Principal’s News

St Mary of the Cross, Mary MacKillop Feast Day 8 August

Brigidine Teaching and Learning from Home

Thank you to our wonderful community in rising to the challenges presented over the past week. With the ongoing scrutiny and engagement with Queensland Health, the College continues to navigate the changing face of education during a pandemic. I also pass on our thoughts and prayers to the many schools, businesses and families in the western suburbs of Brisbane, impacted by the Indooroopilly cluster.

As I write this today, I am mindful that it will still be a few weeks before all students and staff are able to continue as normal. Some members of our community remain in quarantine until the end of next week and we wish them well during this time. I look forward to their return as soon as possible.

I wish everyone well as we hopefully return to school.

 ‘All-girls schools create ‘stronger’ women’

A UK study of nearly 3000 students has found students in girls’ schools are more confident and have better emotional control than those in co-ed settings, making them better equipped to deal with stress, pressure and challenges.

Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia executive officer Loren Bridge said single-sex female schools “create a unique environment in which girls are encouraged to embrace competition, fearlessly explore subjects that are traditionally male dominated and challenge each other every day”.

“In addition, girls’ schools have extremely strong pastoral care programs, all tailored to the needs of girls, supporting their mental health and also equipping them with the tools to build resilience,” she said.  Marise McConaghy, Principal at Strathcona Girls Grammar (Melbourne), said girls’ schools boost the confidence of their students, which research shows tends to dip between the ages of eight and 14.

“Without the presence of boys and the increased self-consciousness often attached to this, girls feel more empowered to participate fully,” she said. Ms McConaghy said research suggests “girls’ self-confidence can be eroded by the effects of gender biases and stereotyping found in some coeducational settings”.

“Girls’ schools challenge unhelpful and harmful gender roles by providing a safe environment for girls to try new things, take risks, and pursue excellence in any area they choose, including traditionally male-dominated subjects such as mathematics and the sciences,” she said.

Herald Sun news article

Brendan Cahill

Senior Years Update

Last term, the College partook in Careers Week which was an initiative of our Academic Ambassadors, Archisha Sami and Madeleine Harris. In its inaugural year, the Ambassadors organised quest speakers, for key lunchtime events and for the launch on Senior School Assembly. Students were inspired by a number of teachers at the College who shared their learning pathway to the vocation that they currently do.

On Senior School assembly, Dr Karen Scofield shared her insights about following her passions and working hard to achieve in the artist industry. Dr Schofield has had an illustrious career with the Victorian Symphony Orchestra, performing all over the world, and we are so very fortunate to now have her teacher Music here at the College. Alongside her Madeleine Lam graduate from 2017 shared her journey as a 3D illustrator, and 2020’s College Captain Abbey Cook spoke about her transition to University life.

On Thursday at lunchtime we were privileged to have Tamara Richardson speak to the students about the unplanned path that she has taken to becoming an International Rights Lawyer, and Associate to the UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations.

Here is how one student described the week:

“Careers Week at Brigidine College this year was incredibly inspiring and motivating. A particular highlight of this event was a speech by Tamara Richardson, an international lawyer specializing in cultural rights. As the founder of PACE 48, Tamara spoke about her journey from high school all the way to the British Parliament house, truly admirable. As a student, Tamara provided guidance and motivation to follow your dreams, and that it is okay when things don’t go to plan, because there will always be a path to achieve your goals. Her determination to spark social change prompted us as students to reflect on what our legacy would be, and what our impact on the world will be. We are so grateful for Tamara, her insight, wisdom and guidance was empowering!”

Adeline Brock

Term 3 – Year 12 students are currently working on their final pieces of internal assessment. They will have the opportunity to be involved in Masterclass workshops throughout the September school holiday to help them prepare for their final external exams in Term4.

For all Senior Students now is a great time to reflect on last semester and continue to re-evaluate their own learning habits. Study Hall and Study Hub is available Monday – Thursday afternoon 3:15-4:45pm and Tuesday and Thursday mornings 7:15-8:15am. This service may be beneficial for students to set up a clear study time and study habits.

Korryn Swindail-Hill
Program Leader Senior Years (Acting)

Project-Based Learning in Compass and The Middle Years

In Term 2, 7C had the opportunity to engage in a Humanities project-based learning (PBL) curriculum.

PBL is a dynamic and student-centred approach to learning that focuses on students developing higher-order thinking and collaboration skills within an authentic, real-world, and meaningful learning context.

Students were provided with a driving question – how can we increase global access to fresh drinking water? Then, they began to develop their knowledge and understanding about water as a resource, the water cycle, water usage, day zero, and virtual water.

Cayla Ravizotti’s visual summary of the water cycle

Within 24 hours, students monitored and tracked their water usage at home with many realising they were spending too much time in the shower.

Choropleth maps were created to analyse rainfall data in Australia and climate graphs developed in Excel allowed learners to establish correlations between rainfall and temperature in Australian and global cities. Understanding drought and water movement and management in the Murray Darling Basin also provided students with an opportunity to experience ‘situated cognition’ learning experiences and develop empathy.

Students engaged in re-enacting the movement and management of water in the Murray Darling Basin.

After exploring a case study in Egypt, students worked in their allocated groups to develop a solution to a water scarcity issue in a country of choice. The solution had to help reduce water scarcity by either:

  • increasing the amount of water available in storage for humans to access
  • reducing how much water we use, waste, or lose to evaporation
  • increasing how efficiently we use or reuse water

Extensive ideation, and analysis of data, led to a solution for each group. Finally, students prototyped their product, innovation, plan, or strategy to present as a showcase to the class.

PBL provided students at Brigidine with an opportunity to respond to a global challenge while enhancing their own critical, creative, and higher-order thinking skills. Also, an emphasis on soft skills and collaborative learning has prepared learners for life beyond our community.

Niesha Hart
7C Humanities Classroom Teacher/Acting Program Leader Middle Years

At this time of COVID

God of Compassion,
At this time of pandemic,
Let us foster respect and solidarity with others, especially those who are weak or poor.
Let us remain calm and ignore unsubstantiated rumours.
Let us take advantage of living together as a family.
Let us attend to moments of prayer.
Let us cultivate responsibility, patience and hope.
Bless us all this day with your healing grace.

Prayer adapted from a radio message from Rodolfo Valenzuela Núñez, Bishop of La Verapaz, Guatemala

Keeping a piece of ‘freedom’ in lockdown

As we enter another COVID-19 lockdown, life continues to throw up different possibilities and fresh challenges to our resilience.  For some of us, that’s not an entirely happy prospect.

Make no mistake: No one wants to go back to being shut in our homes, to be worried about physical contact with loved ones for fear of infection, to spending our days in front of computers and Teams cameras, to be juggle face masks every day and hand sanitiser.

But . . .

Stephanie Paulsell of the Harvard Divinity School writes in an essay in The Christian Century [May 19, 2021] that while her university looks forward to fully opening up again,

“I’ve heard from a few students that they’re dreading a little the return to the

intensity of busyness, the social pressures, the competing events. They . . . have

found things to like in their online classes. They’ve had more face time (Zoom is

nothing if not face time) with their professors, more control over their own

participation. They’re nervous about what a return to ‘normal’ will mean . . .

“There’s so much to look forward to in a post-pandemic world: hugs, unmasked faces, gathering in churches and classrooms again. But our worries about how to re-enter the world of classrooms and offices are reminders that the post-pandemic world also looms up as a challenge.

As our world reopens again, how will we find our way in it? We have an opportunity to do more than go back to the way things were — a chance, even a responsibility, to do better. How can we rise to it?

“The pandemic has made it impossible not to know what needs to be done; the injustices fracturing our world have been laid bare for all to see. As I heard a student ask in a presentation on the structural inequalities revealed by COVID: Will we still care when the pandemic is over? Will we stay dissatisfied enough to keep looking for new ways of living that cherish every life?”

The challenge of the past year and a half required us to live our lives in new ways: a new emphasis on family, less obsessiveness about our jobs and careers, rediscovered gratitude for the simple, ordinary things of life that we had taken for granted. In some ways, this time has been a “deserted place” to recalibrate our lives; it’s been a time to rediscover love and friendship, empathy and joy in the things of God.

So, while we’re happy to move beyond this horrible pandemic, may we continue to preserve the “deserted” places and times it afforded us to escape the demands of our calendars and things-to-do lists (garage!), in order to recentre our lives in the compassion and grace of God, to hear again the voice of Christ the Shepherd calling us to lives of joyful gratitude and fulfilling service.

Andrew Beiers and Pan Jordan

Vinnies Update – The Bake Sale

Wasn’t it fun? That was our bake and scrunchies sale on Friday 30 July.

This time we were raising money, not for St Vincent de Paul, but for the Spirit Squads cause of Breast and Ovarian Cancer. The money raised goes towards research efforts to find better treatments and cures for these cancers that exclusively effect women. It could be us one day, it could be our mothers and sisters who will benefit. Research gets results and this is where our funds will go.

Thank you to members who brough in goodies. We spread out across the Holy Lawn and there was plenty of room for girls to consider and choose what they would buy. By 10.50 we’d sold out and the Vinnies clean up crew restored the place to order. It’s great how our big Vinnies group all pitched in for this sale.

As well as cakes and cookies one stall sold bright coloured scrunchies. At the last few Vinnies meetings, we have helped Mrs Jeffcoat make these little treasures. Each one a small work of art in its own way. At meetings there is a basket of long tubes of fabric and a bucket of knitting needles. We know what to do! They need to be turned inside out and pinned back together. Easy to do while we talk and listen to guest speakers.

We raised $704, involved the whole school and had a great time working together.

Mission Ambassadors Ella John and Isabella Laurens

English Department Update

During the last 18 months, opportunities to see any live performances have been few and far between. And so it was extremely fortunate that we managed to squeeze in a visit from Shake & Stir for Year 12 and Year 10 on Monday 26 July in the week before lock down. The Year 12 are now into preparations for the External exam which will require them to write an unseen analytical essay in response to ‘Macbeth’. The troupe’s performance coincided with most classes having finished their first reading of the play and so it helped to consolidate understanding.  Here is a Year 12 student review:

Shake & Stir Performance – The Macbeths:

On the 26th of July, the year 12 English cohort was provided the opportunity to attend Shake & Stir theatre company’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The contemporary, multimodal performance compressed a two-hour long play into 50 minutes of comprehensive and insightful theatre, with a relevant focus on the concept of agency amongst the narrative’s most influential characters. Intermittent placement of ‘exclusive character interviews’ throughout the language-dense performance provided the students with clear narrative commentary and character explorations to form and enrich a practical understanding of Macbeth’s underlying concepts. Following Shake & Stir’s entertaining rendition, guest performers held a 10-minute Q&A session, during which students were able to participate in valuable discussions regarding the play’s characters and contextual significance. Imparting their own professional insights, the Shake & Stir team explored the role of emasculation in motivating Macbeth’s actions and the context of the world behind the text in the inclusion of supernatural elements within the narrative. Ultimately, the experience provided an invaluable opportunity to absorb Macbeth in the true spirit of theatre and consult with experienced performers.

Lane Wesson
Year 12 student

Year 10 Update

Year 10 are studying ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and their assessment involves imaginative writing and performance. Hopefully they have been inspired by the production. And below are a few snippets from student responses:

Currently, as a year 10 student, we are learning about the Shakespeare tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, so seeing the re-enactment of the play was very beneficial to understanding the powerful and conflicting forces throughout the story. One of the highlights was seeing Juliet’s nurse, not only was the actor extremely extra, but humorously played their part well.
Sarah Boyce

The year 10 cohort of Brigidine witnessed Shake and Stir’s modern adaptation of the play Romeo and Juliet, which is performed in COVID friendly manor as well as being uplifting and entertaining to watch. I feel that the play was very informative, easy to keep up with, and a lot of fun.
Eyrnn Konza

Although I don’t always understand the language of Shakespeare, Shake & Stir managed to make the play easy to understand as well as being entertaining. One of the highlights of the play was the actor who played Romeo’s best friend Mercutio. He was funny, playful, and added humour to a play that would soon end in a tragedy.
Georgia Frizzell

With the usage of minimal props, the characters were easily identifiable, the scenes transitioned smoothly between each other, allowing the story to be well communicated to the students. This fabulous adaption by Shake and Stir allowed me to fully experience each aspect of the play and I feel more confident to attempt the upcoming monologue assessment.
Chloe Hogg

It felt so real, as if I were actually there, 500 years ago. So much feeling, so much energy which captures the minds of so many. Throughout the performance, the process of character development was so evident and that is what I loved most about the performance.
Sheyana de Silva

Everyone in the year 10 cohort could not stop talking about the performance and how the actors made our topic of Romeo and Juliet much more interesting and enjoyable.
Emily McMurray

The utilisation of “Shakespearian” was effective and easily understandable and the hilarious interconnection and play on the current issue of COVID 19.
Eva Beesley

Each of the characters, especially the actors of Romeo, the Nurse, Friar Lawrence, and Mercutio, were able to accurately capture the emotions that we have been closely examining during class. However, when watching the multitude of fight scenes, the one thing I wondered was, how on earth did they manage to make the (very realistic and hilarious) punching noises?
Elianne Hamilton

It was helpful as it provided a hands-on learning experience, with greater depth as it was put into actions. This allowed it to be incredibly enjoyable, as we saw the struggles of the characters, experiencing first-hand the highs and lows, and overall woes of the characters from Shakespeare’s play. I would empathically encourage others to view this play, as it is well worth the watch!
Lizzie O’Driscoll

Romany Smith
Curriculum Leader English

The Year 9s participated in the Wonder of Science competition last week where they presented their experiments to answer the question, “Do chemical reactions always release energy?”. Judges from the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology said that all five presentations were of a very high standard and students were commended on their enthusiasm for science. The creativity of the presentations ranged from live experiments, sock-puppets, artistic displays of results and an award show with past physics greats: Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton. The winning team was both entertaining and scientifically informative. Well done to Lucy Thorley, Tiah Kalaja, Sarah Behr and Avalon Gardner, who will go onto the Regional Wonder of Science Competition later this year.

Tina Christy

Categories: The Brigidine Blog