Gippsland Grammar news: Oct 30, 2020

Oct 30, 2020 | Community News

It was an absolute delight to be with the Blackwood House community earlier this week to celebrate the Year 12 Valedictory. The students all looked magnificent and we all enjoyed ourselves enormously. My special thanks to Head of Boarding Mr Stuart Llewelyn who had organised the evening to be a memorable occasion for all our boarders, especially our Year 12 boarders. I shared with the students on the night how this event held special significance for me as it was my first formal event at Gippsland Grammar that I’ve been able to attend in person … some seven months since my arrival!

Head of Boarding Stuart Llewelyn with the Blackwood House boarders and staff at this week’s Blackwood House Valedictory (left) and the Blackwood House Community enjoying a formal meal in the boarding house dining room (right).

Since our return to being back at School, I have thoroughly enjoyed having lunch or morning tea with all of our Year 12 students, which has allowed me to meet them hear about their fond memories and experiences from their time at Gippsland Grammar. I feel a sense of loss though, as I reflect on all the students I have met and wish that I could have known them longer. Their thoughts and ideas reflect much about them as a group, and I have enjoyed listening to their internal wisdom about what matters to them as well as their aspirational hopes for the School beyond the coming weeks.

Today is World Teacher’s Day and I would like to recognise all our staff at Gippsland Grammar. Irrespective of what role our staff have, they all contribute to the environment that enables our students to thrive. I would like to personally thank every staff member for all that you have done over the year. It is much appreciated.

I am also extremely pleased to share with you that this week Gippsland Grammar Board of Directors has approved the recommendation from the School’s Executive that that next year’s tuition fees, bus and boarding fees will remain unchanged in 2021. This decision to keep the fees at the 2020 rate is a recognition of the financial strains currently being experienced by many of the school’s families and we hope this provides some comfort and certainty to our School Community. The Board has also decided that the discount rate for the voluntary Offset Advantage scheme applied to credit balances held on school accounts will be reduced to 3 per cent per annum from February 1, 2021.

Today is the final formal day of schooling for our Year 12 students and I wish them all well in their upcoming exams. To all our students I hope you can take time to refresh over the weekend ensuring that you are organised and ready for the weeks ahead. Have a lovely weekend.

Warm regards,

Leisa Harper


Both the St Anne’s and Bairnsdale ELCs were a hive of activity last week as we celebrated the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s annual Book Week. The theme this year was ‘Curious Creatures and Wild Minds’ and our families were provided with a school holiday project at the end of last term to design a costume with their child that reflected this theme.

And, boy, what fabulous wild, creative, curious creatures appeared last week for the celebration! Our families outdid themselves with their costumes which the children wore with pride. The ELC teaching staff joined in with the fun, wearing their own crazy costumes. Many photographs were taken for the children’s learning portfolios to mark a special event in this most ‘curious’ of years. Of course, Book Week provides an important opportunity to promote the importance of reading and books to the children. The children brought their favourite picture books to share with the group and were encouraged to reflect on how lucky they are to have them.

Here’s a snapshot of this week’s events from each of our ELC groups:

St Anne’s Reception group visited the St Anne’s library for the first time, made their own books and shared their favourite book with their peers. The highlight was dressing up and ending the day by parading with the Transition Group. (written by teachers Tammy Lopardi and Carly Williams)

Bairnsdale Reception had a special visitor … Ms Smith came as our surprise storyteller and shared the story Owl Babies with the children using puppets.  The children were challenged to create a ‘curious creature’ foot or hand-print and made their own bookmarks. Our dress-up day was the highlight with many fabulous outfits!  (written by teacher Annette Dilks)

St Anne’s Transition groups enjoyed a day of fun and dress ups for Book Week. There were characters from favourite books as well as several ‘curious creatures’ which the children had created themselves. Some of our favourite books included Grug, Pugicorn, Alpacas With Maracas and Where Is The Green Sheep? The children participated in lots of Book Week related activities including drawing their very own curious creature, collecting items from nature to make a creature with their buddies, writing their own book and sculpting crazy curious creatures from plasticine. (written by teachers Lisa Burgess, Lisa Singer and Danielle Carpenter)

Bairnsdale Transition group was able to parade around the school past the Year 5 Buddies and the other classrooms to show off their Book Week costumes and Foundation teacher Mrs Crowe came out for a closer inspection of the wonderful costumes. In the lead up to the celebrations the children enjoyed listening to and looking at all the short-listed nominees for the CBCA Book of the Year in the Early Childhood section. On Thursday Bairnsdale Campus Librarian Mrs Sutherland came to the ELC to share one of the short listed books Goodbye House, Hello House by Margaret Wild. (written by teacher Sharon Smith)

Our Bairnsdale and Sale ELCs celebrated Book Week last week.

Book Gifting
During Book Week our Transition children were gifted several beautiful quality picture books as part of the ELC’s ‘Need to Read’ early literacy support program. This gift is intended to provide additional support to our families and children during this most difficult of years when local libraries have been closed for long periods. We are sure that they will be a welcome and cherished addition to your family’s collection.

The book packs which were gifted to all ELC Transition students as part of the ‘Need to Read’ early literacy support program.

ST ANNE’S NEWS by Head of Campus Jie Van Berkel
Each morning I visit each classroom to welcome all students, and to make sure everyone is healthy and ready for the day’s learning. During these visits, I often hear students sharing what they are grateful for with their peers. Focusing on the positive, and articulating what we are grateful for can improve our overall wellbeing.

A recent, meaningful initiative from our Student Representative Council, is to focus on gratitude throughout the campus. Each week, our SRC will ask different year levels what they are grateful for. This week, a range of students in Years 5 and 6 were asked ‘What are you grateful for?’ A sample of their responses include:

  • I am grateful for a roof over my head and to be able to play sport.
  • I’m grateful for our lovely teachers because we couldn’t learn without them.
  • I am grateful for my friends who make me laugh, smile, feel accepted and special. 

I look forward to sharing more of these responses in the coming weeks. I would like to suggest our families could begin something similar at home, by sharing what you are grateful for each day.

World Teachers Day 2020
Today we celebrate World Teachers Day. I would like to personally thank our teachers, support staff, administration team, groundsmen, our cleaners and everyone working behind the scenes who educate, care for and support our students to be the best they can be. To demonstrate my appreciation for and respect for all those mentioned above, today we shared a small gift with our staff to say thank you.

Fellowship – Book Week
Book Week was last week; however due to the public holiday, we had to put our Book Week Fellowship off until today. In the pre-recorded Fellowship, our 2020 Library Monitors spoke about the importance of books and the joy reading brings us. We were also able to read along to two of the winning Book Week books. Thank you to Oscar Wilkins for playing a wonderful recessional on the piano. School families can watch our pre-recorded Book Week Fellowship on VOS.

As we get into the rhythm and follow of Term 4, I would like to remind students and families about some important aspects or processes we have which make our campus run smoothly:

– Firstly, thank you to those in our community who are allowing their child to stay at home when they are displaying COVID-19 symptoms or are unwell with other ailments. Families are reminded to inform the School of absences via a range of ways, either via the School website or VOS app. Families may also email the classroom teacher and front office ( Families must also fill in our Student Health Declaration form that is available on VOS or in hard copy at each campus. All families are reminded to stay home if you have any of the COVID-19 symptoms, including:    

  • Fever, sweats or chills;
  • shortness of breath;
  • cough;
  • runny nose;
  • sore throat; and/or
  • loss of sense of smell

– Most of our students are wearing our School uniform correctly and with pride. Whether students agree with aspects of our expectations or not, it is a part of our School that makes it so unique. Which brings me to the mullet hairstyle, which is trying to make a comeback! To clarify out expectations regarding approapriate hairstyles, please refer to this exert from our uniform guidelines (there is also a VOS link to a more detailed description of uniform expectations).

‘Boys and girls’ hair must be neatly styled, clear of the face and worn at or above the collar, or if longer, it should be tied back neatly. Hair is expected to be modest in style (no shorter than a #3 cut), natural in colour and it must be worn suitably tidy. Subtle tips of a single natural colour are permitted; however, large streaks or chunks of colour are unacceptable. Styles resembling a mullet, dreadlocks, shaved or partially shaved heads are not permitted.’

For more clarification, visit
Teachers and staff will be contacting families is any students do need a haircut to comply with guidelines.

– Furthermore on uniforms, during Term 4 students can wear either our white summer shirt tucked in, or they can wear the new green-striped summer shirt untucked. All students should be wearing their blazer to and from School. If it is too hot, and this particularly applies to summer afternoons, we will inform our students they do not need to wear their blazer home.

– Teachers and staff have noticed a significant growth in our students’ independence during remote learning. However, we are noticing a recent dip in this with students forgetting musical instruments and classroom items, and a rise in parents bringing items to the front gate to be passed on to their child. I would like to encourage parents if their child forgets something, to take this as a learning opportunity for their child, and not bring in the item to School for them. Learning the consequences of not remembering an important item can help them remember in the future and fosters independence.

Key Dates
Tuesday 3 November:  Melbourne Cup Public Holiday
Thursday 5 November: 2021 Foundation Information Session via Zoom
Monday 16 November: Report Writing Day (student free)
Friday 20 November: Teacher Professional Development Day (student free)
Friday 4 December: 2021 Orientation Day

BAIRNSDALE NEWS by Head of Campus Virginia Evans
As expected, Term 4 is moving along very quickly and we are endeavouring to achieve many things in a small amount of time. We are also very aware of the challenges many of our students are having including returning to school and adapting to school routines, re-establishing friendship groups and transitioning to the next year level for 2021. With that, I appreciate and commend the many conversations taking place between families, teachers and myself, as we continue to work together in partnership for our students, your children.

We are currently finalising the class structure and staffing for 2021, with very minimal changes going forward. We are also finalising significant events for the remained of this year as we work around the restrictions of COVID-19 and its implications. We intend to provide the best possible occasions for all our students. I appreciate your patience in this regard. 

I mentioned previously that our students are finding some areas of their return to school challenging and ask for your support in the following ways:

  • Our uniform to be worn in line with the guidelines
  • Our bus travellers to respect the rules to keep them safe
  • Our students to complete the homework tasks required in the set time
  • Ensure we are all looking out for each other

We are very aware of the wellbeing of our students and we are pleased that a good number of students have registered for the program, ‘Stormbirds’, a program developed in response to natural disasters. Mrs Penny Rankin and myself will run three sessions over the next four weeks. For those involved we will have parent information zoom meeting on Monday at 5pm. Further details will follow via email.
We continue to monitor the wellbeing of our Year 5 and 6 students through the Pulse app, which allows us to respond to any concerns promptly. The great benefit of this app is that it encourages our students to express their feelings and to reflect on their actions and thoughts each week.

Today the SRC assisted in running our online Fellowship, raising awareness of the history of Polio in our world and local community. Our campus supported Archdeacon Brenda to raise funds for countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan to eradicate polio, the last two countries to do so. We had fun by wearing a touch of purple and having our pinkies painted purple as a reminder to the manner in which third world countries kept record of who has been vaccinated (see photos below). Thank you to our parents for supporting this cause. 

The Bairnsdale Campus raised awareness for Polio with a number of initiatives today.

After School Care Bookings for 2021
Bookings for the After School Care program in 2021 will open on Monday 2 November. Where requests exceed the number of available places, placement will be allocated in order of application date so please put in your application early to secure a place. A fee of $17.50 per session applies to all bookings. Notice must be given by 10am if booked days are to be reduced, cancelled or if your child/children are going to be absent. Bookings from 2020 will not automatically rollover to 2021. The After School Care handbook and application form can be found on VOS.

Term Dates for 2021
The 2021 term dates have now been released and can be seen at the end of this newsletter. Please make a note of school holiday dates and student free days. Holidays should be arranged during these times to minimise school absences during term times.

GARNSEY NEWS by Head of Campus Jan Henry
Year 12 begin examination preparation
This week was a time of celebration for the Year 12s as they achieved the marvellous milestone of finishing 13 years of secondary school. Of course, their examinations await them and there will be much preparation to do between now and then.

At our Prefects assembly on Monday School Captain Ellen O’Brien was able to reflect on the year that was. Ellen said: “after a year when I and many of my friends have been challenged with mental health, our anxiety and depression have been exacerbated though lockdowns and uncertainty. It seemed as if anything I would say would come across as toxic positivity.  I know there is no point us standing here today telling you to not stress or keep smiling as I know it is never as easy as that.” This candid snapshot truly points to the challenges that our Year 12 students have experienced this year, however Ellen was also able to reflect on the wonderful experiences she has had. Her message was ‘don’t let the fear of failure, keep you from enjoying what can be the amazing adventure of high school’.

This message set the scene for the remainder of the week and our Year 12s were able to celebrate many of the rites of passage of previous years. All schools have their own rituals and celebrations at this time of year and there is no single way that best recognises and celebrates the formal end of schooling for students balanced with the demands of study and examination preparation, but it is very important to recognise the milestone of completion of Year 12. Our Year 12 Celebration Day commenced with a delicious breakfast followed by a chance to say farewells to Mentors and the Head of Year 12. We had a live-streamed Chapel Service and Assembly followed by a quadrangle flash-mob dance and lap of honour, which culminated in the Year 12s running through a banner made for them by the Year 7 students. Dress ups and plenty of music and fun accompanied the lunchtime food truck lunch. Our Year 12s are very excited that we will celebrate a Valedictory dinner after examinations are completed. Now, of course, the hard work really begins as students study for the final examinations which commence next week. 

On their final day of formal schooling our Year 12 students took part in a Chapel service, their final assembly and then
walked alongside Principal Harper to the Garnsey ‘quad’ where they took part in a flash-mob dance and ran through a Congratulations
banner that was made for the graduating cohort by the Year 7 students.

Blackwood House Boarders’ Valedictory Dinner
It was lovely to join the Blackwood House staff and boarders for the Year 12 Boarders’ Valedictory Dinner on Tuesday night. Throughout the evening everyone enjoyed a two-course meal and many fond farewells. It was particularly touching to hear the junior boarders farewell the Year 12s and the tributes paid to all staff in Blackwood House.  

Men’s Mental Health Football game
The inaugural AFL Year 11 versus Year 12 football match was held on Wednesday to draw attention to the issues associated with Men’s Mental Health. Organised by Ben Crozier and Fergus Grubb, the students wore blue armbands to raise awareness of this issue. I hope that this will be the first of many games for this cause. Thanks to Sale Football Club for the jumpers.

Garnsey students enjoyed the simple things like the blue sky and simply being able to be
together to cheer on the Years 11 and 12 boys for the inaugural AFL footy match on Wednesday.

2021 Term Dates 2021

Term 1
Friday 29 January – Thursday 1 April
Friday 22 January: New Staff Day
Tuesday 26 January: Australia Day Public Holiday
Wednesday 27 & Thursday 28 January: Professional Learning Days (student free)
Friday 29 January: ELC, Foundation to Year 7 commences
Monday 1 February: Years 8-12 commences
Monday 8 March: Labour Day
Friday 2 April: Good Friday

Term 2
Monday 19 April – Friday 18 June
Sunday 25 April: ANZAC Day
Friday 28 May: Professional Learning Day (student free)
Monday 14 June: Queen’s Birthday

Term 3
Tuesday 13 July – Friday 17 September
Monday 12 July: Professional Learning Day (student free)
Friday 20 August: Compliance Day (student free)

Term 4
Monday 4 October – Thursday 9 December
Tuesday 2 November: Melbourne Cup Day
Monday 15 November: Professional Learning Day (student free)
Friday 19 November: Professional Learning & Rollover Preparation Day (student free)
Friday 10 December: Staff Day
Wednesday 22 December 2021: office closes 4pm
Thursday 6 January 2022: office reopens

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