The St Catherine’s community was fortunate to enjoy the ambience of the Long Room at the Melbourne Cricket Club this week at the Years 5-12 Father Daughter Dinner. Guest speakers, Rio Olympic Gold Medalist, Mrs Kim Brennan and her father and AFL great, Mr Max Crow, were skillfully interviewed by expert media commentator, Mr Michael Christian, father to Sasha (Year 12) and Coco (Year 10).

Kim’s journey to Olympic gold was one of perseverance, resilience and sheer hard work. As a talented athlete during her teenage years, her dream of running the 400m hurdles for Australia closed with a career ending injury; Kim recalled “when things don’t go according to plan is when we actually learn so much; from adversity comes perspective”. Kim’s ability to shift gears to a rowing career was a clear insight into her natural ability as a talented athlete. Kim encouraged our St Catherine’s girls in the audience to not limit their potential by “setting boundaries for themselves” and she described her realisation of her second opportunity to compete for Australia, not as a runner but as a rower, as “sometimes I think we don’t know what our potential really is”.

Kim’s ability to focus on the task at hand and to remain composed throughout all the distractions of a race or life events seemed to be evident throughout both her sporting and academic career. She described balancing her training and studying for her law degree by maximising every opportunity and keeping the priorities simple. She revised whilst on the ergo with glad wrapped books strapped to the ergometer to avoid the sweat falling onto the texts and cycling with her lecture notes recorded on iPod to enable her study.

As a School that lives and breathes rowing throughout the Rowing season, Kim was a wonderful role model who showed grit and determination to achieve a gold medal in Rio. There is not a school girl rower in Australia who was not delighted and in awe of her success and achievement. Her inspirational messages to our captive student audience ensured the essence of motivation, application and hard work, was at the hub of achievement and the desire to give the very best they can. Her words resonated and captured the spirit of our St Catherine’s girls. The one constant throughout the highs and lows of Kim’s career was perseverance.

In my welcome on Wednesday evening, I commented on a statement by past US President, Barack Obama. As a father of two daughters, he published a column in Parade Magazine about every father’s most fundamental duty, to ‘show their children, by example, the kind of people they want them to become’.

What I observe, repeatedly, is involved, engaged and contributing St Catherine’s parents; perfect role models for their daughters. People who not only strive to succeed but also give of their time, participate in their daughter’s schooling life and share the journey with friends and family.

Parents who enjoy standing on the shore of the Barwon River, all day, patiently waiting for the one minute of cheering when their daughter rows past; parents sitting in the 3rd row at the Junior School Musical, small bouquet of flowers in hand to present to their daughter who sang and danced her way through The Lion King Jr. recently; duly impressed by her talents and perhaps had not realised just how good she was? Parents who finally reach that time in their life when their daughter can zip past on her skis with far greater speed and expertise – fearless. Or at our recent Fun Run at The Tan, the realisation she is no longer running beside you but around the corner and out of sight.

St Catherine’s girls today are talented, ambitious and accomplished. Yet, access to technology can make them wise beyond their years, perhaps burdened and pressured to grow up too fast, before fully having the chance to explore who they are or who they wish to be.

I believe affirmation is one of the many important things that parents can give their daughters. Building confidence, persistence, courage and a belief that success is not out of reach is integral. Encouraging daughters to ‘have a go’, ‘to step forward’ and by supporting their dream, you can enable their vision.

This week, we certainly enjoyed listening to Kim’s story and how her parents cheered from the sideline, encouraged her persistence and courage, supported her dream and what a dream to achieve – a gold medal!

I would like to acknowledge and thank, Mr Charles Sitch, father of School Vice-Captain, Georgie (Year 12), and Clementine (Year 7); it was through Charles’ invitation that we enjoyed the magnificent MCG venue. And thank you to the St Catherine’s Sports Auxiliary, in particular President, Mrs Libby Stopp and Secretary, Mrs Leanne Deacon for coordinating the evening.

VALE – Mr Michael Bond

This week, the School received the sad news of the passing of Mr Michael Bond following a brief period of poor health from lung cancer. Michael was a much loved member of staff and Drama teacher at St Catherine’s for many years (1997-2015).

Michael made an enormous contribution to the St Catherine’s co-curricular program through his involvement as a Director or Producer of the Senior School plays and his contribution through somewhat elaborate set designs for musicals. Michael’s good humour was always well appreciated and the School community had recently enjoyed his return to judge the House Arts Competition. Michael was integral to the development of the House Arts program over 10 years ago. Many of his colleagues and former students of the School were deeply saddened by the news of his passing.



Mrs Michelle Carroll, Principal