A very warm welcome to the 2023 academic year. It is a special year as we celebrate our 130th Anniversary! Our history has spanned from 1893 to 2023 and we are very proud of our contribution to the educational and feminist landscape of Melbourne and beyond. This year we will remember and honour our rich and curious past with the launch of a cultural history of our School, in the text Lines of Flight by Erica McWilliam. Additionally, as a school that sings, we will launch a competition for a 130th Anniversary song to add to our MGGS collection. We also move into Year 4 of our Strategic Plan, which affords us the opportunity to learn from our past and look to the future. We continue to innovate through outstanding academic programs, new and emerging technologies and in building a thriving community that is agile, resilient, and brave in its thoughts and deeds. There are many events planned where our community will be able to engage, learn and celebrate and I look forward to seeing you actively involved as we mark another significant milestone in the evolution of our great School.
On our first day with all staff, we focused on our Strategic Plan, the 2023 Annual Implementation Plan and our focus on sustainability. Designed with the 2040 graduate in mind, and the student at the centre, the four elements – culture, learning, environment, and community – provide the necessary ecosystem to nurture, extend and support. When we overlay our MGGS values of compassion, courage, self-discipline, and integrity on these elements, we have a simple yet fulsome roadmap. While acknowledging the importance of the wellbeing of the learner, it is our global and future-focused perspective that creates the environment for innovation. Collectively, the elements provide the strategic direction for Melbourne Girls Grammar for 2020-2025.
In the Chinese calendar, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit – bringing hope, longevity, peace, and prosperity – and in the Vietnamese calendar, it is the Year of the Cat – associated with prosperity, cleverness, and skillfulness – our first week of Term 1 has reflected this. As an Anglican school we celebrate the beliefs of the Church of England and also welcome and celebrate the diversity within our student and parent community. At our first assemblies at Morris Hall and at Merton Hall, we welcomed our new students and staff and celebrated being together. Indeed, we held our first assembly at Merton Hall in the Team Zone in The Artemis Centre and celebrated with our first 130th Anniversary birthday cake. Wildfell students Coco Lowry and Madeleine Crozier blew out the candles, cut the cake, made a wish and then we loudly sang happy birthday to our beautiful MGGS! Each student received a 130th Anniversary pin for their blazer. It was a delightful way to commence our 130th Anniversary proceedings.
Our year started well before the academic year with the co-curricular season starting with great success with the support of the MHRC under the leadership of our Head of Rowing, Angus Seller and Head of Sport, Anthony Bruhn. Forty-one students, from Years 7 to 12 attended the Swimming/ Athletics/ Water Polo Camp at The Sports Hub, Kawana Waters, on the Sunshine Coast in January. In the words of our Director of Artemis Programs, Sally Bailey, who attended, “…it was a fabulous camp with high work and training ethic by all Grammarians”. The second exchange to our sister school, The Bishop Strachan School, Toronto, Canada was very successful, with seven Year 10 students representing MGGS and Australia as fine ambassadors. Thank you to the staff who give so generously of their time, to enable these important co-curricular events to happen.
Our Year 12 Conference on Tuesday 31 January was a day of energy, setting the focus and intentions for the year and reconnecting with peers. Our guest speaker, Olympian Cate Campbell, shared with the Class of 2023 how she used a high-performance mindset to help overcome challenges and her story of stage 1 melanoma detection and coming out of retirement to try to make her 5th Olympic team. Also on this day, Fiona Comforth – CEO of The Healing Foundation, the chosen SEC charity for 2023 – also spoke to our Grammarians about inter-generational trauma and the importance of supporting wellbeing. She thanked the cohort for choosing this worthy cause to support. Year 12s are ready for a big and fulfilling year. The final year of school is the culmination of 13 years of formal education and our Year 12 Grammarians are more than ready to approach it with a great attitude that reflects their theme: Carpe Diem! On this day, I spoke to our Year 12 cohort about ‘leading the whole School with optimism and developing a presence’. If they are to leave MGGS being ethical women of action and to be leaders in their chosen careers, then they need to be ‘comfortable in their own skin’ and to be someone that others want to listen to.
The Boarders’ Welcome Barbeque was a happy and relaxed evening on Sunday 29 January. This event was an opportunity 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 boarders develop, and the quality of the relationships created between the students, their families, and the School. Thank you to our Director of Boarding, Amanda Haggie, her team and the community office for a fantastic event!
Our Morris Hall Welcome Breakfast on Thursday 2 February was well attended; it was humming with parents, guardians, and students ‘catching up’. I was delighted to observe the students welcoming new Grammarians and greeting their teachers for the first time this year with huge smiles. The enthusiasm and optimism of the Morris Hall students is wonderful. A special thank you to our Morris Hall Class Reps, Julie James and Nicole Gillard, for their support.
Thank you also to the parents and guardians who have volunteered as Class Representatives, Auxiliary Committee members, Parents Association members or who are supporting the School in diverse and varied ways for 2023. These volunteering roles are vital in the good running of a high-performing school and are often the ‘glue’ that helps keep our community together. To celebrate the culture of volunteering at the School, we invited Past Parents who had held positions within these groups over the past 10 years for a casual gathering on Thursday 2 February. On a blustery evening that has defined Melbourne’s summer, our loyal supporters reconnected, enjoyed the vibe, caught up on old times and shared their daughter’s experiences post school. We hope to reconnect with other groups throughout 2023 to celebrate the many ways our community gives back to make MGGS so special.
At the gate in the mornings and afternoons, I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting many new and current families and students, and welcoming them to the MGGS community. As stated in my first communication of the year, the Anderson and Clowes Street red brick wall is currently fenced as a precautionary measure. This means the footpath in that section will be inaccessible for an extended period. We understand that this is going to be a real inconvenience for many parents and students. During this period, we want to encourage parents to drop their children closer to Domain Road, giving them the opportunity to walk up the hill safely. For those needing to drop off due to additional bags, we recommend that you drop them at Gate D (Artemis entrance), where there is easy access to the Merton Hall campus.
Schools are optimistic places, and it has been a lively and happy start. Until next Messenger, enjoy the last few weeks of summer and take time to appreciate the beautiful city in which we live.
Yours in learning
Dr Toni E. Meath