Lucis Magazine, Autumn/Winter 2021

Page 1

Celebrating 135 years of exceptional girls’ education

The Magazine of the MLC School Family

Autumn/Winter Edition 2021

incorporating Collegiate

MLC School’s goal for each girl when she graduates is to be: –C ompassionate to herself, interacting with others with kindness and celebrating diversity –C ourageous in her pursuits, expressing herself honestly and with integrity to live a life with purpose –C apable of navigating change, showing leadership in adapting to the multiple paths that her future will take –C onnected to the legacy of MLC School, using it to inspire her to be an agent of change in her world



EDITORIAL Michele Dunn Melissa Pollett Barbara Hoffman

PHOTOGRAPHERS Nicole Anderson Joel Mesas Barbara Hoffman MLC School community

SOCIAL MEDIA Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Instagram YouTube




Ph 02 9747 1266 General enquiries enquiries@

OFFICE HOURS MLC School hours are 8am to 4pm week days Lucis now incorporates the annual Old Girls Collegiate magazine, bringing news of all our community together and produced twice per year.



Cover photo: Kindergarten students and teacher on the verandah of the kindergarten building, circa 1891.

Inside this issue



'...although 135 years have passed, the vision of our founders that we be a school that empowers young women to achieve all of which they are capable, is still core to who we are and how we approach learning for our girls...' – Lisa Moloney, Principal







In December 1886, with an enrolment of 54, MLC School held its first Speech Day in the Burwood School of Arts. Delivering his first Principal’s Report, Reverend Prescott said he believed: “that between the mind of a boy and a girl there is no great difference… for mental discipline much the same course of study is the best.” To put his comment in context, this was prior to women having the right to vote (which was still some decades away), and just a few years after Sydney University became one of the first in the world to admit women. To suggest that the minds of boys and girls were equal and that the best education for girls was to offer them the same subjects as boys would have been revolutionary and to some, quite provocative. I am incredibly proud that although 135 years have passed, the vision of our founders that we be a school that empowers young women to achieve all of which they are capable, is still core to who we are and how we approach learning for our girls and in this edition of Lucis we share with you some of the recent academic highlights and how we continue to challenge ourselves to be leaders in the education of girls. As I look back on the past 12 months, there is no doubt that for the graduating class of 2020, the final year was not what they expected or deserved. Nevertheless, they remained positive and strong, displaying the most astonishing resilience and grit, truly daring to be more. To not only maintain a commitment to their studies during such a tumultuous year, but to produce some of the state’s highest IB and HSC results is an astonishing achievement and one which again reflects the commitment to learning that is so much a part of MLC School. Many of the opportunities that open up for our girls are not solely because of their academic pursuits. Within this environment of high academic achievement, our girls also have exciting opportunities and choices through our immersion programs, co-curricular activities and leadership opportunities, including sport, overseas exchange and service learning. We challenge our girls to pursue excellence in every domain while living the School’s values. Something of which I am very proud, is the way MLC School girls support each other and celebrate one other’s successes. I am regularly awed by the genuine excitement that the girls show when someone else’s achievements are recognised. There is something special about an MLC School girl – the way that she carries herself, her understanding of her social responsibility, her willingness to speak her mind in a respectful way, to use the educational opportunities that she has access to, to be an agent of change in the lives of others and her resilient, ‘can do attitude’. As a result, MLC School alumnae, our Old Girls, really do go on to be agents of



'Every day our girls work alongside strong female role models. They grow up knowing that they can lead, as in this environment, men report to and work alongside women leaders – it is the norm...' change in their own lives and the lives others, living our mission and challenging society’s expectations of women. I am sure that you will be inspired by these women featured in our article on eminent alumnae from the first 65 years of our School. I have been giving a lot of thought as to why the MLC School girl is such as I describe … what is it about the School that supports the development of these strong, well rounded, independent and caring young women; able to flourish despite the challenges that they may face? Here are some of my observations… We have staff who genuinely care, know how to teach and are committed to their own ongoing professional learning – they were remarkably agile during the height of COVID pandemic; it was very much a 'no students, no classrooms, no worries' approach, we did not lose one day of learning – no extra days off – straight to flexible learning – Senior School completely online overnight, Junior School shortly afterwards – our staff modelled resilience and creativity and the students followed. In this edition of Lucis, we celebrate the exceptional contribution that Anne Layman made to MLC School, both as a teacher and a leader. The School’s strong academic culture is in no small way due to Anne’s vision, hard work and commitment to our students. Our Uniting Church foundations and the way that we strive to live the values of the church in our everyday interactions also play a large part… celebrating diversity, working for justice, challenging us to care for each other and to serve our community. Our Pastoral and immersion programs offer a balance between providing guidance



and support and building self-confidence, resilience and independence. Every day our girls work alongside strong female role models. They grow up knowing that they can lead, as in this environment, men report to and work alongside women leaders – it is the norm, and that is the experience and expectation that they take with them into the world beyond school. Our long serving membership of Round Square is also a significant influence – Round Square is an internationally diverse network of 200 like-minded schools in 50 countries on six continents that connect and collaborate to offer world-class programs and experiences, developing global competence, character and confidence in our students. Through our membership, our girls have the opportunity to network internationally and to undertake challenges designed to develop the character and confidence, and should they desire, lead on the world stage. And finally, MLC School is led by an executive team committed to continual improvement and listening to our community. We regularly survey our students, we listen to their feedback, we act wherever possible and involve them in the process. Their voices are important and they learn to speak up and act for the good of all (I should also add that we also regularly survey our parents and have regular 'coffee with Principal and Head of School' where parents can drop in and raise any matter of concern or simply say 'hello' and meet other parents). The comments to the right are from staff new to the School. In some ways these comments sum up the unique qualities of MLC School perfectly.

‘From what I have seen so far the students at MLC School are much more global in their outlook than other young women that I have taught in similar schools. They are very interested in contemporary issues and keen to discuss. They enjoy exchanging ideas, rather than just receiving information or holding forth on their own opinions. They seem more able to consider a range of perspectives.’ ‘The thing that has struck me most in my initial weeks at MLC School is the genuine warmth of everyone here. Both staff and students have been so friendly and welcoming. I have been so grateful for this as starting a new job with new procedures and hundreds of new faces can be so daunting! It is clear from the smiling faces at the beginning and end of each day that people genuinely enjoy being here, which has not always been my experience of workplaces.’ ‘It is lovely that the School seeks to celebrate and recognise the success of colleagues and girls, and this has clearly contributed to the positive culture that so clearly exists in the School.’ ‘MLC School students seem open to new ideas and new people. They have made me feel so welcome and seem genuinely excited about the challenges they face. In class they always want to know how each new piece fits into the larger picture and their questions reveal a curiosity that extends beyond getting the 'right answer' and instead are seeking understanding for its own joys.’


ASSEMBLY ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT Girls from the Class of 2020 were invited back to School on Wednesday 10 February 2021 for a special assembly recognising their academic achievements. With staff and the current Year 12 cohort in attendance, and the assembly streamed live to parents and the wider School community, girls accepted their Excellence in Academic Achievement Award for Subject, for Nominations and Selections for HSC Showcases, and for achieving an ATAR of 98 or above. We also formally acknowledged the eight girls who were awarded the Reverend Dr Charles J. Prescott Medal for the highest Australia Tertiary Admission Rank achieved for their year, with their ATARs of 99.95.



Congratulations to all girls on a highly successful year, especially within the context of the challenges they faced along the way.



FIVE HSC State Rankings

8 girls with ATAR 99.95, recipients of the Reverend Dr Charles J. Prescott Medal

Charlie Kairaitis – 4th in NSW for Ancient History 13th in NSW for Modern History

- Ga Man (Karen) Chung

- Charlie Kairaitis

Veronica Abal – 5th in NSW for Science Extension

- Eliza Crossley

- Alexia Lorenzato

- Annie Gu

- Ruiming (Rainy) Yang

- Ariana Haghighi

- Daisy Zheng


Olivia Papasavvas – 10th in NSW for Food Technology Ella Woolbank – 11th in NSW for Personal Development, Health and Physical Education

50 global I

Austra in

chool BS

Top IB School


ATAR 99.95

ranking equal 32nd


41 Girls who achieved ATAR 98 and over*

MLC School is reliant on the Year 12 2020 cohort to provide their ATAR result or other information. Not all ATARS were available at time of publishing


VET Entertainment

‘MLC School had more band 6s than any other school in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) subject entertainment.’ – Sydney Morning Herald

For more information about the performance of the Class of 2020, please visit





20 nominations for HSC Exhibitions

WHAT SOME OF THE GIRLS SHARED ABOUT THEIR MLC SCHOOL JOURNEY ‘Every moment is a proud moment. Granted MLC School does have flaws but nothing in this world is actually flawless. The growth MLC School and I have both undergone is what I’m truly proud of. From succeeding to failing, all most are proud moments because I have learnt and overcame. So, every moment is a proud moment.’ – Jivi Govender ‘I’ve been so lucky to get to have spent 13 years at this school. I’m forever grateful for all it has given me and taught me, it will be missed.’ – Chanel Boudib ‘MLC School is a school that without fail goes above and beyond for their students. I have been blessed to receive my high school education at such an encouraging and friendly school.’ – Audrey Williams ‘My highlight at MLC School was all the musical performances MLC School held. From those events, I formed friendships with people from all year groups and had the opportunity to perform some of the most beautiful pieces of music.’ – Zoe Hannam




Anne Layman After 34 years of devoted service to MLC School, Anne Layman said farewell on Friday 29 January 2021. When Anne Layman (née Staples) joined MLC School in 1987, she already had strong connections to the School via her mother Betty (’Eleanor‘) Staples (Croan,1934), aunt Marie Padman (Croan, 1940) and niece Tamilla Staples (1987), who were all Old Girls. She taught Economics, Business Studies/Management, Commerce and Geography. Very quickly, Anne became the Head of Year 7, then Head of Social Science and then Head of Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE), before being appointed Director of Senior Curriculum. In 2009, Anne became responsible for the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) and the HSC in the Senior School. It was under Anne’s leadership that MLC School became internationally renowned for consistent outstanding performance in the IB Diploma. Anne has been a fine ambassador for the School, whether interviewing prospective parents and students or representing the School at expos and IB Global Conferences. She is held in high regard by the IB Global community. She holds an MBA as well as her educational qualifications and for 10 years was the Vice President of the Economics and Business Educators NSW, running student and teacher workshops, writing trial examination papers and running student competitions.



In 2011, Anne was one of only 20 teachers across NSW to receive the Professional Teachers’ Council NSW prestigious Exceptional Service Awards and the Outstanding Professional Service Award, which acknowledged her enormous contribution to education. An inspiring educator and energetic leader, Anne was a pioneer of the Year 9 Broken Hill experience; a roadie at the early Sydney Opera House concerts; she led the inaugural Year 10 Chiang Mai Immersive Service Learning Experience; supervised Duke of Edinburgh walks; organised, led and supervised the MLC School Ski Team for many years; led and participated in a large number of School camps including Year 7, Year 8, Year 10 and Year 12; and was also the staff doubles tennis champion. Anne’s immense contribution to the MLC School of today and the profound impact she has had on the lives of both staff and students over several generations cannot be underestimated. Educators of this quality and dedication are rare. MLC School is extremely fortunate and exceptionally grateful to have the benefit of Anne’s wisdom and expertise for so long. We wish her and her family, the very best for their next adventure.

Anne Layman with 2012 Year 12 students in January 2013. Anne Layman with Mike Hayes at a conference in Macau in 2015.

Anne Layman at her farewell party, 29 January 2021.

After posting Anne’s farewell to the MLC School Facebook page, we received a flurry of admiration and love for Anne from ex-staff, Old Girls and their families. Some of these have been captured below: Celine Kang (2018) ‘All the best Mrs Layman!!’

Dion Parker (Caponas, 1994) ‘Mrs Layman you were an inspiring teacher to me in 1994! Wishing you all the best!’ Aleksha Mehta (parent) ‘All the very best Mrs Layman. Thank you for all your contributions.’ Priya Gupta (Moorthy, 1994) and current parent ‘All the best Mrs Layman, you were a memorable and wonderful Economics teacher.’ Sandhya Haghighi (parent) ‘Thank you and wishing you all the best.’ Michele Timmins (Coote, 1973) and ex-staff ‘Wishing you every blessing for the future Anne… your contribution to MLC School has been outstanding and I was honoured to share part of that journey with you.’

Kathryn Borg (ex-staff) ‘May there be many happy days ahead and lots of fine memories. You will be missed xx’ Eva Wong (1994) ‘All the best Mrs Layman!!’ Gertraud Cohen (parent) ‘A big THANK YOU from the Cohen family as well.’ Louise White (Old Girl) ‘Congratulations Mrs Layman – you haven’t changed a bit. Thank you for all you did for MLC School xx’ Michelle Chau (1994) ‘All the best Mrs Layman! Best Economics class ever.’ Denise Hoosen (1994) ‘Omg Mrs Layman!!!! You look exactly the same as I remember you in Economics...30 years ago.’

Melissa Bush (1989) ‘Fond memories of economics in the late 1980s. All the best, Anne.’ Nicole Howard (1996) ‘All the best. I had you as a teacher and really enjoyed your classes.’ Cassandra Ballebye (Tang, 1997) ‘I remember economics with Mrs Layman! Best of luck.’ Angie Koutsogiannis (parent) ‘Congratulations Mrs Layman a huge thank you from the Koutsogiannis family – many blessings to you.’ Vera Chiang (1998) ‘All the best Mrs Layman.’ Anne Empson (1978) ‘All the best Anne x’ Rose Oxley (parent) ‘Thank you & good luck.’ Rosemary Cadena (Empson, 1982) ‘All the very best. Thanks for all your support.’



Speech Day Speech Day moved to the International Convention Centre (ICC) in December and was a celebration not just of academic achievement but of being able to bring parts of the School together for the first time in many months. Year 3 to Year 6 were recognised at the Junior School Speech Day in the morning, where all students attended, with a limited number of parents. This was followed by the Senior School Speech Day, the final farewell for Year 12 and the first major event for Year 7 girls. Both occasions were live streamed for those who could not attend, so they could enjoy the music of our bands and orchestra, members of which revelled in the chance to perform before an audience. Guest Speaker, Lija Wilson (1993) brought her engaging perspective on workplace equality, the gains that have been made as well as the work still to be done.










At the start of 2020 we embarked on an ambitious project to define and map the learning dispositions we seek to develop in the MLC School girl. This is a key element in bringing to fruition the strategic plan for learning at MLC School. Our educational philosophy is focused around the holistic development of each girl who is supported through strong relationships and a sense of connection. This holistic approach is encompassed in four distinct learning frameworks. Each framework covers an area of school life with the MLC School girl at the centre. Learning and Teaching, Pastoral Care and Wellbeing, Co-curricular and Spiritual Life represent the different aspects of the whole girl. The Learning Dispositions draw upon our School values and are the link between our values and each of the four frameworks. Each framework is mapped back to the six learning dispositions that have

been identified as essential to the nurturing of the type of graduate we seek. These learning dispositions are the characteristics or attitudes to learning that are independent of content knowledge. They describe how students approach learning and therefore impact the outcomes of their learning. A focus on dispositions towards learning develops in students an awareness of learning as a process enabling them to articulate how they engage with and approach their own learning. At MLC School we believe that dispositions regarding learning can be nurtured and cultivated from the values that we advocate as a school. They should be an enactment of our values in all aspects of school life. The question we considered is what kind of dispositions towards their learning do our girls need to achieve their goals, both personal and academic, over the course of their time with us at MLC School and beyond. Throughout 2020 we undertook a process of consultation with all members of the MLC School staff to understand and define those dispositions we believed to be most effective to develop in our girls. In this process, consideration was given to current



Curiosity research in the field from around the world as well as research into the dispositions required for our girls to successfully transition from primary to secondary to tertiary education and from there into the workforce of the future. There was discussion of our place as a leader in delivery of the International Baccaleaureate Diploma Programme and the integration of the Round Square Discovery Framework.


The consultation process generated a great deal of input from the staff and I must acknowledge the work by a member of our Senior School English Department Dave O’Donohue in synthesising this into its current form. In analysing the data, six key dispositions rose clearly to the surface. The dispositions were then aligned to three broad categories that describe the different facets of intelligence and understanding we seek to develop. They are:


• Emotional intelligence and understanding x Self-aware x Empathic • Cognitive intelligence and understanding x Curious x Open-minded • Ethical and moral intelligence and understanding x Accountable x Collaborative






To demonstrate emotional intelligence and understanding, the girls will need to be both self-aware and empathic. Self-awareness is a developed awareness of one’s own character and feelings. But also, it is being able to regulate and control one’s own emotions in order to best achieve

and deeds, and she needs to act with an enlightened moral view. This may also take the form of collaboration. The collaborative disposition, that is being responsible to others, for something bigger than oneself, cultivated in the MLC School girl will be indicated by a willingness to collaborate to

'At MLC School, we firmly believe we are educating young women to be courageous, compassionate, capable of navigating change, and able to show leadership in adapting to the multiple paths that their futures will take.' one’s goals. An empathic disposition is a developed awareness of the characters and feelings of others. But also, an ability to understand the feelings of others, in order to connect, communicate, and facilitate positive relationships. To demonstrate cognitive intelligence and understanding, two dispositions are necessary. The MLC School girl must be curious. That is, she needs to have a strong desire to know and learn. But also, to actively seek out knowledge and enlightenment about the world and our shared humanity. Added to this she needs to be open-minded, which means she needs to be receptive to new ideas. To support this, she needs to develop an ability to learn, unlearn and relearn in order to consistently illuminate her understanding of the world and her place in it.

The next stage of the project is to map each of the dispositions to the key stages of learning so that as a school we are able to clearly articulate what this looks like in learning in a manner that is both age and stage appropriate. This will then be cross mapped to each of the frameworks where we will identify how these are being explicitly developed through components of our programs. The dispositions are of course a complement to the deep disciplinary knowledge that is developed through each of the subject areas. To articulate this the metaphor of the T shaped skillset is a useful. The vertical or core is the deep disciplinary knowledge that must be mastered in each area. The horizontal describes the skills that enable students to take this knowledge and apply it to find solutions to authentic problems. Equipping students with skills in collaboration, design thinking, critical

At MLC School, we firmly believe we are educating young women to be courageous, compassionate, capable of navigating change, and able to show leadership in adapting to the multiple paths that their futures will take. To do this our girls will need to clearly see how best to apply their knowledge to any given situation. Knowledge comes in many forms, not only in academics. The MLC School girl will be well placed to exercise intellectual, emotional and moral wisdom as she takes her place amongst the leaders of tomorrow.


To demonstrate moral intelligence and understanding, the MLC School girl needs to be both accountable and collaborative. With accountability, she is accountable for her own words and actions. Not only this, she needs to take responsibility for her words

work together and seek solutions. This act of working with other people to produce something will help the MLC School girl, and those around her, to achieve her aspirations.

analysis, synthesis, etc. is of value only when they have this core knowledge. For example, in the Year 9 Extension Mathematics class the teacher sets the class a problem that they must work collaboratively on to solve. The problem requires students to look for multiple ways of approaching the solution. No matter how curious, collaborative or open-minded our girls are they will not be able to solve the problem without the deep knowledge of Mathematics as a discipline. Conversely mathematical skills taught in isolation will not enable our girls to cognitively wrestle with complex and multifaceted problems. The space that exists between these two very different skill sets is the willingness of the MLC School girls to sit comfortably with the discomfort of not immediately knowing what the ‘right’ answer is and the possibility of their being multiple answers. Students who have developed the learning dispositions we have identified will be better prepared to make the connections between the two.








OF EXCEPTIONAL GIRLS’ EDUCATION 1886–2021 At a time when the majority of people held rigid and limiting ideas about the nature of women and their capacity to engage in social and public life, MLC School was starting a revolution in girls’ education.

Kindergarten students and teacher on the verandah of the kindergarten building, circa 1891.



A REVOLUTION IN GIRLS’ EDUCATION BEGINS From the early days of the Wesleyan Church in Australia, the higher education of women and girls was considered an important objective. In 1872, the Wesleyan Conference of NSW resolved that: ‘the superior education of the daughters of our people was a worthwhile objective’. On 4 May 1883, a Committee (which included our future Founding Principal, Rev Dr Charles Prescott) met at the Wesleyan Centenary Chapel York Street, Sydney and the idea of our School began: ‘considering the great importance to our Church of higher education… the time has now come for the immediate establishment in the Colony of a high school for girls.’ Three years later MLC School opened on the 27 January 1886. The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) advertisement announcing the imminent opening of the Wesleyan Ladies’ College (as it was then known), included that the School would: ‘make provision for those who wish to prepare for University honours’. This radical statement was only five years after women had, for the first time, gained admission to The University of Sydney1. In December 1886, with an enrolment of 54, MLC School held its first Speech Day in the Burwood School of Arts. Delivering his first Principal’s Report, Rev Prescott said he believed: ‘that between the mind of a boy and a girl there is no great difference… for mental discipline much the same course of study is the best.’ In the context of late-Victorian attitudes about the role of women in general, and private girls’ schools in particular2, MLC School was considered very progressive; delighting many and alarming some. Rev Prescott went on to reassure his listeners that though such statements may seem ‘new and strange’, that ‘no harm would be occasioned to the girls’ health by the study of such disciplines as arithmetic, parsing and analysis, Latin and French.’ MLC School was fortunate in its early years to have exceptionally progressive leadership.



MLC School Tennis Tea

m in 1889.

Under Rev Prescott and Headmistress Minnie Wearne it was not long before an ever-growing number of MLC School girls distinguished themselves both at school and university, and the School quickly gained a reputation for scholastic excellence. In November 1892, Rev Charles Stead – a Methodist Church Minister for 50 years and the President of the Methodist Conference in 1893 – delivered the main address during the Schofield Hall opening celebrations. The SMH reported on the events of that day, including Rev Stead’s speech where he stated that the ambition of the Wesleyan Ladies’ College was that its graduates would: ‘possess a store of knowledge and breadth of view, and a reliance upon their own acquaintance with things … which would fit them for any position in the world’. At the end of his speech, Rev Stead said that women were entitled to take their place: ‘as the co-equals of men, in every avenue of human activity’. For the late 1800s, these ideals – the core of MLC School’s foundation – were revolutionary. For 135 years, MLC School has continued to subvert preconceptions of women’s roles by preparing girls to be ‘fit for any position in the world’.

A HISTORY OF FIRSTS AND BREAKING BARRIERS IN GIRLS’ EDUCATION Rather than following education trends, MLC School has created them. From the time of its inception, there was a clear intention to provide a superior level of education for its female students. For 135 years, MLC School has sought to instil excellence in every field with a philosophy to provide, as Rev Prescott stated, ‘a balanced offering’. Rev Prescott’s aim that music, creative arts and sports have an important place in the curriculum alongside academic pursuits, continues to this day. Sports at MLC School since 1886 Developing the ‘whole person’ with a ‘mens sana’ (healthy mind) as well as a ‘corpus sanum’ (healthy body), as Rev Prescott stated in 1886 in his first Speech Day report, has always been at MLC School’s core. It reflects a commitment to building leadership skills and developing within our girls a strong sense of fair play and resilience. In the second year of the School’s existence a gymnastics teacher was appointed and in 1890 a fully equipped gymnasium was built. The ‘paddock’, acquired with the original purchase of Miss Lester’s Kent House in

'Our Sports Field also holds an important place in the history of girls’ sport in Australia: on 3 November 1906 MLC School held Australia’s first Athletics Carnival for girls on our Sports Field.' November 1885, has remained a Sports Field for the life of the School. Sports have been played on this Field since 1886. In the early days the girls would perform ‘drills’ (strength training) on the Field and play tennis – very early on a grass tennis court was established on the Sports Field, followed quickly by a number of asphalt courts. Basket-ball (as Netball was known then), Rounders (a game similar to Baseball) and Hockey were also favourite sports and the girls were often seen in their long skirts running on the Field. On the 50th anniversary of MLC School in 1936, an Old Girl, reflecting on the early days of the School, stated that ‘we had a wonderful group of real sports back then and some excellent players, and I venture to say that if our teams were to meet the present day teams we should not come off the worse.’ (MLC School publication Jubilee, 1936.) Our Sports Field also holds an important place in the history of girls’ sport in Australia: on 3 November 1906 MLC School held Australia’s first Athletics Carnival for girls on our Sports Field. Old Girl, Marguerite Cooper (Henry,1913) reminisced that ‘we were considered very ‘modern’ because we had a Sports Day and ran races like our brothers.’

A game of basketba

ll on the Sport s Fie

ld, circa 1910.

A long and proud tradition of musical excellence Right from the beginning, when MLC School was conspicuously successful in academic examinations, Rev Prescott was careful not to praise scholarship at the expense of other aspects of education. Prescott, in particular, highly regarded the results of music exams and they always took precedence in his annual Speech Day reports. Until 1887; when Rev Prescott spearheaded the establishment of the Trinity College (London) Examinations in musical theory in Australia; Music was not an examinable subject in Australian schools. Prescott wanted his students to have the opportunity to compete against others and achieve tangible recognition for their achievements. The first MLC School results in the Trinity College exams are noted in Examination Results in the Speech Day of 1887.

The enormous growth in popularity of music instruction throughout the 1930s and 1940s meant that the School experienced difficulties catering for the increased demand, however this was overcome with the donation of music scholarships from the School’s community. The importance of Music at MLC School was such that School’s Council chose to build the Centenary Music Centre to celebrate the School’s 100th year. This monument to the great musical successes of the School has provided many opportunities for musical talent to flourish. Since its inception, the School has achieved highly commendable results from its comprehensive music program which encourages wide participation in music, while nurturing and extending those girls who show exceptional musical talent. The depth of MLC School’s musical talent is testament to the School’s continuing emphasis on musical training and appreciation in the education of all its students. The fact that such emphasis has been retained within MLC School for 135 years indicates that music education at MLC School will continue to grow long into the future.

The first MLC School String Ensemble formed in 1904 and the group enjoyed immediate popularity. To meet the growing demand for music, a wooden building was erected in 1905 to house three music rooms. By 1930, the School magazine Excelsior published a school music column which featured competition results and reported on musical functions, and by 1939 all the girls were learning music in one form or another.

A Trinity Co llege of Mus ic, London, certificate fr om the early 19 00s.



Old Girl, History


y Wearn etball coach, Am acher and Bask

e (18 89 ) with th

ba e school basket

. ll team in 19 06



st string ensemb

le in 19 06.

At the forefront of educational practice

School library movement

Rev Prescott firmly believed in the importance of educating young children. To that end, in 1889, he persuaded the School Council to establish a coeducational kindergarten, placing MLC School in the forefront of educational practice. The importance of this innovation cannot be understated; the Kindergarten Movement, based on ideas developed in Germany by Friedrich Froebel, was in its early days in Australia and was struggling to gain support.

From the beginning, MLC School believed that books and reading had value and were enriching beyond the subject matter and theme of the actual books themselves – that engendering a ‘reading habit’ was part of education.

The success of our kindergarten was evident within the first year, leading the School Council to approve the building in 1890 of a ‘one-storey wooden structure with a wide verandah’ to house the new Kindergarten. It stood at the corner of Rowley and Grantham Street in the corner of the existing School grounds. (It was demolished in the mid 1920s to make way for Potts Hall.) This was the first building constructed in Australia specifically for the purpose of providing a Kindergarten. at the g race e runnin ay in 1918. th f o r B e n cutters 1), win ck (192 rnival at Rush Kelyna a Phyllis ls Athletic s C oo All Sch

MLC School’s fir

Although Kindergartens today are ubiquitous, it is not well known that the Kindergarten movement owes a lot to the support it received in the 1890s from MLC School.

In its second year, MLC School established a Fiction Library, and in 1922, with funds donated by the Old Girls’ Union, a Reference Library was established. The Reference Library consisted of a number of cupboards enclosed in frosted glass and filled with books neatly covered in a uniform dark green cloth. While that may not seem extraordinary today, ‘at that time it was considered such a great step forward that an article and photograph were featured in a Sydney newspaper.’ (MLC School publication Links Across The Years, 1976.) The Reference Library was renamed ‘The Minnie F. Wearne Library’ in 1932 in memory of the former MLC School Headmistress (1887–1909) who was also one of the first women to graduate from the University of Sydney. In 1949 Sutton House was opened to house the contents of the Fiction and Reference Libraries. The new combined library retained the name Wearne Library, and a fulltime trained Librarian was employed.

rary on the fir The Wearne Lib

educational opportunities as boys and this proved very popular amongst parents.

Old Girl, Mabel Sutton (1896) graduated from MLC School and went on to complete an Honours degree in Mathematics at the University of Sydney. She returned to the School and became a much-beloved Headmistress for 28 years (1912–1940).

Mabel Sutton organised the construction of our first Science Laboratory which opened in Term 1, 1924. Around the same time, she added Physics to the MLC School curriculum to accompany Chemistry, Biology, Botany and Geology. This enlightened decision led to MLC School becoming the first school in Australia to have girls sit the Physics exam in the Leaving Certificate (precursor of the HSC/IB). Many Old Girls who enrolled into Medicine and Science degrees reported that even into the 1950s, they were the only girls at University who had Physics offered at their school.

Mabel Sutton was a strong, forthright and determined Headmistress and a renowned and highly respected educator. She strongly believed that girls should have the same

Another MLC School science teacher who also underscores the importance of schooling in determining future careers, was MLC School Headmistress, science teacher, and Old Girl,

The hard sciences for girls

st floor of Sutto

n House, circa


Dr Alice Whitley MBE (1930). Dr Whitley was Dux in 1930, completed a PhD in Chemistry at the London University, and taught Science and Mathematics at MLC School prior to her appointment as Headmistress (1960–1972). Dr Whitley had a strong personality and spoke plainly and honestly and with common sense. In her 1962 Speech Night report she stated that too much importance was placed on examination results and not enough on the continuing process of learning. In an interview with CSIRO, MLC School Old Girl and eminent scientist, Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Dennis AC (1960) stated: ‘I went to MLC School which was very good, and unusually supportive of women. Its philosophy was that you shouldn’t not do anything because you’re a woman, and so it provided courses for us like Physics honours and Chemistry honours, which were unusual then… at MLC School we had a very good chemistry teacher (Dr Whitley) – she had a PhD in chemistry, and was outstanding and gave us a real interest in chemistry.’

MLC School’s first science laboratory opens January 1924 and Physics is added to the curriculum.



In early 1982, a room in our primary school, Kent House, was equipped with Apple Macintosh desktop computers and a Year 5 computer class was established.

Pioneers in integrating technology and learning MLC School has consistently challenged boundaries to improve the outcomes for our girls. The factors that are key to continuing this tradition are tailoring learning to individual needs and the integration of technology into learning. At the beginning of the computer age, MLC School was again at the forefront, embracing the challenge and opportunity of change. The School’s involvement with computer technology commenced in 1978 when our first Apple Macintosh computers were purchased. By the following year the students established a Computer Club. In early 1982, a room in our primary school, Kent House, was equipped with desktop computers and a Year 5 computer class was established. Principal, Rev Cornwell, reported in that year’s Excelsior that ‘this has been a very interesting and exciting innovation and has enabled staff to clarify what should be the next step for MLC School.’ Although computers are ubiquitous now, this innovation was so extraordinary in 1982 that in August that year the current affairs program ‘60 Minutes’ visited MLC School to record a segment on the use of computers in education.

The Year 5 ‘C omputer Kids ’ in 19 82 in Ke Photo cour te nt sy of ‘6 0 Min utes The Book House. ’ (1983) .

MLC School girls in 1991



with the PowerBook 140


Drills on the Sports Field in 1918.

Reporter Ian Leslie said that ‘When computers find their way into classroom, as they have done at MLC School, there’s a revolution… This computer class is the first of its kind in Australia, and possibly the world.’ The 1983 publication ‘60 Minutes The Book’ included the MLC School ‘Computer Kids’ story. It stated: ‘The establishment of the computer class at MLC School highlights a whole new concept of learning, and, as far as Australia is concerned, signals the beginning of an educational revolution.’ In 1991 MLC School commenced using the Apple Macintosh PowerBook 140 laptops. Excelsior that year reported that by using a modem, ‘Year 10 made a direct connection with Trinity College’ and that ‘the girls were excited by the prospects of long distance communication.’ By the early 1990s, MLC School had invested heavily in hardware and software. The computer technology facilities at MLC School were of such a high standard that external ‘technology in education’ groups, such as The NSW Computer Education Group, used the MLC School computer labs to run workshops for teachers across Sydney. MLC School, a pioneer again with the use of technology in education, has a dedication to innovation that continues today.

Our multicultural tradition Since its early years, MLC School’s girls and their families have come for all corners of the globe. A snapshot of our multicultural tradition can be seen in the survey conducted in 1980 by the School’s Commission, Canberra. The results, reported in Excelsior that year, revealed the breath of the multicultural MLC School community. In 1980, of the 550 girls in the Senior School, 111 girls or their parents were born in one of 47 other countries, with 35 languages other than English spoken at home. In the Junior School it was even higher with 80 out of 200 families coming from overseas.

Excelsior 1980 noted that while the survey had ‘Chinese Languages’ under one code, MLC School could have listed its Chinese languages spoken by students and their families as Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien and Hainanese. In the same way, the Indian languages spoken by MLC School families at the time could have been specified as Punjabi, Tamil, Hindi, Bengali, Marathi and Telugu.

OUR EMINENT ALUMNAE – AUDACIOUSLY BREAKING BARRIERS Over the last 135 years, MLC School has produced many fiercely intelligent, determined and inspirational women. These Old Girls have been both pioneers for women’s rights and equality, and have defined the worlds of countless professions. In this issue of Lucis you will find a story about the Eminent Alumnae project that we have commenced this year. The women who will feature in our Eminent Alumnae project are remembered for being pioneers who showed society what it means to be a role model. Whether these Old Girls pursued arts, sciences, law or sport, were inventors, leaders or politicians, they undeniably broke barriers and changed the world for the better. After reading this story of the revolutionary history of girls’ education at MLC School alongside the story of our Eminent Alumnae, it is clear that the exceptional education offered at MLC School cultivates exceptional Old Girls.

MLC School’s multicultural community has always reflected the full microcosm of the community in which we live. The School’s diversity and acceptance of all cultures and faiths continues to enrich the lives of all our girls.

Footnotes: 1. The University of Sydney was the only university in NSW until 1949 when the University of New South Wales was established. 2. At the time of MLC School’s opening “most people regarded institutions like the Wesleyan Ladies’ College (MLC School’s name from 1886–1899) as ‘finishing schools’ where the daughters of the well-to-do or the socially pretentious were prepared to be worthy wives of wealthy and successful men.” MLC School publication ‘Walk In The Light’ (1986)



Audacious and tenacious

MLC School’s Eminent Alumnae Project

1898 This year, as we celebrate 135 years of exceptional girls’ education, we have commenced a project to bring the stories of our inspiring Old Girls out of the archives and into the world for the entire MLC School community to celebrate. MLC School is proud of our Old Girls and their achievements, and we believe our community is strengthened by recognising the achievements of those women who have made an impact across the generations. These Old Girls showed audacity and tenacity, they fought for recognition in their professions, and the victories they earned for the women who came after them prove them to be true ‘daughters of the light’. By the conclusion of this, our 135th year, we will have 135 stories of our eminent alumnae on our website for all to read. The project has commenced with our earliest Old Girls and throughout this year will move towards the present. Below are excerpts from just a few of our Eminent Alumnae from the first 65 years of MLC School.




Dr Susie O’Reilly (1898) in 1905. Photo courtesy of the University of Sydney Archives.

DR SUSIE O’REILLY (1898) Dr Susannah Hennessy (Susie) O’Reilly (1898) was MLC School’s first graduate from Medicine. She was a pioneering female doctor and a champion of professional women’s rights who became a renowned obstetrician and a popular family doctor. She had a keen sense of humour and a disregard for convention, and was celebrated for her generosity and indomitable spirit. Her public battle with Sydney Hospital subsequently opened the doors of that institution to receive female residents. Susie co-founded the NSW Association of Registered Medical Women in 1921, and in 1922 she was one of six founders of the Rachel Foster Hospital for Women and Children.

Annie Wyatt (Evans, 1902) circa 1915. Photo courtesy of the National Trust Archives.

ANNIE WYATT (EVANS, 1902) OBE Annie Forsyth Wyatt (Evans, 1902), a pioneering conservationist, is celebrated as the founder of the National Trust movement in Australia. Sydney’s historic natural and built sites remain today due to her efforts in setting up the National Trust in 1945 to protect historically significant places. Her fledgling Trust launched its first battle against plans to remodel Macquarie Street that would have meant the demolition of Hyde Park Barracks, the Mint and Parliament House. As a result of Annie’s efforts, public apathy towards the preservation of natural sites and heritage building turned to support.

1907 1919


Grace Crowley (1907) circa 1928, Paris. Photo courtesy of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Archive.

GRACE CROWLEY (1907) A woman of great intelligence, energy and vision, Grace Adela Williams Crowley (1907) was a pioneer of Australian Abstract Constructivism and was one of the first Australian artists to paint purely abstract works. Her art was amongst the most radical of its time. She was described by art critics as ‘a ground-breaking Australian artist’, ‘a champion of modernism’ and ‘a superb colourist’.

Phyllis Anderson (1919). School Prefect photo from Excelsior 1918.


Photo of Marguerite Henry (1913) taken in 1916 is courtesy of the Journal of Crustacean Biology.

MARGUERITE COOPER (HENRY, 1913) Renowned crustaceologist, Marguerite Cooper (Henry, 1913) was awarded three Macleay Fellowships by the Linnean Society of NSW for research into freshwater pond life. From 1919 to 1924 she published eight scientific papers on the freshwater entomostracans (crustaceans) of Australia and New Zealand. She was elected a member of the Linnean Society of NSW in 1920.

A pre-eminent and highly regarded pathologist, Dr Phyllis Anderson (1919) carried out research into children’s diseases such as whooping-cough, diphtheria and the gastroenteritis epidemic of 1928–1929. She was a regular contributor to the Medical Journal of Australia. Throughout her career, Phyllis was also heavily involved in the interests of medical women.



1921 1924 1924

Elaine Shorter (1921). Dux photo from Excelsior 1922.

ELAINE SHORTER (1921) Elaine Shorter (1921) was MLC School’s first Barrister. She was the Dux of the School and winner of the Old Girls’ Union prize, and on graduation from the University of Sydney Law School, she obtained the Rose Scott Prize for Proficiency at Graduation by a Woman Candidate.

Ruth Heighway (1924). School Prize photo from Excelsior 1925.

DR RUTH HEIGHWAY (1924) Ida Birchall (1924). 'A' Tennis Team photo from Excelsior, November 1924.

DR IDA BIRCHALL (1924) MBE Dr Ida Birchall (1924) MBE BSc, MBBS, FRCS, FRCOG worked tirelessly for women with gynaecological problems and with mothers and babies, starting a practice in a time when there were no antibiotics, proper anaesthetics or sophisticated drugs. She was one of Tasmania’s first female doctors, the first female doctor to be in charge of antenatal and post-natal clinics, and was the first member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Tasmania.



Dr (Freida) Ruth Heighway (1924) MBBS, MD was an eminent gynaecologist who was the first woman in Australian to receive an MD (Doctor of Medicine) post-graduate degree, and was also the first woman admitted to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists; later becoming a Fellow of the College.


1929 1926

Olive Cotton (1929). Photo taken in 1942 in Max Dupain’s studio by Morton Collyer.


Joyce Vickery (1926). Old Girls’ Union Prize photo from Excelsior 1927.

DR JOYCE VICKERY (1926) MBE Dr Joyce Vickery (1926) BSc, MSc, DSc, MBE, a pioneer Australian female scientist, was one of Australia’s leading botanists, plant taxonomists and conservationists. She spent most of her working career at the National Herbarium of NSW, Royal Botanic Gardens, transforming it into a world-class scientific institution. She was the first woman to be appointed as a scientific professional officer and she refused to accept the lower starting salary for a female officer. She fought for, and gained, a more appropriate higher salary based on her qualifications rather than her gender. Thereafter she conducted longrunning battles with the Public Service Board over equal pay for equal work.

Olive Cotton (1929), one of Australia’s most respected photographers, was a pioneer of modernist photography with a career spanning six decades. Her work is held in numerous public collections around Australia, including the Art Gallery of NSW and the National Portrait Gallery. In 1991, Olive’s photograph ‘Teacup Ballet’ was chosen to be the image on an Australia Post stamp to mark the 150th anniversary of photography in Australia.

Olive Nelson (1929). House Prize photo from Excelsior 1930.

OLIVE NELSON (1929) Olive Nelson (1929) became the first Samoan, as well as the first Pacific woman, to attain a Bachelor of Laws from Auckland University, graduating in 1936 with the Butterworth Prize for the highest law exam results in the University. Later that year, Olive was admitted to the New Zealand Supreme Court, as both a barrister and solicitor, becoming only the second woman in the country to achieve this feat.




1931 1933

Dr Janet Harker (1943). Photo by John Edward Leigh courtesy of Girton College, University of Cambridge, UK. (Date unknown)


Hazel de Berg (Holland, 1931). Photo courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald.

HAZEL DE BERG (HOLLAND, 1931) MBE Hazel de Berg (Holland, 1931) was the pioneer of oral history in Australia. No one else worked for so long or interviewed so many people of different occupations and backgrounds. An outstanding feature of Hazel’s oral history collection of 1290 recordings is its emphasis on women in Australian society. In 1968 Hazel was awarded an MBE ‘for services to the National Archives’.



Thelma Herring (1933). Dux photo from Excelsior 1924.

THELMA HERRING (1933) MA Thelma Gladys Herring (1933) MA was the first female staff member of the English Department at the University of Sydney, where she remained as a highly regarded senior lecturer and publisher for 32 years.

Dr Janet Harker (1943) was a lecturer in Zoology at both the University of Manchester and the University of Cambridge. In 1964 she was the first woman to be awarded the World Zoological Gold Scientific Medal. Janet was a Fellow of the University of Cambridge’s Girton College and was the first Australian appointed to the Girton College Board of Directors.

1949 1946

Footnote: Prior to 1975 when the Australian Honours were introduced, Australians were awarded honours under the British Imperial system. OBE equates to today’s AO and MBE equates to today’s AM.

Photo of Dr Patricia Thomson (Hextall, 1949) courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald.

Alrene Sykes (1946). Dux photo from Excelsior 1947.

ALRENE SYKES (1946) BA MA Alrene Sykes (1946) was a distinguished scholar and a pioneer in the study of Australian drama. From the mid 1960s she published papers on the works of Alan Seymour, Douglas Stewart, Jack Hibberd, Louis Nowra, Patrick White, David Williamson, and David Ireland, as well as editing five collections of Australian plays, Alrene wrote a book on Harold Pinter (for which she received a letter of approval from Pinter) and numerous articles on, and introductions to, dramatic works. She had a gift for spotting new talent and instantly recognised the significance of Ray Lawler’s Summer of the Seventeenth Doll.

DR PATRICIA THOMSON (HEXTALL, 1949) BSC, MSC, PHD Dr Patricia Thomson (Hextall, 1949) graduated with a BSc from the University of Sydney with first class honours and the University Medal in Organic Chemistry. Later in life she changed paths and was involved in writing some of the early computer programs in the late 1950s and 1960s. Patricia then set up and ran the computer department in the Faculty of Economics at Manchester University in the 1960s.

These are just a sample of the many fascinating stories that can be found on our website news-publications/eminent-alumnae This is an open-ended project. If there are Old Girl successes that we are not aware of, or if there are edits to be made to current stories, we wholeheartedly seek your input. Please contact our Archivist, Barbara Hoffman, at with anything you would like to add. Our eminent alumnae have had significant success in their fields of expertise and MLC School wishes to recognise them for the impact they have had at a local, national and international level. Beyond their profession, our Old Girls have also passionately promoted equality for women in the workplace. These Old Girls are role models, leaders, innovators and trail-blazers and deserve to be recognised and celebrated.



Revitalising our heritage The MLC School Old Girls’ Union (OGU) is committed to restoring and reviving the heritage of the School. The first project saw the revitalisation of Potts Hall stage with new velvet stage curtains. Restoring and upgrading the Chapel is a significant project on the OGU’s agenda. The MLC School Chapel, opened in 1981, is located in the 1892 Schofield Wing that once housed the School’s Boarders. The Chapel was renovated almost 20 years ago and it was in need of both cosmetic and structural enhancements.

The OGU is ensuring that the heritage of all the Chapel objects is maintained and recorded. They commissioned the School Archivist to research the provenance of each object, record the information in the MLC School Archives and have it engraved on plaques and attached to each object for posterity. The history of the space that is now the School Chapel has been memorialised with the addition of a plaque in the Chapel vestibule. This plaque depicts the previous use of the ground floor of Schofield Hall, when it was the Boarders’ Dining Room. This tribute allows generations which follow a glimpse into the history of the Chapel space.

‘It is a place to share the joy of baptisms and weddings, and it provides our girls with a beautiful space for stillness and reflection.’

The first stage of the OGU Chapel project, and one that made an immediate impact, was the restoration and French polishing of all wooden furnishings. The French polish finish, a labour-intensive process, is considered by many to be among the most beautiful ways to finish wood. It has certainly added harmony and beauty to the Chapel and given it a cohesion that was once missing. The table that was once stood on the Potts Hall stage was moved to the Chapel by the OGU and is now the Chapel Altar. This table, a 1954 tribute to Frederick Hetherington’s devotion to Burwood Methodist Church where it once resided, has made a beautiful addition to the Chapel. The School replaced the old roofing and plumbing of the Chapel and Tower/Sutherland Rooms with new slate tiles, imported from France to maintain their original integrity, and copper pipes. After this was completed the Chapel was painted, the stained glass windows were repaired, and new carpeting, designed to include the MLC School logo and funded by the OGU, was installed.

The OGU’s final step in the refurbishment of our Chapel was to increase its capacity by designing and having pews manufactured. These beautiful pews have the MLC School logo intaglioed at the end of each row.



A major work that is also being funded by the OGU is the muchneeded installation of air conditioning into the Chapel. This is a large and delicate project that will ensure the Chapel is able to be comfortably used even on the warmest of days. We are grateful to the OGU for this generous donation to and support for the School. The refurbished Chapel serves as a place for the entire MLC School community. It is a place to share the joy of baptisms and weddings, and it provides our girls with a beautiful space for stillness and reflection. The Sutherland Rooms are also undergoing a refurbishment and the OGU have supported this project by funding the installation of new carpet, again with the MLC School crest. The Rooms will have new furniture and a feature Principal/Headmistress photo gallery in the main hallway. The MLC School community is indebted to our Old Girls’ Union for their devotion to, and support for, the heritage of the School.

Old Girls’ Union Chapel restoration team Helena Grahame (1959), Val Packham (Hedge, 1955) and Sue Cartwright (Packham, 1981) with Rev Vinnie Ravetali.



VALE For 12 years, starting in the 1950s, Ollie was employed as a Librarian by the Crookwell Shire Council. She then moved to Sydney for a time where she was employed as a Librarian at the City of Sydney Library.

Olive Carter (Seaman, 1938) at her 100th Birthday celebrations with the congratulatory letter she received from HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

OLIVE (‘OLLIE’) CARTER (SEAMAN, 1938) Mary Willis (Seaman, 1952) contacted us to let us know that her cousin, Olive (‘Ollie’) Carter (Seaman, 1938), had died on 12 July 2020, eight months after her 100th birthday. Ollie’s centenary birthday was celebrated on 29 November 2019 at St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church Hall, Crookwell, where she was surrounded by her many friends and extended family. Ollie, who was born in Crookwell in the NSW Southern Highlands, enrolled as a Boarder at MLC School on 5 February 1935 at the age of 15. While at school she was a member of the A Hockey Team and was well-known for her sewing and singing skills. After finishing at MLC School, Ollie returned to Crookwell. In the late 1930s, she was a member of the Crookwell Choral Society’s ‘The Strutters’ and she also sang with dance bands. In March 1939, ‘The Strutters’ were launched at the Crookwell School of Arts (now known as Crookwell Memorial Hall). ‘The Strutters’ performed concerts and skits to raise money for such worthwhile causes as the local hospital, town band, and other charitable purposes. MLC SCHOOL


Returning to Crookwell in the early 1980s, Ollie instantly became involved in most of the town’s charities and became an active participant in the local tennis and hockey teams, and once again absorbed herself in playing golf. At her 100th birthday celebrations Ollie said the secret to living to 100 years is golf. Ollie took up golf as a teenager and said although it was an expensive hobby, it kept her fit and outdoors. Right up to her death Ollie was an active member of the Crookwell and District Historical Society. She was awarded the Society’s ‘Life Membership Award’ for years of invaluable service to the Society. Ollie was the beloved matriach of the Seaman family. The family described their matriarch as a wonderful woman and mentor, never critical but was always caring and giving, ready to help in any way that she could. Mary Willis (Seaman, 1952) said that the ‘matriarch of the family for decades was a wonderful woman to look up to.’

PATRICIA PERDRIAU (NEWTON-TABRETT, 1947) Patricia’s daughter, Joanne, wrote to let us know that her dearly loved mother Patricia Perdriau (Newton-Tabrett, 1947) died peacefully in her sleep on 14 November 2020, aged 89. Patricia enrolled at MLC School on 8 February 1944 at the age of 12. She often said that her time at MLC School was ‘a part of her life that she really enjoyed’. Joanne said her mother recounted a story about a fire in the Boarders’ residence; that she woke up and got all the girls out. The news articles of the 1947 fire reported that the senior girls behaved maturely, bravely and calmly, ensuring that all the younger girls were escorted away from the fire and that all were accounted for. Joanne says that Patricia was no doubt one of these senior girls as ‘Mum was always good in an emergency’. Patricia loved attending MLC School Reunions, especially the Sapphires’ Luncheons. She attended many, including the inaugural Luncheon in 2003. Patricia had three children and six grandchildren to whom she was completely devoted.

Patricia (left) at the inaugural Sapphires’ Luncheon on 13 August 2003. Clockwise around the table from left: Patricia Perdriau (Newton-Tabrett, 1948), Dorothy Gleeson (Cull, 1948), Mary Nicholas (Rhodes, 1947), Margaret Kealey (Buzacott, 1948), Norma Cornford (1948), Margaret Richardson (Burcher, 1948), Judith Whiteman (Law, 1948) and Joan Giles (Healey, 1948).

Nola Frost (Chapple, 1952), MLC School Exit Photo.

Doreen Duesbury (Thomas, 1952), MLC School Exit Photo.



Nola’s life-long friend, John Moore (Newington Old Boy) contacted us to let us know his dear friend died on 9 June 2020 at the age of 84. Nola Chapple enrolled at MLC School in 1947 into 6th Class. While she was at the School she was a Wearne Librarian, a member of the Senior A Hockey team and a member of the Tildesley Tennis team. Nola had three children and six grandchildren who treasured her and miss her loving company every day.

Doreen’s daughter, Ruth, contacted us to let us know that her dear mother died on 21 October 2020 at the age of 84 in Goulburn. Doreen had three children, and 10 grandchildren and great grandchildren. Doreen Thomas (1952) enrolled as a Boarder at MLC School in 1949 into 2nd Form (Year 8). During her time at MLC School Doreen was committed to sports. She was a member of the Junior A Cricket team (Captain in 1951), the Captain of the Junior A Hockey team (1949), on the Sports Committee, a member of the Senior A Hockey team (Captain in 1952), Captain of the Senior A Cricket team (1952) and the Churunga Sports Captain (1952). In 1952, Doreen was also a Senior Prefect and a (Boarding) House Prefect.

In mid-2020 John Moore, a Newington Old Boy, contacted the MLC School Archives to get in touch with Doreen. He and Doreen had not been in touch since 1975, and before Doreen’s passing they managed to have a couple of lovely conversations, reminiscing about old times. John remembers that Doreen was called ‘Tiddley’ at School as she was small and petite, and that he and Doreen were partners for a few MLC School/Newington School Balls. Doreen’s daughter said her Mum was very pleased to hear from John and their phone calls prompted many stories of her School days that she shared with her family in the weeks before she died.



Diana Snape (Hodgson, 1953), MLC School Exit Photo.

DIANA SNAPE (HODGSON, 1953) Diana was a horticultural journalist, a conservationist, an author of books on garden design, and an award-winning native plant gardener. Diana Hodgson (1953) enrolled into 2nd Grade at MLC School in 1944 and completed the Leaving Certificate in 1953 placing second in the State in Biology and third in English. While at School, Diana won two scholarships to assist her continuation at the School: the M. H. Sutton Continuation Scholarship (1950–1951) and the Intermediate Continuation Scholarship (1951). At MLC School, Diana was the Secretary of Junior Dramatic Society, a Wearne Librarian, a member of the Tildesley Tennis Team, and on the Excelsior Committee. In 1953 she was a Senior Prefect and was awarded equal Dux with Robyn Claremont (Benn, 1953). 1954’s Excelsior was pleased to note that both 1953 Dux recipients had been at MLC School from an early age. For her outstanding results in the Leaving Certificate, Diana was awarded a Commonwealth Scholarship and the Queen Victoria Scholarship to allow her to study at the University of Sydney. The University also awarded her the Fairfax Prize for her marks in the University’s entrance exam. Diana was the author of three books: Australian Native Gardens – Putting Visions Into Practice, The Australian Garden –



Designing With Australian Plants (the first book to show how Australian plants can be used in all the major gardening styles), and a third on high school chemistry ‘Meet the First 30 Elements’. She worked as a horticultural journalist and for over 20 years wrote many articles for ‘The Age’, as well as contributing to numerous magazines and journals.

farming. When conservation groups began to build a resistance campaign, Diana and Brian joined in. The Little Desert was saved by the collective efforts of those conservationists and is now the Little Desert National Park. A Trust for Nature Reserve abutting the Little Desert National Park is named in honour of Diana and Brian Snape.

Diana joined the Australian Native Plants Society (Australia) - ANPSA, soon after it started in 1957 and contributed many articles to this organisation. She had a strong interest in art and design and in 1993 she started the Garden Design Study Group under ANPSA. The garden belonging to Diana and her husband Brian has been featured in books and was in the Australian Open Garden Scheme five times. On the final occasion, it attracted over 1000 visitors in one weekend. In 2018 Diana was recognised by the ANPSA with the 2018 Australian Plants Award in the Amateur Category.

The campaign to save Little Desert gave birth to Environment Victoria, which has played a key role in putting environmental concerns at the centre of Victorian politics. As did Diana and Brian, who supported the organisation by becoming Board members as well as providing donations, encouragement and personal enthusiasm for over five decades.

Diana and Brian’s story is featured at the beginning of Environment Victoria’s 50 Year birthday book ‘People for the Planet – the story of Environment Victoria’: When Diana and Brian Snape were in their early 30s, they’d take off from Melbourne most weekends and go bush. One of their favourite destinations was a semi-arid patch of scrub and trees in Victoria’s north-west called the Little Desert. In the late 1960s they learnt that their favourite spot was in trouble – the Minister for Agriculture wanted to subdivide the Little Desert for

Part of the 2019 celebrations for the 50th birthday of Environment Victoria was the recognition of the achievements of remarkable people and community groups from across Victoria for their outstanding contribution to protecting the Victorian environment. Diana and Brian Snape were awarded a Community Environment Award for their significant long-term contribution to Environment Victoria and the Victorian environment movement. When Diana died in September 2019 at the age of 82, her husband of 60 years, Brian, said she was ‘a remarkable woman who achieved so much against the odds and has left her many friends and family with so many wonderful memories.’

Judith Hutton (Wright, 1953), MLC School Exit Photo.

Valda Evans (Veidners, 1956), MLC School Exit Photo.

Elizabeth Westacott (Mallick, 1964), MLC School Exit Photo.



Heather McGuinn (Wright, 1960) told us that her dear sister Judith Hutton (Wright, 1953) passed away in August 2020 after a threeyear battle with dementia.

Patricia McMahon Martin (McMahon, 1956) told us that her friend Valda Evans (Veidners, 1956) died on 7 November 2019 at the age of 80.


Judith spent her entire schooling at MLC School, enrolling in Kindergarten in 1942. She was part of a multi-generational MLC School family. Apart from her sister Heather, their mother Margaret Wright (Mashman, 1926) was also an MLC School student, as were numerous cousins and aunts. Their brother Denis was also a student at MLC School, in Kindergarten in 1944.

Valda passed away peacefully surrounded by friends and her family, including daughters Tamara, Jana and Kristina.

Judith was a keen student (English was her favourite subject), and she played many sports. She particularly enjoyed hockey and tennis and represented MLC School in the Tildesley Shield. In her final year at MLC School, Judith was a Senior Prefect and the Booralee House Captain. On leaving school, Judith undertook secretarial studies and worked in numerous positions in this area before retirement. She lived in Adelaide with her husband, John, and they spent many happy holidays caravanning around Australia. They moved to the Sunshine Coast to enjoy their retirement.

Patricia says that Valda was very bright and was always a kind and generous friend.

Libby’s husband, Kevin, told us that his lovely wife, Elizabeth Westacott (Mallick, 1964), had passed away in October 2020 after battling a brain tumour for six months. Kevin said that Libby loved MLC School and spoke very fondly of her school days. She attended as many School Reunions as she could, even making it to a London reunion 20 years ago. After completing MLC School, Libby became a Pre-School Teacher and she and Kevin had two children. They lived in the ACT for some time before moving to Brisbane where she became a very active member of the Redland Bushwalkers group. Looking back through Libby’s School record, we came across this note: In 2007 she called the School just to say ‘I love receiving all the news and publications from MLC School. My six years at the School were incalculably valuable.’

Judith was a much-loved member of her family and is greatly missed by her beloved husband John, children Christopher and Katrina and grandchildren Xanthe and Dylan, as well as her brother Denis, her sister Heather and their families.



CELEBRATION DINNER Current parents are invited to join MLC School staff and the MLC School community at the 135th Celebration Black Tie Dinner on Saturday 5 June 2021. Held at the Hilton Sydney the night will include a 3-course dinner and drinks, and feature live music from the John Field Band. We hope you can join us in celebrating 135 years of exceptional girls’ education.

Saturday 5 June 2021, 7pm Hilton Sydney Ballroom Dress code: Black Tie

$175 per ticket | Tables of 10

Show you

❤mlcschool on 18 May!

18 May 2020 is the day where every member of the MLC School community: students, staff, parents, Old Girls and former parents will have the chance to show their love for MLC School and open their to support two key initiatives: Indigenous Scholarships and the Principal’s Scholarship to give girls to chance to join the School in Year 10. Look out for much more information about how you can show how much you mlcschool in the coming weeks. # mlcschool

RSVP by Friday 21 May 2021

Baby news

2022 Term Dates Term 1 2022 Tuesday 25 January 2022 Term 1 begins with Commencement Day for all new students and all Year 7 2022 students Wednesday 26 January 2022

Australia Day Public Holiday

Thursday 27 January 2022

Term 1 begins for Year 1 to Year 12

Friday 28 January 2022

Term 1 begins for Kindergarten

Monday 31 January 2022

Term 1 begins for Pre-K 5-day and Mon–Wed program

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Term 1 begins for Pre-K Wed–Fri program

Friday 8 April 2022

End of Term 1

Term 2 2022 Late last year we received very happy news from Michelle Huertas (2000). Michelle’s family had the joy of extending their tribe when they welcomed their daughter, Rosalia Bríd Ward, into the world at Royal North Shore Hospital on 4 August 2020. Michelle says her whole family is delighted by their new beautiful addition. We encourage our Old Girls to share their happy news with us – births, marriages, career highlights, etc. – we love to hear from you.



Wednesday 27 April 2022

Term 2 begins for whole school

Monday 13 June 2022

Queen's Birthday

Friday 24 June 2022

End of Term 2

Term 3 2022 Tuesday 19 July 2022

Term 3 begins for whole school

Friday 16 September 2022

End of Term 3

Term 4 2022 Tuesday 11 October 2022

Term 4 begins for whole school

Tuesday 6 December 2022

End of Term 4 for Pre-Kindergarten to Year 2

Thursday 8 December 2022

End of Term 4 for Year 3 to Year 12

Old Girl Events for 2021 Our Old Girls are warmly invited to attend these events. More information will be emailed in the coming months. OGU Meeting Wednesday 21 July 2021 6pm–7pm OGU Boarders Catchup Hunter Valley Saturday 7 August 2021 OGU Chocolate Recess Monday 30 August 2021 10.05am Reunion 40 Years (1980 and 1981) Saturday 4 September 2021 2pm–5pm Reunion 50 Years (1970 and 1971) Saturday 4 September 2021 2pm–5pm Reunion 60 Years (1960 and 1961) Saturday 4 September 2021 2pm–5pm Sapphires’ Chapel Service and Lunch Thursday 7 October 2021 11am Chapel, 12pm Lunch

2021 SCHOOL TOUR DATES Thursday 20 May 2021, 10.30am Tuesday 10 August 2021, 10.30am Thursday 4 November 2021, 10.30am

OGU Meeting Wednesday 13 October 2021 6pm OGU Annual General Meeting 2022

To register for a tour visit or email – B O O K I N G S


E S S E N T I A L –

TAKE A VIRTUAL FLY-THROUGH TOUR Visit SHARE YOUR NEWS! We very much encourage and welcome your news and love to receive photos.



To get in touch, please call Barbara Hoffman, MLC School Archivist, on 02 8741 3214, or email



A UNITING CHURCH DAY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, PRE-KINDERGARTEN TO YEAR 12 Rowley Street, Burwood NSW 2134 Australia PO Box 643 Burwood 1805 Ph +61 2 9747 1266 Fax +61 2 9745 3254 ABN 75 549 644 535 CRICOS No. 02328D The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) (trading as MLC School)