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Alpha News 2022, Term 2, Week 2

Term 2, Week 2 2022

From the Principal

Welcome Back everyone. I hope you have all had a very relaxing Easter break after what seemed a long Term 1. I had the opportunity at the end of last Term to accompany the Year 12 students on their Northern Territory adventure; a trip they organised totally by themselves whilst still in Year 11.  

Having been the last cohort to undertake the Vietnam Gateways experience in 2019, the students were certainly keen to have an experience together given that their much-anticipated European adventure had to be cancelled due to the COVID lockdowns.

I congratulate Yanek Stecki (12, Pericles) for being the main driver of this trip and for his determination to see this through despite the multiple cancellations and disappointments.

The Year 10 students were also able to undertake their missed Year 9 outback adventure to Central Australia and Alice Springs while the Year 11 students were able to complete their missed Year 10 camp to Northern Territory.

I am confident that the memories they have created together will last them well past their years at Alphington.

The term has started off well with many events having taken place. These have included parent teacher interviews over three nights, a special Anzac day Assembly and a visit from the Presidential Guard of Greece, the “Evzones”,  rehearsals for the upcoming Secondary School production: High School Musical, and Life Education classes for the Primary Years.

ANZAC DAY SERVICE

We were fortunate to receive the news that the Presidential Guard of Greece (EVZONES), an elite group of Greek soldiers trained to perform various ceremonial duties and who stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Palace, were going to be able to visit us here at school for a special Anzac Day service. With the lifting of COVID restrictions for schools it was also possible to have 100 guests join us in the Andrianakos Centre for what was a very dignified and moving experience. Many of our families have not been able to visit their families and loved ones in Greece over the last few years and felt quite moved by the experience of seeing the guards here in Melbourne. The students heard more about the Anzacs, the Greek- Australian Alliance that started more than some 200 years ago and also learnt more about the uniforms of the guards and their duties. 

I want to extend my thanks to Tracey Nicholson who spent a phenomenal number of hours working on our Anzac Day assembly so that we could receive the Presidential Guards from Greece here at school. The protocols to follow whilst juggling the coordination of multiple guests and dignitaries was a mammoth undertaking including, staging, multiple scripts for all the presenters and readers, PowerPoint presentation  and wreaths. Thank you, Tracey, for executing a really dignified service that has seen us receive many compliments come through from the RSL, families and guests.

I acknowledge the work of the music department , Priya Wilson, Ewen Baker, Nicholas Kapralos, and all the music students who both sang and played musical instruments as part of the assembly. I am sure everyone present would agree that Mia Mazarella and Zac Choo provided us with an outstanding rendition of the Last Post on the violin.

To our drum line students who lead the parade Krishan Gurdon, Kliment Pillay and Jack McLean and our Student Leaders and readers on the day. You have all done us proud on this significant and important occasion.

High School Musical

The last few months have been huge for the Music Faculty as they have run multiple rehearsals with all the cast and crew, musicians. We have all been able to catch snippets of the production coming from the Theatrette and from the Andrianakos Centre.

As Melbourne emerges from two years of lockdown and restrictions, this year’s school Musical fostered a real sense of unity, optimism and hope. How appropriate that this year’s production had a focus on being true to yourself within a school setting and breaking the “Status Quo”.

Over 100 students came together in a most energetic and uplifting production. I congratulate in particular: Mrs Priya Wilson; Head of Music and Performing Arts for her direction of the production, Ms Stephanie Atwa; Musical Director and one of our classroom music teachers along with Ms Kristina Lang; Vocal Coach and Ms Hayley Wootten; choreographer. Bringing a show like this together has required many people over many months working together to make it all happen, I thank the music staff, backstage, makeup and lighting crews as well as all the Front of House staff, students and parents involved. You have done us all proud. 

Mother’s Day Lunch 

Our annual Mother’s Day event will be a lunch this year, being held on Saturday 7th May from 12-3 pm in the River Room at Crown.

We are looking forward to a very pleasant day celebrating all that Mother’s Day brings. To all the mums, grandmothers, aunties, and all who have helped raise the next generation, have a wonderful day this Mother’s Day weekend. 

Winter Uniform

Please note that from next Monday students must wear their Winter uniforms to school. 

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

Welcome Back!

I hope families were able to spend some quality time together over the Easter break and recharge the batteries in preparation for Term 2. Term 2 is a very important term for several reasons. Our senior students are heading towards the halfway point in their VCE journey while the junior secondary students are approaching their mid-year exams and NAPLAN tests.

Year 9 Elevate Education

Later this term our Year 9 students will complete their first ever semester exams. In Year 9 we have exams in the core subjects only as this marks the beginning of their journey towards their final VCE examinations. Elevate will play an important role in their lives over the next three years and we will strategically stage Elevate Workshops in the lead up to their semester exams. The Year 9s recently had their first Elevate Workshop and 98% of the feedback was extremely positive. AGS is a premium member of Elevate Education which means our students have full access to hundreds of resources in the Elevate Student Portal. Please use the link below to access these resources.

https://austudent.elevateeducation.com/

Password is RONDO.

NAPLAN

Our Year 7 and 9 students will be completing their NAPLAN tests from Wednesday 11 May to Friday 13 May inclusive. Please refer to the School Bulletin for additional information relating to the NAPLAN tests.

Year 7 and 9 students will need to bring their own personal headphones in order to complete the online tests.

W = Writing CL = Conventions of Language R = Reading N = Numeracy CU = Catch up

Year 12 Gateways Trip

After the scheduled Year 11 Gateways trip was cancelled last year, we really didn’t expect to be taking the current Year 12s on a trip to the Northern Territory in 2022. It wasn’t even on the horizon. I was approached by one of the students who wanted to put a proposal to us about going on a Gateways trip in Year 12. After much deliberation and discussion, we decided to approach a travel agent. The Year 12s wanted a very different experience and were willing to organise it themselves – with the help of our travel agent.

We saw so many beautiful parts of our country, we learnt all about indigenous culture, art and really delved into the connection the indigenous people have with the land. The hikes were hard, but the rewards were out of this world. Beautiful water holes, stunning gorges, and landscapes so vast and unique. Dr Nikou, Mrs Terezakis and I really enjoyed spending time with the Year 12s and I think they actually might have enjoyed spending time with us.

I was lucky enough to take this group to the last International Gateways trip we went on before the pandemic hit. We all explored Vietnam together in 2019. We had a blast there too. Whilst on the trip I decided to take up the recent fad and recreate photos from the past with the present. Please enjoy a look back to Vietnam in 2019 alongside the Northern Territory just weeks ago. Enjoy.

Important Dates

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

It’s been a very busy first two weeks for the beginning of Term 2 and we now already find ourselves in May. 

It was good to see that many families were able to attend online parent teacher interviews last week to discuss student progress. There were one or two issues with bookings in the new Sentral system, but these will be resolved. 

As a follow up to interviews, each class teacher will be meeting with me in the coming weeks to review class progress and discuss strategies for improvement.

Our students in Years Prep to 5 also took part in Life Education sessions last week, where they participated in sessions around a range of issues across the different classes:

Prep Students learned to recognise the importance of relationships and gained skills to seek help in a variety of situations. They had opportunities to practice strategies to manage their feelings and emotions.

Year 1 students completed the ‘Safety Rules module’ which educates children about positive relationships, how to seek help, nutrition and how to protect themselves in unsafe environments. It provided a fun interactive learning experience that helped to empower children to make safer and healthier choices. Children investigated how to seek out safe spaces and situations and how friends can support and care for each other.

Year 2 students participated in the unit entitled ‘Growing Good Friends’. In this module students investigated healthy lifestyle choices and factors that impact health and emotional wellbeing. This included learning about healthy food choices and considering how media and advertising messages influence food choices.

Year 3 and 4 students honed their knowledge and skills about internet safety in ‘bCyberwise’. bCyberwise explored a range of issues such as password security, risks of sharing personal information, how to communicate respectfully and strategies to handle cyberbullying. By using these ‘Tuning In’ activities, students had an opportunity to directly relate these ideas to their own daily life and think critically about their own world. Activities supported students to consider the frequency and impact of technology use on their day-to-day activities.

Year 5 students completed the Relate, Respect, Connect module. Relate Respect Connect is one of Life Ed’s updated programs. This unique and contemporary learning experience explores building positive, safe and respectful relationships. Its aim is to empower children and young people to make safe and healthier choices. Relate Respect Connect helped to equip students with knowledge, skills and strategies to help them develop safe and respectful relationships – face to face and online. 

Our Year 6 students participated in 10 sessions of Harold’s Heroes throughout Term 1 and into Term 2 and there will be more details about that program in an upcoming newsletter.

The Life Education Program was founded in 1979 and initially concentrated on educating children around the dangers of both legal and illegal substances, especially tobacco. Some parents might themselves remember a session in a van with Harold the giraffe and with the ‘lung machine’ showing the effects of smoke! It is gratifying to say that these types of programs, along with other community messages, do work, which is why we invest time and money into them.

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare tracking smoking (in adults) over an 18 year period and showing a marked decline in smoking ‘take up’ rates. Other statistics reported in media this week suggest ‘regular smoking’ by teenagers in Australia to be in the low single figure percentages. This is a great result and helps underline the importance of community and in-school programs and the role they play in supporting schools around these health and safety issues.

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

Year 12 Jackets

As the oldest in our school, our Year 12 students are afforded certain privileges and honours. The latest privilege arrived this morning in the form of personalised Year 12 jackets, which these students are permitted to wear over or instead of their school blazers (unless attending formal events). 

I would like to thank our School Captain, Ethan Maratheftis, as well as our School Vice Captains, Isabella Cohn and Sam Koranias, who made short work of organising the jackets into alphabetical order so that the distribution was a seamless one (and so that my office floor space was only out of action for a few hours).

Here are some of Year 12 students are modelling their newest purchases.

Ms Deirdre Grealish
Deputy Head of Secondary

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High School Musical Production

After an amazing show on Wednesday the 4th of May, it is with sadness that we announce the postponement of our second and final showing, originally scheduled for Thursday the 5th of May, due to a positive COVID case in the main cast.

The second showing will now be held on Wednesday the 25th of May from 7pm at the Darebin Arts Centre. Ticket holders will all be contacted and have their tickets re-allocated to the new date.

We thank everyone for all the support and look forward to performing our final show.

The Cast and Production Team of High School Musical

 

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Year 7 Resilience Program

The world of educational academia now accepts that the explicit teaching of social and emotional skills plays an essential role in the promotion of student wellbeing. We know that it improves emotional regulation; social and classroom behaviour; connectedness to school, teachers, and learning; and even academic achievement by 5 – 11%.  

We also know that it reduces bullying and gender-based harassment; use of cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol; as well as school drop-out rates.  

As such, I am delighted to provide you with an update on the roll-out of our wellbeing program, which focuses on explicitly teaching social-emotional skills to Year 7s in every period of every day.

Our approach is called “split-screening,” which means that every Year 7 class has two learning objectives: one is academic, and the other is social-emotional. Our classroom and homeroom teachers then set activities and facilitate discussions that are intended to help the Year 7 students achieve both learning objectives. This provides our students with repeated opportunities to learn about and practise essential wellbeing skills in a variety of meaningful contexts. 

For five weeks at a time, all our Year 7 teachers and students focus on one of the school’s core values (Respect, Endeavour, Responsibility, Diversity, Creativity, and Integrity). Our students complete a survey before and after each unit. These surveys, written by our school psychologist, Mr. Max White, focus on assess our students’ attitudes towards the chosen value, thus allowing us to evaluate the effectiveness of our program.  

Students are also interviewed at the end of each unit, giving us qualitative insights into how the explicit teaching of the chosen value has impacted their understanding.

Respect (Term 1; Weeks 1 – 5): 

During the first unit, our Year 7 teachers embedded the value of Respect into their lessons in a variety of unique and creative ways.  

In one English lesson on writing the introduction to a creative piece, the students practised providing respectful feedback. In a Mathematics class on dividing whole numbers, the students practised respecting those who find the subject difficult. In a Humanities lesson on family histories, the students practised respecting each other’s personal differences.  

The range of social-emotional learning objectives was vast, with each one offering students the chance to build their capacity to respect themselves, each other, and the broader world.  

The first round of student interviews revealed that the split-screening had expanded our students’ conceptualisations of Respect. For example, Paul Savopoulos described how, “In Chinese, Mr Stone taught us to respect the culture and to not laugh at something if it’s not what we do.” Spencer Jewell recalled how the students “learnt that [they] should respect other people’s ideas because they could have an effect on the game.” Mia Grandikis explained that, in Homeroom, the students “practised respecting other people by learning and using their names.” 

Our analysis of the pre-test and post-test surveys confirmed that the comments of the interviewed students reflected an improvement in the whole cohort’s understanding of Respect: Specifically, the data revealed:  

Endeavour (Term 1; Weeks 6 – 10): 

At the start of Week 6, we introduced the value of Endeavour.  

Our students played improvisational games during Homeroom to practise demonstrating courage in stressful situations. In English, the students spent multiple lessons brainstorming and implementing strategies to help them overcome negative self-talk. The students also practised being adventurous when learning new vocabulary and sounds in Chinese and Greek.  

During their interviews, the students were able to pinpoint specific moments where they had learnt about Endeavour in all their classes. Dillon Panayi explained that, in English, he “practised not feeling overwhelmed by the prompt, and just trying to think of arguments.” As a result of learning about Endeavour in Music and Drama, Spiros Tsaklas could explain that “we need to try our best to keep it together and not freak out just because we’re not sure what to say.” Joel Paraskevas remembered how the students were taught to “focus on not giving up, even when [their] team is losing.”  

In addition to these comments, the results of the Endeavour survey showed a:  

Responsibility (Term 2; Weeks 1 – 5): 

The Year 7 students and teachers have now shifted their attention to Responsibility. This skill will need to be displayed in spades during our Week 4 Camp in Marysville, in particular.  

Thank you to all the staff and students who have participated in this exciting and evidenced-based program.  

I look forward to watching the program develop in Term 2 and beyond.  

Mr James Smith
Secondary EHASS Teacher, Head of Socrates
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Year 9 Media Excursion

On Monday 2nd of May, the first group of Year 9 Media student travelled to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) at Federation Square to participate in a ‘Film It!’ workshop.  

During the workshop, students broke down a script about a high stakes egg and spoon race, prepared a storyboard, shot film on location and edited a final product – all within three hours!

To end the day, students screened their films to much rapturous laughter. A big thank you to the students who were highly engaged and brilliant participants in the experience and to Mr James Smith for helping supervise the day.

Our remaining group of Year 9 Media students will be enjoying this experience next week and then all students will be returning again to ACMI at the end of the month to participate in a Special and Visual Effects workshop. Watch this space.

Mr Robert Panara and Ms Corredina Todaro  
Secondary Media Teachers
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The Resilience Project Parent Information Night

Dear Parents/Parent Liaisons,  
 
We are really looking forward to the Parent / Carer Webinar with Martin Heppell from the resilience project on Monday 9th May, 6.30pm-8.00pm (90 minutes) AEST

During this presentation, Martin will share his experiences and combine them with practical strategies that can be implemented everyday to improve our overall wellbeing.

Parents/ Carers will need to register using this registration link.

**Upon registration, registrants will receive a link to attend the webinar, along with a reminder the day prior.

Please note that the webinar will include parents from our Partnership Schools.

Looking forward in seeing parents from both primary and secondary attend the webinar.

Ms Olivia Rahme  
Head of PE, Sport and Health 
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Secondary Debating Program

Thursday 28th May was Round Two of the Debating Association of Victoria’s Secondary Debating Program. While it wasn’t the most successful round in terms of victories for our teams – frustrating single point differences had us just missing out – Robert Panara reported the comradery and general team spirit was fantastic.

It was great to see our students actively supporting each other when nerves kicked in. We are particularly grateful to Keppel Gordon, Year 11, and Kai Dicker, Year 9, who stepped in for unwell teammates at the last minute.

Our sights are now set on Round Three and we look forward to hearing the next round of topics!  

Ms Anna Milburn
Debating Club Facilitator
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Modern Greek Strategic Plan

The future looks bright for Modern Greek!

A special event was held at Alphington Grammar School this past Sunday. A gathering of over 80 people- teachers, academics, business people, Members of Parliament, parents- gathered in the Lyceum to hear about the long awaited Strategic Plan to revitalise Modern Greek.

The plan, devised by the ‘Pharos’ Working Party and chaired by the Modern Greek Teachers Association of Victoria (MGTAV), is based on research by esteemed academic Professor Joseph Lo Bianco. In his research, Professor Lo Bianco examines the state of Greek and presents ideas for an action plan going forward, in order to revitalise Modern Greek and ensure its longevity.

Thank you to the staff and parents who have contributed with their time, but also in offering feedback to the discussion paper that helped inform the Strategic Plan. Thank you to Alphington Grammar School and Dr Nikou for opening our school for this event, the staff for being actively involved in the lengthy process and for their commitment to realizing the goal of revitalising Greek. Congratulations to Mrs Anita Kolaitis (President, MGTAV) for so ably chairing the process and hosting this successful event!

This Strategic Plan is not something that can be carried out by one person or organisation. Nor is it something that will be completed overnight. However, if all stakeholders in the community work together, if we unite our efforts in a coordinated strategy, we can pave the way for future generations to engage with the language. 
One step at a time… 

On Wednesday, a representative from the Department of Education’s Early Childhood Languages Program and their film crew came to film our ELC Greek Immersion Program in action. This follows the Department’s recognition of our Program as a “best practice” service provider in language learning. The Department of Education and Training will be using the video produced to support and guide other language programs in the Early Years and will also be posted on various socials and web pages. This is very exciting for everyone involved, to showcase our great program! The video will also be shared with our school community’s social media platforms once it is released.  

Ms Denise Diakodimitriou and Ms Effie Bindevis
Head of LOTE and Primary Greek Coordinator
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From the ELC

You Reap What You Sow!

Over the last couple of months our ELC students have been busy and patiently planting and watering vegetables in our sensory garden. Last week the ‘fruits of their labour’ were rewarded as the children got to pick and eat the yummy vegetables in a wonderful vegetable salad.

ELC Greek 3

The children have been learning words and phrases associated with planting and picking vegetables. One of our favourite quotes from Frederick, whilst eating his σαλάτα (salad) was, “This salad is going to give us superpowers!”

Ms Denise Diakodimitriou and Ms Effie Bindevis
Head of LOTE and Primary Greek Coordinator
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Updates and Reminders

From the Finance Office

The finance team would like to remind families that payment three is due this week. If you have not yet paid your school fees, please note that they must be paid as soon as possible.

Please see below for the CSEF financial assistance program information sheet and application form.

Upcoming Events

High School Musical Secondary Production

The Resilience Project Parent Information Night

We are really looking forward to the Parent / Carer Webinar with Martin Heppell from the resilience project on Monday 9th May, 6.30pm-8.00pm (90 minutes) AEST.

During this presentation, Martin will share his experiences and combine them with practical strategies that can be implemented everyday to improve our overall wellbeing. Parents/ Carers will need to register using this registration link.

**Upon registration, registrants will receive a link to attend the webinar, along with a reminder the day prior. 

Please note that the webinar will include parents from our Partnership Schools. Looking forward in seeing parents from both primary and secondary attend the webinar. 

Ms Olivia Rahme 
Head of PE, Sport and Health 

Secondary Colour Run

Term Dates 2022