Holy Spirit working among us
Fill us with gratitude for the gift of education
And with appreciation for those in the teaching ministry
Who empower our community of learners.
Calm us in this time of pandemic
To be supportive of young people, teachers and leaders
Negotiating the realities of this time.
Strengthen the commitment of governments, churches and institutions
To the goal of universal education in our world
Encourage us to take advantage of opportunities
For learning throughout our lives.
Bless us with critical minds, grateful hearts and willing hands
To live with courage and hope.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.
As the College community prepares to enter our two week term break, I extend sincere appreciation to all families and all staff. Your fine encouragement and support of our students over the course of this challenging term has enabled continuity of our program and care for all. Updates regarding the hopeful return to campus in Term 4 will be provided as they become available. In the meantime, arrangements for online trial exams for all Unit 3 and 4 students in Week 2 of the break have been communicated; we wish these students well. This period of course completion and revision is critical in setting students up for solid preparation for exams.
For those who may be interested, please find here an article about navigating the pandemic life by adopting a pilgrimage mindset.
Wishing everyone a restful break.
This year’s logo for the Season of Creation is Abraham’s tent, symbolizing “A home for all”. Abraham and Sarah opened their tent as a home for three strangers, who turned out to be God’s angels (Genesis 18). By creating a home for all, their act of radical hospitality became a source of great blessing.
The tent represents a place of shelter or refuge – it links us with the homeless, refugees, and all who are on the move and displaced by the effects of climate change
The tent is also a sign of simplicity. Particularly among young people, the tent and the backpack symbolize what is essential, sufficiency, living within our means, and travelling lightly upon the earth. Like nomadic people today, Abraham and Sarah knew what it meant to be vulnerable, depending upon the goodness of the land, respecting its rhythms, and living in trust. The tent is a sign that as we pass through this life, our footprint must be light upon the Earth.
We continue to celebrate creation in all its forms – one way of doing this can be seen in submissions to Siena Geographic. Students and staff are encouraged to upload photographs of nature – from their own backyards, local parks or fondly remembered holidays. This is an opportunity to enjoy beautiful images and be grateful for the wonders of our natural world.
Learning Conversations took place over this past Wednesday and Thursday. The online experience has been finessed and we’re happy to say they ran without a hitch. Thank you for your participation and for being mindful of the timing for the Conversations. The evening received wonderfully positive feedback and we are always grateful to our dedicated teachers who help to make this event so worthwhile. The online environment continues to provide opportunity to connect with parents and students, and we welcome your feedback. Thank you to our students who were honest and engaging in their reflections.
If you were unable to secure a Learning Conversation timeslot, comprehensive feedback on your daughter’s progress is available on Siena Central. Responses to Term 3 tasks and assessments will continue to be posted for the remainder of this term and as we progress into Term 4.
To support our staff in our current environment, we ask that you contact the relevant teacher in Term 4 if you require further conversation regarding your daughter’s progress or online feedback.
During the last week of school we will bring together the term’s learning, as assessment in all year levels is finalised. We congratulate all students and staff on their agility and determination to maintain our high standard of learning. It has been enriching to see experiential learning opportunities transferred to the online environment. Many students have taken up participation in forums, workshops and online challenges.
Term 3 concludes on Friday, 17 September.
All Unit 3/4 SACs have now been completed. Congratulations to all Unit 3/4 Students for their sustained resilience and perseverance. The first week of the coming break provides an opportunity to recharge with some screen free time and to organise Unit 3/4 notes and unit summaries and reread novels and texts. This gentle but targeted preparation is a necessary foundation for the Trial Exams in week two of the study break.
From Monday, 27 September to Friday, 1 October Unit 3/4 Trial Examinations will be undertaken online, click here for the schedule. The experience is aimed at preparing for the end of year formal exams, as we simulate the VCAA exam duration and examination style. The Trial Exams help identify areas of strength and areas that require more focus, so we ask for your support to encourage your daughter to approach these exams with commitment and determination. Results will be officially communicated to parents in Term 4, Week 2.
We will be thinking of our Year 12 students as they prepare for their final term at Siena, which commences on Monday, 4 October.
The GAT will be held on Tuesday, 5 October. Unit 3/4 Students and Parents have been sent a communication via email.
2022 Subject Confirmation and Booklist details will be made available to students and parents.
No doubt, we are all looking forward to the term break and some extended screen free time. While it is likely that we will not be travelling far, I hope that you are able to enjoy a change of pace. Our thoughts are with our parent community as you continue to support and help motivate those around you. May you find time to breathe and recharge.
There is no underestimating the challenges being faced by parents today. Raising children can be a challenge at the best of times but with the added uncertainty of lockdowns and restrictions, parents face added pressure in raising happy, well and resilient young people. Whilst there is a great deal of information available to support parents, this can often be confusing and overwhelming when looking for guidance.
Siena College works with SchoolTV to address some of the crucial issues affecting families right now and this online resource is also designed to empower you as parents with credible and sound information through 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 they are presenting on.
Please click here to access SchoolTV
The Wellness and Spirituality Tile on the Parent Portal allows parents to access the same information available to students. This tile is updated regularly with articles, videos and a range of support information from external providers and prepared by staff at Siena College. The Parent Portal is also updated with News Items about a range of social issues impacting young people.
If you have concerns about your child’s wellbeing, please reach out to their Head of House, the counselling team or myself.
Our Year 7 and 8 students recently participated in a webinar on online safety where they heard from Susan McLean, a former police officer who has worked extensively in the area of cyber safety and educating young people about staying safe in their online interactions. It was wonderful to see so many students engaging in the session and asking Susan questions about social media, cyber security and how to report issues of online abuse.
Year 7 students then participated in a follow up discussion in their Skills for Learning lessons, where they had the opportunity to reflect on what they had learned from the session and ask other questions that it raised for them.
In feedback from the students, many said they were surprised at how quickly and easily the information they share online can be accessed by others, including things that they thought were private. Students were also surprised to hear how common it is for young people to be misled or harassed by others online. It was encouraging that several students reported making changes to the privacy settings of their social media accounts because of what they learned from the webinar.
We encourage all families to keep the conversations about online safety going at home, and for Year 7 and 8 parents in particular to discuss the session with their daughters and ask them questions about their own presence online and the changes that they can make to keep themselves and others safe online.
As shared in a previous newsletter article, the new Online Safety Act will come into effect next year. A useful fact sheet about the new Act and the changes from current legislation can be found here.
Community, connection and belonging have taken on greater importance for many people over the past eighteen months. While our response to COVID-19 has seen us “stay apart”, each in our homes away from each other, our connection to each other has never been more acutely desired. We know that we are part of something bigger than our households. Each of us yearn to be reconnected to the “wider We”. But what does the wider We entail, who does it encompass, and what does it demand from us?
News reports from around the country and the world remind us frequently of the diversity of humanity and the human experience, of the varied challenges of daily life around the world, and most recently of the acute and urgent terror faced by so many of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.
Pope Francis reflects on this in his Message for the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees; extracts from which appear below.
The truth however is that we are all in the same boat and called to work together so that there will be no more walls that separate us, no longer others, but only a single “we”, encompassing all of humanity.
In our day, the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytising, but ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone. Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached. “The current influx of migrants can be seen as a new “frontier” for mission, a privileged opportunity to proclaim Jesus Christ and the Gospel message at home, and to bear concrete witness to the Christian faith in a spirit of charity and profound esteem for other religious communities.
The Lord will also demand of us an account of our work! In order to ensure the proper care of our common home, we must become a “we” that is ever wider and more co-responsible, in the profound conviction that whatever good is done in our world is done for present and future generations. Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development. A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.
As the Church marks the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, may we all seek to “widen our tents” and embrace all.
Last week, a group of ten Siena students participated in a Christian Leadership Day - an experience of deep learning about leading and embedding social justice action in schools. The following are reflections of two students who attended virtually on the day:
Last week a group of students participated in the Christian Leadership Day. It was a day filled with learning skills and knowledge on how to better ourselves as leaders. We began with an image of Jesus on the cross in front of a crowd and we discussed our hypothetical position in the image. It was really interesting to hear others’ opinions on what they would have done and where they would have been. We were then put into groups with students from several other schools to discuss human inequality. I found listening to my peers’ thoughts and ways to tackle in equality extremely insightful. We then heard from two tertiary students studying Politics and Law with helpful advice for us as future leaders. I made a personal connection to these lectures as I plan on following a similar path and studying International Relations. The advice of listening to your peers, using all the resources available to you and to use your failures to further your learning will definitely influence my future thinking and leadership. All in all, the Christian Leadership Day workshop was very interesting to participate in, and helpful for my future learning.
Alex Woolridge (Year 11)
I was able to develop a deeper understanding of big world issues such as human rights and climate change, and as emerging Dominican leaders, learning about different ways we are able to find solutions to these issues. I enjoyed collaborating with students from other schools and hearing everyone's opinions and ideas on the issues and their suggested approach to tackling the problem. This experience enabled me to further improve my people skills and it gave me a fresh perspective about how I see the world. I highly recommend this program to anyone who is passionate about global issues and learning more about the importance of leadership, and the opportunities that are available to us through the leadership program. Renata Fanthome (Year 10)
The Pillars Student Leadership Program has continued with the commencement of the Leadership Program for students in Years 7 to 9. So far, a group of over sixty students have participated in two sessions, focusing on Dominican Leadership and Effective Teamwork. Below are reflections of several students involved:
My key take-away message from Session 1 was that if we all play to our strengths, together we can make a huge difference. This will influence my leadership approach as now I can work on the strengths that I think I should improve on and work together to understand everyone's strengths to work together more effectively.
Sagan Bhalla (Year 7)
The key take-away message from Session 2 for me was how we can all actively contribute as a team when making decisions, to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. We should always consider everyone’s take on the situation and promote strong discussion methods. This will influence my leadership approach through considering everyone’s opinions, building on the character strengths of teamwork and inclusivity.
Indianna Honrado (Year 8)
My key take-away message from Session 1 was that as a leader, it is important to acknowledge both your character strengths and weaknesses in order to grow. This will influence my leadership approach as it will encourage me to ensure I contribute my strengths in team environments, and seek assistance from other team members on the areas I’m still working on.
Amy Duffy (Year 9)
The key take-away message from today's session was that collaboration and delegation are of utmost importance when working in group settings. These tools ensure that every voice and opinion have a chance to be heard and that every person's individual skills can be put to work in different ways. This means the group will work more effectively as a whole as each person is playing to their strengths.
This will influence my leadership style as I will try to make sure that each person I am working with has a role that will help the group collectively and suit their personality.
Shreya Kapitan (Year 9)
Following their participation in the Pillars Senior Student Leadership Program, our senior students were invited to take on the role of Senior Student Leadership Mentor, and involve themselves in the facilitation of the Pillars Leadership Program for Years 7 to 9 students. This has provided our students an opportunity to apply their skills, build relationships with students, share their own knowledge and experience of leadership with their peers. Below are the reflections of two students involved in the program:
After participating in the extremely valuable Senior Pillars leadership program, I decided to volunteer as a Senior Student Leadership Mentor. This was to apply what I have learnt and guide the younger year levels in developing their leadership qualities for their future endeavours in leadership at and beyond Siena. So far, the experience has been very exciting and rewarding. It has also allowed me to communicate with and connect with girls I haven’t met before to build relationships and add my own individualised advice based on my experiences with leadership. Furthermore, it has been a great learning experience for me as I have been able to revise and consolidate my learning from the senior Pillars Leadership program and put them into practice through guided group discussion and reflections. It has been interesting to see new perspectives from younger students that I may not have thought about, and therefore, the program has greatly enriched my leadership approach.
Carly Walsh (Year 10)
I really wanted to volunteer to be a Senior Student Leadership Mentor because I wanted to encourage younger students to get excited and involved in wanting to become a leader. By drawing on my experiences as a leader and as a team member in Siena, I can get them excited for all the projects and leadership opportunities that they get to be a part of at Siena, as well as outside school. I really enjoyed the workshops with smaller groups of students and getting to know a couple of them personally, as it helps us to connect to others and what they see in themselves in leaders with the strengths that they have as a person, and what they can personally bring to leadership. There was also an opportunity to practice my public speaking in groups, communication skills, build my confidence, use of effective feedback, patience, empathy and active listening. Being a Senior Student Leadership Mentor also helps me to be able to think about how I am as a leader and how I can improve and strive to be better.
Amelie Nikolovski (Year 11)
In 2019, the Be All You Can Be Giving Day campaign raised $135,000 to establish our Equity Scholarship Program and provide the gift of a Siena education to three needs-based young women.
On Tuesday, 5 October this year, we will hold our second Giving Day to once again show our support for those who are most in need at this time. The 24-Hour Give Possibility campaign will provide the opportunity for three girls from socially and economically diverse backgrounds to receive a Siena education.
We ask our community to come together and embrace the possibility of giving a truly invaluable gift. In these times of uncertainty and economic upheaval for some, please know that every little bit helps and all donations, big or small, are truly appreciated. At this time, your circumstances may prevent you contributing and that is completely understood. For others whose circumstances allow, your contribution will show your support in enabling a Siena education for others.
Every donation made on Giving Day will be DOUBLED by our generous matching donors (i.e. if you give $50 it becomes $100, a gift of $500 becomes $1,000!). If you are able, please join us on Tuesday, 5 October and give the gift of possibility.
We are coming to the end of what has been a very busy period in the Siena College Careers Department. Year 12 students are finalising their VTAC applications and applying for SEAS (Special Entry Access Scheme) and scholarships as well as doing some final research on tertiary courses and Careers. Representatives from RMIT paid us a virtual visit, making themselves available for any questions students had including questions about folio’s, selection tasks, TAFE to university pathways and the new RMIT Early Entry Program.
There has been an increase in these Early Entry Programs from a number of institutions and Year 12 students would be wise to put in an application, especially if they meet the criteria of having community service experience, leadership skills or if they have experienced disadvantage in their learning over the past two years. Always nice to have a tertiary offer prior to the Year 12 exams!
Please find below the link to the latest Siena Career News. In this edition you will find: