Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College - eNewsletter

Volume 27 Edition 1 - February 2022

Welcome to Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College eNewsletter

From the Head of College

A warm and heartfelt WELCOME to all our Families, Staff and Students and as we commence this hopefully steady 2022 Academic year.  Praying this year runs slightly more smoothly for all and that through each person's efforts with everyone able to achieve success with their endeavours. 

Apart from welcoming all our returning students, families and staff, in particular I welcome all our new incoming Kindergarten students and their families, along with all new students (Yrs 1 - 11) and the families commencing  in their respective year groups throughout the College.

It also gives me great pleasure to welcome the following new member of Staff, and returning members of Staff from their Maternity Leave and hope their time in the St Mark's Coptic Orthodox family is rewarding and fruitful for both themselves and also the students they will be caring and instructing:

Miss Jessica Meleka - Primary

Mrs Renee Sidhom - Primary

Mrs Engy Hanna - Primary

Miss Rachel Bestawros - in the Learning Support Unit for Primary.

HSC 2021

My CONGRATULATIONS to the Yr 12 Class of 2021 and each of their teachers on the brilliant achievements following the 2021 HSC Results released in mid-January. (Summary Ads included).  Every student of the 58 in the cohort worked hard to achieve their respective best and like all other Yr 12 students everywhere, had to manage and excel in a predominately on-line learning environment. 

A very special mention and CONGRATULATIONS to Philo Daoud who achieved 1ST IN STATE in Mathematics Extension 1 - A brilliant achievement for Philo and we congratulate him and his family on this, the 3rd time SMCOC has achieved 1st in State in NSW since it commenced in 1996.

Congratulations to those achieving Band 6's and to each of our students who worked hard towards their personal best efforts during such a difficult period of teaching and learning. Each earned these results and we are duly proud of their respective achievements.

Nonetheless, Mathematics, English and Science certainly deserve special mention as collectively, their results were consistently above state averages for their courses.  Overall SMCOC received a State standing of 83th in the State across 880 secondary schools: made up of 24th in Mathematics Advanced & Extensions; 69th in English Advanced.  This is indeed an phenomenal effort and result!  (Only English & Maths show state standings hence why Science is not indicated with a standing). Under the challenging circumstances experienced in 2021, the result was nonetheless a BRILLIANT achievement from all.  Bravo and Well done!


I would again like to re-iterate and ask parents to PLEASE NOT use the STAFF CAR PARK to drop off or wait to collect children AT ANY TIME, including going to the Uniform Shop or for Office business/enquiries.

The Car Park is to be used solely by STAFF at the College.  It is already crowded, VERY difficult to manoeuvre and far more difficult to see anyone whilst trying to park so we must all be extra careful.  Staff members leave and return throughout the day attending their meetings and school related tasks and so we cannot continue to waste valuable time trying to find who owns the vehicle left blocking entry/exit accesses and where are they to be found in the school.

Unauthorised vehicles seen parked in the Staff Car Park/Driveway will be towed at the owners cost.  The College has no liability for anyone's vehicle within the Car Park and is not liable for any damage caused.  Please ensure others (who may not read this newsletter) collecting or dropping off your children are made aware of these requirements.

Traffic Drop Off and Collection 

Please understand that like every school in the City, ours also suffers with the issues of problematic parking and collections issues.  In all cases, parents and guardians must understand that the school endeavours to do its best in having students collected and exiting students safely and in a timely and orderly manner. 

However, no school or school personnel has any authority outside of the school fence.  The traffic laws are for all road users to ensure the traffic requirements are observed, safely and within the law.   Parents are continuing to stop incorrectly and illegally holding up other traffic who are trying to get on with their business and get through.  Additionally, our neighbours MUST BE respected and not have to deal with parents parking across their driveways or parents sitting on their fences or people leaving their snack rubbish outside their yards; or even being verbally abused when approached by neighbours wishing to enter/exit their driveways. 

We ask and plead with each of you to be courteous, patient and to maintain the road rules at all times as we cannot override these Road Laws and subsequent fines that may be administered by the Police or Traffic Wardens.  Council Rangers and Police have asked that parents wishing to walk their children to and from the school then park in parking areas free of signage and time restraints, and then walk children in and back.

Drivers are NOT to remain stationery in their vehicles outside the school blocking through traffic.  If you wish to arrive early, then please go and park your cars and walk to the gate and remain standing there whilst observing the Covid distance requirement to collect your child or children and then walk back to your car.   

Students aged 12+ travelling to and from school

A reminder that currently and until further official notice is received, that it is compulsory for ALL students travelling to and from school using public buses or trains, or privately owned bus services wear a mask at all times whilst travelling.

Rapid Antigen Tests & Activities

Last Friday, all present at school should have received their 4-pack RAT tests which are recommended to be used twice per this week and next week.  Email notifications were sent to all parents and staff regarding this and students absent on Friday are welcome to come to the office to collect their designated 4-pack.

If students are found to be positive, they are to remain isolated for 7 days and work for the classes will be available via their Google Class log in.  Regardless of the 7 day isolation period, students need to have a negative reading prior to returning to school.  Parents are to advise ServiceNSW and the school if students or members of their immediate family are found with a positive reading.

Masks are encouraged to be worn by secondary students, and indeed primary students if they wish (recommended, but not law).  Staff and attending adults must wear masks whilst on the school's premises.  

Some activities will be resuming however these are all dependent on any current notifications forwarded to the school by the Authorities.

Early bird Liturgies will resume on a term time weekly basis from Thursday 10 Feb between 6 - 8 am.  All attending must be masked and scan the QR code on entering.

Highest Overall Achievers 2021

From our College Chaplain Very Rev Fr George Nakhil

On 17 February, the Coptic Church celebrates what is often called “Jonah’s Feast,” after concluding a 3-day fast known as “Jonah’s” fast (14-16 Jan), which is an observance exclusive to the Oriental Orthodox. How did it originate and what is its purpose? 

1) “Jonah’s Fast” may be a misnomer. It was actually originally called the Fast of Nineveh. According to an ancient Arabic manuscript preserved in the Vatican Library,  a few hundred years after the fast was instituted, a man named Gregory Bar-Hebraeus called it “The fast of Nineveh” and never once referred to it as Jonah’s Fast.

2) It is debated whether the Ninevites fasted 3 days, or 40.  We presume the number of days based on the amount of time Jonah says God is giving them to turn from their ways. According to the Hebrew text, Jonah 3:4 says 40. But according to the Septuagint, the biblical translation of the Old Testament known to and used by the apostles and early Christians, the number is 3. Three days makes more sense because no food or water for an entire city for all living beings in it including animals seems much more doable than 40 days.

3) This is a “relatively” new fast in the Coptic Church, only about 1,000 years old, adopted from the Syriac Church by the same Coptic Pope associated with the miracle of the Mokattam Mountain.  The fast was  originally promulgated by the Maphrian of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the year 536 AD, in response to a plague that was occurring at that time. The Coptic Patriarch, Abraham, who was Syrian, and who was the same pope associated with the miraculous moving of the Mokattam mountain, instituted the fast in the 10th century.

4) We don’t know what creature swallowed Jonah. The Greek word referring to this event in the Septuagint and by Christ in Matthew 12:40 refers to a “large sea creature.”  

5) In Arabic “Jonah’s Feast” is also referred to as Jonah’s Passover. Christ said that just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and came out alive, so too would Christ Himself be in the tomb for three days and then rise from the dead. This symbolic connection between Jonah and Jesus was brought forward by Christ Himself: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). Death did not hold Christ, and likewise Jonah was not held by the figurative death in the great fish. Maybe it is called Jonah’s Passover because, for Jonah, death passed over him rather than succumbing to it.


The purpose for me of this fast is to get ready for the Great Fast that is just around the corner. I’ll close with this homily by St. John Chrysostom, showing God’s mercy in declaring the consequence of sin, in order for us to avoid the consequence, not so that He may exact it up on us:

"The threat of hell show the care of God for us no less than the promises of heaven. For the threat cooperates with the promise, and drives men into the kingdom by means of terror. Let us not think it a matter of cruelty, but of pity and mercy; of God’s concern and love for us. If in the days of Jonah the destruction of Nineveh had not been threatened, that destruction would have not been averted. Nineveh would not have stood but for the threat, “Nineveh shall be overthrown” [Jonah 3:4]. And if hell had not been threatened, we should all have fallen into hell. If the fire had not been denounced, no one would have escaped the fire. God declares that He will do that which He desires not to do, that He may do that which He desires to do. He wills not the death of a sinner, and therefore He threatens the sinner with death, that He may not have to inflict death. And not only has He spoken the word, but He has exhibited the thing itself, that we may escape it." [Homily 15 on First Timothy]

Posted on February 1, 2018 by 


From the Deputy Head of College Mrs Deborah Grohala

Welcome back to all students and their families and a special welcome to our many new students and families who are joining us for the first time this year. Below are some important details for parents regarding operational and organisational structures as well as student requirements.

Covid 19

As mentioned by Mr Tsoutsa we continue to work closely with NSW Health and other key government agencies in planning and managing school operations for reducing the potential risk of COVID-19 transmission in our school. Our plan is for business as usual undertaken in a COVID-safe way by implementing risk assessment processes and risk mitigation strategies.


It has been widely reported in the media that many schools may experience a reduction in staffing in the weeks ahead. We hope that the changes to the definitions of close contacts, and the exemption for school staff to leave isolation if they are a household contact will assist us to minimise staff shortages at St Mark’s. We believe that the continuity of education is crucial and that face to face learning will remain our first option. At times however we may have to engage casual teachers who are teaching out of their subject area, combine classes, arrange for senior students undertake independent study, implement hybrid learning models or in extreme cases transition to remote learning. We ask for your support and understanding in implementing these operational decisions.

Student Attendance

Under the Education Act students are required to attend school unless they have a valid reason not to do so. There is no provision available for an exemption from attendance to be granted for COVID related absences. Understandably we acknowledge that there may be higher numbers of student absence due to illness or because they are deemed a close contact and as such content for each lesson will be available on Google Classroom enabling students to work from home or catch up on content missed when they were unwell. Please contact your child’s teacher in the junior school or their House Patron in the secondary school for further information.

Home – College Communication

The College publishes a Newsletter twice per term which is available via the College website.

·         SEQTA is the online parent portal used in the Senior School where parents can access up-to-date information quickly and easily about the school and their child’s learning.

·         Class Dojo is used to communicate general information for K-6 and also directly with parents.

In addition phone calls and emails are also ways for parents to communicate directly with teachers.

2022 Management Team and Coordinators The College Management Team and Coordinators can be found on the Staff Directory page located at the front of your child’s diary or on the College website here

Student diaries Student diaries for K-12 will be distributed to students this week. School diaries are essential to each student’s organisation of their homework, assessments and school activities and include dates of school events and relevant policies and procedures. Diaries are not to be decorated and if lost or damaged, students will be required to purchase a replacement at $25. Parents/carers are asked to sign page 3, General Permission Notice, which will be collected and filed by either the classroom teacher in the Junior School or House Patron in the Senior School.

Uniform standards On page 15 and 16 the School Diary explains the correct wearing of the College uniform. All uniform and equipment items should be clearly labelled with your child’s name and class/year. All efforts will be made to return unlabelled items Lost property will be kept for 2 weeks.

If a student does not wear their uniform correctly, they may receive an infringement from a teacher. In the Senior School, repeated warnings regarding a uniform infringement may result in a Friday afternoon detention from 3.15-4:14pm. Parents will be informed in writing if an afternoon detention occurs.

Girls’ hair, must be kept off faces and shoulders regardless of length. Jewellery for girls is limited to simple single pair earrings of studs or sleepers worn in the lower ear lobe. No make-up or nail polish is allowed. All girls’ skirts must be knee length.

Boys' hair must be conservative in nature cut short to one length. It must not touch the collar or extend below the eye brows and is not allowed to be tied or pinned back. No mullets or shaved sections of hair. Hair must not be shorter than a blade 3. Boys must wear a black leather belt, with top button done up and shirt tucked in.

Mobile phones Students are not permitted to use mobile phones during school hours. If a parent/carer needs to contact their child, they should call the College reception for a message to be sent. Secondary students using a mobile phone at school will have their phone confiscated by either the DHoC or Director of Secondary Students until the end of the day and can exchange it for an After School Detention.

Dates for the Diary

Wednesday 9 – Friday 11th February – Year 7 Camp Narrabeen Sport and Recreation Centre

Friday 25th February – 7-12 Swimming Carnival, Whitlam Leisure Centre, Liverpool

Monday 4th March – 3-6 School Swimming Carnival Max parker Aquatic Centre, Revesby

Friday 25th March – K-12 School Photographs

Monday 28th March – K-6 School Athletics Carnival, Campbelltown Athletics Stadium

Friday 8th April – Last Day of Term 1

From the Head of Teaching and Learning 7-12: Mr Peter Joseph

Welcome to 2022

I wish all parents and students a wonderful 2022 ahead. Over the coming weeks, students and parents can expect to see Seqta populated with the year's course information that will assist expectations and guide preparations moving forward.

Seqta is the destination to keep up-to-date on course information. If you are having difficulties accessing, please contact myself or Mr Metira. 

Study Skills Tip for February  

  • Should you type or handwrite study notes?
  • If the exam will be handwritten, students are better to handwrite study notes. This creates muscle memory and helps student practice their handwriting skills. However, many students prefer to type their study notes as it is so much easier to organize the information.

    If students choose to type, when they are learning their notes they need to read a section, see what they can write down without looking and check and see if they were correct. This will help them practise their handwriting skills while committing the information to memory.

     2. How can students get more organised?

    The first step is to work out what area of organisation you want to target. Books, computer files, locker, diary, desk, folders…the list goes on. There is no point saying to a student ‘you need to be more organised’. Instead, identify an area where there could be improvement. Then, with your student, work out specific strategies to implement to address this issue. Once this issue is under control, then move onto the next problem.

    3. What time should students go to bed?

  • Although it varies, most students need at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Therefore work backwards, allow an hour or so for students to get ready for bed and fall asleep, then work backwards to the time they need to get up for school. Have students pay attention to how they feel in the morning – they may need less or more sleep than the average.
  • Parents and students can learn more about studying efficiently and effectively by working through the units on school’s access details are:

    Username: stmarks

    Password: 52success

    Technology Updates - Mr Remon Metira

    SEQTA in 2022 (Years 7 - 12)

    Starting from 2022; all Years 7-12 Parents and students are encouraged to access their SEQTA module and benefit from it as stated below:

    SEQTA Teach, includes curriculum planning, mapping, assessment and reporting, pastoral care and analytics and is used by the staff.

    SEQTA Learn, is the student online portal. This portal is accessible on any device over the internet and at school. Thereby giving students access to everything they need to learn more effectively, and tools that allow them to stretch themselves, be more interactive with what they are learning and achieve better outcomes.

    SEQTA Engage, is the online portal for parents/guardians so you can access up-to-date information quickly and easily about the school and your child/ren learning.

    Don't hesitate to contact me on if you have any queries or issues.


    As has been advertised over the past 2 years, the start of 2022 means all students in Years 7-9 should have a Chromebook (this is the only device permitted for Years 7-9). Student access to these devices will ensure a greater variety of learning experiences within the classroom. 

    Also, it is highly recommended for students in Years 5 & 6 to bring their Chromebooks if they have one.

    BYO-Chromebook : Years 5-9

    BYO-Device: Years 10-12

    More Info:

    Stay informed with the SkoolBag App

    Upcoming Dates

    Term 1 - 2022


    3 Feb    K-12 Student & Class/Year Groups Annual Photos

    4 Feb   Yr 7 Friday Year Group Liturgy Periods 1 & 2

    10 Feb   Thursday early-bird Liturgy 6 - 8 am (masks to be worn)

    9 - 11 Feb   Yr 7 Orientation Camp - Narrabeen Sports Complex

    11 Feb   Friday's Year Group Liturgy Periods 1 & 2

    17 Feb   Thursday early bird Liturgy 6 - 8 am (masks to be worn)

    18 Feb   Friday Year Group Liturgy P 1 & 2

    24 Feb   Thursday Early Bird Liturgy 6 - 8 pm (masks to be worn)

    25 Feb   Friday Year Group Liturgy P 1 & 2

    Main Construction Project Update 1 Feb 22

    Jazzy Juniors Updates