Take time to listen – it is the basis of learning.
Take time to think – it is the source of achievement.
Take time to read – it is the foundation of wisdom.
Take time to rest – it is the foundation of health and vitality.
Take time to play – it is the secret of staying young.
Take time to be quiet – it is the opportunity to seek God.
Take time to share – it is too short a life to be selfish.
Take time to be aware – it is the opportunity to help others.
Take time to laugh – it is the music of the heart.
Take time to love and be loved – it nourishes the soul.
Take time to be friendly – it brings happiness.
Take time to pray – it is the greatest power on earth.
Take time to dream – it is the well of inspiration.
There is a time for everything.
There is a season for everything, a time for everything under heaven.
Based on Ecclesiastes 3:1
In an altered reality this year, many have spoken of the gift of time – time with family, time for quietude, time for exercise, time to reprioritise or recalibrate. Perhaps for others there is never enough time, as life goes on and more time is spent doing the same things differently, with more pressure on our time. Within our community, we are seeing this time of pandemic impacting each of us in so many ways. For our young people in particular, it is an important time to dig deep in learning more about themselves – who they are, the strengths that they can draw on, the opportunities to grow and connect within the positive and supportive environment of home and school. My hope is that staff, students and families can find and take time to consider one or each of the suggestions above. In it, we are reminded of the precious gift of time and the many blessings contained in how we use that time.
Congratulations to Donna Laughlin for being included in The Educator ‘Hot List’ Awards for 2020. This acknowledgement is in recognition of Donna’s humble but relentless commitment to excellence in learning and teaching leadership – as evidenced this year in building staff capacity in readiness for online teaching and in the development of Siena Inform, our data analysis platform in support of student learning and growth. Donna’s success in this and every other aspect of her work has been marked by her relational approach, her commitment to detail and her generosity in ensuring that staff feel supported and confident.
On Thursday, 6 August we celebrated the Feast of St Dominic with an online Liturgy of the Word lead by our Student Leaders. Being unable to celebrate onsite as a College community required innovative thinking on their part and fuelled a desire to capture the essence of Siena in this new virtual gathering space. This was an opportunity to be nourished by Scripture, offer the prayers of our hearts and bless one another – as well as expressing gratitude for our continued wellness and safety.
Today all Year 10 and 11 students participated in a Reflection Session based on aspects of our College theme, Who do you say I am?
‘I am… a Dominican’ looked at responding to the ‘signs of the times’, ‘I am… a leader’ discussed senior students being agents of change and ‘I am… me’ had a focus on wellbeing and reflection.
In this flexible learning space it’s important that we continue to create these opportunities for connection and growth – particularly as students negotiate this period of discernment in regard to their 2021 studies and consider participation in the Pillars Senior Leadership program.
Over the first few weeks of Term 3 we held our Virtual Senior Pathways Evening and the students have all participated in their Subject Selection Interviews, mostly via Teams. It has been a wonderful effort on the part of the administration staff, teaching staff, students and parents alike. We welcome any feedback on the process.
The videos and documentation in our Subject Selection tiles have been a valuable resource for students and parents. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Virtual Senior Pathways Information Evening. There were great questions and dialogue and we came away from this new format feeling that it had been a wonderful success.
The final date for submission of Subject Selection Forms for 2021, has come and the response from our students has been excellent. My thanks to Mitchell Soon, our Timetabler and the Heads of Learning who have fielded questions and kept everyone on track.
We are well and truly immersed in the online learning experience now and we ask you to encourage your daughters to keep up their attendance and engagement. It is a challenging new way of classroom teaching for schools that requires more self-discipline and creativity from both teacher and student. Siena College continues to make sure that our approach is holistic and takes all elements of wellbeing and excellence in learning into account.
We are currently examining the delivery of the Parent Teacher Interviews and how we will best achieve this in an online capacity. Information on the process will be communicated in the weeks to follow.
Riding the Corona Coaster
Across Victoria, students and their families are experiencing challenging times as we endure our second period of lockdown. Riding this "Corona Coaster" and navigating the ups and downs of the current reality is proving to be confronting for many people. No one could have imagined at the start of 2020 the levels of disappointment, disruption and despondency that we would all be facing.
Despite the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen next, there are many things parents can do to ward off the potential for anxiety and depression in their children as restrictions continue. As Michael Carr-Gregg explains in this helpful SchoolTV Report, parents should remember to put their own "psychological oxygen mask" on first. That is, take the time to ensure that your self-care is prioritised so that you may in turn help your children maintain a routine of sleep, exercise and healthy eating.
Young people will take their cues from the adults around them, so focusing on what can be controlled, and maintaining a healthy level of perspective will set a more hopeful tone. Remind your children that we have been through this once, and we have the opportunity now to change the things that didn't work so well last time. Thankfully, this will not continue forever and there is light at the end of the tunnel!
I am also sharing some additional links to further support services for all members of our community. Stay well, stay safe.
A reminder to parents that the first round of Online Learning Achievement Feedback for Years 7 to 10 was released last week, providing earlier feedback for students and parents.
The Online Learning Achievements have replaced the regular Classroom Learning Indicators whilst we remain in remote learning. All feedback will be available on Siena Central through your daughter’s profile, under Grades, and then by accessing each subject name. Parents will be able to view the teacher feedback rubric, their daughter’s self assessment rubric and self reflection responses.
Year 7 to 10 formative feedback will also be released across the next two weeks. This provides a check in regarding your daughter’s progress through each subject unit. An email notification will be sent when feedback has been exported, please follow the link to access.
If there are any issues accessing Siena Central, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions regarding the reporting process, please contact Donna Laughlin at email@example.com
Online Learning Achievements will again be published for Years 7 to 12 in the week commencing Monday, 31 August and concluding Friday, 4 September.
The current restrictions around social distancing will require variation in the delivery of the Parent Teacher Interviews this term. Further details will be made available to parents in the coming weeks.
Parent Teacher Interviews are currently calendared for 10 September and 17 September.
Academics have long highlighted the intrinsic links between student wellbeing and improved academic, social and emotional success of adolescents. As 2020 presents schools and families with the challenge of remote learning, managing student wellbeing and promoting positive mental health outcomes requires a strong online program. At Siena, we have seen this as an opportunity to continue to provide our students with the emotional skills they need to flourish on their educational journeys, build resilience against adversity, provide them with opportunities to seek help for early intervention, and remain connected to peers whilst learning in lockdown.
In the first phase of remote learning, the Wellbeing Team at Siena launched a series of wellness and spirituality resources to support our students and families while at home.
These resources are updated weekly and focus on four key areas of wellness: empathy, gratitude, mindfulness and motivation. Recently a series of meditations based on compassion have been uploaded along with breathing techniques, a random act of kindness tracker, tips to encourage students to remain open to new experiences, staying motivated by aiming for your own personal pinnacles and steps to study success while learning from home.
We continue to run weekly Wellness lessons for all students in Years 7 to 12. Junior House Groups (Year 7 to 9 students) complete these lessons on Mondays during Period 6. In addition to providing students with an opportunity to check in with a teacher in a safe environment, each Wellness lesson has a focus to support individual student wellbeing. This term, junior students have looked at the effect of nutrition, exercise and sleep routines on their own motivation. Later in the term they will complete a mindset check-in, a lesson on sustainability, a gratitude activity and will have the opportunity to celebrate their individual successes.
Senior House Groups (Year 10 to 12 students) complete wellness activities in a flexible format through the Year 12 Enrichment program, with their House Group teachers, or in a student-directed environment. There are many varied activities available to our senior students ranging from individual goal setting to help students remain motivated, mental health check-ins, meditation videos and audio clips and links to resources from Beyond Blue, The Kids Help Line and My Digital Health. In addition to this, our Heads of Student Wellbeing will continue to run House Assemblies throughout the term to foster connection and relationships between students.
All parents are welcome to access the resources on the Wellness and Spirituality tile of Siena Central. We hope that they assist families with initiating conversations around positive wellbeing at home as well as supporting our mission to care for each of our students.
Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood
Our Year 7 Online Book Club commenced this term. Every Thursday at Lunch, staff from the Learning Centre join forces with some of our avid Year 7 readers to discuss our love of reading and books. Our discussions each week focus around a set question and students are invited to share their thoughts and opinions on the topic. So far, we have recommended Young Adult Fiction to each other, explored the life we would like to live as a character from a book we have read and considered “If the Film could ever be as good as the Book” (the answer was a firm NO!). In the coming weeks we will nominate the “Book that changed the way I thought” and also the Best Series.
Some of the characters the students admire include:
The character I would like to be is Enid from The Worst Witch Series. Enid is kind and has a good sense of humor. She is always supportive and sticks with Mildred and Maud through everything. It's also really nice to see three girl protagonists.
If I could be any book character, I would choose to be Hazel Wong from the Murder Most Unladylike books series because she is always thoughtful, gentle, forgiving and smart, and together with her best friend who has a completely contrasting personality, they help people by solving crime and murder mysteries. Even though adults underestimate them as two school girls, they always go on epic adventures to solve the mystery in the end!
Luna LoveGood or Cedric Diggory from the Harry Potter series: Luna LoveGood because she lives in her own world and dosen’t care about what people say about her and I think that’s a thing a lot of girls lack and it’s such a good quality to have! Cedric Doggory - Though he may have girls all over him and be the most cutest guy at school he puts others first he isn’t selfish and dies trying to save Harry from Voldemort and I’d put my life on line for any of my friends!
In this time of remote online learning, coming together as a community of readers has brought us all great joy. All students in Year 7 are most welcome to join us. Please contact Mrs Ilott at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the club!
“Never see a need without doing something about it”
St Mary of the Cross Mackillop
Needless to say, 2020 has presented us all with unexpected and unprecedented challenges. We have navigated uncertainty and unpredictability and lived through situations and circumstances never before seen or experienced. Not surprisingly, such challenging times have presented significant difficulty for the more vulnerable members of our Melbourne community.
In collaboration with St Dominic’s Parish and St Vincent de Paul, Siena has formed a relationship with the community living in the Horace Petty Housing Estate in Prahran. In the final week of classes, our senior students were invited to donate grocery items, toiletries and stationary supplies to the many families living on the estate. It was uplifting to see that, though facing challenge and uncertainty themselves, our seniors and their families were able to recognise the needs of others and to respond with a practical and generous spirit. Donations have been delivered to the kindergarten on the estate and from there will be distributed to the families in most need.
As the usual Soup Van service provided by Vinnies has been momentarily suspended, while at school, staff were invited to donate grocery items, toiletries and warm clothing to support the alternative service Vinnies was offering. Vinnies Volunteers are preparing hampers consisting of basic grocery items including cereal, pasta, rice, tuna, long life milk, and toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, and soap. Each hamper is delivered to families known to Vinnies who are in need of support.
All members of the Siena community are encouraged to continue to seek opportunities to reach out and support those in significant need throughout this period. If you are unsure as to how to help, please contact email@example.com , and I will be happy to direct you to services in need.
This term, our Eco Warriors have expressed an interest in learning more about Ethical Production and Consumption. Arising out of our meetings, an interest in responding responsibly to the Fast Fashion trend has emerged. We completed a survey to identify and analysing our consumer habits with regards to what, where, when and why we purchase clothing. This data enabled us to explore the factors that influence our choices. Students indicated that they would like to make more conscious choices, but didn’t necessarily have the knowledge to make these “good” choices.
“How I can change peoples mindset towards sustainable and ethical fashion? Sometimes the swaps you can make are right in front of you, but because some people don’t have the information to make those choices, the change is not made. I want to know how we can change that and help people become more aware of their choices”. Ella Graham
“Which brands in Australia and overseas produce ethically? How these companies are producing ethically? What makes a brand "ethical"? How can I make a difference when I purchase?” Hayley Di Stefano
As we all know, knowledge is power. To help us make good choices when purchasing, we have explored a number of apps and websites that will assist us with our decision making. We were particularly impressed with the Baptist World Aid Fashion Guide. This guide enables consumers to search brands by name. Each brand receives a ranking from A+to F.
The grades awarded by the Ethical Fashion Report are a measure of the efforts undertaken by each company to mitigate the risks of forced labour, child labour and worker exploitation in their supply chains, as well as protect the environment from the harmful impacts of the fashion industry. Higher grades are given to companies with ethical sourcing systems that, if implemented well, should reduce the extent of worker exploitation and environmental harm. The app is called “End Poverty” and can be found at the App Store. The Eco Warriors like it because it is easy to use, informative and can help you make decisions “on the go” just by consulting your phone! Further information can be found on the Baptist World Aid Website.
Junior House Groups have commenced a two part program during weekly wellness lessons on maintaining motivation while learning remotely. Students looked at three key factors of maintaining motivation: nutrition, sleep hygiene and physical activity. Getting to sleep, staying asleep and waking up on time were flagged by the student body as the single greatest issue they were currently facing in isolation. It is important that adolescents get enough sleep each night - the Melbourne Child Psychology service recommend teenagers aim to get 9.25 hours of sleep each night. There are many small adjustments students can make to establish a positive sleep routine. These include:
Grace Mazzacca, Lily Graham and Ava Lacy share their reflections below, along with an insight into what a "day on their plate" looks like:
"Sleep, nutrition and physical activity are all important because without enough sleep we don’t think clearly, without eating healthy foods our bodies don’t function as well and if we don’t keep active you physically don’t feel fit and you are you are not tired when it is time for bed, which affects your sleep. Motivation depends on all three elements working together for a positive day of online learning.
It has been helpful to lean about what happens to your body and your mind if you don’t get enough sleep, nutrition or physical activity. Your mind and body reacted negatively to reduced sleep or physical activity and not having healthy eating habits".
"I think sleep is especially important in being motivated for online learning because when you don’t have enough sleep you can get distracted and feel moody. Physical activity helps because it gives you time to recharge and slow down. Nutrition helps because having a healthy diet allows you to have a healthy mind. Being reminded in wellness class about these factors makes me think about what I’ve done and what I need to do to make sure I am healthy and energised”.
“A good night’s sleep helps you to feel awake, energetic and focused for the day ahead. Nutrition and healthy foods help you to stay healthy and it give you longer lasting energy rather than unhealthy food like sugar which only give us energy for shorter amounts of time. Physical activity and exercise assist you to stay active which improves your health and mental wellbeing. These last wellness sessions have helped me to think about my daily routine of sleep and exercise. This has increased my knowledge of sleep patterns and how I can improve my own”.
The Learning Centre may physically be closed, but we are open 24/7 via the Albertus Magnus Learning Centre page on Siena Central.
We have links to our eBooks and eAudio books (from our Wheelers platform), online newspapers, access to our databases and Clickview, which have always been a part of the Learning Centre resources.
We also have links to:
The Victorian Premiers Reading Challenge (for Years 7 to 9). It includes videos on how to login to the VPRC and how to add books to your VPRC profile, as well a link to our Wheelers (eBook) platform.
Make it Mondays - a new online craft group open to all students and staff. There are sixteen different projects you can try, as well as a craft blog where you can post your creations or ask craft related questions you may have.
Iso Cooking – with excerpts from some of our newest cookbooks, as well as links to great food websites, all you need for isolation inspiration!
There is also access to specially curated websites for our students. Links include free audio books from Audible, BookTube (book related reviews on YouTube), as well as Epic Reads on Instagram, and Inside a Dog, which is the State Library of Victoria’s young adult book website. These are all in the “Can’t Make it to the Learning Centre?” tile.
We update the Learning Centre news blog regularly, so there is always something new to see.
In the latest edition of Siena Career News there is a lot of information particularly pertinent for Year 12 students, including Special Entry schemes at university, important date reminders and information on IT and Computer Science degrees.
VTAC registrations have opened and many universities are advertising Early Entry and Early Offer programs. Year 12 students are encouraged to make a careers appointment to discuss how to apply for these programs and also how to apply for SEAS (Special Consideration for university and TAFE).
Students in Years 9 to 12 may like to listen in to a course information session webinar. Deakin University has made available their recent recorded sessions and the link is in this week’s Siena Career News.
Given our Dominican heritage, it is not surprising that Siena College has had a long association with dogs. Jock, Paddy and Marty from the early days were dogs belonging to the nuns. Brutus had the run of the College in the 1970s and Daisy the dalmatian is a frequent and much-loved visitor today.
However, Siena did have at least one feline intruder. A small grey and white cat turned up at the convent on the feast of St Barnabas in 1953 and the nuns named him Barney. However, he disappeared soon after and according to Rustling Leaves (the Siena student magazine), the rumour was that Barney had been ‘catnapped’ and was last seen on the Wattle Park tram in the company of an unnamed student. The mystery was never solved.
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