It would be easy to look at St Catherine of Siena as quite distant from our own existence. Written accounts of fourteenth century saints and mystics can leave us feeling in awe, or inadequate! Despite differences, even today, St Catherine invites us to discover common threads, shared spaces to examine the human condition; nudging (or in the case of Catherine, urging) us to enflame our energies and strive to be lovers of truth, lovers of the world, seekers of God in the everyday.
I am reminded of Catherine when reflecting on the events of this week. NAIDOC WEEK, Remembrance Day, commencement of VCE Exams, completion of senior Student Leadership appointments. In each of these seemingly diverse events, a common thread is woven. Seeking, striving, truth telling…St Catherine invites us to see God whom she called “Gentle Truth”, in every context. The ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’ spirit of indigenous Australians, the ‘Lest We Forget’ spirit of those who gave their lives in service to our country each speak to a truth about who we are; not always a convenient truth, but a probing truth, a gentle Truth with love at its heart. As parents, teachers and leaders, we give witness to our young women when we urge them to learn and use their learning for truth telling in our world.
Like Catherine, we continue our prayers for our senior students, our country and our world this week: may we seek and be the gentle truth of God’s grace.
I commend a number of Year 7 students in particular who, with Jemimah Walsh, Head of Humanities, led a beautiful whole school Remembrance Day ceremony on Wednesday. Thank you Katrina Gavralas, Tia McCann, Alexa Tricario, Cilla Brownlie and Megan Ferreira Hughes. It was also wonderful to have Year 9 students Lilly Oliphant and Elaine Koimala-Brown share their connection to country and culture, with such pride and respect for their families and communities as part of our NAIDOC Week celebrations. My thanks to Bronwyn Ilott and all staff who, like Catherine, ‘enflamed the energies’ of this busy week.
Across this term students aspiring to Leadership in 2021 have participated in the Pillars program, facilitated by Claire Moody, members of staff and current senior Student Leaders. The resultant interviews and elections have illustrated the capacity of our students to embody the characteristics of Dominican leadership and their commitment to continuing this important aspect of student voice at Siena.
St Mary’s House of Welcome opens the doors daily to over two hundred people living in ongoing poverty. Each year our College undertakes a Christmas Hamper Appeal to benefit this community – these are compiled in House Groups and staff groups across Siena. Please take the time to discuss your daughter’s contribution with her and visit https://www.smhow.org.au/ to find out more about this important justice initiative.
Albertus Magnus (Albert the Great) is a Doctor of the Church (like St Catherine) and the Patron Saint of Scientists. Our Learning Centre is named after Albert, a brilliant natural scientist whose work concerning the earth and our environment is still appreciated by scholars today. He had a great devotion to his faith and inspired many of his students to find God in the mysteries and wonders of our world – one of these students was Thomas Aquinas.
The VCAA Examinations have commenced and our thoughts and prayers are with our students and their families over this period. It has been a remarkable year, and we thank our teaching staff for their hard work and their commitment to our VCE students. Good luck to all our students.
The Year 11 examinations begin on Friday, 13 November and conclude on Friday, 20 November. We have been so impressed by our student’s continued engagement and dedication to their learning and wish them the very best for their examinations.
A year of change has precipitated a change in name to this auspicious event. We warmly invite you to attend the Awards Night of Excellence, via webinar, on Wednesday, 9 December at 7.00pm. Invitations and a link to the webinar will be emailed on Monday, 23 November. Those students receiving an award, and their parents, will be emailed a personal invitation on Monday, 30 November.
Our Year 7 students enjoyed lunch and activities together on the Music Lawn today. Our Wellbeing Team has been working hard all term to provide opportunities to explore new friendships and reinforce connections made prior to remote learning. It is really pleasing to see how well our youngest students have adjusted back to onsite learning and the support they continue to offer to each other.
More photos below in gallery
We are looking forward to our virtual Parent Information Evening for Year 7 2021 families on Monday, 16 November. Commencing at 6.30pm, the webinar will provide information to parents and students regarding our transition program and we also hope to provide an update on possible onsite visits in December. Please register for the webinar via the tile on Siena Central.
With the impending festive season and end of school celebrations, some teenagers may be feeling ready to party, wanting to put the disruptions, frustrations and disappointments of this past year behind them.
To ensure our young people stay safe during this time, parents and carers are encouraged to have discussions around rules and bondaries concerning alcohol consumption. As difficult or overwhelming as these conversations can sometimes be, it is important to provide reminders around age-appropriate alcohol consumption and the legal implications that can arise.
Young people are at greater risk of alcohol-related harm than adults because their brains continue to develop until their mid-twenties. The safest level of alcohol consumption for teenagers is no alcohol at all, but this may be difficult to enforce and may not prevent them from experimenting. However, parents and carers can absolutely influence sensible drinking habits and help minimise the risks.
In this Special SchoolTV Report, a series of discussion points are offered to help make the conversation about alcohol consumption a little easier. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered and as always, we welcome your feedback.
If you do have any concerns about the wellbeing of your child, please contact the school for further information or seek medical or professional help.
This term students in Years 7 to 10 will be required to complete a self reflection of their learning in each subject, via Siena Central.
The online rubric will be accessible from Monday, 16 November, 8.30am and must be completed by Friday, 20 November, 3.30pm. The Student Learning Achievements are available here.
All feedback will be available on Siena Central through your daughter’s profile, under Grades, and then by accessing each subject name.
If there are any issues accessing Siena Central, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In place of NAPLAN Testing, students in Years 7, 8 and 9 will complete Academic Services Testing on the following dates:
Year 8, Tuesday, 1 December, 8.30am to 12.30pm
Year 7, Wednesday, 2 December, 8.30am to 12.30pm
Year 9, Wednesday, 2 December, 8.30am to 12.30pm
All sessions will break for recess.
Students are required to bring a blue or black pen and a water bottle. Students in Years 8 and 9 must bring a scientific calculator (NOT a CAS).
If you have any questions regarding the reporting process or the Academic Services Testing, please contact Donna Laughlin at email@example.com
“Here in Australia we’re fortunate enough to have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world. This is something we should all be proud of and celebrate.” Dr Tom Calma, AO
This week students and staff have celebrated NAIDOC Week, engaging with the 2020 theme “Always was, Always will be”. National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week honours Indigenous culture, language and traditions and provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon how we, as a Siena Community, acknowledge and celebrate Indigenous culture within our school.
This theme was explored in classrooms across all faculty areas and reflected in our staff and student prayers. Students were invited to participate in a NAIDOC Week Bake Off where they were encouraged to cook a meal or bake a recipe which celebrated an Indigenous ingredient, an Indigenous Art Workshop ran on Wednesday providing students with the opportunity to learn more about Indigenous Art and create their own representation of the theme. The Learning Centre encouraged students to borrow texts written by Indigenous authors through their display of a range of fiction and non fiction texts. In their Wellness Lessons next week, students will consider the ways in which Siena embraces Indigenous Culture through examining various sites, objects and artefacts around the school and will consider how these aspects enhance our school’s physical environment and symbolise our commitment to celebrate Indigenous culture, story and tradition.
Last week saw the conclusion of the Pillars Student Leadership Program for 2020. The program provided opportunities for students to reflect on their personal gifts and how Dominican values influence their leadership approach. They engaged in a variety of skill building workshops targeted to different year levels, including goal setting, teamwork, motivation, resilience and communication.
Over 150 students from Years 7 to 11 participated in the program this year, which was tailored to meet the needs of differing year levels, and prepare them for leadership opportunities within the Siena College Community and beyond.
This year, a number of Senior Student Leadership Program graduates volunteered to take on the role of ‘Senior Student Leadership Mentor’, and worked with students in the Years 7 to 9 Student Leadership Program. Our mentors put their learnings into practice, and facilitated discussions and group activities, whilst offering advice and encouragement from their own leadership perspectives and experiences.
“Being a part of the Pillars Leadership Program has made me realise that leadership is a skill that I can learn and develop. I now understand that there is no ‘cookie cutter’ definition of a leader, and it is important to be yourself, share your ideas and encourage others. The Pillars Leadership Program expressed the importance of the fact that being a leader is more than the label and the badge, it is about being a role model for other students and acting to create change. One of the ideas that resonated with me the most was the importance of sharing and combining one another’s ideas, as teamwork is essential to a great leadership group. I think that these skills will impact my leadership approach as I will always remember the importance of being myself when leading others.”
Ciara Newman, Year 9
“By participating in the Pillars Leadership Program I have gained important knowledge and skills that are vital in leadership. I have learnt strategies and tips that will influence my leadership not only for my time at school but for my life outside the walls of Siena College. The program taught me how important communication is when aiming to achieve goals and working with others, which is a major part of leadership. The sessions also helped me to understand how you must be a leader for the people and trust and support your team members. I will take onboard the strategies such as the workflow planner and the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. goal formula along with the many other important pieces of advice as they will help assist me to becoming a great leader and the best person I can be.”
Sophie Birrell, Year 9
“The Pillars Leadership Program has influenced me to play more into my strengths of social intelligence and flexibility and be able to assist others and delegate tasks that play into their strengths, working as a team and using everyone’s talents. As a person I’m always changing and therefore my leadership style is also always adapting. Pillars has made me see that this is really helpful and something that I should use to my advantage, and be able to adapt to all challenges associated with leadership.”
Grace Hoy, Year 11
“I chose to volunteer as a Senior Student Leadership Mentor because I remember as a younger student going through the leadership process and valuing the advice, guidance and support I was given by senior student leaders and hoped that I would be able to offer some of that same experience to the junior students in their Pillars journey.
This experience allowed me to work more closely and form greater connections with younger girls and hear their perspectives and goals for the future as Siena student leaders. It also enabled me to reflect on my own leadership journey and all that I have learnt throughout my time at Siena and how am now able to use the skills that I have gained through programs, like Pillars, to engage with students across year levels and work collaboratively with them.”
Hayley Di Stefano, Year 11
“I chose to volunteer to be a Senior Student Leadership Mentor to attempt to apply what I have learnt in years of attending Pillars Programs, with students who have attended the Junior Pillars Program and might be new to the program.
What I’ve gained from this experience is being able to apply and learn new leadership skills, such as leading discussion groups, offering help and making sure everyone was able to share their ideas. I have also been able to learn more about the students in the younger levels by listening to their views, values and what being a leader means to them, which has been a very enjoyable experience for me.”
Cara Chen, Year 11
To mark their return to school from remote learning, Year 7 students participated in a friendly and fun House Netball competition. This competition was aimed at bringing the students together after remote learning and give them the opportunity to participate in physical activity and represent their Houses. The competition consisted of three rounds where all Houses played each other once in a twelve minute netball game, with relaxed rules to ensure all students were accommodated. The current Year 11 House leaders came along to assist their fellow Year 7 students and coach from the sidelines. Each game was attended by many spectators which developed a real House spirit! All three rounds of the competition were a success and the grand final between Cassia and Dianella was a hard-fought contest. In the end Cassia took out the win, but efforts by all students who participated is to be congratulated.
Parents are reminded that the secondhand book sale will again be held at I Love Books on Saturday, 5 December.
The latest edition of Siena Career News has information and useful websites of particular interest for Year 12s as they get ready to take on the world and spread their wings beyond Siena College. There is information on a pathway to Physiotherapy at Monash University and a variety of Diagnostic Imaging courses at Central Queensland University for students to explore.
Having a scholarship is always useful when embarking on tertiary study and the Hawker Scholarship is a very generous one that students in Year 11 may want to research further.
Students are encouraged to login and explore a new careers website, “Your Career,” a Commonwealth government initiative which aims to assist young people navigate the journey from high school to employment.
Also in this edition of Siena Career news – a young professionals podcast, giving students the opportunity to listen to the experiences of other young people who are working in an occupation of interest.
For students wanting to be well prepared for VCE, there are two VCE Summer Schools with details of seminars in Siena Career News.
A newly created tile in the Siena Central Student page has been added to address the large number of Lost Property items. The tile contains photographs of any items that have been handed in at Student Reception that are not named. Any lost property that is left over at the end of each term will either be given to the Second Hand Uniform Shop or given to charity. Could you please encourage your daughters to access the Lost Property tile when they have lost any items. Siena staff hand all lost property directly to Student Reception.
It would be greatly appreciated if your daughter's belongings are clearly labelled, especially iPads, laptops and mobile telephones.
Should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact Student Reception via firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a current Grade 5 daughter who will be attending Siena College in Year 7 2022, please be advised we are currently moving forward with enrolments.
Enrolment Applications and supporting documents can be submitted online via our website https://www.siena.vic.edu.au/enrolment/enrolment-procedure
Any further enquires please contact Tracey Lawson at email@example.com