Gippsland Grammar news: August 27, 2021

Aug 27, 2021 | Bairnsdale News, Community News, Garnsey News, Principal's News, St Anne's News

While I haven’t been able to travel on a flight for a long time now, I have been thinking about flying a lot this past week as we all sit and wait for the world to open up to us.

I love flying but, I must confess, I always get cabin fever; the closer I get to my destination, the more I can’t help but fixate on all I am going to do and see until, suddenly, that’s all I can think about, and I want off!

So, I start to pack up my things and get everything ready so I can get off the plane as fast as possible. But then I look at the flight path and, oh my goodness, we aren’t there yet. Suddenly, the last hour feels like the longest hour of the whole flight.

I know I’m not alone in this. I wonder if you are the person who stands up as soon as the seat-belt sign goes off, or are you a person who stays seated? I stand. Though I understand the logic that I should sit and wait, I am always keen to get off the plane. I want to move to what happens next and that’s all that is on my mind.

It has been very long time since I have made a long-haul flight and yet that long-haul cabin fever feels very familiar. I am so ready to get off the COVID-19 plane but it hasn’t landed … yet.

I am in lockdown. We are in lockdown. This is our long-haul flight, it doesn’t matter that the seat-belt sign is still on, I am ready get off. We still have more distance to go but I am so ready to get there.

So, what do I do with this endless hour? I can make the decision to distract myself; find a movie, tidy my handbag and make sure that I have all my belongings. I check the seat pockets and return my seat to its normal position.

What I do know is that the flight will end and, as I walk out into the terminal, I will forget that endless hour and I will be ready to start my trip.

So, how do we manage this COVID-19 cabin fever? I know that the flight will end but, for now, what can I do? I have a list of things I want to achieve, jobs to complete before the end of lockdown. I can make sure my family is happy and know that I used the time as well as I could. I want the runway to be clear.

I know we all experience cabin fever differently. There are those who love the plane trip and enjoy the journey and there are others that are standing waiting at the door. I know that many of our families are tired and are doing all that they can for each other. Please take care of yourselves and think of the destination. Know that the flight will end and – even though it may not be our last – it’s the positive plans we make for the moments in between.

So, for now, let’s sit together and wait for the seat-belt sign to switch off. (But, yes, I will be the one standing, ready to get off the plane.

Warm regards,
Leisa Harper

Well, what a week it has been! Our Sale and Bairnsdale educators left the ELC on Friday night after completing a day of essential first aid and child safety training, saying ‘see you next week’. However, with the snap arrival of another lockdown and the decision to include early childhood centres, that was not to be. Having been open the entire time since the first lockdown, this was unexpected and I know that it was a very stressful weekend for many of you with the prospect of having no care a possibility.

With that in mind, I want to thank all of our families and my team of educators for their patience as we attempted to navigate a brand new set of ever-changing rules that changed and evolved from Sunday into Monday. I am sure that most of you have read my most recent communication regarding restrictions; however, just to clarify, these are the mandatory restrictions for early childhood education and care services as provided by our regulator Department of Education and Training:

Based on advice from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, early childhood education and care (ECEC) services (kindergarten, LDC and FDC) in Victoria are now permitted to remain open for children of authorised workers and vulnerable children only.

To be eligible to access onsite education and care, in a two-parent/carer family or a one parent/carer family, one parent must be an authorised worker (working onsite or from home), and there is no appropriate alternative care available in the home.  If there is another adult in the household, authorised workers can still access onsite care only if the other adult is not able to supervise the child/ren (including due to work or personal circumstances such as illness or disability).

The key message is that if there is someone in the home who can safely care for your child, then children should remain at home. If you need help or advice on negotiating the new restrictions, please feel free to give me a call or email me at

On a brighter note, last week was National Science Week. Science learning is evident in every part of our daily educational programs at the ELC. Harnessing these learning opportunities allows children to critically and creatively think about, analyse and understand the world around them. It also creates the foundation for further skills and a lifelong love of learning. Of course, we don’t regard ‘science’ as a traditional separate subject area with young children. Rather, it is interwoven into daily activities as the children explore, tinker, construct, experiment, question and analyse. Their natural curiosity and sense of wonder in a bug that they see in the playground, or their observation that a crayon melts in the sun or that the leaves are changing, is a learning provocation that just begs for us to explore together.

In the lead up to Science Week I asked some of our teachers to provide a quick snapshot of what ‘science’ learning has looked like in their classes so far this year.

St Anne’s Reception educator Mrs Kristy How
We have learned about and observed the biology behind our worm farm. We appreciate the properties of materials that we can recycle and reuse. We explore various materials and how they behave, like slime, bubbles, rice, ‘magic sand’ and shaving foam. We also explore natural and manufactured loose parts and sort them. We use statements such as “I wonder”, “what if”, and “why” during our play.

We listened to an astronaut read to us from space! We use tools, trolleys, barrows, vehicles and even conveyor belts to see how technology can assist us. We also play with old computers and phones so we can see how they help us.  We build with open-ended materials like blocks and apply our thinking to make our creations strong. We learned with Magformers about magnets and how geometric shapes can join together to create patterns and new 3D shapes. Above all, we focus on developing dispositions in children of curiosity, cooperation and questioning.

Bairnsdale Reception educator Mrs Sommer-Lea Collins
In response to children’s questioning about where the rain comes from, the children conducted a rain cloud experiment. Using a glass jar, we filled it with water to represent air and used shaving cream as our cloud. The children then used their fine motor skills to squeeze a dropper of blue coloured dye in to represent the rain.  As the raindrops fell onto the cloud, they observed that it gets heavier, and finally it ‘rains’. The children had lots of fun watching as the rain fell through into the air (water) in our jar.

Last Thursday night Mrs Danielle Carpenter and I hosted the Transition Group’ Getting Ready for School’ parent information session, via Zoom. About 25 parents joined us to learn more about preparing their children for the essential transition into Foundation in 2022. Head of St Anne’s Campus Mr Van Berkel also spoke about the formal orientation process beginning in Term 4. You will now find a video recording on your VOS page for those families who missed this evening. A folder of written information is also available.

We are planning a similar evening for our Bairnsdale campus families very soon, also by Zoom.

At this stage, the planned Father’s Day events have unfortunately been cancelled, as has the school photographs at the Bairnsdale campus next week. I will advise you of alternative dates when I have them.

In the meantime, have a restful weekend and be kind to yourselves. Parenting young children, babies and toddlers, and trying to work and home school is tough, and you are all doing a great job.

Reception student Alison uses a dropper to explore rain falling through the clouds; and Reception student Harvey watches the rain fall down from his science experiment.

This week, my newsletter focuses on a school tradition that many students have enjoyed for many years: Book Week. The week always highlights the varied interests of our students, their love of reading and the connections they make with the many characters they meet when they turn the pages. Books provide such wonderful opportunities to learn, to relax and to share with others.

There is nothing like Book Week to bring smiles to our faces and enthusiasm in learning. And I’m pleased to say that being at home did not limit or restrict the outstanding creativity of our Community. Mrs Fiona Sutherland and our staff organised a terrific week of activities.

Matching our teachers to a character kicked off the week with Mrs Elisha Froud being quickly identified as little Miss Energy.

On Tuesday, our students supported the Arts in these trying times, viewing an incursion of the storybook ‘Littlelight’, by Kelly Canby. Banksia students responded with detailed drawings demonstrating their understanding.

Wednesday, our quiz involved students being challenged to list characters from stories from old worlds, new worlds, and other worlds and recognising personality traits of the many characters they meet in stories. They had to send their answers in as soon as they completed the task. The results were:

Foundation-Year 2:      Correa
Year 3/4:                          Melaleuca
Year 5/6:                         Blackwood

Mrs Sutherland said the students answered correctly and creatively, and she was very impressed.  Acacia needs a special mention as they supplied five characters (instead of three) in each category and also gave some great answers. Congratulations everyone!

Our book character dress-up day was not dampened by rain or COVID-19, with our students and staff presenting themselves as book characters reflecting this year’s theme of ‘old worlds, new worlds and other worlds’. Our Mystery Reader was Deputy Principal Mrs Michele Wakeham and she had everyone guessing who she had taken inspiration from, which was Silky the Pixie. Our students enjoyed meeting Mrs Wakeham by Zoom and they were all very impressed as her reading.

Deputy Principal – Teaching and Learning Mrs Michele Wakeham introduced herself to Bairnsdale students by dressing up as Silky the Pixie for Book Week and reading to our students via Zoom.

As our usual Book Week parade was not to be, instead students were encouraged to create a puppet to be part of our puppet parade throughout the week. We have seen some very creatively designed puppets using a variety of materials. You can see the results of all these activities by browsing the class pages.

Tournament of the Minds
At the beginning of this term, our two TOM groups began preparations for their TOM challenges. They anticipated performing them at Federation University last weekend however due to COVID-19 concerns, changes to the program were made in advance of this lockdown and the students were instead asked to film their long-term challenge and submit the film online. They all have been working towards this over the past five weeks however this current lockdown presented a new challenge and our students were given two Plan C (!!!) options: to use either an old rehearsal video or to film virtually on Zoom. Both groups elected to try virtual filming. As such, they had 24 hours to rework their long-term challenge to work as a virtual performance. It was outstanding to see what these 14 students were ultimately able to achieve. They were adaptable and resilient to all of the changes and displayed an excellent attitude to get their challenges over the line.

Please note that our planned Garnsey Open Evening on Friday September 10 from 3.30-6pm has also be reimagined as a virtual event. Any families who would like to take this opportunity to have a closer look at our senior campus are encouraged to register and I also ask that you please share this opportunity with anyone in your networks who may also be interested in our senior campus in particular. Our School runs daily buses from East Gippsland to Sale and we also have boarding facilities for those families who live too far away to commute but who don’t want to miss out on the many and varied education opportunities our school provides. You can register for this event via our homepage:

Closer to home, we have some limited places still available at our Bairnsdale ELC for next year, particularly for our three-year-old Reception kindergarten program. This may also be something those in your network may be interested in.

The current weather is most conducive to continue reading through the weekend.
Read on!

Siblings Logan and Kloe Dick took inspiration from Harry Potter for Book Week, while Hannah dressed as George from George’s Marvellous Medicine.

Each week I feel like I am writing about pivoting to Learn@Home or about pivoting again to return to on-site learning. This recent return to Learn@Home has come with stricter guidelines for those families wishing to access supervision on-site via our Learn@Home@School program. I ask that all families please refer to Principal Harper’s recent email explaining these changes. In line with this, from Monday all our classroom teachers will be working from home while other staff will continue to provide supervision on-site for our Learn@Home@School program for those families who have permits or fit the vulnerable students’ criteria. I have really appreciated our families willingness to adjust to these new government requirements.

Already, our teachers are looking at ways to engage our students with their remote learning. Our Year 5 students unfortunately missed out on their camp this week so have undertaken a range of camping adventures online. The students had the choice to participate in a variety of tasks, including hut building, damper making, paper plane creating, map drawing, obstacles courses, star gazing and cloud watching, a scavenger hunt, model making and a night hike.

Year 5 student Lucy makes damper at home while fellow Year 5 student Cruz makes paper planes.

Year 2 students are looking at forces and this week they focused on creating ramps, with the challenge being to include inclines, levers and pulleys. We used items that could be found around the house. Students who were learning from home-recorded their creations and sent them through for us to watch as a whole class via Zoom. Virtual collaboration! An awesome lesson created by Mrs Condron, the kids both at school and home thrived! 

Book Week Fellowship
This morning we were treated to a wonderful live Book Week Fellowship from our Library monitors and our Teacher Librarian Mrs Eliz Noble. Going online this year, students from Foundation to Year 6 had the opportunity to dress up themselves, a teddy bear, or have their favourite book on show. Our Library Monitors Caleb Osler, Sydney Grewer, Isobel Covino, Zara Missen and Sophie Hooper shared how books take us on amazing adventures and teach us wonderful things. We read a picture storybook together and held a Book Week dress-up parade. Thank you to Mrs Noble and our Library monitors for today’s live Fellowship. We would love to make a slideshow on VOS of all of our students who dressed up for today’s Book Week celebration. Please send your photos to by Wednesday September 1.

House Athletics Carnival
With the Olympics and Paralympics still fresh in our minds, last week, our Year 2–Year 6 students completed in our House Athletics Carnival. We usually run this carnival at our Garnsey campus with plenty of parent spectators but given the restrictions at that time students and staff quickly adapted to running our annual House Athletics Carnival at our St Anne’s Campus instead. Our Year 2 to Year 6 students competed in a range of key athletic events (our Foundation to Year 1 students participated in a modified athletic carnival earlier in the term). We included our Year 2 students in this carnival to give them a chance to experience what an athletics carnival is all about. It was amazing watching all students challenge themselves, demonstrating sportsmanship and just having fun. A huge thank you to Mrs Kate O’Toole for her organisation and leadership on the day and to our teachers and staff for all of your help on the day. The winning house was Wellington Binks and here is a transcript of the speech from our Wellington Binks House Captain Aliesha Turnbull:

Hi everyone
Firstly I would like to start by saying thank you to all the teachers that made this day possible. Thank you to Mrs O’Toole, Mrs Langshaw and the fantastic staff and students who helped today, we could not be more grateful, and a massive well done to all the Wellington Binks people.

Thanks to everyone who participated today; we thank all of you for putting in the effort, but I am most thankful to the people in Binks who constantly give 100% every day. We are really proud of the way you have had to adapt to these conditions. It has really shown today with this amazing achievement!!!!!!

Thanks, everyone – GO BINKS!

Our age champions were:
8/9 Boys: Henri Duggan
9/9 Girls: Jessica Brewer
10 Boys: Max Williamson
10 Girls: Erin Smith
11 Boys: William Edgar
11 Girls: Melina Beanland
12/13 Boys: William Doube
12/13 Girls: Mia Goold

House Athletics 2021
1st Wellington Binks
2nd Cranswick Dargo
3rd Blundell Bogong
4th Tisdall Hotham

Young Archie Prize
This morning I was informed that the following students have been selected as finalists for the Young Archie Portrait Prize! The Young Archie is a Youth Art Prize run in conjunction with the prestigious Archibald Prize, which is this year being held at Gippsland Art Gallery in Sale. The portrait must be of someone known to the artist and who plays a significant role in their life. These artworks will be eligible to be selected as the Young Archie 2021 winner for their respective age groups. Their portraits will be on display at Gippsland Art Gallery from 13 September to 21 November 2021. Congratulations to everyone who entered.

9 – 11 years

  • Adelaide Ripper
  • Edward Greenwell
  • Erin Smith
  • Lucy Dray
  • Rebekah Perrett
  • Stephanie Morgan

12 – 15 years

  • Darcee Young
  • Isobel Clyne
  • Olivia Clyne

Finally, thank you to everyone for supporting our whole school fundraising efforts with Beanies for Billy last week. Billy Adams was a student at both Bairnsdale and Garnsey and unfortunately passed away in 2019, aged 20, to brain cancer. I know many people in our community has close connections with Billy and his family.

As Mrs Evans has also explained in her section of this newsletter, our planned Open Evening at Garnsey has been reimagined as a virtual event, which will be held on September 10 from 3.30-6pm. We will share more information about this event with you in coming newsletters but I encourage all families who would like to know more about our senior campus to register for this event, and to also share this with anyone else in your network who may be interested also. You can register you interest for the event here:

Year 3 student Bella Hams dresses as Harry Potter for Book Week; and some of the Young Archies entries by St Anne’s students.

As we come to the end of a week of Learn@Home, I am pleased to reflect on the week and note that while there were many things that we weren’t able to do, there were still opportunities for us to take.

On Monday we held our first Assembly for the term on Zoom and during our assembly our new Deputy Principal Mrs Wakeham introduced herself to us and spoke of her passion for education and being a life-long learner. Mrs Wakeham said she is looking forward to getting to meet more of our senior students when we are all back onsite.

Mrs Harper spoke to us about the role that we can all play in times like these – where we need to find something small that can bring joy to others and to help us be in a positive space. She challenged us all to think of what we can all do to step up and do something to help someone out or to share some joy. It might be a simple thing like making someone in your house a cup of tea, or sending an email to someone to check in on how they are going. These are all little things that we are able to do to step up and create some positive moments.

This week for Book Week I encouraged all our students to take some time in the afternoons to read. To read that book you have been waiting to get to, read something that you have loved, read something new. To take some time to escape into the world of books.

I read the story ‘Thelma the Unicorn’ by Aaron Blabey to the assembly and I love this story because it gives us the message that it is ok to try new things to see what it might be like to ‘be’ someone else but ultimately the best thing that you can do is to BE YOU.

Mrs Fleming arranged for a group of students to be involved in an online ‘Go Girls’ CyberEdition which was a fun, virtual one-day technology conference for girls in Years 5 to 12. There were workshops, presentations and discussions – to inspire and excite girls for further studies and a career in STEM. The students who attended gained a great deal from the day.

We have also been able to hold online House Debating starting today with our debaters on Zoom competing for House points. Ms Sugisaki hosted a Japanese cooking session with her classes and we also had the boarders in Blackwood House holding an online catch up with their fellow boarders and families online. Next week I also look forward to hearing how our Chess team fare in an online Chess competition. Our teachers are finding new and interesting ways to engage our students in their learning online and I thank them for this.

Please remember that during these Learn@Home times there are many people here to assist you or to reach out to; your mentors, Head of Year, Mrs Broughton – any of your teachers. We are all here to support each other.


As an arts community we have experienced a week of highs and lows and a week of stark contrasts. Matilda the Musical opened and closed, our cast cheered and cried, and the vital work of the Music department continued with the continuity of our learning programs. Through it all, the essential aim of providing a context for our students to continue to make art was front and centre.  All artists must make art often, regardless of the circumstances, to maintain their creativity, connection, and wellbeing; and this has been our focus with the young and still-developing artists here at Gippsland Grammar.

Matilda the Musical
We were delighted to share performances of Matilda The Musical with our Year 7 and 8 students in a preview performance, and enthusiastic audiences of families and friends for two evening shows.  This has been a long journey for our cast, crew, and staff.  Words like ‘tenacity’, ‘resilience’, and ‘perseverance’ come to mind, but such words don’t really describe our journey completely.  This production took place in an unprecedented context that has been especially difficult for creative and artistic people everywhere, and we were so fortunate to be able to present performances here in Gippsland when so many other theatres are dark all over the world.  As Matilda reminds us:  Just because you find that life’s not fair, it doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it…and in many respects this sums up the journey of this wonderful production. This cast and crew continued to work and prepare with warmth and enthusiasm in the face of every artist’s greatest unspoken fear – that the show would not go on.  And yet…it did – and brilliantly!  We are very grateful.

I acknowledge and warmly thank our production team, Performing Arts staff and our Principal and Leadership team for all their work in the background to keep this production of Matilda alive. Everyone was constantly working for the best outcomes within a forest of compromise and restriction. I thank everyone for the advocacy that has taken place on behalf of our arts community, and for keeping faith with our fabulous and impressive cast and crew (our music makers and dream-makers) when we so sorely need their light to shine brightly to uplift us all.  We are all very grateful to our Performing Arts families who have been with us every step of the way, and we are so sorry for many who missed out on seeing this production as a result of the sudden lockdown and other reasons.

House Music Eisteddfod
We have received a wonderful response to the House Music Eisteddfod: thank you to all our students who will be participating.  Which House will be the winner of the aggregate prize?  We shall see, and we can’t wait to see and hear some amazing performances. Because of current restrictions, all entries will be via video submission to VOS.  School familes can read more about this on the VOS Eisteddfod page.

Virtual Choir Project
Members of Schoir and 789 Choir are working with me to produce a virtual choir project with the aim of recording individual contributions to make a combined project (that will be greater than the sum of the parts!) to help uplift our Community with some inspiring music.  Any students who would like to join with the choirs and contribute to this special project are warmly welcomed to contact me via email for further details.

Catch up on last week’s newsletter here:

It was a wonderful feat for Matilda the Musical to make it onto the stage last week (even if we weren’t able to complete all of the scheduled performances).

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