Senior School


Senior School

February 14, 2020

Welcoming the students back to the academic year was truly joyous, especially considering its our Centenary year! This time of year is always very special, with meeting the new students and catching up on the holiday adventures of existing students. On behalf of all the Senior School teaching and professional services staff we look forward to supporting all our families in 2020 and we do wish all our new families a fulfilling journey through their time in the Senior School.

The Year 7 cohort welcomed 64 new families to CGGS while Years 8 – 11 also welcomed a further 26 students. In Year 8 this year two of our new students have come to us from the Melbourne Indigenous Transition School (MITS) and we are thrilled to have Ruby and Rumarlea as members of our CGGS community.

As part of their start to the new school year, the Year 7 students completed a 5 day Transition Program specifically designed to help them navigate their way around the school, meet all their teachers before commencing their studies, explore all the co-curricular offerings and of course to ensure they meet and feel a part of their cohort. These 5 days were highly successful, and I thank each of the students for being enthusiastically involved in each of the activities, their Tutor teachers for their nurture of the students and the subject teachers for their support of the activities. I also thank Mrs Watkins, Year 7 Level Coordinator and Mrs Robinson, for their organisation of this program. The move to Secondary School is challenging for all, physically, emotionally, socially and academically. While I feel sure many of the girls are exhausted by Friday evening, we are all very proud of their endeavours, their smiles are evidence that they are certainly feeling at home already.

The Year 11 students began their school year with a session from Fit2Drive. With most of the students in the Year Level at the age when they are starting to drive on their L Plates. We have over the past number of years found this program of particular benefit.

With thanks to the 2020 School Captain, Felicia Spiridonos and Vice Captains, Loren Palma and Laurya Dang-Nguyen, the Year 7 girls spent their Thursday lunch with their House buddies from Year 11 and 12. The School Captains wrote a letter of introduction to each new Year 7 student and matched them to an older student. This new initiative for 2020 is an example of the leadership shown by our older students and the lunch, the first of many activities the School Captains have planned for the year, definitely gave our youngest members of the Senior School a taste of our strong connections.

For the Year 12 students their year began with a Retreat at St Hilda’s College at The University of Melbourne. The Retreat is always a highlight for the students. I take this opportunity to thank Andrew Burnell the Year 12 Coordinator for his organisation of this year’s program, Rev. Helen Creed for conducting the Commencement Service and the Year 12 Form teachers, Jo Rittey, Paige Tan, Karin Lemanis and Ian Lyell, plus Head of Libraries Anne Devenish and Careers Counsellor, Trish Dolan and both School Counsellors, Beth Sarlos and Paula Kolivas for sharing their time at the Retreat.

Our 100th Birthday celebration on Tuesday was shared by two Senior School students Lucia Ronaldson, Year 7 and Joy Ma, Year 12 and Junior School Student, Zara Teh Year 4. A birthday they are sure to remember with Her Excellency the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, Governor of Victoria joining them!

For those parents who were able to join us on Tuesday at the Centenary Commencement Ceremony, the first of many special anniversary events this year, I feel sure you would agree that it truly was a most memorable and fitting celebration of our significant milestone. Thank you to all the Senior School students who were involved in the event and also to those who were part of the audience.

I urge all parents and extended family members to join us at as many of the Centenary events as possible. As a school community we are looking forward to sharing the up-coming event with you. Many girls across all the year levels are already busily rehearsing for the Centenary Creative Arts Festival, The Shape Of Us, which will be performed over three nights from the Thursday 19 March to Saturday 21 March.

Please note the following updates to staff roles of responsibility in the Senior School for 2020.

Nirvana Watkins
– Year 7 Coordinator
– Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing ( Curriculum and Programs) – Term 1

Liesa Winkler
– Year 8 Coordinator

Kim Hepworth
– Year 9 Coordinator

James Henderson
– Year 10 Coordinator

Nareen Robinson
– Year 11 Coordinator
– Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing (Activities and Initiatives) – Term 1

Andrew Burnell
– Year 12 Coordinator

Sam Bullen – Student Services

Please note all absences, whether due to illness or a partial absence for an appointment, are required to be notified to Sam via email or phone (9811 8546) before 9.00am each morning. At this time any unexplained absences will be notified to parents via SMS to your listed mobile numbers.

Please ensure that you check the email and mobile phones listed in Parent Lounge to ensure they are up to date. If you require any changes please notify Mr Stuart Hill /


Digital Learning in an Age of Uncertainty 

In 2013 David Price wrote in his book that ‘we know only two things for certain. The first is that we should learn to embrace uncertainty, because this age of uncertainty could become permanent. The second is that if all the old certainties are gone, then we have to be open to radical shifts in how we work, live and learn’ (OPEN: how we’ll work, live and learn in the future, p. 21). Fast forward seven years and this uncertainty is as true today as it was then.

As we are all aware, the start of the school year has for all schools and many workplaces, been significantly impacted by the Coronavirus. Some of our students having a delayed start to the year and unable to attend school. Although this has had an impact on the school community and our usual start of the year procedures and transitions, it has presented us with opportunities to develop and trial new ways and modes of teaching and learning. Teachers and students have been working collaboratively to improve the educational and wellbeing outcomes for the students unable to attend classes through the use of digital learning tools.

Research has shown that the differences between face-to-face and online learning spaces are significant enough that unique approaches are required for effective teaching online. As such, teachers have been able to harness technology to create engaging and meaningful activities that may not have been possible in a regular face-to-face class. This has included videoconferencing, collaborative documents through Office 365, screencasts and a range of other web-based platforms. The chosen digital tool should engage and excite, facilitate communication and discussion and provide students with greater opportunities for practice and feedback.

The core business of digital learning at CGGS is about educating students to be fully participating citizens in a digitally networked world and the unique start to the year has demonstrated how important this task is and also how adaptable and flexible our students and staff are when faced with a challenge. The growth mindset of our community is certainly a trait to be admired.

Micah Wilkins
Head of Digital Learning and Innovation



Paul Dillon Workshops

Students in Years 10, 11 and 12 were involved in presentations with Paul Dillon from Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia on February 13. Each year, Paul shares contemporary research and perspectives on this topic with our senior students. His message is crafted to resonate with our students and to address some of the issues that they may encounter in coming years. Focusing on being safe and helping friends stay safe is key to his message and students always reflect positively on his engaging style and good humour.

CGGS student accepted into the Australian Ballet School!

Sabrina Bignold, Year 7, began dancing when she was two years old and has been focussed on and dedicated to improving her skills for an entire decade and she is not yet 13!

Sabrina dreams of being a Principal Ballerina and during the summer break was offered a place in the After School Program at The Australian Ballet School (ABS).  She will now train at the ABS after school three days per week and on Saturdays. This is an incredible achievement with only 3 students in the class.

We congratulate Sabrina on her achievement and look forward to hearing more of her dancing achievements in the years to come.

Young Australian Broadway Chorus (YABC)

Helena Maunder, Year 8, has been a part of stage school Australia’s’ Young Australian Broadway Chorus (YABC) for eight years now. After auditioning for a part in their summer production of Cats, along with many of her YABC friends, she was cast as one of the kittens in the show, her first production with the Stage School. During an intense four weeks of rehearsal, Helena learned the songs and dances for the musical, while the orchestra, costume and set design team were hard at work, making the show look and sound amazing.

Helena performed in five out of the ten shows, and received excellent reviews, in particular, a 4-star review from the Herald Sun critic. One of the highlights for Helena was greeting the audience in full costume and in character before the show started, interacting with the children and families coming to see them.

Congratulations Helena, we look forward to hearing more of your achievements both at YABC and within our own CGGS productions.

2020 European Hockey Trip

On 31 December 2019 two of our sibling students, Georgia (Year 8) and Chloe Langley (Year 11) departed Melbourne on the Wanderers 2019/20 Hockey Tour. The Wanderers is an organisation that co-ordinates sporting teams made up of individuals from different clubs all over Australia, coming together to play against teams internationally.

The girls travelled initially to Singapore where they met up with teammates from all across Australia. Georgia and Chloe played in England, Holland, Belgium and France. Each country had a different playing style and every club was a challenge, with the girls playing 9 games during the tour. Although this was a hockey tour, there was also time for sightseeing and they enjoyed sites such as Buckingham Palace in England, the Louvre and Eiffel Tower in Paris, the clog and cheese factory in Holland and the war memorials in France. As part of the tour the girls were billeted to different people’s homes and usually stayed one or two nights depending on where they were travelling to or playing on the next day. The Dutch hockey clubs were the hardest to play against because hockey is their main sport and they were extremely competitive. The tour was a mix of two girl’s teams and a boys’ team and there were a total of 41 players across the teams, with 9 parents and 5 staff/coaches as support. The girls made some lifelong friends and memories they will never forget.

Chloe (Year 11) and Georgia Langley (Year 8)

Australian Student Leadership Conference

Our School Captains were involved once again in the Australian Schools Leadership Conference in the summer holidays. Curated by yLead and designed for student executive leaders, the conference took place from January 27thto 29that the University of Melbourne.

ASLC 2020 allowed our student leaders to connect with leaders from other schools and proved us that across our nation we have passionate and skilled leaders coming through, who have a desire to make great change and are incredibly compassionate. Felicia, Laurya and Loren tested themselves to ‘step up and step out’, rose to challenges and didn’t run from them, recognised the value of vulnerability and most importantly planned for a big year of ACTION.

As part of their highlights from the experience, Loren and Laurya reflected that:

“The Ungame discussion session highlighted the importance of actively listening to one another and after listening to everyone’s life stories and experiences, all three of us feel so grateful for all the opportunites we’ve had, our health and the supportive people around us. We thoroughly enjoyed yLead, leaving with a sense of purpose, action and new friendships.”

When asked what she is looking forward to implementing back at school alongside the Vice Captains, Felicia said: 

“One of the guest speakers emphasised the notion that action leads to identity. This really stuck with us therefore, we brainstormed what action and identity may look like for our school in its 100thyear. Furthermore, the importance of authenticity as leaders is something we have taken away from conference, as we strive be our best selves and encourage others to do the same, actively listening along the way as it’s very powerful!”

Year 7 Transition Program

Cultivating connections between students, both those continuing from Ormiston, and those joining CGGS from local primary schools, is a key purpose of the Year 7 Transition Program. The program is intentionally designed to maximise opportunities for students to get to know each other and their new teachers, and to allow for debrief and reflection time in their Tutor Groups.

Commencing on a sweltering 39 degree day, on January 30th, the Year 7 students participated in a Badge Ceremony followed by time to move into their lockers and settle into their new form rooms. The first day also saw students participate in an Amazing Race to familiarise themselves with the campus. Students were introduced to a key component of wellbeing in the Senior School, Mental Fitness Training, and encouraged to adopt a growth mindset as they encountered the challenges that the next weeks will offer.

In the badge ceremony, Mrs Nirvana Watkins, the Year Level Coordinator, shared a reflection on the rich and diverse members of the new Year 7 group, and introduced their year level theme of Ubuntu or “I am, because we are”

Year 7s were introduced to a range of their subjects through activity rotations during two days of the Transition Program, experiencing Drama, Art, History, Science, ICT, Mathematics, Music and Library.

In Service Learning workshops, students delved into key initiatives at CGGS in relation to sustainability, and contributed their own service in creating ceramic dishes for wildlife to drink from, and propagating indigenous plants to encourage birds and fauna into their gardens.

Beth Sarlos and Paula Kolivas, the school counsellors, conducted workshops on key social and emotional skills that underpin positive interactions in Year 7.

Students were also introduced to the House system, co-curricular opportunities and GSV Sport. To say that this is an enthusiastic and involved group of young people is an understatement!

Of course, there was plenty of opportunity for fun and bonding as well, and the Year 7s benefited enormously from their first week in Senior School. Thank you to all of the students and teachers who assisted with the program, including the Year 11 and 12 buddies who spent the first lunchtime with the new Year 7s.

Year 7 Service Learning Environmental Action

At Camberwell Girls Grammar School, we strive to embody our school motto ‘Useful in Service’, with students from Years 7 to 10, engaging in our Service Learning program. As part of their transition to Senior School, our new Year 7 students were introduced to their year of service for the environment and engaged in activities to promote our local biodiversity. For their home gardens, students made ceramic water dishes to support wildlife, and planted seeds for local indigenous species – the Bulbine lily and Common tussock grass. Our students also furthered their knowledge about reducing waste, with guest speaker Kirsty Bishop-Fox, President of Zero-Waste Victoria. Year 7s will apply this knowledge in Term 1, and participate in a ‘nude food’ challenge, which involves avoiding packaging waste in their lunches.

A strong reading culture at CGGS!

The recent announcement of the 2020 Australian Children’s Laureate, Ursula Dubosarsky is a timely reminder of the importance of creating an environment at school and in the School Library where reading is an essential part of life. As Ursula says “Reading is a lifetime project, it’s not something you learn, and that’s it. To be a good reader you have to read all the time. It’s like learning to swim but only doing one lap. You won’t be able to save yourself.”

Ursula feels there is a trend towards the renaming of school libraries as information and resource centres, and their decentralisation as floating hubs of digital resources which may undermine messages around the importance of fiction reading. Her over riding message is that a library symbolises a space where you would come in and know that reading is important, and that’s exactly what our CGGS Library prioritises!

Our new Library Portal available in SEQTA provides wonderful resources and information for our students, staff and parents.

Ursula notes that reading often drops off after primary school and needs to be developed as a lifelong habit. With our excellent borrowing statistics, our growing number of students attending the Library book clubs, and our popular Literature Tour of the UK, the CGGS library is definitely contributing to reading as a lifelong habit.

Please feel free to visit our CGGS Senior Library from 7.30am to 6.00pm (Friday’s until 5.00pm)and receive a  warm welcome, great book chat and a pat with Ivy, our Library Dog.

Anne Devenish
Head of Libraries

Once again, I want to welcome all families back to another exciting year at CGGS, and welcome all new families joining us in our Centenary year. Have a restful weekend.


Cathy Poyser
Deputy Principal / Head of Senior School