St Agnes Catholic High School

November Newsletter - Term 4, Week 6 2020

From the Principal

This is an exciting time at St Agnes with the celebration this week of the completion of schooling for Year 12, their formal was thankfully able to go ahead. We are also finalising the Year 7 2021 Orientation Day, which is next Thursday, 26 November. Although both of these events have to be adjusted to meet NSW Health guidelines, it is wonderful to be able to welcome the future cohort of St Agnes Catholic High School as we farewell our graduands. We wish our Year 12 students every success as they enter the next phase of their lives. 

NAIDOC week was a wonderful celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and showcased our history, culture and achievements. On Friday, we introduced the Junior Aboriginal Executive Consultative Group committee and I congratulate them on their appointment to this significant group. 

A Student Representative Council will be introduced in 2021. This is an initiative of our School Captains and will provide students with an avenue for recommendations and contributing to the growing community of St Agnes. The SRC will work alongside Portfolio Leaders and the Captains. As the school grows, I am delighted that the student body has actively sought ways to ensure increased student voice and leadership opportunities for all years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our student leaders for 2020, while this has been a year like no other, they have worked tremendously to reimagine events and feasts ensuring that the faith and community events that are the hallmark of St Agnes thrived. 

On a very positive note, the Inquiry Hub and Performance Space are expected to be commissioned very soon. These areas will bring much needed classroom and additional recreational areas. 

December 3 is the Feast Day of St Francis Xavier. We pray: 

Lord Jesus,

You have sent us to proclaim the Gospel to all nations, and have promised to always remain with us.

Look upon this family gathered on the feast day of St. Francis Xavier.

Pour out the abundance of your Spirit upon each one of our brothers and sisters

especially on those who are called to ponder upon the journey made

and to plan what has still to be done, so that we may offer a more authentic service to mission.

Grant that we may ever be faithful to the Gospel and to give an answer

to the hopes which the world places before your church today.

Stay with us, Lord, when we gather around the table of your Bread and your Word,

and when we walk the paths of the world side by side with our brothers and sisters.

Grant that we all find ourselves in heaven, our homeland, after having been members of the same family on earth.


Lisa-Maree Browing



20 November Staff Spirituality Day - Pupil Free Day
26 NovemberYear 7 2021 Orientation Day
27 NovemberAdvent Liturgy
10 December7-11 Awards Ceremony
11 DecemberYear 10 Reports Distributed
15 DecemberYear 7-9 Reports Distributed
16 December Parent/Teacher Interviews
17 - 18 DecemberStaff Development Days

From the Acting Assistant Principal

One cannot help but notice that November is well and truly upon us and all the tell-tale signs of the Christmas season are already starting to appear in shop windows and all forms of advertising. Recent weeks at St Agnes have been dominated by the HSC Examinations, Stage 5 examinations, Stage 4 Assessment Tasks, NAIDOC and a myriad of other activities.

The challenge to all students is to continue their quest for learning and to ensure that they meet the standards the school expects of them. Whilst we do understand the job of a teenager is to challenge, they must show respect in order to receive it. This is not simply in the way they speak to each other and their teachers; it is also in how they present themselves each day and a willingness to embrace new learning opportunities. It is this that makes the students here at St Agnes renown for their warmth and hospitality.

At the end of the day it is not unusual when asking your teenager about school that you get a mumbled “okay” as a response. This usually results in the termination of the conversation. 

 You are more likely to be able to have a conversation with him or her if you ask more open-ended questions such as :

  • What did you enjoy most at school today?

  • What was your easiest class or most challenging class?

  • Which class did you enjoy the most?

  • What do you think you should do more of at school? 

  • What part of the day do you look forward to?

  • If you had to go to only one class every day, which class would it be?

  • If your day at school were an emoticon, which one would it be?

Even if you have a good relationship with your teenager, they might not always open up if they are upset or having a tough time. Always trust your intuition and if you are concerned, try talking to your child’s Learning Advisor in the first instance. 

Similarly, if you have any concerns regarding the learning taking place with your child, please contact the class teacher directly to discuss your concerns.

Mr G Kemmis

Acting Assistant Principal

From the Head of Mission

As we prepare for the Season of Advent that begins on Sunday 29th November, the staff at St Agnes are engaging in a Staff Spirituality Day on the theme of 'Hope'. Whilst hope is non-tangible, it is at the core of humanity, a desire to see a good future that is difficult to obtain.

Staff will engage with artist on the teaching staff, Mr Kristone Capistrano who will guide us on an art journey to draw a symbol of hope.

Whilst preparing for our Staff Spirituality Day this year, I was deeply drawn to a document written by Professor Anthony Maher, Theologian for the Diocese of Parramatta on the Draft RE Curriculum named as a Theology of Hope. The questions I've been asking myself - How do we connect to Hope? Can we visualise Hope? How do we stay hopeful during these challenging times? What brings us Hope?

Then it came to my mind an answer to this question, and the Season of Advent had truly played a part. God's incarnation into our physical space is in Jesus. He made Hope real, alive, human....just like you and me. Hope lives amongst us because God shared in every part of our world - through the sufferings, the injustices, the loneliness and his death brought the Hope to new life, new beginnings, a new day everyday.

Hope is amongst us, in the Holy Spirit. Where there is patience, kindness, understanding, wisdom, faith and love, there is God and there is Hope.

I look forward to sharing the reflections of staff and our art of Hope as we use our day to connect to Hope and incarnate this non-tangible reality to our very space.

Pace e bene, 

Mrs Mary Reyes

From the Head of Learning

Year 12 

Our inaugural Yr 12 students have finally completed ALL their examinations! Congratulations to all!! We, as a community, must patiently wait until the 18th December for the HSC results and the release of the ATAR.

Year 12 2020/21

The HSC year has begun once again at St Agnes and all of our Year 11 students have now officially commenced their HSC courses. This is a time when students have considered their pattern of study, in some cases made minor changes and now must commit themselves to achieving their personal best. We are excited about the year ahead for each of them and to be able to walk alongside them, as support and to guide, as they prepare for the HSC examinations in 2021.

Years 7 - 10

All students have now finished (or in the process of finalising) their last assessment or examination for their subjects. From now until the end of the year, each student needs to make sure all set work and homework is complete. This will provide the teachers the last piece of information needed for end of year reports. Alongside this, when the students receive their results, ensure that any advice or “next steps” provided by the teachers is recorded in preparation for 2021. 

Study Skills Tip for November 

When a student says that they have a bad memory, it usually means that actually they do not encode the information they are trying to remember into their memory in an effective way. Memory is really a ‘process’ as opposed to a ‘thing’ in your head that you are born with.

Rather than ‘improving your memory’, you want to improve the process of memory creation to ensure memory retrieval goes smoothly! The reason why many students do not retain what they are learning is that the way they study only gets the information as far as their short term memory, and then before long it is forgotten instead of being encoded into long term memory.

The first stage for students in improving their retention of information is to try and find ways to make what they are learning INTERESTING to themselves, EMOTIONAL, ENJOYABLE and if they can't do this then at least create the firm INTENTION to remember the information. It is all about their approach to what they are learning.

The next step in memory creation is the encoding process. To improve in this area, students need to improve:

  • CONCENTRATION AND FOCUS (making notes about what they are learning, studying using techniques that suit their learning style, studying when they are most alert)

  • ORGANISATION OF MATERIAL (making brain friendly notes: lists, highlighting, categories, grouping, graphics)

  • MAKING ASSOCIATIONS AND LINKS between the new material and previously learned material.

 Next stage in the memory process is facilitating the storage of memories. Students can improve the way memories are stored by ensuring they BREAK THEIR STUDY BLOCKS UP with at least a few minutes break every half hour (giving the brain a chance to encode and file that chunk of content) and CHUNK DOWN the information to be learnt into manageable chunks.  

Getting enough SLEEP is also essential as fundamental memory processes take place during sleep. The other thing that is really important in this stage is REPETITION AND REGULAR REVIEW. Each time a review takes place the brain fires all the neurons connected to that memory and the more often that happens the stronger the connections between the neurons and the more intense and powerful the memory that is created.

So in summary, the top three things to improve the process of creating powerful memories are:

  1. Focus, positive attitude and intention to remember are essential (reading something half-heartedly while bored pretty much guarantees it won’t be retained)
  2. An active approach to learning where students  are ‘doing’ (making notes, testing themselves using a wide range of study techniques) rather than just ‘reading’
  3. Repetition and constant review of the material over a period of time.

 To learn more about the brain and memory and advanced memory techniques visit the Brain and Memory unit on (click on the For Students tab).

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Mr G Kemmis

Head of Learning

Around the Classrooms

Here’s What’s Happening in STAGE 4 ENGLISH

Year 7 students have been exploring a unit on ‘Fantasy’ in English this term. They have studied the conventions of the fantasy genre and now know the features that are used in composing a fantasy text. The particular focus of their study has been on how these defining features can be highlighted by film directors to create a particular impact on an audience such as in the films Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone and the original Jumanji.

Students have presented their knowledge of fantasy films through the creation of a slide presentation and voice recording for their assessment task. Students were able to present their knowledge of the prescribed film as well as their choice of a related film through these presentations.

The task also provided students with the opportunity to showcase their critical and persuasive skills through the creation of detailed paragraphs.

Students have also been writing short fantasy stories with great impact - as can be seen in the following examples:

“I edge one foot out of my closet and then another, creeping towards dad’s door as silently as possible, trying not to match the breathing coming from the dark creature outside my window, loud as a horn. Eventually dad opens the door and his eyes widen as he takes in my uncontrolled shivering, my bitten nails…”

“The night was still. Not a breath of wind could be felt and a ghostly silence filled the warm air, broken only by the sound of the crow's wings fluttering as it arrived back to its make-shift living quarters in the castle tower”.

The next J.K. Rowling in the making perhaps?

Our Year 8 students have been studying the topic of 'Myths and Legends' in English this term. Students have engaged with a range of myths and legends in their classes, and have developed an understanding and appreciation of the role of myths and legends in our world. Some of the stories that students explored in their classes include: Pandora's Box, the Ancient Greek Creation Myth, Robin Hood, Beowulf, Hercules, Orpheus, Jason and the Argonauts, as well as some modern myths and legends.  

For their assessment task this term, each student researched a character from a myth or legend of their choice. The students developed an understanding of their chosen character's background, purpose, personality, achievements, powers, weaknesses, beliefs, and family relationships. Our students used their creative writing skills to write a narrative monologue from the perspective of their character, to demonstrate their understanding of the character's role and purpose in society. The students then delivered these monologues in class, and many students added costumes and props to enhance their performance.

Overall, all students did a wonderful job and greatly engaged their peers, who were intrigued by the stories of characters such as Medusa, Achilles, Horus, Odin, Dracula, Thor, and many more. 

Mrs Devine, Mrs Fraser and Miss Kaur

Leadership Workshop at PCYC Blacktown for The Haka Warrior Program Students: William Palaki and Winston Vaka

Year 8 Food Technology

Year 8 performed very well in their yearly practical exam .

The students were asked to prepare a  nutritious and appealing dish which contained eggs.

There were high standards all round. Dishes including  Okonomyaki, Lamb and Egg Pasta Casserole, Poached brekky eggs with Hollandaise sauce, Banana and Blueberry Muffins, Bibimbap,  French Toast with Blueberries, Raspberry, Coconut pancakes and Shakshuka, were made by students.

Well done Yr 8 Food Technology. A few of the dishes are pictured below.

Health and Fitness Youth Engagement Strategy Tafe Program

On the 12th November we had 8 students start a YES TAFE program in Health and Fitness. This program will run every Thursday and Friday until 4th December. Students are catching a train from Mt Druitt Station at 7:45am and at times not returning back to the station until 5pm. It is quite a rigorous program that involves learning about nutrition, work health and safety and completing a range of drills and sports including beep tests, basketball, boxing and Zumba. The students involved in the program are Liam Gungab, Sean Ashby, Dwayne Tukala, Benedict Talione, Alannah Martin, Ila Fuimaono, Josephine Lotovale and Baraka Dili. These students are keen to experience how adult education looks in Health and Fitness at TAFE as they try to figure out what their transition pathway plans are for the future.

NAIDOC Day Celebrations

NAIDOC celebrations provided an excellent opportunity for students to spend quality time with Josh Sly and Julie Waddell from Jarara and with Darren Compton from Muggera Dance Company.

The St Agnes community came together to support our NAIDOC Day via a Live-streamed Liturgy and celebration making it a very successful and enjoyable event for both students and staff. NAIDOC day included a Smoking Ceremony that allowed many staff and students to be cleansed with the smoke. Our Aboriginal students were also able to share many cultural dance performances. These events help strengthen our students’ identities and sense of belonging. Showcasing the positive values and rituals of the Aboriginal Peoples begins to educate the entire community about the strength of kinship and community.

In the lead up to NAIDOC day celebrations, students had formed a Junior Aboriginal Executive Consultative Group (JAECG) under the AECG of Pemulway. The students in the group are Alkira Field, Aiden Priestley, Amira Osborne, Jewel Osborne, Ebony Kendrigan, Grace Valades, Jordana Jacobs, and Bailey Wright. These students showed leadership within their community as they led the Naidoc day planning, practice and Events during the Day. Hayley Hartley, Joshua Parnell, and Jace Morrison also embraced their cultural practices including weaving, dance, ochre painting, and yearning.

We look forward to creating more and more opportunities for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and we thank all of the staff and students at St Agnes who participated in the activities and were respectful and proud of our indigenous Australian culture.

Work experience at Develop and Explore Penrith

Skye Saunders attended an Early Childcare Centre - Develop and Explore, Penrith from 9th to 13th November where she supported staff in supervising children 5 years and under. The coordinators were extremely impressed by her performance and within two days of her being on site she was offered a school based traineeship. We wish Skye the best of luck as she transitions to a new pathway in her life. Congratulations.


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