Gippsland Grammar news: Feb 4, 2022

Feb 4, 2022 | Bairnsdale News, Garnsey News, Principal's News, St Anne's News

As the new school year begins, we are pleased to welcome a number of new students joining us from both our own region as well as from across Australia and overseas. I’d like to thank these families for choosing to be part of our School Community; we hope that you find your transition a smooth one and that you will enjoy and gain much from your association with our School.

I have heard some wonderful stories of rest and relaxation from the students since their return and they all seem to be rested and ready for the new school year. It is so important we take these opportunities to rest with our family and friends in order to rejuvenate our bodies and minds. This enables us to re-group with energy, purpose and goals. I know that has been the case for me as I relished the opportunity to see family I hadn’t seen for nearly two years.

At our first staff meeting for the year, I reflected on the importance of compassion. We have all had a tumultuous 18 months and my hope is that we can all consider the importance of compassion as a way to reconnect and care for one another. Compassion for each other, ourselves and especially for those in our community is key. I shared how being kind helps us connect and how it assists problem solving as well as improving our own health and wellbeing. I read an article the other day and it summed it up perfectly, it was about understanding the struggles of another person and wanting to help. My hope is that we can all acknowledge that everyone has been through a challenging time and the mental and physical toll can have a significant impact on each of us. Compassion can help each of us to approach situations with kindness and interest.

“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.”
– Dalai Lama

Tips  – Reducing Anxiety at the Start of the School Year

Last year, Gippsland Grammar hosted expert Michael Grose who presented a parent session. In his latest book Anxious Kids that Michael co-wrote with Dr Jodi Richardson there are som good points about anxiety, especially when starting a new year. I have summarised these below and hope they are helpful.

Finally, during my visits to each campus this week, I have been pleased to see such a positive atmosphere from our ELC students through to our Year 12’s; everyone seems very happy to be re-connecting with their friends and I am eagerly looking forward to more opportunities where we can reconnect as a School Community this year. I thank you for your ongoing support.
May 2022 be full of God’s blessings for you and your family.

Tips from Anxious Kids: Reducing Anxiety at the Start of a School Year
Going back to school after a long break can be an anxious time for a child. New classes, teachers, and students as well as the increased uncertainty of the pandemic all have potential to pile up and create fear of the unknown. Here are some strategies that may help you and your child work through the start of the new school year and lead to a more positive experience.

Validate Their Anxiety
Letting your child know that you appreciate and understand that they may be anxious about the return to school is important validation for your child and helps them feel safe and secure.

Help Them Prepare
Discuss what to expect with your child and help them understand school procedures and safety measures. Ask them what they are looking forward to and check in regularly in the first weeks.

Focus on the Positives
Talk about the friends and teachers that your child will be seeing again after the long break and reassure your child that they will soon feel comfortable in their new routines.

Limit Expressing Your Expectations
You may need to limit conversations about your expectations for the year – especially academic ones. It may only add to your child’s anxiety now and you will have plenty of time to discuss these during the year.

Don’t Add to the Pressure
Remember that working through the change takes up a lot of energy, so your child may become tired, and a bit more grumpy than usual. Make sure they have plenty of free time to relax and play after school while they settle into the year.

Look After Yourself
The long break and the uncertainty that comes with the current pandemic and what to expect in the future has taken a toll on parents as well. You need to ensure that you have a break and care for your own wellbeing if you are going to be the calm positive carer your child needs. Flexibility is going to be a necessity in the coming months, and you will need to ensure that you maintain your resilience as you care for your child and your family.

Credit: this is an edited extract from Anxious Kids (2019) by Michael Grose and Dr Jodi Richardson

Warm regards,
Leisa Harper

Early Learning Centre news by ELC Director Lisa Burgess
Hello and a warm welcome to all of our families for 2022. It has been a busy week as we welcomed 115 new children into our St Anne’s and Bairnsdale ELCs. The start of a new year is always a special time for children, parents, and our staff team as we begin to get to know each other and build new relationships. The children were very excited to have their uniforms on and there were only a few tears on the first day. The children settled in quickly and began to explore the beautiful learning environments at both centres.

At this time, we are asking families to minimise coming into the centre unless necessary and we thank you for following our ‘line up and drop off at the door’ procedures. It can take some time for the teachers to greet each child/carer individually and get them into the room so we thank you for your patience. The process will get quicker as the children settle into this new routine. Please understand that ensuring the safety of each child as they enter and exit the centre is our top priority.

The teachers will shortly be posting their first ‘Weekly Reflection’ onto your class VOS page so don’t forget to look at this regularly, as you will find a detailed ‘snapshot’ of the learning experiences that your child has been participating in during the week. There will be many photos to look at too. Some families enjoy viewing it together and find that it can provide opportunities for discussion and extension of the child’s interests that can be followed up at home.

Have a safe and restful weekend. I think that there will be many tired children.

Mrs Danielle Carpenter Transition teacher St Anne’s ELC, Betty, Evie, Sophie,
Tom and Alex

Bairnsdale Campus news by Head of Campus Virginia Evans
After a much-needed summer break we have all returned to the 2022 school year with happy smiles and good intentions. In particular, our little people in the ELC and our Foundation students have commenced the year with a pleasant confidence. It was evident that the first day of school was regarded as a special one by all.

During our first online assembly, I congratulated our students on the way they presented themselves for the first day, wearing the correct uniforms and looking neat in appearance. Our challenge will be to maintain the standard and we ask for your support in ensuring our students wear their uniform with pride and are organised for the day’s activities. With this in mind, I draw on the CLERR value, ‘Responsibility’.

Responsibility will be our focus for Term 1 as this can encompass, looking after our belongings, our school equipment, homework, remembering masks, musical instruments and individual music lessons. It also includes the role we play in establishing a campus culture that is inclusive and supportive. We have many new families to the campus, and we want for them an environment that is warm and welcoming. Please see below our quote for the year that defines the word ‘flourish’ and you will also see this throughout the school.

Carpark and pick up at the end of the day
An important concern for us is our end of the day pick up. During COVID, the times varied because of changes in our timetable and for practicality and convenience. However, SAFETY is paramount, and we ask that you adjust your thinking back to a 3.15pm end to the school day allowing for our bus travellers and Early Learning Centre families to have left, and for the students to be packed ready to be dismissed. I urge you not to come too early and line up as it creates a long line very quickly. Your arrival between 3.15 and 3.30 would be of great benefit to us all as we navigate the end of the day together as a community. Staff have been asked to park in the oval car park to keep the main car park clear for families, and families are also welcomed to use this car park if necessary.

Swimming trials are always scheduled early in the year and on Thursday many of our middle and senior students with not too much hesitation jumped in. I was pleased and proud of the attitude amongst the group, they were mostly willing participants and happy with just having a go.

Swimming lessons will begin for all Years 3-6 students on Monday, and will continue on Mondays throughout Term 1. These 45-minute lessons will be based on the Life Saving Victoria ‘Swim and Survive’ program and are an important and compulsory component of our Physical Education curriculum.

We have welcomed our new Tuckshop manager April O’Connor and look forward to her delicious lunches on Wednesdays and Fridays.  The staff have tested and approved her delicious choc chip cookies which will be available at recess. The first Tuckshop day will be on Wednesday next week, the 9th of February.

Newbies Club
For our new students we will be hosting a ‘Newbies’ club for our nine new students across the classes from 1-6. The intention is to check in on them, share information and generally enjoy each other’s company. I will be asking two Year 6 leaders to join me each week to assist me in this process.

We have postponed several important events for the first four weeks; however, preparation is still  underway in anticipation of our Welcome and Leaders Induction Fellowship, our Family Picnic and our House Swimming Carnival. Our family Picnic is a highlight for many and is a wonderful way to begin the new school year! We look forward to being together soon.

A reminder to use the COVID email address if you need to report a positive case within your family.

Wishing you well for the weekend ahead

St Anne’s Campus news by Head of Campus Jie Van Berkel
Following on from my welcome letter sent to families last week, we have continued with our theme of building strong connections within our school community. As I walked around our classrooms over the past few days, our students have happily settled into their new routines and expectations. I want to acknowledge our teachers and parents for helping our students prepare for the change between year levels. We believe our transition program, which began late last year, has assisted this transition. I also want to acknowledge the positive conversations I have had with our families regarding the year ahead.

At our Welcome Assembly (via Zoom), we welcomed our 14 new students to our St Anne’s community, along with our three new staff members. Sophie Keen (Year 1 Bradman), Toni Hutton (Year 3 Flynn) and Scott Wegener (Year 5 Cuthbert) have seamlessly fitted into our team. I know our families will make our new staff feel very welcome over the coming weeks.

Parent Information Evening – Wednesday 9 February via Zoom
Our Parent Information Evening will provide parents and carers with the opportunity to meet our teachers formally. These meetings will be an opportunity to hear from your child’s teacher about some of the year group’s plans for the year, relevant information about routines and expectations, as well as some suggestions on how to support your child during the coming school year. Due to current restrictions, we will be holding our information sessions via Zoom. The Year level Zoom links will be available on the night via VOS.

The program for the Information Evening is as follows.

  • 5:30pm: Specialist Program Information – pre-recorded videos available on the night
  • 6:00-6:30 pm: Foundation to Year 2
  • 30-7:00 pm: Year 3 to Year 6 

I encourage parents to contact your child’s classroom teacher on a regular basis. Teachers and parents need to have essential conversations to discuss your child’s learning from time to time. It is effective if these conversations happen face to face, via a phone call or Zoom. For less important matters, please send through an email.

We will regularly communicate with our school community. Right across Gippsland Grammar, we use VOS consistently. Our new students and our eldest child from each family brought home essential information about VOS. It includes setting notifications so you can be updated on important news, your child’s learning and much more. 

I also share important information with families through our weekly newsletter. Of course, I am available to speak to parents. I ask that you make an appointment through our front office, and I will accommodate you as soon as possible.

Swimming Trials
Seeing the smiling faces of our students during our Year 3 to Year 6 swimming trials made my day on Wednesday. The warm water temperate, along with missed sporting events over the past few years, meant that all of our students were eager to swim. Thank you to our parent helpers who allow such events to happen—a special mention to Graham Wigg. Graham has been assisting our swimming carnivals for many years, and his experience and calm nature is very much appreciated.

Our Foundation to Year 2 students will be experiencing their own modified swimming carnival this coming Tuesday. This is a morning of water fun, novelty events, and relays conducted in the outdoor toddler pool. Please refer to VOS for more information about this event.

We used our swimming trials to see how our House Swimming Carnival might run in a COVID safe way. We are still working through the finer details and look forward to sharing these details with our community in the coming days. At the moment, the Years 3 to Year 6 House Swimming Carnival is booked for Monday 14 February 2022. Please keep an eye out for more information on VOS regarding this key event.

COVID-19 Information
Many in our community know someone or, in fact, have had COVID-19. We have put measures in place to keep our community as safe as possible. Our key objective is to keep our school open and operating. The measures we have put in place are in line with the State Government rules and guidelines. Can families please remember the following:

  • If a family member tests positive or is isolating due to COVID-19, please email the school via
  • Students in Years 3 to Year 6 must wear a mask unless parents have contacted the school with their exemption information. This can be emailed to
  • Students in Foundation to Year 2 are encouraged to wear a mask
  • If a student comes to school with COVID-19 like symptoms, we will call parents/carers to come and collect their child from the front offic

If students are isolating, they will be able to access our ‘Isolation Learning Grids’ via our VOS class pages. When creating these grids, teachers took into account parents may be too unwell to help and that not all families have access to multiple electronic devices. Therefore, most of the activities are for independent work and do not rely on technology. Our Specialist teachers have also included learning activities on each grid.

Stay safe,


Year 6 student Oscar was all smiles at Wednesday’s swimming trials.

Garnsey Campus news by Head of Campus Kate Ray
It has been wonderful to see so many of our students back at school this week. We are starting our year with 564 students at our Garnsey campus, including 117 Year 7s – the largest Year 7 cohort for some time. Our Year 12 students have also commenced what will be their final year of secondary school with a mixture of excitement and trepidation of what is to come.

I am thrilled that already in just four days I have had requests from students to meet with me to discuss ideas for continuing to improve our learning spaces, both indoors and outdoors. Another comment that I heard this week was just how resilient our young people have become and the way they are able to manage themselves when things don’t always go their way. Something for all of us to consider.

While our swimming trials weren’t the usual whole School event, we were able to modify our plans to ensure that our Year 7 students had the opportunity to trial for upcoming interschool events. This gave us reason to reflect on future trials – we saw a greater level of participation and our Year 7 students were comfortable moving about the pool, spending time getting to know each other and also interacting with the staff who attended. After observing how successful this was and how much more comfortable our Year 7s were to be involved without the added challenges of the rest of the school ‘watching’ them, we are hopeful that we will now build this afternoon purely for Year 7 students into our swimming trials planning in future. We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from two past students who were our lifeguards at the Sale Pool. They were able to share some insights from their journey through secondary school at Gippsland Grammar as well as what they have been up to since they finished.

As we continue to monitor the ever-evolving COVID situation, our focus for this first four weeks of term is for us to keep our staff and students as safe as possible, and in classrooms onsite for as long as possible. There are almost daily meetings occurring with the Leadership team and staff in charge of events and activities to come up with safe and realistic ways to balance our need for caution and safety, with the opportunities that our students have as part of their Gippsland Grammar education.

Please see some reflections from our Year 7 students on their first week of secondary school:

What was something you were worried about at the start of the week that you feel more comfortable about now? At the start of the week, I was worried about high school in general – I was walking into something completely new. Now I feel much more comfortable.

What has been something that you have really enjoyed about your first week in Year 7? I have really enjoyed getting the computers – they make life so much easier! I have also enjoyed all my classes.

What is something that has surprised you about the Garnsey campus? I was initially surprised that breaks weren’t divided into eating time and playtime.

What was something you were worried about at the start of the week that you feel more comfortable about now? I was worried about forgetting stuff. It was slightly confusing, waking up at 6am and needing to use everything immediately. 

What has been something that you have really enjoyed about your first week in Year 7?
Something I have enjoyed starting school is THE COMPUTERS!!! The photoshop is very interesting. Also making friends like Leo, Mitch and Brayden. 

What is something that has surprised you about the Garnsey campus? Something that surprised me about Garnsey campus how BIG it is. With so many people I expected to sort of get lost, but I didn’t, and it’s all good. 

What was something you were worried about at the start of the week that you feel more comfortable about now? Something that I was worried about was finding my way around the school, however, thanks to Ms Wills who showed us around multiple times, I am a lot more confident with finding my way around.

What has been something that you have really enjoyed about your first week in Year 7? For me, something that I have enjoyed was exploring all the new rooms and areas, it seems so different for each room to be new, then compared to a junior school, where I have seen all of those rooms for 8+ years (I started in kinder).

What is something that has surprised you about the Garnsey campus?
  Something that surprised me was how heavy all the books are!! As well how far it is to get to some classrooms! I’m sure I will get use to it, eventually.

What was something you were worried about at the start of the week that you feel more comfortable about now?
Getting lost, when changing to different classrooms.

What has been something that you have really enjoyed about your first week in Year 7?
Meeting new teachers and going to different classrooms for different subjects.

What is something that has surprised you about the Garnsey campus? The timetable and how different subject’s work.

What was something you were worried about at the start of the week that you feel more comfortable about now?
I was worried about meeting new people.

What has been something that you have really enjoyed about your first week in Year 7? Doing classes that I didn’t have in primary school.

What is something that has surprised you about the Garnsey campus? The amount of time we have each period.


What was something you were worried about at the start of the week that you feel more comfortable about now? I was worried about homework and being on time to classes.

What has been something that you have really enjoyed about your first week in Year 7? I have enjoyed learning new things, instead of just revising old things like I did in primary school.

What is something that has surprised you about the Garnsey campus? I am surprised how organised everything is.

Performing Arts news by Director of Performing Arts Kevin Cameron
It was delightful to welcome our students and staff back to the Music Centre this week – it has been wonderful to see our teaching spaces full and busy with sound and energy here at Garnsey.  The new year represents an opportunity for all of us to set goals, make plans, and refocus our energies. 

The learning and experiences provided by our active involvement in Music and Arts are vital for all of us. In the context of our curricular and co-curricular programs we will make all necessary adjustments to promote safety and engagement – working to facilitate the can rather than finding reasons for the can not.  We will continue to work for continuity and consistency of our lessons, ensembles, and curricular programs for our students and staff.

Instrumental lessons have commenced at Garnsey this week, and at Bairnsdale and St Anne’s commencing next Monday. Lesson timetables will appear on VOS.  Given the current COVID-19 situation, we advise that there are likely to be frequent changes to teaching arrangements and timetables with limited notice.  Communication between parents and the Music Centre is key to notifying absence and implementing alternative arrangements. We have the capacity to utilise our existing Learn@Home structure to deliver instrumental lessons remotely, where possible and appropriate to do so.  Please be in touch with the Music Centre as soon as possible if your child will be absent from their instrumental lesson, or away from school for a period of time.

The Instrumental Tuition Program offers individual instrumental tuition on standard orchestral instruments and voice, piano, electric guitar, bass and drums. Students have the option of individual lessons on a rotating basis. The Music Centre has a staff of 20 highly experienced and skilled experts that teach around 300 lessons each week across all three campus sites.  We still have some spaces available for any students who would like to learn an instrument at school through the Music Centre, although the demand for places has been very high this year.  To register for instrumental lessons, use this link:

Cocurricular ensembles will commence in Week 2 (week beginning Monday 7 February). Performing as part of an ensemble helps our students gain the most from their music lessons and to experience music to the full. Ensemble participation reinforces their creativity and provides students with an opportunity to collaborate with like-minded people amongst many other benefits. As soon as they have reached a suitable standard, all students who play orchestral and band instruments are expected to be members of at least one large ensemble. Students who learn piano are encouraged to join our Choir or Percussion Ensemble. Our Senior School ensembles and their rehearsal times are:

Gippsland Grammar Chamber Orchestra Concert Bands – Monday afternoons from 3.35pm – 5.00pm 
Flute Choir – Monday lunchtimes 
Choir – Tuesday lunchtimes 
Percussion Ensemble – Tuesday lunchtimes 

Classroom Music in Year 7 also commenced this week for 7A, 7C, and 7E.  This program aims to provide an appreciation and understanding of music through the hands-on experience of music making within the class band program. Instruments trials have been completed and instruments will be issued to students to take home next week. 

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