Gippsland Grammar news: Sep 10, 2021

Sep 10, 2021 | Bairnsdale News, Community News, Garnsey News, Principal's News, St Anne's News

American actress Riley Keough once shared that: As life changes so quickly. Feeling grateful to be around such wonderful people to strengthen and grow with.

I came across this quote earlier this week as I was reflecting on how grateful I am for the entire Gippsland Grammar Community. But at that time I really couldn’t have anticipated the emphasis on the words ‘as life changes so quickly’, which, upon reflection, was an understatement for the past week. Perhaps, like many of you, I really expected the term to conclude with us operating via Learn@Home. But as we know, plans can change and our return to on-site learning for some of our students has given us another reason to feel grateful; I am so grateful for the opportunity for some of our students to be back on site today. However it is also challenging not to have everyone back. That’s where the last few words of the quote come, in where we know that by working together, we continue to grow and be strengthened by all those around us.

Next week will see many of our students completing assessments and our VCE Unit 4 students will also be completing their practice exams over the break. We all wish you well and know that you will do well!

Thank you to all the parents who attended the Anxiety to Resilience information night with Michael Grose on Monday night. Many parents shared how much they enjoyed the presentation and Michael’s practical strategies. I have been provided with a video recording of the session so if you missed it and would like to watch it, or you would like to watch it again; you will be able to watch via the link on VOS. Keep an eye out for it.  There were many take-aways from Michael’s presentation but I thought his comment that anxiety is the common cold of mental health was profound.  It certainly puts anxiety into perspective that many of us can associate with. A cold is something we have experienced but also know that some colds can be more intense than others and they can last for varied lengths. Understanding anxiety will enable each of us to grow in knowledge and become more resilient.

I also need to share that Rev Nikolai Blaskow has advised me of his resignation as Chaplain of Gippsland Grammar after five years of service to our School and the wider community. Nikolai is someone who actively seeks to see the world through a positive lens and over the past five years has been a positive energy throughout our School. Nikolai’s role as the Head of RAVE and Chaplain has seen positive improvements in this area and we will miss his smiling face in our staff room, in our classrooms and on our school grounds.

Nikolai and his wife Dean Susanna have decided to return to Canberra to be close to their family. This move is largely due to the COVID-19 challenges that have presented themselves over the past 18 months. Dean Susanna has also been an active member of the Gippsland Grammar Community through her involvement at St Anne’s Fellowships and special events and she has also given generously to the School through her contribution of four years on the Board of Directors. The Board and Governance Committee both noted Susanna’s wisdom and contribution to the strategic direction of the School.

Nikolai and Susanna will both be missed by our Community and their generous hospitality and kindness will be long remembered.

Art Online
As mentioned in last week’s newsletter, excitement is building for our online art show Art Online, which will feature works from more than 30 renowned Gippsland artists, including mother-and-daughter duo Dawn and Crystal Stubbs, Frank Mesaric and Rehgan De Mather. Art Online will run from September 13-October 8 and will raise money for our brilliant new Visual Arts & Technology Centre at our Garnsey Campus. We have been thrilled to accept more than 100 works for the exhibition with prices ranging from between $45-$8000. So please put Monday in your calendar as you will be able to browse and buy the artworks via our website from 9am.

May the weekend bring unexpected joys to you and your family.

Warm regards,
Leisa Harper

The early years of a child’s education set the foundation for the complex tasks of learning to read and write. Though humans are born already ‘hard wired’ to listen and speak, reading and writing are not skills that we are genetically pre-programmed to develop. Babies begin to develop language skills from the moment they are born by engaging with those around them. The quality and amount of these interactions can significantly affect that child’s later success in the complex process of becoming literate.

By the time children enter the ELC, they can verbally express their ideas and enjoy drawing, reading books, and maybe writing and identifying the letters in their names.  This process is supported by our ELC teachers and educators, who have actively been developing their skills and knowledge about the pathway to literacy.

Over the past few years, we have developed our Need to Read Program, which has focussed on several key activities

  • Educating and supporting families to boost their child’s skills through regular purposeful reading and conversation
  • Developing a library of quality ‘take home’ Need to Read picture books for Reception children with written literacy cues to enhance the value of reading each story
  • Participating in staff professional learning to build specialist knowledge about language and literacy development, focusing on embedding this in everyday age-appropriate play activities.

This year we are excited to extend the existing program with the assistance of a grant from the state government’s ‘School Readiness Funding’. In Terms 3 and 4, all of the children attending the Transition programs at both campuses will participate in four small group language building sessions with Gippsland Grammar speech pathologist Michelle Sands.  These sessions are designed to be fun and interactive, introducing the first sounds of reading and sound/letter awareness. Our co-educators are helping to deliver this program, allowing them to develop their skills and knowledge. As we move back to ‘in school’ learning, this opportunity will give your children a vital boost as they begin to make the transition into school.

I know that the ELC team is looking forward to seeing our children and families back at the ELC for the last week of Term 3.

Transition students making the letter P with their hands during a small group literacy lesson; and learning with Mrs Sands.

After days of rain last week, we welcomed the sunshine and spring weather this week. We have been able to enjoy playing outside and without a doubt the sunshine has lifted the spirits for many.

Our teachers and parents met via Zoom this week to discuss our students’ progress, both academically and socially. As a result of Learn@Home, communication has been regular and parent engagement high. I thank all those involved for their commitment to our students.

Yesterday we were prompted by RUOK? Day to focus on our wellbeing and we challenged our School Community to be device free: ‘less screen, more green’. I do hope that our students at home were able to follow this advice and engage in some of the suggested activities. For students of essential workers onsite for Learn@Home@School, they were kept busy with activities that were both appealing and interesting and more importantly, did not involve any devices at all.

It was rewarding to see our students in active conversations, interacting in both outdoor and indoor games and cleverly creating posies of native flowers for the lucky recipients. As a group we made a banner to promote RUOK? Day and wore yellow ribbons that Miss Amy-Jean Forbes provided. Quiet breathing and stretching allowed us to look after our mind and body, however, we also looked after our appetite by enjoying some hot chips as a treat.

Communication the old-fashioned way in the form of a card or letter to someone special, checking in to see if they RUOK?, then walking to the post box to send them was a highlight of the day.

We concluded our day with boards games, card games (Mrs Carr winning most of them), craft work and making yellow friendship bands and playing a fun game of pin the tail on the fish, a game homemade by Mrs Kathy Bittner. I am sure our students and staff slept well last night after a day of wellbeing that included fun and friendship.

Each return to school is eagerly anticipated and today was no exception for our Foundation and Years 1 and 2 students. It was an exciting morning greeting our junior students at the gate and their teachers were excited to have them back in the classroom face to face. Sports uniforms are to be worn for the remainder of Term 3.

Mrs Ann Smith will be running the tuckshop on Wednesday and Friday; the delightful aroma of chocolate chip cookies will return to the campus.

I am pleased to be able to say this week, I hope you can all enjoy the many beautiful places we have in East Gippsland over the weekend.

Freida posting a card to someone special on RUOK? Day; and Charlie gifting Mrs Evans his native flower creation on RUOK? Day at Learn@Home@School.

This morning we welcomed back our Foundation to Year 2 students onsite. Everyone is looking forward to when we can have all students back at school! I recently sent this information out via VOS, but to reiterate:

  • Foundation to Year 2 students are returning to school from Friday September 10. Please enter via the York St entrance.
  • Year 3 to Year 6 students remain at home engaging with our Learn@Home program.
  • Those students of Authorised Workers in Year 3 to Year 6 who have applied for supervision and received confirmation, please enter via the main Raymond St entrance. This supervision is for parents and carers who cannot stay at home. If your child is accessing supervision onsite and your circumstances change, please email
  • If your child is unwell and has COVID-19 like symptoms, they must stay at home. Parents are asked to fill in the health declaration form before their child returns. Please see our COVID-19 information page on VOS to access this form.
  • All students at school to wear their sports uniform today and next week.
  • Buses will be running as per usual today and next week.
  • A reminder that parents and carers are not able to come onsite.
  • After-School Care will be offered at St Anne’s as normal. Bookings for St Anne’s can be made by emailing 
  • Our canteen will be open from Monday September 13.
  • Instrumental music lessons will be held via Zoom, as we have during Learn@Home previously. Director of Performing Arts Dr Kevin Cameron will communicate more detailed information directly with families. 

Art Fellowship
As many in our Community will know, we have the famous Archibald Prize paintings soon to be displayed at the Gippsland Art Gallery in Sale. This week’s pre-recorded Fellowship focuses on the Archibald paintings. During the Fellowship, students were asked to pause the recording, and on a piece of paper, draw an Archibald portrait. The trick, however, was that students could only look at the picture and not what they were drawing. The purpose of this activity was to get students to look more closely at the features of the artwork. A big thank you to our Art monitors and our Art teacher Mrs Louise Hulls for piecing this week’s Fellowship together. School families can access this link via VOS.

Yesterday we celebrated RUOK? Day by having a screen-free day across all three campuses. At both junior campuses, we highlighted student wellbeing by focussing on physical activity, connecting with others and enjoying quiet time. I know many families took the opportunity to plan their day around these three themes with great success. Personally, having a day with limited screen time, connecting more with people face to face and via phone, and being more physical throughout the day worked wonders for my wellbeing.

Footy Colours Day
On Wednesday September 8, we celebrated Footy Colours Day both online and on-site. Classes were able to celebrate this by wearing our favourite sporting top and other initiatives. Footy Colours Day is all about raising awareness and fundraising for Kids with Cancer. If families would like to donate or find out more information, please click on the link below: 

Many within our Community have embraced our Footy Colours Trick Shot competition, me included! This morning during our live Fellowship I was able to show our audience a collection of some of these trick shots. The main purpose of this competition was to bring some laughter and joy to our community during lockdown. This competition has surely done this. Thank you to Simone Langshaw and Evan Lamb for bringing this initiative to fruition.

Daniel Morcombe Foundation: Child Safety
On Tuesday, our Year 5 students participated in the Daniel Morcombe Foundation – Australia’s Biggest Child Safety Lesson. The theme of the session was, ‘We all have the right to be safe’, with a particular focus on being safe online. Here is a snippet of what students learnt:

‘I think the most important thing that I learnt from the video was that if you don’t know the person who is sending you messages, then don’t reply. Also, if the person is being mean, report them or block them and tell an adult or person you trust.’ – Sophie

‘I think that the most important tip from that video is to keep talking (or asking for help) until someone listens.’ – Lucy

‘The most important thing for me was probably looking out for signs that your body makes when in an unsafe environment.’ – Addison

‘I think that the most important message from the video was that you can feel unsafe at anytime, anywhere, and you need to persist in telling a trusted adult because anyone can make you feel unsafe.’ – William

You can find out more about the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and their quest to educate children and young people about how to stay safe in physical and online environments by going to their website

Have a great weekend.

Tilly, Charlie and Aspen enjoying an activity during Learn@Home@School for RUOK? Day.

I am looking forward to hosting our first virtual Open Evening this afternoon for the Garnsey Campus. While we would have preferred to be welcoming families on-site, this will be a wonderful opportunity for those who haven’t been to our campus or who are joining us in Year 7 next year to meet some of our fantastic, dedicated staff and hear from our senior students. We still have places available in our senior year levels next year so if you know of families who may be considering Gippsland Grammar for their secondary aged child, please encourage them to be in touch.

When we are made to pivot from Learn@Home to onsite learning and back again, I am reminded of the professionalism of our teachers. There are so many times where it would have been easy to complain or show their frustration to their students but as true professionals who put their students first, they show up and step up to give their students their very best.

This was obvious this morning when we welcomed our Year 12 students back to onsite learning. These Year 12 teachers were thrilled to have the opportunity to teach their Year 12 students face to face, while also dealing with having to zoom their other classes who are offsite throughout the day. The mood in the staff room and in the yard was positive this morning and I am truly appreciative of the work everyone has done to be ready for the students today.

I hope that many of you were able to join us on Monday evening for the webinar with Michael Grose around supporting our children through these anxious times. As a parent and an educator, I found this session invaluable and before the session had even finished was online ordering his book ‘Anxious Kids’ to click and collect from our local bookstore! When we have the recording of this session ready, I encourage those of you who were unable to attend to take some time to watch this. Some families may even choose to watch it with their children, and I think there is value in this also.

We have five more days next week before a well-deserved break for our students and teachers and I know those parents that have been juggling Learn@Home and their own work will certainly appreciate the holidays too.

Year 12 Practice Exams
The decision has been made to run the Unit 3/4 Practice Exams online. An examination timetable will be published next week for the exams to take place in the second week of the school holidays. Students will be expected to be on zoom for each exam. Further instruction will be communicated next week.

In the Arts we continue to work with focus and tenacity in making our art, refining our technique, and finding new ways to be creative, present, and engaged in our processes.

Our Year 12 students in Drama and Music returned to campus yesterday afternoon for essential preparation work relating to the practical components of their coursework.  For the musicians, the final recitals are scheduled to start from the end of Week 1 next term, so rehearsals with accompanists and receiving feedback from teachers and mentors was both valuable and necessary.

Video submissions for the House Music Eisteddfod are due next Monday, with late submissions due at the close of the term.  Already so many fine performances have been received, and we look forward to sharing some of these with our Gippsland Grammar community next term.  Competed videos may be uploaded via VOS.

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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