McAuley News

Term 1, Issue 2 - 26 FEBRUARY 2021


This newsletter brings us to the middle of Term 1, and the beginning of Lent. Students have been working hard this term to ensure they are achieving their best, and the result of their work is visible in what they produce and in the extent of their participation in school activities. 

In the sporting arena, students are also participating with vigour, enthusiasm and skill. There were a large number of students who swam in the long distance swimming carnival this week, and we look forward to even more swimming during next week’s school swimming carnival. Information about the carnival was sent to you by email earlier this week.

It is always a great joy to see the students of Catherine McAuley strive for higher things.

The Lenten Season

Lent started last week with Ash Wednesday. Like all things during the COVID period, changes were made to the routines with which we have become familiar. The changed ritual of sprinkling ashes on the head, rather than the cross on the forehead, marked this year’s Ash Wednesday as different.

It is perhaps a reminder to us that Lent invites us to think differently and to act differently. The tradition of ‘giving up something for Lent’ reminds us to do this too. By reminding ourselves to be thoughtful about how we act, talk, respond and show love, we become more merciful, acting with greater integrity, compassion and justice. These visible signs of our commitment to others brings us closer to God, and closer to a merciful world.

I hope you will join us in prayer this Lenten season for a world in which mercy and love prevail.

Communication to Families

You may have noticed that we have begun corresponding with you by email. This is because SkoolBag has reduced its capacity, and we are moving to a new form of communication in Term 2. Further information will be sent to you on Monday. In the meantime, please check your inbox in case you have any unread emails from us.

Parents and Friends News

Many of you would have met Mr Andrew Millen, Secretary of the Parents and Friends Committee for the past four years. Andrew has recently resigned his position as Secretary. I wish to thank him for his dedication to this group and to the school community. 

In Andrew’s place, we welcome Vinko Laus as the new Secretary of the Parents and Friends Committee, and thank him for accepting this position.

Mary Refalo

FROM THE ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL (Pastoral Care/Administration)

Attendance - “Every Learner, Every Day”

As you are aware every day of attendance at school adds to your daughter's chances of success and achievement in high school. You play a key role in making sure your daughter attends school every day. You do this because you understand that attendance leads to success, not just at school but later in life. Every day at school counts towards your daughter’s learning.

We realise some absences are unavoidable due to health problems or other circumstances. However we also know that when students miss too much school, no matter the reason, it can cause them to fall behind academically. The more absences your daughter has, the harder it is for her to catch up on missed work and stay connected to her school community. Absences add up quickly. If your daughter is absent one day every two weeks over the course of a school year this will add up to 20 days loss of education. This is almost half a school term.

If you daughter is absent due to illness please inform the school by email on the day of her absence via If your daughter is absent for more than 2 days please supply the school with a medical certificate clearly stating the dates of absence. If an email, response to absence text or medical certificate is provided another parental note is not required. 

Catherine McAuley Attendance Data as of 24th February 2021 is below:

Year GroupAttendance
Year 795%
Year 888%
Year 988%
Year 1088%
Year 1190%
Year 1293%

Year 9 and Year 11 Study Skills Seminar

This week Dr Prue Salter from Enhanced Learning Educational Services ( ran study skills sessions with Year 9 and Year 11.  The sessions focused on helping students identify changes and improvements they could make to their approach to their studies in order to maximise their results. The students looked at how to work effectively in the evenings and deal with distractions, managing time efficiently, planning for assessments, making brain-friendly study notes on a regular basis and using a wide variety of active study techniques to suit individual learning preferences. Parents are encouraged to review the handout from the session with students and discuss the main areas identified where changes need to be made. Parents can also find extra study skills tips on the following website:  All secondary students and parents at our school also have access to a great study skills website to help students develop their skills.
Go to and enter the username: mcauley and the password:  189results.
There are lots of useful handouts on the THINGS TO PRINT page on this site and students can work through the units where they need additional help.

Public Transport

Many of our school buses are at capacity. If another bus is to be placed on the school route, students must have an activated Opal Card and use the card when boarding and alighting the bus / train. Please ensure your daughter’s Opal Card is activated. If you have concerns regarding the bus / train services you need to contact the relevant company to lodge a complaint. 

Wearing a mask is mandatory on public transport. The school has been contacted by members of the public concerned McAuley students are not complying with the NSW government's directive.   

Ms Debbie Grigson
Assistant Principal (Pastoral Care/Administration)


Encouraging Optimistic and Positive Thinking

Thinking clearly, effectively, and positively is essential for success in all areas of life, and it is important for parents and carers to help young people develop positive thinking patterns. Positive thinking is a way of finding the good in both specific situations and life in general. It does not mean you bury your head in the sand or ignore problems that arise. It means you choose to approach life’s challenges in a productive and problem-solving manner.

Positive thinking not only helps the person feel better and builds emotional resilience, but it also improves decision-making, problem solving, communication and relationships. For many young women struggling with positive thinking may compare themselves to others and believe that they are not as worthwhile as others. They may lack self-control, blame others for circumstances, can be impulsive or reckless in their behaviour, may exhibit low self-esteem and struggle to build supportive relationships with others.

Here are some tips for encouraging positive thinking :

  • Set positive example through modelling a positive attitude, present your thoughts in a positive way and limit self-criticism whilst in the presence of your daughter.

  • Encourage your daughter to celebrate her achievements and to acknowledge her success.

  • Help them to avoid 'catastrophizing' and to look for the positives.

  • Model solution-focused thinking by using statements that both acknowledge the problem but also frame a potential positive solution.

Remember, additional help is always available . Feel free to contact the School Counsellor or Year Coordinator for extra support.

Mrs Suzan Boulattouf 
College Counsellor


We have entered the Season of Lent which is the period of forty days when we pray, fast and give alms. Lent commenced on Ash Wednesday and will conclude at sunset on Holy Thursday. During this time we are preparing for the three great days of the Easter Triduum, the Vigil of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil/Easter Sunday. In preparing ourselves to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection, we are called to have a true inner conversion of heart, as we strive to follow Christ more faithfully. At Easter, we will recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptised into Christ’s death and began our new life in Christ.

Pope Francis constantly reminds us of how God wants us to live. These words are taken from his latest writing, Let Us Dream, “The heart of Christianity is God’s love for all peoples and our love for our neighbours, especially those in need … the Church was born, in the margins of the Cross where so many of the crucified are found.”

People initially and today continue to follow Jesus because he gives people hope and dignity. Recently students in Stage Five have commenced studying the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta’s Draft New Curriculum (DNC) and have been learning about the Hermeneutical Triad. In class, Stage Five students have been studying John’s Gospel, including The Woman Caught in Adultery (Jn 8:1-11). Using the Hermeneutical Triad, we learn that while the scribes and Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus, this is not the important lesson from this Gospel passage. Pope Francis acknowledges that the real power that lies in the scene at the end is when Jesus and the woman are left alone. Jesus anoints her with dignity, and tells her: ‘Go your way, and from now on do not sin again’ (Jn 8:11).

During this Lent through prayer, fasting and almsgiving may we be like Jesus and see the dignity and value of each person.

For additional information about the DNC see this link. On this webpage you will find  A Guide to Understanding the Draft New Curriculum and a link for the Draft New Curriculum. For each Learning Cycle, you will see the references to Scripture and the Church’s Tradition including the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Papal Encyclicals. We are most fortunate that our students have the opportunity to learn more about their Catholic faith in the framework of a teaching pedagogy which addresses the needs of 21st century learners.

Ms Genevieve Banks
Religious Education Coordinator

Ash Wednesday Liturgy

The school gathered together on Wednesday, 17th February for an Ash Wednesday Liturgy. 

Raia U. and Leanne A., Student Liturgy Leaders, joined other parish school students in the morning for the Sacred Heart Westmead Ash Wednesday Mass. They collected ashes from this Mass and brought them back to school for our own Ash Wednesday Liturgy in the Morley Centre. Students Leaders sprinkled the ashes on each student and the House Patrons received their House Project Compassion box.

Project Compassion boxes will be placed in each Homeroom for any donations.


First Week of Lent

(School week beginning Monday, 22nd February)

We begin our annual Lenten Project Compassion journey by learning about the story of Jamila and her family. Jamila, 22, is a Rohingya woman, living in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. A single mother, she fled armed conflict in Myanmar to save herself, her elderly mother and eight-month-old baby. 

With the support of Caritas Australia, through Caritas Bangladesh, Jamila was able to access emergency food and shelter. She also received counselling, emotional support and learnt sewing skills, to help her earn an income.  Jamila now feels less alone, with a sense of community around her. She is able to ‘Be More’ to her little family.  

·   860,494 people remain in the densely populated camps, in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, especially due to COVID-19. (UNHCR)

Watch a short film about Jamila’s story here.

Please support Project Compassion:

Aspire Not To Have More But To Be More - Theme for Project Compassion 2021

'Aspire not to have more, but to BE MORE' is the driving theme inspired by Saint Oscar Romero's words for Caritas Australia's Project Compassion in 2021.

On Wednesday, 10th February, Year 10 Mercy in Action Leaders and the Year 11 Assistant Social Justice Leader, attended the CEDP Project Compassion launch as an online event. The leaders engaged with other CEDP schools in the celebration of a liturgy, listening to guest speakers and looking at resources and tools to begin planning how to raise awareness of Project Compassion within our school. 

This year during the Lenten season we are called to consider how we can 'be more' for our neighbours around the world, using our gifts to serve others. To 'be more' could be achieved by being more kind, more green, more involved, more giving. 

Your generous support of Project Compassion supports the many good works of Caritas Australia that promote the common good and solidarity of people around the globe; working to end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity. Thank you for your generosity during the Lenten season. 

Miss Kate Hogan
Religious Education Teacher

Project Compassion Boxes

Each Homeroom has been assigned a designated money box, where each Homeroom can donate their money into. The goal for each Homeroom this year is a minimum goal of a hundred dollars. Each Homeroom is deeply encouraged to partake in Project Compassion, even a single coin can make a big difference to peoples’ lives. There will be fundraisers as the term progresses, so keep an eye out for them!


Farewell to Silvana Rossetti, Assistant Principal (Learning & Teaching)

The school has farewelled Silvana Rossetti, Assistant Principal (Learning & Teaching). Ms Rossetti has been appointed as the incoming Principal of Marist College Eastwood. Sisters of Mercy and Father Walter joined staff for a farewell morning tea held on Friday, 19th February.

Ms Rossetti is a very practiced and knowledgeable educator with much experience and her appointment to Marist College Eastwood is testament to her skill and commitment to education. She will be missed by the McAuley community! We wish her all the best!

Mr Jaie Skinner - The New Assistant Principal (Learning and Teaching)

Mr Jaie Skinner was announced last week as the new Assistant Principal (Learning and Teaching) replacing Ms Silvana Rossetti. 

Mr Skinner is the present Assistant Principal at Gilroy Catholic College, Castle Hill where he has held this position since 2017. Prior to this appointment, Mr Skinner worked at St Columba’s College, Springwood, in a range of leadership positions.

The school looks forward to welcoming Mr Skinner next term.

Class of 2020 Academic High Achievers Return to Celebrate Their Success

Former Catherine McAuley students from the Class of 2020 returned to school this month to celebrate their successes in the Higher School Certificate.

The High Achievers Assembly was held to honour the students and to name Alysha Sinclair as the Dux for 2020. Alysha achieved an overall ATAR of 98.85 and attained a band 6 result in Biology, Chemistry, English Advanced, PDHPE and Studies of Religion 1. Alysha plans to study a Bachelor of Science at the University of Technology Sydney.

Ms Silvana Rossetti, Assistant Principal (Learning & Teaching), reminded the school community that success is no accident. “It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”, she said. “The class of 2020 led the way in caring for one another, sharing with one another and daring to be courageous enough to take responsible risks to ensure they were able to achieve their best. For this we congratulate you!”

Each of the students present had achieved an ATAR of 90 or above, placing them in the top 10% of the state, with our highest placed student ranked in the top 1%. Three students were named as All Rounders and were awarded the NSW Premier's Award for All Round Excellence achieving a Band 6 in at least 10 units. Four students in the cohort were named as ‘Top Achievers’ meaning that they placed in the top 10 of their course and three students had their practical work nominated by the HSC examiners for the TexStyle showcase. 

 A number of students in the year knew that they had secured a place at University before they had sat any exams at all. They were selected because of their ability to juggle their academic workload at the same time as holding significant leadership roles in the school or wider community.

Accomplishments of the Class of 2020

The school acknowledges the accomplishments of the whole Class of 2020. 47 students were named on the merit list meaning that they achieved a band 6 result in at least one of their courses. A significant number of the year group have been offered a place at university or TAFE, and 54.1% of the results were in Bands 5 & 6 compared to the State at 40.3%.

This demonstrates the breadth and commitment of these students.

Catherine McAuley congratulates the Class of 2020 on their success, which is measured in many ways and not just by the final mark they received.

Study Advice From School Dux Alysha Sinclair

At the High Achievers Assembly Alysha addressed the school assembly and gave current students some tips on how to succeed.

  • Use the resources around you such as your peers, Peer Tutoring available at the school and Maths Lab

  • Seek help from your teachers when needed

  • Do lots of practice questions - the most effective study strategy is practice, practice, practice

  • Listen to your own body when organising study - if you are too tired to focus then take a break

  • Continue with extra curricular activities to give yourself a break

  • Keep distractions such as extra tabs on your laptop, TV and your phone away from you when studying

Flash Mob in Mercy Square to Promote Peer Tutoring

Anticipation was building in Mercy Square on Friday last week when word got around that it appeared some of the student leaders were about to perform! In a bid to promote peer tutoring the Leaders of Learning and Peer Tutors performed a flash mob to the tune of Mamma Mia. The students had re-written the words to reflect their message which was played over the speakers as the students performed.

View highlights from this performance here.

A reminder that peer tutoring is available to all students and is a free service offered by senior students. It is available after school in the library on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and at lunchtime on Mondays and Fridays at the tables located next to the library.

Well done to the Student Leaders of Learning and Peer Tutors on putting together this performance. Thank you to Jasmine S., Year 11 Media Team for filming the footage and to Student Technology Leaders Charlene P. and Charlize T., assisted by Caitlin M., Chloe W. and Arabelle R. for putting together the video.

February Is Encephalitis Awareness Month

Encephalitis is an autoimmune disease which can affect many different parts of the body. It sadly affects mostly teenage girls and young adults.

Year 11 student, Ashley D., suffers from this disease and has prepared the following presentation to educate the McAuley community.

Over the last couple of weeks of February Year 11 students have been wearing ribbons to raise awareness of encephalitis as Jacintta G., Year 11 Media Team student reports:

The month of February is World Encephalitis Awareness Month. Students and teachers alike raised awareness for this condition by wearing small red, white and black ribbons on their school uniforms. This encouraged students to bring up a conversation about the meaning of the ribbon and to then become informed about this condition. 

Year 11 student Ashley D. was the main organiser of raising awareness for encephalitis and she created a presentation informing girls all around the school what this condition was and how it affected different people everyday. This presentation was posted on the Student’s News Dashboard for them to read during their mornings. In addition, the Year 11 SRC cohort dedicated their spare time to making around 200 ribbons for their form to wear on Monday, 22nd February till the end of the month.

Year 7 Welcome Afternoon

It was lovely to see our Year 7 parents as they joined their daughters for the Year 7 Welcome Afternoon. Year 7 students were able to take their parents to their Homeroom to meet their Homeroom teacher and show them around the school. A light afternoon tea was available in Mercy Square. Welcome to all our new families!

More photos available on the School Instagram and Facebook pages.

Year 10 Students Welcome Year 7

Year 10 students gave a personalised welcome to Year 7 students this month with each Year 10 student writing a welcome letter to a Year 7 student in their corresponding House Homeroom. 

The Year 10 students gave their letters to the Year 7 students during their first weeks of high school.

Year 12 Music Lunchtime Concerts

On Friday, 12th February the Year 12 Music students started up their lunchtime concerts. These concerts give the students a chance to practise one of their HSC pieces in front of an audience. 

Each Friday four students will perform. View highlights from some of these concerts so far.

STEM - A New Year 9 Elective Subject

The school has a particular focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives, and this year has introduced STEM as a Year 9 elective subject. The subject aims to develop students’ skills in applying scientific, mathematical and technological thinking, problem solving, resilience and cognitive flexibility. 

Ms Tara Hartman, Technology Teacher, says these skills are useful for almost every career. “Each student brings a unique set of skills to the classrooms and when students play to their strengths and work as a team they can create a greater impact than if they are working alone.”

During Semester 1 students will undertake research projects and enter competitions to build their skills in teamwork. This week the students took part in a marshmallow class challenge, which was based on a worldwide challenge introduced by TED - ‘Build a Tower, Build a Team’. Students were challenged to build the tallest freestanding structure using sticks of spaghetti, masking tape, string and one marshmallow. The winning team’s tower was 64cm!

Year 10 Geography Climate Change Action Project

Year 10 Geography students of Mrs Nicolson spent lunchtime on Friday, 26th February planting lavender bushes in one of the school gardens and a flowering gum tree in the garden in Dobson Green.

The students were planting as part of their call to action for a climate change action project which the students completed last year. Elyce J., Year 10 reports:

In Year 10 Geography we are learning about climate change and what we can do to help our world and the environment. During Term 4, we started a climate change action project which allowed us to discuss and demonstrate ways that we can help the world and the future of nature. As a class we wanted to make a change and decided to grow trees and plants within the school which will attract bees. Bees are so important to the environment and we wanted to offer them the protein and nutrients they need for survival. We also determined that on these plants we will not be using fertilizers or pesticides, as this can kill and harm the bees. 

We conducted research as a class to identify plants that are most suitable for our school and would still benefit bees. We decided on lavender and flowering gum. This unit of study and project has been very interesting and engaging for us as a class, allowing us to understand how we are affecting the environment as well as identifying and demonstrating ways that we can help nature and our world. 


Year 7 Geography Learning Longitude and Latitude

Year 7 Geography students with Mrs Grima are learning about latitude and longitude. After identifying lines of longitude and latitude on a map the students had to transfer them to their balloon 'globes'.

Year 10 Food Technology Loaded Fries

Loaded fries have never looked so good! Year 10 Food Tech have been cooking up a storm in their Food Trends Unit with Miss Emanuel. Students have also been using the light boxes specifically designed for food photography to take photos of their work.

Year 10 Geography Play Doh Recreations

Year 10 Geography students of Mrs Nicolson are currently studying the topic ‘Environmental Change and Management’ and are learning about coastal landforms. In class last week the students used play doh to recreate the various types of landforms and worked in pairs to correctly identify their peers creations and whether the landform they created was formed by erosion or deposition. Mrs Nicolson says the students had a lot of fun making these in class.

Year 11 Visual Arts Student Work

Inspired by the works of photographer Edward Weston, students of Mrs Lane demonstrated their knowledge of the chiaroscuro, a technique employed in the visual arts to represent light and shadow. Students worked collaboratively to stage compositions and made enhancements to increase the contrast of the images. View some of their photos here.

Year 11 Biologists Completing Module ‘Cells as the Basis of Life’

The Year 11 Biologists with Ms Raja have spent the past few lessons learning about and viewing a variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells under the microscope as part of the module ‘Cells as the Basis of Life’.

The students are becoming more proficient in using a microscope, preparing a wet mount slide and drawing scale diagrams to record their findings.

More ‘Around the Classrooms’ available on the School Instagram and Facebook pages.

PDSSSC Basketball Gala Day

Well done to the McAuley Team who played in the PDSSSC Basketball Gala Day held this week on Wednesday, 24th February. This event was held at Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre and our team came second in their pool. They won 3 out of their 4 games. Students were accompanied by Mrs Howlett.


‘The Rainbow Song’ - A Song Written and Recorded By Year 10 Student

Year 10 student Alana M. has written, recorded and produced her own song! ‘The Rainbow Song’ was written as part of the Captivate Singer Songwriter Program.

View the video of Alana being interviewed by Jess and Matt, the Australian singer/songwriter acoustic duo and former X-Factor contestants. 

Alana says her song was written about her best friend and she was inspired by the colours in her bedroom as she wrote.


Tuesday, 2nd MarchSchool Tours: 9:15am - 2:50pm
Wednesday, 3rd MarchSchool Swimming Carnival, Granville Pool
Friday, 5th MarchSchool Tours: 9:15am - 2:50pm
Wednesday, 10th March

PDSSSC Touch Football Gala Day 
School Tours: 9:15 am - 2:50pm

Friday, 12th MarchSchool Tours: 9:15am - 2:50pm
Wednesday, 17th March

Year 8 Geography Incursion
Year 8 History Incursion

Thursday, 18th MarchYear 7 Vaccination Program
Friday, 19th MarchYear 11 Business Studies Excursion


Helping Your Daughter With Career Planning

As students progress through high school the opportunities that the future holds become more important for them to explore. Some key ways that parents can assist their children in choosing a career is by seeking out careers information together and being open minded about the range of pathways that are available. 

Our school subscribes to Job Jump - an online resource that students and parents can access - to receive news and updates about courses at university, TAFE, and private colleges, traineeships and apprenticeships, opportunities such as competitions and scholarships, and events such as open days and career taster days. New careers are emerging constantly, as are the various ways to get into a certain career. There is not usually a linear path, but a range of alternatives and opportunities to get there.

Students from Year 9 and up are encouraged to regularly read the Job Jump newsletter, which can be tailored to their interests so that they only receive news aligned to their career goals. Attending events on an evening or weekend is an effective way to learn about careers so that students can talk to people about their experiences and try something first hand. 

Job Jump also has a wealth of career information that is relevant for students to become familiar with and it is those students who take the initiative to learn about post school options who will feel better prepared. To subscribe, go to and click on ‘I’m new’ and enter our school name with our password: ‘westmead’ in order to sign up.

Mrs Amanda Chahine 
Careers Adviser


2021 NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge

Monday, 1st March sees the commencement of the NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge (PRC). This is an annual challenge open to all students up to Year 9. The aim is to foster a love of reading for pleasure and to encourage students to read  a wide variety of book types.

To complete the challenge participants need to read at least 20 books between now and late August. 15 of these books need to come from the PRC list and 5 can be the individuals own choice.  Students are required to keep a record of these books by logging them into their account. Students new to the school, including those in Year 7, who wish to participate should come to the library to create an account or request that their account can be transitioned from their previous school to Catherine McAuley.

The most important thing for now is for students to begin reading. All books in the school library that are on the PRC list have an easily identifiable green dot on their spine. Any girl who is struggling with choosing a book to read from the thousands on offer in the library are encouraged to speak to any library staff member for some advice.


National Launch for the Bicentenary of Catholic Education

On Thursday, 18th February it was the National launch for the Bicentenary of Catholic Education. Catholic schools are celebrating 200 years!

The launch video can be viewed here.

School Fees Notice

School fees have now been issued and are due by Wednesday, 17th March 2021.

Thank you.

Reminder To Students and Parents

Second Hand Uniforms

Do You Have Any Second Hand Uniform Items for Sale? 

Do You Wish To Purchase Any Second Hand Uniform Items?

The school has had a number of requests regarding second hand uniforms and although our school uniform shop does not sell second hand items directly we have set up an area on the school website for parents to list their items for sale.

If you are interested in purchasing second hand uniform items perhaps you might like to check the school website under ‘Enrolments / Uniform Shop’ and see what items are listed. 

If you are a parent with an item to sell please email with your item details and photos. The school website under ‘Enrolments / Uniform Shop’ gives you more information.

Catherine McAuley Parent Business Directory

A reminder that the school has a Catherine McAuley Parent Business Directory. This directory is a collection of parent owned businesses and is something you might want to consulate when you are next looking for a particular item or service.

If you would like to be included in the directory please fill out this form.