Welcome to Mr Tony Fitzgerald
I hope that all families have enjoyed their Christmas break and have had some time to reflect on the blessings that we have. We especially think of those who have been affected by the bush fires and offer our prayers and practical help in their recovery.
As we begin a new year, I welcome Mr Tony Fitzgerald to the College community as its Principal. Tony’s appointment was the result of a thorough, planned recruitment process and when the decision was made to appoint him, we were very sure that we had found a special person to take the College into the future. Now, as we start the new year, we are even more confident that the College will be in excellent hands and we look forward to walking with Tony as people of faith and learning in the spirit of the Good Samaritan.
Tony is a man of deep faith and this is apparent in his dealings with others, in his speech and in his leadership in schools. He has taught and led in a number of schools, the latest being CEO/Principal of Mater Dei, a K-12 school in Camden. He has continued to be a lifelong learner and is very well qualified. Tony is married with two daughters and a son, so he is very aware of the particular needs of educating young people, especially young women.
Some people have commented on the ‘coincidence’ of both Dr Pitt and Mr Fitzgerald both coming to St Mary’s from Mater Dei. At first I thought it was a coincidence too. However, the comments made me stop and think about that and I now believe that it is no coincidence. The experience of leading at Mater Dei gives both men a deep understanding of what it means to educate the whole person, how students learn and the environment needed to support learning. Each of them spoke with such passion and compassion about their commitment to Catholic Education for every student and the importance of the growth of the spiritual dimension of students and staff. In both cases we knew that this is what we want for the College.
Because Tony was recruited by the end of June 2019, there has been considerable time to allow him to get to know the College and prepare for 2020. He has spent many days at the College, meeting staff and students and discussing the role with Dr Pitt. I thank Frank for his generosity in setting aside as much time as was necessary to transition successfully to a new Principal and to all at the College for being so welcoming. However, for Tony, 2020 will be a year of getting to know the College as its Principal, what happens here and why. Tony has already started working with the Board and its committees to understand our work and how it supports the College. He has been most generous with his time and has impressed us with his knowledge and willingness to collaborate.
We pray that 2020 will be an exciting new beginning for Tony and the College, built on very solid foundations and with a culture which is notable by its Christian values. Welcome Tony!
Top Study Tips for A New Year
With the beginning of the new year, it’s always a great time to reassess your academic approach. The key to making the most of this opportunity is focusing on the things which will bring the biggest return.
1. Simplify Your Organization System
2. Break the “Cram Cycle” Before it Starts
3. Supercharge Retention with Scientifically verified Study Strategies
Learn more this year about how to improve your results and be more efficient and effective with your schoolwork by reading further in the Downloads and
you are encouraged to go online to explore the wider range of resources available to you. The College subscribes to Enhanced Learning Study Skills
online this is accessible via SEQTA or this link www.studyskillshandbook.com.au . Our school’s
access details are:
Summer Holiday work in the Theatre
During the summer holidays, Holly Severn, Darcy Catto-Pitkin and I participated in our second work placement for VET Live Production and Services with So Popera Productions’ incredible show, “Legally Blonde.” Over the two weeks we had the opportunity to work backstage alongside the other crew assisting in moving many shimmering pink stage elements and props on and off stage as well as attentively watching the production side stage and helping wherever we were needed.
Being a part of such a large, professional production was an incredibly rewarding experience, we gained further knowledge, understanding and skills within the theatre industry and acquired an understanding of the immense amount of work that is put into a production from start to finish. We were able to make many new friends with the cast and crew of all ages especially the adorable dogs playing Bruiser and Rufus, who all supported us along the way and assisted in making this experience enjoyable and fabulously fun.
Chloe Ragnoli, Yr 12 VET Entertainment student
In the holidays before Christmas and during an intensive two weeks between 12 and 26 January, three of us VET Entertainment students had the experience
of being a part of the backstage crew for So Popera’s "Legally Blonde", the Musical held at the IPAC. It was a dream being involved in such a professional
production, especially after years of watching their shows in admiration. Throughout our time working on the show, we had the ability of being three
of eight stage crew members (all were volunteers and/or students) and with such a small crew, we were all given our own tasks. We assisted with both
bump in and bump out and I also had the opportunity to wear a comms set (communication device) and could listen in to every scenery cue throughout
the duration of the production (this includes set pieces coming in from the roof! - also known as a fly system).
As you can see from the photos, along the way we made some pretty amazing friends (humans… and dogs too)! The cast, crew and production team provided us with the most valuable experience and welcomed us with open arms into the So Popera family. This was an experience of a lifetime and as a Year 12 student, made me realise that Theatre is where I want to be.
Holly Severn, Yr 12 VET Entertainment student
SantaFest 2019 - SMC sings!
On Sunday, 15 December, students from St Mary's joined with the Salvation Army Brass Band to perform at the SantaFest Carols by Candlelight. Led by Kasey Mahar and Holly Severn from Year 12, the girls sang beautifully and I was very proud to see them work so well together and support each other through rehearsals and in the performance. Kasey also had the opportunity to sing solo throughout the night, a role which she really owned. Many thanks to the girls and their parents for their commitment to this event.
The SantaFest experience was very exciting! Along with my best friend Holly Severn, I loved embracing our first musical opportunity with the leadership
of a choral group. I felt blessed that the music teachers let me spread my wings and allow guidance to other students, by sharing knowledge and creating
fun sheet music booklets. At the beginning of rehearsals we were just a handful of familiar faces from various choir groups but by the end of the rehearsal
period we had girls staying back and experimenting harmonies and just having a great chat about the excitement of Christmas. When it reached the performance
date we bundled our nerves together and ran through all the songs, then before we knew it by the time we had to be on stage to perform all nerves had
disappeared and the happiness of a good old Christmas tune burst in. It was a very cool experience working with the Salvation Army Band and with some
songs even adding our own spin and solos. I am very grateful for this experience, thank you to all the girls who participated and Ms Lockett.
Kasey Mahar, Yr 12
During the Christmas holidays, Ms Thomas and I paid a visit to the RSPCA Centre in Unanderra. We presented them with a cheque for just over $300 raised by our community in 2019. Members of the RSPCA Centre were very greatful and look forward to our hard work in the RSPCA Club during 2020.
Whilst Ms Thomas and I were at the centre, we were given a tour of the shelters. We discovered that one of the most commonly found breeds at the Unanderra
kennel are Staffordshire dogs. We were told that this breed requires lots of attention from their owner and because many are neglected in their own
homes, they find ways to escape very easily hence they end up in the RSPCA shelters. To our surprise, we also learnt that the RSPCA centre has received
multiple purebred canines in their kennels. Some purebreds can be hard to maintain and can be restless when they arenât given enough attention. Therefore,
many wind up at the RSPCA and located to other shelters focusing on their specific breed.
The RSPCA Centre is always looking for people to donate, adopt and assist them with their animals.
Throughout the year, the St Mary's RSPCA Club strives to raise money for animals in need and raise awareness for animal welfare and cruelty. We are always
looking for new members and hold our meetings in F305 every Monday, Day 1.
Library Hours for 2020
The PLC is open until 4.30pm Monday to Thursday. The time between 3.15pm and 4.30pm is a quiet working time in the PLC. Students are encouraged to come along and complete their homework or seek assistance from PLC Staff with research.
Students can access many Library resources online through the PLC Googlesite. Resources available include Audio books, eBooks, Library Catalogue, Clickview Digital Video, Sydney Morning Herald, Bibliography guides and online reference databases. This is the link to the PLC Googlesite https://sites.google.com/a/stmarys.nsw.edu.au/polding-learning-centre/home, Students can also access this via SEQTA.
Information for Year 11 Students
Check the Downloads for a brochure outlining Library Services for Year 11 Students.
I would just like to take this opportunity to welcome everyone back. We are all very excited about the learning opportunities that lay ahead in 2020. The start of the year is a great time to set up routines that will help your daughter succeed and do her best, whether just starting out in Year 7 or in her final HSC year. Homework is one area where parents often want to help and know more of our expectations.
Homework is usually revision of what is covered in class. As well as regular weekly homework, your daughter may have assessments such as assignments or projects with due dates. In senior years, as well as homework, students are expected to undertake regular study. This could entail reviewing work covered in class, summarising key ideas and doing additional reading and research on topics, as well as practise tasks such as essays and solving problems.
As a guide, Year 7 and 8 could be spending up to an hour per night on homework. Years 9 and 10 may be closer to an hour and a half and by Years 11 and
12 students may be doing two to three hours per night. This may increase around heavy assessment periods.
With this in mind, the key to success is being organised. Parents can assist by:
- Talking to your daughter about their homework, know what they are learning about and when assignments are due. Much of this information is in SEQTA.
- Having a set place for homework with the equipment they'll need.
- Scheduling a regular homework time that fits in with your outside commitments.
- Helping your daughter make a homework plan or study timetable.
- Support by encouraging, rephrasing or questioning; avoid jumping in to give answers, homework is about helping your daughter become an independent learner.
- Removing distractions, no mobile device use - social media, messaging or calls during homework time.
- Contact your daughterâs teacher or House Coordinator if she is having difficulty with her homework.
It has been wonderful to see the girls back and to hear the buzz in classrooms. I hope these homework tips help to make 2020 a great year.
From the Principal
Welcome to St Mary’s for 2020. In particular, a special welcome to the 224 girls and the 13 members of staff who are new to the College this year. In many ways I feel ill equipped to be welcoming you as I complete only my second week at the College. However, already in only that very brief time at St Mary’s, the warmth of the community and the affection and respect that the girls and staff have for our College and for each other has been abundantly clear to me. I feel very privileged to be taking on the role of Principal and I commit to doing my best, to play my part in contributing to what is already a wonderful school community.
As I begin my time at the College, I wish to firstly acknowledge the wonderful contribution to the St Mary’s of 2020 that was made by Dr Pitt. So much of the current culture, opportunities and success of our College is attributable to the leadership of Dr Pitt in these past ten years. His retirement has indeed left big shoes to fill. Characteristically, Dr Pitt was particularly gracious with his time and generous with his experience and wisdom of all dimensions of life at St Mary’s during the process of transition for which I am especially grateful. I know that as Frank and Sue begin to enact their plans for retirement, they do so with the gratitude, prayers and best wishes of everyone in the St Mary’s community both past and present.
Sadly, the recent summer holiday has not been what any one of us may have hoped or expected. The devastation wrought on so many communities and in particular in our own region on the South Coast, by the terrible bushfires has been quite distressing to witness. The final cost of all of this in both human terms as well as in damage to property is still to be revealed however it is already very clear that it will take some considerable time for individuals, families and whole communities to recover from the trauma of the experience. Already we have begun thinking about how we as a community might contribute to the considerable efforts of others to the relief and rehabilitation of some of those impacted by the fires. We will look to work closely with our girls to consider practical ways of making a contribution. As a Good Samaritan community, we are constantly challenged by the question “who is my neighbor”? I am sure that in the context of our current experience, that is a more poignant question to reflect on.
Through these examples of suffering, we know that as people of the resurrection, we are always buoyed and sustained by HOPE. The following is an excerpt from a prayer that our College Executive prayed as we began our school year:
Hope never gives up.
Hope looks forward to better things… in the next moment… in the next hour… or the next day.
Hope gives possibilities to new situations… and gives perspective to old ones.
Hope never reacts impulsively but always thinks things through…
Hope is the child of wild imaginings… of fresh beginnings…
It is impossible to suppress hope forever.
- It searches
- It seeks
- It is restless until if finds peace
Hope springs from the need for change.
And with changes comes the possibility of new directions.
- Hope always inspires new dreams
- Hope encourages us to keep going when the going is difficult
We cannot live without hope.
And knowing this, God became hope… in the life of
and Resurrection of Jesus.
Like hope, God never gives up… on us.
PRAYER: Lord, thank you for the gift of hope. You sent us Your Son Jesus so that we could all experience hope through his Resurrection and in the Good News of the Gospels.
We pray for all people who struggle to have hope in their lives. May they experience the gift of hope and be transformed to be beacons of hope for others.
I look forward to meeting as many parents and carers as possible in the days and weeks ahead but more especially, of working with you to best support your daughter and continue the wonderful traditions of St Mary’s.
From the Dean of Pastoral Care
Welcome back to the year, as always it has been a busy start and for me every year seems to shock my system for the first week or two. Thankfully as we move through Week Two, I am feeling my ‘match-fitness’ is more up to speed. The start of term for all of us has that mix of excitement, nervousness and anticipation that gives us energy but also can drain our energy some days.
Parenting Ideas - Smooth Transitions
Our Parenting Ideas membership provides a wealth of resources, including free webinars throughout the year. Many of our parents have found these valuable and I encourage you to engage with the short articles and take advantage of the webinars when they are held.
This week’s article in the Downloads focuses on the transition to secondary school. A timely article that highlights elements for success.
By now I imagine our Year 7 students have become a little more confident with finding their way around the College and being familiar with the daily routines. Much has been achieved in adjusting to high school already but there remains much to become comfortable with. In some ways, it can also be a challenge as energy begins to dip as the term progresses.
As confidence builds in some areas, I encourage you to support your daughter in building relationships as she prepares for the Year 7 Camp. The opportunity that camp provides is invaluable in developing foundations of long-lasting friendships. Whilst it is normal to have some worries about camp the benefits of the experience are in many ways immeasurable. Over the next couple of weeks consider the ways you might support your daughter in making connections with others beyond the friends she has already made. You might suggest that she starts a conversation with someone in her House who she is yet to connect with, maybe delve a little deeper in getting to know her TG buddies or maybe she could get along to a club or lunchtime activity to extend her circle of connections.
A reminder also that you will find out more about camp at the Year 7 Information evening next Tuesday, 11 February 6-7pm.
Pastoral Care Program - Opportunity for Parent involvement
As you would be aware our Pastoral Care program is a valued part of the learning experience here at the College. Within these programs, the students engage
in aspects beyond the regular classroom, focusing on themes that are relevant and important for each year group.
As part of Year 12 Pastoral Care we will be continuing a series of workshops to support the students transition beyond school. The workshops will cover a variety of areas and will provide practical and real-life topics including basic car maintenance, self-defence, renting, finance and health. The premise of the sessions is an opportunity to provide practical information to the girls as they move towards further study, expanding careers and increasing independence. Some areas we are considering including are:
- The ins and outs of buying your first car
- The basics of personal loans and finance
- Tips for independent travel
- Lodging a tax return
- Basics of Insurance
- Your Rights at Work as an Employee
We are seeking support from our community to add to our range of topics, if you feel that you have something to offer in relation to these topics or another
relevant topic, please contact me via email.
The workshops will be held on Wednesday, 25 March and Wednesday, 24 June at Midday.
From the Dean of Mission and Innovation
On any day, like all staff at the College, I have countless interchanges with the young women who make up our community on the road around the College. Some of the exchanges are mundane, some procedural, some instructional and some take place in the classroom. At times there is the easy familiarity that comes when you know someone well and at other times there are brief encounters for the first time. Often the moments are of no lasting consequence and sometimes in the simplicity of the moment the exchange catches me by surprise and causes me to stop and simply wonder.
Last week on a very hot and steamy afternoon one of our new Year 7 students made me stop in my tracks, pause and consider some of the bigger questions in life. I confess I don’t even know her name and I’m not sure I could pick her out of the cohort if Year 7 were all standing in front of me. I had been speaking to Year 7 at the end of a class about embracing life at St Mary’s and being willing to get involved and I made a passing comment about asking questions. After the lesson a serious young woman told me she wanted to ask a Harry Potter question. I’m embarrassed to admit it but I must be one of the few people on the planet who has never read the Harry Potter books. The books are on my to do list but it seems I never quite get there.
I had to admit to this new student that I didn’t really understand the Harry Potter paradigm and she gave me a one-minute summation of the complex realities of Harry Potter’s world. She asked me which Harry Potter House would I be in? Still uncertain I asked for clarification. Then she asked; “I just wondered if you had to make a choice between being in the brave house or the smart house which one would you choose?”
The question was so complex that in mere seconds my mind seemed to run through countless responses, each one tipping my answer in one direction or the other for very different reasons. Young people won’t wait forever so I answered her question in a somewhat tentative way.
In the week since I was asked the question, I have kept coming back to it, each time with different reasons why any person might make one choice over the other. It occurred to me this new student, prepared and ready for the great adventure of high school, was already starting to make choices on her road to life. On day two at St Mary’s she was making choices about asking questions, about offering explanations, about taking risks, about wanting to find out about life, about seeking the opinions of others, about exploring ideas and realities, about daring to speak up and about engaging with the process of being on the road to somewhere.
Unwittingly, this nameless young woman had already stumbled on the College theme for 2020. Without knowing our theme, she was already embracing some of its possibilities. In the accidental encounter with me because I wasn’t even supposed to take that class that day, she had made a deliberate choice to be on the road. ‘On the road’ offers each of us in the community opportunities for choice, for encounter, for questions and to engage in a quest to go somewhere and to search out what might be possible.
The installation in our playground of the Good Samaritan is a quite tangible reminder of the wonders that can occur on the road. The Samaritan was going somewhere, with intent and purpose and caught by surprise on the road he was forced to stop and found compassion. May choosing to be on the road this year force each one of us to allow ourselves to be stopped in surprise and compelled to answer the call to higher things.
The Conservation Club has already held their first meeting of the year and collaborated to make a banner which we will use at all our events in 2020.... and the years to come!
Thank you for all who attended and added to this project. We also remind all students to submit their entries for the photo competition. Check @smcconservationclub
on Instagram for more details. You can also follow us for information on events and ideas during the year.
Remember to check SEQTA notices for more news on the club meetings held at lunchtime on Day 6.
College Open Day
CLUB CAPPUCCINO Italian lessons for parents will be commencing VERY SOON!
Classes commence Wednesday, 12 February to Wednesday, 1 April 2020.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.
Catholic Schools NSW Sport Registration
NSW CCC Sport committee has undertaken a restructure and has introduced a new website:
Students attending a CCC sport event, a selection trial or a Diocesan Sports event that is a pathway for representative selection must set up an account
and register on the CSNSW website.
Parents and students can access the CSNSW website to see upcoming sport events on the CCC Calendar, as well as find information regarding all CCC Sporting
Please see the Downloads for the CSNSW flyer to advise parents how to set up an account.
2020 Discovery Day
On Tuesday, 4 February, Year 11 students attended the University of Wollongong Discovery Day. The day gives students the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a university student. Students attend lectures, walk around campus, learn about the facilities and clubs the university has to offer and experience university life. We also encourage students to take some time during the day to set some goals for Year 11 and 12.
2020 - First days
Year 7 Welcome Evening
The College P&F committee warmly welcomes all students and their families back to St Mary's College for the start of the 2020 academic year. On Friday, 28 February we are hosting the Year 7 students and their families for an informal Welcome Evening in the College grounds. The Invitation will be sent out via email and is also included in the Downloads.
Please RSVP via the link provided in the flyer or email Maree McCarthy Maree.Mccarthy@stmarys.nsw.edu.au or telephone 4228 6011.
Parents of girls from Year 8 to Year 12: This will be your first opportunity this year to help with a P&F function as we welcome the
new Year 7 students and new Principal, Mr Tony Fitzgerald into our community. We need helpers from 4.30pm through until 8.30pm to help set up, serve the fully catered meal and pack up. An hour or more of your time would be greatly appreciated. Please contact Maree McCarthy
Maree.Mccarthy@stmarys.nsw.edu.au or telephone 4228 6011 to leave your name, contact (email/phone)
details and the time that you are available to help.
Thanking you in anticipation of your help for what promises to be a lovely evening for students, their families, College staff and the P&F.
11 February - Yr 7 Camp Information Evening, 6-7pm
13 February - Personal Project Parent Information Session, 6pm
18 February - Lady Mayoress Afternoon Tea, Town Hall
19 February - Alumni /Principal's Assembly
- Yr 7 Camp
20 February - Year 7 Camp
21 February - Year 7 Camp
Dates to Remember...
25 February - SMC Swim Carnival
28 February - Welcome to Year 7 Evening
5 March - College Open Day
Year 10 Personal Project Parent Information Session
Year 10 parents are welcome to attend the Personal Project Information Session in the PLC on Thursday, 13 February at 6.00pm. Christine Rutherford, our Personal Project Supervisor will go through all aspects of the project and be available to answer questions.
If you would like to attend, please phone the front office on 4228 6011 by Friday, 7 February.
Katrina Wall, MYP Coordinator
Year 7 Welcome Evening
The College P&F committee warmly welcome all students and their families back to St Mary's College for the start of the 2020 academic year. On Friday, 28 February we are hosting the Year 7 students and their families for an informal Welcome Evening in the school grounds. Details will be sent out via email. Please RSVP to Maree McCarthy Maree.Mccarthy@stmarys.nsw.edu.au or telephone 4228 6011
To review and update your daughter’s details including important medical data please visit https://tass.stmarys.nsw.edu.au/parentlounge/login.cfm