Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College - Newsletter

Volume 24 Edition 7 - September 2019

Welcome to St Mark's College eNewsletter

Head of College

Future Enrolment Applications for 2021, 2022 & 2023

As enrolments for 2020 Kindergarten and 2020 Year 7 were closed late 2018 I strongly urge all existing families of SMCOC to please submit and activate upcoming children for any Kindergarten class for 2021, 2022 and 2023.  Please Note:  although exiting families take precedence, we cannot include any child for entry/enrolment unless completed Applications are submitted formally following all requirements. 

To leave the Application process too late may mean the Kindergarten class has already filled and then your child's name will need to enter the Waiting List.

Kindergaten 2021 has reached 80% confirmed enrolments, and 2022 is not far behind.  

There are very few positions still available for 2021 Kindergarten and 2021 Year 7 so if you are a current parent and have not yet done so, PLEASE contact Mrs Mervat Sidhom on 9825 6768 to outline what is required and then complete this process as quickly as is possible.

Year 12 Valedictory Events this month

It's hard to believe that our Year 12 students have come close to the end of their daily studies.  Year 12 Valedictory Events this year have all been set for THURSDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER.

  • Commencing at 8:30 - 11 am will be a Valedictory Liturgy for K - 12
  • Short break/intermission
  • Leading to the Graduation Presentation expected to conclude at approximately 12:30 pm.
  • Later that day, Year 12 students and their parents will gather for the GRADUATION DINNER held at The Grand Roxy along with their teachers and Board representation.

We all wish our amazing students every success as they then undertake the preparations in study towards the upcoming HSC exams, commencing on Thursday, 17 October until early November.

Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Program Commences

Duke of Edinburgh Weekend

After a number of years of inactivity, the Duke of Edinburgh Program was resurrected at St Mark's Coptic Orthodox College through the initiation of some interested families, and the volunteering and commitment to the program of our Staff who would act as trained leaders to the Group.

Four Staff volunteered and subsequently trained as Group Leaders in preparation, and prior to the Program commencing - Miss Chalitta (main organiser), Miss Rizk, Mr Jones and Mr Talevski.

Last Saturday and Sunday, the first activity for Bronze Level was undertaken with a weekend Camp at Somerset Outdoor Learning Centre - Colo River led by Miss Chalitta and Mr Jones.  Two gruelling days of inclement weather, hiking on difficult terrain was the norm.  Our students pushed through all their emotions in order to finish everything and at the end of it, felt immense satisfaction of their achievement.

Thank you to our Group Leaders Miss Chalitta and Mr Jones for sacrificing their whole weekend to give our students this experience.  This commitment and dedication is greatly appreciated by the College, the parents and more importantly the students.

From our College Chaplain: Very Rev Fr George Nakhil

The Coptic Orthodox Church decided to start the Coptic year from the year Emperor Diocletian came to the Roman throne in 284 A.D. The calendar became known as the calendar of the martyrs, as Diocletian was the last emperor to lead the largest persecution of Christians in the empire. So the feast of Nayrouz became the feast, and the commemoration of, the martyrs. We celebrate it every year on September 11 or 12.

The word Nayrouz is a Persian word meaning, "The beginning of the year." On this day, we declare our eagerness to share with the martyrs a new day which they attain in Paradise. They have the experience of brightness, through which the brightness of the glory of Christ shines on them.

The martyrs are those who believe in what the Lord said, "A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also." (John 15:20)

So the martyrs offer their blood for the sake of Christ, who offered His blood for the salvation of mankind. The book of Revelation describes them, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." (Revelation 12:11)

So let us follow their steps, and celebrate this feast day full of purity and chastity and remember what St. Paul said, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

May the Lord guide, bless, and protect us, and may all the martyrs intercede on our behalf.

By: Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min.

Upcoming Dates

Term 3 - 2019

P & F Family Dinner CruiseSunday 8 Sep
EL-Nayrous Coptic New YearThursday 12 Sep
K - 6 Parent Teacher InterviewsMonday 16 Sep
K - 6 Parent Teacher InterviewsTuesday 17 Sep
Year 12 Valedictory Liturgy (k-12) and GraduationThursday 19 Sep
Year 11 Community ServiceMon-Wed (23-25) Sep
  • Years 5, 6 , 8, 9, 10 Camps
  • Year 7 Swimming Program
  • Year 11 Camp
  • Wed-Fri (25-27) Sep
  • Wed-Fri (25-27) Sep
  • Thu-Fri (26-27) Sep
Theotokos Term ConcldesFriday 27 Sep

Term 4 - 2019

Staff Professional Development DayMonday 14 Oct
Advent Term Commences for Years K-12Tuesday 15 Oct
HSC ExaminationsThu 17 Oct - Tue 12 Nov

Technology updates

Bring Your Own Chromebook ( BYO-CB )

Dear Parents/Guardians,

We would like to invite all the students in Years 7 - 10 to participate in the Bring Your Own Chromebook Program which commenced in Term 2 - 2019. At this stage no students are obliged to join; however, if you wish for your child to participate in this exciting move, please access the following web page for further information which includes our policies and agreement. 

St Mark's Bring Your Own Chromebook - Page 


If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Best regards,

Remon Metira

IT Manager 

Download the SkoolBag App

The SkoolBag app is the easiest way keep up with school events, last minute notices, newsletters and all school communications.

Curriculum updates - Mr Peter Joseph

Curriculum News Years 7 - 12


Historically, our College has completed the ICAS exams. ICAS, run by UNSW, has undergone a shift in philosophy in recent years. The test is no longer seen as being ‘competition’ focused. Instead, ICAS offers schools rigorous data about areas of student learning that we as a school can use to elevate our instruction.

This year, students will complete ICAS English and Mathematics (in the Secondary) online. Paper tests are no longer set by UNSW for this test. There is a window in which the tests for both English and Mathematics (both to a maximum of 60 minutes dependent on the student’s year group) need to be completed. All students from Years 7-10 will complete the English and Mathematics tests. Further, certain Year 11 students – based on the level of course they do for English and Mathematics – will also sit the tests. All tests will be completed in the second last week of school from September 16-20.


Due to a chaotic assessment schedule for Year 10 and involved Year 11 students, the HSC Minimum Standards tests have been rescheduled for Week 1 of Term 4. Over the school holidays, students should use this time to prepare and revise using Education Perfect activities. The HSC Minimum Standards tests are online and are compulsory regardless of the student’s performance during Year 9 NAPLAN. Students will have a second attempt at the tests in Term 4 if the Minimum Standards are not met. A letter with more information will be sent out about this.


(Based on the ELES Online Study Handbook which the College has subscribed)

If you are struggling to get motivated to do your schoolwork, sadly there is no magic solution. However, here are a few strategies you can try from the developing motivation and overcoming procrastination units if motivation or procrastination is an issue for you:

  • REWARDS: Set yourself small specific tasks to do with a specific reward at the end of the task. For some people little rewards are enough to get them going. 
  • CHUNK IT DOWN: If the work seems overwhelming or boring or unappealing, break it down into small bearable chunks and just do it one piece at a time. 
  • FRIENDS: Work with a friend or else tell your friend what work you want to get done and then check in on each other at the end of the night. Help each other stay on track.
  • RULE OF 3: If you can’t get started, write down the 3 most important things you must get done before you go to bed, then don’t even look at any other tasks until these 3 are completed.
  • MOTIVATING IMAGES: Find slogans, or images that motivate you and put them near your workspace.  Some people are motivated by pain (thinking of the consequences if you don’t study) while others are motivated by pleasure (thinking of all the good outcomes that will happen if you do study).

 Learn more at

Our school’s subscription details are -

Username: stmarks

Password: 52success


Daffodil Day 2019 & Commitment to Serve

Last Thursday, in conjunction with St Mary's feast and Daffodil Day, Dr. Paul Ghaly, a past student of St Mark's, who graduated in 2011, was able to take time from his commitments at Liverpool Hospital, to present to the students an opportunity to continue their great work in community service.

Paul presented a part of the world that most students will never see themselves; south Sudan, specifically, a township called Yirol, which is particulary poor and has over 5000 orphaned children who are facing incredible hardships.

Through the help of our committed year 11s, in particular Joseph and David, who are pursuing there areas of service, Paul has equipped the students, with strategies to help them help the children of Yirol.

Initiatives include help with the building of the orphange, school educational equipment, and a Christmas gift appeal. This will run for the rest of the year with a special presentation and hand over of funds and gifts to Paul to take to Africa Coptic Care to make a much needed difference in the lives of our brothers and sister in south Sudan.

Keep an eye out for your child's initiative information pamphlet coming home with them this week.

ABC's filming of Q & A

Through Mrs Nicola and Mrs Bestawros’s efforts our senior students were given the opportunity to attend last night’s ABC Q & A Panel.

An amazing experience made more so with the Panel selecting Danielle Safi’s question to Air for discussion.

Very proud of our wonderful students and staff ??

2019 Women in Leadership Seminar @ NSW Parliament House

Year 11 Leadership Seminar Aspiring future MPs from St Marks paving the way for young women.

Two Yr 11 students were required. Yr 11 students Danielle Safi and Jana Djordjevic at Young Women in Leadership Seminar Parliament House.

Girls were inspired by keynote address given by Lily Katakouzinos, Director of Programs Powerhouse Museum and participated in Q&A with lead question asked by Danielle Safi “As a female have you ever experienced discrimination on your leadership journey?”

Prue Car - Member for Londonderry Jenny Leong - Member for NewtownRobyn Preston- Member for Hawkesbury.

Girls also gained insight into parliamentary processes from these women in key leadership roles and observed both Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly in action.

Thank you Mrs Grohala for taking our two girls to experience this amazing opportunity.

Primary School

Parents & Friends News

By the Grace of God, and with the blessings of H.G Bishop Daniel, St Mark’s College will be holding their Annual P&F Dinner THIS Sunday 8 September.  We invite you and the whole family to join us for a 4-hour Harbour Cruise, including buffet dinner, drinks, some live entertainment and plenty of  Sydney Harbour views. (The Cruise has purposefully been booked for an early start for an early finish so that families are able to take children home to settle and rest for school the following day.)

Buses will be available from St Mark's College at Wattle Grove and St Mary’s College at Bexley. You can select your table and encourage your friends to join you on your table. 


Please head to the try booking website.  Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you at the Harbour Cruise dinner to support our children and our school!  Sincerely, the P&F Committee.Lydia, George, Susan and Peter.

National Science Educators Conference 7 – 10 July 2019 A “Top End” Experience Darwin

I was excited to leave wintry NSW and head to Darwin for CONASTA68 . The program contained several seminars relevant for lab techs, and it is always interesting to see the set up in other high schools.  This high school had its own science block with views of the ocean.

Sunday’s program began with a welcome function and then delegates walked to Mindil Beach night markets to watch the sun set.  

The school’s gymnasium was built inside a very large concrete ex-water supply, and is known as “The Tank.”  The exhibitors and catering were in the undercover playing field. There was a chill out zone and the occasional free ice cream and massage provided by a sponsor.

Monday’s keynote speaker was Dr Alan Andersen who is an ant specialist.  He studies the ecology of ant communities and uses them as a bioindicator.  Aussie ants love dry or arid regions even those affected by fire. There so many ants here (in the top ten for biomass) that sometimes DNA testing is required to determine new species.  Iridomyrmex is the most diverse species and one of the more numerous.

Tuesday’s speaker was Dr Graeme Sawyer who is an environmental education specialist and winner of the Serventy Conservation Award.  He enthralled us with tales of his early teaching and research career in NT remote communities. His work can be found in Questacon and on . He explained how integrating the natural world into science learning can engage students and deliver powerful messages. 

Also speaking was Professor Lyn Beazly who was the first female Chief Scientist appointed in Western Australia. She explained some of the outreach and STEM programs that are preparing students for a fast-changing world. Recommended was the Sonic Boom Little Scientists Educator Conference in Sydney on 21-22 August 2019 for primary teachers.  Mrs Beazley recommended the following activities that can stimulate engagement in science at school level.

Set up a beehive.

Millenium Kids – Green Lab bush restoration

Conversation of local animal species with a university partner.

Monitor and protect local biodiversity.

Sponsor and experience local science research.

Promote agricultural science degrees.  Australia only has 500 graduates a year but needs 2000 per year.

Promote Geoscience – see Suzy Urbanizck.

Institute a low carbon school program or carbon neutral exercise.

Microscopes in Schools via Rotary International.

Astronomy – Fireballs in the Sky program

A school laboratory technician for every school – one hour teaching = 0.6 technician support.

by Loretta Fincato

Prof Lyn Beazly with laboratory technicians from around Australia (Photo)

CSIRO sponsored a panel on Wednesday which brought together experts in Learning on Country. Aboriginal communities and schools are working on Two-Way Science programs.  Teaching is done in the student’s first language if some concepts haven’t been translated into English. Communities are asked what they want VET to teach their kids. Facilitators co-ordinate between rangers and educators.  High demand for conservation land management skills and ranger jobs. Engaging students improves literacy and numeracy skills. Outdoor lessons and native language is taught by elders so that science is explained in the context of cultural history.  They may explore an area throughout the seasons, and track flora/fauna. This also has the advantage of teaching kids how to survive in their country.

Two-Way Science reconnects young adults back to culture especially if they have been absent from country.  Teaching is done by rangers, elders, visitors and trainees. Great videos can be found on ACARA website. Look under elder culture or Areyonga School.

Dr Ian Morris is a biologist, educator and conservationist.  He began his teaching career in Arnhem Land in 1971 and he spoke about what he learned whilst teaching and living in remote communities.  All the classes were multilingual with up to 18 dialects being spoken in Arnhem Land. You would learn your father’s language first, then your mother’s.  You belonged to your father’s clan and your spirit country was your mother’s. Clan totems were protected in the environment. Weather and food calendars provided botanical clues to know when to hunt a food source at its peak harvest season time.  The locals had an empathy with their food. He recommended that we read “Dark Emu” by Bruce Pasco.

Uniform Shop Update

We hope everyone is looking forward to Spring as much as we are.

It was a pleasure meeting many of the new parents during the Kindy orientation. We offered a Kindy Starter Pack which was welcomed by the new parents. This pack is available for back to school 2020, and can be purchased up to February 3rd.

It was also exciting to see how many parents bought the new school scarf this term, and welcomed the positive feedback we received. There are still a limited number available and we will definitely be bringing them back for winter next year.

The school board shorts will now be required to be worn during Friday swimming classes in Term 4 for years K-6 and in Term 1 for years 7-12. We are fully stocked with all sizes of the board shorts so please either order them via the online form on the school website, or come and see us in the shop.

All summer items are now available for purchase for the summer changeover in Term 4, and we would also like to remind parents and students of the various new items which have been approved as part of the school uniform:

•    A new navy fleece half zip jacket is now available as an additional item for sports days.

•    The new blue senior jumper is now available. Students who are wearing the current maroon jumper can continue to do so, however senior students who need to purchase a jumper will now be required to purchase the updated blue senior jumper.

•    Sports socks are now available in smaller sizes, so sizing is available for years k-12

The uniform shop details are:

•   Email:

•   Tel: 0476 411 241

•   Both the Price List and Order Form are now located on the school website.

•   Shop hours during the term will be as follows:

•   Monday 8:30am - 11:00am

•   Thursday 1:30pm - 3:30pm

We thank the school for choosing us to manage your uniform shop, and look forward to working with your community.