From the Principal: 4 April 2022

From the Principal: 4 April 2022

Great texts are those that bite and sting. – Franz Kafka

We want our Grammarians to be readers. We want them to enjoy the pleasure of the rigour of a great text. It is by reading widely that we open our minds to possibilities and to curiosity. Reading is probably the most creative of all pursuits as it calls upon the reader to create in their ‘mind’s eye’ the images described by the author. When reading, each reader engages various parts of the brain and sees different things. When you read you exercise your comprehension and analytical skills. In this opening quote by Kafka, he implores us to read texts that make us pay attention and shift our thinking. Our Grammarians need to learn to be able to make critical decisions and they do this by studying and reading difficult things. Reading ignites imagination and stimulates memory and helps recall information as well as stabilise your emotions. When we share reading, such as when a class is reading the same text or in the situation of a book club, as humans we collectively share this experience and build a sense of connection, a shared language and mutual understanding. So, this Easter, as well as some chocolate eggs, gift a book to your daughter, possibly by a female author, and buy the same text for yourself and read it at the same time. You will be creating memories and shared neuronal pathways!

I am delighted to announce the outstanding achievement of our Head of Science, Ms Tara Quenault. She has been chosen as one of two recipients of The Roslyn Otzen Award for Exceptional Teaching for 2022. This award from The Alliance of Girls Schools drew a large number of high calibre nominations from outstanding educators making the selection committee’s decision a difficult one. They were in admiration of the success of Tara’s initiatives in STEM including her innovative programs. They also commented that it was a privilege to read about the evidence-based approach she took and the impact it has had across both our Merton and Morris Hall campuses. This is indeed high praise and well-deserved recognition of Tara’s work at MGGS since her arrival in 2019. Bravo!

It has been a big fortnight of student sporting events. Our Swimming Grammarians did us proud at the GSV Championships at MSAC on Wednesday 23 March. Qualifying for Division 1 for the third year in a row (not including a 2020 COVID cancellation), our team of 60 swimmers raced against some of the state’s best. Congratulations to our Junior and Intermediate teams who both placed 5th and our Seniors who made the podium in 3rd place. Our overall 4th placing puts us level with our second-best result in GSV history. Our recent run of sustained performance over the past four years is a reflection of our positive culture and sense of team. With 22 individual swims placing in the Top 3 (from 14 swimmers), and five relay teams also placing in the Top 3, it’s exciting to see the competitiveness — technically, physically, and mentally — of our swimmers continue to improve. Congratulations to those who competed at the GSV Finals Night on Friday. I hope you enjoyed your final swim representing MGGS for the 2022 GSV season. We also extend a big congratulations to our Junior Diving Team, who placed 1st in the GSV Diving Division 3 Championships. Our team of six finished the day with three 1sts, two 2nds and a 4th, and saw Coco Taylor (Year 8) qualifying for Finals Night.

The success of Head of Schoolgirls Regatta weekend represented the culmination of months and months of work — or in the case of our seniors, years. What made this weekend special was the feeling of joy in our community coming together, and the joy of competing! A record number of crews made A finals for us this year, demonstrating the role so many played to nurture and enhance the growth of our Grammarians as people, athletes, and rowers. Three crews — 1st and 2nd VIII Senior crews and Year 10 Division 1 Quad Scull — and 24 rowers competed at the Australian Rowing Championships at Lake Nagambie over the weekend. Unlike the Barwon competition, this course is 500m longer and is subject to varied weather conditions that push crews to their limits. Our crews drew on every ounce of their inner strength to achieve some amazing results at the Nationals: The Merton (top Year 12 crew) won silver in the Schoolgirl Eight A Final, narrowly missing gold for the second regatta in a row. Sophia Wilson coxed a composite crew in the Under 17 Women’s Coxed Quadruple Scull, securing a gold medal. The Grant (Year 10) won gold in their sprint race and finished fourth in the A Final of the Coxed Quadruple Scull. The Eaton (second Year 12 crew) won silver in their sprint race and finished second in the D Final of the Schoolgirl’s Coxed Eight. In the end, every rower who attended the championship returned home with a medal, which is a fantastic achievement. Well done to the rowers and the entire rowing team on another successful season.

I encourage you to dive into a good book this Easter.

A great afternoon was had at the inaugural MGGS Family Tennis event on Sunday 27 March. Thirty pairs of parents and daughters, in competitive or social groups, enjoyed a few hours on the courts, kindly facilitated by Royal South Yarra Tennis Club. Sincere gratitude to Virginia Wallace (Sports Auxiliary Tennis Representative) and Gil Polglase (convenor of our Fathers and Father Figures at MGGS) who both expertly co-ordinated the event.

The Domain Cup was also launched on Friday 25 March, with the first competition being Netball. This was closely won by Melbourne Girls Grammar with a score of 25 to Melbourne Grammar’s 24. The School spirit was palpable, with staff and students staying back to cheer on MGGS’s team of student and staff teams. The cheerleaders, resplendent in their new cheer blazers, whipped the students into a frenzy with drums, chanting and applauding the teams with one voice of ‘Go Melbourne!’. I believe the sound could be heard across to the Botanical Gardens, so huge was the enthusiasm.

To share in the experiences of our athletes, regardless of the game – and the highs and lows that come with training and competition – is a privilege. Thank you to our parents and guardians, who support their daughters to get to training, transport them to matches and events, and give positive support as spectators. Our Grammarians learn so much when they’re part of a sporting team!

In closing, a respectful reminder that schools run on healthy relationships. Relationships that are polite and built on strong foundations of consideration and mutual regard. Melbourne Girls Grammar is committed to ensuring that all staff, students, and members of the School community are treated with dignity, courtesy, and respect. Positive relationships are the foundation for the healthy functioning of our community. We are committed to ensuring a respectful learning environment that is safe and supportive for all students, staff, and visitors to the School. All members of the School have a right to an environment free from harassment and to communicate in a positive and co-operative manner. We have a code of conduct for our students, our staff, and our parents to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all. The Parent Code of Conduct outlines the way in which the School requires all parents and/or guardians to conduct themselves when visiting the School’s campuses, participating in School activities, and communicating with members of our community (including students, staff and other parents). This policy applies to all adults, including parents, guardians, step-parents, grandparents, extended family members, and caregivers. You can access the Parent Code of Conduct here.

In closing, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and community of Ukraine, as the war continues into the fifth week. The personal nature of this tragedy is very sad and an important reminder to us all of the preciousness of life and the role we each play in contributing to community and global harmony.

Have a safe and happy holiday, enjoy our marvellous Melbourne autumn, and take time to care for yourself and each other. And… don’t forget to read something with a little ‘bite and sting’.

Yours in learning,

Dr Toni E Meath