs, if this time is needed.  There will be no Year 11 and Year 12 classes in that week, to support students to prepare for SACs and/or access teacher support, as needed.  VCAL classes will run as normal.  There will be no examination period for Years 9, 10 and 11 students.  Further details will be forthcoming.

8. We will schedule remote year level assemblies over the coming weeks to connect with students and to communicate the changed circumstances that we will be living with as they return to school.


Operational Matters

9. The plan for Tuesday, 26 May will be provided to students next week.  We will start with a ‘remote’ assembly and House Groups, before we move into lessons.

10. At least until Tuesday, 9 June, we will operate our current remote learning timetable so that we continue to be proactive about screen time, brain breaks and physical activity for staff and students engaging in online learning.

11. The Benny and Me Food Store will be open.  To reduce the number of students gathering at the Food Store, lunch orders are encouraged.


Wellbeing and Health and Safety

12. We encourage parents and legal guardians to take the opportunity to speak with your daughter(s) about how they are feeling regarding the return to school.  It is important for students to be able to voice their concerns and anxieties, as we move into this next phase of our COVID-19 response, and to acknowledge these responses as a normal reaction to the times that we are living through.  While students have had some semblance of a routine over the past few weeks, a return to school means another adjustment to a new routine.  We cannot assume that this will happen automatically or seamlessly for all our girls, and we need to be mindful and patient of the challenges this may present.  Staff members will be supportive and understanding of the girls in this time of transition.

13. The College has implemented increased health and hygiene measures in anticipation of a return to school.  This includes additional hand sanitising stations in key locations across the College, and additional high-level cleaning and physical distancing protocols, for staff and students.  We will publicise a detailed list of these protocols in the coming week.  Please see the articles in this edition of the IONA for more details regarding cleaning and hygiene.

14.Classrooms will remain open at recess and lunchtime to reduce large gatherings of students in the school yard.  We are asking students to be respectful of these spaces and leave them clean and tidy for use in Lessons 2 and 4.

15. All students need to continue following hand-washing and personal hygiene practices diligently.

16. The Department of Transport continues to work closely with the DHHS and transport operators to implement measures to limit the risk and spread of COVID-19 so that students can feel confident travelling on public transport to and from school.  Students should practise hand hygiene before and after catching school transport (ie prior to leaving home and at the end of the school day), and practise physical distancing at bus stops, train stations and interchange locations for other shared transport services.

17. Parents and legal guardians, particularly of students with complex medical needs, should consider all transport to school options and may opt to use private transport.

18. If your daughter is unwell please keep her at home.  If our staff notice that your daughter is unwell, she will be isolated and arrangements made with you for her to go home until she is well.  It is important that we continue to do everything we can to reduce the spread of the virus, or any other illnesses, as the cold weather sets in, that could make people more vulnerable to other illnesses.

19. If your daughter is immune-compromised, please contact her House Teacher in the coming week so that we can be aware of the support we need to put in place for her.

20. Visitors to the College will be restricted, and we ask that you come into the College only if it is absolutely necessary.  We will be enacting physical distancing protocols in College Reception.

21. There will be three exit points for students at the end of the day:

    • Leslie Road gate for students heading toward Rose Street for access to public transport;
    • Buckley Street gate for students heading in the direction of Lorraine Street and Lincoln Road; and
    • Stanley Street gate for students being collected by car in Stanley Street and surrounding areas.

22. Parents are asked to remain in their cars when they come to collect their daughters.


College Expectations

23. Our girls have been extraordinary throughout this experience, and we are looking forward to welcoming them back.  Once students resume school, please remember that our high expectations of them will continue and we expect our students to adhere to our key policies regarding behaviour, uniform and grooming, punctuality, attendance and submission of work. 

There are a few more issues that we need to work through and I thank you for your patience as we sort through these.  Please do not hesitate to contact the College, if you have any specific concerns regarding your daughter(s).



Last Sunday we celebrated the gift of motherhood. We remembered our mothers, those living and those who have died and all those who are motherly figures in our lives. During the month of May, we are invited to look towards Mary – Jesus’ mother and for us, a model of discipleship.

Reflection upon Mary

Many of us have learned and prayed the Hail Mary since our youth. The Text of this ancient prayer is directly from Luke’s Gospel. We reflect using this text.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Hail Mary; woman of Grace, the Lord called thee. Blessed are thou as a woman and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Hail Mary; woman of Faith, the Lord called thee. Blessed are thou as a woman and blessed be all woman too. Holy woman, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Hail Mary; woman, faith filled and called to grace. Blessed are you as a woman and blessed be all woman too, Holy woman, daughter, wife, Mother of God, pray for us now and always.

Hail Mary; woman faith filled and called to grace. Blessed are you as a woman and blessed by all woman too. Holy woman, daughter, wife, Mother of God, may your life inspire us to embrace an understanding of our role in our Church and our world. Pray for us now and always.

Hail woman; faith filled and called to grace. Blessed are all women and blessed be all people too. Women: daughters, sisters, wives, partners, mothers, named and known, unremembered and unknown, yet holy all. We pray for each and every one, for now and always.





St Columba's College is Ready

The College has undertaken a full review of what is required for all facilities to be ready for the return of students and staff on site. An extensive cleaning regime has been finalised in partnership with our cleaning company – Alec Epis Cleaning and cleaning supplies company – Hunter. The College’s OHS Committee and other staff have created a Return to School Readiness Report which includes the following strategies:

  • Front reception and Student Reception will have sneeze guards in place
  • Stand alone, motion sensor hand sanitizer units will be located in key areas
  • Hand sanitisers will be in all teaching areas
  • Where possible social distancing measures will be in place with floor markings and max number of people allowed in certain areas signed
  • The College’s day cleaner will be frequently disinfecting touch points such as door handles, stair railings, hard surfaces throughout the day
  • Classrooms desk tops will be sanitised at the end of every day
  • Visitors will now sign in using a Sign In book with a disinfected pen rather than using the Touch screen Visitor Kiosk
  • Classrooms that have individual desks will have these spread out throughout the classroom
  • Strict procedures in place for anyone on site showing cold like symptoms to be sent off for COVID 19 testing.

Elevated hygiene management and processes in the College’s First Aid area.

The College is looking forward to welcoming all students and staff back on site as we start a new ‘normality’ with these additional hygienic practices and procedures in place.


Transition Statements

Earlier this term, our Year 7 students and parents completed separate feedback surveys about their transition experiences at St Columba’s College. This is the second time that we have surveyed our Year 7’s and the first time that we have surveyed the parents of our Year 7’s. We had an excellent response with 182 students and 169 parents completing the survey. Many thanks to the students and parents who took the time to provide us with their feedback.

The feedback was certainly affirming of the work we are doing to support the youngest members of our community. There were 38 questions for students – for 30 of these more than 80% of students selected Strongly Agree or Agree. Some examples are shown below:

Proud to be a student at my school                                95.8%

My teachers listen to what I have to say                            90.9%

When I have a problem, my teachers help me                  94.4%

The school rules are fair                                                     93%

I feel safe at this school                                                      94.9

The data we received also provides us with some challenges which we will work on in the lead up to the transition of our 2021 Year 7 students.

Similarly, the parent feedback is incredibly strong with percentages for Strongly Agree and Agree responses overwhelmingly recorded at 80% or more, for 29 of the 37 questions. Again, some examples are shown below:

I have confidence in the future direction of the school          93.3%

Values are reflected in the behaviour of staff and students   91.3%

Offers a broad and relevant curriculum                             91.8%

I have confidence in the teaching staff                                  86.4%

I feel welcomed to celebrate Eucharists with the
school community                                                                  82.8% 

Although the data suggests that students and parents are very satisfied with their recent transition experience, rest assured the College will not become complacent about our work. We will continue to strive to improve what we are doing – feedback like this provides some focus for areas of improvement.


First Aid News

In order to support and comply with current Government Orders, the following points should be noted in regards to First Aid/Sick Bay at the College:

  • Any student who feels ill or unwell with any of the following symptoms: Fever, chills or sweats, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of sense of smell MUST stay at home.
  • Any student that feels unwell and presents at Sick Bay with any of the above symptoms, will be isolated in the Sick bay area, given a face mask & information sheet.
  • All unwell students will be sent home  
  • Parents will be expected to organise collection of the Student from Sick Bay within 20 minutes from being notified.
  • Unwell students with the above symptoms will need to visit their local GP or call the COVID-19 Hotline on:1800 020 080.
  • Students leaving Sick Bay with the above symptoms cannot return to school without a Medical Certificate stating they have recovered and fit to commence school.
  • Please note: Most cases presenting to GPs with cold and/or ful like symptoms will be referred for COVID-19 testing.
  • Local Covid-19 Testing clinics are: 
    1. The Royal Melbourne Hospital
    2. Sunshine Hospital
    3. Bunnings West Footscray (corner Geelong Road & Geelong Street West Footscray)
    4. Highpoint Shopping Centre Level 2 Undercover Carpark near Australia Post entrance. (Off Rosamond Road- Follow signage) 
  • Students tested for COVID-19 can expect to be away from school for up to 5 days whilst awaiting your test result. 
  • A negative COVID-19 test result is required before returning to school.
  • Please advise STCC of your result- both positive or negative by calling 93319485
  • Parents/Legal Guardians should ensure the following:
    1. Emergency contact details are correct – Parents MUST be contactable at all times whilst daughters are at school.
    2. Please update work and mobile numbers via PAM 
    3. Students have their OWN drink bottles (Communal drink taps will be out of use)
    4. Students have their OWN hand sanitiser on their person
    5. Students know and understand what social distancing means (no kissing, hugging, close contact, no hand shaking or touching, no sharing of food, utensils, unnecessary equipment)   
    6. Students DO NOT come to school with ANY of the above mentioned symptoms

We thank you for your support and cooperation in this regard.

Should you have any concerns about your daughter’s health or wellbeing please contact her House Leader via the College on 9337 5311.


School Assembly

Social belonging is so important that it’s recognised as a human need. In times of increased stress, looking after our mental health and maintaining social connections has never been more important. This has been the executive team’s major concern during this social distancing period. On the 28th of April, the 2020 student executive team invited the cohort to st Columba’s very first online school assembly. Students receive updates from all of the college domains (social justice, arts, sport and environment) making them aware of all the exciting things we can still look forward to this term. Other captains discussed topics surrounding what we can do to keep busy during quarantine, and how we can inspire positive changes in our world, through creativity and kindness rather than aggression and protest. With some hidden surprises scattered throughout the video including a special address from our principal Ms Grima, the traditional swimming carnival video from last term, and a dance clip from our year 12s powering through their senior year, the online assembly was a great success. But nothing could top it off better than a message from Mr Bonavia, with his eminent dismissal allowing us to quietly and calmly exit the assembly. This has truly been a confusing time for everyone, but it has never been more obvious that we are better together!


STC Rock Challenge

Over the last few weeks, the 2020 Student Executive has come up with an activity to keep the students connected during these challenging time.This activity encourages all of the STC students to find a large rock and paint an inspirational message on it with the addition of our College’s red thread in the hope to enable our girls to feel connected despite us not all being physically together.  The Student Executive encourages all the students to participate in the initiative and post their rock on their Instagram story with the tag  #STCCSQUADROCKS. We have already seen some awesome rocks and can’t wait to see more!


Reflection on Remote Learning

As the St Columba’s community comes to the end of five weeks of remote learning, students and staff have been encouraged to continuously reflect upon our college theme of Compassion as we navigate through these unprecedented times. Following the College’s most recent House Assemblies, we have seen an overwhelming display of compassion as students take the time to maintain their self-care, show gratitude to their family and friends and appreciate activities previously taken for granted. As students today continue to learn alongside their teachers, we become aware of the importance of connection and find comfort in guiding each other through the difficulties of remote learning. On behalf of the student body, we would like to thank the St Columba’s College Staff for working tirelessly to allow us, the students, to adjust to these unexpected circumstances by actively responding to the mental, physical and educational needs of the student body.  

Cahill House Feast Day

On Monday the 11th of May, Cahill house gathered in the morning over Google Meets to celebrate their House patron, Sister Mary John Cahill. The Cahill girls prayed together and connected as a house virtually to reflect upon Sister Cahill’s acts of altruism and courage throughout her lifetime. It was great to see both students and staff at St Columba’s College wear the colour yellow during the day to help celebrate Sister Mary John Cahill and stay connected as a whole community.

Who was Sister Mary John Cahill?

Sister Cahill joined the Sisters of Charity in April 1819 and was the eldest of the 5 sisters of Charity who arrived in Sydney in 1838.  Upon her arrival in Sydney, she showed tremendous compassion and care working with female prisoners at the Parramatta Female Factory.  She later moved to Tasmania where she helped to establish schools, orphanages and hospitals over a period of 25 years.  Sister Mary John Cahill was a woman of faith, courage, patience and selflessness, an example for us all to follow. 

We were very fortunate to still be able to celebrate our house Feast Day online although when we all arrive back at school, Cahill house will definitely be celebrating this momentous day together! 


Bruton House Feast Day

On Thursday the 23rd of April, almost 150 Bruton girls and staff came together to celebrate our House Feast Day to acknowledge and honour the life of our House Patron, Sister Ursula Bruton. Even though we weren’t all physically together at school, we celebrated this special day by coming together on a Google Meets online assembly. We began the assembly with a liturgy run by myself and the House Representatives, as we led the house in the Bruton prayer and reflected upon the journey of Sister Ursula Bruton becoming the first Principal of St. Columba’s College. Our celebrations concluded with a Bruton Quiz about all things Bruton, Sisters of Charity and anything to do with red! This was a fun way for the girls to feel connected as a house whilst at home in isolation.

As many members of our community have been affected by what is happening at the moment, it is important to remember those less fortunate than us who don’t have the same access to education, necessary resources or healthcare. All the money that would have been spent on our Feast Day will now be donated to The Good Samaritan Inn, our house charity, as a small contribution to help the women and children escaping family violence and homelessness during this time. 

The day was a complete success and I can’t wait to properly celebrate our Feast Day together as a Bruton House when we return to school!


Arts Update

To keep the girls engaged and entertained throughout this period, Ms Boicos and myself have created the Quaran-teen Art Competition where girls are to create their own artwork using any medium, to best suit the theme: LIFE INTERRUPTED. The winners for each year level will then receive a prize delivered to their house to congratulate them. 

The staff are also partaking in a weekly challenge where they try to recreate an original artwork with the elements and resources they have at home. 

The combined St Columba’s and St Bernard’s musical production of Grease is progressing very well considering rehearsals are being held online. I have heard that Act 1 is finished, so a huge congratulations to students and staff involved in the musical. They are also working in collaboration with the STEM team to help design parts of the set!  Students are invited to submit their design ideas by Friday 29 May.  More details are available in the Student Bulletin.

For some more exciting news, House Performing Arts for 2020 will be running in June! It is now open to all students from Years 7 -12 and will also be held online on Google Meets, with online rehearsals run by student section leaders, online recordings and presentation of places/winners. As usual, each act being music, drama and dance, have to represent the stimulus presented. Not only is it only for those who love to act, sing and dance, but it also involves tech-savvy students calling for them to help edit and put together the videos! Good luck and have fun to all who’s a part of it!


Sports Update

In the student bulletin, there are reminders being posted to be active during class breaks and also a ‘Get Active and Win Competition”. Staff and students are invited to create a fun active video on them getting active in the comfort of their own home. The winner will get a Knight fitness pack at a value of $100, and runners up a value pack of $50. 

Physical Education classes have been running with students learning theory and also still completing some practical tasks. The Year 12 PE classes took part in a circuit training session in their homes. 

The SCSA sports domain has set up a running competition. A Strava (running app) STC group will be open for the cross country team to track their data and share it with their peers and teachers. This will be a competition between the schools of which school can run the most amount of kilometers a week. Also from the SCSA, is a ‘Show us your skills’ competition where students can send in videos of them doing trick shots from home and will compete against other SCSA schools. It is important to keep up the intensity in this time, and can’t wait to see the creative videos that are being sent in


Social Justice

St Vinnies

The Coronavirus is affecting all of us in different ways. For many, it means our lives have been put on hold for a minute. But for organizations such as St. Vincent De Paul, who work so hard to support others, this current situation, has made it even harder for them to connect to these people.

How can we help?

St. Vincent de Paul needs our help in collecting bags such as UberEats bags, fabric bags and supermarket bags that are all still in good condition. These much-needed items will allow St Vincent’s to continue to deliver over 500 hampers each week. The bags are collected and sent to St Vincent’s every Friday, so drop yours at Front Reception, which is open from 8 pm to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.

How can you volunteer from home?

Recently we found an article from Latrobe University outlining Seven ways to volunteer from home. Whether it be through grocery shopping for the elderly, managing a charity’s social media or getting out those knitting needles, there is a way for everyone to act kindly and justly while still adhering to social distancing rules. So if you are inspired and feel the desire to make even the smallest difference in the community, then feel free to check out the link to Latrobe’s article. The article includes links to other sites that can provide further volunteering opportunities.

Link to article:

Take care everyone!

Year 9 Virtual Mock Interviews

We are looking for volunteers to help with this year’s Year 9 Mock Interviews.

If you are happy to help, we would love to hear from you. Information below or you can click here:

SCSA Sports Competition

The SCSA are running two competitions during term two:

  • ‘Running’ Competition – There are 2 x categories (High Participation and High Performance).
  • ‘Show us your skills’ Competition – A student can upload any skill or trick shot they wish.

A school shield and trophies will be awarded at the end of term two.

We encourage all students to stay active and get involved, click here for competition information.

Music Update

The Music domain is very pleased with the level of engagement year 7 students have with remote learning. It is exciting to see students getting on board with a new way of learning to play their instruments. By recording their playing, students receive individual feedback from their instrumental teachers on a weekly basis.

Due to overwhelming student requests, most senior ensemble rehearsals resumed last week. Students were appreciative of the hard work staff put in to run rehearsals fortnightly. The students particularly missed the social aspect of creating music together and a sense of normalcy that attending music rehearsals give.

A huge thank you to Ms Grima and the senior leadership team for their ongoing support and Ms Foley for working diligently with staff and students in making this happen.

Maintaining kids' Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

In these challenging times, our girls’ mental health needs to be a high priority. Anxieties and fears may be heightened by isolation from friends, lack of access to their usual sports and leisure activities and a lack of certainty about the future. The following plan laid out by the experts at Parenting Ideas will show you how to lay a solid foundation for good mental health, and outline key behaviours that will help build the resilience and psychological strength that kids need in these difficult times.

Build the foundations for good health

A healthy diet, plenty of exercise and good sleep patterns are basic to good physical and mental health. Get the foundations right and you establish optimum conditions for your child to flourish even in difficult circumstances.

Eat a healthy diet

The ‘healthy body, healthy mind’ mantra that we grew up with needs to be updated to ‘healthy gut, healthy brain’. Recent research has revealed the links between a child’s gut health and good mental health. Kids who experience anxiety and depression typically have imbalances of adrenaline (which keeps the brain alert) and GABA (which calms the brain down), that can be rectified with good gut health.

A framework for healthy eating includes eating real rather than processed foods, consuming small and regular meals, starting each day with protein and complex carbs, drinking plenty of water and keeping kids away from caffeinated drinks.

Get plenty of exercise

Exercise not only promotes good mental health. It’s also a tool that kids can use to manage their mental states. Exercise and movement send endorphins through their bodies improving mood and relieving tension and stress. Exercise and movement relaxes the muscles and reduces feelings of anxiety that build up over time.

A framework for exercise includes starting the day with some movement, taking regular movement and game breaks, finishing the school day with movement that gets their limbs moving and hearts pumping.

Maintain good sleep patterns

The benefits of good sleep patterns are immense and far-reaching, impacting kids’ learning, memory and emotional stability. Sleep restores the brain to optimum conditions and rejuvenates the body, allowing hormone levels elevated during the day to return to normal. Consequently, sleep-deprived kids experience greater anxiety doing routine tasks and have a propensity for pessimistic thinking, which is associated with anxiety and depression.

A framework for good sleep patterns includes finding an optimum bedtime; creating a regular, relaxing routine, eating and exercising at the right time, creating a sleep sanctuary and getting up at regular times each day.

Academic Excellence Scholarships

St Columba’s College is offering Academic Excellence Scholarships for students entering Year 7 2022 as well as Year 9 and Year 11 in 2021. Details and online registration are available on the College website.

Registration closing date is Friday 17 July 2020

Scholarship testing date is Saturday 25 July 2020

Year 7 2022 Enrolment

A reminder if your daughter is currently in Grade 5 and you wish to send her to St Columba’s College, please ensure you have submitted an application form even if you already have a daughter at the College. Applications can be downloaded from the College website or collected from Reception.

Applications for Year 7 2022 close on Friday 21 August 2020.