A very warm welcome to the 2019 academic year! Our first few weeks have been happy and busy ones. At our first assemblies at Morris Hall and at Merton Hall we welcomed our new students and celebrated being together. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting many new and current families and students at the gate in the mornings and afternoons. Schools are optimistic places and it has been a vibrant and joyous start.
On my very first school day at Melbourne Girls Grammar I was delighted when our School Captain, Lexi and our Vice Captains, Beatrix and Sophie visited me to receive me into the School. As Principal, I was proud of the warmth and eloquence these students displayed in their greeting. In my first few weeks, I have had the opportunity to introduce myself to many students and as I have walked the school grounds our Grammarians have been friendly and ready for a conversation! My first official function as Principal was the Council Welcome on Thursday 24 January; this was a lovely opportunity to get to know the Executive and School Council.
I have been made most welcome and I am honoured and humbled in my appointment as the twelfth Principal of such a fine school. I would like to thank our Deputy Principals, Mr Chris McNamara and Ms Lynn Broadway for their exemplary leadership at this transitional time for Melbourne Girls Grammar. Both have a wealth of experience and a deep understanding of the culture of the School and their generosity of spirit and commitment to ensuring a smooth transition has been of great personal support.
Our Commencement Assembly at Merton Hall on Thursday 31 February was a formal occasion. My address to the students was centred on culture and the importance of understanding our context. I spoke to the students about our School vision, mission and values and set high expectations for their learning and engagement in co-curricular activities for 2019. Our student leaders spoke brilliantly and we rejoiced in singing the School Hymn and School Song.
My commissioning as Principal by The Most Reverend Dr Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne at St Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday 7 February was a significant symbolic historical event for the School and a career highlight for me. It felt quite surreal to be in such a magnificent venue with the whole school in worship, song and celebration. The symbols of the School I received were thoughtfully chosen and will be treasured. I particularly enjoyed the student input and the collaboration of early learners with our seniors. This event was a clear marker of a strong culture and a vibrant community. My deepest gratitude to those who made this event a special one especially our talented musicians and of course all of our students and staff..
Our Morris Hall Welcome Breakfast on Friday 1 February was well attended and buzzing with parents and students ‘catching up’. I was delighted to observe the students running to the school doors when the bell sounded to call in the start of the day. The exuberance and cheerfulness of the Morris Hall students was wonderful. I was fortunate to attend the Morris Hall Assembly on Friday 8 February and witness our impressive House Captains welcome the students to Clarke, Mungo, Taylor, Hensley and Batman Houses and teach the students the House Chants – smiles abounded! My visit to the Year 4 class earlier in the day with a focus on leadership was a high point of the week – leadership certainly starts early at MGGS!
The Old Grammarians have welcomed me into the fold and I attended their first meeting of the year on Wednesday 6 February and met the current committee members. Additionally, many Old Grammarians have welcomed me in passing at the many events I have already attended. On each of these occasions the importance of affiliation was palpable and many of the alumnae have spoken to me of their fondness and rich memories of Melbourne Girls Grammar; it is clearly a much loved school.
The Boarders’ Welcome Barbeque was a happy and relaxed evening on Friday 8 February. This event allowed opportunities for our Boarding families to get to know each other. One of the great benefits of Boarding at Melbourne Girls Grammar is the special bond that the girls develop and the quality of the relationships created between the students, their families and the School. Thank you to our Director of Boarding and her team for a fantastic event!
It is wonderful news that our former Principal, Mrs Catherine Misson has been appointed as the 12th Principal of Havergal College, Toronto Canada. We wish her all the very best in this new and exciting venture.
Congratulations to our students, Alex Bortolussi and Sarah Mackay who have been selected by VCAA to have their VCE work acknowledged in Top Designs and Top Class Drama.
Bravo to Hensley House for winning triumphantly at the 2019 House Swimming! Congratulations to each of the House Captains who were impressive in their leadership of their Houses and led the chants brilliantly.
My Principal tenure at Melbourne Girls Grammar is about learning and leading the community. It is about contribution to Victoria’s finest independent girls’ school. I strongly believe that as a leader it is important to recognise that you are continually learning and you never ‘arrive’. Indeed, leadership requires the values of courage, integrity, compassion and self-discipline to constantly hone and improve skills to make the world a better place.
In closing, I think the beginning of the year can be best summed up by Year 5 student, Alex. The Year 5 students were asked to reflect on the School’s values of compassion, integrity, self-discipline and courage. Alex chose compassion to write about and she did so in these words:
‘When we came to Melbourne Girls Grammar, I am sure that everyone was worried about finding new friends, navigating their way around this huge campus or whether the learning was going to be too challenging. However, the moment we stepped through the gates, we were greeted by a tidal wave of smiles.
Nobody held back from expressing a few kind words of encouragement and it made you feel like you were walking on a cloud- despite the pain of the tight, new T-Bars! At Melbourne Girls, compassion is not just a value, it is a guarantee. Compassion is hidden in everyone’s heart and this school is the place that finds it; it radiates from students and teachers alike.
So don’t hesitate to add a few more smiles to the mix.’
Until the next Messenger, enjoy the last few weeks of summer and take time to appreciate the beautiful city in which we live.