Principal’s Update – 23 May 2019

Following the announcement of the 2020 Principal, Ms Paulina Skerman, I would like to share with you that I met Paulina in 2015 when we both participated in the Principals’ tour of the Torres Strait Islands. While neither of us had any idea that our paths would cross again, particularly in this way, I am very confident that she is a great choice to lead our wonderful College and community. Along with all the other Australian Principals represented on this trip, we had the opportunity to get to know each other, to share our experiences of leadership, and to generate ideas about the future of education in Australia. She will bring rich and diverse experience to the role.

In my final six months in this role, I am excited to have the opportunity to document and evaluate our journey of ongoing improvement. I am very proud of our students, but I am also very proud of our staff who exemplify what is meant by lifelong learning. We know that the quality of teachers makes the single biggest difference to the outcomes for students, and so the College invests in professional learning for our teachers, and in a rigorous recruitment procedure. We do have a very good story to tell about how we became the top Catholic school (in relation to HSC) in 2018, and we know that it was by careful design. But we are often so busy “doing” that there isn’t time to capture the thinking, sharing, evaluating and constructive discussions that are intrinsic to our work, right across the College. So just as I commenced my role in 2013 with a Listening Tour, I want to complete it with a reflection about the strategic initiatives that have enhanced the educational outcomes for our students. I will keep you informed about the progress of this reflection, and hopefully have the opportunity to engage with a wide cross-section of the community.

Santa Sabina has again been proudly represented by amazing students in diverse fields. Congratulations to the following senior students – Clara Elias, Rachel Frecker, Sarah George, Solange Shina and Mia Stavropoulos  – who were Gold Medal winners in the Senior Ethics Olympiad on Saturday 18 May held at Rosebank College. Ms Rugiero and Mr Costantino were their mentors and their support of the girls is very much appreciated. I would like to share with you Ms Rugiero’s message to the girls:

“We are very proud of the way you embrace challenge and so willingly take these opportunities to enrich your learning. I hope you believe in yourselves as much as we believe in you. You clearly showed your developing ethical reasoning and critical thinking skills. Your ability to engage in respectful discussion and your collaborative efforts to work as an effective team were exceptional. Thank you for representing your school in such a commendable way”.

Our Middle Years students will be entering The Middle Years Ethics Olympiad later this year. As with the Senior Olympiad, the Middle Years competition is an ideal opportunity for students to develop skills around how to construct good moral and ethical arguments collaboratively. Teams will be scored according to criteria which reward clear, concise, respectful discourse.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Year 11 Drama Immersive theatre performance last Friday night. We were taken on a journey in time of the history of Santa Sabina, with insights into the life of the boarders, the early Board meetings of the Sisters, opportunities to make Dom’s Day crowns, and music and sporting lessons, plus a trip to the Museum. It was an imaginative, creative performance devised and developed by the students with the expert assistance of their teacher and Head of Drama and Visual Arts, Ms Nicole Ellis-Windsor.

Year 3 are still buzzing with excitement after their lesson in the senior Science labs investigating very gooey matter. Another example of our cross campus collaborations!

Some stand-out individual achievements in recent days include, from Year 9, Bella Merlino’s first prize for film making once again – this time a Gold Medal awarded by the Australian Cinematographers Society for being the national winner in her age group in this year’s awards, making her Australia’s top “Cinekid”.

Congratulations to the following students who have made representative teams so far this term:

  • Inner West Cross-Country Team – Florence Ata, Harlow Elsibai, Kate Farrer, Maggie Farrer, Lisa Geddes, Tanisha McDonald, Monika Seric, Dimitri Staveris and Nicholas Vastas
  • NSW CCC Diving Team – Claudia Pickett
  • NSW Cricket Academy Selection – Elizabeth Buckley (U13) and Olivia Porter (U18)
  • CGSSSA Football Team selection – Claudia Cicco, Chloe Harman, Kaitlin Kiparizov, Ailish McDonagh
  • NSW CCC Basketball team selection – Alana Goodchild.

We’ve just heard today that Megan Miranda who helped the NSWCCC team win Bronze in today’s All Schools Water Polo championships has just been selected as a reserve in the Australian Water Polo team. Congratulations Megan!

Staff and students collaborated last Thursday on the next steps of the Justice Journey 125. With the focus on the “impact of plastics on the environment of Santa Sabina and beyond”, staff and students worked in different groups to plan for the rest of the term. One of the key focus areas was on this being a justice issue, and to represent the justice issue with an appropriate image to symbolise our journey. We have reflected on the Parable of the Mustard Seed as the story of humble origins that can flourish through our combined efforts and prayer.

As part of our 125th Anniversary celebrations, we welcomed generations of students back for breakfast on Tuesday, who enjoyed catching up with each other, looking at old photos and reminiscing about their school days at Santa. I encourage all of you to continue to join our celebrations this year through attending our 125th Anniversary Concert to be held at the Town Hall on Friday 14 June. All students from Years 4-8, as well as our ensembles, will perform on the night. We will celebrate our exceptional community through music, and this includes five new commissioned pieces which will be premiered at the concert. Our annual dinner this year will be a very special one at Sydney’s Westin Hotel on Friday 23 August. Book a table with fellow parents and get ready for a great night.

This week on 24 May we acknowledge the feast day of Mary Help of Christians, Australia’s Patroness. You can read more about the significance of this feast day in the Catholic Weekly.

Almighty God, deepen in our hearts
our love of Mary Help of Christians.
Through her prayers and under her protection,
may the light of Christ shine over our land.
May Australia be granted harmony, justice and peace.
Grant wisdom to our leaders and integrity to our citizens.
Bless especially the men and women
of the Australian Defence Force and their families.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us.

Dr Maree Herrett