Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College - Newsletter

Volume 26 Edition 5 - August 2021

Welcome to Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College eNewsletter

From the Head of College

Covid Update
And so it is that one and a half months later we continue to find ourselves continuing in this less than favoured mode of teaching and learning, with living and communicating through means other than face to face.  Not ideal, but please don't lose patience, please don't lose Faith and please try in as much as you are able to follow through with as normal a routine as you possibly can so that together, we can achieve the goal sought, and return to a 'normal' and functioning society.

Hope, however does not alone bring results, without being helped along and aided with action by each person involved.   Everyone's active participation in sticking together, following requirements and helping each other achieve these daily goals will greatly assist in reaching the desired outcomes.  Curriculum and procedural matters that change will be made known to all respective parents via either myself or one of the Leadership Team managers as this occurs.

Applicable Possible Refund: Camps

It's quite obvious now that excursions and camps will not be permitted to be held or taken during this term.  Before any decision is made however, we are taking the next logical step in trying to secure dates for each of these venues during the second half of Term 4, God willing things improve by then, as our first choice is to reschedule rather than cancel them.  These camps serve a very valuable purpose and learning experience from both an academic and social perspective as well as towards our students overall personal growth. 

This opportunity was lost in 2020 due to the premature decision taken in Term 3, 2020 to cancel and refund camps and activities - one which we don't wish to repeat again this time for our student's benefit.

IF no dates can be secured during the preferred dates, then the College will commence the process of seeing what costs have already been forwarded to venues, which venue will refund deposits or not, and then calculate the fair and reasonable calculations to ensure that families with multiple children at the College are refunded any amounts appropriate, and according to their individual situations.

I repeat last year's constant enquiry, the Activities Levy Fee is NOT purely for camp.  It covers over 13 different sub-fees including but not limited to transport for sport, numerous IT levies paid annually in total for school internet and program licenses that are used particularly by class teachers and students and especially during home learning and on-line teaching. 

The College in fact increased the range of programs and abilities/strengths of these to ensure a greater breadth could be utilized, and in our current circumstances, I'm glad this decision was made. 

We utilise our funds to stretch as much as this is possible as our funds are limited.  Rest assured that we will NOT retain any funds paid by you that are unused.  If this is the eventual outcome, we aim to refund any unused funds once decisions have been confirmed that no other options are available to us, with this action then being notified to all and not just some, at the appropriate time. 

Itemized lists of fees included will not be issued or distributed as a few people have demanded.  Any possible refund that may be given at the end of the year will be according to general procedures used across the board to relevant families taking into account their own family enrolment/s in the school and which year level this applies to.

Independent VS Systemic Schools Structures

Lastly, please understand that we are not connected to the Department of Education or other System such as the Catholic schools are, or the Anglican schools are.  These are systemic schools and so their authority group receives all funding at very high levels, and the authority then distributes these across their schools as required or specific needs arise.  Their flexibility in meeting their obligations is better managed as they have a central pool that can be redistributed or processes altered temporarily to assist in specific instances.

I say these things to highlight that we are financially alone as a number of families have pointed out to me on numerous occasions: "But the Catholic/Anglican school did this to help their families in need" .... "how can you call yourselves a 'Christian' school?"...... and "they're far more considerate unlike you who always asks for money and doesn't care"....   

Yes we do care and yes we do receive standard funding but we are not funded at the same funding categories of the above system schools by any means.  Financially, we have no one to depend on except ourselves.  We are 100% financially self reliant on fees that are in most instances lower than Catholic school fees, and yet our results exceed these more established and developed schools, and indeed numerous other schools across the city and State annually with the little that we have.  Fact: regardless of our limited funds and resources that we manage to overcome all obstacles through our human resources (Staff and students) and consistently have been named the highest achieving non-selective school in the South West region of Sydney.

I write these things as the situation currently is not normal, and these matters would not normally be made public, however we are all in uncertain times and these are not normal circumstances.

I cannot tell staff that they can't get paid for the work they are doing and the services they and the college are providing, and may I add that the workload during a lockdown period far exceeds the standard workload as acknowledged by all our students and parents in the surveys that were conducted last week;

I cannot tell the utilities companies such as electricity, gas and telephone systems I'm sorry but can I pay next month, I cannot tell the service providers for sports and association's subscriptions and internet services that I'm having difficulty currently and the list goes on...

Please be patient with my office and finance staff, they are required like everyone to follow the policies and procedures and they take no pleasure in having to follow up families for fees payments, nor can they make or have authority to make adjustments to procedures as they do not have the flexibility within their level and roles to do this.  We do understand the difficulties faced by many people, we experience this on a daily basis and we are not immune to this, however ask for your understanding that the school depends on payments of fees and for these to be timed so it can also meet all its own obligations without facing shortages, discontinuations, and penalties in meeting our financial obligations.
We will do what is right and ethically proper however, processes required will be practiced throughout to ensure equity to all.

Update - Dep Head of College - Mrs Deborah Grohala

Dear K - 12 Parents & Guardians,

Distance learning presents incredible challenges and opportunities for teachers, parents and students. This year’s changing circumstances call for great flexibility and resilience as learning moves from school to home and back again.

While no one is sure yet how long distance-only learning will continue, we know that it won’t last forever. Children and young people take cues from adult behaviour and attitudes, so it is important to communicate calm, confidence and optimism that we will pull through the crisis together. Managing our own emotions will help our children stay focused on learning and looking forward to the future.

Everyone’s circumstances are different. More focused and independent learning from home is easier for some students and families than others. Even very digitally-savvy young people may struggle with educational technology. While some aspects of the curriculum may not transfer easily to online environments, students often learn new skills and develop important personal and academic competencies in distance learning environments.

All St Mark’s College teachers have been working hard to develop comprehensive distance learning plans and are mastering new and complex demands for supporting students in the home environment. These tips synthesize what schools around the world have been learning during the coronavirus pandemic.


The guidance below can help us all make the best of new and sometimes unfamiliar distance learning environments and can help you manage some of the more practical aspects of learning from home.

1. Establish routines and expectations

Create a flexible routine and talk about how it’s working over time. Chunk days into predictable segments. Help students get up, get dressed and ready to learn at a reasonable time. Everybody make your bed! Keep normal bedtime routines, including normal rules for digital devices. Adjust schedules to meet everyone’s needs but don’t default to staying up late and sleeping in.

2. Choose a good place to learn

Your family’s regular learning space for occasional homework might not work for extended periods. Set up a physical location that’s dedicated to school-focused activities. Make sure it is quiet, free from distractions and has a good internet connection. Make sure an adult monitors online learning. Keep doors open, and practice good digital safety.

3. Stay in touch

Teachers will mainly be communicating regularly through our online platforms and virtual learning environments. Make sure everyone knows how to find the help they need to be successful. Stay in contact with classroom teachers and school leaders.  The College counsellor Mrs Yousef is also available.

4. Help students ‘own’ their learning

No one expects parents to be full-time teachers or to be educational and content matter experts. Provide support and encouragement, and expect your children to do their part. Struggling is allowed and encouraged! Don’t help too much. Becoming independent takes lots of practice. At SMC, your child usually engages with others students and any number of adults hundreds of times each day. Many of these social interactions will continue from a distance, but they will be different. You cannot replace them all, and that’s OK.

5. Begin and end the day by checking-in

In the morning, you might ask:

• What classes/subjects do you have today? • Do you have any assessments? • How will you spend your time? • What resources do you need? • What can I do to help?

At the end of the day you might ask: • How far did you get in your learning tasks today? • What did you discover? What was hard? • What could we do to make tomorrow better?



These brief grounding conversations matter. Checking in with your child helps to process instructions they received from their teachers, and it helps them organize themselves and set priorities – older students too. Not all students thrive in distance learning; some struggle with too much independence or lack of structure. Collaborating and mapping out the day together can help you understand what your child is doing as well as helping them to understand what you need to do.

Update - Head of Secondary Students - Ms Mary Williams

Teaching our kids Kindness:

What happens when we see other people act generously?

For a long time, social scientists have known that after witnessing another person help others, we tend to act more kindly ourselves. Kindness is contagious.

But what’s been discovered recently  is that in the person who does the witnessing, kindness spreads.

For instance, in one lab experiment, seeing someone make a donation led observers to make more donations themselves and, in addition, to write longer and more empathic notes to strangers in need.

It’s also been shown that children tend to imitate role models with whom they have more in common. So if we want our kids to be kind, not only should we model kindness ourselves, we should go out of our way to expose them to exemplars their own age.

One thing that we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing in uncertain times. People are coming together to sing on balconies in Italy, others are setting up groups to offer support to the elderly or vulnerable - like collecting groceries or calling them for a chat. We have heard stories of people having virtual movie nights and creating choreographed dances over video chat to share with the world.

Get involved:

  • Call a friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while

  • Tell a family member how much you love and appreciate them

  • Make a cup of tea for someone you live with

  • Arrange to have a cup of tea and virtual catch up with someone you know

  • Help with a household chore at home

  • Arrange to watch a film at the same time as a friend and video call

  • Tell someone you know that you are proud of them

  • Tell someone you know why you are thankful for them

  • Send a motivational text to a friend who is struggling

  • Send someone you know a joke to cheer them up

  • Send someone you know a picture of a cute animal

  • Send an inspirational quote to a friend

  • Send an interesting article to a friend

  • Contact someone you haven’t seen in a while and arrange a phone catch up

  • Spend time playing with your pet

  • Reach out to call a friend, family member or neighbour who is experiencing loneliness or self-isolation

  • Donate to a charity

  • Lend your ear 

  • Give praise to God and be thankful

  • Arrange to have a video prayer group with friends and family

  • Send an inspirational story of kindness people around the world are doing for others to someone you know

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns regarding your child’s wellbeing. We have a wonderful and dedicated pastoral team ready to support your child. 

God bless 

Update - Head of Teaching and Learning - Mr Peter Joseph

A 'thank you' to parents    As a father, I have an acute awareness of the challenges of maintaining work and family obligations whilst juggling being a parent. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank parents for supporting their child/ren during online learning. Together, we can continue to make the most of this challenge and ensure learning continues to be relevant and appropriate in this context. 

Tips for students during remote learning

How To Stay Positive About Your Schoolwork during online learning

It can be difficult to stay positive at all times about your schoolwork, particularly if you have challenges whether they be personal or whether you are grappling with something like online learning. When we allow pressure and stress to build we can get into bad habits and let go of good habits. As a result students can feel even more drained and exhausted.

The key to being positive and managing negative emotions such as anxiety and feeling down and depressed in any pressure situation including schoolwork and exams is to “fuel up”.

“Fuelling Up” is about boosting wellbeing factors in your life. You need to boost the wellbeing factors in your BODY and MIND. 

BODY: Here are some things you can do to boost the energy in your BODY 

  • Get better sleep.

Feeling good all starts with getting the right amount and type of sleep. Start with a good night-time routine. Stop anything that stimulates you such as caffeine or TV or computer, iPad or phone screens etc. Try a warm drink such as chamomile tea and use essential oils such as lavender oil. Having a soothing bath or shower can also help along with gentle stretching of tight or tense muscles. If you still feel you are not getting a “good” sleep be sure to see your doctor.

  • Eat in Moderation

Never skip a meal, especially breakfast. Breakfast replenishes your body and helps you start your day full of energy. Eat three main meals, and two to three snack meals a day. Eating five to six times in a day keeps your blood sugar levels balanced, giving you an overall sense of well-being needed for focusing on your tasks and responsibilities.

  • Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise, at least three times per week for a minimum of 30 minute sessions, can virtually “soak up” stress chemicals in your body and help you to relax and even sleep better. Brisk walking, aerobic classes, swimming, bike riding, or jogging are great exercises to release stress buildup and relax your body and mind to either start or end your day right. 

MIND: Here are some things you can do to THINK more positive

  • Change your thinking and perceptions

Write down your top 5 fears and worries. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Then ask yourself, “IS THAT TRUE”? Usually fears and worries are not based on reality but on imagined scenarios that have little to no evidence. If it’s something that can’t be changed bring acceptance to it. It is what it is for now!

  • Change your focus

Have you noticed that what we worry about we make bigger and keep closer to us by the way we think and focus.

Try this…make your fears and worries SMALL in size (5 cm in height) DARK in brightness and as far away as possible in DISTANCE. When we change the size, brightness and distance of the things that upset us in our minds it reduces the intensity of the emotion.

You will find lots of resources to support you on the Study Skills Handbook site (

Our school’s login details are: 

Username: stmarks

Password: 52success

Update - Head of Primary - Mrs Silvia Nada

Dear Parents/Guardians,

I pray that everyone is well and safe during these uncertain times. Thank you to all the parents who are assisting their children with online learning. I could not be more proud of the amazing work that the children are doing with wonderful smiles. It is great to see our children happy and enjoying online learning. To ensure that we keep our children safe while online I have included two links below which include tips and information.  Please find the first link below to the Department of Education on e safety,  topics include: media, misinformation and scams; time online, parental controls, unwanted contact, cyberbullying, online gaming as well as advice on self-care.

The second link is to Saint Mark's College Use of Technology Guidelines:

Survey Feedback

Thank you for your constructive feedback regarding online learning. It is very pleasing to see that the hard work that the teachers are putting into preparing their lessons and the quality of work given is evident and has been acknowledged.

On the other hand, all points raised have also been actioned to ensure that no one is left behind. 

Upcoming events:

There were a number of activities taking place this term such as, Science Fair, Book Parade and Year 6 Personal Development Session which will all now take place via zoom meets.

More information will be sent shortly regarding these events. 

Stay safe God bless 

Technology Updates - Mr Remon Metira

Screen Recording

Screen recording is one of the important tasks for teachers and students during remote learning. Below are quick guidelines in order to do that on various platforms.

  • Windows:

How to Record Desktop Screen Using PowerPoint - Video Tutorial

More information about Record your screen in PowerPoint from Microsoft website CLICK HERE

  • Mac:

How to record the screen on your Mac — Video Tutorial

More information about Record your screen in QuickTime Player on Mac CLICK HERE

  • iOS iPad/iPhone:

iOS 11 Screen Recording - Video Tutorial

  • Screencastify: 

Record your screen directly from the Chrome browser, or on a Chromebook with Screencastify.

Screencastify allows for free recording for up to 5 mins in length.

Term 3 - Week 4

The school is running with a new timetable starting from Week 4.  Timetables for Years 7-12 are available on Both SEQTA Learn for the students and SEQTA Engage from the Parents.


  • Have you checked your Seqta Direct Messages today? 
  • Have you logged in to check your assessment dates?
  • Remember that you can access everything on Seqta!

Stay informed with the SkoolBag App

Building and Construction Update @ July 21 (Swipe or Click to view each)

Upcoming Dates

Theotokos Term 3 - 2021


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.  Once eased, activities and events will be rescheduled and advised to all accordingly.  If rescheduling is not possible during term 4, then consideration will be given to cancelling.  However, please know we are holding off from discussions regarding cancellations and refunds until the latter (i.e. to reschedule in term 4) is confirmed as not possible.


As above, for now until changes occur.

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