St Catherine’s School
Foundation eNews

Summer Edition | 2021

“One eye sees, the other feels”
Paul Klee

A Message From the Foundation Chair

Firstly, thank you for your dedication to St Catherine’s School and for the support you have given over the years. While 2021 was not quite the year we were all planning, I am glad we were able to get together at the start of the year. I have enjoyed meeting and talking with you, even if it has been online.

In this issue of our Foundation eNews, we welcome new Foundation Board Members – current parents, Ronald and Fleur Calvert (McKay ’94), and Paul and Nina Aberdeen (Kirby ’94). We also welcome new Foundation Members current parents, Damon and Janene Krongold, Brianna (Nan) Zhou and Tony Shu, along with Past Parents, Emma and Nick Young, Old Girl, Associate Professor Anne Brooks AM (’70) and Old Girl and Past Parent, Diana Brélaz (Deutgen ’44).

We asked a selection of our new members what drives them to connect and give. Insightful reflections were provided on the lifelong participation in the School community gained from Foundation Membership, as well as philanthropy as an expression of who they are as Members, and what they wish to actualise for our shared place, St Catherine’s School.

We also profile new Jeanie Hood Society Patrons – Jamie and Rebecca Gray, who have for many years shared in St Catherine’s vision of developing confident, capable and healthy young women of the future, through the delivery of exceptional education.

Jamie and Rebecca made their first donation to St Catherine’s School in 2002 and in the same year Jamie became a member of School Council, where he remains, as one of the longest-standing Councillors. Previously, Jamie served as a member of the School’s Development Committee (now the Foundation Board), dedicated to the important work of building a culture of giving within St Catherine’s, and leading by personal example, through significant support to the School’s Building Fund.

Since 2016, Jamie and Rebecca have been strengthening the diversity of the student population, and have wholeheartedly sponsored students to attend St Catherine’s School.

Given the importance of the Black Box Theatre development to our School community, we are thankful that Jamie and Rebecca have committed the lead gift to kick-start the Black Box Theatre Campaign. With this gift, the School can welcome Jamie and Rebecca into our top donor tier, as Jeanie Hood Society Patrons, an esteemed group of eight families, to date.

The realisation of a bespoke Performing Arts space for our students, is a dream come true and something we cannot wait to celebrate. Our celebrations will occur at the opening of the Black Box Theatre in early 2022. During this event, we will acknowledge the coterie of donors who have helped fund more than half the cost of this exceptional learning space. Such generous support has provided the School confidence to proceed with completion of the second of three phases, of the Dorothy Pizzey Centre redevelopment, including beautification of the entrance walkway to the Theatre. Every further dollar raised for the Black Box Theatre Campaign means less supplementary income required by the School, and funds that can contribute to Phase 3 of the re-development.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic turned reality inside out, we have been searching for balance in our lives, for what brings us authentic pleasure, and what we can avoid that will harm us. Establishing the St Catherine’s Old Girls’ Bursary in 2021, has been the perfect balance of leading with the head and crowning with the heart.

In the Her Ties campaign, we asked our Old Girls to join together to impact the lives of young women in whose hands lie our future. In particular, young women from regional, rural and remote Australia who may not have access to exceptional education. We thank all donors to this campaign, especially Old Girl and SCOGA Nil Magnum Nisi Bonum recipient, Associate Professor Anne Brooks AM (’70), and Old Girl and Past Parent, Diana Brélaz (Deutgen ’44), who gave leading gifts to establish this Fund. Diana made her gift on the occasion of her 95th birthday, and at the same time became a Foundation Member, proving it is never too late to join.

It is also never too late to give to the very thing that drives you. For the 251 donors who supported the St Catherine’s Hardship Fund this year, and in particular on our second Giving Day in August, we are deeply grateful. Established in 2020, this Fund enables the School to continue to assist current families facing changes in their circumstances, and also new families who would otherwise not be able to send their daughters to St Catherine’s, due to financial difficulty.

The St Catherine’s School Foundation now comprises 591 members, generations of families who have given for a myriad of reasons, but who are all connected to the intelligence of the heart.

On Friday 3 December, the Foundation will hold a Blue Ribbon Heart Day. On this day, a small group of volunteers, students and staff will make calls to as many of our donors as possible, to touch base, wish them a Happy Christmas, and show them our gratitude for their support. Staff will also be calling those Foundation Members who have unsubscribed from digital communications, to make sure these members really wish to break up with us. We hope to change their minds and hearts, ever so gently.

To close, thank you for your ongoing support of St Catherine’s School. I hope you enjoy another viewing of one of our 2021 Giving Day ambassadors, Demi Markakis (’18). Demi speaks beautifully about who she has become as a human being, and how her needs as a young woman were met through the intelligent care received, and genuine connections she made, during her time at St Catherine’s, which continue to assist her to flourish into the future.


Mrs Sally Joubert
Chair, St Catherine’s School Foundation


Diana Brélaz (Deutgen ‘44)
Past SCOGA President and School Council Member
Past Parent, Ms Helen Bradley (Brélaz ’72) and Mrs Lindy Stanistreet (Brélaz ’73)

We have all just lived through the early years of a vastly changing world. Having reached the age of 95 years, I had every reason to sit and enjoy reading.

Life in the outback of Australia has always interested me, and so often children’s education is the local school. To know there is support available to some young girls in rural areas through St Catherine’s Old Girls’ Excellence Bursaries, is gratifying.

It is not just their studies, but the environment that is vitally important. The people with whom they are in contact with will often present ideas, and today there are endless possibilities for young girls in fields unheard of 50 years ago.

Emma and Nick Young
Past Parents, Charlotte Young (’13) and Annabel Young (’15)

Our financial contributions to St Catherine’s over the years, apart from School fees and the Rowing program, have centred mainly on scholarship funds. Educating girls is empowering girls, and empowerment is a hot topic!

Our scholarship contributions have been provided, to enable young women the same opportunities to experience a first-class education as that had by our own lucky girls. As we admire the achievements and contributions of our daughters Lottie and Annabel, in their chosen fields, we are reminded often of the excellent head start they were provided at St Catherine’s.

A St Catherine’s education has equipped our daughters to not only cope and be resilient, but to thrive in the ‘real’ world, despite ever changing environments, and the many challenges thrown at them. To graduate from School with such adaptive skills, and powers of critical thinking, is a superpower, and one we would like to help other young women harness.

The benefits of a great education, provide girls the ‘keys to the kingdom’ should they desire, to navigate the world of imbalances and injustices, and hopefully pave a path for those less fortunate than themselves.

When our eldest child was in Prep in Sydney, we discovered we had been ‘negotiated’ into agreeing to give him too much pocket money per week. With four kids, following his mathematical equation in relation to age, we were going to go broke. So, the deal became that he could use one of his coins to buy a tin of food of his choosing each week, and we would walk the long way to school the next day to put it in a box left for that purpose, behind the gate of a local church.

At the end of the week, the box was full, and off it went to be distributed to those in need. One tin, once a week didn’t seem like much, until his class mates decided that was a great idea, and they would also contribute. Soon there were two boxes…

By educating the young to give, so that the practice becomes a habit, effects change. The practice of giving whatever amount is suitable at the time, in those circumstances, can help form a habit. Small sums accumulate and merge with other small sums cumulatively, to become a substantial sum.

Equally, we can encourage the next generation to give or contribute by borrowing its own expression to ‘pay it forward’. Having been girls with the privilege of a top-class education, possibly with parents who made great sacrifices to enable them to attend St Catherine’s, it is reasonable and desirable that they in turn help another to have a similar opportunity. To encourage even the most modest of contributions from the younger generation, will stand them in good stead to contribute in greater amounts when the time allows.

Brianna Zhou and Tony Shu
Current Parents to Lisette Shu (Year 6)

Firstly, why St Catherine’s School?
Before attending St Catherine’s, our daughters were in a small girls’ school, starting from ELC and had a lovely experience there. 

After visiting a couple of other schools, Lissette decided she wished to attend St Catherine’s and made this decision very independently. She was immediately fond of our Principal, Michelle Carroll, and the warm school culture that reverberated. She also fell in love with the many opportunities associated with the STEM program and range of Co-curricular activities. She is currently very content and looks forward to being nurtured into a well-rounded individual alongside her peers.

How much of an impact do you think your giving makes?
We are really pleased to support the St Catherine’s Building Fund, in particular the development of the Black Box Theatre. The new Theatre will play a vital role in our girls’ School life. The skills and experiences they gain from the collaborative performances and events will hopefully provide them with confidence in other aspects of their academic, Co-curricular and social life. We intend to shape them to become women of the future.

What personal meaning does this funding area have for your family?
Brianna: My grandfather graduated from West China Union University (WCUU), which was formed in 1904 by the Union of Four Missions. He graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of the State of New York in 1935. He had a deep appreciation for the people who founded WCUU and who subsequently helped him complete his education. This is how we came to appreciate the importance of raising funds to support educational institutions. Our family is always looking for the right opportunity to give back. We believe my grandfather would be proud of our contribution. 

How do you think we should encourage the next generation to give?
By understanding how people used to live. By understanding the challenges of the past, we can all better appreciate what we have today. From the experience of our ancestors, we learn the impact of giving back now. Lissette, in fact both our daughters, learn from the act of participation and generosity, which I am sure are not foreign to any of us. We truly believe in leading by example, which will spur our future generations to achieve more using their compassion and innovation.


Fleur Calvert (McKay ’94) and Ronnie Calvert
Current Parents, Annabel Calvert (Year 8), Clara Calvert (Year 6) and Nina Calvert (Year 3)

Firstly, why St Catherine’s School?
Ronnie: As fourth generation St Catherine’s girls, our three girls had a lot of second-hand uniforms that would have gone to waste if they had gone to another school! More seriously, for Fleur, walking in the driveway of both Barbreck and the Senior School feels like home. The sense of community, caring teachers and friendly students has not changed.

When we moved our girls from a small school in Western Victoria, we wanted them to feel comfortable and settle quickly, while also offering them wider opportunities and a high-quality education. St Catherine’s ticked all those boxes for us.

Thank you for contributing so generously to the St Catherine’s Rural Scholarship Fund. What was your motivation?
Fleur: We think the Boarding House and the influence of the rural community is vital to a school.

Ronnie grew up in the country and was fortunate enough to be a boarder at Caulfield Grammar, which had a huge influence on his life, and is an opportunity for which he is very grateful.

We spent five years as a family in western Victoria, and recognised the growing divide between the city and country. We are keen to help reduce this, albeit on a very small scale, by assisting some country girls to experience city life and receive a quality education like that offered by St Catherine’s.

Ronnie: Some of Fleur’s closest friends at St Catherine’s were boarders (and these friendships remain as strong 25 years on). Fleur witnessed first-hand the value that students from regional areas bring to a city school – in outlook, perspective and all-round contribution.

What does being Members of the St Catherine’s School Foundation mean to you?
During the 2020 lockdown we were blown away by the support provided to the inaugural Giving Day. It was quite amazing how quickly and generously the School community responded, and wanted to support other families. It also confirmed for us what a supportive community we are part of, and we wanted to play a role in that.

We also feel strongly about supporting other families, particularly from rural communities, who can add diversity to both the student and parent cohort, and we recognised that joining the Foundation was the best way to enable this.

Nina (Kirby ’94) and Paul Aberdeen
Current Parents, Camilla Aberdeen (Year 5)

Thank you for contributing so generously to the Black Box Theatre campaign. What motivated you to support?
The Performing Arts are an important facet of a well-rounded education, giving girls the opportunity to challenge themselves, gain confidence and learn self-expression. As a long time supporter of the Arts, I think it’s a wonderful gift that can serve the girls throughout their lives. 

The Black Box Theatre is an innovative idea for our School. Whilst we will always have the Winter Garden for larger scale School productions, the Black Box Theatre will afford the girls the opportunity to hone their skills in a smaller, specialised learning and performing space. 

My daughter, Camilla, has recently performed in the Junior School’s production of the Wizard of Oz, and gained so much experience and enjoyment working collaboratively as part of an ensemble cast. As Camilla transitions to Senior School I’m very excited for the opportunities that await her to replicate this truly wonderful experience. 

What does it mean for you, personally, to support St Catherine’s and girls’ education?
There is a notable discrepancy between donations and bequests to boys’ school foundations compared to those directed to girls’ schools.

I don’t think any of us consciously favour our sons over our daughters, however at a school foundation level the girls are not equal. I am passionate about supporting girls’ education as I would like to see this imbalance corrected.

Through my work with the Foundation Board, I would like to be part of a changing narrative that encourages a School spirit of giving from Old Girls, past parents, and the wider School community to support our daughters.

Having enjoyed all the advantages of a St Catherine’s education myself, I feel a responsibility to ensure our girls enjoy the same educational opportunities, and state of the art School facilities, as our sons. 

What does being Members of the St Catherine’s School Foundation mean to you?
As an Old Girl, witnessing my daughter, Camilla, thrive at St Catherine’s is wonderful. I am thrilled to be part of the School Foundation, contributing to our wonderful and unique School community. I hope to encourage others to do the same. We are so lucky to be a part of St Catherine’s. It is in our collective interests to ensure the School’s ongoing success and prosperity for future generations of empowered ‘blue ribboned’ girls. 



Jamie and Rebecca Gray
Jamie and Rebecca Gray
Past Parents, Sophie Gray (’12), Annabelle Gray (’15) and Hugo Gray (’18)

Jamie and Rebecca Gray have for many years shared in St Catherine’s vision of developing confident, capable and healthy young women of the future through the delivery of exceptional education.

Given the importance of the Black Box Theatre to our School community, we are thankful that Jamie and Rebecca have committed an extremely generous pledge to kick-start the Black Box Theatre Campaign. Their philanthropic leadership has attracted other lead gifts, to bring us to our initial target in just over a month of campaigning. These donors play a pivotal role in enriching the lives of our students, staff and wider community, through generously supporting this exciting development.

Both Jamie and Rebecca have deep connections to our School community. Jamie and Rebecca are St Catherine’s past parents with Sophie graduating in 2012, Annabelle in 2015 and Hugo attending St Catherine’s ELC. Jamie’s father, Garrick Gray, served on School Council from 1976 to 1987. Jamie’s mother, Joan Gray (Spry ’52), attended St Catherine’s School, and boarded at the Warburton Campus at age five, during the Second World War.

Jamie and Rebecca made their first donation to St Catherine’s School in 2002, and in the same year Jamie became a member of School Council. He remains one of the longest-standing councillors. Previously, Jamie served as a member of the School’s Development Committee (now the Foundation Board), dedicated to the important work of building a culture of giving for St Catherine’s.

Jamie has served on the Building & Property Committee of School Council since 2003, and has served as Chair of this Committee since 2004. During his tenure, Jamie has helped deliver major infrastructure developments, such as the ELC, Wiltondale, St Catherine’s Walk, All-Weathering of the Oval, Library Re-development, Mary Davis Re-development, Science Lab Renewal, Senior School Re-development, Barbreck Junior School, the Marigold Southey Sports & Aquatic Centre, and now the Black Box Theatre.

In 2009, and through a generous pledge to the Building Fund for the Swimming Pool Capital Campaign, Jamie and Rebecca joined the St Catherine’s School Foundation. Following this, Jamie and Rebecca have consistently supported capital campaigns including the Barbreck Junior School development.

Since 2016, Jamie and Rebecca have been strengthening the diversity of the student population and have wholeheartedly sponsored students to attend St Catherine’s School. These gifts, pledged through the Melbourne Foundation will increase in the forthcoming years, as students they currently support graduate, and incoming students commence their scholarships in 2022.

In 2020, Jamie conceived and championed the development of the St Catherine’s Hardship Fund, and he is one of four inaugural members of the Hardship Fund Sub-Committee of Council. Jamie and Rebecca are one of the 10 Founding Donors to the Hardship Fund which helped establish the Fund, making a further donation in 2021, to reinforce their commitment to building the endowment for this means-tested scholarship.

Under the leadership of Jamie, as Chair of the Building & Property Committee, the Principal and other key staff, will ensure the delivery of the next phase of the Strategic Plan – the St Catherine’s Black Box Theatre, an outstanding professional venue for the School’s Performing Arts program. This stunning Theatre and its surrounds will be the natural encore to the recent refurbishment of the Epstein and Myer Studios, and the wonderful prelude to the proposed re-imagined Sports and Fitness Centre. Completion of these three projects will fulfil the Strategic Plan for redevelopment of the Dorothy Pizzey Centre.

The School’s aim is to secure funding for half the cost of development of the Black Box Theatre through a coterie of lead donors in a short period of time, and to complete construction for our students in early 2022. Through the generosity of a small coterie of major donors, led my Jamie and Rebecca, the School has already reached its overall target of $500,000, half the cost of the project.

This has provided the Foundation Board the confidence to extend the target to $600,000, to raise an additional $100,000 to help fund the beautification of the exterior of the Black Box Theatre. We have made an approach to other major supporters, to assist the School in delivering its vision for the entrance to this exciting project.

With their pledge for the Black Box Theatre, the School can welcome Jamie and Rebecca to our top donor tier as Jeanie Hood Society Patrons, an esteemed group of eight families.

As two of the School’s patrons, passionate advocates for educational excellence, and artistic development, the Black Box Theatre project sings to the family’s passion, and their daughters’ love of the Arts.


The remarkable response from our School community was clearly evident on Wednesday 4 August when we held our second annual 24-hour online Giving Day, in support of the St Catherine’s Hardship Fund.

Established in 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis, the Hardship Fund is St Catherine’s response to caring for our community in crisis. The Fund provides bursaries and scholarships to assist families, whether existing or new, who might otherwise not be able to send their daughter to St Catherine’s School due to financial reasons.

From 10.00am on 4 August, donations secured from our generous matched donors, doubled every $1 donated over the next 24 hours of the campaign. There was a sense of excitement witnessing gifts being made in real time and online. We thank all the volunteers who manned phones on the day, and influenced support via social media. All of this added to the genuine sense of excitement and momentum of the day.

A total of $216, 341 was raised. The generosity of our matching donors combined with our efforts from 2020, the total raised for Hardship to date is $1.4 million.

The Fund has to date provided short-term assistance to 37 current families, whose lives changed dramatically last year. The remainder of the endowment has been invested for the future, as informed by the Hardship Fund Committee. The School will aim to fundraise to maintain a corpus of $1 million.

Funds raised through the 2021 Giving Day will change the course of two young futures, by helping to cover tuition fees from Years 9 to 12, for two students from families who cannot afford to provide a St Catherine’s education for their daughters. Our ultimate aim is to fund two full scholarships with a value of $280,000. Every dollar raised towards this goal means less supplementary income from the School.

Our community continues to respond with kindness at a time of continued crisis, and created a solution of great impact for generations of St Catherine’s students.

Every sector of our School community was represented in our Giving Day pool of donors, including students, staff and parents, current, past and future. A phenomenal community effort during continued challenging times. Please enjoy the messages of gratitude from four of our 2021 Giving Day Ambassadors in the video below.

For more information on the St Catherine’s Hardship Fund or any aspect of giving to St Catherine’s School, please contact our Advancement Office staff via email advancement@stcatherines,


Her Stage Building Fund – Black Box Theatre $655,700
Her Ties Old Girls’ Excellence Bursary $32,565
Her Future Hardship Fund $216,241
Her Story Library Fund $6,200
Her Advantage Indigenous & Rural Scholarship Fund $52,000
Her Guardians Bequests $772,000


Lisa Nicoll-Cooke (Nicoll ’63)

I completed Year 11 at St Catherine’s in 1962 to take up an apprenticeship with a Toorak Road clothing designer, Magg. In early January I was excited to commence work but after the first week I was “let go” and went home with one week’s wages of 4 pounds 17 shillings and 6 pence in pay.

Initially I thought my father would be very cross. However, on the contrary he was pleased as he had always wanted me to complete my Matriculation. A few days later my father organised an interview at St Catherine’s with Headmistress of the day, Miss Mary Davis. I believe this is the first and only time my father visited the School.

The two conducted a conversation over my head and agreed I should return and complete my schooling. This was a life changing moment for me as it was the first time I ever heard an adult confirm their faith in my ability. Together they came to a decision and turned to me to ask my opinion. My immediate thought that day was that I had two younger brothers at Melbourne Grammar and was concerned about our family’s financial ability to pay for all three of us.

Miss Davis then opened a drawer in her desk, produced a piece of paper and declared that as the daughter of an Old Girl, I was eligible for Bursary which would pay half my fees. What a timely revelation, and the problem was solved. I returned to School at the beginning of the new school year in 1963, worked hard and completed my Matriculation. I then went on to become a secondary school teacher.

I am not sure when I started to donate financially to the School, but I am a proud member of the Foundation. I have long had the ambition to include St Catherine’s as a beneficiary in my Will and took the steps to legally make my intentions formal in 1996, the year the St Catherine’s Circle was formed. My plan is to leave sufficient funds to establish similar bursaries for daughters, sisters, nieces and granddaughters of Old Girls who would otherwise not be able to afford a St Catherine’s education.

My mother Marjorie Nicoll (Sharp ‘34), was the middle of two sisters, Mary Lundquist (Sharp ‘25) and Patricia Rose (Sharp ‘39). My time at School was followed by my cousins, Lorraine de Selle du Real (‘69), daughter of Mary, and Jennifer Rose (‘79), daughter of Patricia.

My own daughter Nicolle Austin (‘88) has been followed by her daughter, my granddaughter, Eliza McCurdy (‘25) in Year 8. Nicolle’s two sons Lachie and Will, both attended ELC St Catherine’s.

Women from my family have been attending St Catherine’s for nearly one hundred years, and I would like this sense of family connection to continue for other School families. I feel so strongly about family connection that I am willing to support this financially.

Who could have known the events of that morning in 1963 would influence my life so significantly? All because the two people I most admired, believed in me.