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Alpha News 2022, Term 1, Week 6

Term 1, Week 6 2022

From the Principal

I am not sure where the time has gone but after a solid five weeks back at school we have reached the halfway mark of this term. It is good to feel that this year, we may just be returning to some level of normality rather than the possibility of facing another period of remote learning.

I thank all families for doing what they can to help settle things down and get the students back into their routines. By all accounts it has been a much smoother re-entry than we were anticipating.

House Night

Our recent Secondary House Night along with the Year 7 Parents Drinks session ran very smoothly. Everyone had the chance to meet new families and reacquaint themselves with familiar faces once more. We also had the greatest numbers register for the event than ever before.

I am incredibly grateful to Deputy Head of Secondary: Ms Deirdre Grealish and the Heads of House; Mrs Toula Terezakis, Mr Andrew Diviny, Mr Con Papoulis and Ms Anna Milburn together with all House Mentors who organised the event for families to come together and share in the relaxed atmosphere under the warm twilight sun. There are many families who have not seen the school and who do not know other families, and it was terrific to be able to let everyone connect to our school community in this way.

We all enjoyed a great night of music organised by our music staff and I send a special shout out to our School Music Captain Krishan Gurdon, who is thriving in the role and really refining his Event Management skills.

A full night of performances over several hours showcased the students’ talent and gave them a performance opportunity they have not had over the last couple of years. It was also wonderful to see some of our Grammarians come back to play on the night. Many thanks to both Mr Ewen Baker and Ms Stephanie Atwa for leading everyone through the concert.

Of course we were all spoilt with the many tasty dishes and food choices prepared by our own Canteen Manager: Mrs Brooke Koutroulis and owner: Mr Mathew Di Rico and served by all the House Mentors.

Special thanks to Mr Con Papoulis and Ms Olivia Rahme in particular who cooked hundreds of sausages on the BBQ to help feed us all.

I much appreciate all the work undertaken by our Marketing Team: Mrs Sanja Kalapoutis and Ms Adelle Greenbury who along with Mrs Priya Wilson, our Head of Music and Performing Arts/Year 7 Coordinator, helped bring the Year 7 families together for welcome drinks in the Lyceum and then helped run the bar and serve nibbles on the night. It is terrific to hear firsthand of the positive experiences our Year 7 students have had. 

I congratulate the student House Leaders and Future House Leaders who helped decorate, set up, serve, and then pack up and clean up the event. With over 500 people registered to attend you can all imagine how much work had to go into preparing for this event.

Parents and Friends Association (PFA) and Volunteers

Our Parents and Friends Association is a most valuable group of parents I rely on heavily to help be the conduit between The School and the parent body. The PFA and Volunteers help connect the school community by helping organise events such as Class and House gatherings, support Music and Performing Arts events, Cake Bake Sales, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events, along with helping to raise valuable funds by running the Second Hand Uniform Shop and Second Hand Book Sale.

Over the last two years activities have been heavily curtailed with all the restrictions. The number of volunteers we have helps keep us growing as a School community and reinforces the message strongly to our children that their schooling matters. All things being equal we plan to come back stronger than ever this year.

I am totally delighted to see how many parents have volunteered to add weight to the Association either by being available to attend monthly meetings (Term time only) and help plan things that need more intense support, OR by being willing to work with the Class teacher and Heads of House to bring families together in a targeted way a couple of times a year. Thank you to all those who joined us online recently to look at the operational matters of being a volunteer and member of the Association.

Given the restrictions of the last two years we will reinstate the committee with current President of the PFA: Ms Voula Allimonos. The next meeting will be on campus on the last Monday of March.

There are many and varied activities that the committee and different year level groups are working through so please look out for these and help grow our school.

Open Day, Saturday 5th March

Our biggest opportunity to showcase our school is always our Open Day. Despite the rain and looming grey clouds, radio advertisements, letter drops and billboards around Melbourne no doubt helped drive traffic to us as families look to secure places for their children. Waiting lists are emerging as we look to bring families in for interviews and securing our numbers for 2023 and beyond.

As in many schools, Open Day is one of the biggest events of the year. Thank you to over 70 students who volunteered their time to act as tour guides and participate in activities across the School and to help make this a very successful day. I thank all teachers and administration staff who put an enormous effort into this wonderful event.

We are all totally indebted to our Head of Maintenance Mr Andrew Bunton for all he continuously does to help showcase our school. We very much appreciate the work he and his team do every day.

I encourage families who have other children they wish to enrol in our school to please make sure enrolment forms have been submitted to our Registrar Ms Stacy Scott so that there is no disappointment down the track.

Enrolment interviews will begin after the Labour Day exeat weekend.

Scholarships

Scholarship testing for entry into the 2023 school year also took place recently. These are highly competitive everywhere and again we have had record numbers of students sitting for entry into both Primary and Secondary Years.

Testing results should be back to us by the end of Term and I will be in a position to notify all families on the status of their application once I have had a chance to review the results with the Scholarship committee.

I wish all candidates every success with the process that lies ahead.

Exeat Weekend

With the Labour Day public holiday ahead, please note that the school will be closed on Monday 14 March and reopen on Tuesday 15 March. Enjoy the long weekend.

Dr Vivianne Nikou
School Principal
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From the Assistant Principal, Head of Secondary

Health and Wellbeing in the Secondary School

Recently, Ms Deirdre Grealish and I spoke to the Student Leadership Committee, where we encouraged them to speak openly about the mental health of the student body after returning to school following two years of the pandemic.

Many of the leaders told us that the students were struggling with the workload and needed some coping strategies. The workload has not changed for years – what has changed is their ability to cope with it, given the emotional toll the pandemic has had on them.

In response to this feedback, we arranged our School Psychologist, Mr Max White, to deliver a targeted session to our Years 10-12 students during assembly this week. The focus was on stress and how to cope with it. Max provided the students with strategies that can assist them in coping with stress. He spoke about what causes stress and emphasised that it is a natural human reaction that we all experience. 

Furthermore, we have already incorporated two additional wellbeing workshops into the Health and Wellbeing curriculum for all Year levels. On top of the well-established Resilience Program, we have secured two external companies to come and work with our students: Gameplan Wellbeing Coaching and Consent Labs. We have also engaged the services of a company called The Flipside for our junior Secondary students. This group provides an engaging live theatrical performance designed to teach strategies for resilience, help seeking, online safety, and positive relationships. The performance is followed by a Q&A session. Parents and students can find out further information by following the links below:

Game Plan Coaching

Consent Labs

Year 12 Tutoring

We are now into the fifth year of our Year 12 tutoring and PAR mentoring programs. These initiatives work side by side to help our students achieve academic success.

Tutoring

We employ four of our high performing ex-students to come into school every Friday to work with our senior students, tutoring them in English, Literature, Physics, History, Math Methods and Further Maths.

Every Year 12 student has Study periods throughout the day, so the Heads of Faculty have designed a withdrawal rota, where they are removed from Study periods and sent to have one-on-one or small group sessions with our tutors. 

Several key factors explain the popularity and effectiveness of the tutoring program. Firstly, the tutors are still in the tertiary systems themselves and are very aware of the demands and challenges of Year 12. These students achieved their own success through our system, and as a result use the same language and structures that students will hear from our teachers, reducing the risk of confusion. In addition, many of our Year 12 students already know our tutors, meaning that what they say resonates more with the students. To ensure that everything runs smoothly between classes and tutorials, classroom teachers regularly meet with our tutors before their sessions with the kids. 

Before any of the tutoring takes place, I target two groups of students which captures all of the students in Year 12. Only having 48 students makes this achievable. The two target groups are:

– Borderline Study Score of 30
– Borderline Study Score of 40

The tutoring curriculum is designed with these benchmarks in mind. Achieving a Study Score of over 40 in Year 12 places that student in the top 8% of the state. All of our tutors achieved this, and we even have the 2019 DUX working as a tutor. In order to make informed decisions around targeting students bordering study scores of 30 and 40 I rely on the staff, taking part in what we call PAR Mentoring.

PAR (Predicted Achievement Range) Mentoring

Every member of the Year 12 cohort has their own mentor (normally a middle manager, though the Principal and myself also have mentees). PAR Mentoring takes place multiple times throughout the year, but most importantly at the end of Term 1, 2 and 3. 

The teachers regularly update a central assessment tracking portal which holds all of the Year 12s’ assessment data. This portal includes their School Assessed Coursework (SAC) scores and exam results. Based on this data, along with the prior knowledge the teacher has of their students, a predicted study score is entered into the portal two weeks before the end of each term. At this point the assigned mentor meets with their Year 12 mentee to discuss the Study Score prediction. The student then has input by deciding upon a realistic target Study Score that they can aim for. The student then meets with each of their class teachers to agree upon three skill-based targets that will help them achieve their negotiated target. The mentor will then calculate their ‘predicted’ and ‘target’ ATAR based on the teacher predictions and the student’s targets. Often the difference between the two can be confronting for the students; however, it also serves as a motivational tool to narrow that gap in the next round of PAR Mentoring.

Par Mentoring Sheet

The Year 12 students have started the year off brilliantly. Programs like PAR mentoring can be a great help to aspiring Year 12s, but ultimately their success comes down to their own intrinsic motivation. We will be working on this through out the year.

We have now passed the halfway point of Term One and I would like to remind all of the students to take advantage of the three homework clubs that run throughout the week. I would be grateful if parents could encourage this, which will help establish productive habits. When a student stays up to date with the workload, they will feel less stressed and more confident. Our Homework clubs are a great way of making this a reality.

Mr Lukas Silver
Assistant Principal
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From the Assistant Principal, Head of Primary

Open Day

Our classrooms and corridors were at their very best in readiness for Open Day last Saturday 5th March. Teachers ensured that there was student work on display and that the efforts of the first five weeks of term were evident.

I would like to thank and acknowledge our Primary Student Tour leaders and also the students who took part in music performances on the day. It is a significant challenge to perform in front of visitors or to take a group of visitors around the school and talk about a range of topics unscripted. We are very proud of them all.

Tour Leaders

Raife Patel, Jiayi Alexiou, Emmanuelle Batsakis, Dion Rabba, Aston Abela, Ethan Mollison, Artie Hauge , Ethan Athanasopoulos, Charlie Johnson, Yara AlAsaad, Zander Ioannou, Anastasia Moses, Mary Papadatos, Elena Sousamlis, Ben Gerner, Kyara Fokianos, Alexander Bassett

Junior Greek Band

Aleksandros Nikolaidis, Sam Stratikopoulos , Jonathan Karambelas, Ethan Athanasopoulos Jiayi Alexiou

Wind Showcase

Evan Kondys

Congratulations to all our staff and students on our Open Day event. Our very helpful students were treated to lunch on the day as well a donut and juice box morning tea on Tuesday as a ‘thank you’. The comments from the many visitors on the day were very positive and despite the somewhat gloomy weather the day was very successful.

As some families would be aware, a new after school club called Code Camp has started this year. This takes place each Wednesday afternoon and students who attend are being taken through the building of an online game from its very beginnings to where it becomes a playable entity. Because of the sequential nature of the coding activity, students needed to enrol at the beginning of the term in order to participate and make sure they could scaffold their skills week by week.

However, we have now been asked by Code Camp to host a holiday program on the 19th, 20th and 21st of April so this is an exciting opportunity for those that missed out this term, and for those that want to continue to build their skills. There will be two levels of program on offer for ages 7 to 13, and this fully supervised activity will take place in our own primary rooms. There will be minimum numbers required before we can confirm that it will go ahead. Please see the flyer in the fortnightly bulletin for more information or visit this link.

As part of this new activity, Code Camp have offered ONE student the opportunity to attend FREE of charge. If your child would like to apply for this free place (value up to $390), please see below on how to enter.

Code Camp Free Scholarship for April 19th, 20th and 21st at Alphington Grammar School (pending enrolments)

• Open for Students ages 7-13 able to manage a laptop device and take part in sustained listening/doing oriented activity.
• Value of up to $390

To apply:
Students should write a short response to the following question:

HOW DO COMPUTERS HELP US IN OUR WORLD?

Entries should be no longer than one page and can include drawings. They will be evaluated, and age will be taken into consideration.

Entries should be submitted to Mrs Nicholson or Mrs Downey no later than Friday 18th March.

Don’t forget to include your name and class.

Mrs Tracey Nicholson
Assistant Principal, Head of Primary
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From the Secondary School

Secondary Debate Incursion

Our Secondary Debate Program students took part in two training incursions over the last two weeks, in preparation for the start of the Debating season.  

DI 1.2

The first session saw them engaging in preparation for their debate topic. There were a lot of questions around the relative value of the truth in a debate and some thorough planning for their first round debate. It was interesting to see the varying approaches the different teams took to the same topic and how they justified their particular argument.

The second session had a focus on rebuttals; a difficult but crucial skill to master for any Debater. Our students came up with creative and challenging rebuttals to a variety of topics, as they learnt how to form their rebuttals in the most successful structure possible. By the end of the session there was a marked improvement in their approach, and we look forward to seeing them try out these developing skills when the season begins on March 17th.

Mr Panara and I would like to wish our first set of teams the best of luck in their last week of preparation.

Ms Anna Milburn and Mr Robert Panara
Debating Facilitators
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The Resilience Project Parent Information Night

We are writing to invite you to The Resilience Project presentation, which will be held on Monday 9 May, commencing at 6.30pm via a live webinar.

The Resilience Project delivers emotionally engaging programs to schools, parents, sports clubs and businesses, providing practical, evidence-based, positive mental health strategies to build resilience and happiness.

They empower parents and parent liaisons, and deliver a presentation that provides practical strategies to help build their children’s resilience.

Parent-Carers Resilience Brochure

They have delivered programs to over 500 schools around the country and worked with many elite sporting teams including the Australian cricket, netball and soccer teams, NRL and AFL clubs.

Hugh van Cuylenburg– Presenter on Monday 9 May

Hugh has been working in education for over 15 years, teaching both Primary and Secondary in a range of educational settings. The highlight of his teaching career was the year he spent in the far north of India volunteering and living at an underprivileged school in the Himalayas. It was here that he discovered resilience in its purest form.

Inspired by this experience, Hugh returned to Melbourne and commenced working on his own program for schools. ‘The Resilience Project’ was born. Having completed his post graduate studies looking at resilience and wellbeing, Hugh has since developed and facilitated programs for over 900 schools Australia wide.

In 2015, the National Rugby League asked Hugh to run workshops at every club in the competition. Since then, he has worked with the Australian Cricket Team, the Australian Netball Team, the Australian Women’s Soccer Team, The Jillaroos and 10 AFL teams. Beyond the team environment, Hugh has been lucky enough to work one on one with individuals such as Steve Smith, Dustin Martin and Billy Slater. He currently works closely with the Port Adelaide Football Club.

In addition to his work in schools and elite sport, Hugh has presented to over 500 corporate groups as a keynote speaker and developed comprehensive programs for a range workplaces across different sectors.

Please contact Ms Olivia Rahme if you have any queries. Otherwise, we look forward to welcoming you to this presentation.

Olivia Rahme  
Head of PE, Sport and Health 
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Public Speaking

Emotive bears, blind drawings, and songs about a moose called Fred… the Public Speaking Program certainly took a unique turn this week! Led by Mr Robert Panara, our Public Speakers participated in a session on how to feel more confident when delivering their speeches and really developing their presence on stage. 

It was so encouraging to see the students slowly but surely forget their nerves as they focused on communicating their ideas in a precise manner that could be accessible to a broad demographic.

It is now only a couple of weeks before Presentation Evening on Tuesday 22nd March and Mr Robert Panara and I are looking forward to seeing the students fine tune their speeches and prepare for their final performance. With topics ranging from black holes to debating if human nature is innately evil, there is sure to be something for everyone’s interests.

More information on the Presentation Evening will be sent out to those involved by the end of the week. We look forward to seeing you there!  

Ms Anna Milburn and Mr Robert Panara
Public Speaking Facilitators
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Year 7 House Morning Tea

Our House Leaders and Future Leaders co-hosted four House Morning Tea’s for our new Year 7 students. The sessions were a brilliant opportunity for the Year 7s to make deeper connections with others in their house and to get to know their House leadership team. They enjoyed sharing stories about the first weeks of Secondary School and getting to know each other outside the classroom environment.

Year 7 Morning Tea 5

The Future Leaders passed on words of wisdom and some wonderful tips

‘Take advantage of all the opportunities at school and get involved in as much as you can’

‘Enjoy Year 7, it goes by so fast’ 

‘Talk to your teachers if you need help, they are great at providing support’ 

‘Sort your homework into levels of importance and be organised’

Students can look forward to many more opportunities where they can connect with others in their house and develop many new friendships

Ms Priya Wilson 
Year 7 Coordinator
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From the Primary School

Upcoming Primary Production

We are excited to finally be performing the previously postponed Year 1-5 Production of ‘There’s a Sunflower in my Supper’ and ‘Dragon Days.’  The performance will take place on Tuesday 29th March at 6:00pm, in the Andrianakos Centre here at Alphington Grammar School. 

Tickets will go on sale this Friday 11th March from 6:00pm via this link.

Please note that all audience members must be fully vaccinated and present their digital certificates on admission. 

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From the ELC

Bush Adventuring Program

Welcome to country, WOMINJEKA 
Here is the land,  
Here is the sky, 
Here are my friends  
And here am I. 
We thank the Wurundjeri people on the land on which we learn and play.  
Hands up, hands down we are on Wurundjeri ground.  
WOMINJEKA! 

elc (1)

Inspired by our beautiful surrounds at Alphington Grammar, children in the ELC love exploring our natural world by the banks of the Darebin River. 

Children are aware and respectful of the animals and the bush environment, and are encouraged to use all their senses to explore. In nature, ELC children observe and take time to notice the finer details of their surrounds, embracing new learning opportunities. 

By viewing the natural environment, children are developing respect for their surrounds as well as considering the impact that they may have on the environment and how they can contribute positively.  

In the past weeks bush adventuring, children have been discussing positional concepts related to their shadows. Is their shadow behind them or in front? Is it small or big? When looking at the Darebin Creek, is the water flowing or stagnant? How about the puddle? Children have been predicting what the creek will have looked like after heavy rain. Did it flow faster or slower?

The children have posed many wonderful questions, providing a platform for extending their learning interest in the future. Learning outdoors in this way offers rich possibilities for investigation whilst also providing strong links to the Early Years Learning Framework.  

ELC Educators
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From the LOTE Department

Celebrating Apokries (Carnival) and pre–Greek Easter Traditions

In the last two weeks, students across the school have been learning about the Apokries Carnival traditions by making masks, taking part in traditional Carnival games and learning popular stories associated with the Carnival celebrations, such as the story of Harlequin (Arlekinos).

LOTE 6

On Monday students had the opportunity to make and fly their own kites to mark the beginning of the Lenten or fasting period before Easter. The oval was a sea of colour as the children flew their kites in perfect kite flying conditions. Kite flying during the first day of the Lenten period symbolises the cleansing of the soul and new beginnings. 

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Dancing the Γαϊτανάκι (Gaitanaki)

Gaitanaki is a traditional Greek carnival dance. A maypole is used with 12 ribbons – a different colour for each dancer. We were very fortunate to have Mrs Jenny Iliou come into school to teach our Year 5 students the dance.

LOTE

Mrs Iliou brought her colourful maypole and taught the students how to weave in and out with their ribbons while dancing to the traditional music. The children created a beautiful braid at the end of the dance. We would like to thank Mrs Iliou for coming in to share this wonderful Carnival tradition with our Year 5 students. 

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‘I Can Sing a Rainbow’, in Greek!

Our talented Prep students have learnt all their colours in Greek with the help of the popular song ‘I can sing a rainbow’ (the Greek version). Students made rainbows with streamers and rainbow crowns. A delightful sea of colour, joy and song filled the Prep room as the children danced and sang the song while parading in their polychromatic accessories! 

Ms Effie Bindevis 
Primary Greek Coordinator 
 
Ms Denise Diakodimitriou 
Head of LOTE 

Updates and Reminders

From the Finance Office

The finance team would like to thank all families who have paid their school fees for the semester. If you have not yet paid your school fees, please be reminded that they need to be paid as soon as possible.

Upcoming Events

Sporting Minds

Easter Egg Hunt

Primary Production

Term Dates 2022