St Clare's Catholic High School

Hassall Grove

2 February, 2018

Praise God by Your Life

To provide excellence in education:

  • through quality teaching and learning
  • by providing a safe and creative learning environment
  • by challenging students to strive for academic excellence
  • by being a place where faith and values are enriched and shared within the Catholic tradition.

Principal's Message - Mr Morris

Welcome to Term 1, 2018

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all student and families as we commence the 2018 school year. In this year, the Year of Youth we continue to imagine the possibilities for each student as they prepare for the year ahead. I especially welcome all the new families who have joined us this year.

On Thursday, 8th February, we will be holding an Information / Welcome Evening from 6 – 8pm for the parents and caregivers of all Year 7 students and students from other year groups who are new to St Clare’s. On this night we will go through the St Clare’s Learning Framework along with some student presentations. This will be followed by the opportunity to share a meal as a community in Town Square. I hope that you and your families are able to join us next Thursday evening.

2018 is shaping up to be an exciting time for our school, as we continue to reimagine the learning possibilities for our students. Our learning framework titled 'Towards 2020: Transforming our Learning Community' sets out our strategic plan for the next three years. It highlights our commitment to providing our students with every opportunity to be the best they can be given the right support.

With the implementation of Project Based Learning in Year 7 this year we are already ensuring that students are being provided with the right opportunities to build their foundational skills in collaboration and problem solving. We are preparing our students to develop the necessary 21st Century skills and capabilities to ensure successful pathways for each student.

Our agreed school-wide 21 Century skills will ensure that our students graduate with the expertise to be competitive, confident and resilient lifelong learners.

Our School wide 21st Century Skills are;

  1. Collaboration

  2. Creativity

  3. Communication

  4. Critical Thinking

A copy of our framework will be sent to each parent/guardian by email this week.

At St Clare's we firmly believe that each student can and will learn when given the right support. This is central to our student-centred learning focus which drives our teaching and learning agenda at St Clare’s. It is to this end that we broadly aspire that;

A St Clare’s Student

  • Appreciates diversity and values inclusion

  • Is a passionate, persistent and confident learner

  • Prides themselves in building positive relationships

  • Is aspirational and hope-filled about their learning futures

A St Clare’s Graduate

  • Values and respects the dignity of each person they encounter

  • Possesses the skills to pursue successful learning pathways

  • Makes a positive contribution to their community and global society

  • Strives to bring the actions of Jesus alive within their community as a peacemaker

Removal of Lockers / Student Bags

As I communicated to families in my correspondence via the newsletter, published on December 19, 2017, I announced we would be moving to 100 minute lessons (known as sessions) in 2018.

The result of this change is that students now have 3 sessions a day. Students will be afforded increased instruction time, time on learning tasks and opportunities for descriptive feedback so they can improve their performance when undertaking formative and summative assessments.

As the instructional leader of our community and with the support of our teachers we have planned, and worked very hard to ensure our students are provided with deep, purposeful and authentic learning experiences. You have my commitment that this change will reap significant benefits for your child.

As part of this change we also decided to remove our student lockers; as students were now only required to bring equipment for three sessions a day. Previous to this, students were bringing equipment for five lessons. It was also considered reasonable given students were bringing laptops to use as part of their learning suite. With the phasing out of text books in 2016; students were already carrying less weighted and bulky items last year. This remains to be the case in 2018.

Further to this, school lockers were also impacting on the schools operating costs and raising safety concerns. With the removal of the lockers from crowded corridors we have created break out learning areas by expanding classrooms to enhance the student learning experience. Lastly, as a result of moving to three 100 minute sessions this year students are spending less time moving between classes.

I want to assure parents and caregivers we have advised students of the following at our assembly last Friday afternoon:

1. Students were advised not to over pack their chiropractic approved backpack. (Spartan Backcare link)

2. Students were advised to wear the back pack using both straps not just one.

3. Students were advised to carry valuables (such as wallets/phones) on their personal possession.

4. Students were advised not to leave their bags unsupervised when on the playground.

5. Should the need arise where a student has an identified mobility, medical issue or temporary injury (broken leg or arm etc) the school will proactively meet our obligations and provide reasonable adjustments on an individual basis.

School Leadership team and Middle Leaders for 2018

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Welcome to New Staff for 2018

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School Website

Our school website which is externally hosted is currently undergoing some minor changes. As a result some old content has yet to be removed and actioned. Please contact the school office if you require further information. I would encourage students and families to consult the 2018 student diary for an overview of expectations and procedures.

Assistant Principal, Teaching & Learning - Mr Hulme

A warm welcome back to the 2018 Academic Year. This year we will continue to build on the successes we were so proud of last year. There have been a significant number of changes to the school community and this year has had a very settled beginning.

Changes to bell times

LG 8.18 - 8.30am

Period 1 8.30 - 10.10am

Recess 10.10 - 10.40am

Period 2 10.40am - 12.20pm

Lunch 12.20 - 12.50pm

Period 3 12.50 - 2.30pm

It is the expectation of the school that all students are onsite by 8.15am. The students should travel directly to school and not frequent the local shopping plaza.

Interruption to learning

Students are expected to be at school everyday. One challenge we faced on many occasions last year was when parents / carers called the school or just arrived at the school office to take their child home or to an appointment. This year we do not want students to be removed from classes if at all possible. If an unavoidable appointment was to be made, a letter confirming this MUST be presented to the Learning Advisor & Leader of Year by 8.30am. If a letter is not produced a member of the Leadership team will discuss the request with parent / carer to seek an alternate solution to the early departure. The PBL Learning environment in Year 7 requires all team members to be contributing to every learning opportunity. When a student misses a class or leaves early, this brings interruptions to the learning progression. All appointments should be made out of school hours, and not during activity / sport times. Students who do not meet the required hours in sport / activity may not meet matriculation guidelines.

Student Devices

All students must bring a fully charged device everyday. New students and parents purchasing a new / updated device are asked to supply their child with a laptop meeting the attached specifications. We have moved away from the iPad due to limitations in studies, as well as the interruptions to learning. The minimum size screen is 13”. No android / tablets are permitted.

This year students will need to take more responsibility for their devices. We would always recommend a hard style protective case for all laptops. Many students are not using these protective measures. A student should know where his / her device is at all times. Installing Apps such as ‘Where is my device’ are often recommended by Police. Including the device as a portable item on home content insurance to cover damage is always suggested. For Apple devices, the AppleCare Protection Plan to cover damage is worth considering. The school cannot be held liable for any damage to a personally owned device. Students who break / damage school property will be given a bill to repair the damage/device.

Mobile phones:

A large number of the students are not respecting the school rules in regard to appropriate mobile phone use.

During classtimes the mobile phone MUST be switched off

This includes students in the library and all school areas. No exceptions. If a parent / carer needs to urgently call, a message can be left at the front office. SMS messages can be retrieved after school.

We urgently need parent support as recently a number of videos / images have been posted online that have required reporting to police due to student safety. Students who do not follow the rules will be asked to leave their phone at the front office for safe keeping and parental collection.

Earphones / Headphones

Earphones/Headphones are not part of our uniform policy and should not be worn under the uniform. School staff will direct students in the classroom when and if they are allowed to use earphones for educational reasons. For safety considerations students should not be using them whilst travelling to and from school.

Carbonated Caffeine drinks

Could we remind all members of the community that these drinks are not permitted on school grounds due to the inherent risks associated with consuming large volumes posing serious health problems, illness and fatalities. Students who bring these items onto the school grounds will be reported to Leaders of Year and parents will be contacted immediately. Last week a large number of students were purchasing these for breakfast at the local plaza which is extremely concerning.

We look forward to working with you in partnership this year.

Assistant Principal, Wellbeing & Learning - Ms Deschamps

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Leader of Wellbeing & Learning - Ms Nielsen

Welcome to the 2018 school year. I would like to extend a warm welcome to the new families who have joined the St Clare’s community. It was lovely to meet many parents and carers over the last few days. I look forward to working in partnership with you and your child to see them be the best they can be and ‘Praise God by your life”. Students will be challenged to embody the 4 P’s or four pillars of excellence: Peacemaker, Persistence, Pride and Passion for Learning. Below is an excerpt from the 2018 Student Planner:

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It was encouraging to see the bright, happy smiles of so many St Clare’s students in this first week of school. The Year 10 Leaders have started the year on a strong note, leading their first peer support lesson and supporting the younger students in their Learning Group. The community is fortunate to have such an enthusiastic, dedicated and caring group of leaders for 2018.

Year 9 students have started the year on a strong note. This year they step up in a leadership role as Stage 5 students in our school. In having conversations with so many Year 9 students, they are excited at their new role in the school. With this comes important responsibility to challenge themselves at all times to be leaders who put their learning first and strive to meet the 4 P’s.

In 2018, we welcome Mr Collimore and Mr Eisenhuth to the Wellbeing team. Miss Calleja continues to be a valuable member of our team. Together with you, we will work to support your child in 2018.

Leader of Diversity & Learning - Ms Ruff

Embracing the School Year

Have you ever thought of a new school year as a new book you’re about to read?

You may have some ideas about how the story may unfold, but you are not quite sure, until you navigate your way through the days, weeks and months. There are many opportunities, hurdles, disappointments and celebrations to be experienced. How the ‘story’ will end in December is reliant on a few vital things.

Here at St Clare’s the new school year has begun with enthusiasm. New students and staff have joined the community and are learning what we are about here at St Clare’s. Our four pillars of Peacemaker, Pride, Passion for Learning and Persistence will be pivotal in ensuring our stories unfold with a successful ending. Every student and staff member in our community brings their own individuality into the classroom. Working together allows each student to make this year uniquely ‘theirs’.

Throughout 2018 your sons and daughters will be supported in their learning journey on many levels. Their learning is our priority and we will work with you to ensure that they experience success in all aspects of learning. When your son or daughter experiences a hurdle in their learning it may require some persistence and assistance to overcome the difficulty. This is when they will truly learn.

With this new school year beginning I encourage you to embrace new experiences, get to know new people, make new friends, move out of your comfort zone and try something different in your learning. Remember, if you keep doing the same thing, you will achieve the same results. Aim high. Set yourself goals and don’t be afraid to stumble along the way. The stumbling leads to growth and new learning. Who knows, maybe your ‘story’ of 2018 will end a little differently than it has in previous years.

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REC - Miss Cassar

It is with a great deal of enthusiasm that I welcome you all back! I hope you and your families have had a relaxing, restful and rejuvenating holiday filled with enjoyment and valuable family time.

This year, the St Clare’s community will be focusing on prayer. Prayer is central to the life of every Christian and there are many different ways to pray that draw us closer to our Lord. I pray that each and every day, our desire to draw nearer to God deepens.

Our school Mission Goal is to assist us in growing in prayer together and so I ask the parents in our community to pray for your children, our students and teachers as we step up in prayer together.

St Clare’s Mission Goal

All students will enhance their relationship with Jesus Christ through full engagement in a variety of rich prayer opportunities.

Why this goal?: To increase the Catholic culture and identity of our school. It has been recognised by teachers and parents that students do not regularly engage in personal prayer and reflection as part of their schooling life. We acknowledge that prayer and personal reflection will improve student wellbeing and commitment to values we espouse as a Catholic school.

Ash Wednesday and Opening School Mass

Parents, carers and friends are warmly welcome to join us at our Ash Wednesday and Opening School Mass to be held at Good Shepherd Church, Plumpton on Wednesday 14 February at 11am. The Mass will be celebrated by our new Parish Priest Fr. Vincy D'costa ofmcap. This will be a special occasion as we commence the school year and Lent together as a community with the Eucharist.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and we are reminded that Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of fasting and abstinence from meat. We also abstain from meat all Fridays of Lent. As part of our Lenten penance, we should focus our attention to the role of prayer in our lives and towards the deepening of our relationship with God. Lent is a time of renewal and sacrifice. It is through prayer and giving that we put our faith into action and reach out to others in love. Throughout our Lenten commitment of prayer and giving, St Clare’s community will be supporting Caritas Australia Project Compassion.

Also, at this Mass, we will be presenting our school leaders with their badges and welcoming our new staff members to our community. We have much to be thankful for in our community and so I hope you can join us and be part of our mass celebration!

Shrove Tuesday - 13th February

The day preceding Ash Wednesday is popularly known as Shrove Tuesday and is also frequently called Pancake Tuesday. Lent - the 40 days leading up to Easter - was traditionally a time of fasting and on Shrove Tuesday, Christians went to confession and were "shriven" (absolved from their sins).

Dating back to 1000 AD, over the years Shrove Tuesday not only became a day for Confession but a time for Catholics to feast on eggs, sugar and dairy which are traditionally restricted during the Lenten fast. Not only was Shrove Tuesday a last chance to gorge on such foods but it was also a way to use them up before the fast began. In Britain the feast of these foods would become pancakes, hence the name Pancake Tuesday.

This year students will have the opportunity to buy pancakes and toppings on Tuesday 13th February morning from 7:30am until 8:15am. So students, make sure you get up early enough on Tuesday morning to be at school and prepare for Lent as a community!


Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion calls on everybody to “Cultivate with love the seeds of goodness, beauty and truth that God sows in every new generation” in 2018. These words by Pope Francis encourages us to seek all that is good and to live lives that demonstrate the power, and beauty of love through standing in truth and holding on the God’s Word.

Students and staff will be given the opportunity at St Clare’s to support Project Compassion as this coincides with our Lenten commitment to prayer, self-denial and helping others, as it is also an opportunity to examine our own relationships.

I would like to thank Mr Dale Ahern and the Social Justice Committee in advance, for all their hard work, passion and generosity in organising these wonderful initiatives that enable our school to make a difference.

We have many events coming up in our community that provide us with the opportunity to grow and deepen our relationship with the Lord. As we prepare for Lent, I pray that we take the time to talk to our Lord, share our hearts with Him and hear and live out His words in all that we do!

Deus Meus et Omnia (My God in all Things)

Counsellor - Ms Luthra

Welcome to our new and returning families to an exciting year ahead. In 2018, the St Clare’s community will be seeing a lot of change in the way the school looks and runs, as well as the usual changes in teachers and staffing. For some, this may be exciting but for others, this may feel overwhelming and scary. Change can be hard at first, so I have collected some tips from ReachOut about coping with change. There are some further links to specific articles throughout the list. If you wish to seek any further information, the ReachOut website is an excellent resource for both students and parents.

Following this list, I would like to draw your attention to the anxiety group that will be running this year. We still have some spaces available, but this will be the last call for participants.


Dealing with change can sometimes be uncomfortable, stressful or even scary. Here are some things you can do to make coping with changes in your life a little easier.

1. Think things through and ask, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ - We're often scared of change because we’re afraid of the unknown. And a good way to deal with the unknown is to think things through carefully. Imagine all of the different possible outcomes, and then decide what would be your best- and worst-case scenarios. Write them down, if it helps. Another great strategy is to think about the last time you were faced with a big change and got through it okay. Remember how scary it was starting high school or making new friends? Sometimes it’s not as bad as it seems at first, and may just take a little time to get used to.

2. Ask yourself how much you can control - When a big change occurs, it’s important to figure out how much control over the situation you really have. Understanding your role and how much you can change can help you put things in perspective. For example, if you've just started a new school, there are many small things you can do to make the process easier, like getting familiar with the rules and organisation of the school and using your diary to keep track of all the information you need to remember.

3. Accept and reframe - If the unwanted change is beyond your control, try taking a reflective approach. View change as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a setback, even if you have to fake it til you make it!

4. Celebrate the positives - Even though it can be a tough ask, focusing on the positives can really help you manage change. While the positive aspects of a situation might not be obvious to begin with, it’s worth seeking them out – no matter how small they might be. For example, if you’ve moved recently, you might be away from your friends, but it's also a great way to learn how to be more independent. Try to make the best of the situation. You can still call and write to those friends, and plan to visit them!

5. Take action - If the unwanted change is within your control, take an active approach to dealing with it. Try some problem-solving techniques, or set some goals to proactively address any challenges. Focusing on the problem at hand, developing a plan of action, and asking for advice are useful active strategies.

6. Manage your stress - Improving your ability to handle stress will go a long way to helping you deal with change. Try practising mindfulness or meditation, or engaging in other relaxation techniques.

7. Seek support - It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed if the change you’re facing is really big, or there’s too much change happening all at once. This is when it might be best to seek support. Consider asking friends or family for help or emotional support. Or you can look at some options for getting professional help, like speaking to your School Counsellor or GP. Whether you’re coping with a TV show season ending or dealing with something more serious, there are always others in similar situations and professionals available to help.


Following the success of our groups run during 2017, we have decided to run ProACTive again in 2018. As it was this year, the anxiety management group will be conducted as part of a research study through The Department of Psychological Medicine at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, in partnership with Catholic Education, Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP).

The student group will run at school for one hour per week for ten weeks, and will be facilitated by Lauren Luthra, St Clare’s School Counsellor, and an additional psychologist from CEDP. The group will consist of a series of mindfulness and acceptance based activities to teach children various skills to learn how to deal with anxiety.

For students to participate in the group, parents will initially be required to complete some screening questionnaires and also attend a short interview with one of the researchers to answer questions about their child’s anxiety. Once the group commences, parents will also be required to participate in interactive webinars addressing content and questions about the group.

If you feel you and your child would benefit from learning how to manage your child’s anxiety and are interested in participating in this study please direct your expressions of interest to Lauren Luthra on 9830 2400. There is no fee associated with your participation.

Business Manager - Mr Wakeling

New Canteen Operator

For 2018 the Schools Canteen will be operated by Bellissimo Canteen Services. A large range of healthy meal options will be available for Breakfast and Lunch. Most food prices range from $3.50 to $5.50 with some more extensive options costing $7.00. The new Canteen Menu and Price list will soon be available on the schools website at (Parent Handbook / General Information.) Lunch orders should be made by students direct with the canteen staff either before school or during recess. Students will receive a ticket for collecting their orders.

School Fees

First Instalment School Fees bills will be posted before 20th February with Due Date the 21st March 2018. Families wishing to set up a regular payment plan (weekly, fortnightly or monthly over the whole school year) should do so as early as possible and certainly prior to the 21st March 2018. Instructions on how to put this in place will accompany the school fees bill. Payment options include Cash, Cheque, EFT, BPay, Direct Debit, Centrelink deduction or Credit Card.

Financial difficulty

Families who are experiencing financial hardship which makes it difficult to meet the financial commitment of your child’s education, can have their circumstances assessed for assistance with fees. This may take the form of additional time to pay, a discount or a waiver of school fees. The assessment will require that families provide income, expense and liability documentation to substantiate that they meet the requirements of Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta school fee management policy. Once the documentation is submitted, the Business Manager will assess and may require an interview with families.

Assessments are made for one year only and MUST be reviewed each year. These matters will be treated sensitively and with absolute confidentiality, and will not affect your child’s education.

Note that the Finance office is open between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm.

Please contact the schools finance officers on 9830-2400 and select option (2).

Notice required to withdraw a student or 10 Weeks fees in lieu of notice.

Please note that Parramatta Diocese School Fees Management Policy, requires that when withdrawing your child from the school, one term's notice (10 school weeks) in writing must be given to the Principal. If no notice is given (or less than 10 weeks notice), then an additional 10 weeks fees will be payable. Under this policy only the Manager of the School Fees Liason Unit, Catholic Education Parramatta has the discretion to vary this policy. The only exception to this required notice is where the school is advised during term 4 that a student will not be continuing at St Clare’s in the new school year.

Unwanted / surplus uniform

Any families with graduating students or where students have outgrown uniform items are invited to donate them to the school. While the school does not run an official clothing pool these items are used in emergencies or to assist families in financial difficulty. Please launder and bring such items to the school office. Thank you.

Leader of Year 7 - Mr Collimore

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Leader of Year 8 - Ms Calleja

I would like to welcome all Year 8 students back to St Clare’s in 2018. I look forward to a productive year together working with both the Year 8 students and their parents. This year we will experience many exciting opportunities, most notably the Year 8 camp where students will have the chance to challenge themselves, take risks, grow in independence and bond with their peers. I also encourage all Year 8 students to begin taking on greater responsibility within the St Clare’s community by displaying leadership, especially to the new Year 7 students, through their choices and actions and encourage students to be the best learner and person they can be.