The National Reconciliation Week 2022 theme, ‘Be Brave. Make Change’ provided a challenge to all Australians, individuals, communities and organisations to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation. Located close to the centre of ‘Naarm’, the indigenous name for the traditional lands of the Kulin Nation (Melbourne Region), MGGS has embraced this challenge in a number of ways over the past couple of weeks.
We have raised the Aboriginal flag each morning at the Merton Hall campus, our indigenous students and their friends participated in a sports carnival at Worawa Aboriginal College near Healesville and then visited our ELC students for a special Reconciliation Assembly where they read a story about family and gave out button badges to their younger ‘sisters’.
Our Year 8 Grammarians travelled to the Grampians/ Gariwerd for what turned out to be the coldest week of the year to date. There, they participated in a range of physical and cultural activities, including an overnight hike and camp-out.
Thursday 2 June was declared ‘Wear it Yellow’ casual clothes day across ELC, Morris Hall and Merton Hall. Students took advantage of the opportunity to dress warmly (with a touch of yellow) and donated over $700 to the First Nations’ organisation Children’s Ground, which supports indigenous families in communities to celebrate culture and language, recognise talent, inspire hope and create opportunities for indigenous children and families.
At our whole school Reconciliation Assembly on Monday 6 June, we welcomed Prep to Year 3 students to the Merton Hall Campus. This was the first full school assembly since our RAP Launch in 2009. This began with a Welcome to Country by Steve Ulala Parker, a proud descendent of the Boonwurrung, Yorta Yorta, Erub and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, who spoke about his connections to country and how each of us can contribute to the process of reconciliation and healing. We also welcomed back OG Chloe Abbott (2014), the Partnerships and Communications Co-ordinator for Children’s Ground, who described the work of the organisation and her personal vision for how MGGS students can acknowledge their privilege and pay this forward to help others.
Our Year 9 Grammarians shared their experiences of the recent Midwarr cultural immersion camp at Shoreham, where they learnt about the differences between the Boonwurrung culture and the Yolgnu culture from North-East Arnhem Land. As we left the Artemis Centre, all students and staff participated in a smoking ceremony, an indigenous cleansing and healing process. Uncle Steve walked us through the significance of the River Red Gum, Black Wattle and Bayliss leaves burnt as the smoke wafted across the Artemis Lawns in the (rare glimpse) of sunshine.
In a culmination of weeks of detailed planning and collaboration, the Henley Campaign Ergathon began at 6.00am on Friday 3 June, to continue fundraising in support of the First VIII’s campaign to race at the Henley Royal Regatta in June/July. An army of parent supporters, rowers and staff set up the Ergos, banners, TV screen and a cake stall in the Artemis Team Zone. Throughout the day, we had the rowing crews taking on time and distance challenges, Year 5 students joining in relays, Year 7s doing Learn to Row and Junior rowers doing ‘marathons’. Even the teachers got involved in the staff challenge and gave it their best. It was a wonderful community event, and we thank everyone who contributed to the day’s success and achieving the fundraising target.
After months of rehearsals, building anticipation and excitement, the Senior Years Production, ‘Matilda’, opened on Monday with a special show for the MGGS staff. This was followed by three more nights of spectacular acting, music and dance. We were so proud of our leads in the show: Isabella Troise – Matilda; Esther Nastri – Miss Honey; Emily Walters – Ms Trunchbull; and Amaya Martinez-Doyle – Mrs Wormwood; as well as the full cast: Ted Perton, Ryan Glenane, Lily Stewart, Isabel Mackinnon, Noah O’Connor, Emma Cafferkey, Honey Anderson, Tara Richardson, Mimi Koczkar, Corinne He, Hannah Hamilton, Ben Harris, Madeline Barrett, Lucy Farrer, Amelia Banks, Allegra Pezzi, Kristiana Wells, Ruby Ryan, Grace Koczkar, Paris Drew, Matthew Denipitiya, Allegra Campbell, Amelia Pickering-Banks, Tabitha Chamberlain, Oriane Wahlqvist, Eliza Davidson.
We are also thankful and proud of the team who assisted backstage and front of house: Lighting – Isla Barnard and Sabienne Barnes; Sound – Tara Piggot; Microphone Tech – Allette McCrum, Maria Wang, Kiyara Wijemanne and Belle Duncan; Backstage and Props Developers – Lulu Bates, Sophie Jensen, Vanessa Lo, Indigo Thornton, Laetitia Yotes, Nicholas Wadell, Joe Zayontz, Harry Lavelle, Rory Evans Greenwood, Zoe Small, Lillian Woolfe, and Anais Cazenave; and Hair and Make Up/Ushers – Priya Diffey, Chloe Farrer, Harriet Grierson, Indigo Thornton, Sophie Dell Saskia Best, Chanara Aberantha, Jessica Amai, Minnie Laurie, Prischilla Marscha, Madeline O’Connell, and Charlotte Clark.
We commend the Music and Drama Departments on their efforts, the work of the Maintenance Department and Mark Thomson, Roy Theaker and the band, as well as the Marketing Community and Engagement Office for contributing to such a wonderful production. We are so proud of you all!
This is the last edition of Messenger for Term 2. In Week 8, the Years 9 to 11 Examinations will take place, and in Week 9, our Year 10 Grammarians journey to Arnhem Land for a cultural immersion experience and Year 11s venture out on their Retreat at Phillip Island. In the final week of Term, families are encouraged to further support our music, drama and art programs by coming along to the Dark Arts event on Monday 20 June. This is a free event and will feature wonderful examples of the creativity at MGGS in the form of music and drama performances, image projections and art exhibitions. We also look forward to the Morris Hall Production of Seussical Jnr on Thursday 24 June.
I encourage all our parents to get in quickly to purchase tickets for the Navy Blue Dinner on Friday 12 August. Tickets sell fast for this event as it has built up a keen following and is over 21 years has become a feature of the School calendar. It provides an opportunity to get together with friends to enjoy great food in a wonderful location. The focus this year is on the environment that our girls work and learn in and your support through events like this assists us in making these spaces sustainable and beautiful.
At a lunch at Bishopscourt with Archbishop Phillip Freier and other Heads of Anglican Schools last week, I was interested to hear many creative ways of juggling staff absences. Some principals reported filling libraries and school halls with a variety of classes, with Principals and Deputy Principals assigned with supervision.
Throughout Term 2, we have continued to manage staff and student absences due to COVID, colds and flu. Our teachers have worked hard to cover classes and minimise disruptions, but at times, these have been unforeseen and difficult to plan for. We have pushed through to continue with our planned programs and camps. We thank the amazing teachers who have covered for and supported each other in times of need and appreciate the words of support from our parents. Over the term break, I encourage you to organise influenza vaccinations for children over five (now free) and trust that this will be a time of rest and recuperation for those in our community who are unwell or fatigued.
To our First VIII travelling to Amsterdam and London for the Henley Royal Regatta, we say good luck and wish them God Speed!
A reminder that the Semester 1 Reports will be published for parents on Friday 24 June, enabling families to check on the students’ progress to date and open discussions about goal setting for Semester 2.
I wish all Grammarians, their families, and our staff a well-earned term break and safe travels to those venturing away from home, to the regions, interstate, or overseas. We look forward to welcoming everyone back for Term 3, including Dr Meath, who will return from her sabbatical.