St Agnes Catholic High School

May Newsletter - Term 2, Week 10 2021

From the Principal

Refugee Week in Australia is always held from Sunday to Saturday of the week which includes 20 June (World Refugee Day). The event provides a platform where positive images of refugees can be promoted in order to create a culture of welcome throughout the country. The ultimate aim of the celebration is to create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration enabling refugees to live in safety and to continue making a valuable contribution to Australia. This year's theme is “Unity”, our Harmony Day celebrations highlighted how powerful unity is in untapping potential and creating positive relationships. 

A Litany for refugees

1. Jesus, you and your family knew what it was like to live in a country where people were not safe. May those who flee their own country find a new home that is safe.

2. Jesus, you and your family knew the terror and sorrow of leaving your home and country. May the refugees today find safety and ways to heal in a new place.

3. Jesus you and your family returned home when it was safe. May countries become more safe so refugees can go home if they wish to.

4. Jesus you stood up for those who were being badly treated. Help us to find ways to speak up for the sake of those seeking asylum in our country.

5. Jesus, you welcomed the stranger. Help us to welcome all those refugees who seek a safe home in Australia.

6. Jesus, you gave us the example of caring for everyone. May we follow you and have love and compassion for refugees

Reports, Student Led Conferences and student free days: 

A reminder that there are no classes for Year 7-10 on Thursday 24 June to allow for daytime meetings with the students' Learning Advisers. Students only need to attend school if they have an interview that day (full uniform is to be worn). This meeting, led by the student, is an opportunity to hear of their progress to date and to set goals for Semester Two.  Please ensure you book a time through:    

Year 11 and 12 are engaged in other learning activities on this day. 

Friday 25 June is the Staff Spirituality Day - this is a pupil free day. On this day, our staff will be learning from and working with local organisations who provide important services to the most vulnerable in our community. Throughout the day, we will be enacting the head, hearts and hands philosophy of the Parramatta Religious Education program, Living Life to the Full. 

Wishing all students, a well deserved break.  I hope that you are all able to enjoy some quality time as a family and that if you are going away anywhere that you have safe journeys.

Lisa-Maree Browning



23 JuneYears 7 - 10 Student Led Conferences 3pm - 5:30pm
24 JuneYears 7 - 10 Student Led Conferences 8:15 - 2:25pm, Stage 6 Study Day ALV2/3, Year 12 @ Western Sydney Careers Expo
25 JuneStaff Spirituality Day - No school for students
25 June - 9 JulySchool Holidays
5 - 9 JulyYear 12 Study Week
12 JulyTerm 3 Commences
16 JulyAthletics Carnival, CSDA debating competition Quarter Final
26 July - 10 AugustTrial HSC
26 July - 14 AugustYear 11/2022 Subject Selection Interviews
30 JulyCSDA Debating Competition - Grand Final
4 AugustYears 7-11 Australian Maths Competition

From the Assistant Principal - Learning Transformation

We are almost half way through our academic year and the staff and students have been busy in all aspects of learning. 

It is reporting time for Years 7 - 10, as Year 12 received their Semester 1 report earlier in the term and Year 11 will be given their report early Term 4. All parents of our Stage 4 and 5 students have received communication about the distributions of the reports and when we will be having our Student Led Conferences. 

When teachers issue a grade, they use a common grade scale (see below) in order to ensure that this is a true reflection of a student’s ability. As you know, we have a detailed assessment plan for every year group and the students are expected to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, understanding and application thereof. The class teacher then uses the formal assessment mark, together with their own professional knowledge in order to award a grade. Please be aware that if a student hands in a task late or fails to submit one at all, this action will adversely affect the grade awarded.

Common Grade Scale


AThe student has an extensive knowledge and understanding of the content and can readily apply this knowledge. In addition, the student has achieved a very high level of competence in the processes and skills and can apply these skills to new situations.
BThe student has a thorough knowledge and understanding of the content and a high level of competence in the processes and skills. In addition, the student is able to apply this knowledge and these skills to most situations.
CThe student has a sound knowledge and understanding of the main areas of content and has achieved an adequate level of competence in the processes and skills
DThe student has a basic knowledge and understanding of the content and has achieved a limited level of competence in the processes and skills.

The student has an elementary knowledge and understanding in few areas of the content and has achieved very limited competence in some of the processes and skills.

Our Year 12 students have recently been issued their Trial Timetable (see below) and the teachers have prepared a Study Week from 5th - 9th July. The students must make the most of every option available to them as they prepare for the Trial HSC. In many respects, the exams confirm for the students what they know, but more importantly, highlights the key areas that must be addressed prior to the actual HSC in October.

At the conclusion of this term, all students need to reflect on their own learning goals and consider what it is that they want to achieve in the second semester. 

Study Skills Tip for June – Multitasking - myth or reality?

Ask any student and they will tell you they can multitask with ease. Do homework, watch TV, listen to music and check their phone all at the same time, no problem. Ask the academic researchers though and a different story emerges.

Dr Larry Rosen, Professor of Psychology at California State University, explains that what is actually occurring in this ‘multi-tasking’ is ‘task switching’. Instead of doing two things at once, students are actually switching their focus from one task to another and back again, in a parallel fashion, at high speed, resulting in them staying on task for an average of only 65% of the time period and for a maximum of only 3-5 minutes at a time. Constant task-switching results in it taking much longer to complete the individual tasks not just due to the interruptions, but also because there are delays as the brain switches between tasks and refocuses.  This brief bottleneck in the prefrontal cortex delays the start of the next task and the more intense the distraction, the longer it will take the brain to react.

A study conducted by Dr Rosen’s team sent varying numbers of text messages to students in a lecture then tested the students on the content of the lecture. The results were surprising, it was not the number of interruptions that negatively impacted results, it was the time taken by the students to react to the interruptions. Students who responded immediately performed worst on the tests. Those who considered when to check the message and respond (ie in a part of a lecture they deemed less relevant) performed significantly better. 

What we can learn from this is that students need to become more aware of their ‘task-switching’ and make conscious decisions as to when they choose to shift their focus – instead of being enslaved by their technology and at its constant beck and call. We need to teach students that this constant mental task shifting (even thinking about the technology has the same effect as actually checking the technology) takes oxygen and brain activity away from what they are learning. We need to convince our students that it is ok and even necessary to wait, that they don’t have to respond immediately and do have the ability to delay their check-in with the cyber world. It is all about learning that we can control our selective attention and choose to ignore distractions.

We need to train the brain to stop thinking constantly about technology. However, resistance for too long can create anxiety and a fear of missing out, creating ‘continuous partial attention’ in students as oxygen is diverted to activate and maintain thoughts about social media at the expense of classroom material.

Dr Rosen’s team has determined the best approach for students who find it difficult to pull back from their technology devices is to set an alarm on their phone for short regular ‘tech breaks’. They may start with 15 minutes and gradually increase this amount over time to around 30 minutes. The phone will be face down on their desk on silent mode or off, and when the alarm rings they let themselves check messages and status updates for a minute or two, then set the alarm again. Dr Rosen’s studies found that knowing they can check in 15 minutes creates less anxiety, whereas depriving them of the phone completely did not stop them thinking or obsessing about possible e-communications which took away from their ability to focus fully on their homework. It all comes back to teaching the concept of focus.

Finally, Dr Rosen argues that we cannot simply remove technology and other distractions; they are too intricately woven into students' daily lives. Instead students should learn metacognitive skills to help them understand when and how to switch their attention between multiple tasks or technologies.

Visit the Dealing with Distractions unit at to learn more about managing your distractions and tools and Apps that can help.

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Mr Kemmis

Assistant Principal - Learning Transformation

From the Assistant Principal - School Culture

The safety of all members of our community is the highest priority at St Agnes. For our community to stay safe we need everyone to contribute to safe and supportive behaviours. One area where we can all set good examples is ​Road Safety. Internally we recently completed our evaluation of our processes. While our processes are strong, and we have good measures in place we still need support from our parents and carers to ensure that this is followed by all.

In the morning there are often large amounts of sun glare that can make visibility quite difficult, so I plead for anyone who drives to drive below the 40KM speed limit. Many parents and carers also drop their children off across the road and encourage or allow them to run across the road in front of the main gate. This is very unsafe as not only the glare, but the steep rise to the top of the hill makes it near impossible to see cars that are coming. Over the last few weeks, I have personally watched many near misses with parents, carers, and students running across the road sometimes in front of buses and cars. Our teachers try to ensure safety while we are on duty in the morning and afternoons, but I ask for support from our whole community to ensure that we are all safe. Please use the crossing so that we can all get to and from school safely.

The school gate is closed each morning and afternoon during peak times to ensure that students can move across the driveway and make their way to the crossing. 

During the last weeks, it has become very cold. While many of our students have adequate uniforms, there seems to be a small number of students who feel the need to wear non-uniform items. If the weather requires this, we ask that this be covered completely by our uniform. Wearing thermal undergarments is a great way to stay warm and ensure that our uniform is worn correctly. If anyone needs an item of clothing our Uniform Shop is open each Monday from 8am - 12pm and Wednesday from 12pm - 4pm. If there are financial concerns, please direct your students to their Leaders of Learning Pathways who will be able to assist. Alternatively, parents and carers can contact Paul Thompson our Business Manager.

Last week I was fortunate enough to be able to conduct enrolment interviews for our 2022 Year 7 cohort and many of the parents commented on our adherence to our processes and uniform as to why they feel St Agnes is such a good choice for their child. Wearing our uniform is the first step in students showing that they wish to be part of our community and that they value what we stand for. Being prepared for lessons each day ensures that teachers can focus on teaching and learning.

Mr Hilder

Acting Assistant Principal - School Culture

From the Head of Mission

Lifted Live - Breakfast with the Bishop

Pace e Bene

On Thursday 10th June, four students from year 12, Bianca Fragameli, Elly Turney, John Vaka and Prince Marl Gonzales II, along with Mr Zucco, attended ‘Lifted Live 2- Breakfast with the Bishop. At this conference, students were spoken to by Bishop Vincent Long, Bishop of the Diocese of Parramatta, along with Mr Greg Whitby, on the topic of how the youth are the leaders of tomorrow in promoting Religious Education. Students were interacting with a variety of other schools from the Diocese to develop opinions on contemporary Religious Education and to make suggestions for improvement going forward. The topics will be adapted to how schools will adapt to the future and to become more inclusive. Bianca and Elly were invited to voice their opinions on the student conference, and how they felt the experience was via the CEDP - media team.

Some insights on the conference from Elly;

“A lot of students wanted the same thing. A lot of students wanted the syllabus to be more open than just Christianity. They wanted perspectives  from other religions throughout  all years/ programs.”

St Agnes Day / Feast of the Sacred Heart

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love” (Jn 15:9)

Last Friday, 11th June, we as a school community came together to celebrate our Patron Saint; St Agnes and the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The mass was celebrated by Father Pat Mullins, and was a wonderful time that we could come together and reflect on the mission of the church as well as the significance behind the Feast day.

Throughout the Mass we were constantly reminded of the quote from 1 John 4:19: We love because He first loved us. This linked well with the Feast of St Agnes as she sacrificed herself for God, to obtain his love and grace. We too strive to do the same. The symbolism behind the Sacred Heart links back to the passion of Jesus, for when the soldiers were told to break the legs of those who had been crucified along with Jesus, they did so, however when they got to Jesus, they noticed his were already broken. So to ensure his death, one of them lanced his side, and blood flowed from the wound. The symbol of the heart portrays the love Jesus had towards humanity and God, the crown of thorns and the pierced heart reflecting his Passion, and the flame representing the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Around the Classrooms


After six weeks of fierce arguing, the regular rounds of the Catholic Schools Debating Competition have come to an end with the exciting news that our Year 7 team coached by Mr Neilson has made it straight through to the quarter finals next term, undefeated. This is a great accomplishment for the team!

Commiserations to our Year 9 team who were unlucky not to make it through to the Elimination round with four from six wins and a narrow loss in the final round to Nagle College. All our teams can feel very proud of their efforts throughout the competition as it was the first time debating for all students given that St Agnes has not been part of the competition for the last few years. As such it was a steep learning curve, particularly for our Senior teams, who were often up against more experienced teams, but all students acquitted themselves well and grew in their debating skills each round. 

It was also a step up for the students who volunteered as chairpersons and timekeepers when St Agnes hosted in Round 1 and 4. Thanks to all our student helpers and supporters, to the teachers who gave up their Friday evenings to support teams each round, to all our adjudicators, to Ms Browning, Mr Kemmis, Mr Hilder, Mr Thompson and Mr Khan, and our IT team without whose support we could not run debating. 

A big thanks as well to Ms Bronte Dunne and Ms Silvana Dahdah who did an excellent job of preparing our debating teams during ELP on Thursday afternoons and weekly lunchtime meetings. 

And finally, congratulations and thanks to all our debaters and coaches for taking on the challenge of debating this year. We wish our Year 7 team great success in the Quarter finals in Term 2.

Debating Teams 2021

Year 7:  Amanda Buenaventura, Chloe Favor, Lincoln Johnston, John Jose, Andrea Plaatjes, Mr Daniel Neilson (coach) 

Year 8: Linda Alkhouri, Angel Boniba, Isha Maharaj, Angelica Prasad, Ishaal Siddique

Ms Natalie Udovicic  (coach) 

Year 9: Purva Kumar, Anjali Sharma, Aarya Mehta, Ms Silvana Dahah (coach) 

Year 10: Akon Angara, Favour Gueh, Stela Kaway, Melos Kebede, Joleanne Magallanes, Esha Maharaj, Ms Bronte Dunne (coach) 

Seniors: Pranay Chand, Abhitesh Kumar, Abhishek Maharaj, Rehann Malik, Ryanne Ocampo, Tiana Baxter, Ms Christine Payne/ Mr Patrick Loughlin (coaches)

Timekeepers and Chairperson/helpers

Mariam Namrawi, John Jose, Diya Prasad, Joleanne Magallanes, Michelle Clarke, Josephine Lotovale, Alannah Martin, Layton Rearden, Vansh Thakker

Debating Photos


On Wednesday 9th of June, our Year 12 Advanced English class and I trekked into the city to view the Sport for Jove production of "The Tempest" by Wlliam Shakespeare at the Seymour Centre, Chippendale. The class is studying the play as part of the HSC Module A: Textual Conversations along with the novel Hagseed by Margaret Atwood. After the cancellation of live performances last year, it was great to see a vibrant, modern performance of Shakespeare live on stage. While it is only a small class, I was grealy impressed by the behaviour and enthusiasm of each student and their engagement with one of Shakespeare’s masterworks.

Mr Patrick Loughlin,

English Leader of Learning

"Watching the performance live brought all of the elements of the play to life, giving every word, expression, movement, and interaction a whole new meaning. After watching the ways in which this production put on "The Tempest", I have a greater appreciation for the Shakesperean play, as well as theatre as a whole. Watching it live helped my understanding of the subtleties within the play, as well as allowed for deeper conceptual thinking about the text as a whole and how certain production elements were effectively employed to convey meaning." - Farida Zaheer, Year 12 Advanced

Year 11 Biology Field Trip to Penrith Lakes - 2021

Year 11 Biologists braved the cool weather on Tuesday morning the 8th June to conduct their Field Study at Penrith Lakes.

Their mission was to collect abiotic and biotic data to solve the inquiry question: 

How healthy is the ecosystem at Penrith Lakes?

Students conducted water bird observations, collected quantitative abiotic data, and the most exciting collection involved sampling the water bug population using dip nets. Our future Biologists found a variety of macroinvertebrates including dragonfly nymphs, water boatmen, caddisfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. 

The culprit of a local extinction event, the small but devastating mosquito fish, was successfully caught by one of our Biologists. The green and gold bell frog is now extinct in this area as the mosquitofish eat the larvae of not only mosquitoes but the eggs of the Bell Frogs as well.

Students concluded the day with a lecture style wrap up at the Penrith Lakes Environmental Education Centre and will now spend the next week processing & analysing their data as well as conducting extra research to complete their Depth Study. 

The staff from the Education Center commented on how well behaved our students were and how willing they were to get in and have a go when collecting their data. To put this comment into context the center in a normal year can have up to 10,000 students come through. This is a great reflection of our students. 

We (the Year 11 Biology teachers) are really looking forward to reading the students’ Depth Study journal articles.

Mrs R Cruickshank

Leader of Learning Science

Biology Field Trip to Penrith Lakes

Careers Advisor


Term 2 2021 eSafety Webinars for Parents/Carers

Dear Parents/Carers 

Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) sees parents and carers as partners in your child's learning journey. In partnership with the eSafety Commissioner, CEDP would like to invite you to join the following free webinar for parents and carers:

 eSafety's guide to parental controls - Thursday 24 June 2021, 12:30 -1.30 pm 

 This live webinar explores the latest research and is a great way to learn how you can help your child develop the skills to be safer online. The session is delivered by the eSafety Commission’s expert educators.

About the webinar

 eSafety's guide to parental controls  

This webinar will look at how parents and carers can set up devices and apps to help kids and young people stay safe online. It is designed for parents and carers of children aged 4-13. It will cover: 

  • the benefits and limitations of parental controls

  • how to set up iOS and Android devices for safety

  • how to set up popular games and apps like YouTube and Roblox for safety

  • using family tech agreements and other parenting strategies to manage online risks

  • how eSafety can help when things go wrong.

 What you need to do

Please register for the course on the secondary site via the following link: 

If you have any further enquiries please email

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