Gippsland Grammar news: October 22, 2021

Oct 22, 2021 | Bairnsdale News, Community News, Garnsey News, Principal's News, St Anne's News

It has been a blessing to see all of our students and staff back on campus today. While the masks cover their smiling faces, it has been great to hear directly from the students about how pleased they are to be back on campus. (Though, I admit, I did speak to a few who said that they were missing the comforts of Learn@Home, such as being able to wear track pants and being able to eat when they wanted!)

I asked some of our Year 7’s to tell me how they were feeling about being back at School this week. I hope you enjoy reading their reflections:

Why am I excited to be back on campus at school?
“I am super excited to be back on campus because I don’t have to stare at a screen all day. I am back where students are supposed to be. It is refreshing and a good change to be back. I was so glad to finally see my friends and catch up. After being away for so long I was so happy just to be in a classroom with my peers and teachers and get back to learning. I enjoy having a routine again and all I have to do is walk across the oval from Blackwood House and I am ready for my day of classes. I am back in the school community where there is a sense of leadership, determination, and kindness. I am so grateful to be back in the classroom again.”
Libby Mekken

2021 was a very hectic year for all of us though a year we could all remember. We have now all experienced the hard times in lockdown and learning at home. But now that we are all back at school … I’m very pleased and glad for us all to be back at school together. I’ve missed my friends and teachers and I am happy we get to see everyone that isn’t on a screen. I’ve enjoyed coming back to school especially in a time like this when not many people get the chance to. I’m very happy to finally come back to school with everyone at last.”
Hayley Lamb

“I’m excited to come back to school because Year 7 is just the start of our high school experience. Whether it be the random off topic chats in class, the school’s weekly extracurricular activities or just chatting with your friends at lunchtime again, it’s great to do the things we hadn’t realised we missed so much. For me personally, I’m super excited about the bands and choir starting back up again because it was really difficult to play and sing on zoom. Year 7 is the time to find the things you want to do at school, find the people you want to be around, learn what rooms are where, Learn how to just be in high school, so I am unbelievably grateful that I am back at school.”
Caroline Martin

This week we have celebrated the School’s Commemoration Day which is our special day where we celebrate the joining of St Anne’s and Gippsland Grammar School to make Gippsland Grammar, which happened in 1971. Happy Birthday Gippsland Grammar!

And I would like to thank many from our School Community for your enthusiasm in supporting this year’s Foundation wine fundraiser, Grammar’s ‘Gippsland Dozen’. We have already been inundated with orders but for those who haven’t ticked this off your to-do list yet, you can order via this link:

I am conscious that there are many students who are tired, especially those who have been in and out of School over the past few weeks. I hope that you and your family can get some rest and relaxation in over the weekend.

Warm regards,
Leisa Harper

Early Learning Centre news by ELC Director Lisa Burgess  
St Anne’s Reception Teacher, Kristy How: The St Anne’s Reception students have been working on many fun craft activities to strengthen their fine motor skills. After reading the picture book ‘Elmer’ by David McKee, the children have created a series of ever-evolving activities around squares and patchwork. They began by creating patterns with square tiles and moved on to pasting their own patchwork pages. Next, they attempted collaging their own three-dimensional Elmer the elephant made from milk bottles. These activities help children strengthen their grip and improve their arm control. They also learn skills essential to success in later schooling such as following simple instructions. Furthermore, the children have been able to continually extend their thoughts and ideas as their projects and interests evolve.

In our outdoor area, we have offered increasingly challenging physical activities such as the soft shapes. These encourage children to engage in vigorous physical movement. As children navigate the wobbly surface, they engage their core strength and balance. When they come to the ramp they can slide, tumble or roll to the bottom. Gross motor development is so important for our little ones as it contributes to their long-lasting health, confidence and self-esteem, brain development and ability to assess risks.

Everyone is so happy to be together again after some long breaks, so we have planned a special Teddy Bears Picnic to celebrate Children’s Week (dates below). The children will bring in their teddy and wear casual clothes for a picnic and dance party. Even at a very young age we listen to the children and respond to their ideas and thinking so that they feel a strong sense of belonging and community.

Bairnsdale Reception Teacher Sommer-Lea Collins: The Reception group was fortunate to have the School’s therapy dog Wilson visit the ELC. Bairnsdale Foundation teacher and owner of Wilson Libby Crowe was able to bring Wilson into the classroom to support children as they transition back to the classroom after the Term 3 Learn@Home and the recent school holidays. Libby shared with the Reception students how Wilson is a wonderful companion to students in our School Community. The children were very interested to learn about how Libby takes care of Wilson, including the type of exercise he enjoys, keeping him clean and well-fed and how he likes a special tickle on his tummy!

Not only did the children enjoy learning about being a responsible pet owner, they were able to have a pat with Wilson and make a connection with another member of our Junior school campus. Thank you to Libby and Wilson for visiting us this week!

Bairnsdale Transition teacher Sharon Smith: What a great delayed Book Week celebration we had last Friday.  The theme for book week this year was ‘Old Worlds, New Worlds, Other Worlds’. Book Week helps to inspire children to develop the love of reading. Many thanks to all of our families for helping create such wonderful costumes for our special day.

Important dates in celebration of Children’s Week (October 23-31):
Bairnsdale Reception Group
Tue October 26: Teddy Bears Picnic – bring a soft toy and enjoy lots of games, songs and bear craft.

St Anne’s Reception Groups
Wednesday October 27 or Thursday October 28: Teddy Bears Picnics – bring a teddy or soft toy, casual dress.

St Anne’s Transition Groups
Friday October 29: we will be celebrating ‘Morris’ the class bear’s birthday with a Teddy Bears Picnic. Bring a teddy or soft toy, casual dress. Lots of party games and craft.

Bairnsdale Campus news by Head of Campus Virginia Evans
Each time our students return to school is a special occasion. However, today it has been extremely special with everyone feeling a sense of joy for our students. On behalf of all students our Campus Captains Avin and Parker thanked our staff for their commitment and care over the lockdown. From a student perspective they considered the qualities of each staff member and shared those with us during our assembly this morning. I think they are well thought out and indicate the level of strengths we have within our community and I have shared their words with you here:

As Campus Captains we speak on behalf of all our classmates and friends this morning. It feels great to be back at our terrific campus.
We want to acknowledge our teachers and staff, who continue to support us, particularly through Learn@Home or Learn@Home@School. Without a doubt it has been extremely challenging for everyone. But we couldn’t have done it without your support and commitment. The strengths and qualities we observed in you were many. Working with Mrs Evans and using her ‘strength cards’, we have matched a strength with all of the teachers and staff who have supported us, which we believe was truly a big gift to us.
Mrs Crowe: gentle
Miss Whelan: polite
Mrs Hay-Smith: committed
Mrs Rankin: confident
Mrs Jenman: interested
Mrs Carr: patient and serious
Mr Cook: resilient
Miss Leeming: thoughtful
Chaplain Jackie: exuberant
Mrs Froud: fair
Boulton Sensei: calm peaceful
Mrs Sutherland: passionate
Mr Glover: enthusiastic
Ms McConchie: creative
Ms Cameron: curious
Mr Stagg: practical
Mrs Street: helpful
Mrs McGrath: happy
Miss Markum: caring
Mrs Guinness: meticulous
Mrs Roughley: flexible
Tuckshop Anne: reliable

Avin and Parker also spoke of the importance of finishing the year positively and asked all students to ensure our CLERR values are in action, both in the classroom and in the playground. We had an extended lunch yesterday and today, to celebrate being together and to allow our students to spend quality time playing, socialising and reconnecting.

I can only commend our Year 3 to 6 students for their diligence in wearing their masks. They are demonstrating responsibility and understanding as to the COVID-19 guidelines. We encourage students to please use washable masks whenever possible, to minimise the amount of waste created and to pack a spare in case of breakage. As from next week we will be charging one dollar to the School account when supplying disposable masks.

We celebrated Commemoration Day as part of our assembly this morning listening to a pre-recorded video by Mrs Harper and our school captains Kate and Connor interviewing each other about our school. Our students received a Rubik’s cube-style keyring as a memento of the occasion. I hope our students all enjoyed the chocolate star that Mrs Harper mentioned in her card to each of our students. I was pleased to hand them out this morning as the students entered the campus – much better than hand sanitiser!

We look forward to welcoming Mrs Renee Coates to our staff next year as a classroom teacher. We are currently working through our class structure for 2022 which I will share with you once the details are confirmed.

Enjoy your weekend, perhaps catching up with family and friends.

St Anne’s Campus news by Head of Campus Jie Van Berkel
As a Community, we are thrilled to have all students returning to School today. At St Anne’s, we were able to welcome our students back via an online assembly this morning. Mrs Leisa Harper joined our Zoom to also welcome our students back, and to speak about Gippsland Grammar’s Commemoration Day. Our pre-recorded Commemoration Day celebration speaks about the wonderful history and traditions our great School has and I encourage families to watch this recording on VOS. Our School Captains Kate and Connor spoke about why Gippsland Grammar is important to them and Mrs Harper shared some important insights and historical facts.

Over the coming days and weeks our focus will be on integrating each student back into School life. It is vital we re-establish our routines, and we ask our parents and carers to support this. We understand that some of our students have struggled during this recent lockdown so please contact your child’s classroom teacher if you have any concerns so we can best support all students.

Foundation Teachers 2022:
We have also announced that our Foundation teachers for 2022 are Miss Bree Alexander and Ms Louise Sullivan. Both teachers come with a wealth of experience and a passion for educating and guiding our young students. We pride ourselves on making the transition process from Early Learning to School as seamless as possible. We want every student to feel safe and happy within our community. As part of this transition, our Foundation teachers will collaborate closely with our ELC Director Lisa Burgess and ELC teacher Danielle Carpenter. I look forward to announcing our other Classroom and Specialist teachers to our Community in the coming weeks.

Below is some key information as we return to School:

Gates and times: students may enter and exit the campus from any gate entrance and must sanitise their hands on the way through. Students can enter the school grounds from 8.30am and we officially start learning at 8.50am. We will be reverting back to our 3.15pm finishing time at the end of each day. Unfortunately, we cannot have parents on-site at the moment. We look forward to welcoming our parents back onsite as soon as possible.

School Crossings: a reminder to please park in the allocated car parks along York Street. The crossing supervisor has stressed the importance of this to ensure a safe crossing space for all using this crossing.

McMillan and Raymond Streets: can we please ask parents not to call their children across the road to their vehicle. I ask that we all be mindful of these busy roads to ensure the safety of our children. These are particularly busy during drop off and pick up times. Thank you.

Uniform: all students are expected in full summer uniform, which includes a School hat. Due to the wet conditions and warming weather, students are advised to come to School with insect repellent on. The mosquitos will become more prevalent in the coming weeks.

Masks: all students in Years 3 to 6 are expected to wear a mask indoors. Students from Foundation to Year 2 are encouraged to wear a mask. Please speak to your child about this to help prepare them. If your child has a lawful exemption, please email the Head of St Anne’s at Can I ask that you please do this, even if you have done so previously, so we have an up-to-date list? If there is any confusion, the School will contact families directly. Our exempt students will be given a yellow wristband to wear. This will make sure there is no confusion on who should and should not be wearing a mask.  

Returning of equipment: students are reminded to return all devices (including School iPads), workbooks, stationery and any other items that they borrowed for Learn@Home.

Tuckshop: our tuckshop will be running on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the remainder of the term. Families may choose to organise lunch orders via ‘Parent Services’ on VOS.

After School Care: our After School Care will be continuing to operate as per usual, five days a week. Families can book into our ASC by emailing  

Music Eisteddfod: the House Music Eisteddfod is open to all students at Gippsland Grammar, not only those who learn their instrument through the Music Tuition Program at School – everybody is welcome to participate! Entries close on Sunday October 24, and we look forward to receiving many entries. Get practising, and good luck! The entry form can be found on VOS.

As I write the newsletter this morning, I can look out my office window and see all of our students from Years 7 to 12 moving around the campus together for the first time in a long time. I can also hear teachers excitedly discussing in the staff room their day with all onsite lessons – no zoom! What a wonderful day. It has been a week of being thankful.

We started our week with a virtual assembly to acknowledge Commemoration Day – this day is always one where we reflect on the St Anne’s girls’ school joining with Gippsland Grammar boys’ school. I was ably assisted by members of our Year 9 council – India, Alanna, Georgia and Charlie who spoke briefly of the history of the school and also assisted in presenting awards to their peers. I would like to thank them for their willingness to be involved. We gave thanks for to those school leaders of the past who took the risks and moved forward to make our school what it is today.

Wednesday saw us giving thanks to our Year 12 students and acknowledging that in a year of so many challenges and disappointments, they had made it to the end of their final year of school. While some of the celebrations we have held in the past were not able to go ahead as planned, our Garnsey students were all able to enjoy the Year 12 final chapel and assembly and to farewell the students at the end of the day when they all counted down the final bell.

I had the pleasure of dining with our Boarders last night for the Year 12 Blackwood House Valedictory and once again the highlight was watching the junior boarders speaking with fondness and respect of the Year 12 students and thanking them for their involvement in their lives over their time in Blackwood House. Boarding Captains Josh Mekken and Ella Cheney gave a wonderful speech acknowledging the support they had received from the team at Blackwood House – particularly from Mr Llewellyn, but also each student’s boarding highlight centred around Anne and Nette’s cooking – the team from CaterCare play a large part in the lives of our boarders and the students certainly appreciate this.

I hope that your child enjoyed being back on campus today reacquainting themselves with onsite learning and all the opportunities that this will bring.

Thank you to all our parents and guardians too who have supported our students during Learn@Home.

Performing Arts news by Director of Performing Arts Kevin Cameron
This week we farewelled our Year 12 students from Gippsland Grammar.  It is highly likely that almost every one of our leaving Year 12 student has connected with Music, Drama and Dance in at least some way, be that through our classes, ensembles, plays and productions, or the House Cultural Festival. At the other end of the paradigm, we have students leaving us who have ‘lived and breathed’ the Arts in this place. For some, it has been about achieving high levels of performance skill. For others, Music and Drama have been the passions that have framed their school career and – perhaps – their future study and career trajectory. For all of them it has been about making art with their peers through a process of collaboration, and they have been very generous in sharing their talents with our community. Thank you and good luck to all our leaving Year 12 dancers, actors and musicians!

For this week’s newsletter, I am handing over to our Music and Drama Captains for some final words:

“I’ve been part of the Garnsey Campus music scene since I was lucky enough to be able to join Sinfonietta when I was in Year 3 (2012). Since then, I’ve been a part of anything I could at Grammar – choirs, cello ensemble, chamber groups, chamber orchestra, orchestra, musicals (on stage and in the orchestra) and even nearly got involved in a play! Through music, I’ve been able to build many connections and created amazing memories with many of my friends at the school, and it’s through these activities that we’ve been able to get closer. Doing something that is completely outside of your comfort zone is a great way to build confidence in yourself and your abilities. Drama, Music and Dance are integral activities in the school as they build confidence, lasting friendships and importantly amazing young artists that can go on to have a career doing something that they love. This year I’ve tried to focus on inclusivity in my role as Music Captain, whether that’s encouraging people to try something within the Arts at school, or just saying ‘hi’ to random people around the school. So while you’re at Grammar why not try something new, take every opportunity you can – , join the new 7 and 8 band, chamber orchestra, choir, SEISA dance or the next musical because it might be just what you need. I’m going to miss the Grammar music program wholeheartedly – the support, the teachers, the students and of course the music making. Thank you so much for being my home at school for the past 9 years.” Enola Jefferis

“I have been involved in Drama at Gippsland Grammar for the whole length of my secondary schooling – from Drama classes in Year 7 to the VCE Theatre Studies class in 2021, and I have been involved in many performances including Legally Blond (2019) and Matilda The Musical (2021). Students should absolutely take every opportunity given to them to get involved in the Arts as this will give them countless opportunities to express themselves through their chosen art form and this will also open their eyes to the opportunities outside the school community. I would like to thank everyone who has made my experience within the Arts at Gippsland Grammar a memorable one.” Cooper Barr  

“Being a Gippsland Grammar Music Captain has never been a job for me – it was a chance to give back to the department that has given me so much, and I realise now how much I genuinely love this department. It has given me friendships, experiences, and a love for my little trumpet over the past eight years – as well as the diverse culture of music and the arts. While I haven’t had much opportunity to talk to my peers due to lockdowns, every music student has a place in my heart – I could see the nervousness and excitement in them when we were able to perform together as I recognised in myself when I was younger. The younger generations’ aspirations and their increasing skill level never ceased to amaze me. I’ve loved working with them when I could, teaching them a thing here and there. I also thoroughly enjoyed performing in memorable events like the Autumn Concert and Matilda The Musical, as well as preparing for the Cultural Festival. The biggest highlight for me is the community. The Music Department is unique in its community-based approach where we all join to make a symphony of sound, and who doesn’t love a good tune? Working within the bands has taught me the importance of community, especially in times like we are in now. The Music Department is full of welcoming friendships, which I am grateful for as someone who is a bit shy when interacting with others. This atmosphere allows everyone to flourish in their own way, and these people are the kindest you’ll ever meet. I will always be grateful for the teachers that have taught me here; Mr Cruickshank, Mrs Chilcott, Dr Cameron, my accompanist Mrs Lockhart, to name a few of all the teaching staff. To the kids: I know now may not seem like the greatest time but right now, making art is the most important thing for us as musicians! Hold on to each other as you head into the future – you are all a solid bunch of people and I will miss you all as the Great Big Music Family the most.” Emily Jackson

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.

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