O'Connor Newsletter

28 March 2018
Issue Four
Principal's Message
Assistant Principal's Report
Pastoral Academic Care
O'Connor News
Parent Information
Autumn Festival
O'Connor Catholic College
02 6772 1666
39 Kirkwood St
Armidale, NSW, 2350

Principal's Message

Dear Parents and Carers


It has been a full term and with three weeks left of term 1 now is a time for consolidation of learning and reflection on what we need to do together to enhance learning for all.


What works best: Evidenced- based practices to help improve NSW student performance

In our Pastoral Academic Care Meetings, we have been revisiting this article published by the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. This article brings together seven themes from the growing area of evidence we have for what works to improve student learning. The themes discussed are -

  1. High Expectations

  2. Explicit Teaching

  3. Effective Feedback

  4. Use of data to inform practice

  5. Classroom Management

  6. Wellbeing

  7. Collaboration


These themes do not work in isolation and overlap and connect with one another. Providing effective feedback is integral to explicit teaching. Being explicit about the learning goals of a lesson and the criteria for success gives high expectation in a form students can understand and aim for. Good classroom management provides for a positive learning environment where collaboration and explicit teaching can occur.


Our work together as a learning community hinges on collaboration around key areas that improve student learning. Our aim is for every student to grow with their learning every day they are here at O’Connor. With that comes expectations on us as teachers, parents and students. An expectation for teachers is that work to provide a positive learning environment where students are engaged and stretched to achieve learning growth. For students it means having a go every day, in every class, that their behaviour does not interrupt their learning or the learning of others, that they advocate for their learning, they ask for help or more challenging work when required. For parents, it means ensuring that students are at school every day (except when they are sick) on time, attendance matters and a day here or there adds up, it means discussing their son/daughters learning and valuing the educational opportunities on offer. Together we can work to enhance learning for all.



I’d like to congratulate all students for their support of Project Compassion. House Captains have run fundraisers and the Paupers Banquet organised by Mrs Cheryl Leggatt and the Vinnies group was well supported by both staff and students. Project Compassion funds go to helping people less fortunate both in Australia and overseas.


As we enter the Easter period, we have time to reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross and his glorious Resurrection. Take the opportunity to celebrate this Easter time by attending Mass over the Easter period. Our O’Connor Year 12 students will help lead the Cathedral congregation on Good Friday 3pm service and many of our students will be participating in the Easter Masses through reading and serving.

High School Musical

Congratulations to the staff and students for the amazing production that was High School Musical. The professionalism of the production was high and I have had so much positive feedback about the musical. Special congratulations to Sarah Watson, Melissa Killen, Melita Roache, Jenny Roff, Anthony Carlon and Duncan Carmichael who put in so many hours to make it such a memorable event.

Enrolments for 2019

A reminder that enrolments for 2019 are now open and I extend an invitation to students seeking enrolment to Year 7 2019 to complete and submit enrolment forms by 9th April.


What new learning will you undertake this week?


Regina Menz​

Assistant Principal's Report

School Refusal

Last week I travelled with our learning support coordinator Mrs Mellissa Bell to a special conference in Sydney that was focussed on the problem of School Refusal - i.e. the fears and anxieties some students develop about going to school. The keynote speaker was Dr Michael Gordon, a Psychologist who has specialised in this area for many years.


Dr Gordon used the following important points to summarise his main arguments:          

  •   Anxiety is the backbone of refusal but is not the only feature;
  •   Parents are the key for students to either go to  school or refuse;
  •  Once a habit of school refusal is made it is very difficult to break e.g. there is only a 30-50% success rate with students from Year 9 and up;
  •  Schools cannot become the parent – schools that pick students up are doomed to failure;   Attendance is critical – parents complicit in allowing partial absenteeism will contribute to a negative attitude about the relevance of school;  The best treatment for school refusal is to be at school;
  •  Many will want to move school but this means  the problem will simply change a geographic location (and parents will likely blame the previous school);
  •  If parents  appear anxious the child will always become more anxious;
  •  Avoid Goldilocks parenting – if a child exhibits signs of refusal, parents must have a shared plan and stick to it;
  •   If school refusal becomes  a reality, parents have to involve an expert;
  •  Role of the parent is most significant in developing a shift in behaviour – children will cherry pick what they want to do i.e., go when the football or the sports carnival is on but not when they have a 5 period academic day;
  •  Parents must learn to accept and tolerate when their child has a disappointment. They need to learn how to manage their emotions. If parents shepherd their children they become just as emotional and disappointed as the student;

 Dr Gordon also put forward the following key behaviours to avoid depression:

1.      Good sleep

2.      Exercise

3.      Friendship

4.      Sense of future

5.      Medication

6.      Good food/eating habits

7.      Structure in the day.


Year 9 Parent Night

This will be held next Monday 26th March commencing at 6pm in the examination centre (AG 4/5). The focus of the evening will be to provide information on the RoSA – ( Record of Student Achievement), NAPLAN and the HSC minimum standards. Information will also be conveyed about events involving Year 9.

Year 7 Camp

The camp to the Barrington Tops begins next Tuesday March 27. Students should be thoroughly prepared for a great experience. Staff attending include Melita Roach, Kaylene Osborne, Gary Osborne, Jenny Roff, Yolanda Kreuzen, Bryan Allerton, Isaac Selvey and Tom Teege.

Dates to Remember

Week A

  • March 26 - School Briefing Gym, Year 9 Parent 
  • March 27 - Year 7 Camp, Chrism Mass
  • March 28 -  Year 7 Camp 
  • March 29 - Year 12 Stu Vac Time, Whole School, Mass, Stations of the Cross, Year 7 Camp
  • March 30 - Good Friday


Week B

  • 2nd April - Easter Monday
  • 3rd April - Year 12 Stu Vac Time
  • 4 April - Armidale Youth Forum, yr 12 Stu Vac
  • 5 April - Vinnies Dio Camp, WW1 Trench Life Expo, NSWCCC Swimming, School Assembly, Year 12 Exams


Thank you for your Support.


Simon Fleming

AP/ Curriculum Coordinator


Mass at the Cathedral in Holy Week

Palm Sunday        8.00am, 10.00am, 5.30pm

Chrism Mass        11.00am (Tuesday)

Holy Thursday    7.00pm

Good Friday         11.00am Stations of the Cross                                         3.00pm Solemn Service

Vigil Mass              6.00pm (Saturday)

Easter Sunday     8.00am, 10.00am, 5.30pm


1 Corinthians 15:3–8

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me”.


Prayer Lent Week 4

Lord grant us your grace and humility to fully recognise and own our vulnerabilities and weaknesses. 

There may we find that the redeeming and transforming cross of Christ is enough.


Holy Week

The Easter Triduum is the proper name for the liturgical season that concludes Lent and introduces us to the joy of the Easter season. Starting with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday, continuing through the Good Friday service and Holy Saturday and concluding with evening prayer on Easter Sunday, the Easter Triduum marks the most significant events of Holy Week. This includes The Last Supper, the death of Jesus Christ by Crucifixion and Jesus raised from the dead.  

The Easter Triduum is the most important celebration in the Church calendar. It is the cornerstone of our faith and O’Connor families are encouraged to get to the Cathedral for as many of the various Masses that are possible.


Stations of the Cross

On Holy Thursday students attended stations of the cross which involved lots of work done by our creative dancers. This was held in the chapel at 2.15pm and was a great way to reflect upon the coming days of the great feast of Easter.


Paupers Banquet

The O’Connor chapter of St Vincent de Paul did a wonderful job organising the annual Paupers Banquet. Students enjoyed a humble rice lunch and watched a small percentage of their peers (drawn out of a hat) enjoy a feast provided by the teachers. This represents the unequal distribution of wealth in the world. The day showcases the work done by Caritas and raised over $300 for Project Compassion.

Project Compassion

Students need to return their project compassion boxes on Holy Thursday. Year 7 students away on camp may return them when they return to school after Easter. This week project compassion story is Ditsosa from Mozambique.

Ditosa is a young girl from Mozambique who hopes to go to university and become a police officer. Featured in Project Compassion 2013, Ditosa faced a challenging future with food scarcity, little education and few job prospects. Cared for by her grandmother and aunt, after her parents died of AIDS-related illnesses, they also lost their home and livelihoods in severe flooding.

Thanks to the support of Project Compassion, Caritas Australia and Caritas Regional Chokwe (CRC) helped Ditosa’s family to build a new house and assisted with transport fees, school materials and fees, to help Ditosa to stay at school.

Ditosa attended the Matuba Children’s Centre (set up by Caritas in 2007) which provides vulnerable children, like Ditosa, with lunch, study help, and computer and income-generating skills training.

In 2018, Ditosa has graduated from school and is ambitious for the future.

“Without the support of the people from Australia and Caritas I would not have been given this opportunity to continue my schooling.”

Ditosa dreams of going to university to continue studying and secure an even brighter future.

I love to learn and want to be a police woman. Education is important in my life but I know that university is expensive, so if I can’t go to the police academy I want to learn commercial science so that I can work in a bank."- Ditosa



All students had the opportunity to attend reconciliation before Easter on Wednesday the 21st of March. Thanks to Father Francis for organising this opportunity and thanks to all the clergy for giving up their time to guide our O’Connor students through this sacrament.

Chrism Mass

O’Connor students may volunteer to attend the Chrism Mass during Holy Week. All priests in the diocese attend this mass presided over by Bishop Kennedy. At this mass oils are blessed for sacramental use through the year. Any student wishing to attend this mass needs to see Mr Roff. Mass will take place at the Cathedral at 11.00am.


Pastoral Academic Care

Pastoral Academic Care (PAC) Focus -

This week’s Pastoral Academic Care focus is Active Constructive Responding



Wellbeing Builder: Middle / Senior – Active Constructive Responding
Wellbeing Element: Relationships and Optimism
Character Strength: Leadership
Wellbeing Fitness Challenge: Looking Forward
Wellbeing Reflection Activity: Active Constructive Responding
Parent Wellbeing: Failing well, accepting that mistakes are part of life, forgiving yourself for making them and learning new approaches from them are valuable skills to develop. Describe a time you have done these to succeed.
Due to electronic devices, there has been a significant decline in face to face conversations over the last decade with students’ skills in interpreting and sending appropriate body language messages reduced. This leads to a key social-emotional resilience skill, showing empathy, being adversely affected. Consequently, the building of high quality relationships suffers.


Showing empathy has been the social glue that has enabled communities to thrive and flourish for centuries.



To develop students’ self-awareness of how to overcome this:
- they need learn how to use active constructive responding in the face to face conversations they have

- it is about enthusiastically encouraging others to share their stories and asking tell me more

- doing this, fills both of you with uplifting spirals of positive emotions

- it is the only proven way of listening and responding which builds relationships


- an important aspect to emphasise is aiming to say five positives for every negative
Other ways of listening and responding which have an adverse effect on relationships include:
- passive constructive: listening respectfully, but without any interest, energy or enthusiasm
- passive destructive: showing little interest in listening to them to learn their story
- active destructive: dismissing their story with disrespectful body language and changing the subject.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams




O'Connor News

Year 8 Science

The year 8 Science classes have had the opportunity to go on excursions to Dangar Falls, Dangarsleigh, Kelly’s Plains, Armidale Waste Transfer Station and G & C Foundry in Uralla,  on Tuesday the 6th of March and 13th March. We are trying to understand some of Armidale’s Geological history as well as look at how we use and manage resources in the local area.


Unfortunately the weather was not great for Core classes 8.1, 8.2, 8.3 but it meant that we got to see Dangar Falls really flowing. For Core Classes 8.4 and 8.5 the sun was out and we managed to get around to all the places we set out to.

The three geological sites at Kelly’s Plains were really significant in telling the story of rock types around Armidale. The first site had rocks approximately 350 million years old and formed in deep ocean, the second site formed in a river bed around 40 million years ago and the third was relatively younger at around 20 million and the site of a lava flow. Students will use the data they collected about these sites to write a paragraph explaining Armidale’s geological past.


At the Foundry we saw how they make parts for trains and railways using different combinations of metals.

In our tour of the Armidale Regional Council Waste Transfer Station we were shown the process of managing waste . We saw how the people there process the recyclable waste from around 11,000 homes. We watched the squashing of cardboard into one ton cubes.


This would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the generosity of the people at the sites and landowners. A big thank you goes out to those people. Mr Tony Spiller deserves a pat on the back for giving up his time both days to share his expertise, passion and humour with us.


Year 7 Science

Year 7 Science classes have been lucky enough to visit the Water Treatment and Sewage Treatment Plants and Dumaresq Dam area on an excursion.  Monday 19th was a warm sunny day and it made for great weather for fieldwork. The excursion was planned to supplement the work being done in class for our topic on ‘Water’. We wanted to see where our drinking water comes from, what happens to waste water and how our local waterways are managed.


On our tour of the Water Treatment Plant we learnt that Armidale could go without rainwater for three years and still would not have water restrictions. We watched the daily processes that are needed to have fresh drinking water to our taps. At the Wastewater Treatment Facility it was the water leaving our homes that we found out about.  We saw and smelt the wastewater that is produced by the residents of Armidale and observed the steps taken to manage it.

We travelled to undertake some field investigations of water quality at Dumaresq Dam and Curtis Park, Armidale. We collected data about the health of the dam and the creek to make comparisons. At each site we took water samples and tested them for temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and pollutants.


Thanks to Jeremy Simpson from the Water Treatment Plant and Sean Brennan at the Wastewater Treatment Facility both did a great job.

Mitch  Smidt

Science Coordinator

Year 9 Textiles

Year 9 Textiles playing with printing techniques. Having a very fun time. Letting their creativity flow.



Year 9 Maths


Some groups of Year 9 students from O'Connor have helped researchers from UNE with a project.  After volunteering and filling in the appropriate forms, students completed six NAPLAN style maths questions.  Three of these were digital (on their iPad) with the other three on hard copy paper.  The researchers are looking at where the students look (eye tracking) while they work through the two different formatted questions.  One student in each group wore special eye tracking glasses that recorded where they were looking while they worked through the problems.

Researchers Anne Parnell and Chris Reading from UNE were impressed by the maturity shown by the students involved.

Stephen Chapman

Maths Coordinator


Chess News

The O'Connor chess team played against Inverell High School in the NSW Junior Chess League.

Unfortunately, our boys were beaten on boards 1, 3 and 4 with Harrison Ross achieving our only points with a draw on board 2.
The Inverell lads were all Year 12 students. Our team consisted of Harrison, Daniel van de Veer and Bradley Lidgard from Year 7 and Cooper Johnston from Year 8.
The games were played in great spirit, and true sportsmanship was shown by all combatants. 
All in all a great experience for our future chess champions.

The College would like to thank Mr McLeish for taking the boys to Inverell.


Parent Information

$100 Voucher's Available

$100 Voucher for Children's Sport & Recreation Fees

School Parking Information


School Zone Safety


Netball News


Sports for Schools



Student Exchange

There’s a whole world out there and WEP is now offering two Australian high schoolers the chance to explore it with a $2,000 discount off their student exchange program fee.

This scholarship is open to students currently in years 9 to 11. Please find attached a flyer.

A WEP student exchange provides students with the unique opportunity to live and study in a country of their choosing for a summer, semester or year. On exchange students will not only experience a new culture, they’ll become part of it.

We are looking for scholarship applicants with passion, creativity and knowledge of their chosen country.

Please note that students can apply for the scholarship before starting their student exchange application.




UAC News March 2018

2018 admissions Survey

Now that we're well into the new year, we'd like to gather feedback on the recent changes to UAC's admissions process. The survey should take no more than a couple of minutes of your time, and the results will be used to inform future improvements to our admissions process.

Take the survey


New admissions terminology 
All universities and admissions centres across Australia will adopt a standard approach when providing information to students about admissions criteria and processes.


UAC’s coming to an expo near you
View the detailed list of this year’s events on our website. If you’re in Sydney we’ll be speaking at the expos at Moore Park and Sydney Olympic Park. This is a great opportunity for your students to find out about uni first-hand.

School presentations
If you would like UAC to come to your school, check our guidelines for School presentation guidelines.


UAC information days
Our UAC Day is a free professional development day for careers advisers, year advisers and other senior secondary staff who advise students about subject selection, the ATAR and applying to uni.

UAC information days for CAA members
These inaugural events are presented by UAC and open exclusively to members of the Careers Advisers Association of NSW & ACT (CAA). They are NESA accredited.


UAC publications
Our latest publications are available at expos and ready for download from our website.

Coming soon…UAC’s new brand!
Our new brand references our rich past but also looks forward to a bright future.


School offer lists
Details of all 2018 semester 1 uni offers made to students at your school are available in the secure My School area of our Schoolink website. 


ATAR calculator 
UAC does not have an ATAR calculator, nor do we endorse any that might be in use. 


An ATAR can decrease
If NESA provides UAC with amended HSC results, the student’s ATAR will be automatically recalculated and may decrease.

DOWNLOAD the new fact sheet on special entry requirements for Medicine and Medical Sciences

DOWNLOAD this year's list of uni open days



University news

ACAP new courses Macleay College upcoming events Macquarie University upcoming events SAE Creative Media Institute information night University of Sydney new course prerequisite University of Wollongong new degree + upcoming events 

Western Sydney University new degrees

Parent/ Student Information

Please find attached two reference guides providing information on the Australian Government’s work with the Higher Education Sector to ensure prospective students, parents and schools have access to nationally consistent and comparable information on admission requirements for all undergraduate courses offered by Australian Higher Education Institutions.



Mrs Lemon

Careers Adviser



Congratulations to Lawson Fittler, Ellie Mitchell and Skye Vaughan were named athletes of the year at the 2018 Armidale Combined Athletics Gala Day.


Hockey News

Nathan Czinner was named Hockey NSW's Junior Male Field Player of the Year.


Rugby League

Congratulations to Tyson Ahoy, Darcy Booth, Fletcher Chappell-Davis and Jack Howard who were all selected in the Armidale Diocesan u15’s Rugby League team after trials in Tamworth today.
Will Hawthorne and Sam Johnson were selected as shadow reserves for the team.
These boys will now attend the Northern NSW Country Catholic Colleges’ Selection Trials in Smithtown on the 11th April.
Luke Roff will also be attending the Trials representing Lismore Diocesan u18’s.
We wish the boys the best of luck.

House Cup


Update on the points for the House Cup. This update includes

  • 2017 Presentation Awards

  • Commendations for Term 4 2017 and Term 1 2018

  • High School Musical

  • Swimming Carnival

4th Position Benilde 473

3rd Position Ursula 501

EQUAL La Salle and Merici 604

Autumn Festival

Autumn Festival 

Thanks to all staff and students who helped decorate our float & be part of the annual Autumn Festival parade and the Campus to City Canter.


O'Connor Newsletter
Lent 25 Mar 2018.pdf