Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College - Newsletter

Volume 25 Edition 2 - May 2020

Welcome to Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox College eNewsletter

From the Head of College - Mr Anthony Tsoutsas

Pikhristos Aftonf! Khen oumethmi aftonf!  Ekhristos Anesti! Alithos Anesti! Christ is Risen!  Truly He is Risen! Χριστός Ανέστη!  Aληθώς Aνέστη! المسيح قام! حقا قام!‎ (al-Masīḥ qām! Ḥaqqan qām!); 

Hristos vaskrse!Vaistunu vaskrse!
Christos t'ensah em' muhtan!Exai' ab-her eokala!

A warm and heartfelt WELCOME to all our Families, Staff and Students for the commencement of Pentecost Term 2.   Though in this very strange situation we all find ourselves in, I do hope that everyone had a blessed Easter and pray that this current situation is resolved quickly, not only with us but worldwide.  

Throughout this time, we've endeavoured to keep everyone informed as best we can, adjust our teaching and learning in record time (like everyone else) and teach and learn to a screen!  Not the ideal, but hopefully with everyone's cooperation and care, the result from these measures will allow us a speedy return to full face to face teaching and learning for the commencement of  Term 3. 

Unfortunately, again like everyone, we have had to follow directives and requirements and as such so many, many events and activities have needed to be cancelled until restrictions are lifted.  I must however emphasize that families and parents in general have been enormously supportive of what is being requested, informed or required and for this I thank and applaud each and every one of you as it's made this whole exercise that little bit more tolerable.  A huge thank you to every member of staff for their amazing cooperation and support in learning AND then implementing totally new modes of delivery within a day or two!  We are all humbled by the manner and care that has been shown and given.

Building Project

Whilst all this is going on, the Building Project has been progressing with only minor set backs in order to abide by social distancing requirements.  Demolition has been completed and workrooms/sheds have been installed. Excavation and levelling is currently being undertaken and the road in front of the site has been adjusted to comply with the approved Traffic Requirements.    At this stage (and without any further unexpected delays or major weather problems) it is difficult to commit to a completion date, however regular updates will be provided to view progress.

Enrolment & Withdrawal Procedures

We apologise to all parents that have needed to have their enrolment interviews cancelled over the past month.  We will be recommencing with Enrolment Interviews from week 3 however will limit the attendees to only 2 persons per interview, i.e. myself plus 2 from the family applying.

Regrettably the procedure for families withdrawing from the College has not been followed in some cases and as such many are surprised they are still required to pay school fees even though their child no longer attends. It is a requirement of a family's contract with the College that they enter into at enrolment, that one term's notice of withdrawal is to be given in writing to the Head of College, if a student is to be withdrawn from the School, otherwise one full term’s fees are payable in lieu of such notice.   Unfortunately this has become an issue with a few families withdrawing from the commencement of this year and then surprised they are still required to pay school fees for term 1, or term 2 dependent on their exit.

So I offer the following explanation and notification to all current and future families in this Newsletter which may assist in your planning.  The following is by no means unique to St Mark's Coptic Orthodox College and is standard practice in ALL Independent schools (not Catholic Systemic or Department schools that I'm aware of) around Australia.

In this advice to the Head, it is a legal requirement that the new school to be attended is also listed as this information is included on the Attendance Register which is linked to NESA and Government requirements (for funding purposes). Without receiving this written notice one full term PRIOR to exit, families will be charged the term following their departure for each child as each Independent school relies on their current enrolment data at any point in time which affects their funding and budgeting. 

So, to be informed within the term of exit (or the holiday period before the exit term) will mean that the student-position being actively listed will no longer receive the designated departmental funding, hence why the following term is unfortunately billed to families notifying the College within the term of exit.

The College does not force anyone who applies for enrolment to accept, nor does the College force anyone to remain in the College if circumstances require them to seek an alternate school.  All that is requested is that parents honour and follow the terms and conditions of the enrolment contract so that financial disputes and additional strains on families are avoided.  Your assistance is requested in this matter so that if you are intending to withdraw your child/children at the end of this year, you MUST forward your written notification of intention to the College by the end of Term 3 at the latest.   If in doubt with timing of notice to withdraw due to relocation/waiting list notification etc, then still please advise us that the intent exists and there is a strong possibility of withdrawing. 

NSW Coptic Colleges Board

During mid-March, the College was advised that Mr Maged Zaki and Mr Matthew Nasralla had tendered their resignation from the Board, as per their notification letter emailed to all parents at that time.   Mr Sam Saweres remained.

As such, the Diocese together with the Trustees recently advised us via a Decree from His Eminence Metropolitan Tadros that a new Board has been appointed and as such, we welcome, under the auspices of His Eminence Metropolitan Tadros and His Holiness Pope Tawadros ll, the following individuals appointed to direct and oversee the three Coptic Colleges in Sydney:

Mr Mina Hanna (Solicitor) - Board Secretary 

Mr Sam Saweres (existing) (Accountant)

Dr Mourad Nosir (Medical Practitioner)

Ms Monica Ikladios (IT Director and Digital Marketer)  

Dr Mena Salib (Medical Specialist - Cardiologist)

Firstly on behalf of the College, we thank Mr Zaki and Mr Nasralla for all their effort and involvement during the 18-odd months of their tenure and for their constant support of our College and effort towards its progress.  Likewise, we warmly welcome all members of the new Board, many of whom have faithfully served on previous Boards over the past 20 years, and wish them every success and blessing that their efforts and guidance across all three Colleges is undertaken with support from all of us, working together collectively to ensure our Colleges continue to move forward in the right direction.

Construction Progress Photos as at 29 Apr 20

From the College Chaplain, Very Rev Fr George Nakhil


The Inaugural Global Coptic Day was celebrated on 1 June 2019.

Global Coptic Day is now to be an annual celebration of the contributions made by the Coptic Orthodox Church over many centuries. But is it also a day for members of the church to “P.R.A.I.S.E.” (see below). We hope reach all round the world.  All participants are asked to use the hashtag #GlobalCopticDay in all social media posts.

While the primary method of celebrating Global Coptic Day on June 1st will be by posting and sharing posts on social media (mainly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and using the hashtag #GlobalCopticDay, there are additional ways to celebrate.

On June 1, we encourage everyone to fill their day with any of these P.R.A.I.S.E. activities: 

P(ray) – Dedicate all your prayers on June 1st to the peace of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and all around the world. 

R(ead) – Start a tradition of reading a story of a Coptic saint or martyr to your young children every Global Coptic Day, thereby creating memories that will last a lifetime. Of course, the R can also stand for “Reading”( the Bible), including the verses related to the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15). 

A(cts of Mercy) – Take the time to visit the sick or feed the hungry, give to the poor, clothe those in need or visit the imprisoned. If you contact your parish priest, you can coordinate with him. 

I(nvite) – Take this opportunity to invite friends or co-workers to attend one of our Coptic services, whether a Vespers, Liturgy, Bible study or other gathering. 

S(ervice) – Provide whatever service might be needed in your community, neighborhood or local parish. 

E(ducate) – On June 1st, use social media to educate the public about what the Coptic Church is all about. Share beneficial articles, videos, links, photos and anything else that would bring the Coptic Church closer to people’s hearts and minds. The E can also stand for “Evangelize,” which the entire day attempts to do. Of course, you’re not asked to do ALL of these activities on Global Coptic Day, only whatever is feasible.

If you are celebrating Global Coptic Day with family and friends, please share your photos and videos on social media, using the #globalcopticday hashtag, so everyone can see them.

Upcoming Dates

Term 2 - 2020


Please Note:  NAPLAN 2020 has been cancelled following NESA advice

Weeks 1 & 2 On-Line Format

Student attendance of essential workers

Fri 8 May         Periods 1 & 2 : Year 9 Liturgy

Weeks 3 & 4 On-Line Format

Following the changes to social distancing requirements in schools, Year levels will be rostered along with students from essential services families to commence attendance from Monday 11 May 2020.  The Rosters for Primary & Secondary classes will be emailed to all families  (any further changes will be advised and also emailed to all families)

Sun 10 May      Mother's Day

Thu  14 May     Earlybird Liturgy 6 - 8 am

Fri  15 May       Periods 1 & 2 = Year 10 Liturgy

Thu  21 May     Earlybird Liturgy 6 - 8 am

Fri 22 May        Periods 1 & 2 =  Year 12 Liturgy

Weeks 5 - 9 Transitional (To Be Advised)

Thu  28 May     Earlybird Liturgy 6 - 8 am

Fri  29 May       Periods 1 & 2 =  Stage 3 Liturgy


Mon  1 Jun       Global Coptic Day

Thu  4 Jun        Earlybird Liturgy 6 - 8 am

Fri  5 Jun          Periods 1 & 2 =  Stage 2 Liturgy

Sun 7 Jun        Holy Pentecost

Mon 8 Jun       Apostles' Fast commences

Mon 8 Jun       Queen's Birthday Public Holiday

Thu 11 Jun       Earlybird Liturgy 6 - 8 am

Fri  12 Jun        Periods 1 & 2 =  Yr 7 Liturgy

Thu  18 Jun     Earlybird Liturgy 6 - 8 am

Fri  19 Jun       Periods 1 & 2 =  Year 8 Liturgy

Thu  25 Jun     Earlybird Liturgy 6 - 8 am

Fri  26 Jun       Periods 1 & 2 =  Stage 1 Liturgy

Fri  26 Jun       Last Day of lessons for K - 12.  End of Term

Deputy Head of College K - 12 Mrs Deborah Grohala

Curriculum News Years 7 - 12 Mr Peter Joseph

Staff Professional Development

Despite many face-to-face staff development sessions being cancelled indefinitely, the College is continuing its professional development for staff online. Staff are currently completing an online course relating to ‘Flipped Learning’, a pedagogical framework that intertwines technology with student learning. Whilst many teachers in the profession were forced to transform their teaching in a 24 hour period because of COVID-19, we hope to use this period to build upon the integration of technology within student learning.

Assessments impacted by COVID-19

As has been communicated to students, the following is an outline of information relating to assessment tasks and any impact during this COVID-19 period.

·       There are some subjects / grades who have missed assessments in Term 1 due to the transition online. In many of these cases, the in-class task will be converted to a take-home task. Some tasks will be done online. 

·       The Years 7-10 Exam Block WAS scheduled for Week 6. This exam block will now be moved to the final week of this term (Week 9).

·       Where possible, some Year 11 tasks will be changed from in-class tests to submission tasks. Some in-class tests will be pushed back to the end of the term.

·       Year 12 Assessments continue AS NORMAL.

In all cases, students should refer to the SAD (Student Assessment and Deadlines) Calendar for all updated scheduling.


Curriculum News cont... (2 page info)

Technology updates

BYO-CB (Chromebook) for Years 5 & 6

As we are all facing challenges during this time with COVID-19 and trying to have the students at home on the remote learning platforms. One of the biggest challenges and common questions that we get every day is that the students in Years 5 & 6 do not have their own device at home and also what device they should use.

As a Google school and everything we use around the G-Suite platform; Chromebook is the most suitable & affordable device for their age and needs.

Also, it is our recommended device for years 7-10 at St Mark’s College. Which makes it useful for them for the coming few years.

So, please if you are thinking of buying a device for your child in Year 5 or 6, we strongly recommend Chromebook for the many reasons outlined below.

  • To enable students to use technology to enhance their learning
  • To provide the opportunity for teachers to continue to tailor lesson delivery so that students can use their devices in online classes (once COVID-19 is over we may allow students in Years 5 &6 to start bringing their own Chromebook after signing a BYO-Chromebook Policy that we have available on the College website).
  • To encourage the bringing of a computing device to school by all students in Years 5-12.
  • To provide a safe environment in which students can achieve Objective 1 5. To ensure a minimum standard of device compatibility.
  • To provide the opportunity for teachers to continue to tailor lesson delivery so that students can use their devices in class and in this current situation to be able to participate in the remote Learning during COVID-19. 

Private Instrumental Tuition @ SMC