Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College - eNewsletter

Volume 26 Edition 7 - November 2021

Welcome to Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College eNewsletter

From the Head of College

HSC 2021

Along with all other Yr 12 students in NSW and Australia, the Class of 2021 will indeed have much to reflect on as they complete their formal studies towards sitting their final HSC exams during November.  As has been made very evident throughout recent weeks on news and media announcements, school events normally held to celebrate this chapter of Yr 12 life have been on hold, or have been adjusted and continue to do so according to the health advice and current restrictions in place related specifically for schools.  SMCOC has endeavoured to meet all required steps and advises that our end of year functions and events are constantly being adjusted dependent on the very frequent requirement updates advised as permitted by the latest Health NSW Advice  and observing all health regulations concerning school events are being observed. 

To have maintained any original event in its usual format would continually see us cancelling event after event.  So it is with reluctance that most of our end of year events will be without parental and family attendance.  We will of course stream each event as best we can. We sincerely realise this is disappointing for parents, and also depriving all on witnessing, enjoying and feeling the special pride and joy in seeing their beloved child reach this stage of their life after so many sacrifices and effort on their part.

Yr 12 students will still conclude their school requirements following the conclusion of their exams in late November (now held on campus as the Church Hall kindly offered by the Indian Orthodox Church cannot facilitate Covid-requirements for p/sq/m minimums based on our larger numbers).  Yr 12 will be acknowledged now as part of the Presentation Day morning event on Wednesday 8 December.

Any updates on other events at this stage will be advised either individually closer to each date, or in the December Newsletter as required.  To do so from now is pointless with the constant changes forwarded.

From our College Chaplain Very Rev Fr George Nakhil

The Advent Fast and Coptic/Orthodox Christmas

When is Coptic Christmas?

The Coptic Church recognizes 7 January as the day that Jesus was born. This is the same date as Orthodox Christmas. Elsewhere in the world, Christmas is celebrated on 25 December.

Why is Coptic Christmas on 7th January?

The difference in the timing of the Christmas celebrations stretches back to 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII, ruled that the Catholic Church should follow a new calendar – called the Gregorian calendar, as it was closer to the solar calendar than the Julian calendar.

The Julian calendar had been established by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.

Because it was the Catholic Pope who ruled on the adoption of the new calendar, many churches not aligned to the papacy ignored it, such as Protestants and the Coptic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Protestants accepted the new calendar in the early 1700s.

In 1922, the Patriarch of Constantinople decided that the Gregorian calendar should be followed for the observance of Christmas, but not for Easter, and this edict was followed by many of the other Orthodox churches including the Greek Orthodox.

Coptic Orthodox Christians comprise 90% of Egypt's 10 million Christians. The Coptic Orthodox Church has been a distinct Christian body since the schism that took place at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, when the Coptic Church broke from the rest of the Christian Church.

Coptic Christmas was declared a national holiday in Egypt in 2005 by the government of Hosni Mubarak.

Customs of Coptic Christmas

On the evening of 6 January, Copts observe a fast - and refrain from drinking and eating from 3pm until midnight.  They also go to church for a special liturgy or service.

Before Christmas, some Coptic Christians may observe a 43-day vegan fast which they break after mass on Coptic Christmas Day.

On Orthodox Christmas Day people come together in homes for parties and festivities.


Congratulations to Dr Daniel Nour

Our sincerest CONGRATULATIONS to Dr Daniel Nour on his recent nomination for the Australian of the Year Award 

We are all extremely proud that Dr Nour was a past student at St Mark’s College until end of Yr 9 before finishing his studies at Trinity Grammar. Dr Nour’s initiative in identifying a gap in essential healthcare focused him on achieving a service that has now grown substantially in efforts to offer essential healthcare to individuals previously unable to have access. Not only do we congratulate Dr Nour but also his supportive and loving parents John and Mona Nour for their involvement and invaluable efforts to raise an individual with such selfless sense of Community Service Please read this article and also offer your congratulations to Dr Nour as it is indeed well deserved (copy link to view in browser if unable to access directly)

Dr Daniel NourFounder of Street Side Medics NSW NOMINEE YOUNG AUSTRALIAN OF THE YEAR2022

Identifying a gap in the healthcare of vulnerable people in New South Wales, Dr Daniel Nour founded Street Side Medics in August 2020. It’s a not-for-profit, GP-led mobile medical service for people experiencing homelessness.

With 145 volunteers, and four clinics across New South Wales, Street Side Medics has changed the lives of more than 300 patients. It has treated many communicable and non-communicable illnesses, dealt with neglected medical needs, and detected conditions that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. This includes diabetes, thyroid disorders, hepatitis C, HIV, heart disease and cancer.

Despite working full time at Royal North Shore Hospital, Daniel has rarely missed a clinic across the four sites since Street Side Medics launched. He volunteers his afternoons to ensure the clinics are run smoothly and patients are receiving the care they deserve.

With his leadership and social consciousness, Daniel is committed to making a real difference to the lives of many Australians. He’s also making significant improvements to society.

From Deputy Head of College: Mrs Deborah Grohala

Dear Parents and Students of the Mark’s College Community,

As we emerge from the lockdown and embrace the new norm we have been thrilled to welcome back students and staff over the last couple of weeks. We look forward to what the weeks ahead will bring – happy and engaged students and their ever committed teachers who are excited to be back in the classroom.  With the return to face to face teaching and learning, we have implemented COVID safe practices which support our community’s health and wellbeing. We are all responsible for looking after each other and for keeping ourselves and each other safe.

As part of the Return to School Planning, the College has been undertaking risk assessments in line with guidelines from the Association of Independent Schools. 

A summary of the key measures that have been considered in these risk assessments have included:

·         All staff onsite will have received two vaccinations by Nov 8.

·       A face mask must be worn inside by staff and those aged 13 years and over (not required outdoors).

·         Physical distancing and maximum capacity limits in indoor spaces.

·         Use of hand sanitisers.

·         Infection control measures re cleaning equipment

·       Audit of windows and air conditioning systems to ensure adequate ventilation.

·    Subject-specific cleaning and sanitising requirements where equipment may be shared.

·         Regular reminders about a range of health and hygiene measures.

·         No parents or visitors on site.

·         Tuesday Sport modified to year groups, limited mingling, no contact sports,

·         Restrictions on most events and gatherings.

The College is committed to providing the safest possible environment for all children, staff and family. In addition to these Covid-safe practices parents and carers are asked to observe guidelines with the safe drop off and pick up of children.

You are also asked to ensure that traffic and parking regulations are followed at all times. This is to ensure not only our students’ safety, but also the safety and needs of our local community and contractors. In a bid to improve student pedestrian safety we have a School Crossing Supervisor who oversees the crossing in Australis Avenue. Parents in particular are asked to be respectful of this crossing and use it at all times.

  • Ø  Do not use the driveway of the College staff carpark or the Coles Receiving Dock at any time
  • Do not stop at the pedestrian crossing to allow children to alight or enter any vehicle
  • Do not park in the bus zone at the main gate
  • Escort children in infant’s school to and from the College gates
  • Students riding bicycles to school must dismount at the gate and walk their bicycles in

Please note that Local Area Command as well as Council Rangers frequently patrol the area and are responsible for enforcing all road, parking and driving rules.

Please read the Safety Tips for use of Drop-off and Pick-up zones at the end of this newsletter.

Drop Off Tips for Parents from Transport NSW

From Head of Secondary Studies - Mr Peter Joseph


We wish all students across Years 7-10 the best of luck with their upcoming assessments to be held at school. 


There are many advantages apart from deeper learning and improved results to making the most of class time.   By completing more work in class you will have less to do at home, your teacher will be pleased with your application and so will your parents when they read your report, and of course, you will learn more! And if you don’t use class time efficiently?

Well you will have to do more work at home, you will find you don’t always understand the work, your teachers will have to be continually disciplining you and you may even make it harder for other people in your class to learn. It’s a no-brainer!

What does working effectively in class mean?

  • Sit next to someone who will help you stay on task rather than someone who distracts you.
  • Ask questions whenever you are unsure, unclear or do not understand something.
  • Be polite and respectful of your teacher and your classmates at all times.
  • Come prepared to the lesson with all the books, technology and equipment you will need.
  • Contribute your thoughts and ideas at the appropriate times.
  • If you find yourself day-dreaming, ask yourself questions about what is going on or take notes about what is being discussed so you regain your focus.
  • Try at all times to stay on task and be engaged in the work you are doing.
  • Learn more this year about how to work effectively at home and at school by working through the units on Our school’s access details are:

    Username: stmarksPassword: 52success

    From Head of Secondary Students Ms Mary Williams

    Dear Parents and Guardians,

    Welcome to post-lockdown!

    Exodus would like to pass on our congratulations for getting through homeschooling! You did it! As much as some families enjoyed lockdown and learnt quite a lot from the experience, we acknowledge that it put a lot of families through a substantial amount of pressure and stress. Homeschooling and working from home at the same time is definitely a feat worthy of insurmountable praise, so well done to everyone.

    We would also like to acknowledge the amazing dedication that the educators and staff of SMCOC displayed through this period. They worked tirelessly to deliver high standard education while adhering to the pressures of online learning, as well as trying to maintain the special bonds they have with their students, which is an outstanding quality. Thank you to the staff for being amazing mentors to the students through this unprecedented time.  

    As you may know, Exodus provides Pastoral Care to the students of SMCOC but this time we are interested to hear from you, the parents and guardians. It is extremely important for us to understand how lockdown affected you and your family unit.

    Year after year, we collect precious data that helps to unravel some underlying issues that occupy our community, which ultimately enables us to provide a service that is specific to the needs of our Coptic families.

    We urge you to please take 10 minutes out of your day to fill out the Parent Survey attached.

    This survey is completely anonymous and we will have absolutely no connection to where the answers have come from. All that matters to us is the data. Our interest and investment solely lies in the state of your mental health and the function of your family.

    Please help us to understand both the struggles and the triumphs that our Coptic families experience so that not only can build on the Pastoral Care program for your children, but also to provide inequivalent welfare to all family members.  

    Thank you for allowing us the blessing to serve you and the community. 

    The Exodus Team

    Parents are invited to access the following link to complete a short survey to assist SMCOC and Exodus in our future planning for Pastoral Care lessons in the Secondary school: (Copy and paste in browser if it does not activate from here)

    Technology Updates - Mr Remon Metira

    SMC Parents' Guide to Discord Online platform

    During the lockdown there was an increase in video gaming among students, especially in the younger grades. A platform like Discord became very popular as a way of communicating between students across grades. As such, the school wishes to bring your attention to the potential dangers of this platform.

    What is Discord?

    Discord is a free app for mobile and PC that lets people chat via text, voice, or video in real time. It's broadened from being for gamers-only to a social networking site for communities of all types, including those with non-gaming interests like anime, TV series, music, and more. It can also be an easy-to-use group-chatting tool for friends.

    Dangers of Discord

    • The platform is not suitable for young children
    • Does not offer parental control
    • Inappropriate Content
    • Discord makes cyberbullying even easier
    • Most conversations are private and allow live video and location tracking
    • Discord makes it easy for strangers to contact children

    Like any place on the internet where you can meet strangers, people on Discord can lie about who they are. Predators can stalk children by chatting with them in a kid-friendly channel, then taking the conversation to direct messages which aren't moderated.

    Stay informed with the SkoolBag App

    From our Counsellor Mrs Evonne Youssef: Returning to School After Lockdown and Isolation

    Upcoming Dates

    Advent Term 4 - 2021

    Oct - Dec

    Thursday's early-bird Liturgies and Friday's P1 & 2 Year Liturgies will not be conducted during periods of active Restrictions.

    Once the Restrictions are eased, these two weekly services will resume and all will be advised.

    All student activities will be on hold during the period of restrictions.  

    Block B Refurbishments Completed during Restrictions 25 Oct 2021

    Main Construction Project Update 23 Oct 2021

    Jazzy Juniors Updates