From the Principal: 5 August 2019

From the Principal: 5 August 2019

A warm welcome back to all Grammarians and their families to Term 3. We finished Term 2 with the most wonderful Morris Hall Musical Production, The Wind in the Willows. The story was adapted by our very talented Alex St Vincent Welsh and Amy Arnott; with all music and lyrics written by Alex. Morris Hall’s theme for Term 2 was sustainability and this was central to the staging of the production. The whole of the Morris Hall community were involved from inception to the performance. All costumes were upcycled and repurposed and everything on stage was used from ‘rescued’ fabrics and bits and pieces destined for landfill. Our young Grammarians delighted the audience with the strength of their performances – compelling characterisation, difficult lines delivered seamlessly, and perfect timing. Ross Hall was transformed into a forest with a carpet of leaves on the floor (diligently collected by parents) and the most glorious arch of woodland flowers on stage. Beautiful winter corsages were lovingly made for guests and attention to every detail was made with care and precision. I came away from the production believing that our Grammarians can do anything they set their mind to! It was wow!

Term 3 has commenced in an icy and wintery fashion, making us believe that perhaps Antarctica has moved a little north! Perhaps, this has been good for us, as both our students and staff seem to have returned with a spring in their step, hopefully well rested from a mid-winter hibernation period. Travel refreshes, restores and reawakens your lens on the world. Having just returned from a few weeks of summer in Japan, it is nice to be back at MGGS with fresh eyes and new ideas that come from time away. We live in a beautiful and precious world and we share common dilemmas across the planet. Our role as a community is to equip our youth with the skills and capacity to live with the constancy of change and to not feel overwhelmed. So I am very pleased to be back working hard with the MGGS staff on developing our new strategic plan that has this intent front and centre.

 As a successful, improvable school we commenced Term 3 as a whole staff completing our Strategic Review. The Artemis ‘Team Zone’ was transformed into a conference space and for a full day we listened to the qualitative and quantitative data we gathered collectively in Term 2. We communally and collaboratively unpacked our data, discussed and questioned our understandings and put forward suggestions for improvement. In preparation for the development of our Strategic Plan spanning the years 2020-2025 we scrutinised our practice data using a searchlight and laser light perspective. With the support of our critical friends, Adjunct Professor Erica McWilliam and Mr Bruce Armstrong we scanned the breadth of MGGS programs (search light) and we drilled deep into them (laser light). Both worked with the Executive Team over three days to help clarify, confirm, and disconfirm evidence and lay the foundation for the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. The Executive Team have engaged in rigorous and robust discussion and have been charged with the responsibility of developing a Strategic Plan, 2020-2025 by the end of Term 3.

Diversity of opinion, background and thought are integral to the culture of MGGS. This makes us who we are. Students learn from our ELC through to our Senior Years Program that as a community we are proud of our capacity to balance learnings from multiple perspectives. An important part of this is our learning and respect of our country’s first people and our indigenous culture. Our Year 8 students were brilliant ambassadors for MGGS at their recent trip to Arnhem Land. This experiential learning opportunity on country, in partnership with Culture College, and with the traditional land owners, the Yolgnu people, is unique. The whole Year 8 cohort is engaged in this program that supports the in depth study of the culture, history and traditions of the Australian indigenous culture. Furthermore, during the term break, NAIDOC Week celebrations were held across Australia from 7-14 July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC Week is an opportunity on a national scale to engage in activities and discussions highlighting important topics surrounding our indigenous communities. The theme for 2019 NAIDOC Week was ‘Treaty. Voice. Truth. Let’s work together for a shared future.’.  We know that our Year 8 students return to Merton Hall understanding this concept and the importance of recognising and respecting the Uluru Statement.

On the weekend of 20-21 July, I travelled to Mt Buller to be present for the MGGS Snow sports Training and House Cup. We had 75 students on the mountain competing and engaging with great ‘sportswomanship’ and fierce determination in alpine racing, moguls, cross country and snowboarding. I was impressed with every Grammarian and in awe of their skill levels from Prep through to Year 12; they flew down the mountain with such style and grace. The Snowsports Auxiliary held a fantastic Social Evening, Family Pizza Night for our students on the Saturday with over 180 in attendance at the ABOM Moosehead Bar. This event highlighted our close knit community and was an opportunity for parents, guardians, friends and family to mix and enjoy each other’s company.  Thank you to presidents, Ms Amanda Watson and Mr Tim Drew and the entire Snowsports Auxiliary for giving so generously of their time to enable our students to have these opportunities. It was, however, with much trepidation that I donned skis after an eight year break from skiing and faced the challenges of the mountain. I must admit that I am writing this on the following Wednesday and I am aching all over. I had forgotten how demanding on the muscles this sport is, however and moreover, being in the pristine national park, with Grammarians, snow gums and beautiful skies made it all worthwhile! Thank you to our new Head of Snowsports, Mr Danny Geiger, our Snowsports Co-ordinator, Mr Geoff Walker and our Snowsports team including Ms Sarah Bates, Ms Adelaide Thompson, Ms Katie Price, Ms Savannah Noack, Ms Claire Shaw, Ms Belle Brockhoff and Ms Katerina Paul who worked hard to ensure the programs were delivered well. Gratitude also to our Director of Middle Years, Ms Sally Hill who also travelled to Mt Buller to cheer on and support our students.

On 25 July, I was delighted that MGGS was able to host the annual Australian Council of Educational Leaders (ACEL) Annual President’s Research Seminar titled Educating in a globalising world. What do Australian school leaders need to know and do?. The expert panel including Professor Fazal Rizvi, Ms Annette Rome, Dr Niranjan Casinader and Ms Oliva Jones put forward that the face of Australia is changing, in that at least one third of Australians now have one parent born overseas and more than a quarter of students speak a language other than English at home. With an increasing globalised economy, the importance of transnational skills and understandings is essential. It is our shared role to ensure that our Grammarians graduate with a global outlook and the cultural competencies to enable them to thrive.

Star Search 2019 on Friday 26 July was a calendar highlight as our talented Grammarians competed against Melbourne Grammar students in the 2nd Domain Cup Event for the year. This occasion was well supported by our community and all were entertained with some very memorable singing, music, comedy and magic acts. Thank you to our Drama Captains, Bella Misson and Amelia Szabo for their leadership and organisation.

As part of our MGGS Arts Week, the inaugural Dark Arts Winter Festival, held on Wednesday 31 July, was another brilliant example of our school spirit and sense of community. On the last day of July, we celebrated with drama, music, spoken word and art with themes of the wintery, magical, mysterious and macabre. With pop-up art stalls, the screening of images on our red brick walls, neon glow sticks, DJs, food carts and virtual reality opportunities we transformed our Merton Hall campus into a curated art piece. Thank you to our Art Captains, Lara White and Pip Lindsay, Drama Captains, Bella Misson and Amelia Szabo and Music Captains, Rachel Chen and Clara Tjiandra, Head of Art, Ms Josie Fagan, Head of Music, Ms Elizabeth du Blét, Head of Drama, Mr Ryan Bowler, Mr Matthew Perkins, the Community Office and the  PA volunteers and Arts Auxiliary led by President, Ms Beck Wilkinson. It was their expertise, leadership and ability to work together that made this event such a success.

Late in Term 2, I asked our Wellbeing Coaches to present to our staff on the important work they do in supporting our grammarians in the Senior Years Program. Now in its third year, our MGGS Wellbeing Coaching Model “recognises that each student requires her own wellbeing approach.” Ms Emma Grant delivered a compelling presentation and I have included it in this Messenger for you to read.

Vale

Mr Geoffrey Samuel Tolson

It is with great sadness that I write to advise that our dear friend and widower of Old Grammarian Mrs Barbara Tolson, has passed away on 15 June. Geoff Tolson was a constant supporter of the School in myriad ways and welcomed me warmly as the new Principal.  He will be greatly missed.

The Right Reverend James Alexander Grant AM

It is with great sadness that I write to advise that Bishop James Grant AM passed away on 10 July.  Bishop James Grant made a large and significant contribution to the life of the Diocese of Melbourne, to Christian education and in particular Trinity College, and to the Church and community in general. Over the course of his long and celebrated career in the Church, Bishop Grant served the Diocese with great distinction in a variety of capacities, including as Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral, and as an Assistant Bishop from 1970 until his retirement in 1999. Bishop Grant officially dedicated the MGGS Administration of Phelia Grimwade House on 28 May 1999. Bishop Grant served as the Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the MGGS School Council from 1985-1995. He was a colleague, mentor and friend to many over an extended period of time, and will be greatly missed.

Congratulations

On behalf of our community, I am delighted to give a huge congratulations to our School Council member and Chairperson of our Governance Committee, Mrs Carolyn Clark on being awarded an OAM for service to women, and to the community. Carolyn has worked over many years with a generosity of spirit supporting many organisations including Melbourne Girls Grammar, The Sacred Heart Mission, Women4Women Committee, and Journey to Social Inclusion Committee, One Heart One Home Capital Campaign Committee, The Women’s House, Victorian Advisory Board Member, Starlight Children’s Foundation, Angels Investor Network and Social Ventures Australia. Overall, this is an impressive portfolio of volunteering in the support of girls and women. Bravo!

Congratulations to our very own, Mr Ashley Pratt who has been awarded the 2019 History Teachers’ Association Victoria (HTAV award) for “Excellent and Sustained Contribution to the Teaching and Learning of History” which was presented to him at the HTAV Annual Conference on 25 July.  This is high praise from a very strong Victorian Professional Association.

Congratulations to Year 12 student, Gaia Charan Bahaar, who has recently returned to MGGS from competing in Hungary at the International Biology Olympiad. Gaia was one of four students selected to represent Australia in our Biology Olympiad Team. The Australian team gained a bronze in the competition and we are proud of them.

Congratulations to Year 10 student, Tiffany Chiang who has just left for the World Taekwondo Championships in South Korea.  We wish her well in the upcoming competition.

Congratulations to Year 11 student, Eleanor Mullins who came first in the Junior Nationals Mogul Championships this weekend in Mt Buller. 

I continue to learn in my first year as Principal and I continue to be amazed by the vibrancy of our school. MGGS honours its traditions and history as a leader in education and, as a community, we are proud of our capacity to balance the learnings of the past with a progressive and agile educational outlook. Collectively we strive to facilitate learning based on sharing knowledge, skills and experiences that will equip our Grammarians for whatever life throws their way. We know that their future will be characterised by rapid change and their capacity to adapt will be what they need to harness every opportunity to take the lead and influence others. Our Strategic Plan: 2020-2025 will be designed to improve our school and empower our students to be their very best. Author and school Principal, Mr John Marsden’s in his most recent book, The Art of Growing Up, puts forward that we have ‘to convince children that change for the better is possible and achievable, that their actions can make a difference, and that defeating the forces of ignorance and self-interest is essential.’ The partnerships between home and school, adult and child has never been more important. Thank you for entrusting your daughters in our care.

Author

Dr Toni E. Meath, Principal