When I was growing up I was unaware of boundaries or glass ceilings because I was raised by parents that didn’t set limits on what I could aspire to. There was no talk in my home of what was unattainable. I am grateful to have been brought up by broad-minded parents who, in spite of their modest backgrounds, didn’t assume that their children’s futures were defined by their current circumstances or gender.
This comes to mind because I wish to highlight that Mentone Girls’ Secondary College is a place where students from everywhere, every culture and every circumstances can achieve their goals. Every day I see the rich diversity of our school culture being celebrated and championed. I witness acceptance of difference and empathetic encounters between students and this is both humbling and heart-warming to see. I see celebration of excellence and talent and the willingness to strive for the personal best in an individual and collective sense.
We recently celebrated IDAHOBIT (International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia) which was coordinated by a team of students, with the assistance of our Student Wellbeing Counsellors. It included a range of awareness-raising and inclusive activities to raise awareness and support LGBTIQ youth.
We also had a terrific bonding experience recently in the form of House Music which culminated in a competition in the gymnasium last Friday. The House Music Captains worked collegiately together and have inspired and coached their House members.
Our past students continue to excel in areas not always well represented by women. Most recently we have celebrated Professor Belinda Gabbe being added to the Victorian Honour Roll of Women. You may remember that Professor Gabbe spoke at our International Women’s’ Day Assembly. The Honour Roll of Women press release gives more details.
A couple of weeks ago Lucy Pugh (Class of 2017) received a Women in Engineering Scholarship for $5,000 from Monash University. She is currently enrolled in an Engineering and Science Degree Program.
For each of these examples, the road to these achievement commences at this fine college. Most recently one of our Year 9 students, Julia Le was selected as one of 30 students out of 350 applicants for the Girl Power in STEM Program, Graduate School of Engineering at The University of Melbourne. The program runs over a four year period. Congratulations to Julia!
A learning environment is enhanced through the offering of curricular and co-curricular programs, inspirational teachers and encouragement from home. But a learning environment cannot flourish without buildings which encourage 21st century learning to take place. The school has largely funded many of the upgrades to the facilities over the years and this is done primarily through savings accrued from the hire of facilities and donations to the Building Fund. Examples of this are the Performing Arts Centre and the Art and Media Building. We are currently developing a Masterplan that will have a focus on building works in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). This has been identified as a high priority as women are underrepresented in these areas in the workforce.
Our School Council is actively highlighting the importance of fairness and equity in girls’ education by reaching out to our local Members of Parliament to secure funding for the works identified in our Masterplan. We have already had visits from Hon Mark Dreyfus QC, MP (Federal Member for Isaacs), Tim Richardson MP (Member for Mordialloc) and Murray Thompson MP (Member for Sandringham) to tour our school and discuss our plans for the future. Many schools around us are funded for new works and renovations yet MGSC does not attract any funding. In line with many other awareness raising campaigns of late which highlight a lack of support for women in industry, it is felt that “time’s up” in the area of educational provision for our school in the form of facilities upgrades. As the only government girls’ school in the Southern Region we have a responsibility to our school community to address this. There are approximately 1150 students attending our school travelling from over 60 different suburbs. This demonstrates an overwhelming interest in girls’ education and in particular a government girls’ school education with a history of striving for excellence and the breaking of new ground for women. We hope that parents will raise questions in relevant quarters in order to make their concerns known.
In the meantime, we continue to paint, repair and landscape our school in order that our students have pleasant and safe environments. We are currently negotiating with the Department to have our portables upgraded as they are quite old and in need of repair. We hope that families will also contribute to our Building Fund so that we can continue to upgrade our library and main buildings. These upgrades will benefit the students of the school in the short term whilst we await a significant funding investment to undertake work on additional science rooms and additions to the auditorium. The bonus to contributing to the Building Fund is that any donations to this fund are tax deductible.
Ms Linda Brown