Week 4 is nearly over and what a week it has been. Flexibility and agility have become the two most used words throughout 2020 and both the students and staff have heard me referring to them often. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to throw curve balls at us all. Together with our amazing students, their parents and the staff, we have once again successfully moved back to full remote learning for all year levels.
As staff, we are in the same boat as students, we’re connecting with each other via zoom for meetings, supporting each other as colleagues, the same way that students are supporting one another.
This week, I am really pleased to share an article from our School Captain Felicia Spiridonos and Vice Captains Loren Palma and Laurya Dang-Nguyen. What a year this has been for them and all our School and House Captains, indeed all the girls in leadership roles. They have all found new and innovative means by which to keep the positivity levels high for all students connecting with the co-curricular programs.
There is a very meaningful and emotional tradition of counting down to the final bell, yes we actually ring the bell, on the last day of Term 4 for our Year 12’s, and on Tuesday our Year 12 cohort decided this was an important way for them to move back into remote learning. The Year 11 students and staff on site watched on as the Year 12’s sang together, ahead of the countdown to 3.25pm. We all felt deeply for these students as they stood as one, still finding the positivity to make a beautiful moment out of something so challenging. We are so proud of all our students, but this Year 12 cohort have really had to pull together and continue to do so. Thankfully, a highlight for them was the arrival of their Year 12 special quarter zip jumper. The students were able to spread out on the oval wearing their new jumper for a photo opportunity at recess on Tuesday. I feel sure they are all wearing their jumper in their remote classes now and this is an essential part of their bonding and connection to each other as a Year Level.
Our Wellbeing Day tomorrow offers another opportunity for students, families and staff, to connect via the opportunities programmed for the day https://reflectreviverepeat.weebly.com/program.html I am going to try and join for a number of the activities, but will definitely clear my own schedule to join for the Netflix party arranged by our School Captains.
School Assemblies on a Tuesday provide a wonderful opportunity for us all to remain connected and we have all adjusted well to the new format. While we remain in our remote learning format, I would like to share with you links to the assemblies, so that you too can be a part of what is normally only available to students and staff.
Take good care, stay safe and well.
Deputy Principal/Head of Senior School
A Message from FL2
No one could have prepared for what this year would bring and teach us. Being relatively small in size, our year level has always had a special bond with each other and this makes it even more difficult to be apart. Although we cannot physically be together, we have stayed connected on social media with our own Year 12 Instagram page as we regularly share laughs, flashback photos, and celebrate some milestone birthdays. Social media has played a significant role in allowing us to continually check in on our classmates’ mental health and offer support to each other amongst the extra stress of uncertainty. As we progress through this second lockdown, the Year 12s will continue to connect in creative ways such as the ‘Netflix Party’ we hosted in Term 2, which recreated the annual Year 12 PJ night in our own homes.
As School Captains, our @wearecggs page on Instagram has been imperative for highlighting key term events and spreading positivity. Each week, we commit to sharing our ‘2 Cents’ on Tuesdays with a topical, inspiring quote. We conclude the week with ‘Virtual Shout-Outs’ by staff and students from contributions on a collaborative Padlet. Since music can really boost our mood, our ‘QuaranTUNES’ playlist on Spotify provides uplifting beats and our Netflix Starter Pack creation has plenty of movie and TV-show recommendations. Last week, we had our first Fun Friday, ‘PJs and Puzzles’, which promised much fun at lunchtime with music and boardgames in the comfort of our PJs! We also feel so grateful for our teachers and their work behind the scenes as they have kept us on track and guided us through all the ups and downs. Specifically, the Year 12s thanked their VCE teachers with a ‘collage card’ including a picture of each girl making a heart to express our collective gratitude.
Tuesday was emotionally difficult for us though, as it marked the last day of Term 3 (and winter uniform!) for us physically being together as a year level, laughing in the Common Room and having casual conversations in the hallways with our teachers. Our initial emotions of anxiety and disappointment, following the announcement of a second lockdown, were soon trumped as our year level heard a ‘final bell’ on Tuesday afternoon. This is a tradition that usually occurs in Term 4 to celebrate the senior girls’ last moments as high school students, but for us, its significance was ever so empowering and needed during this time to acknowledge the last we’d see of each other in person for just over two months. Singing to ‘We’re all in this together’ from High School Musical before hearing the bell at 3.25pm symbolised our year level uniting and our pledge to support each other throughout this experience. The Class of 2020 is resilient and optimistic, and with the support from our dedicated teachers, we feel confident and ready to complete our final SACs. We will miss each other, but with challenges, there’s always a silver lining; an opportunity for personal growth and we are certain that in 9 weeks, our year level will return stronger than ever.
Felicia Spiridonos, Loren Palma, Laurya Dang-Nguyen
School Captain & Vice Captains
Year 7’s – the year so far
At the beginning of this year, I shared a reflection as part of the Year 7 Badge Ceremony which was composed of snippets from each student’s transition survey, highlighting something unique about them. I have shared that again at the end of this piece to highlight what an eclectic bunch our current group of Year 7 students are.
In that speech, I explained that embracing this diversity is what makes us an effective community of learners. The term ‘Ubuntu’ was introduced to the Year 7s, which means ‘I am, because we are’. Now that students have spent more time in remote learning than on-campus learning, this statement is truer than ever. The individual only thrives when the community does.
The focus at Year 7 has as such been upon cultivating a connected community, despite our physical distance. Students have been able to participate in activities devised by the House and School Captains under the theme of #TogetherApart. The Year 7s have demonstrated their characteristic enthusiasm when it comes to co-curricular endeavours, taking up many of the opportunities that were reimagined to take place remotely, including House Cross Country, Drama Club, House Debating, House Public Speaking and the continually evolving components of House Dance, Drama and Music that are currently rehearsing. Our musicians have remained connected with the CGGS Music family, and the girls have been completing the sport and wellbeing challenges that are set each week.
The Wellbeing Days were a highlight for the Year 7s in the first period of remote learning. Another of these is happening today, and I feel sure the students are enjoying the offerings, including mindfulness and movement, strength and conditioning, and a Netflix Party this afternoon, organised and hosted by our School Captains.
As a Wellbeing Team, we continue to adapt and evolve our programs to meet the dynamic needs of our circumstances, and central to this, is continued commitment to supporting and prioritising the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and families. Students have given us positive feedback about the inclusion of a ‘rest and revive’ break between each timetabled, synchronous class, and continue to remain engaged with, and optimistic about, their learning.
The ‘Week Ahead’ newsletter that is communicated to students each Friday provides a range of activities, notices and strategies to help keep students connected to school and each other. Students are invited to participate in weekly inter-form challenges aligned with what is happening at school. For example, this week’s challenges were focused on a steps goal and reaching out to friends and loved ones, aligned with CamberWELL Week. Students are also asked to contribute a response to the ‘Morning Post’ on Yammer each day, and each week, the form with the greatest number of responses gets a chance to ‘spin the wheel’ for a prize during Year Level Assemblies.
In this week’s Year Level Assembly, Mr Wilkins and Ms Woolcock shared some tips and ideas around digital wellbeing, followed by a “Dance Monkey” dance party that siblings were encouraged to join the Zoom for.
With the necessity for students to spend more time than ever on their devices, strategies for managing, minimising and optimising screen time are important for students’ overall wellbeing. On Monday 3rdAugust, all year 7s participated in a webinar incursion with Project Rockit. Focused on concepts of leadership, respect and empathy, Project Rockit facilitators use relatable and realistic scenarios to develop digital wellbeing and equip students with a toolkit for managing online interactions.
Some students’ responses to the workshop prompts are included below:
What traits come to mind when you think of a leader?
“Being ready to include everyone and everyone’s ideas! also being prepared to help the other people through support” – Sabrina (7T)
“Whenever I stand up for something I don’t agree with, I always feel a bit nervous and scared, because I never really know what the person’s reaction is going to be, but the feeling afterwards when other people feel inspired by my decision, I feel so amazing, like I could go through stone walls, like I could fly!” – Sarah (7W)
A different question – how can you tell that you’ve spent a bit too much time on your phone/laptop etc?
“I know when I have spent too much time on my devices when my eyes feel sore. When that happens, I shut my devices off and have a break.” – Rachel (7W)
This term, we also launched a Year 7 Project called BEATS and BEEPS and BEETS and BEEPS. Each form group is responding to a project brief under the mentorship of one of our specialist subject teachers, Mr Duniam, Ms Wood, Ms Law and Ms Clarkson. The form groups are working on projects involving music and soundtrack composition, robotics, agility training and gardening at home. They will have the opportunity to share their learning and what they have produced in the Year 7 ‘HIVE’ upon their return. As their work on this project progresses online, they will also have a chance to ‘cross-pollinate’ with students from other form groups. This has been a great opportunity to infuse some excitement into the remote learning environment and give students a chance to actively explore and inquire.
Please take some time to enjoy the intricate fabric that is our Year 7 group.
Year 7 Coordinator
Religious Education Department in Lockdown
The RE Department taught Year 10 Texts and Traditions classes asynchronously during lockdown in Term 2 (that is with no scheduled class times). In Term 3 this has moved to one Zoom meeting per fortnight, with other class times in the cycle remaining asynchronous.
This required some adjustments to our normal program. In particular the third area of studies, concerning artistic representations of and responses to the biblical texts, was brought forward and took the form of four mini-assignments, on biblical influence on the visual arts, on poetry, on short-story writing, and on music. Students were given options under each of these headings, and were required to respond to a prompt either discursively in writing, or in a creative response, but with written commentary. Students reported that they enjoyed the opportunity to think creatively, and produced some very impressive responses to the prompts. Aspects of the tradition were highlighted in new ways that the teachers themselves had often not imagined or anticipated. This, of course, is exactly the purpose of the final component of the Texts and Traditions Unit 1 course of study (under normal circumstances).
By completing this part of the course early, we hoped to move back to area of studies two when we came out of lockdown. Area of studies two consists of the major exegetical study of a significant and extended religious text, in our case, St Mark’s Gospel. That was the plan – but plans have once again been set aside. The problem the RE department staff had to face when we met at the start of Term 3 was: how do we teach a text as complex and nuanced as Mark’s Gospel in distance mode? This problem forced us to think creatively and come up with an indirect approach, once again in a series of small assignments. Year 10 students have been asked to think about spiritual leadership, and then to assess the figure of Jesus as a spiritual leader. They will then go on to revisit the exegetical tools they studied in Term 1, with some additional refinement of these tools, and later this term, they will begin to apply them to the text of Mark.
I have included some lovely pieces of work from my students below. Enjoy.
Head of Religious Education
Historically our early artists depicted images as flat. Figures were often given importance through size or placement, which often left the work looking slightly distorted. While there is some evidence the Greeks and Romans understood perspective, their knowledge was lost until the Renaissance where artists truly embraced the rules of linear perspective and the happy marriage between math and art was truly realised.
As our first unit of work back in Remote Learning, we introduced our Year 7 Art students to one-point perspective. This type of drawing requires a horizon line, a singular line used to separate the earth and sky, a vanishing point where all lines recede, parallel and converging lines. So not only do our students need to learn the new rules, there is also a lot of new terminology for them to understand and apply.
The girls have responded so well to this task and are starting to apply this new learning to their own individualised artworks – we can’t wait to see the results! Good job artists!
Head of Art