St Agnes Catholic High School

February Newsletter - Term 1, Week 3 2021

From the Principal

This week we welcomed the 2021 school year with our Opening Mass and introduced the St Agnes Way of Being and Becoming - this will be an ongoing focus as we strive to provide opportunities for all members of the St Agnes community to flourish by appreciating the gifts of our head, heart and hands. It was wonderful for this to occur within the new Alverna Centre. We are very fortunate to now have access to these much anticipated facilities that not only provide a space to gather but offer rich facilities across performing arts. 

Congratulations to the School Captains, Portfolio and SRC Leaders who were officially commissioned this week. (PHOTO or names if appropriate) 

We welcomed the 2020 ATAR Dux, Anthony Gagliardi and Distinguished Achievers. As a school we could not be more proud of the achievements of our first HSC cohort and wish each of them continued success as they begin the next stage of their lives journey. May the spirit of St Agnes stay strong in their hearts. 

As you will see from this newsletter, with the lifting of some COVID restrictions, many of the school activities have been able to resume. PDSSSC sport and many school events are returning. At this stage parents and visitors are still unable to attend most events but hopefully these restrictions will also ease soon. 

Next week we begin the Lenten journey where we are called to accompany Jesus on his journey to Calvary. In His immense suffering, Jesus continued to show mercy and forgiveness to those who had sentenced him to death. This highlights the importance of both asking for mercy of God and showing mercy to others within our own lives. As we reflect on our lives during this Lenten season, let us consider the things in which we ask God for mercy, and recall moments in which we have not shown mercy to others.  

This years theme for Project Compassion is “Be More”; we pray: 

God of all people and nations, 

As you accompany us on our Lenten journey, 

May our fasting strengthen our commitment to live in solidarity, 

Our almsgiving be an act of justice, and

Our prayers anchor us in love and compassion. 

Through living simply and loving generously, 

May we care for our global family and our common home, as we 

“aspire not to have more but to be more” * (St Oscar Romero) 

We ask this in Jesus, name, 


High Achievers


16 FebruaryCatch up photos, Shrove Tuesday (Buy some delicious pancakes)
17 FebruaryAsh Wednesday
26 FebruaryStaff Development Day
5 March

Swimming Carnival - Mt Druitt Pools

10 March (TBC)Virtual Open Evening 5pm (Zoom link will be provided)
17-19 MarchYear 7 Camp
24 MarchHarmony Day Celebrations
26 MarchCross Country, Year 12 Retreat, Year 7-11 Interim Reports issued
1 AprilEnd of Term 1
2 - 18 AprilSchool Holidays
19 AprilTerm 2 Commences

From the Assistant Principal (acting)/Head of Learning

Welcome to 2021! I do hope that after the challenges of 2020, this year is one filled with hope and promise for each member of our community. 

We have now embraced the term and all students and staff have once again begun the new academic year with interest and vigour. 

As we begin this new year, it is a timely reminder that your daughter/son returns to school in full summer uniform and fully compliant with all of our expectations.

Students with excess jewellery, extreme hairstyles, or for our male students, not clean shaven, will be required to address these issues as soon as possible. All parents are made aware of these expectations at the time of enrolment and we appreciate your ongoing support.

Last week, we reminded students about expectations regarding mobile phone use at school. Students can bring phones to school, as we know they are a communication tool between child and parent. However,  they are NOT allowed to use them during the day (class time, breaks or in meeting situations). If a teacher sees a student/s with their phone out, they will be warned and asked to put their phone away. However, if they persist, we will confiscate their phone and be in contact with parents. Also, please be aware that if  students use the cameras on their phones to film other students or staff without permission, often with the intent to share or distribute the footage via social media, they will face serious consequences. 

It is also timely that I remind all parents to please be aware of our neighbours when you are dropping off or collecting your child/children. Council rangers may appear at any time and please do not park in or across driveways.

Learning is our top priority at St Agnes and it is our intention to ensure that it is tailored for the students each lesson. Most students have seen our new learning space, Alverna, and for our Years 9 and 10 cohorts, they spend many a lesson in that environment. It is a new way of being for all, as the staff and students are embracing the notion inquiry. 

As everyone knows, 2020 saw our first Year 12 group attain their Higher School Certificate (HSC). We are incredibly proud of the Class of 2020 and we do wish them all the very best as they undertake a new pathway. Despite being the most challenging year for any student undertaking their final year of school, our students achieved great results across all areas. The students received a number of Band 6 and 5s, with Anthony Gagliardi being not only our School Dux, but our ATAR Dux as well! 

The results and other information provided by the HSC is of such value to our school as it helps us plan. The Leaders of Learning and teachers will continue to investigate these results to help all of students achieve their personal best throughout 2021.

A special welcome to our new Year 7 students (and their families); we do hope you enjoy what St Agnes has to offer. On Orientation Day last year, our Year 7 students undertook an assessment that provided us insights into their current literacy, numeracy and academic strengths as well as areas for development. This is crucial information to us as the students start in Year 7 classrooms where we can personalise the learning. The information from these assessments, along with primary school reports and NAPLAN information, have assisted us in our planning.

Study Skills Tip for February – Why do we have to complete homework?

Homework, or Home Learning as some schools now prefer to call it, serves many purposes. It may be to consolidate or check or extend the learning from the day, or prepare for the learning to come in subsequent days. It could be to do with longer term work such as assignments or preparing for tests and examinations. Ultimately it comes back to what school is all about – learning. And learning not just about learning content, but learning and developing skills. At times students feel that the work they are doing at school is not relevant to their lives, however sometimes we need to look beyond the content to the purpose of the learning exercise. At times the content will be a vehicle to teach particular skills. Much of what we learn in Mathematics develops the problem solving circuits in our brain. When you are analysing Shakespeare you are learning not just about Shakespeare, but to think critically and expand your point of view and broaden your experience of the world through examination of different lives, emotions and experiences. The message is that everything you learn at school has purpose and value, even if you can’t always quite see it at the time.

There is much debate in the media as to the value of homework. In Primary school it has been shown that only a small amount of students actually benefit from doing homework in terms of academic achievement. The exception to this is reading at home – every student benefits from this. However, other benefits can’t be discounted: developing independent working skills, establishing study routines necessary for learning in later years, helping students master things they are struggling with and allowing parental involvement.

In secondary school homework has been proven to be an essential component of academic success in the senior years. The reality of Year 11 and 12 is that a large component of independent learning needs to be undertaken at home. One of the biggest problems for students transitioning to the senior years is that they have not learnt to work effectively and efficiently in the home environment. This is why developing good habits and learning to do at least a solid hour a day of home study is essential in Years 7-10. It is also about developing the qualities of discipline and perseverance, both essential for senior studies. Students will not like every subject equally, so students need to learn how to make themselves do the work even for their least favourite subjects.

What can you do this year to manage your homework effectively? Try these top tips:

  1. GET ORGANISED STRAIGHT AWAY: As soon as you get home unpack your bag before you have a break and something to eat. Lay out all the work first. It is easier to get started if you have everything ready to go.
  2. PRIORITISE AND PLAN: Before you start work, write a list of what needs to be done and decide what order you will do it. Focus on what is most important, not just what subject you like best!  Also write down how long you think each task will take to do.
  3. DEVELOP THINKING PATHWAYS: Keep in your mind that it is all about learning. Try and look beyond the actual content to what type of skill this homework might be developing in you – analysing, critical thinking, writing skills, or problem-solving skills for example.
  4. CHUNK TIME INTO FOCUSED BLOCKS: Do your work in 20-30 minute blocks with no distractions during that time. So switch off the TV, turn off your phone for that 20-30 minutes. When you just focus on the work that needs to be done you’ll be amazed at how much work you complete. Of course if you are on a roll, you can keep going past the 30 minutes.
  5. ALTERNATE AND CHIP AWAY: If there is a task you really don’t want to do then alternate this with a task you enjoy doing. For example, 15 minutes on the homework you like, 5 minutes on the homework you don’t like. When you chip away at it you will be surprised how quickly you get through the work.


Learn more this year about how to improve your results and be more efficient and effective with your schoolwork by working through the units on  - our school’s access details are:

Username: stagnes

Password: 24success

Mr Geoffrey Kemmis

Acting Assistant Principal / Head of Learning

From the Head of Mission

Our journey to the St Agnes Way of Being and Becoming

I’d like to extend my warm welcome to all staff, students, parents, families and friends of St Agnes to our new school year. I am excited to invite you on the journey to the St Agnes Way of Being and Becoming, inspired by the Rationale of the Draft RE Curriculum.

 The 3H Paradigm ‘One Consciousness’ forms the St Agnes Way of Being and Becoming, using the Head ‘The Thinking Faith’, the Heart ‘Formation for Mission’ and the Hands ‘Faith in Action’ to guide all staff and students in living our pillars of compassion, dignity, integrity and inclusiveness through critical inquiry (across all disciplines) and intellectual formation, authentic opportunities for personal and communal prayer, dialogue and service to others.

Our mission this year is grow together as contemplatives in action, which means to think critically and deeply about our actions and its effect on ourselves and others. The staff at St Agnes began the school year with a liturgy and were given a flower in a pot as a symbol of growth in these changing times and how we can be sustained in our roles as educators. As Bishop Vincent said in his 2021 Address at the System Leaders, “For we belong to nature; nature does not belong to us. What the pandemic has taught us is that we must find new ways to strengthen our relationship with our Creator”.

Why is the new building named ‘Alverna’?

Our new Stage 5 learning space known as Alverna Centre holds a very significant meaning to our school community. Count Orlando of Chiusi gave La Verna to Francis on May 8, 1213 as a retreat especially favourable for contemplation, and in 1218 built him the chapel Santa Maria degli Angel (Mary in Heaven).

In August, 1224, frustrated by the changes in the Order of Friars Minor, Francis withdrew to La Verna to keep a forty days fast in preparation for the Feast of St Michael the Archangel. As he arrived he was allegedly received by a multitude of singing birds which surrounded St Francis, some perching upon his shoulders, some on his arms, and others at his feet. While praying on the mountain-side he received (on or about 14 September) the stigmata.

La Verna Forest is a natural haven, home to an extraordinary wealth of flora and fauna; with wildlife including deer, wild boar, wolves, as well as owls and peregrine falcons. The forest is kept by Franciscan friars. 

St Francis of Assisi receiving the stigmata portrays his holiness to do the will of God through a lifetime of imitating the Gospels and acknowledging his sacred place with God's creation. His stigmata signifies his friendship and most importantly his intimate relationship with Jesus, the source of his joy and suffering. St Francis of Assisi inspires in us that deep connection to the life of Christ so others may see his presence working deep within their lives that we aspire all St Agnes students to discover as they embark on a journey of faith. 

Opening School Mass - 10th February

On Wednesday, 10th February was the celebration of our Opening School Mass and we were blessed once again with the presence of Fr Alan Layt and Fr Galbert Albino from St Aidan’s Parish in Rooty Hill. The Gospel passage from John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches” reminds us that we cannot bear fruit without connecting to Christ, who gives us nourishment and the strength to overcome the challenges this year may bring.

A special part of our Mass was the Commissioning and Blessing of our School Leaders - School Captains, Student Representative Council and Portfolio leaders for 2021, new staff members and blessing of the Year 7 bibles. We wish them all the best in fulfilling their roles this year.

Join me in congratulating the St Agnes School Leaders for 2021:

School Captains:Julian Tan and Bianca Fragomeli
Year 8 SRC:Vishaka Maharaj and Dilan Salman
Year 9 SRC:Raphaelle Garcia and Zachary Arcilla
Year 10 SRC:Joleanne Magallanes and Randall De Leon
Year 11 SRC:Emma Johnston and Julia Freeman
Year 12 SRC Presidents:Elly Turney and Emmanuel Moyo
SRC Mentor:Miss Bronte Dunne & Mrs Saroja Dass
CATHOLIC IDENTITYDavid Miguel, Helena Soriano and Christian Ramos
MentorsMrs Mary Reyes, Mr Harry Sadsad and Mr Patrick Madigan
SOCIAL JUSTICEJames Que and Beatrix Favor
MentorsMrs Mary Reyes, Mr Harry Sadsad and Mr Patrick Madigan
WELLBEING &Gabriel Matocinos, Melos Kebede, Rojin Altun
PEER SUPPORTand Frerika Jane
MentorsMs Elizabeth Gale & Mr Luigi Zucco
PBS4LBenedict Macapagal and Bryon Murphy
MentorsMrs Jenet Chapman
EVENTSKrish Patel, Stela Kaway, Annabelle Kayrouz and Brooklyn O’Brien
MentorsMiss Josiah Raad, Ms Tara Stojanovski and Mrs Lauren Walters
ENVIRONMENTPrince Marcus Gonzales and Nadia Cunningham
MentorsMiss Ravneet Kaur
DIGITAL MEDIAGilaxan Sagayathasan, Erika Uy and Edric Certeza
MentorsMr Kristone Capistrano and Miss Silvana Dahdah
SPORTAnish Khadka and Kaila Buan
MentorsMr Luke Dempsey & Miss Natalie Collins
HOUSECHISHOLM - Summah Russell
 FRANCIS - Bianca Vultureanu
 MACKILLOP- Favor Gueh
 XAVIER- Mia Nikic
MentorsMr Luke Dempsey & Miss Natalie Collins

‘Be More’ Project Compassion 2021

As we begin our preparations for the Lenten season, a pancake stall will kick start our fundraising for the wonderful work of Caritas. This year we are trialling the availability for students to purchase pancakes via EFTPOS through our school canteen. On behalf of the Catholic Identity and Social Justice leaders, thank you for your support to Project Compassion this year.

Ash Wednesday – 17th February

This upcoming week the season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which also marks the beginning of the annual Caritas Australia Project Compassion Appeal. Donations to Project Compassion allows Caritas Australia, the Catholic Agency for International Aid and Development, to work with local communities around the world to alleviate poverty, hunger, oppression and injustice.

We encourage you to put your compassion into action this Lent through your prayer, fasting and almsgiving by supporting Project Compassion. You can donate online via the Caritas Australia website at:    

Saint Oscar Romero is our inspiration for Project Compassion 2021, so in his words let’s “Aspire not to have more, but to be more.”

Pace e bene,

Mrs Mary Reyes

Head of Mission

Around the Classrooms

Year 7 Transition into High School

Our new Year 7 cohort have had their first taste of high school and have been presented with many exciting opportunities. In order for success this year our new Year 7 students have been encouraged to grasp new skills and engage in new study practices such as self directed learning and research. These new responsibilities will require a new level of organisation, preparation and dedication. 

Students have begun the Peer Support program. Topics covered in the program include:

- settling in at St Agnes

- personal identity

- bullying

- team work

This is a wonderful opportunity for older students to develop leadership skills while providing Year 7 students with 'buddies' and the opportunity to get to know others in their year groups.

All students have the opportunity to engage in a Know Your Learner pastoral program that is timetabled every Friday period 2. Students will spend dedicated time each Friday morning with their Learning Advisor discussing topics relevant to their year level. Topics include resilience, wellbeing and mindfulness, study skills, organisation, stress management and pathway planning. 

'Our Place'

Our Place is a dedicated, supervised well-being space which is situated in a designated calming space. It’s purpose is to provide students experiencing feelings of intense anxiety or distress that preclude them from participating in their classes, with a supervised safe space to:

- unpack the cause of their stressors with support

- take some time to de-stress 

- work in a non threatening space with support

- regain their positive sense of wellbeing prior to returning to their learning environment.

Operation and Protocols

Our Place operates in two distinct ways:

  1. As part of the student’s Personalised Plan.

Personalised Planning meeting is conducted with the student’s support team including the student, parent/s, Learning Mentors, Leaders of Learning Pathways, Counselor, Family School Liaison Officer, and any other stakeholders.

2. A gradual re-integration program is devised, after a period of absence, in collaboration with all parties and regularly reviewed.

Information Software and Technology 200hrs

In IST we were looking at emerging interactive technology. Students created infographics that they then displayed in the classroom using Augmented Reality (AR). Here are some examples of students' work



Message from Samantha - Family School Liaison Officer

St Agnes Catholic High School offers families support with the following:

- Assistance with completing forms

- Centrelink

- Housing NSW 

- Advocacy  

- Court support 

- Financial hardship 

- Domestic and Family Violence

- Linking to services 

- Bill assistance through external services

- Food assistance through external services

- Health conditions 

- Mental Health 

This support is offered to families for free. Face to face and phone appointments are available, please contact me on 0427 068 429 (Monday - Friday, 7am - 2pm, during school term) or, If you would like to self refer, please click on the link

Samantha Padovani

Family School Liaison Officer

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