Gippsland Grammar news: May 14, 2021

May 14, 2021 | Bairnsdale News, Community News, Garnsey News, Principal's News, St Anne's News

As Week 5 approaches, I am reminded that we are now more than half-way through this term. 

Given that, it is timely to reflect on the many opportunities our students have at Gippsland Grammar. The diversity of activities is wonderful but, for many students, the challenge can be finding the correct balance. While we need our girls and boys to learn through their involvement in these opportunities, we also need them to manage the demands from their choices.

I often share with parents that it is not about the opportunities but rather about the timing and impact that the activities can have on the individual and the family. I remember being a busy student who was involved in many different activities across music, sport and co-curricular areas and now as a parent myself I wonder how my own parents ever managed. There must have been times where it was too much for them. However, not unlike many Grammar parents, they wanted the best for their child. On behalf of all our students, I would like to thank the parents, grandparents and family helpers who enable our students to participate in all that they do. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Year 11 Ball and Year 12 Formal last week. Not only did our students all look amazing but their behaviour was exemplary. Sincere thanks to Mr Andrew Nicholas, Ms Jenny Dyke and Ms Kate Ray for their leadership of the events.

I will leave you with a favourite quote of mine: There are two gifts we should give to our children; one is roots and the other is wings.

Enjoy the remainder of the term and enjoy the experiences from which your children will grow.

Warm regards,
Leisa Harper

Our School Prefects invite everyone from the Gippsland Grammar Community to join them on Sunday May 30 at Raymond Island’s The Abbey for a Family Fun Day and tree planting working bee. Our School has had a longstanding collaborative partnership with The Abbey and as this partnership flourishes, we’d like to see the native vegetation on the site flourish too.
Students and staff and their families are invited to join Abbey Priest, Reverend Edie Ashley to pull some weeds, plant some trees and enjoy a sausage sizzle lunch. So please put Sunday May 30 from 9am-noon in your diaries and keep an eye on this newsletter for more details over the coming weeks.

We have all heard the expression ‘curiosity killed the cat’, most likely from our parents or perhaps grandparents. This proverb reflects a time when curiosity – particularly in children – was seen as a negative and was used to warn of the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. It also reflects a period when children were to be ‘seen and not heard’, and education was purely about absorbing facts delivered to a student from a teacher.

How things have changed! At the ELC and throughout their education at Gippsland Grammar, we actively encourage children to be curious and extend their own learning. Fundamental attributes or ‘dispositions’ for learning begin in our Reception program at age three. We encourage the children to ask questions, use their imagination, be creative and persistent and explore the beautiful learning environments we create for them. The educators introduce and develop a range of activities and experiences that help children develop their problem-solving skills, safe risk-taking, hypothesising, and become curious life-long learners.

In the Transition and Reception programs, we extensively use nature-based experiences to encourage a sense of wonder and curiosity. Over the past weeks, the children have enjoyed walks around our campuses, observing the changes to the natural world (pictured below). As anyone who has spent time with very young children will know, they are always full of questions! We develop these ‘wonderings’ and curiosity about the world alongside each child as partners in their learning. As educators, our big question is always ‘where to next’?

Events to inspire curiosity and nature-based learning at the ELC:
St Anne’s Transition: Friday May 21 at 1.30pm, a nature walk to Lake Guthridge and Seed Community Garden. The children will be encouraged to observe the lake and water environment. They can explore the sustainable aspects of the Seed garden, including the vegetable garden, nature animal sculptures, bees, and chicken pen. We will also look closely at the indigenous signage as we begin to be aware of first nations perspectives.
Bairnsdale Transition: Friday May 21 at 10am, Raymond Island Excursion. The Transition Group will join their buddies to participate in an excursion to Raymond Island to count the koalas for the annual koala count. Together the children will be encouraged to look at the environment and to predict what the count may be and what could be the things that influence the local koala numbers.
It will be an exciting few weeks ahead.

Mia Wheeler and Lennie Cordell learn to use magnifying glasses to examine leaves collected on a walk; and Jonty Aurisch is curious about why the leaves are changing colour.

BAIRNSDALE NEWS, by Head of Campus Virginia Evans
I would like to begin my newsletter by sharing with you all the sentiment of one of our parents, who shared her own thoughts with me via email after attending our Mother’s Day breakfast last Friday.

‘I cannot express more strongly how lovely it was to be back on campus, enjoying the company of your team, parents and the children. It was so good to meet some new parent faces and reunite with our parent friends,’ she wrote.

I’m sure many of us share this sentiment and I, too, was most grateful for the opportunity to come together as a Community.

Our next big event will be our production of Charlotte’s Web. Rehearsals are stepping up and our students are working hard on their parts, our staff are assisting with props and preparation and our parents and grandparents are supporting us, as always. Today was the first of our working bees and weren’t we all busy bees; lots of chatter and laughs amidst a very productive session. For our students to see their parents coming together for their benefit was heart-warming. Year 2 student Logan Dick perhaps said it best when he commented: “My nan helped making costumes. I’m happy because she is good at sewing and fixing things.”

As we are still under COVID-19 capacity guidelines, our seating for the performances will be slightly limited and different to previous years. To ensure everyone gets the opportunity to see our production, please limit your attendance to one show. We are presenting three shows: Wednesday June 9 at 6.30pm;, Thursday afternoon and Thursday evening at 6.30pm. We hope these times will adequately accommodate the needs of our Community. Tickets will be available to purchase from 9am on Saturday 15 May via this link:

Our therapy dog Wilson is extending his days at school as we continue to train him under the watchful eye of Mrs Libby Crowe and Megs from Playful Paws. Wilson is moving to the next stage of his training, familiarising himself in other classrooms, supporting staff wellbeing in meetings and working with individual students at a point of need. As a Community we must understand the guidelines and rules in working with Wilson to reap the full benefits of him as our therapy dog. The Acacia students have made a list of ‘House Rules’ for when Wilson is with us, which are:

  • We need to be calm and quiet when Wilson is in the classroom
  • Wilson loves gentle pats, not rough pats
  • When we are on the mat, we point to the floor for Wilson to lay down
  • When we are sitting at the table, you can reach out to Wilson for a pat if you want to
  • If we don’t want to pat Wilson, we can cross our arms and say “no thanks”
  • We need to keep our food away from Wilson
  • No more than two people to pat Wilson at one time
  • We can pat Wilson on his side, on his belly and on his back
  • We don’t go near Wilsons mouth or eyes
  • We can make Wilson sit before we give him his own special treats
  • Wilson does not like having his tail pulled
  • We should not put our face up close to Wilson’s face

Within our Year 6 leadership program, each student has the opportunity to initiate, organise and implement a community event, whether internally or externally. Mia Kantzides and Grace Smith are currently liaising with the Clifton Waters Village committee to arrange afternoons together to see reciprocal benefits. Card games, craft, woodturning, cooking, singing were a few of the options put forward. We will commence this partnership on Monday May 30 with an afternoon tea made by our students.

During Physical Education sessions, our Year 5 and 6 students completed a four-week Riggers Indoor Program, which saw the students learn how to use rowing machines through fun an engaging activities. Bairnsdale Rowing Club’s Head Rowing Coach Harry Roach and Junior Development Co-ordinator Tim Hamilton facilitated the sessions alongside our School’s own Director of Rowing Nick Bartlett. Students interested in finding out more about Rowing should contact Tim Hamilton on 0400 171 399 to register their interest and are invited to the Come and Try Day at the Boatshed at Bairnsdale on Saturday May 22 from 11am-12.30pm.

With busy weeks ahead, I ask that our students, along with their parents, take advantage of the weekend and rest and relax to be ready for the coming weeks.

It was all hands on deck for today’s Charlotte’s Web working bee;
and our students learning rowing skills during the four-week Riggers Indoor Program.

ST ANNE’S NEWS by Head of Campus Jie Van Berkel
We have had another action-packed week with our Year 3 and Year 5 students undertaking their NAPLAN assessments. NAPLAN stands for National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, and it provides valuable academic evidence which we can use to help support our students. It is important that we acknowledge that NAPLAN gives us a snapshot of our students’ academic understanding on that day.

This year we have decided to have a Monday morning assembly each week. This allows all students and teachers to come together to celebrate, communicate and connect. Because our CLERR focus is on respect, at each assembly, teachers are sharing stories about individual students who are demonstrating respect.

This week we unveiled our new three flag poles displaying the Australian, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands flags (pictured below). This has given us the opportunity to investigate the etiquette around the Australian flag. I look forward to sharing this with our students at next week’s assembly.

This week our teachers have been engaging in professional learning. Since 2020, staff at the St Anne’s and Bairnsdale junior campuses have been collaborating with Karen Starkiss (pictured below). Karen is an experienced teaching professional who has provided training on behalf of the Departments of Education in ACT, Northern Territory and Victoria. Karen is focusing on helping us raise the standards of literacy for all our students. Not only have we been reviewing and refining writing but also how learning how to read involves decoding words and understanding their meaning. However, acquiring these skills needs the reader to learn more specific skills. They include:

  • Phonemic Awareness: The ability to identify and manipulate the distinct individual sounds in spoken words
  • Phonics: The ability to decode words using knowledge of letter-sound relationships
  • Fluency: Reading with speed and accuracy
  • Vocabulary: Knowing the meaning of a wide variety of words and the structure of written language
  • Comprehension: Understanding the meaning and intent of the text

Excellence, particularly personal excellence, remains an integral part of Gippsland Grammar values. We expect this from our students; therefore, it is just as important that our teachers’ walk the walk.’ Karen will continue to work with both our Bairnsdale and St Anne’s teachers throughout 2021.

St Anne’s Open Morning was a great success. We had numerous families take part in ELC and Junior School tours, finding out about our school values, the transition between the ELC and Foundation, learning opportunities for students, and much more.

Do you have a child who will begin Foundation in 2022? We run an amazing Foundation program that focuses on a holistic approach to learning, social and emotional development. If you know of anyone that is keen to become a part of our school community, please ask them to connect Kelly Braden at our front office on 5143 7155.

The new flagpoles at St Anne’s; and teachers Rebekah Tayler and Tracey Grubb working with literacy consultant Karen Starkiss.

GARNSEY NEWS by Acting Head of Campus Kate Ray
This week our Garnsey parents and students were provided with the opportunity to meet with teachers via Zoom for our parent/teacher interviews. These interviews are always most successful when parents and students have read through feedback and comments on VOS prior to these sessions and it is an opportunity for students, parents and teachers to focus on the learning that has taken place as well as providing opportunity to explore how to continue to improve and grow as a learner. There is also another session next Wednesday. Thank you to the staff for the preparation and time they have put into ensuring that these sessions are informative for each student.

Over the past few weeks, I have been meeting with our current Year 6 students from Bairnsdale and St Anne’s as part of their transition to Garnsey Campus in 2022. I have thoroughly enjoyed these conversations with the students as they share a little more about themselves as learners and we discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that these students may experience as they become Year 7 students at our senior campus. We have also started our interviews with students from other primary schools who hope to join us in Year 7 next year.

Best wishes to Tess O’Toole and Katelyn Henderson as they prepare to compete in the National Gymnastics Championships this Sunday. The girls will represent Victoria in the Level 7 Tumbling Squad. We look forward to hearing more on their return.

On Monday afternoon a group of Gippsland Grammar students were selected to represent the SEISA Association at the VSAC (Victorian School Associations Competition).These swimmers participated in the relay events. Our representatives were: Hamish Anderson, Tara Dihood, Josh Newstead, Grace Ng, Charlie Price-Wigg, Teddy Ripper, Scarlett Tavasci and Arki Vardy. This was a great opportunity for our students to be a part of a team working with our fellow SEISA schools rather than competing against them.

On Tuesday the Melbourne Museum’s Road to Zero initiative visited year 10 students throughout the day to help improve road safety awareness in regional Victoria. Students moved through a range of stations throughout their session, learning about the statistics that have led to the creation of the Road to Zero program, the steps that have already been taken and how they can help themselves and their loved ones to stay safe on the roads. At the end of each session the students created their own TAC advertisement to help spread the message about road safety to their peers. Many of those creations were amazingly insightful, subtle and engaging, and spoke volumes of the time and effort that has gone into the creation of the program and the effect it is having upon young people.

On Friday last week a group of 15 students from Year 11 participated in the SEISA Leadership Day held at The Summit in Trafalgar East, which included workshops and activities to improve their leadership and communication skills. The morning sessions focussed on what a good leadership ‘looks like’ and some of the steps prospective leaders can do to improve their ability to speak with difficult individuals and negotiate unsuccessful conversations. After a shared barbecue lunch the students took to team building activities with participants from other schools they would normally meet on our sporting fields as opposition. Many of the activities asked students to step out of their comfort zones and embrace tasks that required them to mentally and emotionally stretch their limits. The ‘Leap of Faith’, ‘Summit Window’ and ‘High Wire’, were the tasks that asked the most of students and, as they discovered, were also the tasks that gave the most back.

Victoria Police Leading Senior Constable Sarah Reggardo visits Gippsland Grammar with the Road to Zero team from Melbourne helping students better understand their role in road safety; and students Mia Mckintosh, Eden McMillan and Rose Mackie getting ready to attempt the ‘Summit Window’ a five storey-high lookout platform the size of an A4 piece of paper, at the SEISA Leadership Day.

Born in Italy in 1452, Leonardo da Vinci had a curious mind and keen intellect – he studied the laws of science and nature, which greatly influenced his work as a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, military engineer and draftsman. His ideas and body of work influenced countless great minds. Run in the spirit of an Olympic Decathlon, the da Vinci Decathlon is a challenging academic competition which emphasises higher order thinking skills, problem solving and creativity. Students compete in teams of eight across 10 disciplines: Engineering, Mathematics, Code breaking, Art and Poetry, Science, English, Ideation, Creative Producers, Cartography and Legacy.

Da Vinci Decathlon events are held across Australia and recently we held our Gippsland Grammar event with three of our Year 7 and three Year 8 teams competing against one another. Last week the winning Year 7 and Year 8 Gippsland Grammar teams from our School event participated in the State da Vinci Decathlon competition. This year the competition was held online and each team worked together to solve a series of challenging questions and scenarios which included tasks such as creating poetry and artwork, poetry analysis, comprehension, writing, drama performances, applying critical thinking and generating ideas and solutions.

At the State event, our Year 7 and Year 8 teams worked cohesively and capably under tight timeframes as they competed against strong competition. Our Year 7 team placed first in the Engineering discipline and fourth place in the English discipline, with them achieving second overall in the competition. Placing in the top three at such a high level of competition at the State level is a terrific achievement.

Our Year 8 team also gained excellent results which placed them third in the Creative Producers and Engineering disciplines, and fourth in the Ideation discipline. Congratulations to all our students who performed exceptionally well and were wonderful ambassadors for our School.

The two teams included the following students:
Year 7 team: Molly Dettbarn, Josh Newstead, Lily Canfield, Kate Edgar, Evie Humphris, Josiah Levchenko, Isobel McAlister, Himesh Rajapakse
Year 8 team: Mia Humphris, Aishah Hanafi, Connor Rogalsky, Jocelyn Reid, Abi Jessop, Olive Blake, Krista Walpole, Ava Taylor

Ben Centra from One Harvest and local dairy farmer and Old Scholar Fiona Mills donated their time to talk about sustainable farming to Year 9 on Wednesday as part of their Food Security studies in Environmental Studies. We are very grateful for the personal perspectives they shared. Our future food security is in good hands!

The Gippsland Grammar Da Vinci Decathlon team; and One Harvest’s Ben Centra speaking to the Year 9 students.

Next week is National Boarding Week, which is of course significant for our School as we have up to 50 boarders who stay at Blackwood House. Our School offers boarding options for fulltime boarding, part-time boarding, casual boarding and even day boarding supporting parents and offering a safe and secure place to stay when attending school events and functions that return later than usual travel arrangements allow. For more information about boarding at Blackwood House, please contact our Head of Boarding Stuart Llewellyn on 5143 6388.

Families who would like to join the Gippsland Grammar Community are invited to join Principal Leisa Harper for a ‘Tour and Tea’ at our Garnsey Campus on Wednesday June 2 from 9-10.30am. Together with Gippsland Grammar’s leadership team, Mrs Harper will welcome visitors to the School to show them around before enjoying a casual morning tea. This event will appeal to students and parents looking at secondary school options for 2022 and beyond so we ask all current families to share this event with those in their network who may be interested in this opportunity. For catering purposes visitors are being asked to RSVP to Gippsland Grammar Enrolments team on 5143 6388.

Our School has been contacted by The Weekly Times because this year the newspaper is running a special campaign called the Heart Volunteer Awards, which celebrates volunteers in rural communities. The Awards is calling for nominations in the categories of Sport, Emergency Responders, Community and – new this year – Juniors. The Junior category recognises volunteers under the age of 21 and is particularly relevant for our School Community. The awards run in partnership with the Powercor Country Festival and the Geelong and Essendon AFL clubs and the winners for each category will be honoured at a ceremony at the Geelong-Essendon game in Geelong in July. If you know of someone in that age bracket who may be suitable for nomination, you can do so via this link:

Performing Arts news with Director of Performing Arts Dr Kevin Cameron
As we enter the final weeks of the first semester the pace of life in the Music Centre and Drama Studio has been steadily increasing – there is much to look forward to in the weeks ahead.

VCE DRAMA: Little Women
Based on the famous novel by Louisa May Alcott, this adaptation has been directed, designed and produced by the students for their Outcome 1 SAC. The students are so excited to actually be able to perform live after a year of missed opportunities (and Zoom performances) so it would be so wonderful if we had full audiences on both performance evenings.  The production runs on Tuesday 18 and Wednesday 19 May in Garnsey Hall, from at 7.30pm.

Our Autumn Concert will be held on Friday May 21 in Garnsey Hall, from 7pm. This concert will present the works rehearsed at Music Camp and will feature the combined talents of our choir and bands. There are limited free tickets still available via Trybookings:

The first Garnsey music soiree will be presented on Wednesday May 26 in the Chapel of St Anne’s, from 6pm. This concert will feature solo and vocal performances presented by students in Years 10 and 11 in a short, twilight concert setting.

As you have already read in the Bairnsdale Campus section of the newsletter, final preparations are underway for the production of Charlotte’s Web in early June. Tickets will be available to purchase from 9am on Saturday May 15 via this link:

Preparations for our senior school production of Matilda – the Musical have been underway since the beginning of Term 1.  Have you secured your diary dates for this not-to-be-missed production?  The season runs from Thursday July 29 to Saturday July 31.  Further information will come in upcoming newsletters.

More photos from the SEISA Leadership day: Matt Thompson completes the Snowy River Challenge, a team-based activity that challenges participants to support one another to complete a range of challenges within a set time limit; and Charlotte Runciman and Rory McLeod about to complete their ascent on the ‘High Wire’.

Did you miss out on last week’s newsletter? Catch up here:

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