From the Principal – Week 9

As our 120 celebrations draw to a close, the School has taken an opportunity to thank many parents who have so personally contributed to the organisation of the PFA, Co-curricular Auxiliaries and, importantly, the School Council and Council Sub-Committees.

Please find below my words from our Thank You Evening, held on Monday night:

Tonight is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge and thank our many parents and community members who have been directly involved with volunteering at St Catherine’s in 2016. 

It has been an extraordinary year for St Catherine’s and celebrating our 120th anniversary has provided an opportunity to not only honour our past and celebrate this milestone, but to reconnect with many members of our School community. 

  • This has included over 700 Old Girls attending events across the year, over double the number from three years ago, a reflection of the SCOGA Committee’s creativity in designing events that will attract our Old Girls over the broad range of interests and ages;
  • Over 100 past parents attended a function hosted by the Past Parents’ and Families’ Network; this committee continues to re-connect our parent community;
  • And the year started with the festivities for our current parents, who attended the 120 Celebration Ball, successfully raising $100,000 on the night, a gift that commenced our fundraising efforts for the new Junior School. This was such a fine achievement and so capably orchestrated by Mrs Lisa Steven and a dynamic team of women. The evening was an insight into their successful collaboration, creative flair and organisational skills. 

At this ‘thank you’ event two years ago, I referenced a quote from Hillary Clinton. “it takes a village to raise a child” and, with this, I reflected on the network of parents, Old Girls, past parents and staff that enthusiastically create the ‘village’; a village that helps shape the young women of St Catherine’s through the experiences we offer. 

Without doubt, Hillary has had a substantial two years and, clearly, a disappointing two weeks, however, who could not love her recent words included her concession speech:

“and to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams.”

This year, I have observed so many of our St Catherine’s girls in pursuit of their dreams. Their ‘pursuit’ is often supported and enabled through the work of our volunteering parents, who so generously give of their time. 

This year, none more so than the girls in our First VIII crew, in pursuit of a dream, and The Heyington Club basking in the glory of the girls’ win at the National Championships in Sydney. The girls can look forward to competing in two new boats,a new Empacher VIII and Quad purchased through the generous support of our Rowing parents.

Also enjoying the glory on the national stage, were our girls competing at the National Snowsports Championships at Perisher. Again, both the Senior and Junior Schools were crowned National Schoolgirl Champions.

I also enjoyed sitting alongside members of the Music Auxiliary in the city, at The Apartment, for our annual Jazz Night. The relocation from the School Hall to an upbeat venue in the city provided a great setting for the girls’ performances and a brilliant Friday evening for our parents. We remained, this year, continually mesmerised by the musical talents of Greta Chen, Stephanie Hird, Sabine Harms and Ruby Smith at the Gala Concert – all Year 12 musicians in pursuit of a dream. The support of both the Drama and Music Auxiliaries across the year of concerts, musicals and plays is ever present.

On many occasions this year, the success of our events falls to the tireless work of many parents. This commitment is so visibly demonstrated through the support provided to our Sporting, Performing Arts and Visual Arts programs – this time is always greatly appreciated.

Many hours can be spent waxing skis, setting up and packing up functions, selling second hand books, icing cakes, and at the cold face, feeding hungry rowers at Mercantile or enjoying a late Friday night at the Marigold Southey Sports & Aquatic Centre, with Coop on the loud speaker.  

Just recently, the Christmas Fair was yet again an example of the commitment of a small group of parents. Aided by a sunny Melbourne spring afternoon, this evening showcased the inclusive nature of the St Catherine’s community. Congratulations to Mrs Nicole Begley for coordinating the Fair this year.

The teamwork of the PFA in creating and hosting the annual Ruth Langley Lunch was also certainly evident. This function is a highlight on the School calendar for many Old Girls and past and current mothers. The Class Reps’ work, in developing a Social Event to closely connect parents of specific Year levels, is also a wonderful community contribution. The support and strength of our parents in creating these events is greatly appreciated.

I acknowledge and sincerely thank the members of the 120 Anniversary Committee and the Parents’ & Friends’ Association, so expertly led by Mrs Christie Freeman, for their enthusiasm, expertise, and willingness in creating the 120 Celebrate Cookbook. Their wonderful support has been invaluable and greatly appreciated. The design and production of this book drew on the talent and creative abilities of a dedicated group of St Catherine’s community members and the quality of this book is primarily the result of their wisdom and efforts.

For the Year 12 parents attending this evening, you can look forward to your membership of the Past Parents’ and Families’ Network, kindly coordinated by President, Mr Scott Reinke. This highly effective Network enables the friendships and engagement with St Catherine’s to continue.

I know I amused some at the Valedictory Dinner, recently, with the suggestion that some parents arrive at AGMs intent on sitting on their hands, and for some – they walk out with roles as Treasurer, or worse still – the President or Chair! Thinking how did this happen? But our students are forever grateful for your contribution, and I think it is worth remembering, “many hands make light work,” so I encourage you to continue to support each other.

And in the words of Sir John Monash:

“Adopt as your fundamental creed, that you will equip yourself for life, not solely for your own benefit but for the benefit of the whole community.”

I would like to also personally acknowledge the work of our School Council and Council Sub-Committees who generously provide their expertise, stewardship and commitment towards the governance of St Catherine’s School.

We look to the future with much excitement as we develop the new Junior School – the School’s most significant undertaking in over 50 years. An opportunity to create a Junior School for girls – a landmark in Australian education. I thank Campaign Chairs – Mrs Sally Joubert and Mr Cameron Bertalli – for this early engagement of our School community.

With guidance of both Ms Becky Hyde, as Chair of the Community Engagement Committee and Dr Larissa Roeske, as Chair of the School Liaison Committee, the School has endeavoured to strategically align the work of our auxiliaries for the future, streamlining some of our processes and events for next year with a focus on friendraising – being the primary goal.

The cornerstone of the St Catherine’s programs is the widespread contribution and dedication of our staff – both teachers, and general staff with their behind the scenes support from Finance, Marketing and Maintenance. Their commitment enables each girl the benefit of enriching and engaging academic and co-curricular programs. I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank them for their high level of involvement in School life.

In closing tonight, I wish to acknowledge the Presidents of each Auxiliary and the PFA, with a small gift of our appreciation:

Mrs Phoebe Norman (Olsen ’95) – SCOGA

Mrs Christie Freeman – PFA

Ms Louise Lampard (’79) – Heyington Club/ Sport

Ms Nicole Haliday – Drama

Mrs Celia Burrell (Shelmerdine ’83) – Art (Co President)

Mr Brendon Chandulal – Art (Co President)

Mrs Lucy Fortey (King ’90) – St Catherine’s Aquatic

Mrs Miranda Lansell – Snowsports (Co President)

Mrs Rebecca Clark – Snowsports (Co President)

Dr Larissa Roeske – Music & Auxiliary Liaison Chair

Mr Scott Reinke – Past Parents’ and Friends’ Network

Mrs Lisa Steven – Second Hand Book & 120 Committee

Ms Becky Hyde – Community Engagement Chair

Mrs Elizabeth Lane (Uniform Shop volunteer)

I also make special note of leaving Year 12 parents who have been on committees this year:

Mrs Desi Anezakis (Kalfadellis ’87) – Heyington Club

Mr Manny Anezakis – Heyington Club

Mrs Anthea Bickford (Gray ’79) – Heyington Club

Mr Stephen Bickford – Heyington Club

Mrs Janet Cameron – Class Rep Year 12

Dr Christine Chan – Music

Mr Brendon Chandulal – Art

Mrs Regina Cheale – Music

Ms Nicole Haliday – Drama

Ms Sally Morrell (’79) – Music/Class Rep Year 12

Mr David Swann – Snowsports/Sport

Mrs Amanda Wentworth – St Catherine’s Aquatic/Sport

Opening of the ELC Outdoor Learning Space

Following many months of construction and, the anticipation of our young learners in the ELC – peering through the wire fence, our new Outdoor Learning Space in the ELC was officially opened this week.

The opening of this outdoor space at Campbell House – The Ilhan Family Centre, is the culmination of the School’s re-development program in the ELC with the clear purpose of providing high quality facilities encompassing an amazing outdoor learning space, which has been re-designed and landscaped for our youngest learners. Head of the ELC and our Junior School, Mrs Alana Moor, summed up the Outdoor Learning Space perfectly during her opening speech:

“Maximising teaching and learning for our students entails the seizing of every opportunity to strengthen knowledge, promote curiosity and explore nature.

The launch of our new outdoor learning environment encourages our young learners to connect with nature. Being able to explore, create and to take risks in learning in a supervised and supported environment has only just begun.”

Patricia Ilhan, and her late husband John, and many other members of our community, supported the School with their generous gifts over 10 years ago, to enable the redevelopment of Campbell House. This outdoor space was the final phase of this redevelopment.

It was a pleasure to welcome Mrs Susan Grant (’59) who officially opened the Outdoor Learning Space on Wednesday. Mrs Grant is the daughter of the late Mr James Campbell, whose outstanding contribution as Chair of Council for 15 years from 1952–67 occasioned Campbell House to be named in his honour.

Campbell House was built in the 1920s, and purchased by the School in 1958, during Mr Campbell’s time as Chair of Council. It was used for housing 25 Junior boarders until they moved to Illawarra in 1997.

Mrs Grant also served on the School Council from 1994 to 2000 and was the SCOGA President in 1997 and 1998. As a fitting tribute to the strong Campbell and Grant family connection with the School, and in honour of her late father, it was a delight to invite Mrs Grant to ‘cut the ribbon’ along with our Chair of Council, Mrs Clare Cannon, to officially opening our ELC playground.


Jill-Baker-and-Fiona_390x295_acf_croppedCongratulations to Ms Jill Baker, Early Learning Assistant who has been awarded the 2016 Staff Award – Service to the School Community.

During her 21 years at St Catherine’s, Jill has so beautifully shared her sewing, gardening and cooking skills with children and staff. Jill was responsible for making the wonderful bow that makes an appearance at our opening of buildings, and she regularly makes items for School as requested, including cushions, t-shirts, ELC costumes for performances and general repairs.

Her nomination included these words:

Jill is largely known for her exceptional skills as a classroom assistant. She is quick to respond to requests as needed, shows warmth and compassion to the children, and has established an excellent relationship and network with families and staff.  Being trained as a teacher herself, she is able to identify the children’s needs as required, and initiate some wonderful ideas regarding the programs. She is also an excellent colleague, and loves working in a team environment.

Congratulations Jill and thank you for your generosity and skills.

Head of Sport

I also wish to congratulate Mr Lloyd Knight on his appointment as Head of Sport at St Catherine’s School, commencing 2017.

Lloyd has been instrumental over the past two years in developing a strong running and athlete care culture in the Senior School, through his work with the Cross Country and Athletics teams. Lloyd also provides extensive fitness guidance within the Rowing program, pre-season Snowsports programs and the ever popular Friday Morning Boot Camp – a very successful continuation of the running and sport programs that are highly effective at engaging girls of all levels in Barbreck.

Lloyd’s supportive and encouraging manner will ensure an outstanding sport programs continue at St Catherine’s in the coming years.

Michelle Carroll

Mrs Michelle Carroll