Gippsland Grammar news: August 13, 2021

Aug 13, 2021 | Bairnsdale News, Community News, Garnsey News, Principal's News, St Anne's News

As the week comes to a close, we pause on what has been yet another week where we have had to pivot. Students and staff have all managed to return to School with grace; however I think there are people who would agree with me when I share that it is exhausting having to manage the build-up of emotions when a new directive comes out, the subsequent planning that emerges with great speed and then into our “new learning/working” place for an unknown period.

We must all reflect on our fellow Victorians in Melbourne who remain in lockdown; we know their feelings; their concerns and we know they are exhausted too.

In times like this I draw strength from the community I live and work in. Our School Community is everything: the support we show each other demonstrates our CLERR values of Compassion, Leadership, Excellence, Respect and Responsibility.

In speaking with students, one source of support has been their friends. We all know that friends give meaning to our lives. They fulfill the need to belong and, in this case, provide support during the tough times. Friends are central to happiness and wellbeing and research shows that the better the quality of your relationships, the more likely you are to be happy.

I found some tips on how to be a good friend that you might like to share with you children, though they really apply to us all.

I hope you are all about to have a truly restful and rejuvenating weekend. Enjoy being with your family and friends over this time.  

Tips on how to be a good friend
To have good friends you must also be a good friend. However it’s common not to know exactly what to do or how to show friends you are there for them. These top tips are a good place to start:
Listen Take the time to listen. Try to understand the situation from your friend’s perspective. Ask open questions and make sure your body language is open and relaxed (face them, make eye contact, and nod).
Get physical Smiles or even high-fives are a great way to show you care.
Stay in touch Technology (phones, email etc.) makes it easy to keep in touch with friends, even if they don’t live close by.
Tell them how you feel  Every now and then remember to tell your friends you care about them or appreciate them.
Be willing to make the tough calls when needed If a friend does come to you for help, or you think your friend might be in need of help, be prepared to help them seek the assistance they need.

Warm regards,
Leisa Harper

Students and staff are encouraged to wear beanies to school on Monday (August 16) in memory of Old Scholar Billy Adams who died of brain cancer in June 2019, aged 20.

Billy began at the School at the Bairnsdale Campus in Year 3 in 2007 before moving to Garnsey where he was part of our Class of 2017. He was first diagnosed with brain cancer in January 2016 just as he was to begin Year 12. Classmate and current Gippsland Grammar Learning Assistant Ella Baker-Horan said Billie was told he would only have 12 months to live.

“Billy taught us the true meaning of resilience and courage,” Ms Baker-Horan said. “He fought hard. Always with a smile on his face and even though he was still undergoing chemotherapy treatment he insisted on coming back to school to complete Year 12 (in 2017).”

Following his graduation, Billy went into remission, accepted a university place in Arts and by the second semester was offered a place to study Law. However by the mid-term break cancer had returned; world renowned surgeon Dr Charlie Teo removed a large section but could not remove it all. Billy endured months of rehabilitation and in January 2019 Billy travelled to China for immunotherapy and photo sono dynamic treatment before passing away in June of that year.

Gold coin donations to support brain cancer research will be collected in classrooms and in Mentor groups on Monday morning

Garnsey students at last year’s inaugural Beanies for Billy Day at Gippsland Grammar.

Early Learning Centre news by ELC Director Lisa Burgess 
It has been another busy week for all of the children in the ELC programs. We have been collecting food and essential supplies to support the Anglicare Emergency Pantry so I would like to share my many thanks to the families at St Anne’s and Bairnsdale for helping us in our quest to collect more than 200 items before the end of August – keep up the great work.

This week at St Anne’s campus, the children have been learning about healthy lifestyle choices through the ‘Smiles for Miles’ Dental Health program that the ELC’s are accredited to run. The Transition children have been exploring eating a ‘rainbow’ of healthy fruit and vegetables they should eat regularly. We have begun a cooking program called ‘Funky Food Friday’. Each week the children are helping to prepare a delicious lunch that includes fruits or vegetables from each of the colour groups: red, orange/yellow, white/brown, green and blue. They are making their own ‘rainbow recipe books’ and tallying the number of each colour food we have cooked. Last week’s meal of a healthy six vegetable pasta included vegetables grown in our ELC garden. The children have been able to think deeply about the sustainable aspects of using homegrown vegetables, minimising packaging and helping to compost our scraps.  We hope that families will continue these discussions at home to support children to eat healthily throughout their lives. We know that young children can be fussy eaters, but they are easily influenced by the positive messages they receive from kindergarten and school. One very easy way to encourage your child to try new things is to allow them to help prepare meals with you, grow your own vegetables and be prepared to offer new tastes ten or more times. Using simple kitchen tools to grate, spread, peel or chop (under supervision) also helps develop essential hand strength and coordination.

As we enter the last weeks of winter, we are taking every opportunity for the children to be physically active, even on the coldest days. So I ask that all families ensure their child has a warm jacket each day that is clearly labelled with their name. A raincoat might also be a great idea on the wettest days, especially if the children have to walk across to their specialist lessons.

To mark winter we recently held a Pyjama Day. The children enjoyed spending the day in their warm winter PJ’s and they participated in a variety of enjoyable creative activities. The educators encouraged each child to design their own pair of pyjamas. The children used cellophane, glitter, fabric, sequins, buttons, and stickers to create and express their original ideas. They were very proud of the results.

Getting Ready for School (St Anne’s Transition): parent information session on Thursday August 19 from 7pm, via Zoom
ELC Photos: we are crossing our fingers that Foon’s Photographics will be able to take our annual individual and group photos on the following dates;
Bairnsdale Campus
Reception: Tuesday August 31
Transition: Wednesday September 1

St Anne’s Campus
Reception: Wednesday September 8 and Thursday September 9
Transition: Friday September 10

Have a wonderful weekend.

Krish Nayak enjoys learning more about healthy eating at the ELC as a part of the Smiles for Miles program; and Ned Elliman enjoys eating ‘rainbow’ pasta sauce at the ELC Funky Food Friday.

Bairnsdale Campus news by Head of Campus Virginia Evans
My current approach to the challenges of COVID-19 is to capture the special moments, appreciate them and celebrate them when we can. Our Foundation students were excitedly anticipating their 100 Days of School; they acknowledged it on Zoom and then celebrated together under the Bairnsdale oak tree on their return to school.

A magic moment came from Learn@Home for Correa students, who created dioramas of the ‘Wonders of Australia’. The families and children were equally engaged in researching and constructing the wonderful projects, which were delivered to School this week.

Another magic moment for me: I have relished the opportunity to interview next year’s Foundation students via Zoom. I was initially concerned that we could not meet face to face, however I was thoroughly impressed by their confidence and willingness to interact via the screens. In fact, I’m not sure who was interviewing who at times! As a Community, we look forward to welcoming them to our Campus in 2022.

As our students returned to School after some very quick lockdown turnarounds, I asked for their cooperation and for our CLERR values of Compassion, Leadership, Excellence, Responsibility and Respect to be at the forefront of their actions. I am grateful for their response and appreciate their commitment to making the most of each day.

At the hallway point of term, we are looking ahead to School camps, excursions and exciting events, though some may look different as a result of the COVID-19 guidelines. We are working together to ensure our students experience a positive learning environment within the boundaries.

On Monday we are asking all students to please wear a beanie to school for the Beanies for Billy Day (see above for more information), which is a chance to raise money for brain cancer in memory of Old Scholar Billy Adams, who was a student at both Bairnsdale and Garnsey and unfortunately passed away in 2019, aged 20 to brain cancer.

Thinking of our families, always.

Foundation students Morgan and Perri celebrate 100 days of school. 

St Anne’s Campus news by Head of Campus Jie Van Berkel
Firstly, thank you to our School Community for flipping to Learn@Home and then flipping back to on-site learning over a short period. Though I understand this can be mentally draining, I appreciate that we were able to do this in such a positive way.

When students arrived back to Campus on Tuesday, we held a ‘Welcome Back Assembly’ via Zoom. I explained to our students that, as we return, we will be focussing on:

  • Being respectful (yourself, others, environment, equipment)
  • Being responsible (classroom, playground, learning)
  • Uniform (correctly, with pride)

I spent some time in McCubbin on Wednesday having an in-depth conversation with our Year 1 students about their Fellowship for this week. The focus of Fellowship is on what people need to do to learn. What struck me was their ability to articulate that success looks different for each individual. To be successful, you need to set goals, challenge yourself, accept and learn from feedback and persevere. In McCubbin, the students have a sloth ‘teddy bear’ in their class. During our discussion, many of the students referred to real sloths and how they must persevere each and every day to be successful. School families can watch the pre-recorded McCubbin Fellowship on VOS.

Today our ELC, Foundation and Year 1 students competed in a Junior House Athletics Carnival. The Students completed in a series of Athletics track and field events in a rotation system. We are looking forward to a fun-filled sporting afternoon.

Due to the recent government COVID-19 guidelines, we have had to modify our Senior House Athletics Carnival. Years 2-6 will participate in our House Athletics at our St Anne’s Campus on Wednesday August 18 and these results will determine the School Inter-House Cup and athletes who will progress to the Sale and District Athletics Carnival. No records can be created or broken as part of these events. This also means we cannot have parents on-site either assisting or as spectators. Thank you for your understanding and flexibility as we navigate creating special events for our students within the current guidelines.

Pre-COVID times, I would catch up with a small group of students each week from a specific year level to have morning tea with them. This provided me with an opportunity to have an open discussion with our students to see how they are going. On Thursday morning of this week, I met with Jadyn, Max, Thomas and Xavier from Year 6. They all provided me with great insight into how their year is going, including challenges and celebrations. The four students also gave me perceptive feedback on their teachers. They spoke about how they learn not only ‘academic stuff’ but also how to be kind and compassionate. I also heard about how their teachers explain topics well and reinforce new concepts.

We recently sent out an email invite to our parents and carers to attend our Parent-Teacher Interviews for students in Foundation to Year 6 to be held on Tuesday August 24 and Thursday August 26. The purpose of these interviews is to discuss your child’s progress and examine ways in which their future learning may be assisted.  We regard this as a significant occasion where a valuable exchange of information can take place from both a parent and teacher perspective. Due to current restrictions, Term 3 interviews will be held via Zoom. Interview times are as follows:
– Foundation to Year 6 (including Specialist teachers): Tuesday August 24, 3.45–6.30pm
– Foundation to Year 6 (classroom teachers only): Thursday August 26, 3.34–6pm
– Year 5 (classroom teachers only): Tuesday August 31, 4-6.00pm *
* Due to Year 5 students being on camp on Thursday August 26, we have allocated Tuesday, August 31 for classroom teacher interviews. Parents are encouraged to make a 10-minute appointment using the online booking system on VOS. Bookings opened today at 9am and please refer to the email or VOS post for the link to book your child’s interview time. Our teachers’ Zoom links will be available via a VOS news item on the morning of Tuesday August 24.

Towards the end of Term 3 each year, students from Foundation to Year 6 participate in the ‘Catching on Early’ program. The program is a part of our School Health Education curriculum and explores issues relating to personal identity, sexuality, health and personal safety. Our classes will be undertaking units, specifically designed for their age group, which cover topics such as:

  • Who can we call on for help? – Identifying responsible adults we can talk to or seek help from.
  • What makes girls and boys different? – Identifying the physical differences between girls and boys in a respectful way.
  • How can we stay healthy? – Identifying what our body needs to stay healthy.
  • Where do I belong? – Identifying our families and friends and positive support networks

If you have any questions about the program or your child’s involvement in it, do not hesitate to get in touch with your child’s classroom teacher via email.

Have a great weekend.

Year 6 students Max, Jadyn, Xavier and Thomas enjoy morning tea with Mr Van Berkel earlier this week; and Year 1 students Diesel and Murphy at today’s Junior House Athletics.

Garnsey Campus news by Head of Campus Kate Ray
Whose Wisdom do you tap into and why?
It seems fitting that as I think over our week at Garnsey Campus that the above message from Chapel comes to mind.

Many of us had to tap into something deeper to quickly pivot back into learning at School after getting settled in the idea that we would be carrying out Learn@Home for the remainder of the week.

During Chapel this week Reverend Blaskow asked some of our student leaders ‘whose wisdom do you tap into and why?’ The students gave unscripted answers and once again I was blown away by the wisdom of our young people.

They were all able to acknowledge that they have different people in their lives that they can ‘tap into’ at certain times. One of our student leaders who was the last to respond left us all with some very wise advice: don’t forget to trust your own wisdom. Sometimes you know what is right for you.

Our Years 9, 10 and 11 students also tapped into the wisdom of others this week by attending subject selection information sessions. Our VCE Coordinator, Careers Coordinator and Heads of Year presented to families on Tuesday and Wednesday evening to go over the important considerations when choosing your subjects for your senior years of schooling. For any families who missed out on these sessions, the recordings are available via a News item link on VOS.

Also on Wednesday during lunchtime our VCE students gave up their lunchtime to speak with students in Years 9 and  10 about the subjects they chose and why. Giving key information around what it is like to study certain subjects. It was wonderful to witness our VCE students talking so passionately about the subjects they have chosen.

Reverend Blaskow during Chapel also asked me whose wisdom do I tap into and I feel that working in education I have many different sources for wisdom – depending on what I need I am able to speak with colleagues, leaders in the field of education, my parents, and also something that I find I am doing more and more – our young people. There are certain times that we need to look to them and I am fortunate to have so many wise young people at our school who make courageous and considered choices every day.

Performing Arts News with Director of Performing Arts Dr Kevin Cameron
We approach the coming week with excitement and confidence as we finally bring Matilda – the Musical to our Gippsland Grammar community!  Our students and staff have continued our curriculum programs and instrumental lessons during the recent short lockdown.  Since our return to face-to-face teaching we have been able to offer our classes, instrumental lessons and ensemble rehearsals with modifications to ensure both safety and continuity. 

Recent clarifications from the Department of Education have finally cleared the way for the long-awaited opening of our 2021 production Matilda – the Musical.  The cast of Matilda are making final preparations of props, costumes, choreography and songs in a transformed Garnsey Hall from Thursday August 19 to Sunday August 22.  Under the present COVID-19 restrictions there will be only 100 tickets offered for each performance – but we are delighted that we will be able to uplift our Community with something hopeful and joyous during another challenging year. Tickets for our season of four performances will be available from Monday at 9am at

Already this year we have cancelled or postponed a number of musical events including soiree evenings, community concerts and AMEB exams – all of these events represent important opportunities for our musicians at all levels of development to share their music and gain experience in playing for an audience. For many students, performance opportunities have simply evaporated.  I am delighted to announce an exciting new addition to our program – the House Music Eisteddfod. This event will be held at Garnsey campus as lunchtime concerts during Week 8 and will welcome students of all instruments, voice types and with a range of experience, from ‘Novice’ through to ‘Master’. This is a House-based event where students will earn points for their House and an aggregate prize will be presented at the end of the term.  School families can visit the House Music Eisteddfod VOS page for further details. We look forward to hearing some great playing as we celebrate music in many forms!

Our House Music, Drama and Dance Captains have been working hard to create and rehearse work for performances.  We will be combining House Music ensemble performances, House plays and House Dance into a spectacular day of Arts celebration in the final week of Term 3. 

A few weeks ago we began the journey of a new concert band at Gippsland Grammar. This new ensemble is for students who have recently started playing, or who have kept their instruments going after completing last semester’s Band Classes in Years 7 and 8 and already the group sounds fabulous, and we are looking forward to having more players join next week. All interested students playing a woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument are welcome. Rehearsals are on Mondays in the Music Studio, commencing at 3.30 p.m.

Catch up on our previous newsletter here:

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