Dark eyed woman, you draw us into places
where we scarcely dare to go,
to spaces where our courage would grow dim.
Is it your fire, your passion...your woman-knowing
that catches us up into this struggle for
Freedom...Truth...and Justice. All three.
Now is the time for our mind's eye to be broken open,
to harness bright imagination, fiery intuition,
washed in the prodigal Mercy of our God.
Dark-eyed woman of Fire, seeing to the very heart of things...
a seeing beyond untruth into Essence, Eternal Benediction.
You speak Truth without compromise.
Now is the time for a fighting, joyful spirit
defying untruth in places short-changed of love.
Now is the time for compassionate, heart-shaking justice,
the broken-open Word to herald world's ease,
Now! Teach us Fire.
Teach us boldness and Truth, Catherine!
(Sr Sheila Flynn OP)
Commencing with ‘Sorry Day’ on Tuesday, this week marks National Reconciliation Week. Siena College has long had an appreciation of and commitment to recognising the dignity and beauty of our nation’s first people and their deep spirituality; in our prayer, words and deeds. It is in our solidarity with Indigenous Australians that we express who we are as one human family.
This year, the College will develop an Action Plan to further express our commitment to the promotion of reconciliation, justice and harmony between all Australians. Within this newsletter you will see a link to the Uluru Statement from the heart which so beautifully captures the yearnings of Indigenous Australians. I encourage families to read this statement and consider discussions with your daughter/s as we stand in solidarity.
Thank you to students in Years 11 and 12 who have returned this week with such positivity and careful consideration of the new norms in place to ensure the health and safety of all. Our thanks to the Siena Parents' Association for their time and generosity in organising "Welcome Back" gift bags for our Year 12 students. It has been wonderful to see the seamless way that learning has continued, reflective of the consistent work of students and staff both remotely and now, face to face. We very much look forward to all students returning on 9 June and this being the case across our learning community. Despite the necessary changes to some aspects of our operations, it is very reassuring to know that learning, connection and growth for our young women is alive and well. My thanks to parents for the great support and encouragement shown to staff and most importantly to your own daughter/s. This has enabled within them such evident skills in being adaptive, responsible and able to maintain perspective – great life skills!
As we prepare for the return of all students, we ask parents to continue to remind students of our health and hygiene protocols whilst onsite. Our senior students have filmed some helpful tips for all girls in a video message, which will be emailed to our community next week. If you are opting to drop off and pick up your daughter, please consider alternative parking options around the College in order to avoid congestion at the front bus zone. When parking in surrounding streets please be mindful of restrictions and ensure your car is not blocking a driveway. It is advised that students enter the College via the pedestrian gates on Riversdale Road as the Hocknell Street gate will be closed due to the Agora Garden works. We thank you in anticipation of your assistance.
The moment of Pentecost is an enormous multisensory event. It’s the equivalent of something going viral on today’s social media — but on an even grander scale. From its first preaching, the Good News is addressed to the entire earth, to all towns, cities and kingdoms, from the greatest to the least. Luke is signifying the advent of the New Israel, and the beginning of the new Age, the new era of the Spirit of God. The work of the Spirit reminds us that the Gospel is not the possession or right of one people, however great their empire. Furthermore, the beginnings of the Good News are not entrusted to the great, but to those on the margins. The birth of the reign of God is marked by unremarkable places, modest people and minor, insignificant countries.
In the Pentecost event, not only does the Spirit bring the Word to all the nations, but does so respectful of their cultures and languages. The listeners are amazed that they hear about the works of God in their own tongues. Through the Spirit, creativity and unity are achieved within diversity and difference - it’s a moment of absolute connection.
Last week we marked the fifth anniversary of "Laudato Si', on Care of Our Common Home", Pope Francis' landmark encyclical on the environment. The theme of this special week was Everything is Connected which took on a new meaning whilst our College was operating remotely.
Laudato Si’ (Praise be to you) takes its name from the Canticle of the Sun, attributed to St Francis of Assisi. You may not be aware that there's a special relationship between Dominicans and St Francis - many artists have depicted Dominic and Francis meeting.
At Siena we continue to commit ourselves to Care for Creation through our practices, policies and partnerships.
We were very happy to welcome our Year 11 and 12 students back to the College this week. The transition has been a smooth one, as we continue to follow the online bell times. We look forward to the return of the Year 7 to 10 students on Tuesday, 9 June. Our online learning, assessment and authentication processes have been stringent, which has resulted in Siena College being in a strong position to follow the VCAA guidelines for the remainder of the school year.
It has been pleasing to see how many new skills our students and teachers have developed over the remote learning period. Throughout this challenging period, our commitment to the high calibre learning and teaching at Siena College continues as always.
As lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted to varying degrees, we enter a time of transition and adjustment. The circumstances of this situation have significantly impacted us all. For some it has been an opportunity to reflect on what is important, whilst others have embraced the opportunity to learn new things.
Many young people may be excited at the prospect of restrictions being lifted, others may feel mixed emotions. Reactions will differ depending on how well they cope with stress and change. Keeping a check on your daughter’s mental health and wellbeing as she adjusts to new routines will be vitally important.
There is still a lot of uncertainty ahead of us, so focusing on the things you can control or those you value, can help establish predictability and familiarity for the whole family. Parents need to provide young people with reassurance by acknowledging any concerns and fears your daughter may have at this time. Consider this to be a normal reaction, however it may be best to focus more on their feelings and emotions, rather than the practicalities at this stage.
In this Special Report, we share a few ideas to help ease this time of transition and adjustment. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered and if you do have any concerns about the wellbeing of your daughter, please contact the relevant Head of Student Wellbeing.
This year marks twenty years of Australians working together to journey towards a more just, equitable and reconciled nation. Since the early years of this movement towards reconciliation, Australia has achieved greater acknowledgment of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander rights to land and sea, moved towards acknowledging and understanding the impact of historical government policies and practices and embraced the stories of indigenous success and contribution. Importantly, 2020 marks the twenty year anniversary of the walks for reconciliation in 2000, when vast numbers of Australians joined together to show their support for and commitment to, a more reconciled nation. Twenty years on provides us with a significant moment for reflection. It is a time to consider the progress that we have made and the work that must still be done.
The theme for 2020, In This Together, invites all Australians to consider the role we can play in building relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, histories and cultures.
In their Wellness sessions this week, Siena students reflected upon the theme and were challenged to consider how they could personally advocate for a more reconciled nation. Girls were encouraged to record their responses using video or audio to capture our student voices. Students were asked:
Additionally, this week Siena College formalised our commitment towards reconciliation through the inaugural meeting of a working group consisting of representatives from staff, students, parents and members of the indigenous community. Our aim is to develop Siena College’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) – a strategic plan which identifies and articulates our commitment to working towards reconciliation as a Siena Community. This working group will meet regularly to develop a policy that clearly communicates our vision for reconciliation and formulate a series of actions that will demonstrate this vision. We look forward to communicating our group’s progress with you as we work together towards reconciliation.
Providing our students with an opportunity to focus on their wellbeing each week has been a priority for the Wellbeing Team at Siena College. Each week, students have been participating in a Weekly Wellness lesson which has had a focus on self care. The term “self care” has appeared frequently over the last few weeks, on the news, in advertising campaigns and on social media platforms. The Wellbeing Team has developed a holistic approach for our students that can be categorised into four equal parts:
The Weekly Wellness lessons have given students an opportunity to engage with their House Group teacher who leads the session, and with their house group. The lessons have often had components which enable to girls to be offline, which has provided welcome relief from screen time. The lesson outlines can be found on the Weekly Wellness Tile of Siena Central, should parents wish to view the options on offer.
World Environment Day, 5 June
In celebration of our beautiful world Siena students are invited to show their appreciation of nature through one of the following:
A photographic competition. Celebrate the beauty, the fragility, the uniqueness of the natural world through a photograph, or a series of photographs.
Using words. Write a poem, some prose, a letter, a speech. Reflect upon what the earth means to you, how you feel when you are in a natural environment, the panic you feel about Climate Change, the sadness and fear you felt over Summer as you watched our country burn, the frustration you feel when you see people showing disrespect or disregard for the environment.
Through music. Compose a piece of music which represents your response to, appreciation for or concern for the environment. Lyrics can be included but are not required.
Create. Investigate the work of British artist Andy Goldsworthy and create an art installation inspired by him. Goldsworthy reflects his appreciation for the natural world through creating art installations out of natural objects – such as rocks, leaves, branches. He does this knowing that the installations are only temporary – that they will change and transform. This encourages us all to appreciate his work all the more.
After completing the Pillars Year 7 Leadership Program in Term 1, a fantastic group of Year 7 students nominated for the positions of Year 7 Student Voice Leader. They enthusiastically engaged in the preparation process, which included participation in an interview, writing and recording a speech to be presented online, prior to the online election. I would like to congratulate all of the nominees on their engagement in the Year 7 Leadership Program, for embracing new ways of doing things.
We are pleased to introduce our newest members of the SRC, our Year 7 Student Voice Leaders:
This term, the SRC has been focusing on student engagement and connection during the period of online learning. They have been developing and running a number of activities for students to participate in, and earn “House of the Year” points for their Houses.
During isolation, the Arts Team brainstormed a range of activities to earn HOTY points and have fun! We launched an Art Challenge with a new theme every two weeks. Judging the artworks is a lot of fun but difficult! Everyone’s creativity really shows through and I can’t help but smile when I view the submissions, which are featured in the photo gallery attached. Seeing students challenge themselves with a prompt and giving it a go is a great reminder to stay optimistic and to push yourself to improve.
Paris Poon (The Arts Leader - Visual Arts)
With the Year 8s completing the majority of Term 2 remotely, we decided to focus on connection amongst our cohort at a time that has proven to be challenging and disconnecting for many. We thought a fun and engaging way to do this could be through a Kahoot, which was open to the whole of Year 8. Every Year 8 girl was invited to participate and have some fun! Our Kahoot took place on a Friday at lunch time. We believe it went really well as the Year 8s who participated had fun, chatted, laughed and after, hopefully felt more connected to the girls in the year level. We plan on hosting more Kahoots in the future and thinking of more innovative ways to connect girls, even when school does return!
Amy Duffy, (Year 8 Student Voice Leader)
Due to the coronavirus many students have been watching different movies and TV series while staying at home and socially distancing. The Year 8 Leadership team decided to make a recommendations chart for the Year 8s, based on what student have been watching. The girls have been invited to share what they have watched and a quick recommendation of the show/movie. This list is being collated for the whole year level to view.
Melania Flunt, (Year 8 Student Voice Leader)
Last week on Thursday, 21 May, Mr Loschiavo and I ran a small debating workshop after school on Microsoft Teams, for Year 7s and 8s. The outcome was wonderful - we had lots of girls eager and excited to be a part of it. During this workshop, I went through the basic skills in debating and we practised writing and constructing arguments. We also practised writing some rebuttals too. The girls seemed to really enjoy this, and after some feedback they felt like they had broadened their skills. They interacted and sent emojis, saying that they were feeling quite happy and confident about debating. The people who joined also earned some participation points for HOTY as an added bonus. We loved running this workshop and answering questions.
Even though debating competitions may not proceed due to social distancing, having this workshop made the girls feel confident and gave them a sense of hope, for when things do slowly return to normal. We will definitely have another workshop in the near future.
Amanda Marasco (Year 11 Communications Leader – Debating and Public Speaking)
Ms Seymour and I have designed a public speaking competition, which commenced on 25 May, and ends on 1 June. Students will film themselves speaking for two to three minutes discussing the theme “Dwell in Possibility”. I also filmed a small sample speech with tips on public speaking which can be found in the News Items for students to watch for further inspiration. We chose this topic “Dwell in Possibility” because it allows people to be as creative as they like. They can dig deep into talking about their hopes, fears and dreams for the future whether that be about the pandemic, career ideas or anything else they are hopeful and excited for. The purpose of this competition is to allow people to practise and enhance their public speaking skills. This is so important as public speaking is an essential skill, in which everyone can continue to build on their overall self confidence. There is a mystery prize for the winner, who will also receive HOTY points along with all participants. We are excited to see all the submissions and look forward to running more competitions so students can develop and enhance their skills even further.
Amanda Marasco (Year 11 Communications Leader – Debating and Public Speaking)
Susan McLean is Australia’s foremost expert in the area of cyber safety and was a member of Victoria Police for twenty-seven years. Widely known as the 'cyber cop', she was the first Victoria Police Officer appointed to a position involving cyber safety and young people.
Susan has recently launched a series of free educational events that parents can attend, at times with their daughters, to learn about how to support their children in cyber space. The series covers everything from cyber bullying, sexting and digital reputation to legislation, providing parents with resources they can access that complements the digital literacy programs at Siena.
For more information about the educational series please click here.
Welcome back to our senior students! It was great to see students continuing their career research during online learning. Many institutions enthusiastically dived into virtual or online presentations and webinars and it was great to be able to access these from the comfort of home.
In this week’s Siena Career News you will find information on more of these information sessions, as well as:
I am always happy to meet (virtually) with parents and students to discuss subject selection, university applications, special consideration or alternative pathways to university.
Best wishes for a wonderful weekend.
Kim Morris (Relief Receptionist) has worked on both our Student Reception and College Reception desks and provided administration support where needed. We wish her the best of luck in her new real estate role.
Congratulations to member of teaching staff Mark Smith and his wife Aislinn on the safe arrival of Lexi, a baby sister for Breanna.
As we continue the enrolment process for Year 7 (2022) students, we would like to remind any current families with daughters in Grade 5 to please ensure that you have submitted an enrolment form.
Applications and supporting documents can be submitted online via our website. Offers will be made in October of this year.
If you have any further enquires please contact Tracey Lawson at firstname.lastname@example.org