Week 2 of Term 4 and Siena College bounced back to life! How wonderful to see VCE and Year 7 students return this week, along with staff. Whilst eagerly awaiting all remaining year levels, it was delightful to see and hear girls reconnecting, laughing and relishing the opportunity to re engage with face to face learning. The images below give some insight into the spirit of joy which was ours to enjoy, with sunshine in good measure. We commend our Year 7 students on their capacity to reconnect so well this week and we very much look forward to the return of Years 8, 9 and 10 students very soon.
On their return, Year 12 students were greeted with a sunflower, a Dominican symbol of hope and extended the opportunity to be the first to experience the beautiful Agora gardens, recently completed and now bursting with springtime growth. I would like to thank the Siena Parents’ Association (SPA) and donors past and present who so generously contributed to the creation of the Agora gardens. The work of SPA has seen the gardens now be equipped with two large umbrellas, seating and half court markings. Thank you. Each morning tea and lunchtime, students have flocked to this area and commented on its beauty, with great appreciation.
This time each year sees the inevitable movement of staff who, for a range of reasons, will be leaving the Siena community. In this edition, I would like to advise of the resignation of Bernadette Donnelly, Deputy Principal Learning and Teaching who has accepted a position in a similar role at St Ignatius College, Geelong. Bernadette is completing five years at Siena and throughout this time has led a very important portfolio within the College with great skill, expertise and commitment. Her experience and capacity will be a great gift to St Ignatius and we wish her every blessing as she embarks on this exciting new chapter. Thank you Bernadette.
Following a rigorous process of formation, training and discernment, eight fine young women presented themselves as candidates for the position of College Captain in 2021. A whole school assembly (virtual) was held on Tuesday which was followed by a voting process for staff and students. It is with great pleasure that we announce the College Captains for 2021: Chloe Barker and Harriette La Motte. From an outstanding group of candidates, Chloe and Harriette have accepted the honour to lead and serve the student body in 2021 – we are sure they will do so with the same pride and passion for their community which they have shown throughout their time at Siena. We thank all students who so generously engaged with the Pillars Student Leadership program and I thank Claire Moody for her wonderful leadership of this process.
Chloe Barker, Harriette La Motte
It’s hard to believe that we have almost completed organisation of the 2020 Graduation Liturgy of the Word. This special celebration will focus both on gratitude and our 2020 College Theme - Who Do You Say I Am? With the end of term on the horizon I encourage our Year 12 students to start contemplating all that they are grateful for as they conclude their Siena experience.
Our College continues to provide support for St Vincent de Paul, in particular through our partnership with St Dominic’s Parish. Across August, Vinnies Soup Vans service provided almost 60,000 meals to people struggling to put food on the table throughout the Melbourne metropolitan area – an increase of 135% on the same period last year.
Vinnies Victoria CEO Sue Cattermole says: “People are stopping our Soup Vans in the streets of Melbourne to ask for food. We work hard every day to ensure that struggling Victorians do not go hungry, but we are beginning to see the terrible fall-out from the pandemic and we fear there will be much worse to come. Food insecurity means that people do not have a reliable amount of money every week to buy groceries and, some weeks, they have none. Read more about Anti-Poverty Week and the impact of Vinnies’ efforts.
Pope Francis has recently released his encyclical Fratelli tutti, using the words of St Francis of Assisi to call us into shared friendship and social consciousness. This is an invitation to dialogue, saying “Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.” Read more here.
The Year 12 Trial Exams ran smoothly and the results will be available via Siena Central on 16 October. These results are indicative of how the students are currently placed in terms of their learning. It is important that students regard these exams as a learning opportunity and take the time to go through them and focus on or ask questions about any areas in which they can improve. A special thanks to all the Year 12 teachers who have been busily marking the exams to return them to the students in record time.
The last day of classes for Year 12 students is Thursday, 29 October. We will run another Trial English and Literature exam on Monday, 19 October, commencing at 1:00pm and concluding at 4.15pm.
It is great to see that students are continuing to approach their study in a consistent manner. A most effective way to accomplish this is to complete as many practice papers and questions as possible. Teaching staff are always available during regular school hours to correct practice papers and assist in any way. Once the students start swotvac, teachers will continue to be available during their normal class time.
Support and encouragement from family and friends is very valuable at this time, in order to keep up spirits and momentum. We’ll be thinking of you all and wish you the very best!
The College has elected not to hold Semester 2 examinations for Year 9 and 10 students due to the amount of time spent learning remotely and the weighting of Semester 2 assessment tasks will be adjusted accordingly. This allows Year 9 and 10 classes an extra two weeks of learning time, as we will no longer have a week of revision nor a week of exams. It also provides extra time for students to reconnect with one another and their subject teachers.
However, it is important that Year 11 students undergo revision practice and end of semester examinations prior to entering Year 12. Year 11 students will receive their revision package and Examination Timetable next week. Year 11 students studying an accelerated subject will need to look at their timetable, as the VCAA examinations are now later in the year and there will be some overlap of dates. If a student needs to reschedule a Year 11 examination due to a clash with a VCAA examination, please contact Dr Vadala.
Please take note of the following dates, when students will receive their final list of 2021 subjects and access to the 2021 Booklist:
October 22: Year 12 students
October 29: Year 11 students
November 5: Year 8, 9 and 10 students
2021 Year 12 students will commence Headstart on Monday, 23 November and conclude on Friday, 27 November. Therefore, Friday 27 November will be the last day for the current Year 11 cohort.
The 2021 Year 11 Headstart program will commence on Monday, 30 November and conclude on Thursday, 3 December at 12.45pm. Please note that this is a change from the previously published Key Dates. Year 7, 8, 9 and 10 students’ last day will be Thursday, 3 December, and all students will finish at 12.45pm.
This week we welcomed back our Years 7, 11 and 12 students and it has been delightful to have them back onsite with us. Our messages to students have been about kindness and assisting those who may need extra support to reconnect with their peers. As always, we have reassured all students, including our Year 8, 9 and 10 students who are still learning from home, to reach out to their teachers if they are experiencing any concerns or distress. We are here to support all students.
Our teaching staff greatly appreciate the ongoing support from parents and we are especially grateful to them for their communication with us. Our partnership with parents has always been crucial but never more pronounced than this year.
Much has been written about supporting young people throughout the pandemic. I thought this was something worth sharing with our community.
Andrew Fuller is a clinical psychologist and chairperson of the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People not-for-profit educational group Generation Next. He describes resilience as “the happy knack of being able to bungy jump through the pitfalls of life – to rise above adversity and obstacles.”
Resilience is the ability to ‘bounce back’ from life’s difficulties. For many young people it is vital to help them develop resilience strategies that promote wellbeing and develop coping mechanisms. Many resilient teenagers are seen as resourceful and are emotionally and mentally balanced.
Tips for Building Resilience in Young People
1. Make connections
Teach children how to make friends and develop empathy. Encourage them to be a friend in order to get friends. Connecting with people provides social support and strengthens resilience.
2. Teach children to help others
Children who may feel helpless can be empowered by helping others. Ask for help with a task they can master. Brainstorm with children about ways they can help others.
3. Daily routine
Following a routine can be comforting to children, especially younger children who crave structure in their lives. Encourage children to develop their own routines.
4. Take a break
Although it is important to stick to routines, endlessly worrying can be counter-productive. Show children how to focus on something besides what’s worrying them.
5. Self-care for children
Teach children the importance of making time to eat properly, groom themselves, exercise and rest. Children need ‘down time’ to relax, so make sure that not all free time is filled with a scheduled activity.
Teach children to set reasonable goals and move toward them one step at a time. Moving toward that goal and receiving praise for doing so will focus children on what they have accomplished.
7. Nurture a positive self-view
Help children remember ways that they have successfully handled hardships in the past and how this can help them handle future challenges. Help children learn to trust themselves to solve problems and make appropriate decisions.
8. Be optimistic
Even when children are facing very painful events, help them look at the situation in a broader context. A positive outlook enables children to see the good things in life and keep going even in the hardest times.
Change and tough times are often when children learn the most about themselves. Help children to see that this is a good time to find out “what they are made of.” Change can be scary for young people. Help them to see that change is part of life.
10. Make home a safe haven
Home should be a haven, especially as your teen encounters more freedoms and choices and looks to home to be a constant, safe and emotionally secure place in his or her life.
(Adapted from Generation Next 2020)
We were thrilled to be able to run this year’s Antonio de Montesinos Award online, ensuring that Siena students still had the opportunity to exercise their public speaking prowess. While it looked a little different, the event was an immense success.
The competition is named in honour of the Dominican friar Antonio de Montesinos who bravely challenged his society regarding the treatment of indigenous peoples. In the spirit of Veritas, we ask our girls to use this platform to express their voices and bringing attention to important issues. The students responded to this year’s college theme “Who Do You Say I Am?” The different interpretations of this topic were so engaging and interesting.
This year, seven students from Years 7-11 took part in the competition: Amber Kantzipas, Charlotte Lang, Tia McCann, Maria Ng, Olivia Nicholls, Sasha Sahely and Alana Stravato. The adjudicators all agreed that each and every one of these girls spoke wonderfully and wish to again commend them on their speeches. Thanks go to Louise D’Angelo and Michael Hanrahan for their assistance with making some very difficult decisions.
The winner of the Award was Sasha Sahely (Year 10) with a speech that commented on the social movements of 2020 and provided a passionate call to action. The runner up was Tia McCann (Year 7), whose philosophical take on the theme was incredibly insightful.
The night was ably hosted by Debating and Public Speaking Captain Amanda Marasco, who also provided support to the entrants throughout the preparation for the event.
A very special thank you to Tracey Grobbelaar, Gabrielle Snell and Amy Stubbs who assisted tremendously with bringing this event online and making it 2020-friendly and to Elizabeth Hanney for welcoming the attendees.
“Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. … The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.” Pope Francis
In Term 4 at Siena, the hearts and minds of our College community turn towards the community at St Mary’s House of Welcome. St Mary’s is a not for profit centre in Fitzroy providing basic essential services to people who are experiencing homelessness, poverty, severe mental health issues and those members of society who are isolated and socially marginalised.
The service was opened in 1960 by the Daughters of Charity and today, each day, serves approximately two hundred people. In addition to food, St Mary’s House of Welcome provides showers to Melburnians sleeping rough, laundry facilities, and referral services to health and other welfare services. St Mary’s House of Welcome aspires to treat each individual with respect, to foster relationships, and be a beacon of hopefulness in a challenging and lonely world.
Unsurprisingly, 2020 has placed additional burdens on the staff of St Mary’s and on those who are accessing their services. As such, and in line with COVID regulations, St Mary’s have indicated that the greatest need they have this Christmas is donations of food. St Mary’s will combine donations to create food hampers for families in need. Based on the requests for food, each year level has been allocated pantry staples to donate. All students are asked to contribute to the collection of groceries which will be coordinated by House Group teachers. Donations will be collected by St Mary’s in Week 9. Donations need to be finalised by week 8 of term. Thank you in anticipation for your generosity.
Donations per year level:
Small tins of tuna and chicken
Milo/flavoured milk powder/hot chocolate
Long life milk (including long life flavoured milk)
Cup of soups, cup of noodles
Muesli bars/breakfast bakes
Small tubs of fruit
To learn more about St Mary’s House of Welcome please go to https://www.smhow.org.au/
Items in this edition of Siena Career News include -
Congratulations to Georgie Plasto and husband Nick on the safe arrival of baby Charlie Robert West born on 7 October.
Evelyn Masterson recently announced her retirement from teaching. We would like to acknowledge and thank Evelyn for her contribution to the College over the past eight years as an Emergency Teacher. We wish her well.