Over the course of three days, close to fifty Siena College alumnae shared their stories for the benefit of current students in our Annual Careers Showcase. It was a privilege to listen to the diversity of career pathways undertaken by these great women of Siena. I was struck by a number of things. Firstly, there was a very real sense of connection between their final years at Siena and their chosen entry into their study and professional lives. They recalled subjects, teachers and opportunities which influenced and inspired their own dreams. This was surely beneficial to our current generation of students at Siena in encouraging them to follow their passion, work closely with staff and take up every opportunity that comes their way to discover more about themselves. Secondly, there was a strong sense of Siena sisterhood as we heard stories of connections maintained; support, advice and even doors opened by women in their professional lives to other women of Siena. It was inspiring to hear of graduates from many years ago being so willing to nurture, mentor and lift up those who are following in their footsteps. Finally, I noted, but was not surprised by, the number of speakers for whom their professional work is a reflection of their personal identity – one of seeking to make a contribution for good in the world. Time and again, we heard stories of the women of Siena going into the world in their chosen field in order to positively impact humanity in their own way. Sometimes this was expressed in outreach and volunteer work, in others it was altering their career path as their personal truth became more evident, in others it was young women working in their professional world with conviction and passion for the common good.
We thank the Alumnae Association and College Development team for hosting this great event and are deeply grateful for all alumnae who shared their story. Each of the sessions, covering a broad range of careers, was recorded. I would encourage students considering career pathways to re visit these recordings for inspiration and assistance.
In recent weeks, students and staff have been sharing beautiful images of spring and fond memories past. As we continue our period of online learning with its mundanity and challenge, we look also to the many signs of hope, beauty and imagination.
When the past is recaptured by the imagination, breath is put back into life. Marguerite Duras.
Our students are continuing to live out the Dominican mission of truth seeking in their classes during remote learning:
As you can see, Religious Education classes continue to provide opportunities for authentic engagement with our faith tradition, rigorous learning and critical discussion in our current online environment.
The subject selection process and class allocation continues, in preparation for 2022 timetables. In early Term 4, Mitchell Soon, the Subject Selection Coordinator, will contact any student who may have missed out on a subject choice due to timetable constraints and discuss alternative options with them. Students will be notified of their subjects in Term 4, to coincide with the release of booklists.
The accelerated subject application results have been emailed to parents and students. Those who were deferred, will have the opportunity to reapply at the end of Semester 2. In consideration of the impact of online learning, the criteria for next year’s Year 10 students were adjusted. As we always do, the criteria were applied across the cohort, unless there were exceptional circumstances. This ensures that the process remains fair and consistent for all our students. In this variable and altered state of learning and teaching, students are encouraged to work hard at maintaining their results and to ask for help when they need it.
Booklists will be available on Siena Central in Term 4 and parents will be notified via email. Second-hand book sales will be run by SPA.
In order to better describe the nature of the Parent Teacher Interviews, they are now referred to as "Learning Conversations”. These conversations will be held online, to continue the shared relationship with parents to promote student wellbeing, learning and engagement.
To create maximum opportunity for Learning Conversations, they will be held on Wednesday, 8 September, 4.00pm – 7.30pm and Thursday, 9 September, 10.00am - 7.00pm (non-teaching day).
Bookings open for Year 7 and Year 12 students on Wednesday, 1 September at 9.00am and can be made via the Learning Conversations 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. Year 8 to Year 11 bookings open on Thursday, 2 September at 9.00am.
Students will be requested to complete reflection questions prior to the Learning Conversations. The questions 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 go ahead from Monday, 27 September to Friday, 1 October. This is an important opportunity for our Year 12 students and Year 11 accelerated students to prepare for their final exams. At this point we are hoping to hold the Trial Exams on campus, but will keep parents and students informed of any changes. Further detail was communicated via email to Unit 3 and 4 students and their parents this week.
Although life is always filled with uncertainty, the levels we are currently experiencing are unprecedented and it is becoming evident that this is taking a toll on our young people. The most recent research from Mission Australia makes clear the breadth and depth the pandemic is having on our youth across the nation.
It appears that lockdowns and tighter restrictions will be with us for some time, but it is important in such times of uncertainty to instil hope and remain optimistic. Adults play a vital role in helping young people reframe their worries, encouraging them to see life as it is and getting them to focus more on the things they can control, rather than those they can’t.
It is important that young people remain connected with their social networks during these times as often their natural response to uncertainty is to exhibit varying degrees of fear and anxiety. With the continued disruptions, mental health concerns are on the rise and it is evident that many students may need some extra support to achieve their goals. Parents can help their children focus more on the good things in their life, rather than fill in the blanks with catastrophic narratives.
This Special Report outlines how adults can help instil hope and offer support in such times of uncertainty. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered and as always, we welcome your feedback.
This week we have celebrated National Science Week, which has the theme Food: Different by Design. We were lucky enough to have a guest speaker, Dr Madeline Mitchell, a plant scientist present a webinar to our students about her journey into science, how plant science might be able to solve problems of food and resources, and what the future of food might hold. We also had students compete for the first time in the ANSTO Hackathon, where they had to design a solution to the issue of food waste.
Madeline is a plant scientist with broad interests in the social, economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture. She has collaborated with industry and community partners as well as diverse researchers to develop novel crops for the benefit of farmers, consumers and the environment. Madeline is also an advocate for gender equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM and is an alumna of the global leadership initiative, Homeward Bound. Her skills in science communication have been recognised by an ACT Young Tall Poppy Award and selection in the Superstars of STEM program. Madeline holds a joint role with Food Agility and the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University.
Student reflection - Hayley Di Stefano, Year 12
Hearing from Dr Madeline Mitchell was such an uplifting and reassuring experience for myself as a Year 12 student. When she left high school, Dr Mitchell didn’t know what she wanted to study but was willing to embrace her journey and was excited to see where her interests took her and I think this is something that we can all reflect on as Siena students. She had such a positive attitude to learning and her slides were filled with quotes that I think reflected her career and engagement in the science industry, including “stay curious”, “be brave and lead the way, be smart and learn from others”, and “have fun”. I learnt not only about her work but what’s to come in environmental science and she is clearly someone who is paving the way for a more sustainable planet and eco-friendly future.
Each year, the United Nations “International Year Of…” is considered when exploring potential themes, and 2021 provides us with both the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables and the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.
In keeping with these UN topics, Food: Different by Design covers a broad range of areas in food production and sustainable agriculture, enabling students to explore topics such as biosecurity, food technology, laboratory-developed foods, and more. In the true spirit of National Science Week, scientific development will be at the core of the theme.
The ANSTO Hackathon has students tackle a problem and using the design thinking process to generate a solution which they pitch to a range of STEM and industry experts. Over the first three days of National Science Week the students collaborate, empathise and define the root problem, before generating ideas and testing and prototyping them, all around their normal classes. In this time they meet with design mentors and industry mentors including scientists and engineers to help them with the process.
We entered a team of three Year 7 students, Katie Kim, Helen Kyriakos and Steph Cullinan. They worked cleverly and diligently to come up with their solution, the SmartTrolley and an app to help people purchase exactly what they need for their families to minimise food waste. They found the process initially ‘overwhelming’, but this gave way to ‘satisfying’ and ‘really fun’ and found the feedback from their mentors particularly helpful especially the further along the design process they were. They are to be congratulated on their excellent efforts and innovative thinking. Well done!
Due to the extended lockdown, the Annual Concert planned for 1 September unfortunately cannot proceed. Our ensembles have been continuing to rehearse and we aim to create virtual performances that can be shared with the Siena community in the future. We know that students will be disappointed about this news, but we encourage them to continue to attend online ensemble rehearsals and practice their parts in preparation for virtual and future performances.
It is that time of year where we invite all students to submit their audition videos for all 2022 Music Ensembles. Audition videos and forms will need to be uploaded to the Co-curricular Music page, ‘Audition Dropbox’ by 6 September. Students will be emailed the audition form and instructions on how to successfully create their audition video this week.
The Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB) have notified schools regarding upcoming performance examinations and have asked students to consider sitting video repertoire examinations due to the current and potential future restrictions. In most cases, the video repertoire examinations require four pieces and no technical work. For further information about this option, students are asked to talk to their instrumental teachers or Mrs McGillen.
Music students are encouraged to sign up for Soiree Week, which will be held during Week 10 of this term. We are hopeful that the soirees will occur at school however we will revert to an online Soiree week if this is not possible. Students interested in gaining performance practice, and for those sitting examinations, are invited to sign up by emailing email@example.com
Monday, 13 September
Lunchtime piano soiree
Wednesday, 15 September
Double reeds soiree 6.00pm -7.00pm
VCE soiree 4.30pm-5.30pm
Thursday, 16 September
Lunchtime woodwind and brass soiree
Cabaret Night will be held on 14 October subject to School Operation Guidelines. We invite all voice students from all year levels, pianists and instrumentalists to audition to perform at this exciting event. Students are asked to perform the piece or song they plan to perform at Cabaret Night. Audition videos are to be uploaded to the Co-curricular Music page, ‘Audition Dropbox’ by 6 September and labelled as Cabaret Night Audition. For further information students are encouraged to talk to Mrs McGillen or their teachers. All musicians are encouraged to audition even if they don’t learn an instrument or take voice lessons at school.
In Year 8 English we are currently studying the Speculative Fiction anthology Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean. The students have been learning about the waves of feminism and how they must be the change they want to see in society. Students have also been encouraged to enter the Boroondara Literary Awards, with some empowering short stories and poems submitted. Please enjoy this poem "The Perception of Women", written by Sharlise Huynh, Year 8.
Ladies, girls, females
Had all started with just one male
All was good at the start
Eyes, mouth and a big heart
Fast forward many years
Problems occurring and ending in tears
Women were always being looked down
Walking on the streets, with a non-existent crown
Females had become ignored
Chores, family and a plain old record
The future for women was no more
Dumping it all in amongst the shore
Men started having high expectations
Laws, rules, regulations
Tall, skinny, blonde
Thinking women would change with just the touch of a magic wand
Skirts, dresses, bows
Heels, hair and a little nose
Small, slim, pretty
How about adding a cute, little, kitty
Women wanted equality, being fair
When all those men did was want them bare
Men’s liking was only on a lady’s physique
Nothing about their soul, just on critiques
Oh, be this, oh be that
Here and there, chitchat chitchat
“Hey! Let me buy you a drink.”
“You could really use it,” adding on a wink
Being abused, used, and sold
Thinking of them as objects, leaving them in the cold
All feeling in the body had become numb
Sleeping at night, feeling very lonesome
Take the Cinderella story
Always giving men all the glory
The ugly stepsisters had just wanted to impress
Ending with Cinderella falling for the plain, old damsel in distress
Mulan had swapped it all around
With no crown or gown
Fighting for her own place
Leaving all men in disgrace
She had fought for her old man
No need for poison apples, heels, or a saucepan
She had used all her strength and power
Returning home with no hands holding a flower
Now look at actresses in our time
In films about a war crime
Only there to act as the nurse
Not allowed to act as the inverse
Besides acting in the settings of war
Women were seen as assistants, mopping the floor
Unable to portray a character that’s tough
Working hard, respecting peers, yet not being paid enough
Having to show skin that would catch a man’s eye
Then asking if they were looking, and would deny
Wondering why men would just stare
At the bum, cleavage, and what they wear
Knowing women were expected to be weak
Laughing and laughing at one’s loud shriek
Thinking fighting women would end in an instant heartbeat
Because they’re just small and sweet
Going back to actresses on TV
Being treated like leftover debris
Superheroes, agents, and detectives kicking arse
“Hey, you know you could’ve just said pass”
Only a few recommended sports
Men had many games of all sorts
“You hit like a girl, you play like a girl!”
“Go back to ballet and do a little twirl”
They played rough
Making women seem like they weren’t enough
Bruises here, cuts there
On a man’s level, they both could not compare
Abuse in the workplace
Towards women, not seen as a disgrace
But the fact that bosses to this day, think it’s okay
Made the situation a real downplay
Police trying to deal with all of it
Some caring, the rest don’t bother to commit
Letting it go, “Be safer next time”
Walking away with confusion, wondering how they don’t see it as a hate crime
Being dragged into court
All they need right now is some support
Demanding a right, the judge denies
Leaving them ‘unaware’ of all those lies
So sick of the words of men
Hearing it over and over again
Finally deciding to take a stand
Hoping it will go smoothly, just as planned
All women coming together as a whole
On the streets, taking a stroll
Taking a stand, fighting for their own
Getting more in on the act, making themselves known
All around the world they knew
That they’re demands are now known as Me Too
Finally getting the recognition that they’ve longed for
Influencing others, and many more
Although this is still happening today
Encouraging others to keep it going, like it’s on replay
Many more need to be aware
So, all could be settled and are all fair
Pillars Student Leadership Program
Over the past four weeks, a group of Year 10 and 11 students have participated in the Pillars Senior Student Leadership Program.
Across four sessions, students worked together to reflect on what it means to be a Dominican Leader. Guided by a number of Siena staff and student leaders, our students practiced and developed the skills of teamwork, communication and delegation, explored their character strengths, and discussed the importance of formulating a leadership vision.
The following reflections were written by students participating in the leadership program:
“What resonated with me was the importance of having a clear and shared vision, including understanding who you are leading, why you are leading and keeping in mind the bigger picture within your leadership role. This will influence my leadership role as I will continue to further develop my vision as a leader and ensure that it accounts for the needs and priorities of the people that I may be leading.”
Macey Brick, Year 11
“What resonated with me was that there aren't a restrictive set of qualities that allow someone to consider themselves a leader, there are a wide range of characteristics and qualities because a leader doesn't have just one definition. There are leaders in every situation, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses, hence highlighting the importance of collaboration and teamwork and bringing together people’s strengths. Realising the importance of other people within the team and working with them in order to bring out the best in a group will be a focus of my leadership going forward, inspired by the conversation of teamwork”
Abbey Harford, Year 11
“The different skills we discussed and learned about teamwork really resonated with me. I found it really valuable to learn about the importance of delegation and establishing a shared vision that incorporates everyone’s ideas. In the future, I will be more inclined to delegate tasks and pay closer attention to the strengths of my team members so that we can use them to our advantage.”
Sasha Sahely, Year 11
The program was also discussed in more detail by three of our participants in the latest Siena College podcast, so tune in if you would like to find out more!
The Pillars Year 7 to 9 Leadership Program will take place over three sessions from Weeks 8 to 10 this term. The registration form is now open via Siena Central, and is open to all students in Years 7 to 9.
As the situation with COVID-19 and Lockdown 6.0 continues we are acutely aware of the impact on our students’ wellbeing.
It has now been over a year since Stage Four restrictions first came into effect and we know the longevity and the uncertainty around this ever-changing situation has left some students struggling. Each new lockdown seems to bring different challenges for our students and the longer the lockdowns continue, the more important it is for students and parents to be talking together about how they are feeling.
We know online learning can feel overwhelming for some students, especially during these snap lockdowns when students had been adjusting to normal school routines again. For some students, avoiding online learning can initially relieve some of the pressure and stress they may be experiencing. However, we also know that avoidance can mean we fall behind in class and feel less engaged with our work. This, in turn can make us feel more overwhelmed and anxious, where we want to avoid further – creating a vicious cycle that can be hard to get out of.
As a school we are mindful that while some students might have initially managed lockdowns well, each lockdown is different and can feel worse, or better. If you have concerns about any of the following it may be worth seeking advice:
You are encouraged to contact your daughter's Head of House, or the Counselling Team, who are continuing to operate and work together throughout the lockdowns. Additionally, if you have concerns you would prefer to address outside of the school system, you can talk to your GP who can refer your daughter to an external professional.
Dr Jen Lear
Helpline contact numbers:
13 11 14 https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Suicide Call Back Service
1300 22 4636 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/home
Headspace (not emergency support, avail 9am – 1am)
In an emergency always call 000
In the latest edition of Siena Careers News there is some useful information particularly for Year 12 students completing VTAC applications. Most of the universities have special programs for entry, Early Offer programs or guaranteed ATARs for courses. The details of the Monash Guarantee and the University of Melbourne Access program are featured in this edition.
Year 12 students applying for Fine Arts and Music courses are reminded that there are additional requirements for these courses and sometimes also early closing dates. These details are also included in the newsletter this week.
Students often ask about possible careers after completing a Bachelor of Science and this week’s career in focus, a cardiac technician, is one of these.
Another popular area of study is Global Studies or International Relations and I have included a list of the courses in this area offered by our major universities.