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Alpha News 2022, Term 2, Week 6

Term 2, Week 6 2022

From the Assistant Principal, Head of Secondary


This term, our Year 7 and 9 students completed their NAPLAN tests. For the first time at our school, all of the tests took place on an online platform.

As will always happen when trialling something new, the students encountered some obstacles along the way, including screen freezes and lost connections stemming from the NAPLAN portal itself. These challenges would have been experienced by all schools so the VCAA will make allowances, but all issues were flagged directly with them nonetheless.

Of course, for many students the habit of typing an entire extended English piece was a challenge all of its own! Some students in Year 7, particularly those from other schools, have not been taught how to type on a keyboard (having been mostly ipad users in primary school), let alone how to touch type. Given that NAPLAN has already made the move from handwriting to typing, it is not unreasonable to ponder whether VCE exams will go the same way at some point. To prepare our students for all eventualities, we will continue to require a balance between handwriting and typing at AGS, with typing already existing as a core learning objective in our digital Technologies curriculum in Years 7 and 8.

Overall, the students conducted themselves brilliantly throughout the week (despite a few forgotten sets of headphones!). While standardised testing may not be their favourite way to spend a week, learning how to deal with the unexpected and how to self-manage under timed conditions are certainly skills that will benefit them in the long run.

School Production

After an interruption to our Secondary Production due to COVID infections, the final night of ‘High School Musical’ was a brilliant spectacle. Our students really shone on stage. It was extremely rewarding to see so many of our students come in to their own and gain a tremendous amount of self-concept by performing on stage. They were impressive. The Performing Arts Department have dedicated so much time to rehearsals, and choreography sessions with a professional choreographer which is why our students were so well prepared, and why the performance was seamless on the night.  I would like to extend my congratulations to all of the students (current and past!) and staff involved.

Upcoming Exams

This week will see our Year 9, 10 and 11 students commence their Semester One Examinations. Reflecting upon the COVID influenced upheaval that prevented our students from sitting on-site exams at various points over the past few years, I am very grateful that these students will get to have the opportunity to sit their exams in the flesh with their peers. Yes, there will be nerves. Yes, writing under timed conditions will pose its problems for some. However, with all of that comes important learning and resilience.

In addition to the valuable advice that teachers have passed on to students, we have, as always, engaged with Elevate Education to help build our students up for these exams. The most recent webinar, a parent session focused on improving students’ memory, took place on Wednesday 1 June at 7.00pm. For those who were unable to join the webinar, please find below a link to Elevate’s website. I am sure that families will find many valuable resources here, from mindfulness to study tips to tutorial videos.

Home | Elevate Education

All students have access to Elevate’s student portal and can access it using the password RONDO.

Please encourage your child to carefully read their exam timetable that Mr Con Papoulis has distributed.

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

National Reconciliation Week

The Australian Curriculum sets consistent national standards to improve learning outcomes for all young Australians and is working towards addressing two distinct needs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education:

  • that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are able to see themselves, their identities and their cultures reflected in the curriculum of each of the learning areas, can fully participate in the curriculum and can build their self-esteem
  • that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority is designed for all students to engage in reconciliation, respect and recognition of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures.

As part of National Reconciliation Week, where the 2022 theme is ‘Be Brave, Make Change’, all classes in the Primary School, from ELC to Year 6, have been studying some aspect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander History or culture. Students have undertaken a range of activities. Our youngest students in ELC, Prep and Year 1 were immersed in literature and language, including such books as ‘Finding Our Heart’, and ‘Our Home, Our Heartbeat’. Students in the middle primary years looked at Aboriginal place names and their meanings, while our older students looked at Dreamtime Stories and inspiring people in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community.

Our Year 6 students were particularly taken by the following quotes from Cathy Freeman about her life and the things that are important to her:

  • You got to try and reach for the stars or try and achieve the unreachable.
  • Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.
  • Peace, unity and harmony.

National Reconciliation Week provides just one of many opportunities throughout the year, and in our curriculum, to sharpen our focus on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community as we continue to work and learn on Wurundjeri land.

New Child Safe Standards are Coming

New Child Safe Standards to strengthen child safety will commence in Victoria on 1 July 2022.

The Child Safe Standards (the Standards) commenced in Victoria in January 2016. After five years, we have seen how the Standards improve safety for children and young people.

Changes are being made to make our Standards even stronger.

All schools will need to comply with new Standards by 1 July 2022. Until then, the current Standards apply. The new Standards set out minimum requirements and outline the actions organisations must take to keep children and young people safe. They provide more clarity for organisations and are more consistent with Standards in the rest of Australia.

What will be different?

Although similar to Victoria’s current Child Safe Standards, key changes include new requirements:

  • to involve families and communities in organisations’ efforts to keep children and young people safe.
  • for a greater focus on safety for Aboriginal children and young people.
  • to manage the risk of child abuse in online environments in relation to governance, systems and processes to keep children and young people safe.

The Alphington Grammar School Child Safe Policy and Program was recently audited by the VRQA (Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority) and we have just received notification that we are fully compliant. As the school moves into the next phase of compliance with the new Child Safe Standards, we will continue to keep the school community informed and involved.

Mrs Tracey Nicholson
Assistant Principal, Head of Primary and Nominated Child Safe Officer
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From the Secondary School

Year 9 ACMI Excursion

This term, our Year 9 Media students were given the opportunity to visit ACMI at Federation Square to attend hands-on film-making workshops. Working in small groups to plan, film and edit short films in just a few hours, was an interactive and student-led way for the classes to gain valuable practice and advice from industry experts across a range of key media-making skills. The quality of their work was commendable, with many creative final media products being screened at the end of each workshop session. The variety of content on display in these films included fierce competition in an egg and spoon race, visits from ghostly apparitions, surprise trips to ‘Clone World’, encounters with a sunglass-wearing doppelganger called Fernando and much, much more! 

Mr Panara and I would like to thank the students for the passion and creativity they displayed during these workshops and hope they have taken-away useful skills to apply to their upcoming Term 3 short-film projects.

Ms Corredina Todaro
Head of EHASS/ Secondary Media Teacher
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Aboriginal 4 A Dae Incursion

Year 7 and 8

On the 24th of May, Year 7 and 8 students were able to experience, learn, and understand Aboriginal culture this term thanks to a very informative incursion. Allen and his son Tristan paid us a visit to inform us of this. We referred to them as “Big Al” and “Pancakes” throughout the incursion. We were introduced to “Welcome to Country” in the first session because it acknowledges and pays respect to the people who were from this land. Since Big Al and Pancakes were not from the Wurundjeri area, we had our Year 8 students Elly Baulch and Isabella George recite it, because only people from the land are allowed to say it.

Following that, we were taught that whether you are indigenous or not, you can still say the acknowledgement because it is a very powerful statement for Aboriginals as they desire the level of respect that they have for you. Pancakes then demonstrated Aboriginal face paint, which consisted of one stroke of brown paint on the nose that was later decorated with white paint dots. Many students appreciated this opportunity because we had our lovely teachers paint our faces and got to see some of them with face paint as well. Truly an entertaining experience!

Following that Pancakes played the didgeridoo which was incredible to hear. We learned that they would knock on termite hollowed trees to hear a hollow sound, and also discovered that if you put your ear next to the hole you are able to hear the instrument. Who would have thought! We also learned that 324 was a very important number because Australia has 324 countries, languages, cultures, and beliefs.

We had our second session after recess, and the Year 7s and 8s were divided into year levels. The Year 8s spent the first half of the lesson discussing Dreamtime stories with Big Al. We read and saw pictures of “Why the Emu Can’t Fly,” as well as another Dreamtime about children sneaking out without their parents’ awareness and entering the forest. It was fascinating to hear these because Dreamtime stories were Aboriginals’ way of expressing their beliefs about the land and ancestors.

We discussed the importance of one’s culture and beliefs, and how we should all respect them. We then switched with the Year 7s and were with Pancakes when time was up. He showed us Aboriginal art and allowed us to draw the images that were displayed on the screen. Pancakes also taught us that anyone, regardless of race, can participate in Aboriginal art because the community is small, and that we would love to see everyone try it out. He encouraged us to draw them whenever we are bored at home, which is a great way to avoid screens and learn about a new culture!

The day came to an end, and we arrived at the third session. We did a quick recap of “Welcome to Country.” Following that, Big Al told us about how he was a member of the Stolen Generation and how he was taken from his mother at the age of two, and how fortunate he was to be able to escape and reunite with them. Since the generation has been alive for 125,000 years, they are concerned that the aboriginal culture will die out in the coming decades. So, they are doing everything they can to survive and inform us about the past,

We then discussed significant Indigenous people, such as Aunty Joy Murphy, a Senior Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri People of Melbourne, and surrounding areas. After this important talk, they hoped to develop a new perspective for the students, as the view of the land should change how we perceive the beauty of the land. So, we should value our fortunes, because why should we treat the land better than a person, and vice versa?

Big Al and Pancakes, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of the land, teaching us Aboriginal words, and expressing cultural definitions such as art, music, and dance. Sharing your history about the stole generation and the land before constructions. The images in the PowerPoint made the experience more impactful, and we are all grateful that you were able to come to Alphington Grammar to help us see Indigenous people, culture, and land in a new light.

Alyssa Ha
Year 8 Student
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EISM Championships - Tuesday 24 May

On Tuesday 24 May 2022 Alphington Grammar’s 6 students competed at the EISM Athletics Championships. Students who competed at this event were selected based on their times and qualified in the top 10 out of the 3 divisions. To get to this stage is an outstanding achievement in the first place. 

The following students need to be congratulated for their commitment to the program and qualifying for the event.

1.      Nicholas KIRMOS  – Year 9

2.      Jimmy PASVANIS  – Year 8

3.      Agam SAINI  – Year 9

4.      Balhaar SINGH  – Year 12

5.      Jasmine SMITH  – Year 9

6.      Jiahui Zhu  – Year 8


–          Jasmine Smith – 1st place in both U15 Girls 100m and 200m.

This the first time one of our students has placed first in these categories at  an athletics championship and we are so proud of these achievements.

–          Balhaar Singh – 3rd in the Open Discus

–          Jiahui Zhu – 2nd place in the U14 Triple Jump

–          Agam Saini – placed in the top 5 for the U15 100m and 200m events

–          Nicholas Kirmos – placed in the top 4 for the U15 100m and 200m events while also recording personal best times.

For such a small team we did exceptionally well. Students have also showed determination and commitment to the Athletics program by attending the AGS Athletics enrichment training to help them improve their skills. I congratulate them and look forward to what they can show at the next event.

Ms Olivia Rahme
Head of Sport
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Debating - Round 4

Just like that, Round Three of the Secondary Debating Competition has been and gone. After a disappointing start with the Debating Association of Victoria having to cancel the B Grade teams due to a lack of adjudicators (thank you Covid!) and our C Grade Team having no opponent, it was down to our D Grade team to rise to the occasion.  

Freya Monk, Kai Dicker, and Mariana Galanpoulos took to the floor to debate the issue of whether or not the government should employ state artists. Arguing for the negative, they were praised for their rebuttals, with the adjudicator stating some of the best points of the debate were raised at this stage. This was quite impressive, especially as rebuttals require the students to think on their feet and under a fair bit of pressure.

While they didn’t take home a victory this time, the feedback was clear: the students performed to an impressive standard, their rebuttals were excellent, and they have some good advice to take forward into their next debate.

Round Four will be in Week 9 of this term, where the B and C Graders will be responding to secret topics and the D Graders will be debating whether or not the ABC should only show Australian-made content. 

Ms Anna Milburn
Debating Club Facilitator
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Public Speaking Presentation Evening Video

In Term 1, our students participated in the Public Speaking Program and presented their speeches. If you wish to view the speeches, you can watch the evening at the following link:

Public Speaking Presentation Evening

Mrs Anna Milburn and Mr Robert Panara
Public Speaking Facilitator

High School Musical Production

High School Musical was more than a school production. It was an experience: I met many new people, gained new skills and got closer to the people I already knew.

As someone who has never been in a musical, it was uncharted territory, especially to play the lead. The team collectively put so much effort and time into the show, which was hard work but, in the end, it paid off.

Pantelli Saris
Year 10

As a Year 12, I could not have been more grateful for this opportunity to be a lead in our production of High School Musical, which took place over May. Meeting people from a variety of year levels was definitely a highlight, especially getting to know the Year 7 cohort who all took part in the production. The hard work, team effort and dedication from everyone shone brightly on stage, particularly in our long-awaited second performance which took place three weeks after our opening night.

This production would not have been possible without Priya Wilson and Stephanie Atwa, as well as the entire main cast, backstage crew and band. I will continue to cherish the countless memories I have made over these past two terms from this production after my time at Alphington.

Mia Mazzarella
Year 12

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Chess Club Update

Chess Club continues to flourish throughout the school. At Chess Club students are challenged to improve focus, think rationally, exercise logic, develop planning skills and make decisions both visually and analytically. The students in each group Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced actively participate in strategy sessions and mini tournaments each week.

I am also pleased to announce that Payne Lu, Eric Wang, Sam Stratikopoulos and Rafe Roberts have been achieving excellent results and have been promoted to the Advanced group. Rafe and Sam have been attending Chess Club since we commenced in 2019 and Payne has been a member for quite some time. Congratulations to all.

Ms Janet Stewart, Mr Max White and Ms Ourania Katsambanis
Chess Club Facilitators
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Teens Talk... Consent

As teachers, we regularly participate in a variety of professional development to enhance our skills both in and outside of the classroom. With such a student focused job, the opportunity to do this with the active participation of students is a golden one. 

This is what Teens Talk… provide; professional development that gives teenagers the chance to share their ideas and expertise on issues that affect them in the classroom with teachers.

On Wednesday 1st June I had the good fortune to accompany Year 10 student Joudy Sallam as she took to the Teens Talk… panel to discuss consent. Hosted by Consent Labs, who visited Alphington Grammar School in Term One, the conversation ranged from what consent education looks like in the classroom at the moment, to what it would ideally look like in the future. The panel examined the culture around consent and sex education, what would make students feel more comfortable discussing it in schools, and ultimately why it is such an important part of the curriculum.

With the discussion being held in front of a live audience and streamed online, Joudy spoke in an articulate and confident manner. She presented her view in a sensitive and insightful way that brought a unique and highly valued perspective to the conversation; it was impressive to see such a mature response to a challenging topic.

I would like to congratulate Joudy on her first Teens Talk… panel; I am confident it will not be her last.

Ms Anna Milburn
Secondary EHASS Teacher
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From the Primary School

Greek Book Launch

Congratulations to our very own Yana Horn (Year 4, Pericles), who read an excerpt of a new children’s book at the book’s launch this past weekend. The book, ‘Soumela and the Magic Kemenche’ by local writer and lawyer Dean Kalimniou, tackles a difficult subject in a sensitive way, that of the displacement of the Pontic people at the beginning of the twentieth century.

We have copies of the book now available for students to borrow.

From the Library

National Simultaneous Storytime

National Simultaneous Storytime is held annually by the Australian Library Association (ALIA).  Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, homes and children’s facilities over the country and the world.

Alphington was just one of the many schools involved. This year there were over 2 million children reading – 2,186,347 registered participants, from over 59,038 locations. 

The book shared this year was Family Tree by Josh Pyke and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh. The story conveys the beauty of family, growth, changing seasons and the natural circle of life with a simple, lyrical text. The illustrations are delightful with the iconic gum tree as the centrepiece. It is quintessentially Australian. This is a perfect book to read aloud, to discuss the parallels as the tree and family grow.

The library staff made a wonderful display recreating a tree and asked students to draw pictures showing things important to them. They also added their aspirations onto gum leaves. This event is a great way to promote the value of reading and literacy, Australian picture books and the enjoyment they bring to our lives. In addition, as it is a whole Primary School event with all staff involved, the message that reading is important is reinforced.

Reconciliation Week in the Library

‘WOMINJEKA’. ‘Hello and welcome’. This is how students in ELC – Year 4 greeted each other in library lessons, acknowledging the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people. During these library classes we looked at the map of Indigenous Australia, made up of many different and distinct groups, each with their own culture, customs, language and laws. We shared First Nations books, rich in story, truth, knowledge, Indigenous language and art. We discussed reconciliation and what that means in both our everyday life and for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Students were encouraged to borrow a First Nations book to take home and share with their families.

The library offered some lunchtime activities this week, with a range of colouring sheets relating to the Reconciliation Australia theme – Be Brave. Make Change. – and traditional art designs. Several sets of cards were available to play Memory, with Indigenous symbols printed and labelled on them. Being surrounded by our First Nations book collection on display encouraged and inspired some time out to relax and learn more of Australia’s Indigenous culture through these story books.

Ms Jo Whiffin
Library Teacher
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School Tours

All current parents, particularly in the Primary School, are invited to experience our campus, meet our staff and explore our school ethos at any of our upcoming Open Mornings. 

Open Mornings are held on various Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the School Year. Any parent can register to attend via the link on our website, here.

Whole School

From the LOTE Faculty

Battle of Crete commemoration

Thank you to the group of students who volunteered to represent our school at the recent commemoration of the Battle of Crete at the Shrine of Remembrance.

The Battle for Crete was one of the most dramatic battles of the Second World War. Over 12 days in May 1941 a mixed force of New Zealanders, British, Australian and Greek troops desperately tried to fight off a huge German airborne assault.

It is one of the events that helped shape the Greek Australian friendship.

Lest we forget


Thank you to all LOTE staff and students for a great LOTE Week. It was a week of special class activities, giving the opportunity to engage with different aspects of Chinese and Greek language and culture.

Our canteen got into the spirit with a wonderful international food festival. We all enjoyed the special dishes from Mexico, India, Italy, China and Greece.

Year 9 Chinese students practised their language skills during a visit to the Chinese Museum of Melbourne, combined with a special lunch.

The interactive Greek exhibit had the theme of ‘Greeks who have made their mark’. Students were able to look at portraits of famous Greeks from STEM, Sport, The Arts and Humanities. They used their device to scan a QR code to read information and watch or listen to clips. As well as famous names such as Pythagoras, Homer, Maria Callas and Alexander the Great, students were able to find out about Hypatia (ancient philosopher and astronomer), Maria Vamvakinou, (the first Greek born woman in parliament) and Georgios Seferis (one of Greece’s Nobel Prize winning poets.

Students enjoyed the display of books and artefacts and loved posing with the life-size cut-outs of Pericles, Maria Callas, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Bouboulina.

Well done to all the students who entered the multilingual card design competition. All entries will receive House points. Winners will be announced shortly.

In the meantime, remember to look for opportunities to practise your language skills, both at school, at home and in the community. We are so lucky to have access to community organisations and online resources to help us polish our skills.

Chinese excursion

Alphington Grammar School ran a Chinese Museum excursion for Year 9 Chinese Second Language students on Friday 27th May. It included two main activities: having lunch in an authentic Chinese restaurant and the Chinese Museum tour. The aim was to familiarize students with Chinese culture and knowledge about the history of the Chinese community in Australia.

The Chinese restaurant, Shark Fin Inn, served food in the authentic South China way, by using a trolley and a dining table with a lazy susan. Our students were polite and well-behaved and tried their best to order and select their dishes in Chinese. They also learned aspects of tea culture from Mr Stone and Mr Lei. Our students enjoyed and were satisfied with the food very much and commented in Chinese, “好(hào)吃(chī)” (delicious). Afterwards, we had a tour of the Chinese Museum with a tour guide. We learned about Chinese history, from the ancient times in 220BCE and the history of Chinese immigration, to the relations between China and Australia during the Gold Rush, and Chinese dragon culture. It was amazing to see the curiosity from our students and the interactions between our students and the tour guide.

Overall, it was a successful excursion for our Year 9 Chinese Second Language students. We hope this excursion will boost their motivation and interest in continuing to learn this language.

Thank you to Mr Lei and Mr Stone for the article.

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 have not yet submitted their payments to please do so as soon as possible.

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

Upcoming Events

Soloist Evenings

Primary, Middle Years and Senior Soloist Evenings are coming up. See below for details:

Lower Primary Soloist Evening

Middle Years Soloist Evening

Senior Soloist Evening

VCE Performance Evening

School Tours

All current parents are invited to experience our campus, meet our staff and explore our school ethos at any of our upcoming Open Mornings.

Open Mornings consist of a presentation and school tour, and are held on various Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the School Year. Any parent can register to attend a tour via the link on our website, here.

Sporting Minds

Sporting Minds is back!

Sporting Minds is a school holiday program developed by Alphington Grammar teachers Andrew Diviny and Blair Runnalls who are passionate about using sport and physical activity as a medium to improve primary school aged kids’ mental health and resilience.

If you’re looking for school holiday programs that will educate, engage and excite your children these upcoming school holidays, look no further than Sporting Minds. Improve your skills, have fun, and make new friends whilst learning from qualified teachers and expert coaches. Get your kids moving and making memories these school holidays. Book now!

To find out more, visit the website: 

Term Dates 2022