We must always pave a way forward. This hope is our door, our portal, even if we never get back to normal. – Amanda Gorman, 2022
As we begin the 2022 academic year, this quote by young American poet Amanda Gorman in her poem New Day’s Lyric reminds us of the importance of optimism as we warmly welcome our Grammarians back to campus. Gorman states, “we have been readied…” and I think we have indeed. I have used Gorman’s inspirational New Year’s Eve poem in my Principal’s addresses to staff and students.
So, as we re-open our beautiful school after the complexities of a COVID-19-defined 2020 and 2021 for a new academic year, we are implementing our learnings and hoping for a calm and consistent 2022 with few interruptions. Routine and structure are so important in the lives of our young Grammarians and our first term will be about getting back to basics, reconnecting, and inspiring our learners to flourish. At MGGS we enjoy ‘the pleasure of the rigour’ and I look forward to seeing our students working hard and taking enjoyment from their study. At MGGS we are getting very experienced at working our way through the mazes and puzzles of navigating seamless starts in unpredictable environments.
There has been a lot happening for our Grammarians over the Summer with terrific university offers going out to our Class of 2021 and our international students finally returning to Melbourne. Our Rowing camp was successfully completed in January with our Grammarians keen to do well again on the river this year. It has been lovely to witness the hive of activity in Artemis in the holidays with our Learn to Swim program in full swing with happy young Grammarians in the pool. Although our Sports camp to Geelong was cut short, our students were terrific ambassadors and enjoyed being away making new friends, and enjoying all the camp had to offer. Thank you to our staff led by Executive Director Artemis Programs, Sally Bailey, Head of Sport, Anthony Bruhn, Head of Swimming, Brad Harris, and Head of Rowing, Angus Sellar, for giving their time to enable these camps and holiday programs to occur. Additionally, a big shout out to our wonderful School Nurse Jacqui Jones for testing all Grammarians before they left for camp ensuring we were keeping our community safe. Our 2022 timetable is complete, and all pieces of the jigsaw are fitting into place.
Our priority is student health and safety, and we will continue to be careful and pay high attention to COVID safe practices. With the introduction of twice-weekly rapid antigen tests in all schools in Victoria, we are encouraging all students to test on a Monday and Wednesday for the first four weeks of Term 1. All students will remain in ‘bubble year groups’ as much as practicable, must wear a mask at all times, and are to remain at home if unwell. Our Middle, Senior, and Early Learning sub schools of MGGS sit high on Anderson Street hill and have good ventilation. Our Morris Hall campus, with a studio design, also has good ventilation with its airy open spaces. Additionally, we have installed air purifiers across the whole school, and we will be encouraging our teachers to use outdoor learning spaces if the weather permits. All staff and students will sanitise their hands-on arrival and before entering each classroom; they are encouraged to practice good respiratory and hand hygiene and maintain 1.5-metre social distancing where possible. MGGS abides by the Victorian Government mandate of compulsory vaccinations for all school staff, and we highly encourage all students to be vaccinated, including our 5- to 12-year-old cohort. Grammarians who need to be at home through illness or as close contacts will be supported in their learning by their teachers, however, it will not be a remote learning model as when we were in lockdown. Parents and guardians, who are vaccinated, are welcome onsite for events but must also QR code in and abide by all COVID-safe practices.
Over the holiday period, many preparations have been made for the 2022 academic year. New curriculum has been designed, and our teachers have been working conscientiously in preparing the learning to be excellent. We are delighted to now have renovated new classrooms and have dedicated outdoor classroom spaces purposefully designed to enable our Grammarians to optimise their outdoor areas. We will be spreading out and using every available space. Additionally, many other areas of the Merton Hall and Morris Hall campuses have been renovated and have received a coat of paint, new carpet, or furniture.
2022 marks the third year of our 2020-2025 Strategic Plan for MGGS. This plan provides a framework ratified by our School Council, staff, and students for the continued growth and success of the School. Our community holds a shared vision in the provision of an intellectually stimulating environment for our students and it is the cornerstone of our culture. As part of this plan, each year all MGGS staff engage in a professional reading text, the rationale being the shared understanding and dialogue about current educational theorems. In 2022, this text is Jim Knight’s, 2016, Better Conversations. So, in 2022 we will continue our focus working with all families on nurturing ethical women of action who have the knowledge, skills and wellbeing attributes that will enable them to be confident, entrepreneurial, and active participants in society when they leave school.
As a community, we value academic success, and we are very proud of the Class of 2021 who showed extraordinary commitment and patience in their studies last year and were resolute in their focus on learning and in their support for each other; they have academically achieved stellar VCE grades. Our results show that 51% of students received an ATAR in the 90s, 30% received an ATAR above 95 and 14% received an ATAR above 98. Our Dux received 99.95 and six students received perfect study scores of 50 in the study areas of Physical Education, English, French, Chemistry, Chinese Second Language, and Visual Communication Design. Our trend data over time highlights the strength of our Senior Years academic program. We are so pleased that our Grammarians have received results that will open doors to further learning and opportunities. But ultimately, education is about so much more. As a School community, we are so proud of all the times our students have challenged themselves, shown intellectual courage and strong leadership. All students in this cohort have received university and tertiary offers and we look forward to sharing stories of their future successes.
Research tells us that the most important factor in the learning process is what the learner brings, teamed with the quality of the teacher. We are fortunate to have the very best teachers and our strong 2021 VCE and NAPLAN results are testimony to that teamwork. Our teachers are here because of and for the students.
On housekeeping matters – we value keeping our student records accurate and so if there have been any changes to your phone, email, parent/emergency contacts, or medical information please let us know. It is important this information is updated as soon as there is any change as we need to be able to contact parents if a student becomes unwell or in other cases of need.
I encourage all families to be involved in the education of their daughters whilst at MGGS. We have a vibrant and active Parents Association group and multiple auxiliary groups – so if you are considering further involvement, there are many ways that you can become connected. The beginning of the year is a terrific time to sign up for something new.
Our staff are here to support the educational experience of all our students. Your daughters will be challenged academically, and we also encourage them to be involved and embrace all aspects of the School including our extensive co-curricular program. We aim to provide a trusted space where students can be themselves, love learning, and aspire to reach their potential in an impressive and stimulating learning environment with inspiring teachers. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
In closing, thank you for your patience whilst drainage and roadworks are completed on Anderson Street by Melbourne City Council; the timing is not ideal, however, this is not in our control and hopefully, they will be finished soon.
2022 is the Year of the Tiger, with the tiger symbolising personal courage, confidence, and strength – that sounds like us at MGGS! Happy Chinese Lunar New Year to all and may we be blessed in 2022 with the qualities of the tiger!
Yours in learning
Dr Toni E. Meath