O'Connor Newsletter

17 September 2018
Issue Fourteen
Principal's Report
Assistant Principal's Report
R.E Report
Around the School
Career Corner
Sport News
Parent Information
O'Connor Catholic College
02 6772 1666
39 Kirkwood St
Armidale, NSW, 2350

Principal's Report

Dear Parents and Carers,

Education has been in the media more frequently over the last few weeks. Many times the media is looking to divide educators - ‘Hard facts vs soft skills - a new front in education wars’ (SMH 1/9/18), technology vs no technology (SMH 10/9/18) and NAPLAN results and testing (SMH 8/8/18). The problem with the media’s coverage of these factors affecting education is that it sets up a false dichotomy. None of these issues are black or white or one or the other. In fact with all of them there needs to be a balance.

Hard facts Vs Soft skills

In today’s changing society, there has been change in the what and how outcomes and concepts are delivered. Using collaborative learning as well as individual skill and knowledge development are important parts of the learning process. This has in part been due to the advent of technology and the changing way we now work and communicate. In the recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald it was stated,

‘A new front in the education wars is set to break out over whether schools should focus on skills such as problem solving over teaching facts and figures as the state government begins the biggest overhaul of the curriculum in a generation.’


This is far from the truth, there will be no war and there is not one way or the other but a blend of both. Soft skills include communication skills, critical thinking and creative thinking. All skills we know all students (and people in general) need. Hard facts and explicit teaching still play a major part in our education. Students still need to know for example Pythagoras Theory and they also need to know how to use it and why they are learning it.

Ban the Smartphone

As much as parents we would like to ban the smartphone, a blanket ban does not work. Having clear expectations about its use and educating students about responsible use of technology is a much better way. Again it is not a yes or no argument. Should children have access to a smartphone/ device 24 hours a day 7 days a week? I’m sure we would all answer no to this question. Should they have no access to this technology? Again, I think most people would say no. It is finding the balance between the two that is important.


As parents, modelling safe and responsible use of technology is a priority. Having boundaries such as, phones/devices are not in bedroom at night and are charged in a central area. Even though at O’Connor we ask students to bring a device, this does not mean they use it constantly at school. Technology has its place but it is only an aid to learning not the only way to learn.

NAPLAN Results

Another hot topic in the media is NAPLAN. The results of NAPLAN will be released from Thursday 13/9/18. Again this year there has been speculation about the reliability of the NAPLAN results due to some students undertaking the test online and others using pen and paper. At O’Connor our students completed the tests online. From the early release of information to the media ‘Online NAPLAN test results called into question’ (SMH 8/8/18) , the areas where the effect of online vs pen and paper might be more pronounced is the writing and grammar. In the writing section it appears that students who completed the test online had a slight advantage, whereas, in grammar it appears that high achieving students could have been at a disadvantage by completing the test online. Regardless of the anomalies due to the testing, NAPLAN does provide us with diagnostic information in regards to literacy and numeracy. We can use the data to identify strengths and weaknesses both across the cohort and at an individual level. At O’Connor, we will analyse the results in detail and use these in our planning of lessons for all students. Any parent who has any concerns in relation to their son/ daughter’s NAPLAN results, please do not hesitate to contact the school.

Year 11 Exams

Year 11 begin exams this week and continue into next week. This is a time for them to see how they are going in their learning and get specific feedback in relation to areas to improve as they begin their HSC studies in Term 4. I wish them well with their studies.

What new learning will you undertake this week?



Regina Menz

Assistant Principal's Report

Dear Parents & Carers 

Research consistently shows that many students become disengaged in their schoolwork as they move further into the middle years of high school. As students become disengaged, they participate in class less often, enjoy school less, become less interested in schoolwork and achieve at significantly lower levels. Because of this, it is important to consider practical classroom strategies that can help students remain engaged throughout high school. One potentially effective strategy is personal best (PB) goal setting.



What is goal setting and how can it help?

PB goal setting creates personally competitive, self targets that students can strive for. It is aimed at exceeding past personal best performances or efforts and encourages students to focus on their personal growth and improvement, rather than comparing themselves to other students.


Examples of PB goal setting include: studying for longer than the previous week, completing more homework problems than before and trying to do better than before on an upcoming test.

Prior goal setting research has found that effective goals should be specific, challenging and personally relevant. It confirmed PB goal setting can be very effective for improving students' engagement when it meets the key criteria of effective goals:  specific (students identify the specific targets they are aiming for), challenging (students to raise the bar on themselves) and personally relevant (students set their own goals). Thus PB goal setting provides  students with clear targets, optimal challenges and a target that matters to the student.


Because PB goal setting has students focus on competing against their past personal effort or performance, these goals are more than likely to hold personal value for the student. Because they are personally set and held goals, students are more inclined to remain committed to them and to see school as a helpful resource for meeting these personally valuable goals. This ongoing commitment to meeting their goals underpins their continued engagement.


Upcoming Events

Next week (week 9) is the Year 11 yearly Examination Period. Students need to be well prepared and have all necessary equipment for each exam.

We would like to wish Year 9 and staff all the best for their camp to Lake Keepit. Here they will be personally challenged physically and mentally.

The Year 11 retreat to Sydney will be held in Week 10 from Monday to Thursday. Many past students have remarked that this event was one of their school highlights.

Also in Week 10 we will have teams in Netball and Rugby competing in state finals.

Year 12 will formally finish lessons on Wednesday September 26 followed by the annual touch footy/ volleyball grudge match that will be played at lunchtime.

The Year 12 final mass will start at 7pm in the De La Salle Chapel.

The school Walkathon will be held on Thursday September 27 and the Year 12 Graduation Assembly will be on Friday 28 commencing at 12 pm.



Thank you for your support


Simon Fleming

AP / Curriculum

R.E Report

Prayer For Abundant Rain in Drought

Living Lord and heavenly Father, You alone are good and You alone richly provide for all the needs and the necessities of life – and in Your loving-kindness You give us over and above all that we ask or think. Thank You for Your steadfast love and gracious provision to us and to all Your creation.

Forgive us the times when we have taken Your provision for granted and the times when we have failed to thank You and give You the honour and gratitude that You deserve – and thank You that even though we have failed to acknowledge all that You give us day by day. You faithfully provide us richly all things to enjoy. But Lord we come to You now, knowing that we are facing a drought in this region and we ask You to send abundant rain on the earth, which has become dry, thirsty and arid.

Look down in pity our plight we pray. It is not only the plants that are wilting but even the animals and people on this place are parched and dry – and send us the rain that we so desperately need. Open the windows of heaven we pray with the sweet rainfall that we so desperately need and water our land we pray - and we will give You all the praise and glory due to Your holy name,

Year 12 Mass

The Final Year 12 Mass is on at 7.00pm on the 26th of September. It is a really lovely celebration and an important part of Year 12s moving on to the next chapter in their lives. A unique part of the occasion is the traditional candle ceremony where the light of Christ is passed onto the Year 12 students to take out to the world. Thank you to Father Sabu for celebrating this Mass with the students,, their family and teachers.

Year 11 Retreat


Please pray for our Year 11 students as they head down to Sydney as part of our annual retreat. The retreat has a strong social justice theme with a visit to St Canices in Kings Cross to see the work that is done by that Parish. Students will attend Mass at St Mary's Cathedral.  This is a sung mass by the Boys Choir from the St Mary's Cathedral School. There is also a theme of interfaith dialogue where there is a visit and a talk at a Mosque and a Buddhist temple.

Year 9 Retreat


Year 9 Retreat (October 25) and Year 10 Leadership Day (October 26).

Early in Term 4, there will be a Year 9 Retreat and a Year 10 Leadership day held at the Cathedral Precinct. These days are facilitated by the Lasallian Youth Ministry Team from Sydney. The Leadership Day is the first step toward becoming a Lasallian Youth Leader in 2019.



Thank you

Damian Roff



Pastoral Academic Care (PAC) Focus -


Pastoral Academic Care (PAC) Focus -

This week’s Pastoral Academic Care focus is Value  of Feedback


Wellbeing  Element: Positive  Engagement

Character  Strength: Gratitude


Parent  Wellbeing:  Ask a friend about the good things that happened  today for them, why they happened and how they can make them happen again.


Learning how to give and receive feedback is an essential lifelong skill for students to develop:

  • students don’t know what they don’t know and developmental  feedback enables them to consider other perspectives
  • quality feedback builds social connectedness by others feeling they matter
  • it also broadens and builds students’ engagement with others  and themselves
  • feedback,  whether giving or receiving, forces them to slow down their thinking to be in the moment and think hard.


Positive learning and teaching communities rely on feedback to build  open, trusting and transparent communication lines which in turn  strengthen the wellbeing of everyone. A growth mindset to welcome it as positive encouragement rather than negative criticism.


The  purposes  of feedback  include:

  • listening to ideas and concerns to improve  a situation
  • suggesting alternative approaches and strategies
  • monitoring attitudes, behaviours and performance
  • giving frank feedback, both positive and negative; sometimes advice that we don’t want to hear.

When having conversations, it is apparent when others aren’t listening with their eyes, their ears and their hearts:

  • is  it that they are not interested or that they have never been  taught how to mindfully  listen
  • empathetic and attentive listening needs to be role modelled and taught
  • relationship building relies on it

“A  wise  person  hears one  word and understands  two.” Proverb

Pastoral Academic Care Update

Year 7

Congratulations to the students who represented O’Connor at the Da Vinci Decathlon. The team came 2nd overall and won the Art and Poetry Section. Well Done!



Year 8

Year 8 are working towards ‘being ok’. In the next 2-3 weeks and during the beginning of next term Year 8 will be working towards creating a dance to the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. This idea has been designed to focus on the concept of being happy and ok to align with our R U OK focus. Personally I believe that if the students are moving, dancing, smiling and laughing together as a Pastoral class and whole year then they are on their way to being ok. This activity is focused on encouraging movement and positive wellbeing among all students in the cohort. The video will be shared with the whole year and then will be posted on the O’Connor Facebook page for you to view.


By now all students should have submitted their subject selection notes to either the pastoral teacher or the front office. The process of identifying electives that will run and class lists are currently being processed. More information about this will follow.


Congratulations to all students that received awards at combined pastoral on Monday. Many commendations and Year Leader awards were presented. It is so positive to see so many students focused on their learning. Well done to all, keep up the good work.


Year 9

Well done to year 9 on the amount of commendation cards being awarded and activities that they have been involved in recent weeks. Many of the year 9 students have represented the school in various sporting and extra-curricular activities and have been great ambassadors for the college.


The camp is coming up for year 9 and ask that we continue to complete all registrations and payments for the Lake Keepit camp prior to week 7. Well done to the students who are organised and have made all arrangements.


Year 10

Year 10 Well Being Day Thursday 13th September.


A Well Being Day was organised for all Year 10 students on Thursday 13th September. This coincided with the National RUOK? day and this formed the theme for most of the activities.


The day involved small groups of students rotating around various guest speakers and professionals from our community as well as teachers who presented a range of topics. These topics included young women’s and young men’s health, relaxation and self calming techniques, cyber safety, RUOK information, Headspace and a presentation on St Vincent de Paul Society.


The day concluded with an afternoon of some team building and bonding activities, and games.


By all accounts the day was very successful with students. Here is just some of their feedback:


Being able to come together as a year and have fun

The Cyber Safety, the Headspace and the RUOK session was quite enjoyable as well as the activities at the end of the day.

I enjoyed the whole day, it was very useful and I got a lot out of all the sessions. The interactive lessons kept everyone engaged

Talking with the different guests and spending time with my peers

Getting to learn and talk about things we haven't really talked about before.

The R U OK workshop and designing a piece of cloth with some writing on it. Also having boys and girls separate was very useful. The day was a lot more beneficial than I initially thought it may be.

Mrs Channon would like to thank all of the students who made it successful with their respectful and mature manner in which they approached the day. Also to the community members who made the time in their busy schedules to come to school and conduct the presentations. This includes Andrew Ticehurst from Headspace and Darren Moss our counsellor,, Constable Chris Jordan who presented a Cyber-safety Workshop, Mr and Mrs Peter and Terrie Crick from Vinnies and Mrs Denise Pickett from Community Health. Our very own Mr James Russell, Mr Jon Hawthorne and Mr Daryl Harper also did very worthwhile presentations.

Thanks also to Mrs Brown, Mr Honeysett, Mrs Harper and Mrs Healey for help with feeding the hordes hotdogs at lunch, plus many in the playground who were lucky enough to be there at the right time and right place:)

Olivia Moore and Mr Roff assisted with the afternoon games. Mrs Creagan organised food for our guests. Mr Andrew McFarland helped with IT issues. Thank you.

All in all a great day and we hope it can be an annual event on our College calendar for Year 10 students.

Mrs Leggatt made a beautiful chocolate cake to celebrate a few birthdays in PAC period last week.

More commendations and awards for Year 10 students. Keep up the great effort and do your best.

Year 11

Last Thursday a large team of Year 11 Lasallian Youth Leaders (LYL's) did a fantastic job in running groups of Year 6 students for the STEP Day. Opportunities such as this are invaluable in assisting our students to develop their leadership skills and it is very pleasing to see a number of students developing in this capacity.


An exciting opportunity that is available for our Yr 11 students upon completing their Yr 12 studies is the Alternate Schoolies Trips organised by Catholic Missions. We recently had an information session about the 2019 Immersion Trip to the Philippines and this sounds like it will be an amazing, life changing experience for those that participate. Any Year 11 students interested in this please see Mr Russell for more info asap.


Term 3 is marching by very quickly now and Yr 11 students should be well underway in preparation for their Preliminary Exams. Study should be a high priority and all students are encouraged to work hard in preparing for their exams.

Year 12

Attendance from now to the end of term is crucial as courses will be finishing theory as well as carrying out revision of important concepts.


Congratulations to students who have completed and submitted their major works in Textiles and Design, Design and Technology, English Extension 2 and Dance. We wish our Visual Arts, Music and Language students the best as they complete major parts of their HSC assessment over the coming weeks.



Around the School


In last week of term, September 27, O’Connor’s SRC are running a whole school walk-a-thon. We plan to bus everyone out to the Pine Forest before all walking back into school together during the day. It is a day to dress up with friends in teams for best dressed. The theme is dress like a farmer. The day will require Gold Coin entry fee per person. We will also be running a sausage sizzle at lunch before so please support and buy some delicious BBQ goods. We are raising money for a variety of activities but we will also be fundraising for a special cause that has become close to each student's heart and that is to help with the Drought Relief.

We are hoping each student will contribute without us having to chase you and put in the extra effort of walking along side each other on the day. So come along, dress up and BE involved in an "fingers crossed" sunny fun filled community event.  


Thank you

Tonya McQuilty


Engineering School

Congratulations to Year 11 student Laura Di Luzio who has been selected to attend the Honeywell Engineering School in December.

Well done Laura!



More celebrations at our recent student briefing 

  • Benilde wins the Spiller Cup
  • Nick Meyers recognised for his awesome fundraising with his Dad as part of Kidney Car Rally
  • More Principals Awards were presented

Great work everyone!



The junior O’Connor chess team competed in the semifinal of the inter school chess tournament at TAS today. No placings but a great day was had by all 😀




Questacon Invention Convention

Registrations for the Invention Convention in Armidale (NSW), 09-11 October 2018 are now open!

Invention Convention Registration Armidale 2018.pdf
Invention Convention Registration Armidale 2018.doc

Please download a registration form (PDF or Word), fill it in and return it to us via email as soon as possible. There are only 20 places to attend so get in quick!
Registrations close Friday 28 September.

The Questacon Invention Conventions are multi-day workshops for 14-18 year olds, where you can work with mentor makers from Questacon and innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs from around Australia, to turn your ideas into reality.


In 2018, we are running three regional Invention Conventions in Gippsland VIC (April), Townsville QLD (July), and Armidale NSW (October), with the National Invention Convention being held in Canberra in January 2019.

If you've missed out on a regional Invention Convention, or if there isn't one happening near you, you can apply for our National Invention Convention. Be the first to know when applications open by filling in the Expression of Interest form below. Please note, to be eligible you must be at least 14 years of age, and less than 19 years, at the commencement of the event.

Career Corner

Apply now – cadetship and scholarship opportunities for future teachers

Apply now – cadetship and scholarship opportunities for future teachers




Who’s eligible? The GTIL Cadetship Program is for HSC students who intend on enrolling in initial teacher education studies in 2019 in any secondary subject area or special education (K-12). 

As a cadet you will receive:

A part-time job at a NSW public school while you study
More experience in a school
A permanent teaching position on successful completion of your studies. 
In addition to applying for a GTIL Cadetship, you may also be eligible to apply for a Teacher Education Scholarship, Teacher Education Scholarship - Aboriginal or teach.Rural Scholarship. Note: you can only receive one scholarship in addition to a GTIL Cadetship.

For more information on all the scholarship, internship and cadetship programs currently available please visit the teach.NSW website

You can also attend our live Facebook panel from the comfort of your own home on Thursday 9 August. Hear from current scholars about the application process and how the scholarship helped them through university. 

Remember, applications close on Friday 14 September. 

We look forward to receiving your application!



Advice to students when applying for a scholarship


General Advice

  • When applying for the scholarship, ask yourself this question: Why should they give you a massive sum of money?
  • Be passionate about your application
  • Tell them what motivated you & be genuine in your application
  • Google a mock scholarship application
  • Stand out from the crowd

Application Examples

  • Any sort of volunteering is impressive (Meals on wheels, Salvation Army, Duke of Edinburgh Award)
  • If you've been in the newspaper, add this into your application somewhere
  • Use your certificates as an addition to the word count (attach them to your application)
  • Pony Club/ Girl Guides
  • Refereeing is impressive
  • Any sort of committee involvement is impressive
  • Clean up Australia Day
  • Musicals
  • University visit days (Science & Engineering Challenge)
  • Presenting on Assembly (major award ceremonies)
  • Speech at any award days
  • Any paid work, School- Based Traineeships or Work Expewrience
  • Any significant certificates (School Medallions)
  • Anything the student has been recommended (managed positions)
  • Coaching in the Community/ Survival in the Wild


  • The general application don't have to be directly related to your degree
  • When applying for your scholarship, stick to the word count. When you attach documents scan EVERYTHING in (including certificates you have received since about Year 8)


Sport News

Girls’ Rugby - Armidale Rugby 7s Schools Champions!


Over the last two terms a group of girls from years 7-12 have been training twice a week to play in the Armidale Friday night girls Rugby 7s competition. The first term we trained was mainly about getting used to the game and learning new skills. But throughout Term 2 and this term was the real deal, it was a competition. Every Friday night we played two games against other schools including NEGS, PLC, TAS and Armidale Secondary College.


After playing for a term, both the Junior and Senior teams gained incredible skills and experience, and were soon very hard to beat. Both the Junior and Senior teams topped the ladder in their respective pools and O’Connor was proud to have both teams representing in the girls Rugby grand finals on Friday 31st August. Each team played extremely well considering the weather conditions and competed with great sportsmanship.


The Junior girls played their final against Armidale Secondary College and it was a very close game with the girls successfully winning by 2 tries. The Senior girls competed against a tough NEGS side but demonstrating great skill finished the game winning 17 points to 13. The overall competition was a great experience for the girls as they developed and gained many skills and qualities in a new environment.


We would like to thank Mrs Mellowship-Brown for all her time and commitment coaching; Mr Tonkin and Mr Hawthorne for helping when needed, and Brendon (NSW Rugby) who came and coached us once a week and refereed our games. Another big thank you to all the people who came out to support every Friday.




Parent Information

Practical Parenting


HSC Parent Webinar

A free webinar for parents held by HSC in the Holidays and HSC 4 ME on how to help Year 12 students prepare effectively for their final HSC exams.

Presented by a Counsellor and Senior HSC Marker, the webinar will cover a range of topics including:

- Emotional support
- Communicating with your child
- Practical tips and strategies
- Academic support

The webinar will be interactive and you will have a chance to submit questions both prior to and during the presentation.

If you're interested, register now through the link!



Uniform Shop

Opening Hours :
      Monday         8:00 am to 12:00 pm
      Wednesday    12.00 pm to 4.00 pm
      Friday            10.00 am to 2.00 pm

Friday 12th October  9.00 - 4.00

Monday Pupil-free - normal hours   8.00 to 12.00

Book Reading




Walk- a Thon


Dam Buster


Science of Sound


Animal Farm 

Animal Farm will be performed in Armidale very soon featuring Arts captain Nick Troon and Ethan Hinds.


O'Connor Newsletter
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