Speech Night, last Wednesday, was a spectacular MGGS celebration. On a mild Melbourne evening, we gathered as a community at the Town Hall to acknowledge the academic and service achievements of our students and staff in 2019. The central themes of the evening were community, diversity, equity, leadership and change. Congratulations to all the prize recipients! I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Mrs Lynn Broadway, Mrs Elizabeth du Blet and Ms Caitlin Roberts who planned, organised and implemented the evening with meticulous attention to detail.
Additionally, a big thank you to the student ushers, the music staff, the backstage helpers and the Community Office for ensuring the night was one of quality, displayed in a seamless and effortless manner. Also deepest gratitude to Ms Robyn McCutchan for the production of the 2019 Speech Night booklet that captured the academic year. Music was front and centre as it should be – it is a great hallmark of the School. Congratulations must also go to our students who respectfully ensured that the 2019 Speech Night was exemplary. The splendour and ceremony of a Speech night is symbolic for our academic school and it sends a strong message to the wider community that we are an exemplar in the international educational landscape.
Parent, Ms Jo Cain remarked:
‘Congratulations and thank you for a wonderful Speech Night! There was a deep sense of occasion truly embracing the rich diversity at our school. You sparked further thought on how we can enlarge our wider usefulness.’
Parent, Mr John Clifford remarked:
‘It was a truly impressive and polished performance. What a school. What a night. I don’t usually look forward to speech nights. That has changed.’
At this time of year, many of our Grammarians represent MGGS internationally. Ms Stephanie Walton and seven Grammarians are currently enjoying the inaugural exchange with our new sister school The Bishop Strachan School in Toronto, Canada. They have arrived safely and were met at the airport with banners of welcome from their host sisters. As I write this there are 24 Grammarians accompanied by, Ms Alison Bray, Ms Sally Bailey and Ms Kelsa Taleb in flight heading towards Cambodia where they will run the half marathon through the World Heritage listed Angkor Temple complex in Siem Reap. As I mentioned in my address at Speech Night as part of this journey the girls have been raising money in support of the charity, HAGAR. The HAGAR organisation works to end the cycle of trafficking, slavery and abuse that exploits women and children in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Vietnam. In support of HAGAR, the girls and teachers have so far raised over $30,000.
We also have senior students attending school and experiencing homestays in Italy, Spain and France as part of their language immersion programs. These are all amazing opportunities and I am sure our young women will return from their experiences a little wiser. These occasions enable our girls to embed their confidence and language skills through practice every day and immersion. Travel is a great teacher and invaluable for personal growth. Thank you for entrusting your daughter into our care and supporting our international programs.
The School is busy at present with Semester 2 report writing, ‘Step -Up’ programs and our staff preparing for our incoming 2020 students. There is curriculum refinement and a review of goals to ensure alignment with the new Strategic Plan, 2020-2025, and our refined direction for Melbourne Girls Grammar. As we move into the last weeks of 2019, we are also excited to announce that our Annual Giving campaign has almost reached our target. What wondrous generosity from you all. I thank you for your support of the School in so many ways. If you are yet to donate, there is still time. Contact Giselle Versteegen in the Development office or visit www.charidy.com/mggs.
We eagerly anticipate our VCE results which are published on Thursday 12 December. While our students always achieve great results as the culmination of their time at MGGS, we know that they are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The experiences, self awareness, values and friendships formed are a success of our students in equal measure. For it is this maturity and the relationships formed that have longevity beyond the ATAR. As a learning environment, we offer extensive co-curricular programs and a culture rich with traditions whilst being firmly placed in contemporary and global perspectives. Our alumnae leave us with many personal skills and attributes including leadership, confidence and a ‘can do’ attitude. This happens because of the collective contribution of all the whole community and I value the input you have made this year. Thank you for supporting our staff and students. Our students are fortunate to belong to a school with a dedicated community. Each family plays an important role in supporting the good running of the School by assisting their daughters in their quest to be the best that they can be.
The holy period of Christmas is nearly here and there has already been much celebration at Caroline, Clowes and Anderson Streets. Our Barbara Tolson Early Learning Centre Christmas Celebration held in the Chapel of St Luke on Thursday 28 November reflected the true magic of Christmas. I had tears of delight as I witnessed our confident and capable girls retelling the story of the birth of baby Jesus through song. Today, a precious little gaggle of Grammarians from the Early Learning Centre visited my office and earnestly sang me Christmas carols. Oh, what joy! This was a special moment of the year for me.
On presenting my educational philosophy to the Board as part of the selection process to become the 12th Principal of MGGS, I wrote:
One of the reasons that I am attracted to this position is of the opportunity to lead a school that commences at early learning and continues through to Year 12. The prospect of working with each developmental stage is exciting as my understanding of learning highlights the importance of the critical nature of each age and stage of the learning continuum. I believe that education is about developing the whole person so that the individual is enabled to live a full and rich life whilst making a fine contribution to society.
As an educator who has spent most of my career at the senior end of schooling, it is wonderful to witness the high expectations we have for our youngest Grammarians and know that this sets the foundation of a developmental continuum of learning. I am very pleased that one of the markers of our new Strategic Plan is the concept of a whole school approach to learning.
This Wednesday 4 December is our Merton Hall Carol Service at St Paul’s Cathedral. This is a much anticipated event which brings together many members of our community – our students, staff, parents and old Grammarians. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the spirituality of Christmas and the Anglican tradition of our school. Some members of our parent community have asked if there are still seats available this year. While we have introduced a pre-booking option to take some of the pressure off finding seats on the evening, rest assured that, as in previous years, General Admission is also available. I apologise for any confusion this may have caused. We look forward to seeing you at St Paul’s Cathedral on 4 December. Please be seated by 7.45pm for a prompt 8.00pm start. MGGS and Cathedral staff will be on hand to assist the congregation to find seats.
I would like to wish you and yours a very happy festive season and hope that you have an enjoyable holiday and valuable family time. It is a time for reflection, recharging of the batteries, and leisure time to relax with a good book or with friends and loved ones. I am looking forward to taking time to reflect on my first year at MGGS and eagerly await welcoming back you and our new students and their families to the School at the commencement of the 2020 academic year.