From the Principal

Welcome students, family and friends of St Mary's College to our Term 4 newsletter.

Thank you for a wonderful school year. Though I am sure our collective efforts have left us all in need of some rest, I want to take some time to reflect on the many activities and achievements that have occurred this year. From our Opening Assembly where 2022 St Mary’s College Dux shared her secrets of success with our younger students, our 75th Anniversary celebrations where past and present staff and students came together to reflect on fun times and changes in education over the years and then to our St Dominic's Day celebration which our students consistently report as the highlight of their year, it is evident that this is a great community where students flourish.

A school achieving great results

On Monday, our whole staff came together to review our progress towards our College 2023 goals. A key focus area was to ensure all of our students are continuing to grow in their ability to read effectively. Reading is an incredibly important skill to have as so much of what is learnt in every subject and of the world in general, comes from what we read. If our understanding of written English is not what it should be for our age, it will impact our ability to make sense of and achieve in each subject area. Students who are deaf or hard of hearing are automatically disadvantaged in developing reading with many studies showing most are behind where they should be for their age. Our teachers aimed to challenge that by using the Science of Reading along with knowledge of deaf learners. The results were amazing. In 2022, just over half our students increased their reading level by 12 months of more. This year, we had almost 75% make 12 months or more growth. Next year, our goal is to get closer to all students making that growth. You can see from the graph below, we now have two thirds of our students reading at or above the expected level for their age. A great effort by all students and their teachers.

Student Reading Results 2023

Using our Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) approach enabled our students to learn better ways of managing emotions, social pressure and tackle learning challenges that are going to help them rather than make things worse. Over 2023, an amazing 1087 acknowledgements were given to students who demonstrated either a positive mindset for learning, connection with peers, teachers or the community and self advocacy. Well done to all those students who are making great choices each day at school.

We are incredibly fortunate in being able to do the things we do through the ongoing support of our partner schools. Leadership, teachers, wellbeing staff and educational support staff at Aquinas, St John’s, Marymede, Salesian, Thomas Carr and Holy Trinity have been remarkable in their commitment to teaching our students and supporting our staff based at their schools. I cannot thank them enough for the exceptional educational services they have provided to our community over 2023.

Finally, a big thank you to the teaching and educational support staff on their ongoing commitment to ensure each student is getting what they need to achieve their best at school. Thank you also to the St Mary’s Leadership Team, Mini, Narelle and Melissa, who have supported, organised, guided, heard and fixed a multitude of requests and tasks at each campus over the year. Well done to our preps and year 7s who joined our community so smoothly this year and congratulations to all our year 12 students on achieving their educational goals.

School Advisory Council

The St Mary’s College School Advisory Council has once again provided terrific support and guidance to me personally as well as to the school in general. Their generosity in jumping online a couple of times a term, hearing and acknowledging the progress of the school and contributing ideas on how to ensure the school is a safe and enriching environment for students to learn, has a great impact and I would encourage any parents thinking of joining this incredible group to contact our administration office. We are always looking for new School Advisory Council members.

To all students, families, staff and community, have a wonderful and safe Christmas and holiday.


Amanda Purcell


Christmas Prayer

A Christmas Prayer for Families...

Loving God,
During this holy season of Christmas,
we ask for your blessing on all families.
Let Mary’s openness to your wonderous ways
be an inspiration to place all trust in you.
Let Joseph’s courage provide hope
during times of anxiety and uncertainty.
Let Jesus’ life ignite all families
with a spirit of light and love.
May the grace that encircles the Holy Family
widen to embrace all families.
For this we pray.


Student Leadership News

St Mary's Student Leaders reflect on the year and welcome the incoming 2024 Student Leaders...

Reflecting on the year that was 2023

As we prepare to finish a fun yet busy year of student leadership, our 2023 student leaders spent some time reflecting on their leadership experience. The student leaders wrote a letter to our future student leaders about their role and the impact this had on St Mary’s. They provided advice and encouragement to these students in hopes that they continue to make an impact. Thank you to Kai, Myisha, Rosalee, Daniel, Isabella and Lianna for their hard work, perseverance and commitment to student leadership this year.

We would like to welcome and congratulate our new student leaders of 2024:

  • Tanisha Iyer (SM)

  • Jack Aston (RW)

  • Ira Mehta (WS)

  • Lianna Selle (TN)

  • Rosetta Shaba (SB)

  • Cleyara Warnakulasooriya (DN)

On Friday 27th October, the incoming student leaders attended our Ringwood Campus for a student leadership induction day. They participated in a range of activities that encouraged them to get to know each other, understand their role, reflect on their strengths and weaknesses as a leader and create goals for next year. The students also spent some time reflecting on a positive role model in their lives that has inspired them to pursue student leadership. At the end of the induction day, the incoming student leaders received the letters from the current 2023 Student Leaders and took on board some of their inspirational advice. The students talk about their highlights from the day below.

‘I felt welcomed this morning. I like how we worked together as a team and had good communication in a group. The qualities I want to bring to the role next year in 2024 is friendly, respect, responsible and teamwork’ - Cleyara

‘This morning I woke up feeling nervous because I didn’t know who was going to Aquinas. But when I met everyone I calmed down as I was super excited to get to know everyone. I am super happy to be a St Mary’s leader for 2024!’ - Ira

‘When I arrived at Ringwood this morning I felt normal but nervous about meeting new people. And now, I am feeling comfortable with them. I liked talking and getting to know everyone.’ - Lianna

‘On my way to Ringwood I started to think about what it would be like being a leader in Year 12. Now that I got to meet everyone I definitely feel more comfortable being a leader next year. We all got along pretty quick. I hope to bring many ideas for next year and make St Mary’s really fun and make others look forward to coming to St Mary’s more often.’ - Rosetta

‘It wasn’t till I walked into Aquinas that I felt nervous and shy around the girls I didn’t really know. But when I met these girls and had conversations with them, I felt more comfortable and confident for next year. I am super excited to go on the leadership excursion and journey with the other leaders.’ - Tanisha

College Dux & VCE Achievers

Recognising Year 12 Students for their achievements...

College Dux & VCE achievers 2023

We would like to acknowledge the following students on their year 12 achievement:

  • Valmira Dzelan 83.6 (42 EAL)
  • Thrisha Mohan 81.1 (42 EAL)

Other high achievers in various endeavours include:

  • Ethan Goktepe - Year 10 ADF STEM Award
  • Gretchen Carter - University of Melbourne Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholars Award
  • Ben Clewer - Long Tan Leadership Award
  • Isabella Slavik - Year 12 ADF STEM Award

Tarneit Campus News

Find out all the happenings at the Tarneit Campus...

Food Handling Course

Lianna joined all the Vocational Major students at Thomas Carr College to earn her Food Handling Certificate. She spent the first part of the day learning about the laws and standards of the hospitality industry. Then she demonstrated practical skills by preparing a delicious chicken fajita.

Awesome Auslan Assistants

All the Tarneit students and staff assisted Mr O’Neill with his Auslan tutorial about emotions by recording videos of themselves demonstrating the chosen signs. The students’ efforts were well received at the SMC staff briefing this week.

Remembrance Day Service

As Remembrance Day fell on a Saturday this year, Thomas Carr College honoured the veterans and fallen soldiers of past wars with a service on Friday morning. As is traditional, Mr O’Neill had the honour of performing The Last Post and Reveille on the trumpet.

Senior Student House Awards

Lianna was honoured to receive a $50.00 voucher as the TCC Maynooth House Student of the Semester. This award acknowledged that Lianna:

  • Consistently demonstrates resilience

  • Is hard-working and respectful

  • Has improved her confidence

  • Assists in the TCC Auslan Club

She advocates for St Mary's College students in her role as Student Representative for the SMC Tarneit campus.

Driver Safety Course

Lianna joined all the Vocational Major students in a Driver Safety Course. Students learned about basic road rules and safety practices. They then learned practical skills such as how to change a tyre and practised driving skills in a driving simulator.

Hello Diana Mina

We were excited to welcome Diana Mina, our outstanding speech pathologist, to the Tarneit campus today. She did some testing with the students and was ably assisted by our illustrious leader, Melissa Lucy, who interpreted for Ewan.

Perseverance Workshop

VM students engaged in a workshop about perseverance and goal setting to achieve their life potential. It was presented by Scott B Harris, who had a terrible motorcycle accident and had to learn to live and hope again after a gruelling recovery. It was inspiring for all the students and Lianna was particularly impressed with his life story.

Thank You Thomas Carr College Staff

The Thomas Carr College staff were grateful to receive chocolate as a small token of the appreciation we at SMC feel for their unwavering support of our students.

Final Day for Students

Mr. O’Neill and Ms. Fisher shared this memorable photo with the Tarneit campus students on their last day of the 2023 school year. We take great pride in witnessing the remarkable growth and achievements each student has made. As we bid farewell to this year, we eagerly anticipate an even more exhilarating and successful 2024!

Sunbury Campus News

Here are some of the highlights at Sunbury during term 4...

Arden's Hobby

Arden has found interest in crocheting, and has made some beautiful items, such as a yellow hat as Christmas gifts for her friends.

VM Team Building Day

Our Year 11 Vocational Major students went on an excursion to St Anne’s and spent the day together. Rosetta received an award for Structured Workplace Learning.

Thank you Salesian

As a gesture of gratitude to the Salesian staff, our St Mary's staff provided a morning tea. This annual tradition is one way of thanking them for our ongoing partnership and support.

Students Contribute to Recognise Year 12's

Our students contributed to the Year 12 Graduation ceremony. Prayer was lead by Rosetta, a personal Acknowledgement of Country written by Arden and the PowerPoint was created and presented by Jordan. We thank each of these student for the role they played in recognising this year's Year 12 students.

Year 7 Transition

Our new Year 7’s attended 2 days to acclimatise to secondary school. Jagan assisted by giving them a tour of the school and helping with the dreaded locks!

Salesian Graduation

Our St Mary's College Year 12 students enjoyed the chance to dress up in their final week at school. They also had an opportunity to reflect on their time at the Graduation Mass, which marked the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one as they move onto the next stage in their journey.

First Aid Training

Our Year 11 students completed a First Aid course as part of their pathway. This is a great skill to have but especially important when they are out on work experience.

South Morang Campus News

Check out the latest from South Morang...

Achievements Recognised

All of our St Mary’s students in the secondary years have continuously worked hard in many of their subjects during Semester Two. As a result, two of our students Luis Fragale and Miriam Clough received formal recognition at the Year 7-9 Achievement Assembly.

Grade 4 Sleepover

Arihant had a blast at the Grade 4 sleepover. Students conquered a ninja course, had dinner on the lawn, enjoyed a movie night with popcorn and all bunked into house 1 for a sleepover at the school! A great night spent with friends and teachers.

Student Work

Examples of student work focusing on morphology - part of the Reading Rope and the Science of Reading. Students have been learning STEM words so they can broaden their vocabulary.

Also a shout-out to our Education Support Staff from the students - Thank you for the unwavering support you provide.

Morning Tea

The St Mary’s staff provided a great spread for the staff at Marymede, to thank them for our ongoing partnership.

Marymede Graduation

Our students enjoyed a final day of fancy dress and then formal dress to celebrate with their Year 12 peers at Marymede.

Our staff sent them off with a farewell message of support.

A Welcome Surprise!

The state government provided free fishing rods for our primary students to encourage young people to get active in the outdoors over Christmas. The students were surprised with the gifts!

St Mary's Graduation

Our students and staff got involved in farewelling the Year 12 students with speeches outlining their success and impact over the past 6 years as well as some hand made gifts.

Term 4 Swimming Program

Our Year 5 students have been back to the pool for the swimming program again this term. This can be challenging when you have hearing loss, but they have used all their communication strategies to stay safe in the water.

Virtual Reality

Our Year 5 students have been diving into the wonders of virtual reality, exploring captivating images connected to Italian day. This hands-on experience sparks excitement and curiosity among the students, making learning truly engaging.

Australian Mathematics Competition

Well done to Angad for gaining a credit in the Australian Mathematics Competition, which is a nationwide competition.

Congratulations to three of our students who received awards at the Marymede Secondary Awards evening. Abhinav Rathish received an Academic Growth Award and Luis Fragale received a Sporting Excellence Award. Miriam Clough was a standout with 5 awards - Academic Endeavour, Academic Growth, House Spirit, Student Wellbeing and PBL Award. She was also awarded the "In the Way of Mary" Award which is only presented to one student across Years 7-9 at the college. Well done to these three students!

Dandenong Campus News

What's been happening at the Dandenong Campus in term 4...

Canteen Experience

All of the St John’s Year 9 students spend one week in the canteen to learn work related skills and experience preparing food, cleaning and using a cash register.

Shannyn, Rianna, Thomas and Brendon thoroughly enjoyed their time and were able to gain many new skills in preparation for part time work. Thomas also had some outside work experience at Coles supermarket and learnt how to work and interact with other people.

Tailored Pathways 4 Day Experience

Year 10 students attended the Tailored Pathways Program whereby they learnt to develop employability skills through

an applied learning method. Students had the opportunity to practice a range of skills in a variety of settings that focused on developing interviewing and communication skills.

The students also toured Holmsglen Tafe and William Angliss Institute, where they were introduced to courses that exist and are on offer to students post highschool. Overall it was a great experience and one that prompted deeper thinking about future careers.

Final Year 12 Days

The Year 12 students had a wonderful last day and graduation from St John’s and St Mary’s full of excitement and emotion. They have all worked very hard as have their teachers Mrs McAllister and Mr Begley. Congratulations to all and best of luck.

St Mary's Graduation

St Mary’s Graduation celebrated the learning journeys of our 4 Dandenong students. Thrisha, Valmira, Himath and Ashley. The St Mary’s Dandenong community gathered together to farewell them and congratulate them on their graduation. The current Year 12’s passed on a lighted candle to guide the new Year 12’s into their final year. In November the students dressed up and completed their Graduation with a Mass at St Pat’s Cathedral and then a wonderful dinner at the MCG.

Coffee Coffee Coffee

The year 9’s had an excellent day learning how to make coffees. Shannyn and Rianna were experts by the end.

Exemplary Talents

The talents of St Mary’s students are incredible. Here Cleyara displays her cultural representation in art. In November we also celebrated the St John’s Awards evening. Congratulations to Cleyara and Ashley who both received Awards. Cleyara won a certificate for Academic Excellence and Ashley won the Senior Leadership Award.

Ringwood Campus News

Check out the latest from our Ringwood campus...

Express Yourself

The creative ability of students is a great way for them to express themselves. Ethan displays this in his art work. Astonishing skills and detail!

And the award goes to...

Jack created a footy tipping competition for staff and students. Each week he would send a Google Form and make it extremely engaging for people. Congrats to Jack for all his hard work in endeavouring to make connections within the St Mary’s community. Ms Montague was announced the winner and was presented with a trophy by Jack.

Swimming Carnival

The yearly swimming carnival for students in years 7-9 took place. Congratulations to all the participating students, especially those who competed in every event, and a special shout-out to Tiger, who earned two ribbons on the day.

Music in the Air

The Junior Music Showcase at Aquinas College illuminated the atmosphere with musical excellence. Ringwood campus students Tiger and Sarah joined their peers for a magnificent performance. A big applause to all performers and their outstanding contributions!

Under Pressure!

Ms Saundry was the perfect candidate as a case study when Tluang and Zara used their knowledge to see how blood pressure varied at rest and after exercise.

Innovators Award

Congratulations to Ethan who was awarded the Australian Defence Force Year 10 Future Innovators Award and received a prize of $250 for his efforts in Science and Maths areas. We also congratulate Gretchen Carter who was successful in her Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholars application for Melbourne University. This enables her to have a number of Melbourne University experiences in the next few years.

As students were gearing up for the end of the Year, the Year 11’s were preparing to transition into Year 12. However, before this they celebrated and dressed up for their Year 11 formal. Kaylee looks very grown up and beautiful in her gown.

Jack as our new student leader proudly carried the St Mary’s banner for the final Mass.

A Keen Reader

Engaging in reading is a wonderful pursuit for our students, and it is great to witness Tiger being recognised with the award for the most enthusiastic reader.

A Token of Appreciation

St Mary’s staff provided a morning tea to the Aquinas College community as a thank you gesture for another successful year working in partnership.

Wantirna South News

Check out what's been happening at Wantirna South during term 4...


The Year 1/2's are learning to solve STEM problems. They are creating a plan to build a house for one of the Three Little Pigs. They have been learning to follow their plan and modify their constructions as they go. At the end we get to test out our constructions by seeing if it stands up to some wind from a fan! Just like how The Three Little Pigs built houses to stay safe from the Big Bad Wolf!

Health & Hygiene Unit

The Year 5/6 students have been participating in a health & hygiene unit, focusing on healthy habits that we can all adopt when our bodies are growing & changing. The students have been exploring different products such as soaps, deodorant, oral care products & much more. To investigate the effects of soap on bacteria, students completed the pepper & dishwashing liquid experiment. The pepper repelled from the soap just like bacteria behaviours when soap is applied to our skin. The students were “wowed” with the experiment & if sure gave adopted some great habits.

Waste & Landfill

The Year 5/6 students have been learning about waste management & the impact of waste on the environment. Students worked in small groups to build a landfill, ensuring it is layered correctly, allowing run off for “leachate”. Students had to complete a cost sheet & budget for their materials.

Water Safety Day

St. Mary’s students join their peers at Hampton Beach for their annual water safety day. Students in year 5/6 participated in a range of water activities and information sessions. Students learnt how using flotation devices and other handy materials. Students learnt about DRS.ABCD in response to a medical emergency. When all the official activities were done and dusted for the day, students competed in a range of activities on the sand. It was sensational to say, so many happy faces while learning in an outdoor classroom.

LEGOLAND Excursion

On Tuesday 31 October Year 1 & 2 students attended Legoland as part of their Inquiry unit Design & Technology. Throughout the day students used their investigative skills and conducted experiments using Lego. They were also fortunate enough to go on rides and attend a workshop where they built a spinning top and predicted and then timed how it would spin. This was also in support of the STEM constructions where students were required to plan and build constructions.

Kaboom Sports

The atmosphere was electric when Kaboom Sports rocked our school yard. Together, with Holy Trinity we had a whole school sports incursion where we were all up dancing and being physically active. In our friendship groups, we rotated between the activities. There was frisbee throwing, a parachute, targets and catapults. We had such a fantastic time and hope we can do it again next year.

Graduating Class of 2023

We congratulate the graduating class of 2023...

Congratulations to all our Year 12 students!

This is a truly significant milestone in their education, marking a transformative moment in their lives. We commend each student, tipping our hats to acknowledge and celebrate this remarkable achievement.

The extraordinary efforts of our students fill us with immense pride, and we were thrilled to join in the celebrations alongside the entire class of 2023 in their final assemblies, graduation ceremonies, and fun activities.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to each student for enriching our St Mary's Community over the past 6+ years.

As they embark on either further education, entering the workforce, or exploring other opportunities, we offer our best wishes and prayers that your futures will be bright and fulfilling.

Staff News

What's making news headlines from the Staff...

Congratulations Newly Wedded Couples!

In the busy month of August, Christina Liatsos married Victor and became Christina Stassinis in a beautiful Greek wedding in Melbourne. Family and friends enjoyed a memorable celebration including lots of dancing!

Our Speech Pathologist Diana Mina was married during September school holidays to Matthew at a beautiful ceremony with family, friends and St Mary's staff.

May your marriages be a source of strength, inspiration, and boundless love.

Staff Professional Learning Day

Our staff enjoyed our final professional learning day at the Catholic Leadership Centre. This was an opportunity to review our progress towards our Annual Action Plan as well as celebrate the year’s achievements as a staff. There was plenty of teamwork during our faith activity, as well as a surprise visit by Santa!

Farewell and Goodluck

At our end of year celebrations, we farewelled staff who are leaving us at the end of the year.

Emma Hills is returning to work in the disability sector, Hayley Myers is moving to a full time teaching role at Wantirna Secondary College and Grace Broadbent has moved into interpreting and supportive services.

Debra Holman is retiring after 14 years of service to the school. Amanda Purcell, Principal, in her speech highlighted the care and empathy that Deb has provided to staff, students and families during her time with us.

We are sure many in our community will echo this sentiment. We thank all of these staff who have contributed to the life of our school and wish them all the best for the future.