Gippsland Grammar news: June 24, 2022

Jun 24, 2022 | Bairnsdale News, Community News, Garnsey News, Principal's News, St Anne's News

Dear members of the Gippsland Grammar Community,

It is with great honour I am writing to you today as the Acting Principal of Gippsland Grammar.

There’s no doubt that our Board’s announcement on Wednesday regarding our School’s change in leadership was unexpected. So, while I certainly wasn’t planning to be writing to you in this capacity today, I would like to assure our students, families and staff that I am ready to lead our Community through this next chapter in our School’s history.

I would also like to share that I understand the wave of emotions many of you may have experienced over the past few days, as I have been experiencing them with you. While I have had my own sombre moments of reflection, I have also had moments of reassurance, confidence and optimism. I have been reassured by the unwavering support of our Board and our Leadership team and by the many messages I have received from our School Community. Thank you. While the position of Acting Principal is not one I was seeking, it is a position of responsibility that I am confident and optimistic about.

Our most important focus is our students and that the teaching, learning and support continues in the classroom. I can assure you the need for continuity and certainty has been at the forefront of my mind this week and this will continue to be an unwavering priority when we all return to our St Anne’s, Bairnsdale and Garnsey campuses for Term 3.

Today, I announced the appointment of Justin Henderson as the acting Deputy Principal. Mr Henderson has most recently been acting Head of Garnsey Campus as well as our Head of VCE and is also our Careers Advisor. Mr Henderson is familiar to many of us as both a teacher, husband of our Head of Year 7 Mrs Sharyn Henderson and as father to Old Scholar Tom, Katelyn (Year 10) and Emily, who we are looking forward to joining us in Year 7 next year. During his time as Acting Head of Garnsey, Mr Henderson has cemented himself as a crucial member of our Leadership team and I look forward to this continuing.

From Term 3 our Head of Garnsey campus will be fulfilled by the much-anticipated arrival of Mr Rohan Jayatilake, who joins us from his current role as Deputy Head of the British School in Kathmandu. Mr Jayatilake is an experienced educator who is passionate about creating opportunities for young people both in and outside the classroom. He is a keen sportsman and I know he is looking forward to indulging his passions for fishing, camping and diving in our region. I spoke to Mr Jayatilake on Wednesday and it was lovely to hear his enthusiasm in joining both our School Community and the wider Gippsland community with his wife Sona and their daughter Kaiya.

I am also thrilled to welcome back Ms Kate Ray to her new Leadership role as Director of Strategic Operations and Innovation. Alongside our Head of St Anne’s Mr Jie Van Berkel, our Head of Bairnsdale Campus Mrs Virginia Evans, our ELC Director Mrs Lisa Burgess and our Acting Business Manager Mr Richard Price the strategic direction of our School is indeed in capable, enthusiastic and cohesive hands and I am humbled to work alongside these incredible leaders.

The last week of term is always a busy one and that has certainly been the case at each of our campuses. Today our St Anne’s Transition students are enjoying pumpkin soup and sausage rolls for lunch as part of their ‘winter woolies’ casual day. Also at St Anne’s, rehearsals for next term’s production of ‘Shrek the Musical Jr’ have been in full swing and after the unfortunate cancellation of Mary Poppins in the early days of the pandemic, I cannot wait to see our junior students finally take to the stage with a new production. I absolutely loved hearing that our Bairnsdale Campus students have been working tirelessly selling icy poles and hot Milos to fundraise enough money to adopt and support a baby jaguar and elephant for a year through the World Wide Fund for Nature. The students received their adoption papers in the mail this week and I am as excited as they are to watch these newest and most unusual members of our School Community grow up.

Excitement levels were also palpable at Garnsey today for the return of our Cultural Festival. As this event has been cancelled in the past two years it isn’t something I have experienced in person; however, I had certainly heard a buzz about this important part of our School culture and I was so very impressed. To see our students performing, participating and being so enthusiastic continues to remind me about how special my chosen vocation is and why I am so happy to be a part of such a dynamic, passionate and talented School Community. It truly filled my heart.

Some housekeeping: due to circumstances beyond our control, this term’s edition of Veritas has been delayed and won’t be published until the final week of the holidays. Please bear with us while we navigate the ongoing challenges of staff members juggling their workloads with seven days of compulsory isolation due to a pesky and persistent virus. However, this delay comes with a silver lining in that the edition can include photos from today’s Cultural Festival and I can’t wait to read all about it.

Finally, thank you for your support towards myself and our School as we finish another School term and look forward with positivity to another. May we all use this extended mid-year break to rest and regenerate so we can return to embrace the start of the next term in this spirit in which we would like the second half of the year to continue.

Kind regards,
Michele Wakeham
Acting Principal

Whole-School notices
Term 1:
Tue Jan 31 – Thu April 6
Term 2: Wed April 26 – Friday June 23 (student-free day: Fri June 9)
Term 3: Tue July 18 – Friday Sep 15 (student-free day: Fri Aug 18)
Term 4: Mon Oct 2 – Thu Dec 7 (student-free days: Mon Nov 6 and Fri Nov 24)

Families who are interested in finding out more about our Boarding options, as well as our current and former Boarding families, are invited to join us on our upcoming ‘Boarding Roadshow’. This regional road-trip will travel to Mallacoota, Orbost, Bairnsdale, Latrobe Valley, Yarram, Inverloch, Warragul and even Phillip Island over four days from July 21-26. Our Head of Boarding Stuart Llewellyn and Head of Admissions Jemma Horan will host the trip that is a chance to thank families whose children currently or have boarded and to introduce boarding opportunities to anyone thinking boarding could be the solution for their child successfully completing their secondary schooling.
Please share the details for this event with anyone in your network who you think may be interested and visit for further details, including all of the stops on the itinerary.

Early Learning Centre news by ELC Director Lisa Burgess
Another term is nearly over and we are ready for a well-earned break. The children have been busy and engaged and enjoying a variety of special activities and events over the past few weeks despite the wintry weather.

Last Friday the St Anne’s Transition children enjoyed an excursion with their Year 5 buddies to Stratford’s Knob Reserve. Our ‘bush kinder’ day was designed to build on the children’s interest in natural environments and learn more about Indigenous perspectives. For our Year 5 students, it was an excellent opportunity to use their communication skills, mentoring ability and patience as they had to care for their ‘little buddy’ for the whole day. On arriving at the Reserve, the children enjoyed a long bushwalk, a treasure hunt, lunch and sports. They were able to explore the areas of special significance to the GunaiKurnai traditional owners and view the canoe tree. This experience will surely generate many opportunities for rich learning in the months ahead.

We have acknowledged the change in seasons at both campuses. Reception and Transition children enjoyed either a pyjama party or ‘winter woolies’ day to mark the halfway point of their school year. Down in Bairnsdale the Transition children decorated lanterns to light up the room at this darkest time of the year while St Anne’s Transition groups had an end of term lunch and made lovely warm pumpkin soup. I would like to thank all of my ELC team for their efforts this term and make special mention of Mrs Sommer-Lea Collins who has covered Transition for Ms Smith for most of the year in addition to her own class. We look forward to Ms Smith rejoining us in term three.

The long mid-year break is a wonderful opportunity to relax and unwind and while simply being able to stay home by the fire is tempting, I would love to share these ideas with you courtesy of Nature Play WA.

51 things to do before you are 12

  1. Climb a tree
  2. Sleep under the stars (even in your backyard)
  3. Fall off a bike
  4. Learn to swim
  5. Build a cubby or a tree house
  6. Find a geocache* in your neighbourhood
  7. Go beach combing after a storm
  8. Cook damper in a campfire
  9. Go on a school camp in the bush
  10. Catch a wave (start with a small one)
  11. Play chasy in the rain
  12. Catch a prawn in a river (or at least have fun trying)
  13. Make a water slide with builders plastic and a hose (do it on your watering day)
  14. Find a cave
  15. Make something with things you find
  16. Play in a creek
  17. Do something you’re scared of
  18. Watch kangaroos in the wild
  19. Slide down a sand (or grass) hill on cardboard
  20. Yell “cooeee!” in a gorge or a valley
  21. Camp on a beach
  22. Build a sandcastle city
  23. Skim a stone
  24. Plant something and watch it grow
  25. Play spotlight
  26. Ride your bike on a bush trail
  27. Visit an island
  28. Go for a two-day hike
  29. Snorkel at the beach or on a reef
  30. Ride a flying fox
  31. Play under a sprinkler
  32. Climb a big rock
  33. Play in the bush for a whole day
  34. Visit a waterhole
  35. Meet kids in a park and invent a game
  36. Paddle a kayak
  37. Dig for worms in your backyard
  38. Catch a crab
  39. Learn the Aboriginal names for five plants and five animals
  40. Visit a national park
  41. Catch a fish
  42. Play on a rope swing
  43. Eat bush tucker
  44. Make a kite and fly it
  45. Jump off a jetty (check the water is deep enough first)
  46. Identify the birds in your backyard
  47. Go abseiling
  48. Catch a tadpole (and release it)
  49. Make a mud pie
  50. Find a lake, puddle, pond etc and use a magnifying glass to spot the living creatures in it
  51. Play beach cricket

I will be on Long Service Leave in Term 3, but I am happy to leave the ELC in the capable hands of Acting Director Mrs Danielle Carpneter and our amazing team of educators. Our Administrative Assistant, Melissa Tatterson, will also be on hand with any enquiries via

Term three begins on Tuesday July 19. Until then, I hope that you all have a wonderful break and have the time to tick some of the items above off your child’s bucket list.

Bairnsdale Campus news by Head of Campus Virginia Evans
At assembly on Monday we promised our students an exciting week of fun activities and engaging learning to finish the term and from the reactions, responses and results we have seen since, I believe we achieved our goal.

Our students in Years 3-6 interacted with and explored our environment through four rotating activities: Bug Blitz, Marine Mammal Foundation presentation, Boomerang art and La’ Bug Bird art as part of the ‘Big Green Day Out’. While our Foundation and Years 1 and 2 students listened and learned about the Burrunan dolphins, understanding that they inhabit our very own lakes system. The learning continued throughout the week as our students reflected on their experiences and observations through writing reports, recounts, and further research.

As a Campus, we took up the challenge of planting 500 trees as part of the revegetation project on the river hill following a grant Mr Todd Cook secured last year in partnership with East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority. Our students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to beautifying our surroundings by working together. Many thanks to Mr Cook for his vision and to parents, Craig and Danielle Taylor, who supported many of these activities throughout the week.

This term’s literacy focus has been on poetry and yesterday we conducted our House Poetry Competition. As a judge, it was difficult to choose a winner as all students were brave and committed, delivering their poems with presence, fluency, expression and meaning. Following the criteria and in discussion with my fellow judges, Mrs Fiona Sutherland and Miss Lucy Leeming, the following students were rewarded year-level champion, with Blundell Bogong winning the house award.

Today, I have travelled to our School’s Garnsey Campus with our Year 5 and 6 students to be part of the audience at the House Cultural Festival. I’m sure our students were inspired by the talents of our senior students and further impressed when touring the new Arts & Design Centre. They have much to look forward to in the future.

I have been most impressed with our students this term, responding to our expectations to be active listeners, which impacts learning, behaviour, and friendships.  

The next three weeks will provide a time to rest, relax and recharge. I wish you all happy times together and look forward to welcoming our students back to school on Tuesday July 19.

St Anne’s Campus news by Head of Campus Jie Van Berkel
Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Campus Community for our amazing resilience throughout this term. Our Community is its strongest when we support each other when times are challenging and this has certainly been the case. I hope those in our Community have the opportunity to recharge over the mid-year break, whether this be through rest, travel or adventure.

I am looking forward to Term 3 being one dominated by positivity; we have our musical Shrek happening in Week 6 of Term 3 and it’s been energising to see Katie Germaine and our performers preparing busily for this exciting event. We will also have a range of other events and initiatives planned that I look forward to communicating at the beginning of the term. When we return from our three week holiday there will be some staff taking long service leave from the beginning of term; Anna English will cover Rebekah Tayler in Year 2 Chisholm and Shauna Drew will be our teacher librarian while Eliz Noble is also on leave for the first few weeks. Our ELC Director Lisa Burgess will be taking leave for all of Term 3 and Danielle Carpenter will be our ELC Director during this time.

Citizen of the Term
This morning we celebrated our Citizens of the Term. The award is based on our school values of Compassion, Leadership, (personal) Excellence, Responsibility and Respect. Congratulations to the following students:
Foundation Bass: Cooper Burger
Foundation Mawson: Ruby Smith
Year 1 Bradman: Lillian Greenwell
Year 1 McCubbin: Jack Fischer
Year 2 Chisholm: Jack Sands
Year 2 Barton: Murray Armstrong
Year 3 Tasman: Harper Grattan
Year 3 Flynn: Tayah McGrath
Year 4 Freeman: Oliver Stephenson
Year 4 Kingsford-Smith: Archie Bertrand
Year 5 Cuthbert: Claire Fischer
Year 5 Hollows: Jesse Nickson
Year 6 Goolagong: Leila Grattan
Year 6 Mackellar: Nick Buswell

House Spelling Competition
Each year, we have a range of House competitions for our students to participate in. These include athletics, swimming, handwriting and singing. These different competitions allow a range of students to demonstrate their personal excellence. Last week we had our House Spelling Competition. Overall, Cranswick Dargo finished first, with only two points separating 2nd (Blundell Bogong and Tisdall Hotham) and 3rd (Wellington Binks). Below are the winners for each year level:
Foundation: Arabella Noble
Year 1: Aaron Thomas
Year 2: Hazel Barbetti
Year 3: Rhys Wakeham
Year 4: Evangeline Barbetti
Year 5: Christopher Reid
Year 6: Nahian Uddin

Sustainability at St Anne’s
Midway through Term 2, the Year 3/4 Sustainability Team began a new initiative: Searching for Sustainability Superheroes. Each week, teachers are on the lookout for students who are making a concerted effort to consider where they put their rubbish, walk around garden beds instead of over them, pick up rubbish lying on the ground and reduce the waste placed in lunchboxes. As an incentive, students are given a raffle ticket each time they are observed doing any of the above. This ticket is added to a box and once a week a name is drawn. The winner is given a voucher for morning tea at the canteen and possession of the Golden Bin for their classroom for a week. Well done, everyone, for their efforts! The winners so far have been:
Week 5: Matilda Warren (Year 4 Freeman)
Week 6: Jake Smith (Year 2 Barton)
Week 7:  Charlie Brayshaw (Year 3 Flynn)
Week 8: Poppy Cliff (Year 3 Flynn)
Week 9 : TBC

Zoom Meeting With Japan!
On Monday morning, students in Year 5 Hollows experienced their first-ever Zoom meeting with students in Japan! Mrs Chalmer has developed a connection through the Australian Olympic Committee’s Tomodachi Connect program with Mr Paul Inker, an English teacher at the Shonan Shirayuri Gakuen Elementary School, a private Catholic Girl’s School in Fujisawa (about an hour from Tokyo). The meeting connected their three Year 5 classes (37 students per class!) with our Year 5 Hollows students. The Japanese girls sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to Airlie Ferris when they heard it was her birthday. Our Hollows students were respectful, attentive, encouraging and made thoughtful observations after the meeting about the uniforms, classroom design, hairstyles and more. We hope to do it again soon.

Key Dates
End of Term 2:
2.15pm today
First day of Term 3: Tuesday July 19

Finally, each student has brought home a special bookmark today. A key purpose of the bookmark is to encourage our students to read over the three week holiday, which is important. The bookmark also has a key message about child safety. It is imperative that our students know who they can talk to if they do not feel safe. At Gippsland Grammar we have a school counsellor and child protection officers who are trusted adults students can talk to. Students may also choose to speak to a teacher or staff member. This bookmark could assist in creating a conversation at home about child safety.

Wishing our St Anne’s families and community and safe and enjoyable break!

Year 3 House Spelling winners Tom, Alana, Rafferty and Rhys.

Garnsey Campus news by Acting Head of Campus Justin Henderson

This week I have had the pleasure of spending time at both our St Anne’s and Bairnsdale Campuses, completing enrolment interviews with Grade 6 students intending to join the Garnsey Campus as Year 7 students next year. While I have more appointments with further students in early in Term 3, it was wonderful to hear about students’ interests, learning styles and ambitions. There is a great range of interests throughout the many young people that I have spoken with and it did get me thinking about the opportunities we have here at Gippsland Grammar.

At assembly on Monday, I spoke to the Garnsey Campus about those opportunities ahead of the Cross Country yesterday and House Cultural Festival today.

I share these thoughts with you now:

At Garnsey Campus, the opportunity to be involved in the life of the Campus are plentiful. One of the great things about Gippsland Grammar is that you have the chance to experience a wide variety of opportunities and extend yourself in areas that are of interest to you.

It might be swimming, rowing, or other sports, music, drama, debating, chess, Maths, Science, dancing, singing, technology, arts, furniture making, Outdoor Education, theatre performance, spelling, French, Japanese or many, many other things.

As a Campus, we have a series of events that include Swimming, Athletics, Cross Country, Cultural Festival, Campus Production, Music events, Chess competitions, House drama festival and more.

By enrolling at Gippsland Grammar and being part of our Community, you are choosing to be part of everything we do. That doesn’t mean that you must be the fastest runner, highest jumper, loudest singer, get the highest grades, paint the best picture, make the greatest chair or even argue the most in debating. It does mean that you have agreed to support all the other students in our Campus Community and participate in all of our School events.

There is always something that you can do to be a positive contributor to an activity that is happening at our Campus, and I have been very impressed with the students that have been to see me with ideas for awareness and fundraising, as they have a positive approach to supporting our Campus.


Our rowers are now in the UK preparing for the upcoming Henley Royal Regatta from June 28 before Year 12 students Lindsay Hamilton and Billy Osborne continue on to Italy for the World Championships from July 25. So it was fabulous to hear the news this week that our Novice Boys Quad team of Himesh, Stuart, Tom, Lachie and Ryan have completed their fundraising indoor row to support the senior boys quad while they are in the UK. The boys experienced many setbacks during their fundraising with nearly all of them falling ill with Covid and/or influenza but despite the challenges the boys dedicated their lunch time and personal time to collectively row a total of 185.5km over a month. In total they were very excited to raise $1141. which has been paid into the fundraiser yesterday in a few separate amounts. Year 8 student Tom How organised the fundraiser and said: “We work better as a team now and we feel proud to help the boys out”.

Finally, on behalf of the staff at Garnsey Campus, I extend our well wishes for a safe and happy mid-year break, and I look forward to introducing our new Head of Campus Mr Jayatilake at the start of Term 3.

Performing Arts news by Director of Performing Arts Kevin Cameron
Reflecting on the term that has almost passed, I think of the many moments that made my heart sing; the times of warmth and good regard with our people here and the generosity of those who showed up and contributed their energy and talents so that others could enjoy, be inspired, and be enabled.  As we arrive at the end of a busy and eventful term, it is good to reflect on all that has been achieved.

Our memorable production of Chicago was a spectacular showcase of the poise and potential of our talented dancers, actors, musicians, and techs, in performances that will be long remembered and cherished. Our musicians helped form the foundations for the SEISSA combined schools choral and orchestral workshops in Warragul. Our bands enjoyed an intensive weekend of rehearsals that produced a wonderful Bands Concert. Our musicians at each campus presented delightful soiree evenings of solo and duet repertoire; many of these performers presenting in public for the first time.  Our Year 7 classes presented a concert that displayed their semester learning of wind and brass instruments. A group of musicians from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra visited St Anne’s for a memorable day of concerts, workshops and connections with our students. The choristers represented our school brilliantly at the recent Anglican Synod and at the Installation Service of our new Cathedral Dean, the Very Reverend Keren Terpstra. A major highlight of this term has been the return of today’s House Cultural Festival, an event that is entirely student performed, organised and driven by our Music and Dance Captains. What an achievement it was to see this important school tradition flourish again! 

It has been a challenging semester, but there has also been much to enjoy and celebrate. I extend my best wishes to all for a safe and rejuvenating winter break. 

Today’s cultural festival includes music, dance and even includes chess!

Catch up on last week’s newsletter here:


Gippsland Grammar background:
Gippsland Grammar is one of Australia’s leading co-educational Anglican schools, with a tradition of excellence in education extending almost 100 years. Located in the heart of Gippsland, the School has more than 1100 students across three campuses including St Anne’s junior campus and the Garnsey senior campus, both at Sale, and the Bairnsdale junior campus in East Gippsland. Enrolments at both junior campuses begin with a 3s and 4s kindergarten program at their respective Early Learning Centres (ELC) and Garnsey caters for students from Years 7-12. Gippsland Grammar is also the only boarding school east of Melbourne’s suburban fringe and is a home-away-from-home for students from far East Gippsland, South Gippsland, Victoria’s High Country and the Latrobe Valley as well as for a cohort of international students.

Join our Community:
If you’d like to join our Gippsland Grammar Community please phone us on 56143 6388 or email to request a Prospecus, book a campus tour or simply inquire about a future enrolment. Or click here to read our Gippsland Grammar Information Book.

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