O'Connor Newsletter

03 November 2017
Issue Seventeen
Principal's Message
Assistant Principal's Report
O'Connor News
Community Events
Ag News
O'Connor Catholic College
02 6772 1666
39 Kirkwood St
Armidale, NSW, 2350

Principal's Message

Dear Parents & Carers

We are almost at the end of HSC exams, with the last one at O’Connor being Design and Technology on Tuesday 7th November. Although the exams have been challenging, the students have been studying hard and doing their best. Please keep these students in your prayers.


One of the issues that causes concern for parents, teachers, students and the whole school community is bullying. It is an ongoing issue in schools and one if not dealt with can cause ongoing issues for everyone concerned. There is strong evidence to suggest that through a strong holistic school and community approach that bullying can be effectively addressed.


A recent literature review conducted by Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation addressed this topic in a publication called Anti-bullying interventions in school - what works? A link to the article is included here for people who might like to read this:

https://www.cese.nsw.gov.au/publications-filter/anti-bullying-interventions-in-schools-what-works. This publication had a number of ways schools can work to address the issue of bullying. It also has some good ways for students to help build a culture where bullying is not accepted. One of the key ideas to come from the research is a caution against using labels such as ‘bully’ or ‘victim’. This is because of the effects of negative labelling and that it focusses too much on the individual and not on the behaviours.


In the publication it also emphasised fours key strategies that are particularly important in a whole school approach:

1.  establishing school-wide anti-bullying policies;

2. focussing on preventing bullying in key environments;

3.  promoting a culture of reporting bullying;

4.  partnering with parents and carers.


At O’Connor, we take bullying very seriously and investigate all cases reported. I have included our bullying policy with this newsletter for your benefit. We have a clear process for investigating and reporting incidents.

Both our policy and the publication note how the role of the bystander is crucial in preventing or stopping bullying. On Monday I spoke to all students about being an ‘upstander’. Many times, instead of intervening when bullying is occurring, students often reinforce the bullying behaviour by doing nothing. ‘The term ‘upstander’ is used to describe active bystanders who behave in ways to reduce or prevent bullying’ (CESE 2017). Our Pastoral Academic Care program aims to build student’s sense of self, building their resilience and character to stand up for what they know is right. The student diaries have valuable information to help students and parents.

Upcoming Events

I would like to highlight two important upcoming events for parents and carers:

Wednesday 8th November  5.30pm

School Advisory Council training and AGM 

On this night, we will be holding our AGM for the 2018/2019 School Advisory Council, commencing at 5:30pm. Mrs Catherine Ible, (Project Officer – School Advisory Bodies) from the Catholic Schools Office, will firstly present a training session which is open to all those parents who wish to nominate for a position or simply for anyone who may be interested in learning how the Council operates. This will then be followed by the AGM at 6:30pm. Please come along, you do not have to nominate for a position to attend the training.


Wednesday 15th November  6 pm

Annual Improvement Plan Reflection and Feedback 

In the last newsletter, I outlined our reflection and evaluation process for our Annual Improvement Plan for 2017 and our work on the Annual Improvement Plan 2018. Parent and Carers voice is very important in decision making. I would like to  invite you to an Information Evening about the College’s Annual Improvement Plan (A.I.P) on Wednesday 15th November 2017. This evening will be an opportunity for parents to reflect on the current A.I.P and to provide input into 2018. A copy of the 2017 plan can be found at


The evening will be from 6pm to 7pm.


It would be great to see many of you on these days. Could you please RSVP to Mrs Gemma Creagan ([email protected]) if you will be attending either of these events.


What new learning will you undertake this week?



Regina Menz

St Ursula's Visit

The trip to St Ursula’s, Kingsgrove with Mr Chapman, myself and a group of Year 11 students to celebrate St Ursula’s Feast Day proved to be very successful.  We thank St Ursula's for their hospitality and we look forward to their next visit to O'Connor. 


Assistant Principal's Report

Dear Parents & Carers

At this time of the year we often reflect and evaluate our achievements or decide on future objectives. Our Annual Improvement Plan has become the document upon which we judge ourselves. As a school we have made significant progress in advancing our goals.

One of the areas in which the school has progressed over the past three years is our dedication to improvement using the latest educational research into high performing schools. Teachers' awareness of the need to engage in professional reading and discourse has increased substantially. This is all part of a journey toward becoming a Catholic Professional Learning Community . Key features of the type of school we want to promote is one that has high collaboration amongst teachers and students, high expectations, a results focus, a student centred approach and improved student outcomes as the overarching goal.

The following lists some of our Key aspirational goals and also some to aim for into the future. 


  • We want to continue our collaborative approach, working in teams to improve teacher and classroom practice.
  • A common school wide language of learning.
  • A student friendly outline of what students should expect each day and each lesson.
  • Increase the need to listen to student voice.
  • A mindset that is continually asking 'where are we going? Where are we now and where to next.'
  •  Recognition that we have a moral purpose to work collectively to ensure our focus is on improved student learning and well being.
  • A focus on the classroom as the place of assessment and learning with further development of formative Assessment rather than summative.
  • A Diocesan wide review of our reporting system.

Daily Timetable for 2018

A significant structural change will take place next year when we move to a 5 period day. We have altered our Pastoral structure this year and intend  to refine this time even further next year. We want to start each day (except Mondays) with a coaching time for students, to ensure students are ready for a full day of learning. With the 5 period day we have had much discussion around the times for breaks. The following table is our current proposal.


Year 10

Seeking to meet the needs of our students is a major driver for change. Next year we are looking to introduce a 3rd elective line into Year 10. On this line which will only be for 2 periods a cycle students can choose to do Maths, English, Science, Information Technology, Careers and Food/ Life skills. At this point key staff are writing up information on each course which we will publish as a booklet next week. An Information evening will be held for parents and carers in Week 6.


 Dates to Remember

  • 6 November
  • 7 November - Melbourne Cup Mission Day, HSC Concludes
  • 8 November - Year 9 Mass
  • 10 November - Pastoral
  • 13 November - Exam Week Year 10
  • 15 November - Year 8 Mass
  • 16 November -  Yr 7 Immunisations
  • 17 November - PLT  - Year 12 Formal




Simon Fleming 

A.P / Curriculum Coordinator


Youth Lasallian Visit 

On October 9, the Young Lasallian team engaged in an action-packed and rewarding week in the New England region of NSW, visiting the school communities of Holy Trinity, Inverell and O'Connor Catholic College, Armidale.

Lasallian Youth Minister from O'Connor Catholic College, Olivia Moore, accompanied Lasallian Mission Council's Youth Ministry Coordinator, Philippe Dulawan to Holy Trinity Inverell for the facilitation of the Year 8 and 9 retreats.

The retreats focused on the positive ways to deal with emotions, understanding personality and self. The students at these retreats impressed the Young Lasallians Team with their strong sense of community, authenticity and their willingness to get involved. The retreats offered the opportunity for students to show their full range of gifts and talents, from dramatic performances to an intense game of chess.

As the retreats took place in smaller communities with student numbers averaging 40 participants on each day, there was an opportunity for greater connection and engagement between facilitators and students. Many students remembered the Young Lasallians Team's visit from the previous year.

On Wednesday October 11, Assistant Youth Ministry Coordinator Jordan Bottalico, joined Olivia and Philippe as they returned to O'Connor Catholic College, this time for retreat sessions for Years 9 and 10.

Since 2016, O'Connor has engaged the services of the Young Lasallians Team to conduct retreats for Years 7 through 11 and as a result, there were many familiar faces as Jordan's continuing relationship with these students has helped to cultivate a high quality and genuine retreat experience.

Highlights included a hearty rendition of "Waltzing Matilda," a boisterous competition of crowd charades and constructing a tower out of newspaper and sticky tape. These challenges gave students a hands-on experience to learn about leadership and develop their own leadership qualities to better serve their school community.

After the retreat, the Young Lasallians Team invited a number of students to participate in the international Youth Survey (#SYNOD2018) called by Pope Francis. The team guided student leaders in discussion as an opportunity to add their own Lasallian voices to the process, offering honest and insightful feedback for the Bishops to consider. The Young Lasallians Team were invited to the school youth group which takes place every Friday afternoon.

During these discussions, students, parents and teachers took the opportunity to congratulate Olivia Moore who is the first Lasallian Youth Minister at O'Connor Catholic College. Under the guidance of Olivia and other dedicated staff members, students who attended the Lasallian Youth Gathering (LYG) in July, have become a driving force in the school for Lasallian activities. They have implemented initiatives such as the Youth Mass twice a term, held in the local cathedral and led by a student youth band showcasing songs taught by the Young Lasallians Team from LYG. 

Overall, it was a productive and action-packed week for the Young Lasallians Team but more importantly, for all participants who engaged in all elements of Faith, Service and Community.

The Young Lasallians Team would like to say a special thankyou the Moore and Roff families for their generosity and hospitality.

Resourced from The Lasallian Outlook 27/10/2017



O'Connor News

O'Connor Cooks for Tim

Early this year our 2016 school captain, Tim Hanrahan, was struck down with a serious auto immune disease. It was sudden and he was immobilised for some time. The College community responded with a series of fundraisers to assist with his recovery.  When Mrs Healey put out the call for helpers it was astonishing – staff and students from the school community as well as the College Vinnies group nominated to prepare, cook and serve…we even had a few of Tim’s good mates from 2016 come in and help run the events.

Three canteens were held in Term 2 and a grand total of $1569 was raised. Being the ever generous soul that we have come to know and love, Tim asked that this money be given to the Red Cross instead, attributing his recovery to the life saving blood transfusions that he received. Of course this was of no surprise to us – Tim has always lived and modelled values of service to others – not only “talking the talk”, but also “walking the walk” – ironically even when walking was not possible for Tim for a time.

Last week, Tim presented the cheque and sent us this message…

Hello! It’s Tim Hanrahan and, as many of you may know, I was in hospital early this year with an autoimmune disease. With so much support from my family, the parish, and O’Connor I am very happy to say I have had a complete recovery and am back at university. 

During my time in hospital the staff and students at O’Connor ran events and fundraised money, which I was very pleased to present to the Red Blood Cross. This is such an important organisation to provide truly life-saving blood for people like me! Thank you all for your support, it’s a true testament to the community we have here at O’Connor that I am so proud to be a part of.

Again thank you, Tim :)


Anne Healey
Teacher; Hospitality and Food Technology 

Berg Shield

On Wednesday, O’Connor defeated McCarthy Catholic College in the first round of the Berg Shield.
Sent into bat, we were all out for 187 in the last over. Nick Page top scored with 78, Sam Johnson was solid with 34 and Jackson Gwynne hit an entertaining 21 from 6 balls!
McCarthy then scored 67 from their 25 overs.
Ben Heagney was our best bowler with impressive figures of 4/15 from his 5 overs.

Yours in cricket
Mark Honeysett

College Prayer Winner

The winners of the school prayer competition were announced at assembly yesterday.

From left to right... 3rd place Emily Meehan, Caitlin Honeysett and Chloe Brown
2nd place - Claudia Ley
Thank you to everyone who submitted entries. With close to 60 submissions Father Francis and Ms Menz had a difficult task selecting the winners. 

The winning entry was Year 10 student Elsbeth Rathborne. Congratulations


Dear Lord,
With each new day you bring us here to O'Connor.
May our school always follow in the lead of our founders, 
St Angela Merci and St John Baptist De La Salle,
Who were loving and kind.
May our school accept and nourish both students and teachers,
While we all flourish within these walls.
May our school community respect and cherish each other,
And learn to love truly.
May we grow together in the presence of our loving God,
And always remember that the fruit of the spirit is love.

House Captains for 2018

Congratulations to our new house captains
LaSalle - Connor McRae, Tahlia Stuart
Benilde -  Reggie Divall, Morgane Sercombe
Ursula - Noah L'Hostis, Sophie Warner 
Merici- Jacob Minehan, Kaylee Smith



Speaking 4 the Planet

Speaking 4 the Planet...special mention and runners up in the drama section for two of our O’Connor teams, and special mention to Alex MacMahon and runner up to Anne Maree Swanson in the impromptu speech section.


Urban Forest

Students from year 7 and 9 were invited to help complete another section of the Urban Forest on the north side of Dumaresq Creek on Tuesday 17th October. The yr 9 students were an integral part of the major school plantings earlier in the year and they were able to teach the younger students the techniques over the morning. Aaron Coop spent valuable time with tree expert Dave Carr learning about native tree care. As a result the students have been invited to participate in a workshop at the woodland centre later in the year.


Year 9 PASS

Yr 9 PASS Classes joined Nicki Scholes-Robertson for her 'Rambling for Renal'. Four and a bit km walked, lots of chatting done and I am sure that all students have come away better informed around Kidney Disease. A really positive morning enjoyed by all involved.

James Russell



Community Events

Open Gardens


Surviving your Teenagers


Ag News

Upper Hunter Beef Bonanza

Scone 27 – 29 October


Over 900 students and more than 400 steers and their teachers/support people converged on Scone’s White park for the annual prime beef show over the weekend. The weather was hot and steamy and the quality of the cattle outstanding.

Our steers were not quite finished, however they performed very well for the students all weekend.

Year 10 students Savannah Roberts, Megan Tisdell, Tom Smith, Nick Graham and Year 9 students Eli Layton, Kareena Dawson, Chloe Gray and Year 11 student Zeke Johnstone enjoyed the Beef Bonanza over the weekend.


Tom Smith - Winner of the 16 years Junior Judging and Reserve Champion Judge overall. Tom won a scholarship to the Nationally recognised Tocal Beef Judging school. He was also 3rd in his cattle paraders class.

Nicholas Graham - winner of his heat in 16 years Junior paraders.

Savannah Roberts - 2nd in her 15 yrs cattle paraders class and 4th in the 15 yrs Junior Judging

Megan Tisdell – 3rd in 16 yrs paraders heat

Kareena Dawson – 5th in 15 yrs paraders heat

Chloe Gray – 4th in 14 yrs paraders


A big thank you to Leanda and Ian Tisdell who provided the steers for us this year and to Leanda who drove students to Scone and who also assisted NEGS by towing their trailer to Scone.  Thank you also to David and Alisa Gray who drove students and provided their camper trailer for the students to camp.  Thanks to Alisa organising the food for the weekend.


A big congratulations to prac teacher Samantha Reeves who joined us for the weekend giving up 15hrs a day to learn the intricacies of showing cattle. Walcha will certainly be lucky to have her in 2018.


Interschool Horse Extravaganza

Jacob Lynch and Erin Porter competed in the ISHE event on 13 – 16 October at the world class AELEC facility in Tamworth. Both students competed in the 80 cm Show jumping with Jacob placing 10th/50. Erin took on the 60cm one day event with her horse Boorolong Ash Rein and competed very well with unfortunately a refusal at the last cross country obstacle putting her out of final contention. Jacob and his horse Chief collected 2 ribbons in the Gymkhana flat riding on Monday morning. Congratulations to both students on a very competitive event. Thanks to Matt Lynch and Fiona Porter for all their support over the competition.

Janet Price

Ag/ Science

O'Connor Newsletter
Bullying Prevention & Intervention.pdf
Bullying Prevention & Intervention.pdf
Daily Timetable 2018.pdf
Daily Timetable 2018.pdf