From the Principal: 19 June 2018

From the Principal: 19 June 2018


I am sitting in front of our first winter fire writing this final Term 2 Messenger article. Earlier, I had ventured out for a run knowing I liked a bit of rain – only to be fully drenched by a storm that included a light sprinkling of hail. My shoes are now propped up in front of this fire, and no matter how high the flames are leaping, neither me nor my shoes are recovering very much from the chill of this day. It is peaceful, though. And that is the best thing about rain, cold, and a wood log fire!

In warmer climate, our Year 8 girls are travelling in the Northern Territory. This trip is a highlight every year, taking the girls out of their comfortable homes in a buzzing urban setting, and deploying them in a range of natural and cultural settings to develop teamwork skills, to build knowledge of northern Australia and Indigenous communities, to cope well without technology, to rely on their own resources to manage in unfamiliar situations. I am looking forward to hearing from the girls on their return – they will be proud of their efforts, feel more mature, and believe they are ready to prepare for Senior Years in 2019.

Once our girls enter the Senior Years Program they have an Enterprise Program available that curates a diverse range of trips and experiences they can choose to participate in, to extend their learning beyond the classroom and the co-curricular. When I chat to the girls about what they believe sets MGGS apart, they will often nominate the experiential learning opportunities – “there are so many”, “there is something for everyone”, “we can’t believe we get these types of opportunities”. Ms Renee Jackson, our Student Enterprise Manager, is relentless in hunting down these opportunities or crafting them from an idea that a student or a teacher has brought forward. The Enterprise Program is responsive to the girls and their learning priorities, and to evolving ideas of the attributes and skills required by tertiary and work environments.

In the coming term break, two fantastic enterprise experiences will take place, and reflect the nature of our ambitions with this Program. The Senior Years History and Politics Tour to the USA was designed by our teachers to enrich the understanding of students taking Global Politics courses or are generally interested in US context and influence globally, and girls from our Years 10 and 11 join an international team of students and scientists on the South Africa Research Expedition, focusing on biodiversity and conservation.

“The senior years History and Politics Tour to the east coast of the USA has been designed for students in Years 10-12 who are interested in exploring the historical origins of contemporary America, and tracing the attitudes, ideas and values of the “Founding Fathers” and testing them against the realities of today’s USA. Students begin their tour in Boston, walking the “Freedom Trail” and considering why the colonists deemed a separation from imperial power of Great Britain essential in achieving “Life, Liberty and Happiness”. The students’ journey continues through the modern metropolis of New York City where they consider the great turning points in American history from the Tenements Museum in Brooklyn, the migration stories of Ellis Island and the magnitude of the 9/11 Memorial Site. Their visit culminates in a tour of the United Nations where they have the opportunity to meet with key members and consider the importance of international diplomacy in the modern world. Philadelphia provides students the opportunity to consider why the second amendment right of bearing arms is so integral to modern American politics, as well as an understanding of the context in which the Constitution was forged. Finally, students make their way to Washington D.C to see the living institutions that make up the American government and experience first-hand the nature of Congress, the separation of powers and the checks and balances that regulate the American presidency. The aim is for students undertaking this tour to become informed citizens with a deep understanding of how historic views and values inform modern political landscapes.” Ms Lucy Jongebloed, Head of History and Classics

“In partnership with Operation Wallacea and their partner, Wildlife and Ecological Investments (WEI), the South Africa Research Expedition was designed for students to join global conservation efforts, conduct biodiversity and geography field research and to work with teams of scientists from all over the world. The Operation Wallacea Program provides the opportunity for students to consider the role of science and conservation of key ecosystems from a global perspective. During the two week expedition, students work alongside a range of different field scientists and learn about the survey techniques and species encountered in the magnificent African landscape.

In the first week, students spend their time in the low veld reserve of Balule, assisting researchers with distance sampling of large mammals, quantifying browsing and grazing pressure for herbivores, and point counting for birds, whilst also learning about African wildlife conservation and management through a series of lectures. The second week is spent in Sodwana Bay in KwaZulu Natal, where students complete an Indian Ocean marine ecology course, with a series of lectures and in-water practicals to observe marine megafauna.

Students who participate in this tour will have covered many of the concepts learned in university biology, geography and environmental science courses. They will also stand out from the crowd by being able to demonstrate independence, global efficacy, and teamwork in working with academics to tackle active conservation and ecological issues.” Ms Ashanie Perera, Middle Years Science – Program Leader

The 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours List provides us an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding life work and influence of Old Grammarians, parents and extended members of MGGS community. I am pleased to share these wonderful recipients with you:

MEDAL IN THE GENERAL DIVISION (OAM)

Professor Margaret Rosemary ZACHARIN OAM (1966) 
Award citation: for service to medicine, particularly to paediatric endocrinology.

Mrs Ronda Beckley WALKER OAM (Smith 1959) 
Award citation: for service to the community, and to women.

OFFICER IN THE GENERAL DIVISION (AO)

Mr John Higgins AO (past parent, member of the Merton Hall Foundation)
Award citation: For distinguished service to the community through philanthropic contributions to education, cultural, social welfare, and child cancer support organisations, and to business.

Mr Andrew Sisson AO (past Council member, past Parent, member of the Merton Hall Foundation)
Award citation: For distinguished service to the finance and investment sector, as an advisor to financial regulatory bodies, and through philanthropic support for cultural and charitable groups.

Mr Paul Espie AO (husband of Ros Espie (Cantlay), OG 1964) 
Award citation: For distinguished service to the mining and infrastructure sectors through financial advisory roles, to public policy development and reform, and to not-for-profit organisations.

Finally, I wish all of our community a restful and safe term break. For all who travel, travel well and safe; and for those of us who remain in Melbourne, may we see as much sunshine as we feel the winter chill!

Catherine Misson

Principal of Melbourne Girls Grammar