Principal’s Update 2017 – 14

On this last day of Winter, we are reminded that our Year 12 students are fast approaching their final few weeks of ‘school’. For many of them they are already undertaking their HSC exams – in the oral component of Languages, and the submission of major works for Textiles, Design and Technology, Visual Arts, English Extension 2, and performances for Drama and Music. The English Extension students presented excerpts from their major works this week to peers, families and staff, and the quality and diversity were very impressive. Next week it will be the HSC Music Recital, and the Visual Arts and Design and Technology Exhibition. Congratulations to all of these Year 12 students who have demonstrated genuine commitment and the persistence required for such long term projects. Their teachers are also very deserving of appreciation for their generous support well beyond lesson hours. Parents of students completing the HSC, and particularly producing major works, are undoubtedly crucial to success as well – with late night visits to Office Works, transporting of equipment, and endless loving support.

I often speak about the benefits of us being a P-12 community in terms of the connections between students from different ages and stages. This has been very evident in the current context of Year 5 preparing for their PYP Learning Exhibition. This is their first real experience of extended research for Primary students and it prepares them well for their next stage of schooling. The theme for the exhibition this year is ‘Change is an inevitable part of life’. This is a complex and abstract idea from which students pursue their own lines of inquiry. They then need to investigate, interrogate and finally present their findings in an engaging and creative way. Crucial to their success is the mentoring and support throughout the research process. While their classroom teachers are a constant support, staff from across the whole College are invited to become a mentor for one or more groups. As well senior students have become active mentors. Very recently we had a group of Year 5 students in the senior library being mentored by Year 12 Biology students on questions of genetics and heredity. It was learning at its best.

We also have our generous parents who give of their time and expertise. Mrs Daniella Di Santo, a Del Monte parent, was the industry mentor for a group of Year 7 students, Klara Jurcic, Victoria Kim, Loredana Leonard, Eleora Rizkalla and Sophia Witting, who had entered the ‘2017 search for the next tech girl superhero competition’. This competition ran over 12 weeks and required students to design and create (code) an app to solve a problem within the community. The app our students developed is called Anigram Trakka and is designed to assist researchers and conservationists to track koalas . Their teacher coaches were Ms Roseanne Sukkar and Ms Rachele Rugiero. There were over 1000 students participating in this competition. Our students are one of the four NSW state finalists. From the state finalists, three groups will be selected to go to San Francisco with their coaches and mentors. Good luck girls #codinglikeasantagirl

While Year 12 are now looking at their lives beyond school, we know that the significance of their Santa Sabina education will continue to  resonate. I was delighted to receive an email from a past parent notifying me of her daughter, Nicole Larkin’s success as an architect after ‘excelling at design and technology at Santa Sabina’. Nicole, who graduated approximately 10 years ago, recently won the Grand Design Young Australian Design Award for Sustainability as part of the Vivid Light Festival. She was also successful in exhibiting at Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi (2014 & 2016). Her latest exhibit, ‘Dynamics in Impermanence’ won the Clitheroe Foundation Emerging Sculpture Award. It is now being exhibited at Eden Gardens Nursery near Macquarie Centre ( Mrs Larkin concludes her letter, ‘I thought you might be proud of one of your ex-student’s achievements. The Sculpture is an inspiration and a credit to your teachers for fostering creativity in their students’. Indeed we are all very proud. Congratulations Nicole!

As we celebrate Father’s Day today at the College with Mass and hospitality I take the opportunity to wish all of our fathers, grandfathers and father-figures a very happy father’s day on Sunday. Never underestimate your importance in the lives of both your sons and daughters. Indeed a report on the cyber bullying of young people in England has found that supportive schools and positive family communication, particularly with fathers, is protective against online bullying. Researchers found that 18% of young people aged 11 to 15 report being victims of cyberbullying. However, girls are twice as likely as boys to be affected, with nearly one-third of girls aged 15 reporting being cyber bullied.

It was wonderful to see mothers, fathers and grandparents at the Netball grand finals last Saturday – all seemingly more nervous than the girls. Congratulations to all four teams who made it to the grand final, and to their coaches who supported them throughout the year. We had three winners on the day, with the fourth team defeated by a tiny two point margin. Thanks to Sarah Dawes for her leadership of Netball this year, and we look forward to a very successful 2018. Other outstanding sporting results were recorded in athletics (Silver medal in Intermediate age group for the NSW All Schools Relay ) and hockey (Silver medal in the CGSSSA). Congratulations also to – Lara Muirhead, Chloe Devine and Caitlin Bettridge who represented NSW in volleyball at the School Sports Australian Volleyball championships in Perth from 21 – 26 August.

On the feast of Saint Sabina on Tuesday 29 August our Year 12 students gathered for morning tea with 32 Dominican Sisters who have been their Prayer companions throughout the year. It is a really special tradition, and provides that ongoing, living connection with our Dominican charism. The Sisters concluded the Morning tea with a Dominican blessing, as they stood arms raised over the girls, and sang:

‘May the Lord Bless you all the days of your life, bless you lovingly, all the days of your life’. 

Finally, I look forward to seeing all of you at this year’s College Fair on Saturday 9 September, and thank the Parents & Friends Association, and their supporters for their very hard work, enthusiasm and huge contribution to the community. Please turn up, bring friends and families, and have a wonderful time.

Dr Maree Herrett
College Principal