Principal’s Update – 28 March 2019

It may have been raining but nothing could dampen the spirit of the community as we celebrated Harmony Day on Thursday 21 March with students and staff from Mary Bailey House and P-12.  With the grounds expertly marked by our Property team according to the exact measurements of the Year 6 Maths students led by Ms Sharon Fajou and Ms Kim Sinclair we assembled ourselves into the 125 figure in perfect alignment. Just as we did with the 800 year anniversary of the Dominican Order in 2016, we captured this “human” numeral from above with the use of a  drone, as well as more conventionally on the ground with College photographers. The video produced hopefully shows you both the mathematical feat of getting over 1200 bodies into the right part of each number, as well as the sheer joy on the part of students and staff. It was such an apt message for Harmony Day as well as for our 125th celebration.


Our students are certainly leading the community in their strong support for love and compassion befitting the season of Lent, but also the response to the Christchurch terrorist incident. Following inspiration from the leadership conference attended before the start of school, our College Captain, Kate Coyne, and Vice-Captain, Rafqa Touma, proposed and led the following initiative last week:

Paper Chains of Love

To show our love and support for the victims and Muslim community affected by the Christchurch attack.

The power of love is like a chain – the more links the more powerful the support #paperchainsoflove

To begin our Harmony Day activities on Thursday morning our SSC community will take part in the paper chains of love initiative started by school students in Christchurch:

  • Every student will write a message of love, harmony and inclusion for the victims, families and members of the Muslim community in New Zealand and Australia who are mourning after the terrorist attack

  • The message will be written on a piece of colourful paper

  • Every homeroom will link their messages together with sticky tape, to make one chain per homeroom as seen in the image below

  • Homeroom reps are to take their chain to student services once complete …the chains will be hung around the Piazza at recess.

These chains of love are now draped all along the Piazza. Congratulations girls!

We have had great examples of student achievement across very different fields since the last update. In Public Speaking, the CSDA Public Speaking Grand Final was held last Friday (22 March) at Marist College North Shore. Preethika Mathan (Year 8) came third and Bella Merlino (Year 9) also came third. We also had two Year 7s – Tanisha Chari and Olivia Radford – compete in the final. Well done to all girls who participated, and congratulations to to Bella and Preethika for their commendable placing. The following Year 6 students – Eve Blanchard, Mia Papavramidis, Emily Wan, Drew Babbage and Abbie Crakanthorp – presented their speeches at the Rotary Club of Burwood’s Speech Craft Night on Monday evening. Overall, the judges were impressed with the calibre of all students’ speeches. A huge congratulations to Mia, who took out first place with her speech, “I’m moving to Mars! What would life be like on the red planet.” We congratulate all these girls on their efforts and achievement, and thank the Year 6 teachers for continuing to provide opportunities for students to develop their speech craft skills.

A group of Year 9 and 10 students won the recent Regional Science and Engineering Challenge by a considerable margin. They had to design a bridge that was both light but that would also withstand a series of weights. The students trained for a few weeks beforehand, and were mentored by some of our recent ex-students, Emma Jacobs and Chantel Dias, who are both studying engineering at UTS. This generosity on the part of our alumnae is one of the really exceptional aspects about the Santa community. Thank you to them, Mr Alex Conolly, Mr John Duggan and especially to Ms Rachele Rugiero, for her dedicated care of students, and promotion of extended opportunities for them.

Year 10 student Eloise Struthers has recently been accepted into the Australian Youth Climate Coalition’s “Student Climate Leadership Program” which Eloise says “has been nothing short of amazing”. As a young person passionate about climate change, Eloise took an opportunity to apply after seeing a Facebook post about the program, and with about 30 minutes to spare, as applications closed that night. She is one of 20 students to be accepted into this semester-long program for students in Years 8-12. There are fortnightly meetings and some full weekend workshops in which the students discuss climate justice, climate science, how to talk or write to an MP, leadership and campaigning skills etc. So far Eloise has only been to one weekend workshop and one of the fortnightly meetings but she has “absolutely loved it. I feel like I’ve learnt so much in this short space of time, not only actual climate facts but also how to communicate more confidently and be independent”. Definitely #likeasantagirl. Congratulations Eloise on your initiative as well as your passion. We look forward to hearing much more about the program.

Years 5 and 6 have been learning beyond the boundaries of Strathfield as each group headed off to Tallong for their annual camp. Apart from the physical challenges such as the flying fox, the students are learning about teamwork, problem-solving and moving out of their comfort zones – all while being very well fed by our gourmet Tallong chef, Jeff.

The athleticism and joyous community spirit were highlights of this year’s 6–12 Athletics Carnival. Records were broken by our top athletes as the rest of us looked on in awe. But all students make a great effort to contribute to house spirit through participation, dressing up, chanting till their voices were hoarse, and cheering on their peers and friends in all of the events. I could not resist the invitation to join the Year 12 graduating class in their 100 metres “event”, and so without a risk assessment in sight, I made my way to the starting blocks only to find out we had to commence the run with some aerobically demanding dancing. It was a special way to mark my last Athletics Carnival. Thank you girls, staff and Mr George Ayoub for a very successful carnival. Also congratulations to our Rugby Sevens who were winners of the intermediate championship at the Barker invitational match.

What has been evident in our community in the last fortnight is that our young people truly care about what’s going in the world, as well as in their school. Whether they be in Primary, Middle or Senior, students want to use their voice in positive and powerful ways, and we are committed as a College to provide the avenues for our students to do so. We saw that with the development of the Code of Conduct, the initiatives the Senior Leaders brought to us in response to Christchurch, the Lenten liturgies led by each House on Thursday mornings, the introduction of the Code of Conduct by the new leaders at Del Monte Assembly last week, as well as student participation in our Justice Journey 2019. As adults we need to support them as they negotiate the best ways to express opinions and divergent viewpoints. Learning to listen to each other with respect and generosity even when there is disagreement is such a hard thing to do – for adults as well. But what a difference it would make in our world if love, kindness and compassion were the “normal” way of being in the world. This is the gospel message after all, and the one that as a Catholic community we will continue to promote in and through tough times as well as good times. The following well-known passage from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians often used at weddings is apt for all times, particularly in our world now where hostility and hate either mindlessly or intentionally dominate political discourse and social media. Our children and young people deserve better.

“If I speak in tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

“Love never ends…..Now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians, 13, 1-13

Dr Maree Herrett