Santa Sophia Catholic College Newsletter

November Newsletter - Term 4, Week 10 2020

Welcome Address by Mark De Vries

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Parents and students get a view from the top

A handful of parents and students of Santa Sophia Catholic College were left buzzing with excitement after a private tour of the Box Hill site which took them to the top of the building with a grand view of The Gables, Box Hill. The site is due to be ready in just 8 months time. Read more about it here.

Kindergarten Update:

by Mrs Finucane and Miss Fitzalan

Can you believe that we have come to the conclusion of the school year? And what an unforgettable year 2020 has been! We saw the Kindergarten children begin school in their brand new uniforms, suddenly we were learning from home, then we were back into our routines at school. Thank you to all of the families for your support throughout the year. Your positivity and resilience has ensured that the Kindergarten students have continued to have a successful year of learning and forming friendships. Please make sure you use these holidays to take a break and enjoy precious time with family and friends. 

As we begin our season of Christmas, we encourage the children to be thankful for what they have, and show kindness to those who are less fortunate. Thank you to all of the families who donated to the Vinnies appeal. Many families in our community will have a better Christmas thanks to your generosity.

This Term, the children have been using the properties of materials to solve Fairytale problems during Investigations. They have been busy comparing and reflecting on different materials and their properties. The children have been given the choice to work independently or in groups.

It is always rewarding to see the students collaborating and interacting so positively. They have been working together to design a solution to a problem and have helped each other by suggesting improvements. They give each other honest feedback and help each other to evaluate their solutions. We are so proud of them, they have done such a great job!

We wish all of you a happy, safe and relaxing holiday with your beautiful children. May the peace and joy of this Christmas season fill your hearts and may you carry the light of Christ to those who need it the most. 

A thought about Christmas …

‘It’s not the presents that make Christmas so special, it’s the presence of those we love, whether they are with you in person, or in spirit!’

We hope everyone has a blessed and peace filled Christmas.

The Kindergarten Teachers 

Kindergarten Overview

Year 1 Update

The year 1 students have been keeping their brains sweaty feeding their curiosity and exploring interesting topics this term.

In Religious Education, students have been exploring the Christmas story alongside the messages God had sent to prophets in the Old Testament about the coming of a Saviour. Through this, students were given opportunities to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and the different ways they can prepare their hearts for the coming of Jesus.

Students had some wonderful ponderings and discussions about what we have been learning:

“I wonder why God sent Jesus as a baby on earth, when babies can not do much to protect themselves when they are in danger?” (Harrison)

“ Maybe it’s because Jesus said that it is easier for kids to get to heaven but a bit harder for a rich man (to get to Heaven).” (Aayan)

Students have also been investigating heat and light energy for the past few weeks. They were very excited to explore how a projector works and examine how light travels through different types of materials. They also explored how light interacts with various surfaces like water, opaque, transparent and translucent materials. 

They also learnt about heat energy and how it travels. Students wanted to find out how an igloo is built to keep eskimos warm, and made a design of their own igloos in response to this.

The term would not have been complete for year 1 without Christmas crafts! They have been looking on how to make Christmas pancakes and have been making different Christmas crafts this week. In response, they wrote a procedure on how to make and design your own Christmas baubles. Year 1 students  have been working on editing their writing and integrating writing strategies to be able to write more independently. 

A couple of the strategies that year 1 have been using were: looking for words around the classroom or books they have to help them spell a word, chunking, remembering some blends and tricky sounds, finding a word that rhymes with the word they want to write, and more. 

We wish all of Year 1 a wonderful Christmas and enjoyable holiday.

Primary End of Year Celebrations: Replay

Last Friday, we had our End of Year Celebrations for our Primary students, including a special Mass and Awards Ceremony. Congratulations to all award recipients! A replay of the Celebrations can be watched here:

Year 7 Camp

From 19 to 20 November, our Year 7s finally had the opportunity to go on camp (postponed due to COVID-19). The students enjoyed so many different outdoor adventure activities, including archery and kayaking. Read about it on our website here and view the photo gallery here

Year 7 Camp: Student Reviews

"This year we were able to go on Year 7 Camp and do so many fun things; these included Archery, this was fun because it was something I had never done before, and after a few frustrating attempts I got the hang of it and it was really fun! Another thing was kayaking, this was fun because we got to do it with our friends, and have little races between each other. These are two of many things we were able to do on our amazing Year 7 Camp." - Peter Giovas

"My first camp highlight would probably be when we did canoeing on the first day, This is one of my highlights because we got to enjoy this water activity with our friends, teachers and even with our instructors. My second camp highlight was the food. Most of the time in like movies and stuff camp food tends to be really bad but at camp Narrabeen it was actually pretty good and tasty. My third and last highlight would be when on the second day some of the boys went down to the mini soccer fields at 7 in the morning and played an amazing game of soccer along with a lot of comedy." - James Santos

"My favourite part of camp was kayaking. I enjoyed this because I love being on the water and messing around with my friends. Thank you to all the teachers who helped and came on our camp" - Lachlan Hollier

"Our first task as a whole was to organise ourselves into age order without using any form of speech and surprisingly we were close. Then in age groups, we were off to try and solve tasks like how to move five tires from one pole down two the poles BUT we weren't allowed to place a larger tire into a smaller tire. My group were so close and nearly managed but every task had a limit of only five minutes. Our next activity was a swing from a rope from the tire to tire but if one teammate touched the floor you start again. These games helped me to not only socialise with people I don't usually talk to but also learn some development skills to work on and use leadership and communication." - Makiah Arora

"The highlights for camp for me would have to be first of all getting to know many other students who I didn't know prior to camp! I met so many new people through the activities we participated in such as archery, the escape room, canoeing and initiative activities! I also enjoyed staying the night in the most luxury cabins that I have ever seen! But what I appreciate the most, is how the teachers took their time to come to camp with us, despite the covid circumstances." - Darcy Zahra

Year 7 Orientation

On Friday 20 November, we welcomed Year 6 students who will be coming to Santa Sophia in 2021 for Year 7!

While the move to high school can be nerve-racking, we planned a full day of activities for the Year 6's from several different schools to have a chance to meet new friends, get to know what high school is like, and calm those nerves. Read about it on our website here.

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Kindy 2021 Orientation

Over the past three weeks, Kindergarten 2021 came to Santa Sophia for Orientation over three days, familiarising themselves with the classroom, its learning spaces, and play-based inquiry. Read about it on our website here

Supporting Red November

On Friday 4 December, the College held a day of support for 'Red November' initiative for the Catholic organisation ACN - Aid to the Church in Need to increase awareness of and support for suffering and persecuted Christians. Read about it on our website here

Getting real with industry professionals: Netball

Our teaching staff collaborated to organise an opportunity for a student to connect with an industry professional in a career path they are interested in - professional netball. Maddy Turner, NSW Swifts defender and Australian Diamonds spoke with our student, Clarissa, about her ambitions to pursue professional sport as a career path. Read about it here.

Knit Bombing our City

As part of Blacktown City Council's Knit Bomb our City, our Year 7 Knitting PIP created a temporary public art installation at the front of our school to increase awareness about family and domestic violence. 

Santa Sophia wants to join our community of Blacktown and Western Sydney in saying NO to domestic violence! View a video about it on our website here.

Message from Fr Carlos

Dear Friends in Christ,

It feels like this year has passed so quickly! Isn’t it amazing that we are already talking about Christmas!

I find so many saying that this has been a different year, and I can’t argue with them. Despite all the challenges and difficulties, we ought to thank God for the blessings received. When we look around and see how they are coping with the pandemic in other places, here in Australia we ought to fall on our knees and thank God. What better time than Christmas to do it?

Christmastide is a beautiful season! We celebrate that God became one of us! There is no greater gift we could ever receive.

At OLA church, we are going to have two Christmas Eve Masses (5.30pm outdoor Mass and 7.30pm indoor Mass). Then on Christmas Day we have the traditional 12am Midnight Mass, 7am, 8.30am and 10am Masses.


As well, though unfortunately we will not be able to hold the traditional Christmas party, we will celebrate 9 Dawn Masses at 5am, for the preparation leading up to Christmas, beginning on 16 December.

We look forward to celebrating with so many of our young families that make our parish so special.

May you and your families have a very Blessed Christmas!

Fr Carlos

If you would like to organise a time to meet with Fr Carlos you can make an appointment using the Parish Office number: 8883 4063

Weekend Mass Times:

Saturday: 5:30pm vigil

Sunday: 7:00am, 8:30am, 10:00am, 5:30pm

Christmas Mass Times at Our Lady of the Angels, Rouse Hill


Christmas Eve:

Outdoor Mass 5:30pm

Indoor Mass: 7:30pm

Christmas Day:

Midnight Mass: 12:00am

7am, 8:30am, 10am

New Careers Site

We are proud to announce our own custom Santa Sophia Careers website.

Our careers website is linked to our school website under Learning and clicking on the Pathways tab. This website has post school information about the HSC and Rosa, announcements for webinars, career searches, and links for parents and students, including links to our Industry Professional zoom meetings series. The site is a one stop shop for post school information and empowers students and parents to research and explore all options.

In the secure student area, there are reflection activities, questionnaires and quizzes that allow students to explore a pathway that reflects their strengths and interests. Each student will have a login username and can create a secure password.

Job Jump

The second tool we will be utilising is Job Jump.

This tool allows students to explore diverse careers, university and Tafe courses. With the touch a key, students can search their ATAR and determine which courses are available, which institutions are offering courses, and which subjects they should study. Job Jump will be used during our Self Directed Learning course work and allows students to write their first resumes and cover letters, explore career videos, watch university virtual tours, access scholarships and alternative entry pathways information and much more!

Each student in Years 9-10 will have access to the secure portal with a username and password. 

Arlo visit

On 3 December we had a visit from Arlo (our therapy dog-in-training). The students enjoyed his company and were given the opportunity for a "meet and greet"! Everyone was in awe of how big he has gotten, even though he's still a puppy at only 5 months old, and can't wait to have him join us at our new site in Box Hill.

Wellbeing Update

by Mrs Anoushka Houseman 

Pulse Wellbeing Check-in

It is with great pleasure that we would like to inform you that we are entering into a trial phase of implementing a well researched Wellbeing app called Pulse by Educator Impact. Pulse allows us to collect weekly wellbeing data from our secondary students which allows us to provide more proactive supports and interventions that are both timely and target identified needs. Our College's involvement has been approved by Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta as meeting all data privacy requirements. As part of their timetabled SDL class, each student will complete a weekly Pulse check-in where students first reflect on their own mental health and wellbeing and can ask for help from a designated staff member if they are feeling particularly low. Students then answer a series of science-backed engagement and general wellbeing questions which are anonymous to encourage honest answers and give us an overall picture of wellbeing and engagement of each year group as well as the College as a whole.

It only takes students approximately 60 seconds to complete so there is minimal disruption to the normal lesson. We have commenced this trial for the remainder of the year and if the implementation is as helpful and as successful as we expect, we will continue with the partnership in 2021.

Instructional Coaches: Wellbeing 

We are extremely happy to officially expand our Wellbeing Team to include 2 new staff members who will take on the roles of Instructional Coaches Wellbeing in 2021. Maree Concato has been appointed into this role for Stage 4 and Layla Mardini has been appointed this role for Stage 5. Both of these teachers, although new to our staff, bring with them a wealth of experience in similar roles in other schools and have already become invaluable as we plan for 2021. The role of Instructional Coach is broader than the traditional Year Coordinator role. Not only will these staff members provide support to students and their families in the area of attendance, behaviour and wellbeing, but they will also provide support and professional learning to other staff members to ensure best practice guidelines are followed and that there is integrity and fidelity to the school's implementation of the Positive Behaviour Support for Learning (PBS4L) framework. 

Gratitude - the key to happiness!

2020 has by all accounts, been a very challenging year for everyone. The upcoming summer holidays are a great opportunity to take stock and practise the skill of gratitude. Harvard Medical School states "With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. ... Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships."

There is now a great deal of research to show that people who are more aware of the blessings they experience in life, tend to be happier - irrespective of life circumstance. Gratitude helps us to be more resilient. Practising gratitude is a great skill to model to your children and the daily practice of it can really enhance wellbeing. St. Gianna Beretta Molla (who was an Italian paediatrician last century) quite beautifully said, "The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.” Let us be inspired by her words as we approach these summer holidays where we can spend more time connecting with family and friends as we celebrate the birth of Christ and reflect on the year that has been.

Parent Education Network Meeting Replay

We had a very successful online Parent Education Network meeting this term with over 100 families tuning in LIVE! Mr De Vries was joined by Mr Castellino, Miss Musgrave and Miss Fitzalan to provide College updates and answer your questions. 

You can watch the replay on our youtube channel HERE

Santa Sophia Connect Replay: Pathways and Partnerships

We announced many exciting initiatives during this Santa Sophia Connect on the topic of Pathways and Partnerships. 

You can watch the replay on our youtube channel HERE. 

Inside the Happy Families Parent Membership


1.  How to unspoil your child this Christmas:  Is it ok to enjoy extravagance? Can we mix materialism and merriment with meaning? How do we unspoil the kids this Christmas? Join one of Australia's leading parenting experts, Dr Justin Coulson, for a Christmas conversation with a difference.

2. The do's and don't of discipline:

This webinar is for every parent who has ever been so desperate to get their kids to ‘behave’ that they’ve tried Triple P, Super-Nanny, 1-2-3 Magic, and pretty much everything else out there, and still found themselves stuck.

3. What your teenage daughter wants to tell you but can't: 

You’ll leave this webinar with simple tools and techniques to help you guide our daughters safely and successfully through adolescence.

How can I help my Primary child during the holidays?

During the year our primary students have worked hard on developing their literacy skills. They are building their strategies and confidence in reading and writing texts. Often over an extended holiday period children can regress in their literacy skills because they are not practising.

Here are some ideas to continue building on your child’s literacy skills: 


  • Set aside some time to read with your child every day. Read to them, read with them and let them read independently.

  • Use the PM ecollection. 

  • Join a library and borrow books for enjoyment and discovery. 

  • Ask Santa for some special books for Christmas!

Make sure your child’s reading is phrased and fluent, encourage them to make it “sound like talking”. If they are unsure of a word, encourage them to look at the picture (never cover the picture) , think about the story, break the word into parts or just tell your child the word. 


  • Create a journal of your holiday. Take photos and make a book of your holiday. Bring in the book to share with others at school. 

  • Write postcards from places you have visited.

  • Complete an A-Z acrostic poem about your family.  

  • Try these sentence starters - be as imaginative as you can…..

  • I opened the present and……..

  • The best part of 2020 was……..

  • I couldn’t believe my eyes when……..

  • The strangest thing I ever saw…...

  • The first time I ……


  • Toss and Add with 2, 3, 4 dice. What’s the quickest way you can add the numbers?

  • Grab and guess with pegs. Arrange your collection so it’s easy to see. 

  • Use a deck of cards to play snap, concentration friends of ten, snap one less, one more.

    Other Ideas:

  • Play board games and card games like uno

  • Guess who/20 Questions/ I spy on car trips

  • Snakes and Ladders                                      

  • Kids Scrabble   (Let your child win and let them loose!!!)


Dates for your Diary:


Thursday 28 January

- Year 7 Commence

-MAI Testing - Kindy & Year 1

Friday 29 January

- Kindergarten, Year 1, Year 8, Year 9, Year 10 commence.