St Agnes Catholic High School

November Newsletter - Term 4, Week 3 2020

From the Principal

Dear Parents and friends of the St Agnes community, 

The year is slipping by and I welcome everyone to Term 4. This is a term that many look forward for the events and occasions that mark the end of a school year and the celebrations of the Birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. While COVID has meant that we have had to reimagine much of what we have always done, with the easing of some restrictions and creative planning, the special events that we traditionally enjoy in Term 4 will continue, albeit in a COVID safe way. 

While there is always an excitement this term about the year concluding, it is important to remember that there are still 7 weeks of learning. I am very proud of the learning culture at St Agnes, and am really happy to advise that we have been able to re-open Homework Club for students seeking extra help.

The HSC examinations are in full swing. It was humbling to join our students as they began the HSC. They have taken full advantage of the opportunity to complete their secondary education at St Agnes, where they walked in the gate 6 years ago as young people excited by the opportunities of High School, and now walk through as confident young adults, firm in faith and eager to make a difference. Please continue to keep our inaugural graduands in your prayers as they continue to navigate this period and shape their life journey. 

I congratulate Mr Kemmis on his appointment as Acting Assistant Principal for Term 4 while Mr Wolffe is on leave. I do hope that he finds the role rewarding and I am grateful for the depth of capacity and experience of our staff that support both Mr Kemmis and myself in our shared ministry of leading this faith rich learning community. 

All Saints' Day (November 1) is a solemn holy day of the Catholic Church.  The day is dedicated to the saints of the Church, that is, all those who have attained heaven. We look to the saints for inspiration and as models for our own lives: 

Prayer for All Saints Day

We give you thanks, O God, for all the saints who ever worshiped you

Whether in brush arbors or cathedrals,

Weathered wooden churches or crumbling cement meeting houses

Where your name was lifted and adored.

We give you thanks, O God, for hands lifted in praise:

Manicured hands and hands stained with grease or soil,

Strong hands and those gnarled with age

Holy hands

Used as wave offerings across the land.

We thank you, God, for hardworking saints;

Whether hard-hatted or steel-booted,

Head ragged or aproned,

Blue-collared or three-piece-suited

They left their mark on the earth for you, for us, for our children to come.

Thank you, God, for the tremendous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us.

Bless the memories of your saints, God.

May we learn how to walk wisely from their examples of faith, dedication, worship, and love.

Lisa-Maree Browning



20 October -  10 NovemberHSC Exams CLICK HERE FOR TIMETABLE
30 OctoberYear 11 Semester 2 Reports distributed
2 - 6 NovemberYear 10 Exams
9 - 13 NovemberYear 11 Business Services Work Placement
20 November Staff Spirituality Day - Pupil Free Day
26 NovemberYear 7 2021 Orientation Day
27 NovemberAdvent Liturgy
11 DecemberYear 10 Reports Distributed
15 DecemberYear 7-9 Reports Distributed
16 December Parent/Teacher Interviews

From the Acting Assistant Principal

At the start of this term, students were once again challenged with the goal of focussing on the ‘small things’. This includes:

  • Uniform;

  • Hair;

  • Punctuality to school and class;

  • Device use;

  • Behaviour in the learning space and during break time; and 

  • How they interact with peers and teachers. 

For learning to be successful, students need to be across these areas and in turn, they will be settled and focussed.

A few reminders as we move further into the term: 

  • All students should now be in full summer uniform. School tie must be worn all year round. If there are concerns with the uniform, please communicate with your child’s Learning Advisor who will assist.

  • The staff acknowledge that most, if not all, students possess a mobile phone. However, these devices have a place and as soon as students enter classrooms or other learning spaces, including assemblies, phones must be switched off and put away. Staff will remind students about this expectation, but when students fail to respond or become argumentative, phones will be confiscated and a consequence will occur. This ALSO includes break time; all mobiles must be away and the students are encouraged to TALK to each other.

  • The front gates to the school are now closed each afternoon (2.20pm - 2.45pm) to prevent vehicle entry and safety for all. All members of our community are strongly asked to respect the neighbours surrounding our school and ensure they:

  • Park in a correct and safe manner and DO NOT park across the entrance to a homeowners driveway.

  • Look out for people crossing the road; and

  • Be aware that Police or Council Rangers can be in the vicinity at any time (morning and or afternoon).


Educators and health experts say tobacco companies are hooking a new generation of children on smoking by marketing candy-flavoured e-cigarette juices with enticing social media imagery.

Vape, Juul, juice, nova, hit, cloud — as a parent of a teenager, chances are you are already familiar with some of these words. If you do not know what they mean, your children probably do. They are all terms used to describe the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, as it is colloquially known.

What is vaping?

  • Vaping is inhaling the vapour created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or other vaping devices.

  • E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices that heat an e-liquid to produce a vapour or an aerosol that can contain nicotine, flavour and other chemicals.

  • E-cigarette users inhale the vapour in the same way as smoking a cigarette.

  • In Australia it is illegal for retail outlets to sell nicotine e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine for vaping.

  • It is also illegal to buy nicotine e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine for personal use without a medical prescription.

  • It is easy to access nicotine for vaping from online sellers from outside Australia

The Australian Government intends to make it illegal from 1 January 2021 to import or purchase liquid nicotine e-cigarettes or refills from overseas. You will only be able to legally use e-cigarettes containing nicotine if they have been prescribed by a doctor. 

As a school community, we want to raise awareness of the issue. 

The following links provide more information for parents/carers.

Mr. G. Kemmis

Acting Assistant Principal

From the Head of Mission

Good luck, Year 12!

As we embark on our first HSC exams, St Agnes staff have extended our well wishes and positive words of encouragement along the wall of our Blessed Helene de Chappotin building. 

Thank you to the Good Shepherd Primary School community and Principal Mrs Patricia Carr for their extending their congratulations as we share this momentous occasion together as a community of schools.

Australian Bishops Social Justice Statement Launch 2020-21

On Thursday, 15th October, our Year 9 students Heleana Soriano, Christian Ramos, Stela Kaway, Brooklyn O’Brien and Annabelle Kayrouz participated in a Parramatta Diocese event for the Australian Bishops Social Justice Statement Launch with this year’s theme on Mental Health.

What is Mental Health? 

Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. (From the SJ Statement, p. 3)

 Heleana Soriano shares, “Due to what is happening with our world today, with a global pandemic and many other issues, mental health has been acknowledged more and has affected so many people. Whether it is a small or big issue, the church has taken into account issuing mental health as a main driving focus for this launch founded in the scripture passage “Jesus has come so we may have life (Jn 10:10). The day was filled with a plethora of new knowledge about mental health, reading people’s experiences during these difficult times, as well as implementing achievable strategies and actions for our school community, promoting more awareness about mental health.

 Read the insights of our year 9 students from their learning on this day:

 “You shouldn’t be ashamed for reaching out for help”. - Heleana Soriano (9.8)

“I was able to learn about other schools’ ideas on how to bring awareness to Mental Health. Being able to connect to others opened my eyes to all the possibilities that were available to me”. - Christian Ramos (9.7)

 “With this incredible opportunity, me and my peers have already started to discuss how we can present to the school the importance of mental health, the impacts on a person and what we can do to break the stigma of mental health. Some of our ideas will be launched on our St Agnes page on Instagram starting with #MentalHealthMondays ”. Stela Kaway (9.4)

 “Individuals could be surrounded by so many people and still feel as if no ones really there with them or understands them. In saying that they could be the happiest person on the outside but deep down no one really knows whats going on”. - Annabelle Kayrouz

Everyone needs help, even Christ, but unlike Christ people refrain from asking for help for two main reasons; the fear of judgement and lack of trust in others”. - Krish Patel (9.7)

 The first action from this day is to create social awareness of the effects, impacts and the human experience of mental health. Every Monday morning on the St Agnes instagram and facebook page, a mental health quote will be posted from the Social Justice statement and is our way to normalise the stigma around mental health. #MentalHealthMondays

The St Agnes Message on Mental Health:

“Whenever you are struggling or anxious to open up about your thoughts and emotions, there is nothing to be ashamed of in reaching out for help. We all have each other’s love and support, and although things may not seem right and things aren’t as good as they should be, things will get better. It’s okay if you take these issues step by step or take it slower than others. Because at the end of the day, it’s not a competition but what matters is that you are not alone and we want to help you flourish”.

(Year 9, St Agnes students)

For more information about the Social Justice Statement 2020-21, please visit

Mindful Justice Week Ignite Food Store Food Drive

From the launch of the Social Justice Statement this term, St Agnes created Mindful Justice Week (Week 2 & 3) as a way to ignite faith in action in our school community. More information will be shared as students develop ideas for next year. This term we launched our annual Ignite Food Store Drive and would like to thank all staff, students and our St Agnes families for your kind support to the Jesuit Social Services Ignite Food Store in Emerton. Our Social Justice leaders Neil Swin and Nicole Cabalhin and Year 7 students Angelica Prasad, Teresa Bouchmouni, Diya Prasad, Samantha McGrath assisted Mrs Chapman and Mrs Reyes in delivering our donations that were warmly appreciated by Rose and Rob at the Ignite Food Store. It is through these small acts of kindness that help us to express the St Agnes pillar of compassion. Thank you for your generous spirit, St Agnes community.

We are affirmed that as a St Agnes community, through faith and action and daily encounters with one another, we continue to live out our Catholic mission with knowing  - welcome and serve one another, recognise and celebrate the dignity and worth of each person, nurture relationships built on integrity and compassion, forgiveness and love, engender a sense of hope for a better future.

Pace e bene,

Mrs Mary Reyes

From the Head of Learning

Year 12 2020

Our students are well into their HSC Examinations and have embraced these with a strong sense of maturity. We wish them all the very best!

 Year 12 2020/21

Our current Year 11 students have begun their HSC in all subject areas. Last week, they were spoken to about HSC rules and procedures. They were also provided their Assessment Handbook (and a copy was sent digitally to ALL parents). The students now must place themselves in the correct mindset and approach their learning with a growth mindset.

Year 10 Examinations and the next steps

Our Year 10 students shall begin their exams on 3rd November.  All students need to be actively studying and if they have any questions, they can contact their class teacher and also, log on to the Study Skills website (see below for further information). Some Year 10 students still need to finish the NESA Modules, All My Own Work and do so as a priority once the exams have concluded. The students must receive 100% in each of the modules prior to commencing any Stage 6 study. 

Year 9 Examinations/Year 7 and 8 Final Assessments

The students in Years 7, 8 and 9 will commence their examinations/final assessments from Week 5. Similar to Year 10, these students must revise all notes, see their teacher(s) and refer to the Study Skills website for tips.

All students need to be reminded that learning continues in the classroom after the examinations and teachers will be looking for ways to include such positive learning behaviour in each Semester 2 report.

 Study Skills Tip for October: iDisorder

 Dr. Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University  has a must-read book for parents called ‘iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us’. In this book he discusses changes that occur to the brain's ability to process information and the ability to relate to the world due to daily consumption of media and use of technology. This obsession with technology can result in signs and symptoms of psychological disorders (which Dr. Rosen has labeled iDisorders) such as stress, sleeplessness, narcissism and a compulsive need to check-in with our technology.

 However, it is important to note the word ‘obsession’. Dr. Rosen is not anti-technology, far from it. Instead, he argues that we need to become more aware of issues that can arise from over-use of technology and then implement strategies to deal with these. Self-awareness and a move towards restorative balance are essential.

Some of the ideas Dr. Rosen discusses are:

  • Ensure your child gets a full night’s sleep and that mobile phones are switched off during the night and ideally in a different room. If a student wakes in the night and checks their phone, however briefly, this will interrupt the sleep patterns for that night and disrupt essential memory processing.

  • Convene regular family dinners (3-4 times a week for 30-40 minutes) where technology is forbidden at the table – parents included! Dr. Rosen points to the fact that many parents are also obsessed with technology and are modeling these behaviours to their children, for example not paying full attention when their child is talking to them, instead answering email on their smartphone at the same time. Rosen believes we are massive self-interrupters and we are training our children that if something buzzes, beeps or vibrates, we should jump and immediately check to see if there is something we should attend to right now.

  • Given the pervasiveness of technology in our lives as well as the fact that technology evokes high levels of mental activity, we need to start taking technology ‘time-outs’ to reset our brains and refresh our capacity to process information.  It is important to recognise that the constant lure of multiple technologies and our obsession with them is overloading our brain. If we want to avoid iDisorder and ensure our use of technology does not make us exhibit signs and symptoms of psychological disorders, then we need to reset our brain on a regular basis. You may decide to take a 10 minute break from technology every 2 hours or you may even decide to allocate at least one day a week where you focus your attention 100% on real life and shut off your technology for a significant portion of that day. During this time you could laugh or talk with friends or family, experience nature or do something active. The aim is to give the brain a chance to slow down and rest by doing something that does not involve electronic devices.

We live in a connected world and we cannot turn the clock back and take away all these fun new technological tools. So the message is, we need to learn to take care of our brains and take some small proactive steps to avoid a potential iDisorder. 

Visit the Dealing with Distractions unit at to learn more about managing your distractions.

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Mr. G. Kemmis

Head of Learning

Around the Classrooms

St Agnes Literacy Educators win Australian Council for Education Leaders (ACEL) NSW Leadership Award

At St Agnes Catholic High School, Rooty Hill, literacy learning has been re-visioned. The integration of a Visible Literacy Continuum, created by the    St Agnes 2019 Year 7 Visible Literacy Team, has transformed every student’s writing. 

The ACEL NSW Leadership Award is given to educators who demonstrate outstanding performance in leading an educational initiative that has accomplished evidential growth in outcomes for students and teachers.

The St Agnes team aimed for ALL year 7 students to develop the skill, will to learn, and thrill of literary success early in their secondary schooling, a pivotal time of development in a student’s literacy progression.

 Yet what started in 2019 as a goal for one cohort, has reimagined the literacy possibilities of all St Agnes students.

 In 2019, year 7 students progressed their writing a measurable average of 3.4 terms over the first two terms. In 2020, with further professional development for teachers, year 7 data revealed an average writing progression of 7.7 terms over the first 2 terms. What an amazing achievement!

The 2019 Year 7 Visible Literacy Team comprises of six educators led by Antoinette Meade and Christine Payne, supported by Linda Hicks and principal Lisa-Maree Browning. Proudly, three team members were in their first years of teaching, a credit to the instructional mentoring system pivotal to teacher growth at St Agnes.

The ACEL Awards night was held in the new offices of the Catholic Education Office in Parramatta. Members of the 2019 Visible Literacy Team are pictured below and consisted of: Ms Linda Hicks, Mrs Antoinette Meade, Ms Jessica Bryson, Ms Chantelle Angileri, Ms Joanne Penna and Mrs Christine Payne. Absent members were Mrs Maret Fraser and Ms Melissa Woods.

 What is the Visible Literacy Continuum?

The Visible Literacy Continuum (VLC) is a writing progression framework aligned to the Creating Texts elements of the Australian Curriculum Literacy Progressions. It was created over the 2018-19 Summer break by team leaders Antoinette Meade and Christine Payne.

 As explained by Mrs Meade, ‘we saw it as key to students being active participants in their own literacy learning, so we intentionally wrote the VLC from the student perspective using ‘I can’ terminology and built it as a living site of literacy strategies.’

 And the motivated team took on the vision! Within weeks, the Year 7 team were deeply immersing their students in the language of the VLC.

 Christine Payne witnessed the excitement and pride in the students learning.

The power of the VLC was in giving students the tools to accountably track and articulate their own literacy learning at their point of need’

 Principal Lisa-Maree Browning said ‘The students plot themselves on the Visible Literacy Continuum, which is incredible to watch. And they do it with such precision and clarity that it really does demonstrate that they’re taking the learning of what makes an effective piece of writing, they’re unpacking it and they’re articulating it themselves, and that is really powerful’.

 Socially distanced pictures for the 2020 ACEL Awards night of the St Agnes attendees. From left, Mrs Devine-Leader of Learning in English, Ms Clark-Assistant Leader of Learning English, Mr Kemmis-Head of Learning, Mrs Meade-Head of Diversity, Ms Bryson-Teacher, Ms Angileri-Teacher, Ms Browning-Principal, Mrs Payne-Teacher, Ms Christine Howe-Relieving Executive Director.

  As part of their mission, the St Agnes team has shared this Australian-curriculum aligned Visible Literacy Continuum and school wide literacy learning framework, with over 40 Australian schools and literacy educators whilst presenting at national literacy conferences such as ALEA and ACEL. Their work is showcased in Doug Fisher’s Visible Literacy conferences within the Australian context.

 Congratulations to the St Agnes 2019 Visible Literacy team! Whilst achieving this prestigious ACEL NSW Leaders in Education Award, they recognise they are only just beginning their student-focussed literacy improvement journey. Over the next few years this process will be integrated into all St Agnes disciplines, supported by the Catholic Education Diocese Parramatta Language Across the Disciplines program.

 Mrs Payne

From the Careers Advisor

UNSW Gateway Program for Year 11 2020
This Spring Program was delivered online in the final week of Term 3 and the first week of the school holidays. It incorporated HSC course and exam preparation, UNSW Faculty insights and experiences, and guidance to apply for an early conditional offer to UNSW for 2022. Joining a community of like-minded HSC students, they were able to maximise their opportunities to attain a versatile university offer for 2022. 8 out of the 14 students who registered applied for the Early Conditional offer. Applications for this offer closed on October 9 and they will receive notification of their outcome in late November. Congratulation to the following students who are well on their way to improving their Pathways for further learning post-school:
Maryam Abdulazeez, Wasan Abdulazeez, Tiana Baxter, Justin Cruz, Chloe Lopez, Ryanne Maryonell Ocampo, Farida Zaheer, Jamieson Sukkarieh

Greg Belle is a School to Work Partner from an RTO called MyGateway
Greg attended our school on at the end of September and spoke with some of our students regarding full time & School-Based Apprenticeship & Traineeship Positions for 2021. He discussed the pros and cons to taking on these opportunities and provided clarity regarding the reality of the roles and the expectations by employers. During the school holidays and early this term, we have had students attend interviews at MyGateway for a variety of roles including automotive, plumbing, joinery and warehousing. If any students or parents would like to inquire further about opportunities in the following trade areas please feel free to contact myself or Greg: 
  • Administration
  • Boilermaker
  • Carpentry
  • Electrical
  • Finance
  • Fitting Machining
  • Heavy Vehicle Mechanic
  • Horticulture
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Landscaping
  • Plant Mechanic
  • Reception
  • Warehousing

Visit the website to apply or call the office on 02 4627 1388. Should an opportunity become available, MyGateway will contact you to organise an interview.

Fourteen of our Year 9 Pacific Islander students participated in a day in the library Zooming with students across 15 schools in the Western Sydney area at a "Chase the Dream" Conference. They were participating in the PATHE (Pasifika Achievement To Higher Education) Year 9 conference aimed at helping students to understand how further education and training can help their future. A variety of Pasifika and Maori speakers from the fields of Community Service/Social Work, Health, Performing Arts, Policing, Engineering, Business, Teaching, Sports, Law and Innovative Thinking–Entrepreneurship shared their stories, planting the seed in students' minds about infinite possibilities for their futures. St Agnes Catholic High School are blessed to have this opportunity to work with Bronwyn Williams and Ana Setiu Tuala from WSU and we thank them for giving our students the opportunity to “dream big”. We look forward to joining the team on campus in 2021 if circumstances around Covid improve.
Congratulation to the students involved:
Stella Faamanu
Julian Falakiko
Saphenetta Fuimaono
Fuatino Litara
Faith Luatuanuu
Dyani Magele
Fatafehi Manakofua
Mary Palaki
Michal Piliae
Kelvin Sene
Theodorea Taotua
Meleane Vailea
Viliami Vunipola
Hohepa Witehira
Congratulations to Amira Osborne who has received an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander School-Based Traineeship with Commonwealth Bank for 2021. Amira has been involved in workshops during the school holidays and has continued to link up with key industry stakeholders for pathway planning including AFL SportsReady who offered her an opportunity to apply for and attend an interview which led to a confirmed School-Based Traineeship that will begin in January 2021. Amira's passion for actively engaging with her community and attending the weekly Cultural Programs during Know Your Learner on Fridays is testament to her passion and focus with regards to accessing opportunities that will provide her with choices for her career pathway. 

AIE MAYA Workshop

Games and Visual Effects Education

 On Monday students in the Stage 5 IST elective course were involved in a 3D modelling workshop via zoom. The students had the opportunity to design and create their own robots using Maya software. The workshop was facilitated by AIE, an education company that specialises in games, animation and visual effects. The students had a great time and learnt valuable industry skills in 3D modelling and animation. Better again, students now have free access to the MAYA software for the next 12 months. This will provide them with the opportunity to further develop their skills and even build a professional portfolio. 


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