O'Connor Newsletter

01 December 2017
Issue Nineteen
Principal's Message
Assistant Principal's Report
O'Connor News
Community Events
Sports News
O'Connor Catholic College
02 6772 1666
39 Kirkwood St
Armidale, NSW, 2350

Principal's Message

Dear Parents & Carers

As part of our planning for 2018, we have been working on our Annual Improvement Plan (AIP). Thank-you to the parents who came and provided feedback on our AIP 2017 and suggestions for our AIP 2018. Our AIP for 2018 is in draft form and I will provide an explanation of the major features of the plan.


To begin the process of planning our AIP for 2018, we started with our vision and the Annual Improvement Plan for 2017. We also looked at a number of key data indicators including - School Satisfaction Survey (Parents, Staff and Students), HSC Results, NAPLAN results and Wellbeing indicators. We investigated the key research in regards to improving student learning and wellbeing outcomes. As part of a system of schools within our Diocese, we are also part of the Catholic Schools Office, Diocese of Armidale Improvement Plan 2018. I have included a copy of the CSO Plan for 2018 with this newsletter. The process undertaken to develop our Annual Improvement has included collaborating with staff, parents and students.

The vision for our improvement plan at O’Connor is -

Our vision is a faith filled Catholic Professional Learning Community, founded on faith & focused on learning, working collaboratively to enhance the learning for all, resulting in students who are creative, confident and informed people ready to make a real difference in our world. We believe that everyone can learn, not always at the same time and in the same way, and we strive to create learning opportunities for all.


A  Catholic Professional Learning Community has a number of key focus points all taking place in a Catholic context. These include:

1. Focus on Learning;

2. Culture of Collaboration;

3. Results Orientation.


Our main goals in 2018 are designed to continue to improve in these key areas. The goals for 2018 are:

Faith Formation

  1. To ensure Catholic Core Principles & Values are understood and embedded in learning programs.

  2. To increase the involvement of students in parish life and engage in Year of Youth.


  1. To work towards the development of guaranteed & viable curriculum.

  2. To ensure differentiation underpins teaching & learning.

  3. To guarantee engaging & effective learning environments.


  1. To ensure pastoral academic care is a focus for the whole school community.

  2. To develop effective Professional Learning Teams.

  3. To develop leadership to align with the Professional Learning Community framework.


Some of the feedback from parents was in relation to the language used. We are currently developing a guide to some of the key educational language used in our plan.   


From our AIP 2018 Plan, KLA (Key Learning Areas eg English, Maths) will develop their Plan for 2018. Teachers also develop their own Professional Learning Plan, choosing goals that work with our School and KLA Plans.


One of our key focus for this year and will continue next year, as part of our Pastoral Academic Care Program is for students to set learning goals. These goals, just like ours, need to be (SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).


Dylan WIliam, a key educator states the following: ‘Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.’ (Dylan Wiliam, keynote to SSAT conference, December 2012). This statement, although discussing teachers holds true for everyone. We all can improve, not because we are not good enough but because we can be even better!



I would like to invite you to our Presentation Day to be held on Tuesday 12th December at 1.30pm. We are changing the format slightly this year to include an alumni from O’Connor as a Guest Speaker. This year our inaugural Guest Speaker is Alison Ryan. Alison attended O’Connor Catholic College from 1987 to 1992 and completed her Primary schooling at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. She is the Supervising Solicitor of the Refugee Advice and Casework Services (RACS) Legal Help for Refugees Clinic. Alison’s career has focused on improvement of human rights and, in particular, the provision of legal services to people seeking asylum.
Her first solicitor position was at RACS in 2000. Since then she has worked in human rights and rule of law projects in Timor Leste and Palestine and undertaken consultancies in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Greece. In 2017 Alison was awarded the Partner of the Year in the Migration category of the Lawyers Weekly awards and was a finalist in the NSW Community Lawyer or Academic of the Year, NSW Women Lawyers Achievement Awards, 2017. We are very privileged to have Alison speak to us and I look forward to welcoming her to our College at Presentation Day 2017.



What new learning will you undertake this week?

Regina Menz


Assistant Principal's Report

Dear Parents & Carers

Our planning for 2018 is well under way. This year we will be farewelling a number of staff including Glenn Watson, retiring, Scott Mudge, on leave for 12 months and Ms Ellen Newberry who has taken on the position of head of HSIE at St Joseph's Aberdeen. We also have some new positions at school which we see as necessary in order to facilitate continued student improvement academically, emotionally and spiritually. We are also working on the school calendar for 2018 including important dates such as exam periods, camps, retreats, major sporting events and report times.

Presentation Day

The annual Presentation Day and celebration of Student Achievement will be held Tuesday 12th December at 1.30pm in the College Gym.  We hope you will be able to join us to celebrate achievements of our students in Years 7 - 11.


Term 5

At this point in time all students in 7-9 should have nominated their term 5 activities which will start Wednesday 13th December and finish Friday December 15th.

Stage 4 Lifesaving

All students in years 7 and 8 will be lifesaving from periods 1-4 next week. Students are to meet at the pool and will walk back to school. We are very fortunate to have a group of teachers who are willing to give up their time and energy to facilitate this valuable program which caters to swimmers of all abilities. Best of all, each student will come away with an award certificate of completion.

End of Year Reports

The end of the school year reports for year 7- 10 will be posted over the final weeks commencing with year 7 followed by 8 and then Years 9 & 10. This report will contain academic grades for semester 2, 2017 as well as a Pastoral report. The report writing process is a time consuming task and we hope that famililies take time to discuss all areas of the report with students, formating goals for 2018.

Year 7 2018 Orientation Day

Last week we held a very successful Orientation Day and evening  for year 7 students, parents & carers for 2018. Students from a number of feeder schools experienced a learning day about O'Connor, our history and staff. Thank you to the  current year 10 & 11 students & the school student leadership team who provided valuable assistance on the day. 

Dates to Remember

Week 9

 4 December - Stage 4 Lifesaving

 5 December - Yr 9 Reports 

 6 December - Year 11 Retreat, Yr 10 reports 

Week 10

11 December - Driver Ed SHARP Yr 11

12 December - School Presentation 1.30 pm

13 December - Term 5 begins, HSC results available.

14 December - Carols in the Cathedral

15 December - Last day for Students


Thank you for your support.


Simon Fleming

Curriculum Coordinator/ A.P

Uniform Shop

The uniform shop will be open for the following 3 days in January for your convenience. 

Wednesday 24th January 2018 - 9.00 am - 4.00 pm
Thursday 25th January 2018 -  9.00 am - 4.00 pm
Monday 30th January 2018 -    9.00 am - 4.00 pm

Newsletter Contributions

If you know of  a significant achievement that you  like to share with the O'Connor Community, please email  [email protected]

and we will do our best to include the news in our fortnightly newsletter. The newsletter is emailed out to the O'Connor Community & can also be found on our website oconnor.nsw.edu.au & our facebook page.

If your email address have changed recently please send us an update to [email protected]



Advent is the season of new beginnings. A new liturgical year begins on the First Sunday of Advent and it beckons to us with images of transformation and hope. It is the season of the impossible becoming possible. In the scriptures we read of the dry, barren wilderness bursting into bloom; of broken hearts healing; of a barren woman and a young virgin both conceiving children. It is the season of longing and light. Week by week, candles are lit on the Advent wreath signifying our longing for the light of Christ, as the time of his birth draws near. Yet Advent heralds more than Christ’s birth. It paves our way toward celebrating Christ as God-with-us, God in human flesh. This is a profound mystery at the heart of our faith, and it is the cause of our joy at Christmas (Melbourne Catholic Education Office).




After months of waiting and a number of formation sessions Year 11 are embarking on their pilgrimage to the Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney from December 6 to to December 10. It will be held at Olympic Park and the Show Ground. There are over 18 000 registrations so it is going to be huge. There will be awesome concerts and thought provoking workshops. One of the many highlights will be the pilgrimage on the final day across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, through The Rocks, past the Opera House, through the Botanical Gardens and into The Domain where there will one last final concert and a Mass. Some of our students will have ministries at that Mass which is anticipating a congregation of over 20 000 people. It is going to be great. Please pray for our pilgrims. Below is a great clip by one of the great musicians who will be at the festival, Father Rob Galea.


Cathedral Carols

Carols in the Cathedral December 14, 6.00pm to 7.00pm.

This is a wonderful evening where our college community gathers to sing and prepare for Christmas. Our students will join with St Mary's Primary School and  the Cathedral choir to perform Christmas favourites as well as our Chapel Band performing their own arrangements of well known carols. It is a great opportunity for our whole Parish to come together. Looking forward to seeing you there!


Vinnies Christmas Appeal

On Tuesday December 5 all O'Connor students will be looking at the real meaning of Christmas through a prayer service at 1.45pm. It is also the culmination of the Christmas Appeal where the College community have been donating Christmas presents for Vinnies to distribute at Christmas. Thanks to all the Vinnies students for putting together what promises to be a great way to prepare for Christmas.


Damian Khoury

Last week O'Connor benefitted from a number of workshops held by professional musician and Lasallian Youth Leader, Damian Khoury. Damian worked with music classes, volunteers and musicians producing an uplifting and contemporary music vibe. Damian especially worked with our Chapel band who are now known as the BEATitudes.




Thanking you

Damian Roff

O'Connor News

Stem Leadership

STEM leadership Recognised at the Regional Development Australia – Northern Inland Innovation Awards

The STEM team from O’Connor, consisting of Jon Hawthorne (Technology & Engineering ), Stephen Chapman (Maths) and Daniel Fittler  (Science ) were finalists in the Research & Education section at the recent Regional Development Australia – Northern Inland Innovation Awards. The STEM team were nominated by Principal Regina Menz for their work in promoting and facilitating STEM learning across the college. Ms Menz nomination included the following citation:


O’Connor introduced an integrated STEM elective in Year 9 2015. Since then STEM has been fully integrated into our school. In Year 7, as part of the technology rotation students undertake a unit called ‘FutureTech’. This rotation involves students in STEM skills such as coding, electronics and problem based learning.


Three of our teachers, Jon Hawthorne (Technology), Dan Fittler (Science) and Stephen Chapman (Mathematics) took part in the Sydney University STEM Academy, the only school from our region selected, from this they developed a program for Year 8 students called UpSTEM. This is a cross curricula project involving Maths, Science and Technology teachers working with Year 8 students on problem based learning.


In Year 9 and 10, STEM as an elective is offered. This is a very popular course and involves real world problem solving using STEM principles. It includes robotics, coding, aerodynamics, and 3D prototyping and printing. In Year 11 and 12 the pathway for STEM students includes Engineering Studies as well as the traditional Mathematics and Science subjects. The way STEM has been integrated into the school is an innovative way of addressing students’ need for skills in problem solving. It also addresses the issue facing Australia today, that is, not enough students are studying these subjects or have the skills needed for our changing workforce requirements.


Bell Shakespeare Work Experience

Recap written by Maria Alkhouri


From the 6th to the 11th of November, I was privileged enough to attend the Bell Shakespeare 2017 Work Experience Programme. Earlier in the year, my English teacher, Mrs. Simpson, suggested that a few students out of our class apply for the programme and it was quite fitting that we had been studying Macbeth at the time; in Shakespearean moods, we were. It felt extremely surreal to be accepted into the programme, and I would spend the following five months questioning if I would fit in with eleven other students who likely devoted their lives to theatre. Indeed, a few of them did, but little did I know that this would be no barrier to bonding with some of the most interesting and intelligent people I could have met. The growing comfort that bloomed amongst the twelve of us felt a little reminiscent of sitting in the old drama room whilst trying to produce a novel in twelve hours with my English class. I imagine these close-knit and hard working occasions tend to brew quite the friendships.


On the first day (after scurrying around The Argyle like lost mice) my mum and I arrived at the rehearsal room to equally apprehensive faces. This is where we met Caitlin Brass, the Education Company Manager at Bell Shakespeare, and she would look after us for the week. We started that morning with a welcoming of croissants and other pastries, followed by an ‘introduction to Shakespeare.’ This was the moment that I realised I had forgotten to bring a notebook. Despite this, I found the briefing to be really profound, especially after gaining a much deeper understanding of Shakespeare’s historical context which also refreshed memories of Bell’s performance at school earlier in the year of ‘Shakespeare is Dead’. This also tied into the directing and casting briefing which is when James Evans gave us our first task of the week: to select plays to be performed and cast in a hypothetical Bell Shakespeare season run by us. We formed groups of three and would gather more tasks to fulfill our imaginary seasons which would include marketing, education programmes, and sponsorships. These tasks would pile up as we attended their corresponding briefings. Whilst I could type away a Bible’s worth of details, I found three of the activities the most engaging and useful. Huw McKinnon’s acting and language workshop was perhaps the best way to begin the week. I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to learn about the small details of Shakespeare’s writing which repelled me from reading his work for years. Realising that we understood most of Shakespeare’s writing, but that it was the “thy”s and “thou”s which created such a barrier made us question why we had never been taught these small language conventions at school. I am, however, grateful that I eventually caught the swing of it through Mckinnon’s  well renowned “Thy Ball” game.


I also found an unexpected intrigue in the marketing side of the company, whilst before I had assumed that the actual running-a-business aspect would send me into a doze; we found ourselves analysing the visual effectiveness of posters, which marked the point where I realised that I had a lot to learn and nothing to assume about the ins and outs of a theatre company. All praise aside, it felt awesome to prep myself for the visual analysis section of my English exam. Later on, I also found interest in the production briefing. It was really interesting to watch the design process unfold for sets, costumes, and props. Production was the longest briefing, which ensured our reality check that whilst brainstorming ideas for a set is great fun, theatre doesn't exist without the accountants and schedulers in production.


We were lucky enough throughout the week to have a backstage tour (where a few of us secretly stole some of the leaves from the Merchant of Venice set as keepsakes) and watch a performance of the play. On the Thursday, we attended the screening of Kings of Baxter which is a film documenting Huw Mckinnon and James Evans visit to a juvenile detention centre attempting to teach the inmates Macbeth. It was an emotional film for all of us and really taught us a valuable lesson that Shakespeare is accessible to anybody, as long as we want it to be.


The week ended with all groups presenting their ideas for the assigned tasks to parents, employees and the artistic director, Peter Evans. The twelve of us then gifted Caitlin Brass with some gifts bought whilst scurrying around the Argyle markets, and we were all extremely grateful to each receive our own copy of the Merchant of Venice. We were really sad to go our separate ways, as we had become so close in the short time we had, but vowed to sustain our friendships through the common methods of group chats and Snapchat streaks.


Spending a week at Bell Shakespeare taught me really valuable lessons, not only about approaching challenges creatively, but also about the kind of business I would want to work for. Bell proved itself to be an almost impossibly nurturing and caring environment, in spite of the obvious stresses of running a non-profit organisation in the arts. It was also a testament to the vitality of education programs and how, despite the long trips around rural Australia, their commitment to reaching out to regional areas is totally worth it. Although many of the group were from cities, where theatre well and truly has a living pulse, I met others from as close by as Grafton and Glen Innes. Bell Shakespeare has since continued to cultivate an unfathomable respect from me (similarly to the other eleven, I’m sure) from their consistent efforts to include people from all corners of the country.


Despite the exams that followed my week, Bell Shakespeare was one of those things I really do owe my teacher for nagging me about. If I could write novels about my week, I can’t imagine I wouldn’t. I’ll never forget watching the incredible company’s craft, meeting the actors, having lunch in the green room, walks to the Opera House (and of course, avoiding swooping seagulls on the way back), touching the famous Merchant of Venice tree, and yes, in case you were wondering, panickingly purchasing a notebook during our first lunch break. And thus the very belated notebook leans against others on my bookshelf, next to a signed Merchant of Venice programme, and containing a very crumpled paper leaf. Not quite sure about what else will be written in there, but knowing that if I ever become intimidated by Shakespeare’s words again, I’ll know where to look.


Zonta Club

Z Club's last meeting for the year.

Members of the Z Club who received badges today for their continued service, presented by Mrs Terrie Crick, President of Zonta Club of Armidale:

Maria Alkhouri, Malia Bridge, Sophie Warner, Phoebe Biddle, Sophie Troon, Bridie Giles, Annie Swanson, Georgia MacMahon, Sammy Archer.

Mrs Channon and Mrs Crick.


Congratulation also to the newly elected executive for 2018:

President : Claire Giles (overseas)

Vice President: Maria Alkhouri

Secretary: Georgia MacMahon.


At the last Z Club meeting for the year. We celebrated with some shared food. Special guest was Terrie Crick. Ms Menz and Mrs Wooster came along too. 

The 'old z club executive' embracing the 'new'. Maria Alkhouri is Vice President, Georgia MacMahon is Secretary and Claire Giles is President. We congratulate these students and look forward to a great 2018, working for the good of others. Thank you to Sammy Archer, Phoebe Biddle, Sophie Warner, and Claire Giles for all of their hard work over the last 12 months.


Year 12 Formal Photos

Click on the link below to take a peek at the Year 12 Formal Photos. As you can tell Class of 2017 had a wonderful time.

Formal Photos

Year 11 Hospitality

Year 11 Hospitality students appetiser practical task. Mixed canapés and prawn shooters...impressive work!


Year 10 Food Tech

Year 10 Food Tech started with mini wedding cakes and worked their way up to these creations. Some wonderful work here!


Community Events

Girls 6ers League


Guyra Christmas Party


Minions Dance Party


Australia Day Awards


Christmas in the Mall


Uralla Bowlo presents a  Photography Exhibition

Saturday 2nd December at 7pm.

One of our many talented staff members, James Russell has been photographing the shearing taking place in some of our local historic wool sheds. Some of these images have been curated into an exhibition called "Shearing...a New England Tradition", which will be displayed at the Uralla Bowling Club on Saturday, December 2nd at 7pm. 

The Bowlo  will be offering a special menu for the night featuring some of our outstanding local meats and fresh produce, beers and wines along with live music. All works along with other photographs James has taken will be available to purchase on the night.  It is shaping up to be a great night and will be even better with the company of the O'Connor Community and their friends. Hope to see you all there!!



Sports News


The Under 18's indoor state carnival was played at Goulburn last week.   Nathan Czinner, Jake McCann & Cody Mc Cann were part of the winning New England side.  They won the final 4-3 against Wollongong, the first time they had been beaten in 14 years. What an achievement.!!!!!!!!!!


Cody McCann, Jake McCann and Nathan Czinner were named as shadows for the under 18 NSW team.


Meg Lye has been named NSW under 18 indoor shadow.

Jake MCann and Nathan Czinner have been named in the under 15 NSW Indoor team.

Hayley Lennon and Keiran Wicks have been named as shadows for the under 15 NSW Indoor team.


Tyler McCann has been named in the under 13 NSW Indoor Team.


Nathan Czinner  is off to Adelaide as a member of the under 16  all Schools Team to compete in the  Pacific Schools Games.  India is participating in the games for the first time.  Good luck.


Mitchell Hayden is competing in the swimming at the Pacific Games we wish him well. 


NSW Bushrangers

Year 9 student Hayley Lennon travelled to Perth as a member of the NSW Bushrangers Hockey Team and competed in the FHE Cup against teams from Malaysia, Japan, Singapore, WA & Vic. Hayley was the Bushrangers girls highest goal scorer, and was named Bushrangers' Female Player of the Tournament. Hayley has been invited to Japan and Argentina to compete next year, as well as back to Perth.


Mountain Biking

The NSW MTB XCO championships were held in Armidale over the weekend. O'Connor students rode against some tough competition and received some great results:


- Nick Graham, Charlie Smith both rode well in their first state level races in the U17 Men
- Will Schmude got 10th overall (6th in NSW) and Harry Wooster 8th Overall (5th in NSW) in the U15 mens category
- Emily Meehan came 4th (3rd in NSW) and Isabella Hosking 2nd (1st in NSW and NSW U17 Champion) in U17 Girls.
- Emily Wooster 2nd (1st in NSW and U19 NSW Champion) in U19 Girls.

All in all some great efforts. Emily Meehan is really working hard and should be very pleased with a well deserved NSW Bronze medal. Isabella Hosking's and Emily Wooster's NSW Titles mean that they qualify for a front row grid spot for the National Championships in Armidale next year. They also are entitled to wear the NSW Champion Jersey in their respective 2017/18 national categories.

Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Wooster for their efforts with our O'Connor riders!


Volleyball Day

A resounding success for O'Connor Catholic College at the Volleyball Day!
7 boys 1st
7 girls 2nd
8 boys 1st and undefeated
8 girls 1st undefeated
10 girls second
10 boys surprise 1st!
A huge thank you to Ms Kreuzen, Mr Powers and Mr Honeysett for coaching and organising our students.


O'Connor Newsletter
CSO 2018 Annual Improvement Plan FINAL (1).pdf
Mobile Phone Policy.pdf
Invite assembly final.pdf
NI Girls 6ers League 2017-18 Flyer.pdf
Northern Inland Girls 6er's Cricket League Nomination Form 2017-18.docx
Australia Day Awards - Nomination Form_2018.pdf