Welcome to all members of the Siena community as we begin the 2021 school year. A particular welcome to Year 7 students and their families, along with those joining us at other year levels. Siena students and staff have made a wonderful start and although we did not foresee such an early return to remote learning, our experiences last year allowed us to quickly adapt our curriculum delivery back to an online model. My thanks to teaching staff and our IT department who responded so decisively on Friday, gathering our Year 7 and other new students together to demonstrate the use of Microsoft Teams. We look forward to returning to campus on Thursday, pending government advice.
In this newsletter's Learning and Teaching update, we provide a list of new staff and notification of several staff changes, particularly relating to those in Leadership roles. Together, it has been pleasing to see such a strong and positive commencement on the part of all. Last year could be described as both a blessed and broken one. We have been changed, enriched, and strengthened and there will be much about our daily routines and approaches that we seek to retain. At the same time, we are savouring those opportunities which see a return to familiar and cherished practices, along with known structures and a daily rhythm punctuated by human encounter.
Our annual theme is Be Possibility: a graced and hope filled call to each of us to Be the possibility within us. This Dominican inspired theme urges us forward, prompting us to not only listen to our dreams for our world but to turn it into action. In our gathering liturgies to commence the year, this has been our prayer – that students will live the extraordinary possibility of their best self; to know what they are capable of and so to transform the world. The possibility of God’s vision can be!
A Blessing for the New Year
We give thanks at the unfolding of this New Year
in the presence of the Holy One.
We arise with gratitude for life.
We arise with hope that all shall be well.
We arise with courage to meet what will be difficult.
We arise with conviction to do what is life-giving.
We arise with eyes ever alert for beauty.
We arise with openness to greater truth.
We arise with desire for continued transformation.
We arise with compassion for the hurting ones in our world, wherever they are.
We arise with grief still settled in our spirits for all that remains broken.
We arise with sorrow for the way creation’s resources are plundered.
We arise with eagerness to live with depth and quality of life
and work for dignity for humankind and creation itself.
We arise with a sense of kinship with all whom we love.
We arise with willingness to help those who will need our care.
We arise with happiness, knowing we are invited to live life fully,
To be signs of hope in our world.
We arise into this new year entrusting ourselves into God’s creation.
We arise in truth and love.
Sr Sheila Flynn OP
This term we are farewelling Gayle Petch and Tracey Kermond. Gayle has been a long serving member of staff who will be known to many. We thank Gayle for her fine service to the Siena community and wish her every blessing in her retirement. We also extend thanks and best wishes to Tracey Kermond, HR Manager, who is returning to South Australia next week. Tracey has been instrumental in establishing a high-level function and service in Human Resources within the College and we wish her every happiness in the future.
We welcome back Jen Lear, College Counsellor after a period of parental leave.
We were also delighted to hear of the safe and happy arrival late last year of Massimo D’Angelo, born to Louise D’Angelo and her husband Nicholas and late in January, Jonty Rice, to proud parents Laine Rice and his partner Tara. Next week, Minna Jewell will depart as she and her husband Brent await the arrival of their first child. With baby boys the current theme, time will tell! We wish Minna, Laine and Louise every happiness at this very special time in their lives.
In the latter half of 2020 we discussed the word 'possibility' being part of the 2021 College Theme, with its meaning of state, fact, or condition of being possible. Verbs used with 'possibility' mean to explore, look at or into, open up new horizons, raise – these suggest a journey into something deeper, or with new insight, through networks of relationships if we share a vision in seeking such possibility of wholeness.
Sheila Flynn, OP, our Director of Formation, reminds us that St Dominic challenged his followers to be frontier persons; people on the edge, alert to what the signs of the times beckon them to embrace, to be open to possibility.
Shrove Tuesday on 16 February is an important day of understanding God’s lavish love for us (hence colourful parades, loads of lollies and festivities in many countries) … as well as the ancient practice of emptying out cupboards of rich foods (milk, eggs, flour, sugar = pancakes) prior to an austere start to Lent.
Ash Wednesday on 17 February marks the beginning of the season of Lent – a time in our Church when we strive to renew our hearts and live as God wants us to live, in the Spirit of Jesus. On this day we usually receive ashes – this reminds us that we are an integral part of creation and that God is with us always.
This year, this significant day in our Church’s calendar will be marked at Siena by Prayer in each House Group and the launch of our 2021 Caritas Project Compassion campaign – Be More. All House Groups will be given a Project Compassion box which students can use to collect funds across Lent to support aid and development projects in Bangladesh, the Solomon Islands, Tanzania and Indonesia. Find out more about Project Compassion here.
Welcome to the new academic year and a particularly warm welcome to all our new students and families. I am pleased to introduce our 2021 Senior Learning Leaders:
Belinda Duncan Head of Religious Education
Dean Fleischer Head of Languages
Claire Al-Noah Head of The Arts and Technology
Paul Failla Head of Mathematics
Bronwyn Ilott Head of Learning Centre
Anita Galli Head of Senior Pathways
Anne Rice Head of Learning Diversity
We welcome to our team:
Punita Mistry Head of English
Jessica Brady Head of Health and Physical Education
Nicholas Harvey Head of Science
Michael Petrie Head of Humanities
As part of the Heads of Learning team, we also have:
Jemimah Walsh Director of Learning and Innovation
Tina Di Camillo Leader of Pedagogy
Andrea Carter Leader of Pedagogy
You are welcome to contact any of the Heads of Learning, but as always, your first point of contact for curriculum related matters should be the subject teacher. Please contact your daughter’s subject teacher earlier rather than later, if you have any concerns. It is our aim to continue to foster and develop open and transparent communication.
Our 2002 VCE Acknowledgement Assembly scheduled for Thursday,18 February, has been postponed due to the lockdown. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this year our assembly will be varied in format, with reduced guest capacity. To enable our community to still engage with this event, it will be livestreamed. We look forward to sharing this celebration of our Class of 2020 and will advise a new date shortly.
Year 12 Learning Conversations
Year 12 students require an ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) for entry into many undergraduate-entry university programs in Australia. The Year 12 Learning Conversations commence from Friday, 19 February. This program provides an opportunity for the student and a senior staff member to discuss her academic and personal goals, strategies that may assist in their learning and finally to develop a 2021 Action Plan with a focus on improvement. The Year 12 students will receive the relevant documents to enable reflection on their Year 11 achievements and prepare for their learning conversation. The focus is on how students can maximise their learning opportunities in 2021. This semester, Year 12 Students will also participate in a Careers conversation with Clare Timmins, Head of Careers which will include an ATAR estimation based on their Year 11, Semester Two examination results.
Student Learning Reflections and Parent Teacher Conferences
Building upon our 2020 learnings, Years 7 to 12 students will complete a self-reflection in each subject prior to Parent/Teacher Conferences. The reflection will be completed via Siena Central and parents will be able to access their daughter’s comments. Further details will be provided in a later edition of the newsletter.
The Years 7 to 12 Parent/Teacher Conferences will be held on Thursday, 18 March and Thursday, 25 March between 4.00 pm and 7.30pm. In response to parent feedback, we will offer a combination of onsite and online conferences. More details will be published in upcoming newsletters.
The Parent/Teacher Conferences are an important opportunity to develop a working and supportive relationship between subject teachers, parents and students. It is important that students attend in order to share their learning experience and participate in the conversation about their subject expectations. Parents and guardians will be able to download a copy of their daughter’s Interim report prior to the Parent/Teacher Conference.
Learning and Teaching Parent Letter
This week all families will receive a Learning and Teaching Letter outlining submission of work procedures, accessing assessment task feedback, and absences during the term. We ask for your support in acquainting yourself with the information.
We wish all our students well in their learning endeavours in 2021.
Starting Year 7 poses many new challenges, but also offers exciting opportunities. It can come with a number of mixed feelings. Unfortunately, for many Grade 6 students, 2020 was marred with school closures and remote learning due to the pandemic and the overall impact of this is still unknown.
For our Year 7 students, the regular orientation activities at the end of 2020 were limited and they were onsite for only a couple of hours. Therefore, many students may be feeling a little more anxious than usual about their expectations of starting secondary school. Grasping new skills and establishing new friendships and study practices can quickly become daunting and overwhelming.
During this time of transition, parents and guardians need to be supportive, but also realistic in their expectations. This is an important milestone in your daughter’s life. There will be feelings of exhilaration, but also the fear of the unknown. Therefore, it will be important for parents and carers to be vigilant in monitoring their child’s mood and mental health during this time. They may become overly anxious and upset. You may also wish to share your concerns with your daughter’s House Group Teacher, Head of House or the College counsellors. Our counsellors can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a number of strategies offered that can make this transition period smoother and start things off on the right foot! We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this School TV Special Report
Today parents face a multitude of modern-day challenges in raising happy, well and resilient young people. Whilst there is a great deal of information available, this can often be confusing and overwhelming for parents looking for guidance.
SchoolTV addresses this as an online resource designed to empower you as parents with credible and sound information with realistic, practical and ongoing support strategies. An excellent feature of SchoolTV is that it is available when you need to access it, in your own time. Evidence-based recommendations and strategies are provided by specialists who practice in the field.
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As mentioned above, there is no doubt that the transition is a very exciting time for students and parents. However, transitioning is an ongoing process. It can continue long after students have entered their new environment and may encounter difficulties at a number of different stages. These stressors may appear as anxiety and frustration and result in negative or disruptive behaviours. Such behaviours can become problematic making the transitioning process even more difficult for children and parents. Parents will learn practical strategies to assist your child during the transition process and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Surviving Year 12
The final year of secondary school is a year of hard work and a huge commitment for students. With so much going on it can be hard to find the balance between study and life. It is a time when personalities start to emerge, there are more complex interpersonal relationships and there is the pressure to perform academically. With all of this going on, it’s not surprising that some students have an emotional response and it is therefore extremely important for parents to know how to support their children during this time.
Some young people will need more support than others. Keeping the communication lines open with your child, their teachers, mentors and other parents will be crucial. Being aware of your child’s mental and physical wellbeing can play a vital role in their learning success.
In this edition of SchoolTV, parents will discover practical advice for students and parents to help get through the final year of secondary school.
Parents will be notified through the Newsletter when new items are available. I know you will find something worthwhile in this current series.
Our Siena College Learning Framework provides an excellent foundation for strong learning opportunities for our students. Our Learning Framework incorporates four necessary elements with the learner at the centre to ensure that every student can experience growth in their learning. Our Lesson Framework provides a shared understanding of the lesson structure, enabling students to effectively engage in their learning.
All classes have commenced by determining classroom expectations. These expectations are on the subject class page and provide an excellent opportunity for students and parents to revisit as required.
As part of providing a safe and collaborative learning environment, students are paired with a ‘Positive Learning Partner’ (PLP). This ensures all students engage in an environment that offers support and trust and develop skills of collaboration and respect for others.
Study is an integral aspect of the Dominican faith tradition. Home learning enables students to cement their classroom learning, solidify understanding and identify areas for further growth. Home learning also provides an opportunity for parents to work in partnership with their daughter's teachers to positively influence their daughter’s education.
Given the varying nature of subjects, home learning requirements will vary. Part of the learning process for students involves discernment and time management as they plan home learning. The following is a guide per year level regarding the amount of time that students should spend on home learning:
Year 7: 60-90 minutes per day, 50 minutes maximum per subject per week
Year 8: 60-90 minutes per day, 50 minutes maximum per subject per week
Year 9: 90 minutes per day, 50 minutes maximum per subject per week
Year 10: 90-120 minutes per day, 75 minutes maximum per subject per week
Year 11: 2-3 hours per day
Year 12: 3-4 hours per day
In becoming independent learners, students are encouraged to:
• Use Siena Central to access class learning and to view home learning tasks daily
• Submit work that reflects their best effort and in which they have pride
• Complete and submit all work and assessment or apply for a ‘Application for Change of Submission Date’ form (assignments and tests only) by the due date
• Establish a regular home learning routine which includes:
- Accessing Siena Central to confirm Home Learning requirements
- Home Learning/study planner
- Due date calendar
- Regular study/revision of their class work to consolidate learning
- Dedicated learning space free of distraction
- Catching up on missed class work if absent
• Seek assistance from their subject teacher to clarify understanding of learning and task
• Communicate with the subject teacher prior to task due date where a lack of understanding prevents completion of task
Parents, as the primary educators of their children, are encouraged to:
• Provide an environment conducive to effective home study
• Help their daughter balance the amount of time spent completing home learning with engagement in leisure or recreational activities
• Assist their daughter in developing a home learning/study timetable
• Encourage their daughter to set aside a regular daily session to study/revise and complete home learning and assessment tasks by the due date
• Observe and acknowledge their daughter’s success by asking how their home and class work is progressing
• Check Siena Central subject class pages regularly to monitor that home learning is being completed
• Encourage their daughter to exercise thoroughness and care in the completion of work
• Encourage their daughter to seek assistance from the teacher where lack of understanding exists
• Communicate with class teacher or Head of Student Wellbeing where appropriate
• Assist their daughter in determining responsible use of technology during Home Learning
A successful learning space should:
• Have a suitable desk and chair
• Be free of noise and distractions (such as the TV, iPhones, social media, other people, etc.)
• Be well organised, allowing easy access to resources and stationery
• Display a 2021 calendar with important dates such as due dates, assignments, key school events, etc.
• Be well lit and ventilated
The ‘Application for Change of Assessment Date’ form for tests or assignments is available on Siena Central in both the Student Zone and Parent Portal. If required, this must be submitted to the teacher prior to the due date of the task.
The Year 7 Home Learning Guidelines assist our Year 7 Students in transitioning and settling into secondary school. Home Learning will commence for Year 7 students on Monday, 22 February 2021.
To assist Year 7 Students with assessment requirements, a Year 7 Academic Calendar will be compiled and published. This will be made accessible to all students and parents in the coming weeks via Siena Central News Digest. The Academic Calendar will provide an outline of the due week for Unit Assessment and whether the task is to be completed in class or at home.
Siena Central provides the opportunity for both students and parents to engage with the classroom learning. Parent access to their daughter's subject class pages enables direct access to daily classroom learning and home learning tasks. Students can access Subject Overview from the Course Page which outlines all unit topics and key assessment dates. This is a useful tool in assisting students to develop strong organisation skills.
Assessment Task Feedback is also communicated via Siena Central. Parents will receive an email alert when feedback has been uploaded. Please see the Parent User Guide available on the Parent Portal.
If you have any difficulties accessing the Parent Portal, please contact IT help at the College on 9835 0200 or email@example.com
Online Naplan test dates for Year 7 and Year 9 students are Wednesday, 12 May to Friday, 14 May. More details will be communicated later in the term.
On Monday, 1 February, the 2021 Student Leaders participated in a Student Leadership Forum, to allow students to collaborate with one another before the school year commenced. The forum involved activities such as getting to know everyone from each year level, in addition to discussing strategies to achieve our leadership vision. We explored the College theme Be Possibility and discussed what that meant to each of us and how it could be lived throughout the year. After working with staff members and the Deputy Principals, we were able to begin planning the school year, for both our individual and team roles. After such a positive day together, the leadership team is so excited for the year ahead and all the amazing things we are going to achieve together.
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we seek.
All students are invited to join Siena’s Eco Warriors. The Eco Warriors are a group of students committed to learning, educating and acting on issues concerning the environment. Using the Sustainable Development Goals and the Laudato Si Goals as a framework for action, we will be working with the broader Siena Community to raise awareness and promote positive action on environmental issues. This year we plan to continue to create and publish our student magazine, Sustainable Sisterhood. We are also planning to undertake a series of craft workshops around recycling, reusing, upcycling.
The Eco Warriors meet on Tuesday at lunch in the Learning Centre.
“We can sit back, do nothing and watch our planet be destroyed or we can take action, become advocates and start making lifestyle choices which are kinder to people and the planet” Kira Simpson
Like many other schools, Siena College is a Nude Food School. As such, when packing their lunchboxes, students are reminded that food should not be wrapped in plastic wrap or packaged in plastic zip lock bags. There are many alternatives to these unnecessary disposable items such as reusable containers, beeswax wraps, metal straws and reusable cutlery containers. Packing Nude Food will reduce rubbish around the College, be cost effective for families and will empower individuals with the knowledge that they are taking small steps each day to be part of a global solution to our Climate Crisis.
The Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project was established by Sr Brigid Arthur and Sr Catherine Kelly in 2001 in Melbourne to work for a humane, just and inclusive approach for people seeking asylum in Australia.
The Project aims to:
Working in partnership with St Dominic’s Parish, Siena students will be asked to donate select grocery items for families in need. Items will be collected in House Groups and will go directly to the project and distributed to families. Students are asked to bring in their donations by Monday, 15 March.
Noodles, basmati rice, honey, jam
Sweet and savoury biscuits, tinned fruit
Long life milk, tea, coffee, dishwashing detergent
Sugar, flour, cooking oil, shampoo and conditioner,
Deodorant, shaving cream and shavers, household cleaning products
At the beginning of last week, we welcomed our new Year 7 students, the Class of 2026, to Siena College. The girls began the week with two days of transition activities. These days were designed to help the students feel connected to their classmates and their teachers, as well as their new school community, before being joined by the other year levels and beginning their subjects on the Wednesday.
The first morning was spent in House Groups, with the new students having a chance to meet their House Group teacher and learn more about various aspects of school life – including their timetables and how to navigate their way around the school. The students also had an opportunity to meet their House Captains and begin learning the House chants that will be used at events such as House Swimming and House Athletics. This also gave our Student Leaders a chance to answer any questions and share their experiences as Siena students. We ended the day by reflecting on the events of the first day and learning more about the College theme: Be Possibility and how this links to our Dominican tradition.
On Tuesday, the students had another opportunity to spend time getting to know the other girls in their House Group and their House Group teacher, as well as meeting their Year 12 “Big Sisters” for morning tea. In the afternoon, the students participated in a Music Showcase and a Sport Exhibition. In these sessions the girls were able to have a taste of the Term 1 GSV sports and try out the different instruments that are on offer at Siena. It was lovely to hear the Jubilee Centre filled with music as the girls trialled the various instruments.
It has been a pleasure welcoming our new students to the College and seeing them embrace new opportunities, both within and beyond the classroom, with such enthusiasm. We wish each of our new Year 7 students a positive start to their time at Siena College and a wonderful year ahead.
Last few seats available - seating is strictly limited due to COVID-19 restrictions so do not delay!
The first edition of Siena Career News for 2021 has plenty of useful information for students in Years 10 to 12.
We would like to extend a warm welcome to the following staff who joined Siena College at the commencement of the school year:
We also welcome back the following staff who will be working with our students for 2021:
Emily Black Teacher English/Religious Education
Haneen Bou-Karroum Teacher Health and Physical Education/Mathematics
Chimene Bousejean Teacher Media/Drama
Anna Page Teacher Religious Education/Humanities
Congratulations to the following staff who will step into a new Position of Leadership:
Donna Laughlin Deputy Principal Learning and Teaching
Jemimah Walsh Director of Learning and Innovation
Punita Mistry Head of English
Michael Petrie Head of Humanities
Laine Rice Head of House – Kurrajong
Stephanie Seymour Head of House – Cassia
Becky Scott Leader of Wellbeing Programs
Siena College has partnered with Edstart, Australia’s leading education finance provider, to make it easier for our families to manage school fee payments. Families can use Edstart to cover any items appearing on your College fee statement including tuition fees, instrumental music charges, VET charges, fees for national or overseas trips and amounts in arrears.
With Edstart Pay+ you can smooth out your fees across the next few years without incurring any service or interest charges. Edstart Extend is a payment option through which you can reduce your annual school fee spend by extending payments for up to five years after graduation.
Weekly, fortnight or monthly payments can be made through Edstart.
For further information, visit the website or watch this short video.
Please note, in providing information about Edstart, we do not provide any recommendations, brokering or advice services. We do not receive referral fees, commissions or any other remuneration from Edstart.
Applications for the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF) are now open. If you hold a valid Health Care Card (HCC), Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) or are a temporary foster parent and are a first-time applicant you may be eligible for a $1,000 fee discount.
If you believe you are eligible, please fill out and return the CSEF Application Form before 25 June, 2021.
If you applied for the CSEF in 2020 at Siena College, you do not need to complete an application form in 2021 unless there has been a change in your family circumstances.