A century from now, what shall be said of our journey in these times?
And who shall the shapers have been?
The hopeful dreamers who were strong enough to suffer for the dream?
Or the fearful pessimists who were convinced that dreaming
and hope are for sleepers only, not for those awake to the age?
A century from now, shall hope and humour have been strong
enough to enable living with unanswerable questions?
Or shall the pain that a transitional age necessarily brings have
caused a retreat to old answers
that no longer acknowledge new questions?
A century from now, we shall have journeyed…backward or forward.
Direction can no longer be given by circumstance;
real journeyers know that the direction is always chosen by
those who make the journey. Who shall chose the destination?
…So the question is still the same…
A century from now, what shall be said of our human journey in
And who shall the shapers have been?
Lillian Smith, The Journey, 1954
Lillian Smith, American writer and social critic wrote this poem sixty-five years ago, in pursuit of much needed racial and gender reform in the United States. Despite being in a different time and place, this poem resonated with me as we reflect on our experience of our own ‘transitional age’, not quite a century from that time.
My thanks to the many families who completed the recent survey seeking to capture the experience of online learning for students and families. Your feedback matters and is important to us in catering to the needs of your daughter and in shaping our programs and services. The data from this survey is being used in a number of ways; staff reflection, leadership decision making, for reporting purposes and in follow up action for particular students. Thank you. The teaching staff at Siena has once again excelled this term and, affirmed by you, demonstrated that learning and growth for every student is their goal. As the heading of this piece notes, this has been achieved through a commitment to continuity of learning, connection and care. Whilst much has been altered and disrupted for students and staff this year, I am very pleased that post pandemic planning will not require us to address gaps in learning. The diligence of staff, along with students themselves, is ensuring that progression into 2021 courses can occur with a spirit of confidence and capacity.
I alert families to three final opportunities to engage with us before the end of this term:
On Wednesday it was wonderful to host a panel of Siena alumnae, along with staff member, Lisa Ellis and current Year 12 student, Bridget Hoy in a discussion on staying connected at this time. My sincere thanks to our alumnae who gave so generously of their time in sharing some of the learnings of COVID-19 through the lens of their own field of expertise.
Spring and the Season of Creation
This week we’ve welcomed Spring; this season is a potent metaphor of hope and life, especially in our current climate. Let’s attune our senses to the beauty and potential around us and celebrate the many features of the natural world that contribute to our spiritual, as well as our physical, landscape.
As we enter the Church’s Season of Creation (Sept 1 – Oct 4) we can renew our commitment to our fragile earth via the many avenues that are already in place throughout our Siena College community and in our families.
This link outlines an extraordinary series of webinars starting this week, organised by Catholic Earthcare - the environmental justice and ecospirituality arm of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Council.
Social Justice Sunday
Last Sunday marked the Australian Catholic Church’s annual Social Justice Sunday with its timely focus on mental health. The 2020-2021 Statement, To Live Life to the Full: Mental health in Australia today, encourages faith communities, governments and each one of us to make mental health a priority. It’s a timely message in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as understanding mental health will help us to be aware of those who need our support. The Statement encourages us all to reject stigmatisation, to work for the transformation of social determinants of mental ill-health, and to call for policies and service provision that meets the needs of the poorest and most marginalised members of our community. Access the statement here.
Sr Sheila Flynn OP
After an extended time with us this year as Director of Formation, Sheila will now begin work with Santa Sabina College (Sydney) next week for the remainder of 2020. She has been an invaluable source of wisdom, inspiration and hope for our community, and leaves with us the beautiful Hope Cross installation she has created. We are very much looking forward to Sheila returning to Siena at the beginning of 2021!
The subject selection process is continuing, in readiness for the creation of a 2021 timetable. In early Term 4, the Subject Selection Coordinator, will contact any student who may have missed out on a subject choice due to timetable constraints and place them in their reserve choice. Students will be notified of their subjects in Term 4, to coincide with the release of booklists.
Students who applied to do an accelerated subject and were deferred, will have the opportunity to reapply at the end of Semester 2. While every effort will be made to accommodate accelerated applications that meet the criteria, entry into the class is dependent upon a place being available in the class and timetabling constraints. Those who have been successful with their Semester 1 application are encouraged to maintain their results in Semester 2, otherwise approval may be withdrawn.
Booklists will be published on Siena Central in Term 4 and parents will be notified via email. The secondhand book sale will take place on 5 December and will be coordinated by SPA in collaboration with I Love Books.
The second round of Online Learning Achievements for Years 7 to 12 will be released on Friday, 4 September at 3.30pm. These can be accessed via 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 her self reflection responses.
Bookings are open and can be made via the Parent Teacher Interview tile on Siena Central. If you are using a smaller device to access the tile, it will be located at the bottom of the page. Please scroll down to locate the tile. Due to the high parent demand, we are holding Interview sessions over three days, via Microsoft Teams: Wednesday, 9 September (8.30am – 5.00pm), Thursday, 17 September (4.00pm – 7.30pm) and Friday, 18 September (9.00am – 12.30pm). There will be no classes on Wednesday nor Friday. We kindly ask that you are respectful of your time allocation to help us ensure that the schedule runs on time.
If you find that a teacher that you need to meet with is unavailable, please feel welcome to contact them via email.
Students have been requested to complete three reflection questions prior to the Parent Teacher Interview. These should be completed by the student, for all subjects, and referred to during the interview. The questions will form part of the conversation around the learning that has occurred and areas for further improvement.
Unit 3 and 4 Trial Exams are currently scheduled to take place from Monday, 28 September to Friday, 2 October. This is an important opportunity for our Year 12 students and Year 11 accelerated students to prepare for their final exams. More details will be sent to parents next week once we know if the trial examinations will be held onsite or online.
As Dominicans, we are hope-filled people who look to the future with courage and this was reinforced last night during our Staying Connected webinar featuring Siena alumnae, staff and Bridget Hoy, of Year 12. It was wonderful to hear the many expressions of positivity, and some of the unexpected benefits the pandemic has brought.
This term we continue to see great resilience and agility in our students and staff. Participation in our wellbeing and extra curricular activities has been heartening, and I thank parents for the many positive messages of support and acknowledgment for the work done in this space.
In these strange and unpredictable times, it is normal for adults and children alike to be experiencing periods of worry, isolation and disconnection. We know however that our students take great comfort from knowing they are loved, appreciated, valued and connected – the essentials that every family unit can provide to instil stability. This situation has forced us all to stop, refocus, reset and use our own strengths whilst also perhaps recognising our frailties. Sharing and discussing these feelings can benefit not only you but those you love.
Recent studies have shown that daughters benefit greatly from having fathers who are present and involved in their everyday activities. Especially during adolescence, regular physical activity can play a key role in influencing children to learn self-control, face challenges, regulate emotions and take manageable risks. Additionally, girls regard their fathers as their first role model for the opposite gender, which gives our Dads a wonderful opportunity to have real impact in this regard.
This week’s School TV Report has some wonderful tips for fathers and a reminder to indulge in a little self-care for themselves, particularly during these stressful times.
Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads in our Siena Community.
Reflecting on our current learning environment, students are missing the activities they would usually do outside of the classroom. This may have taken the form of an excursion or a guest speaker. The Pedagogy Team wants to provide opportunities to extend student learning beyond the classroom walls in a virtual environment. Whereas in the past students would have participated in these experiences with their class, there is now the opportunity for families to share the experiential learning together. Please click on the images below for links.
National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian)
Online events starting 4 September. Titles include Virtual Science Café: Asteroids, Neanderthals, and Fossil Atmospheres. For the early risers in the family due to EDT to Melbourne time conversions.
Live skyline webcams
Watch the Stromboli volcano erupt or see what is happening at the Acropolis in Athens in real time. We may not be able to travel outside of Victoria, but we can still travel the world virtually with these live streaming webcams.
Melbourne Aquarium - live streams
Meet the Penguin chicks or watch Mega – Croc Pinjarra eat his lunch.
Glasgow Science Festival 2020: Science on the Sofa
Commences 9 September through until 13 September
Journey through the body or make a lava lamp. Participate in science without having to leave the couch.
Natural History Museum (South Kensington)
Visit the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Tune in to watch talk live or watch previous talks. Talks range from Dinosaur hands to Ancient Octopuses.
Skype in the Classroom
Join in weekly live events such as the migration of the Monarchs or drawing with the Minecraft design team.
Phillip Island Penguins
At sunset every night, the world’s largest colony of Little Penguins waddle up Phillip Island’s beaches. Live streamed and narrated live at 6.10pm each night.
Travel from Pompeii to the Amalfi Coast!
Join a virtual road trip from Pompeii to Amalfi Coast with the following stops: Pompeii, Oplontis, Vesuvius, Capri and Sorrento. Registration is free, the road trip will take place 29 September, 5.00pm - 7.00pm
Follow the Tour de France
Bike riding has become the exercise of choice for many families during lock down. Join the greatest bike race in the world and watch how the professionals ride. Tour de France (if you want to practice your French, listen to the commentary in French rather than English)
A night at the opera
A string quartet performs Giacomo Puccini’s “Crisantemi” at the Barcelona Opera House to an audience of approximately 2,292 house plants. (pre-recorded)
NGV Incredible Illusions
Download an Esher workbook containing a range of step by step pointers and practical activities. Explore perspective and optical illusion techniques that play tricks on your mind.
This week’s regular meeting took place on the first day of Spring, providing the Eco Warriors with an opportunity to reflect on the Season of Creation and to celebrate all that we enjoy about this beautiful season. For us, it is our appreciation of the natural beauty of the Earth which affirms our desire to work collaboratively and with determination to protect and preserve our natural resources and to ensure that, through our daily lives and habits, our impact on the Earth’s resources is limited to only that which is necessary.
This philosophy has encouraged us to audit our consumption, starting first with our personal consumption and then broadening to general household consumption. Are we making the best possible choices as consumers? Are we supporting companies with sound ethical principles and a commitment to their employees and the environment? This questioning of our own habits encouraged us to share some of the brands we have discovered as sound alternatives to some popular products.
For plastic free swaps suggestions for your bathroom click here
For reflection and action click here
Reflect on your consumption of something nature provides, such as wood, energy, meat, even chocolate. Where does it come from? Is it produced sustainably? How could changing your consumption patterns help heal the earth?
There is something wonderfully exciting about opening your letterbox or front door and finding a handwritten envelope or letter addressed to you. It has much meaning. Someone has taken the time to write something just for you. They have thought about your life, your journey and what you contribute to someone else’s livelihood.
There are times in our life when letters can hold a particular poignancy. Recently in Wellness lessons, students have written letters of gratitude to members of their communities who have continued to operate services, are essential workers or are contributing to their neighbourhood in a positive way. It’s not often people reflect on the contributions others are making to their communities. Writing these gratitude letters allowed students to reflect on the importance of being of service to others and no doubt boosted the morale of those receiving them.
Eddie Coronado encouraged students in his House Group, MCA, to pen a gratitude letter to his neighbour, Alex. Alex is a nurse at St Vincent's Hospital and her husband is a firefighter. She has a nine month old son and is currently juggling being a young first-time mum and recently going back to work part time. Please see some of the letters the students of MCA wrote to Alex:
We were so pleased to receive the following letter of thanks following this activity:
Good Morning Ms Hanney
My daughter Alexandra is a nurse at St. Vincents Hospital. She recently received a number of letters from students at Siena thanking her and her colleagues for their dedicated efforts during the current pandemic crisis.
My wife Kathy and I are concerned for Alex's wellbeing these difficult times. Her team work extended hours under difficult and hazardous conditions. It is refreshing and reassuring that students at Siena would take the time and effort to acknowledge their dedication.
You can be justifiably proud of your students, and the example they provide to the community at large.
We extend a warm welcome to Chimene Bousejean, who has recently joined Siena College as a Drama teacher replacing Georgie Plasto.
We bid farewell to:
Georgie Plasto - who will commence parental leave next week. We will all miss her as will her students and look forward to hearing some joyous news in the weeks ahead. We hope Georgie enjoys some well deserved down time.
Sr Sheila Flynn OP – has been with us for an extended period this year and is now returning to take up her role at Santa Sabina in Sydney. We wish her well and look forward to her next visit to the College.
Mia Ryan - has been at Siena for a short time and is leaving us as she prepares for the birth of her first baby. We thank Mia most sincerely for her commitment and dedication to the girls and the Learning Diversity team. We wish her well.
Sean Bickers – joined us again for Term 3 as a Health and PE teacher. Sean has built a noticeable rapport with students and has contributed significantly to the Health and PE team. We would like to thank Sean for all his work and wish him all the best for the future.
Term 3 is always busy in the Careers Office and this year has been no exception. Students choosing their 2021 subjects and Year 12s applying for university and completing their VTAC and Special Consideration (SEAS) applications have made the term fly by at an alarming rate!
The focus is on Year 12 students at present. I have been meeting, virtually, with Year 12s to ensure they have thought carefully about their tertiary preferences and are being strategic about their applications. There is a special COVID 19 impact section in SEAS that students in Year 12 should be considering.
Information in this edition of Siena Career News include:
Do you have Zoom fatigue? Are you feeling nostalgic for whole school meetings; sitting next to one another in the same room? Forty years ago, staff and students felt a little differently about the weekly gathering known as ‘General Assembly’.
Some recently unearthed Staff Meeting minutes from September 1980 include this comment:
General Assembly: the students will be sent back to classrooms for another practice if the usual shambles at entry occurs.
It seems that students weren’t keen on the “frightful torture” that was the General Assembly either. Some Year 12 students formed a committee resolving to, “dispel the misery of the rest of the school,” by providing some entertainment. By their own account, they were successful…at least once:
At the last General Assembly, it was obvious that students and even teachers were giggling, chuckling, laughing, falling off their seats and rolling around on the floor in fits of hysterical laughter. The reason? The Anti-Litter Seek skit! Such vivacity, such zeal and enthusiasm have rarely been seen on such occasions. (1980 Yearbook)
Unfortunately, we have no photos of this event – no convenient iPhones in 1980!