29 May 2018
Issue Seven
Principal's Message
Assistant Principal's Report
Around the School
Parent Information
Career Corner
O'Connor Catholic College
02 6772 1666
39 Kirkwood St
Armidale, NSW, 2350

Principal's Message

Dear Parents and Carers,


On Friday 18th May, Mellissa Bell and I attended the Catholic Secondary Schools Association Forum. At this meeting we had Mr Rob Stokes, NSW Minister for Education, Mr David de Carvelho, CEO of NESA (NSW Education Standards Authority) and others speak about Stage 6 Curriculum, Curriculum Review, NAPLAN and Minimum Standards.


There has been a fair amount of media coverage in regards to Minister Stokes’ thoughts on NAPLAN. He spoke about these comments and more, much of which I agree with. He spoke about testing and assessment in schools, of schools and between schools. He said that too much emphasis on assessment leads to too much emphasis on tests and not on the students.

Assessing the outputs of financial investment- but education is not transactional it is relational, there is a quantitative aspect but only a small part. If we are just trying to quantify schools based on a test then we miss much of what education is about. NAPLAN was never designed to be used how it is currently being used by Governments and the media to compare schools. NAPLAN was supposed to be diagnostic and not used as judgement.


At O’Connor, we spend time working through the NAPLAN results to pinpoint areas of strength and areas of need. This is what is meant by using it as a diagnostic tool. NAPLAN is an opportunity to see how our students are going in literacy and numeracy compared to national benchmarks. It adds to the knowledge that teachers have about each and every student. It allows us to identify both general and specific areas to work on with each particular cohort. NAPLAN used as a diagnostic tool can add to our picture of student learning but as a measure of how a school is going, it is just one of many measures.


Last week and continuing this week our students have been participating in NAPLAN online. The majority of students have reported that they like the online nature of the test. It has on, the whole, been a smooth process and less stressful for the students involved. It has added significantly to the workload for our IT staff and supervising teachers which is something we will need to address into the future. I would like to thank these staff members for ensuring such a smooth transition to the online environment - Mr Mark Harris, Mr Mark Kollosche, Mrs Elitia Parry, Mr Mitchell Smidt, Mrs Natalie Mellowship-Brown, Mr Michael Wooster and Mrs Mellissa Bell.


Next week is Catholic Schools Week and the theme for the week is - Serve, Learn, Lead.


I would like to extend an invitation to you to attend the Catholic Schools Week Mass in the Sts Mary and Joseph Cathedral on Tuesday 29th May at 11am. O’Connor will be leading the singing on the day and it will be a wonderful celebration of our Catholic Schools.


In staff news, Mrs Narelle Foley has joined us in the English area. Narelle is an experienced English teacher and we welcome her to O’Connor. Mrs Ruth Patrick will be taking a year’s leave to work as a teacher mentor in Nepal. This is a fantastic opportunity and we wish her the very best. We are currently advertising for a PDHPE teacher to replace Ruth and also Leader of Learning (PDHPE).


What new learning will you undertake this week?

Regina Menz



Assistant Principal's Report

In recent weeks the State Government announced a comprehensive review of the NSW curriculum. This has been welcomed by most educators due to the crowded nature of the curriculum and an expectation of what schools should be teaching. The danger of a crowded curriculum is that students only learn at a superficial level without the deep learning required to embed skills and knowledge.  By creating a usable curriculum, teachers can have a focus on the general capabilities expressed in the new syllabus, especially contrast and creative thinking, ethical understanding, personal and social capability and sustainability. 


Our new PDHPE syllabus appears to follow this key line of thinking. The new syllabus will tackle contemporary issues flagging students, such as how to behave responsibly, safely and sensibly online, along with measures on how to report cyber bullying. One of the most significant changes is the greater emphasis being placed on mental health. The new syllabus educates students on how to spot the early warning signs for stress and depression, along with information on where and how to seek help. 


Education is the public good that does the most to advance the common good, which in turn does the most to increase peoples' capabilities. Education is the best safeguard against wasted potential and getting education right could not be more important for today's young people. At O'Connor we are continually seeking to improve our work with students by developing our pedagogy and using best practice methods based on research and results.


Whilst the State Government's review into the curriculum should hep to fine tune what we teach, I can't help thinking that a review will result in higher expectations from the public and rightly so. But education reform on its own will not magically transform society and the potential of our nation. Society must support schools, school leaders and children in their efforts to ensure best outcomes. What students bring with them to school, their attitude and abilities, will do most to shape educational outcomes.  We all have a role to play. 


Photo Day

School Photo day is Wednesday 30th May. All students have received an envelope which outlines the various options for families.  Students need to bring the envelope with the correct money on the day.


RE News

Our Lady Help of Christians May 24


Did you know Australia has two patron saints? We would certainly guess that Saint Mary of the Cross (MacKillop) would be one but maybe you might struggle to name Our Lady (Help of Christians) as the other. Below is is a prayer penned by

St. John Bosco to Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christians.


How sweet it is to come to your feet

imploring your perpetual help.

If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children,

how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me?


Grant then to me, I implore you,

your perpetual help in all my necessities,

in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations.

I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering.


Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.

Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life.

Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians,

that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven.





Mass with Young People


This Sunday's 5.30pm Mass (May 27) is a Mass with young people is celebrated at the Cathedral. It is a wonderful joyous celebration with great music. Please make this your Mass this week. At the conclusion of Mass enjoy a slice of pizza with our community.


Youth Group


Prior to the 5.30pm Mass with young people, at 4.30pm, youth group meets to enjoy some prayer, games and prepare for the Mass. Everyone is welcome to join us at the Torreggiani Room which is located behind  the Cathedral.


Sacramental Program


If there are any students who have not been baptised, made their first Eucharist or been confirmed and would like to start or continue their sacramental journey, please contact droff@arm.catholic.edu.au. The College will do everything we can to facilitate this journey. Below is a quote from The Catechism regarding the nature of the sacraments.


 Baptism, the Eucharist, and the Sacrament of Confirmation together constitute the “sacraments of Christian initiation”, whose unity must be safeguarded. It must be explained to the faithful that the reception of the sacrament of Confirmation is necessary for the completion of baptismal grace. For “by the sacrament of Confirmation, (the baptised) are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence, they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1285)


Sunday Mass Times at the Cathedral 


Saturday 6.00 pm 

Sunday 8.00 am, 10.00 am & 5.30 pm


Year 11 Retreat 


The Year 11 Retreat this year is being held from Sunday 23rd until Thursday 27th of September. Students stay at Elanora Heights, visit a mosque, a Buddhist temple, Mary McKillop House, The Jewish Museum, attend Mass at St Mary's Cathedral and find some time to do some sight seeing. Permission notes will be out soon.



Pastoral Academic Care (PAC) Focus -

This week’s Pastoral Academic Care focus is Laughing and Having Fun.

Wellbeing Element: Exercise and Health
Character Strength: Humour
Wellbeing Fitness Challenge: Discovery Learning
Wellbeing Reflection Activity: Fun and Laughing (refer to http://learningcurve.com.au)

Parent Wellbeing: Gilbert Chesterton once said, “there are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.” Describe three things you are uninterested in, but really need to be interested in to achieve what you have set out to do or would like to do.

Over one in four students, currently experience significant mental health issues during adolescence; this is a totally unacceptable situation and needs to be a major priority to be addressed immediately. Being connected to everyone else 24/7 leaves students
with little time to connect with themselves; they don’t do solitude well:
• it’s ok to be serious about what they set out to do, but too many students are becoming too serious about themselves;
• encourage them to use their strengths to focus on things which make them happy;
• a sure-fire tonic is to create opportunities to look on the bright and light side of life, have fun and laugh;
• humour is a wonderful character strength which boosts positive emotions which nurture feelings of optimism and hope for the future.

Everyone has mirror neurons which imitate the expressions and emotions of those around us. By being on the lookout for the funny things in life, you can use mirror neurons to benefits you and others:
• releases feel good brain chemicals into the bloodstream;
• increases blood flow around the body, strengthens the immune system and reduces stress and anxiety.
Humour enables the brain and body to exercise together, just be careful to not overuse it in class.

“A day without laughter is a day wasted.”

Around the School

Z Club

Z Club members, teaching staff, Zonta members, mums and grandmas came together on Saturday morning to assemble 600 birthing kits for women in need. They will be delivered to various places around the world to allow women the opportunity to have a clean and hygienic birth. The kits contain a plastic sheet, string, gauze, scalpel and soap. This simple kit that costs $3.00 to purchase is an effective method of reducing the risk of infection for both mother and baby and helps achieve the goal of reducing infant mortality in these developing nations. If you wish to support this great initiative that the O'Connor Catholic College Z Club are involved in, please contact Vicki Channon at the school. 

Honey Zahoor (graduating student from 2017) visited us last week. He spoke of his faith as a Muslim in a Catholic school and some of the challenges he faced, but also the amazing opportunities he has had in attending a Catholic School. An amazing young man. The students really appreciated his insight and honesty in his presentation, and he challenged the students just to be a good person. That was an important message to all.


Zonta Club - Change Over Dinner

The three executive members for Z Club attended the annual Zonta of Armidale changeover dinner. They included Claire Giles (President), Maria Alkhouri (Vice President) and Georgia MacMahon (secretary). They were treated to a 2 course meal that was delicious, and witnessed the induction of 2 new members. Awards were also given for an Aboriginal student who has achieved highly in their Year 12 studies. The 2 students who achieved this award were so humbled with winning this award and told of their excitement about their future. The students were so thankful for the support they receive through their families, community and school and put their success down to all of these factors. 

Another inspiring speaker was a local woman who has faced many hardships in her short 18 years of life. She spoke of the terrible adversity that she had to endure as a young foster child but has shown so much resilience to overcome some of the obstacles that she faced. She reiterated that the support that she was given is what got her through some of her most difficult trials. 

It was great for the students to be able to meet some of the members of the Club and attend such a special event. Thank you girls for making the effort to come to the dinner.



This weekend we have four Year 11 students participating in Rotary’s Model United Nations Assembly in Gunnedah. Alanah Bowden and Isabelle Stoessel representing Gerorgia, and Taryn Ramage and Claudia Ley representing Chile. What a wonderful experience for these young people with the opportunity to learn so much! The College would like to thank the Rotary Club of Central Armidale, and in particular Kristyn Barker, for the huge amount of support and mentoring they provide for our students.


College Choir


Our Choir at Armidale Eisteddfod. They were fantastic and were awarded second place. Well done everyone! Thanks to Miss Sampson for her hard work preparing the Choir!


Year 12

Students are well and truly into the second half of Year 12. A very successful reporting evening was held last Tuesday with teachers providing detailed feedback on students' progress so far. Many thanks to the parents who attended. If you were unable to attend but would still like to contact your child's teachers please do so.

The athletics carnival was held recently and the participation from Year 12 was fantastic. The junior students really benefit from observing such an engaged group of leaders. A special mention must be made of the Tom Selleck / Magnum PI lookalikes. 

Students have recently had the opportunity to establish personal goals and identify their HSC targets. These goals and targets have been shared with all staff in order to assist us in helping the students as much as we can. There are only 13 weeks to go to the HSC trials and with a slight pause in the number of assessment tasks due, it is an ideal opportunity for students to establish really solid study routines and reinforce their deep knowledge of the subjects they are completing. 

On a less studious matter, preliminary discussions have been held concerning the Year 12 Graduation Mass and Formal. More information will be provided as it comes to hand. If you would like to be involved in the Formal organisation, please contact Mr May.

Many thanks for your support throughout the year so far.

PDHPE News - Gymnastics

The gymnastics unit will start next week. All students in Years 7-9 will be going to the gymnastics centre. If your child is unable to participate please contact the school with details of the medical condition. The schedules is below


Combined Schools SRC Meeting - Meet and Greet

 Last week, the Student Representative Council of O’Connor organised a combined schools meeting with AHS, TAS, NEGS, and PLC. Within the meeting, representatives from O'Connor and the attending schools participated in a variety of activities before splitting into mixed groups and discussing potential combined schools events, in addition to fundraisers that the schools currently undertake and could implement individually. The meeting provided a great opportunity for O’Connor and the schools present to build a better relationship, and work together to produce ways of increasing our level of involvement within the Armidale community. 

Year 12 Hospitality - Live in Vocational Experience

In early May, Year 12 Hospitality students participated in an experience rich 3 days at the Gold Coast at the Royal Pines Resort. Part of the cost of this excursion was covered by catering events that the group have been involved in. After a bit of fun with the Physics class at Dreamworld, we had a tour of the Star Casino Surfers Paradise to increase our understanding of the gaming industry and in particular their customer rewards program. The next 2 days were spent working in a varieties of departments at the Royal Pines Golf Resort. Reception, Marketing, Housekeeping, Maintenance, Food Production and Patisserie. We were very well catered for with the Tepanyaki dinner a clear highlight. This live in experience and the visit to The Star Casino greatly consolidated our learning on the functioning of the Hospitality Industry, career pathways in Hospitality and the importance of following policies and procedures in the workplace.  Many thanks to Mr Harper for driving the bus and to the students for being such positive and enthusiastic ambassadors for our school. 

Mrs Anne Healey, Hospitality Teacher


Wingham Beef Week


Six O’Connor students were among 450 students from throughout NSW who attended the 31st Annual Wingham Beef Week festival, where beef producers and school students meet for competition, education and interaction.

The week-long event features hands on educational workshops, with key industry presenters, and competitions relating to all facets of the beef industry.

It is the only event of its type in the State where exhibitors are invited into the Wingham Beef Export’s chiller facility, for carcase evaluation and assessment.

As well the Beef Appreciation Competition, coordinated by the Australian Intercollegiate Meat Judging Association (ICMJ) is one of only 3 such events of its type.

Our students acquitted themselves very well with Harry Simpson, Ed Simmons, Heidi Matthews, Megan Tisdell, Matthew Smith and Tom Smith competing in Educational activities, Beef Judging, Junior Paraders and Meat Judging activities, while Tom was our representative in the Hobbs Allrounder award.


Megan, Tom and Matt were all finalists in the paraders using animals borrowed from Walcha Central and a Murray Grey stud from the Hunter Valley.


Megan won her 16yrs junior judging class with Tom 2nd in the 17 years. Tom went on to be Reserve Champion Judge with Ex student Kieran Sullivan Champion.


Tom was the associate judge for the main steer judging on Thursday and he performed very well and learned lots about preparing steers for the local market. He was also our representative in the Hobbs Family Encouragement Award where he was placed 4th. In this Competition, competitors were interviewed by a panel about their knowledge of, commitment to and aspirations for their Agricultural future and about their involvement in Agriculture at their school and the contribution that they make to the subject.


All students participated in the ICMJ event judging retail and primal meat cuts in the abbatoirs.


Congratulations to all competitors on a  very useful 3 days.

Armidale Poultry Club Show


O'Connor exhibited some of our poultry last weekend at the local poultry show. Our Jungle fowl pullet was second, and our Vorwerks a rare breed we have been breeding over the last year was champion in the class. 


The school will have 2 pairs of Vorwerks and a trio of Jungle fowl for sale in the coming weeks.


Parent Information

CWC Movie Fundraiser

Catholic Women Connecting are having a fundraiser to help us continue our work supporting the spiritual growth of women in the Parish.

On Thursday 7th June the group is having a movie night, which includes a viewing of the new movie 'The Bookshop' which is viewing at the Belgrave Twin Cinemas. 

It is based on the book by Penelope Fitzgerald set in 1959. 

Tickets:  Can be bought at the Parish Office or before and after some Masses.

Cost: $18 which includes wine and cheese or soft drink for children. Rating: PG

Time: 6.30pm for 7pm.


CWC meets every 3rd Saturday at 7pm - sharing a meal, and welcomes new members of all ages.

Contact Caroline Chapman: 0408 607 073.


- Catholic Women Connecting is affiliated with CWL Armidale Diocese -


A summary of the movie: 

Florence Green, a free-spirited widow, puts grief behind her and risks everything to open up a bookshop -- the first such shop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. But this mini social revolution soon brings her fierce enemies: she invites the hostility of the town's less prosperous shopkeepers and also crosses Mrs. Gamart, Harborough's vengeful, embittered alpha female who is a wannabe doyenne of the local arts scene.



School Photo Day

School Photo day is next Wednesday 30th May. All students have received an envelope which outlines the various options for families.  Students need to bring the envelope with the correct money on the day.

Footloose Musical


Ben Lomond Winter Fair

The Guyra Catholic Parish and St Mary's of the Angel's P & F are holding their Winter Fair on Saturday 2 June. The fair features a disco and fireworks! Enquiries: Anne Thrift 67 79 1273.


Dio Tennis

On Friday the 11th May, the O'Connor tennis squad visited Gunnedah on a cold and blustery day. The squad consisted of Sam Davis, Sahra Dennehy, Charlotte Killen, Heath Maurer, Alex McMahon, Willem Nillesen, Lily Roff and Joja Wilson.  

Upon arrival, Mr Honeysett and the team noticed the wind was so strong, that if you were at the southern end of the court, you'd have to hit the ball hard to the west and watch it hopefully drop over the net to the north.  After some tennis tips from Coach Honeysett, Sahra Dennehy took on board his tips based upon his experience with windy conditions and went on to win both singles 6-0, 6-1 and being crowned girls champion!


Special mention to Sam Davis and Joja Wilson who also won both of their singles. 


All students improved throughout the day and should be very proud of their efforts and sportsmanship.


NSW Country Rugby

Congratulations to O’Connor students Nick Newsome, Tom Bible, Darcy Booth and Banjo Clark who were part of the U14 New England Team who came 3rd in the NSW Country Rugby Champs. Well done to Darcy who was selected in the Under 14 Country Squad.


State Hockey

The following boys went to Bathurst last weekend for the u18 state hockey championships. They finished 4th in division 1 
Jake McCann 
Tyler McCann 
Nathan Czinner 
Liam Smith 
Kieran Wicks
Aiden Wicks
Both Aiden Wicks and Harry Lye umpired at the carnival and Harry was selected to umpire the grand final. 
From this Jake, Nath and Kieran were selected for the Hockey NSW AAP squad.
Well done to all involved!


NSW All Schools Swimming Carnival

Congratulations to Mitch Hayden who swam at the NSW All Schools Swimming Carnival. Mitch got bronze in the 50 fly and then backed up and did the most amazing swim in the 100 butterfly to take gold , smashing his previous pb in a new time of 56.36 !


Dio Soccer

May 23rd saw 4 soccer teams from O'Connor travel to Inverell to compete in the Diocesan Gala day.


Both Junior and Senior Boys won their division and progressed on to the Inter Diocesan carnival  in Coffs Harbour.

The Junior girls had 2 good games but couldn't quite convert their field placement to wins and ended up 2nd with 2 draws.

Senior girls had a win and a loss also running 2nd.


Outstanding players on the day - our goal keepers Chloe Lincoln year 7, Chloe Gray Yr 10 Caitlin Lord Yr 9, Courtney Reeves Yr 10, Jorja Wilson Yr 7, and Sahra Dennehy.


Hockey Selection

On Thursday, Tahlia Constance (Year 12 2017) was named in the Under 21s ACT state  hockey team.  This is a great achievement and we congratulate Tahlia on her selection.

Career Corner

Notre Dame's Early Offer Program

Applications for Notre Dame's Early Offer Program are now open.

The Early Offer Program allows your high-achieving students to secure a place at the #1 university in NSW for overall quality of educational experience before sitting their Year 12 exams.


Students can qualify under two categories:
Academic Achievement
Extra-Curricular Achievement and Leadership
We'll soon be distributing information about the Early Offer application process. In the meantime, we'd appreciate your assistance in promoting this excellent opportunity to your students. Below you'll find sample text for a newsletter or email to students and their parents which you are welcome to distribute.

The University of Notre Dame's Early Offer Program opens today

The Early Offer Program recognises students who've excelled in one or both of the following categories: Academic Achievement, and Extra-Curricular Achievement and Leadership. Successful applicants will secure a place at university before undertaking their final exams and be eligible for Notre Dame's Leadership Program.

Applications close Tuesday 31 July 2018. Early Offer applicants must be in Year 12.


More information is available at www.notredame.edu.au/early-offer.


If you'd like to know more about the Early Offer Program or the University of Notre Dame, please contact us on 02 8204 4404 or at sydney@nd.edu.au or visit our website at notredame.edu.au.