Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College - Newsletter

Volume 26 Edition 4 - July 2021

Welcome to Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College eNewsletter

From the Head of College

A virtual, yet heartfelt WELCOME to all our existing and newly enrolled Families, Staff and Students for the (unexpected and interesting) commencement of our Theotokos Term 3.   

I don't wish to repeat all that I have written and included in both my Covid Letters to Parents  over the past week, so at this point I would just like to reassure all our community that like any and all challenges we've previously dealt with in so many areas of our respective lives, we will do our best to get through this period with God's Good Grace, first and foremost.  Rest assured that all our dedicated and committed staff will deliver everything that is required, and more to all until however long this unexpected period of restrictions is in place.

As far as how long this will take and how will it impact further, the simple answer is we don't know yet.  If it is only for a week or two, then very little will need to be adjusted. We will therefore plan to take situations as they develop. 

Please do not preempt, because one thing last year's lockdown taught us was that to be organised and plan accordingly is laughable. 

Be patient and we'll deal with matters, excursions, issues, camps when we become certain of actual timeframes, possibilities and opportunities.

Thank you all so much for your sacrifices and cooperation in keeping your children home and assisting in reducing/limiting the possibility for spreading or containing the virus.  This is so very necessary so that we can all return to our normal routines as quickly as is possible.

The following was quietly forwarded to me yesterday morning by one of our staff who read an email that had been sent to all Year 7 students from one of our Peer Support Leaders as encouragement for the commencement of this term, and specifically for their commencement in isolation and on-line learning in high school ......  This beautiful gesture of encouragement filled my heart in that we are truly blessed with the wonderful students we have.  It is always a privilege to be able to be a part of our amazing student's development:

Message from Your Peer Support Leaders

Good morning everyone, as you may know we do have a lockdown this week and this includes home schooling, we know this is your first lockdown in high school, but take it as a regular school week, even though you are at home the school rules still do apply, as in not eating during classes and not talking while the teacher is talking.

We ask you guys to be patient with your teachers because the lockdown is taking a toll on all of us.  If the teacher is talking please do not interrupt them unless they ask you to, DO NOT unmute yourselves unless asking questions or instructed by teacher, even though you are at home it doesn't give any permission to muck up during classes, be prepared before each class.

Check SEQTA /Google Classroom/Gmail for any announcements from your teachers, and we hope you all stay safe and we are very excited to see you all hopefully in week 2.

God Bless and stay safe,

Your Peer Support Leaders

Vale the late Deacon Amir Hanna

On behalf of the College community, we extend our condolences and sympathy to the family for the unexpected passing of the late Deacon Amir Hanna.  Dr Medhat Guirguis, on behalf of the Interim Board of Trustees of the Diocese, expressed his thoughts with the following tribute in recognition of Mr Hanna’s tremendous and substantial contributions over the years. 

Mr Amir Hanna was one of the original individuals working to establish the Church in not only Sydney and NSW, but Australia.  He added his dreams with the need and importance in establishing our own St Mark's Coptic Orthodox College, a Theological College and numerous parishes.  His endeavours, his efforts and his deep dedication as a Servant towards the Church continued as Foundation Superintendent of Sunday Schools and towards our Colleges is forever wired within our daily operations:

Dr Guirguis writes: “On behalf of the Interim Board of Trustees, and of the Coptic Churches in NSW, we express our deepest sympathy for the great loss of the passing of Deacon Amir Hanna, the superintendent of the Sunday School. May the members of the Church and Sunday schools find solace in the memory of the deep devotion and contributions of Amir. I knew Amir as a unique and beautiful paradox of gentleness and strength, humility and dignity, disciple and sage, servant and leader. May God rest his Soul in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Prayers and thoughts for his family that they will be filled with God’s presence in this time of sorrow and grief.”

Dr Medhat Guirguis on behalf of the Interim Board of Trustees Diocese of Sydney & it’s Affiliated Regions

Some Student Artworks to Brighten Up our Spirits

Update - Dep Head of College - Mrs Deborah Grohala

Tips for Parents

We tend to idealize childhood as a carefree time, but youth alone offers no shield against the challenges of life.

The current health emergency in NSW related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent restrictive measures of quarantine are causing stress, difficulties, and negative effects on the well-being of individuals.

Parents are adjusting to new work-from-home arrangements, forced into full-time care as well as home-schooling their children while being socially isolated and physically restricted. Consequently, the stress levels of many parents’ increase which can possibly have a negative impact on the quality of the relationship with their child as well as everybody’s well-being.

As a parent you may find the following set of strategies useful in helping your child navigate through the current situation, promote resilience and support their socioemotional well-being.

Identify and recognise your own emotions. It is important that you take some time to identify, recognise, label and self-regulate the wide range of emotions the current situation triggers for you with a view to helping your child manage theirs.

Help your child to understand how they feel and to share their feelings. Children are learning how to label what they feel so engaging in warm and respectful conversations with your child with a view to helping them accept, identify and value their feelings will help them control their own emotions.

Give your child voice where you can. Ask questions of your child to explore their knowledge of the current situation and also how they feel about it. Create situations where you listen to your child’s views and how they are living the current situation at home.

Children need to feel safe and secure. Ensure your child knows that they are safe and that this event is temporary. In this way, your child will feel confident and protected which will help create a stronger emotional relationship with you.

Observe changes in your child’s behaviour. Pay attention to any behavioural changes and engage in a warm and respectful conversation to accept and validate such changes. As a result, children will know that this is normal, and that adults are there to understand and support them.

Keep routines in place. Children and young people need a clear structure in their lives so keeping the normal routine at home as much as possible will support them.

Keep a positive attitude. Don’t let stressful situations overwhelm you. Make every effort to reassure your child by letting them know that this just a temporary situation and that there are positive things about spending more time together.

Monitor or limit media exposure. Limit the consumption of news and regulate the information children are exposed to since this could trigger feelings of fear or sadness or even depressive symptoms.

Take care of your own mental health.  It has been documented that when adults are highly stressed or anxious, children start becoming stressed and anxious too. Pay attention to your own mental health and attend any potential mental health-related problem such as continuously feeling scared, depressed or anxious for example, which could negatively impact young children’s well-being.

Stay in touch virtually. Create opportunities for you and your child to share experiences with other family members and friends. By connecting virtually everyone is able to share feelings and learn from other perspectives.

Model appropriate coping behaviours. Help your child to develop appropriate coping behaviours by engaging in activities such as listening to music, reading together, playing board games or exercise.

Understanding the difference between social distancing and physical distancing. Physical distancing is the epidemiological-related strategy that governments put in place to stop the spread of the virus since it can travel from one person to another by close physical proximity, however, the term social distancing may have been misunderstood. Adults should be aware of the need to differentiate these terms and avoid using social distancing in order not to discourage vital social interaction. Social interaction can still take place with the use of technology while avoiding physical proximity.

Update - Head of Secondary Students - Ms Mary Williams

Student Wellbeing

It's been a stressful time all around the world as we deal with coronavirus (COVID-19) and the uncertainty it brings. What life will look like over the next few months has changed and you might be feeling anxious about what this means. Here are some steps to help you manage your wellbeing through all this.

1. Stay active

It’s pretty well known that exercise is really good for both our physical and mental health. There’s heaps of different types of exercise you can do from home, thanks to YouTube and apps. We’ve listed a few free ones (share your tips for others on the ReachOut Forums), or continue doing whatever works for you.

  • Yoga with Adrienne is a well-loved yoga channel, with over six million subscribers. She’s quirky and down-to-earth, and offers yoga classes lasting from five minutes through to an hour.

  • Nike Training Club can help you stay active during this time by offering heaps of free workouts you can do from home. It also features wellness and nutrition guidance from experts.

  • Seven – 7 Minute Workout app (iOS and Android). These seven-minute workouts are based on scientific studies and are designed to provide the maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time. You can also link up with friends in the app to encourage each other (or, let’s be honest, compete!) – it’s a great way to stay connected. If you play sport and your games and training have been cancelled, you could consider linking up with your team on this app.

If you can go outside, consider going for a walk or run while taking in your surroundings.

2. Take 10 to be zen

When we’re stressed about something (such as coronavirus), our thoughts tend to speed up. Taking 10 minutes or so to practise mindfulness can help produce a sense of calmness. 

Here are some suggestions for free mindfulness apps to try:

  • Insight Timer has over 25,000 free guided meditations, from 1 to 90+ minutes. Try searching by a topic that interests you (e.g. stress, learning to meditate, sleep).

  • Smiling Mind might be a good option if you don’t want to be overwhelmed by choice. The meditations are organised by structured programs, such as Mindful Foundations, Sleep, Relationships, etc.

  • If meditation isn’t for you, try doing an everyday activity in a mindful way – in other words, put aside distractions and focus fully on one small task. For example, while you’re having a cup of tea, pay attention to your senses (the smell of the tea, the warmth of the cup in your hand, the taste…).

3. Chat with your mates

Even if an in-person meet-up is off the table, try to stay in touch with your mates. Ask them how they’re feeling and share your own experience if you feel safe to do so. 

4. Take a break from the news & declutter for five minutes

If you’re suddenly spending a lot more time at home, it can help to have an environment that feels good to you. Instead of getting all Marie Kondo and trying to overhaul your whole space in a day, try decluttering for five mins a day. Pick a shelf to start with, or pick up five things and find a home for them.

5. Watch or read something uplifting

Remember we are here for you and miss you dearly. If you need to talk please do not hesitate to contact Mrs Youssef our school counsellor , myself, your  House Patron and if you're Year 12 then Ms Abdelsayed is always there for you. 


Update - Head of Teaching and Learning - Mr Peter Joseph

Structure of online learning

Whilst information regarding online learning has been sent to students, the following is a reiteration of the guidelines relating to how online classes will operate and how students access their learning. This is provided by clicking here.  Further, additional guidelines for students to cope during the day can be found by also clicking here. It is recommended parents and students read and discuss both documents.

Two On-Line Reference Charts follow to assist students and parents.

Impacted Assessments

Where possible, any Year 7-11 in-class tests that are due during the period of remote learning will either be delayed or adjusted to become formal submissions. The Head of Faculty for the impacted subject, and the class teacher, will liaise with students regarding this. Alternate procedures apply to HSC assessments, and this will be communicated to students in due course. As you can appreciate, the above may change based on circumstances that arise. If changes are needed, they will be implemented appropriately and equitably.

HSC Minimum Standards Tests

The HSC Minimum Standards test has been postponed until the current climate settles. A revised date will be communicated to students in due course. 

Subject selection for students currently in Year 8 and Year 10

Due to these circumstances, our 2022 Subject Selection Night for students currently in Year 8 and Year 10 is postponed. We will now move to a digital format. Information about the subject selection process will be issued in the coming days. 

On-Line Reference Charts 7 - 12

Update - Head of Primary - Mrs Silvia Nada

Technology Updates - Mr Remon Metira

Tools During Remote Learning

  • Google Classroom: Is your virtual classroom and your first point of contact with your both Teachers and Your peers.
  • Google Meet: Is our main Video conference platform which integrates with your school google account.
  • Kami: Is used to complete worksheet/pdfs. This can be easily downloaded and it is free to use for students.
  • Google Jamboard: is an interactive whiteboard that allows a group of students to collaborate together at the same time. Jamboard works great for remote or online learning to create a collaborative environment.
  • Having an issue with your Google account or SEQTA: Please contact me on 02-9825 6768 or

Stay informed with the SkoolBag App

Years 7 - 11 Semester 1 Academic Reports going Online

Students and parents can expect to receive reports during the holiday period. Reports will be released via Seqta Learn (Student portal) and Seqta Engage (Parent portal). Please note the following:

• If parents need help logging in to Seqta, they are encouraged to contact Mr Metira, the College’s IT Manager.

• If students or parents have questions about the data on the report, please contact Mr Joseph.

• Please refer to the May Newsletter, or contact the Head of College’s office, for anyone unable to access their reports from the ‘Reports’ area on Seqta.

How to keep your Child attendance records accurate.

  • The College expects a parent/carer to inform the college via phone call, email (, skoolbag or Class Dojo (Primary), before 10.00 am, if a student is to be absent on that day.
  • A student who is absent from the College on any day is required to present to the Front Office/Classroom Teacher, on the day of their return, a note from a parent/carer explaining their absence if the previous note was not provided.
  • If the student is going to be absent for an extended period, the College must be notified; parent/carer should be seeking an approval from the Head of College in advance.

Building and Construction Update @ 29 June 21

Upcoming Dates

Theotokos Term 3 - 2021


Thursday's early-bird Liturgies and Friday's P1 & 2 Year Liturgies will not be conducted during period 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.  Once eased, activities and events will be rescheduled and advised to all accordingly.


As above, for now until changes occur.

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - One God, Amen!