Summer EDITION 2015
The magazine of the MLC School family, incorporating collegiate
From the Principal
‘In an era of unprecedented change, students are learning to appreciate that the question is more valuable than the answer.’
Along with his superlative paintings and sculptures, the classical genius Leonardo Da Vinci left behind notebooks in which he urges his students to take risks and think courageously in order to create valuable work. His principles included ‘curiosita’ – to question the question and look at issues from multiple perspectives, ‘dimostrazione’ – to learn from your mistakes and ‘sfumato’ – to blur boundaries and enhance the whole. Da Vinci challenged his students to adopt a fearless thinking approach, something that some 500 years later, MLC School teachers ask of their students every day. In an era of unprecedented change, students are learning to appreciate that the question is more valuable than the answer, to wonder ‘what if?’ and to advance in any domain at any age, quelling fears about self-perceived limitations. This issue of Lucis celebrates MLC School alumni, students and staff who engage in fearless thinking in its many forms. From Old Girls like Evangeline Carr who strove for decades to improve after-birth care for Australian mothers and Yoko Shimizu who, while working at Al Jazeera braved the after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear plant explosion to help bring the story to the world to our Round Square students who are representing us at international conferences and volunteering for those in need and our youngest Pre Kindergarten students who have been stretching their imaginations and technical skills to make ‘impossible pets’ that were coded to produce sounds. Fearless thinking will continue to characterise the School in 2016 as we celebrate our Festival of Powerful Learning in our130th year. It is an approach embraced and taught by Erica McWilliam who will be our ‘Scholar in Residence’ and work with teachers to introduce strategies to better prepare our students for the workplace of 2030. Our 2016 Artist in Residence is Rebecca Kamen, the Professor Emeritus of Art at Northern Virginia Community College, whose work embodies STEAM – the merging of art with science, technology, engineering and maths. Across the whole school, MLC School teachers employ fearless thinking to reveal new ways to explain, engage and impassion their students, daring them to be more. This year we were very pleased to welcome a new Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School, Paul Brown who has come from Knox Grammar. We hope the Summer issue of Lucis provides you with inspiration.
Denice Scala Principal
Contents OUR VALUES
Pursue excellence Demonstrate integrity Celebrate diversity Embrace world citizenship Live with humility
SOCIAL MEDIA Follow MLC School on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
The editorial team has compiled the information in Lucis and Collegiate from various sources. While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information published, MLC School reserves the right to alter dates and programs as necessary.
From the Principal
Senior School Redevelopment
The Art of Conversation
The Psychology of Work
The Faces of Round Square
Artistry in Time
Fantastic Beasts and
Poetry in Motion
Where to Find Them
The Science of Success
Sapphiresâ€™ Luncheon 2015
130th Anniversary Events
Powerful Learning Experiences
Sketches from Silver City
PHOTOGRAPHERS Nicole Anderson Scott Cameron Eliott Toms
The New Horizons Strategic Design takes physical form. ‘It has been easy to settle in and it feels friendlier somehow and more spacious and light,’ says Year 11 student Michelle Wang of the refurbished Kent House. ‘It is a very modern space and I like being there because it takes me back to my Kindergarten days (when the Junior School was located on Rowley Street)’, says Julia Athos of Year 10. After a 12-week building phase during which disruption to learning was kept to a minimum, students and staff moved into the new look Kent House for the start of Term 4. It houses Art and TAS as well as a dedicated area for Year 11 and Year 12, classrooms for senior students and offices for teaching staff. ‘The re-organisation allows for a more practical use of the space and more effective storage means a larger, cleaner work environment,’ says Head of Art and Design Craig Malyon. ‘A mezzanine area will provide a space for artists in residence like Rebecca Kamen (who will visit in April 2016) to work alongside the senior students. Parents imagined life in the new buildings at an information evening on 26 August. They listened to architects BVN discuss their vision and experienced the planned structures in 3D by placing their smart phones into Google cardboard devices.
Image Kent House
Image Zone 8
‘It is good to see that it is such a flexible design and that the process is being conducted with so much transparency,’ said a Year 9 parent. ‘Like the Chiang Mai trip, it all seems very detailed and well thought through. Nothing is being left to chance,’ commented a Year 11 parent. ‘Working with a school like MLC School has been a great learning experience for us as professionals and has grown us as architects,’ says BVN Architects.
2016 NSW Australian of the Year, former Sex Discrimination Commissioner and MLC School parent, Elizabeth Broderick, has helped instigate paid parental leave, shone a light on sexual abuse in the Australian Defence Force and created a group of 28 influential male CEOs who have pledged to introduce gender equality in their companies. Elizabeth spoke to Lucis about what she hopes to do with her new platform and how to empower young girls in the social media age. You chose MLC School for your daughter Lucy. What do you see to be the benefits of single sex schools for girls?
‘Our power as women comes from who we are, not how we look.’
A single sex school was a great gift to me growing up. All girls’ schools give young women a strong sense of self. They learn to believe they can do anything a boy can do and that belief becomes forever a part of their character. Lucy will step out into the world from a firm foundation, believing that she will not be held back because of gender. What is your advice to women who want to succeed in a world set up for men? While it is a hard message for teenage girls to absorb, we have to help them realise that our power as women comes from who we are, not how we look. In the Instagram and Snapchat age, how you look is becoming increasingly valued but that doesn’t change the fact that your success will depend on who you are. One of the most incredible young women I have ever met was the 14-year-old survivor of an acid attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The
perpetrator was an older man who had been refused her hand in marriage by her father who wanted her to continue her schooling. She said to me, ‘He has taken away my outside beauty but I still feel beautiful inside’. She spoke to that important understanding that our strengths and our power come from within, not without. Her attitude was probably helped by her cultural context and the early messages of love and connection her family gave her when she was very young. What messages did you give Lucy when she was growing up? We used to have ‘Mum’s list of rules’. Number one was ‘do not be a victim’ – while you have got a heartbeat you have power; it is not what is dealt you but how you respond that is important. Rule two: ‘Smart women dress in context’; when you dress for the situation, you haven’t put forward any barriers to prevent you from engaging and wielding influence. Rule three: ‘If I believe that gender equality is my birthright then why would I accept anything less?’ Go out into the world with an enquiring mind and focus on solutions rather than the problems. Rule four: ‘Be kinder than you need to be;’ kindness is contagious so always put yourself in the shoes of others’. That is where I think MLC School has done a great job through their ‘Make it Right, Keep it Right’ strategies in the Junior School. Young girls learn to see the impact of their actions.
‘Be kinder than you need to be; kindness is contagious so always put yourself in the shoes of others.’
And your son Tom? I very much think that gender stereotypes imprison boys and men as much as they do women and girls. Tom has grown up in a family where his father has done most of the unpaid work so men’s work and women’s work has not been part of his life experience. I have always talked to Tom about equality and issues like violence against women, which comes from gender inequality, so boys are an important part of that picture. There are lots of things that I am proud of and one is definitely having raised both a son and daughter who believe that equality is the only path. Do you ever get disheartened by ongoing issues like the 18% pay gap and high rates of domestic violence? No I don’t get disheartened. I do feel moments of deep sadness about the situation for many women not just in Australia but across the world, though, particularly when I look at the data on violence against women. But I have learned to hold my compassionate self with my strategic self, to use my sadness not to drag myself down but to remain committed to creating change. I think we can all learn to do that; my emotions fuel my energy for change. How does Australia’s progress on women’s rights compare with progress made overseas? There are not many barriers that women have not broken through in Australia: Prime Minister, Governor General, State Premiers and now as of the beginning of next year, women in the military will be able to go into mine clearance, infantry and special forces. So it is hard to point to an area where women are formally excluded. I do still think that we have a lot of work to do in creating an Australia where both men and women can thrive equally, however. That change is about removing a lot of the systemic barriers that exist. I always say that if there were only one change that I could make, it would be the better sharing of paid and unpaid work. That would allow men to be more engaged in caring for their families and allow women to build much better economic power. There is still a lot of work to be done but I am so proud to live and have grown up in Australia and particularly proud to be NSW Australian of the Year.
What do you hope to achieve with your 2016 title? The award gives me an additional platform to use to continue to campaign and advocate for change. One of the things that I have been able to do in my role is to take the human face of gender inequality to the heart of power through the Male Champions of Change initiative. I was able to take those issues to the CEOs of our iconic companies, to heads of government and of the military. I have understood that if we want to create change we need to persuade those with power and that is largely men, to use it for the promotion of gender equality in Australia. That is the work that I will continue to do over the next 12 months. The Male Champions of Change include Qantas’ Alan Joyce, Woolworth’s Grant O’Brien and ANZ’s Ian Narev. Are they listening? There is a lot of darkness in the work that I do but one of the great sparks of energy and bright light is the way the men have shown themselves to be willing to step up as courageous leaders and move forward on the issue of gender inequality. I always say it is not a battle of the sexes – it is about men and women working together to create a more equal Australia.
‘If I believe that gender equality is my birth right then why would I accept anything less?’
Book Learning New Deputy Principal and Head of Senior School, Paul Brown is quickly adjusting to life at an all girls’ school after a varied career including extensive time spent educating boys. He says what sets MLC School apart is its culture of high expectations grounded in a base of solid support. ‘I’m puffed,’ Paul Brown laughed at the start of this interview, breathless from participating in time trials on a rowing machine as part of the Round Square activity Rainbow Week. ‘I knew I wasn’t in great condition but I thought I might as well give it a go. When it looked like I was about to collapse, the students started cheering to get me over the line’. It is his willingness to have a go and share in the girls’ interests that have helped Mr Brown build a rapport with the students over a short time. ‘As the father of daughters, I am very focused on girls’ education and their futures,’ he says. ‘When you look at the variety of students we have here, the way they think so keenly about so many different issues and have such fine minds and good hearts, as a society and nation, you want to make sure you give them every opportunity to utilise their talents’. Mr Brown is himself a man of varied skills. On leaving school, he studied for a double degree in History and English Literature and then a Masters in Literature, which he completed at night while working at a Merchant Bank during the day. ‘I was one of those typical boys at school – a bit ambivalent about what I wanted to do with my life. I was good at maths and science and I had a business brain but my real love was literature, history and the visual arts’. He decided to combine his interests by taking over a bookshop in Paddington that specialised in rare art and literature titles. ‘It was a fantastic place.
Many of the staff were writers or wouldbe writers and we would spend hours painstakingly poring over catalogues to uncover unique and exotic hard covers for regular clients like Brett Whitely, Barrie Humphries, Margaret Olley and Les Murray. Mr Brown opened a second store on the other side of Sydney but with the rise of technology, was quick to see the writing on the wall for brick and mortar bookstores. ‘Even I order my books online these days,’ he says. Looking for a solid career to support his young family, Mr Brown enrolled in a medical degree at Sydney University and took a casual job teaching English at St Ignatius Riverview to pay the bills in the short term. He was more surprised than anyone to discover that he had in fact stumbled upon his true calling. ‘It was such an enjoyable experience. Soon the school asked me to do some special projects for them. I pulled out of medicine, was promoted to the school executive and my journey in education began. It was not only the class contact with students that I loved but the business operations and organisational side. Just as with the bookshop, I had discovered something that reflected all of my interests’. From Riverview, Mr Brown went on to Knox Grammar where he spent six and a half ‘very enjoyable years’ as Deputy Principal.
Now at MLC School he says that what strikes him most is the vibrancy of the School’s culture. ‘I don’t think a lot of places get this because they look too much at technical things but you have to build a great culture. You can tell pretty quickly when a school has a negative culture or just a bland culture but MLC School is a very innovative, supportive place of high expectations where girls can really enjoy and prosper. The other thing I am enjoying is working with a team of teachers with such a variety of different skills, experiences, knowledge and enthusiasm. They really are a great group of professionals with lots of talent that the girls can draw on.’
‘MLC School is a very innovative, supportive place of high expectations where girls can really enjoy and prosper.’
The Faces of Round Square How has the international organisation dedicated to shaping future leaders influenced the lives of MLC School students?
MLC School is part of a network of 150 schools in 40 countries dedicated to the IDEALS set down by Round Square founder, Kurt Hahn: internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventure, leadership and service. We talked to four graduates and almost-graduates of the service program that sees students meet once a week to raise awareness and funds for important international causes. Mary Pilkinton (Year 11) I joined Round Square in Year 6 as one of its youngest ever members and since then, my focus has been largely on environment and sustainability issues. In Year 9 I coordinated a mobile phone drive for the Jane Goodall Institute to highlight the fact that the minerals used in mobile phone manufacture are mined in the Congo, which destroys the local wildlife populations. I have also contributed to awareness efforts around healthy eating and the minimisation of the use of plastic packaging. I am not sure yet what I want to do when I leave school but I am pretty sure that it will have an international sustainability focus and be influenced and enhanced by my Round Square experience.
Maria Ventouris (Class of 2015) I was in Year 10 when I attended my first Round Square conference in New Orleans and Florida. New Orleans was still suffering the after effects of Hurricane Katrina and we had to pitch in with painting, plumbing, and other maintenance activities as well as play games like basketball with local children who had been displaced. In Florida the conference brought together 1000 or more students from around the world and it was amazing to hear everyone’s stories and dreams. I had always been a helpful person but Round Square opened my eyes to the impact that contribution can have. Now I am looking to use my time between school and university by helping out at a charity for the homeless. Jessie Field (Class of 2015) It is the Round Square exchanges that have had the biggest impact on me. In Year 8 I went to Geraldton and in Year 10, to Germany. The Germany trip in particular really opened up my eyes to what Round Square is achieving on an international scale. To see so many cultures coming together in one place has made me more open and accepting of new experiences and more confident
in meeting new people. I made important life-long friendships from that experience. The School fundraising activity that has been closest to my heart was for the Strahare Foundation and the education of two female secondary students. It is amazing to think that we changed lives in a real way. Caitlin White (Round Square Representative) As an MLC School student, my Round Square involvement was restricted to dropping into meetings and helping out with activities like Rainbow Week. In retrospect, I have seen my Round Square peers who travelled to conferences and on exchanges gain an edge by learning to strive for success and understand that failure is positive if you are failing forward and reflecting on why and how.
‘Failure is positive if you are failing forward.’
Between Coding Hour, Code Jam, Code Club, Code Camp and Code Competition, coding wove itself into the fabric of MLC School in 2015. Even ‘newbies’ caught the bug during Technology Week, which featured a range of career talks, Maker Spaces, Game Spaces, workshops and competitions.
Year 6 students combined their study of the Australian political system with lessons on radio waves and circuits in a cross boundary MYP project that taught them as much about engineering as social science. The students wrote their own political podcasts and broadcast them nine metres on low power FM radio transmitters that they constructed themselves. The result was a deeper understanding of the political process, the mechanics of radio and the power of the spoken word.
In August and September, 250 girls participated in the Sydney University Grok NCSS Challenge, including all of Year 8. Fifty of them made it to the leader board. In 2016 the Junior and Senior Code Clubs and Junior and Senior Robotics Clubs will merge as a way to build community across the Junior and Senior Schools. According to IT Pedagogy teacher Sujatha Gunja, the new format will work pedagogically because the youngest students learn at the same pace as their senior peers. ‘In fact the Junior School students learn faster because they arrive more open and without any preconceived ideas, ready to soak it all up,’ she says.
A Fine Balance The Junior School STEAM lab opened this year and quickly became a bustling hub during lunchtime and morning tea. ‘The students are so enthusiastic that they are choosing to continue working on their science and technology projects in their own time,’ says IT Pedagogy teacher Vanessa Noonan. In the second half of the year, Year 5 worked on a woodwork project designed to teach maths. Students were inducted into the safe use of
woodworking tools before cutting and drilling a wooden stand and cube and through trial and error, making it balance using weights and counter weights. IT Pedagogy teacher Daniel Green says that while they were making a physical product with their hands, the students were learning the important concepts of 3D space, measurement, weight, gravity and balance. ‘It is the same idea as ‘wax on, wax off’ in Karate Kid,’ he says. ‘The girls won’t realise the value of this learning until later on when they are asked to apply it’.
‘The Junior School students learn faster because they arrive more open and without any preconceived ideas, ready to soak it all up.’
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them This year Pre Kindergarten embarked on their very first coding adventure, bringing papier-mâché ‘pets’ to life and digitally documenting their learning – all before they have even started school.
The students used recycled materials to make creatures that ‘you could not find in a pet shop or zoo’. They then recorded imaginative sounds with an app called Junior Scratch and connected them to their pet using a Makey Makey circuit board, which transfers electric currents through wires and water conductive items (in this case, play dough). The students attached the play dough to their pet and connected it to a computer with a cable. When they stroked their pet, their finger completed the circuit, causing the pet to make its sound and come ‘alive’.
‘Impossible Pets was a creative and imaginative project that demonstrated to me that even five year olds should not be constrained by their ‘limitations’. ‘The students achieved something that they initially thought was impossible and gained a strong sense of ownership of their work,’ says Pre Kindergarten teacher, Emma Davey. ‘You could say that Impossible Pets was more of a life experience than a school project’. Impossible Pets was designed in collaboration between Junior School staff and the IT Pedagogy team to simultaneously teach the differences between living and non-living creatures, creative thinking and coding skills. ‘Technology enlivens classroom activities and boosts student engagement,’ says Head of Junior School, Sue Floro whose research and vision is behind the introduction of innovative projects like Impossible Pets. ‘The key is to make the technology serve the curriculum rather than the other way around’.
The students documented their learning with the app, Show Me, which turned photographs of their process into a video presentation, complete with their own voice-over explanations. The videos were converted into QR codes and attached to the bottom of each pet, allowing parents to use their smart phones to watch their child at work. ‘Impossible Pets was a creative and imaginative project that demonstrated to me that even five year olds should not be constrained by their ‘limitations,’ says parent Sarah Canadas.
Scholar in Residence
Forward Thinking How do you educate students in a world where the answer to almost any question is just an Internet search away? Our 2016 ‘Scholar in Residence’, Erica McWilliam, says that if we are to truly meet the needs of today’s students, the very nature of teaching must change. Erica McWilliam is Adjunct Professor in the Creative Industries Faculty of the Queensland University of Technology and the author of ‘The Creative Workforce: How to Launch Young People Into High-Flying Futures’ and more recently, ‘Educating Girls’. Her theories are honed from four decades of observing student learning as an Australian secondary teacher, teacher educator and researcher leading the Creative Workforce program at QUT. ‘It is now possible to search 100 billion pages in 15 seconds or less,’ she says. ‘We need to build the capacity of young people to distinguish useful information from all the rest. There is so much data to distrust and so much of it instantly available. Learning becomes more valuable as a skill than knowing’. In 2016 Erica will work alongside MLC School teachers, as she has done at a number of other prominent Australian schools, to encourage them to find new ways to optimise their creativity and that of MLC School students. ‘Teachers need to un-learn as much as learn,’ she says. ‘In the old system they were taught to be a ‘sage on the stage’. Then we moved to teachers as ‘guides on the side’. What will serve students best now is if teachers can add to their repertoires the skills of ‘meddlers in the middle’ – ie. being ‘usefully ignorant’ co-learners in the thick of the action, ensuring that opportunities to ask ‘better questions’ are as much a priority as giving ‘correct answers’. Erica says that all MLC School teachers should see themselves as both successful and improvable professional practitioners. ‘Low threat, high challenge teaching’ means keeping the bar high on challenge at the same time as giving appropriate support. In recent times, we have seen in some quarters efforts to raise children’s self-esteem
‘Better questions’ are as much a priority as giving ‘correct answers.’ through empty messaging, something that encourages young people to avoid intellectual challenge rather than embracing it. It is also a means by which teachers and parents can deprive young people of the pleasure that attends rigorous engagement with complex learning,’ she says. ‘Tell me I am wonderful and give me an A’ is not the logic that underpins success in Silicon Valley or any other productive 21st century environment. Rather it is the capacity to be self-managing, self-critical and collaborative, to persevere in the face of feedback that says ‘not yet’. When praise comes our students’ way, it should be well earned. Then they will get it but they won’t be dependent on it. They’ll be too busy getting on with their next high-flying venture’.
‘We need to build the capacity of young people to distinguish useful information from all the rest.’
Grown-Ups How to take a step back so our children can take a step up.
Julie Lythcott-Haims In May next year, MLC School will host a talk for parents by the author of ‘Parenting an Adult, break free of the parenting trap and prepare your child for success’, a book that has parents across America reconsidering their child-rearing style. Julie Lythcott-Haims worked as a lawyer before taking up the post of Dean of Freshman at Stanford University for a decade. She oversaw the matriculation of 20,000 students in that time and claims to have observed a worrying trend occur. Enrolling students looked brilliant on paper but each year’s intake seemed less capable of looking after themselves. At the same time, parents were more present on campus and more willing to intervene for their offspring. It was also clear that it was parents who were frequently the authors of those impressive university applications. Lythcott-Haims says over parenting is partly due to an increasingly cutthroat academic culture and a tougher jobs climate. ‘Fear can compel parents to think that their child’s future success is predicated on parents investing an immense amount of financial and emotional resources,’ she says. ‘But all of that parental over-directing, intervening, and worrying doesn’t actually enable your child to be successful once they’ve been
admitted into that great school or landed that ideal first job. The skills that young adults need to thrive in such environments, such as critical thinking, initiative, and resilience, are cultivated through the course of a childhood that is not overly-directed nor overly-protected by parents’. ‘Over parenting risks ruining a generation of children. It can leave young adults without the strengths of skill, will and character that are needed to know themselves and to craft a life’. Look out for more details on this not to be missed parent event when school resumes in 2016.
‘Over parenting risks ruining a generation of children. It can leave young adults without the strengths of skill, will and character that are needed to know themselves and to craft a life.’
An Old Girl’s inspiring story helps our senior dancers to success. The romantic tale of Elsie Sheppard is one of the most celebrated stories of the Australian war era. From a well to do local family (Elsie’s father was the Mayor of Burwood) she married Lieutenant George Sydney Cook, the son of Australia’s sixth prime minister, Joseph Cook and in 1914 they set sail for Egypt to contribute to the war effort. Elsie was toiling in the Army Nursing Service when Syd was hit in the leg at the Gallipoli landing and later shot in the head while leading troops into the Battle of Lone Pine. Elsie was transferred to Syd’s ward where she tended his wounds and incredibly, he survived.
to ignore Elsie’s rich and affecting love story and its triumphant message of overcoming adversity.
Elsie’s story has featured in novels and the mini series Anzac Girls while her name is on the war memorial arch at the entrance to Burwood Park. When the Dance department was looking for a subject on which to base their choreography for the competition Wakakirri, it was impossible
Wakakirri is a national storytelling arts festival that involves 20,000 students across every state and territory each year. The MLC School 2015 performance featured 95 dancers from Year 7 to Year 12, a mammoth effort of coordination and skill.
‘I watched the Anzac Girls television series and when I made the connection to Elsie Sheppard being an Old Girl, it was an obvious choice,’ says Dance Coordinator, Blake Fatouros. ‘I read the novel and dissected the story’s main elements to create a dance that covered her marriage, the journey to Egypt and Cairo, her harrowing experiences as a war nurse and the tending of her husband back to health’.
‘I particularly like the Wakakirri format because where other competitions are purely about skill, glitz and glamour, Wakakirri allows you to teach elements of history and make learning a part of the creation process,’ Mr Fatouros says. The MLC School dancers won the Best Historical Story award and State awards for Best Amazing Moment, Best Combination of Dancing and Acting, Best Overall Costume Design and Best Historical Story Award – a fine way to pay tribute to Elsie’s legacy.
‘Wakakirri allows you to teach elements of history and make learning a part of the creation process.’
A diverse and challenging international program transported the audience at the 2015 MLC School Music Awards.
‘When I closed my eyes I felt like I was back in Prague; it is difficult to describe the magic of it. To my mind, the night was beyond perfection,’ was one Old Girl’s summation of the MLC School Music Awards held at Town Hall on 18 November 2015. According to Principal Denice Scala, ‘The Music Awards honour the creativity, diligence and commitment of MLC School musicians as well as the intrinsic value of music in a contemporary educational context’. They were a particular celebration of the energy and enthusiasm that has reverberated across the School’s arts departments since the recent cultural trip to Cuba.
The Cuban visit was an immersive, Powerful Learning experience that saw students study at the National Arts Schools, participate in workshops and attend grand performances. Some of this learning was reflected in the Music Awards program, which included pieces that conjured the spirit of South America like Argentinian composer, Astor Piazzolla’s own version of The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires and Libertango, a fusion of tango with a range of Western musical elements. Other pieces included Albanian Dance, a work based on a traditional and popular dance, Beethoven’s Cavatina from String Quartet No. 13 in B flat major, Op.130
and an atmospheric piece entitled Habitat, ‘A journey across five very different vistas of our planet, making the most of distinctive musical concepts to paint these pictures’. The audience was left inspired by the inclusive, embracing energy of international music and the power of diligent, concerted practice.
‘When I closed my eyes I felt like I was back in Prague.’
In 2015 the MLC School sequential, immersive learning program plunged the students into rich, broad experiences with focused goals and measurable results. Down the Rabbit Hole
A Week in Shakespeare’s World
Down the Rabbit Hole
A Week in Shakespeare’s World
The Year 6 major work project absorbed the students in Lewis Carroll’s ingenious 1865 work, placing them in Alice’s shoes as she descends between worlds and alters in form and perspective. The girls chose their own topic of study, inspired by the novel, to independently explore over seven weeks. The ideas examined included ‘Who are we?’, ‘Where do girls fit in the world?’ and ‘The line between dream and reality’.
The Year 7 Illumination Project stimulated and challenged the students through master classes and play building sessions stemming from Shakespeare’s extraordinary body of work. Directors from the award-winning repertory theatre company Sport for Jove led them to learn and honour the great bard’s point of view and the notion of story. The project culminated in a new Shakespearean production staged in locations around the Senior School campus and starred over 100 Year 7 students.
For the first time, the MLC School Enlightenment program went global with a trip to Thailand that immersed Year 10 students in a variety of rich cultural experiences and strenuous service work. The students helped construct a school for one remote community and a playground for another, facing personal and physical challenges while deepening and strengthening relationships within their year group.
Broken Hill This transformative program took place more than 1000 kilometres from Sydney and engaged Year 9 girls in cultural, wilderness and service experiences while staying in small outback cabins where they took responsibility for their own shopping, cooking and cleaning. The artefacts produced included an illustrated storybook, a cookbook and exquisite artworks that reflect a truly out of the ordinary experience.
City Experience This two-week Year 8 cultural, academic independent learning program took the students beyond the school gates to the ‘classroom’ of the CBD. They explored Sydney’s key areas and landmarks, challenging themselves to inquire, think critically and dig deep. In research teams, the students interviewed, collated and analysed their data, operating out of Karstens Conference Centre in the Rocks to better understand the daily work and interactions of the bustling inner city.
Utopia What began as a student Creativity, Action, Service (CAS) project has the potential to improve outcomes for children in one of the most disadvantaged places in the world.
The 10 MLC School students who visited Utopia, an Aboriginal community 350 kilometres north east of Alice Springs, are far from sports fans. Yet every morning during their five-day trip they grabbed a basketball and ran around a court full of energy and purpose. ‘None of us knew the rules and we certainly weren’t trying to follow them,’ laughs Year 12 student Yoko Liu. ‘Basketball was an ice-breaker – common ground to help us start the process of communication’. The Year 10 and Year 11 students were part of the first MLC School delegation to visit a remote Aboriginal township and as townships go, Utopia is about as remote as you can get. It has a population of around 1400 and was named in a report by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research as the country’s poorest. The area is also the subject of a damning 2014 documentary by journalist John
Pilger that has placed an international spotlight on the devastating problem of Aboriginal inequality. The origins of the MLC School visit lie in Yoko’s existing relationship with the Central Land Council. She has volunteered in their office and worked for a day as a teacher’s aide at a school north west of Alice Springs. ‘It got me thinking that while I have been really lucky, not everyone gets the chance to better understand Aboriginal communities, so I contacted my CAS supervisor Ms White, with my idea for a project that would involve a visit to Utopia by a larger group of girls. Without her I would not have got the project off the ground’. ‘When a 16 year old city dweller says to you that she wants to establish an Indigenous literacy program, alarm bells go off in your head. I thought, ‘Does
she get how big this is?’ But kudos to Yoko who took my initial doubt as an opportunity to prove me wrong,’ says Ms Caitlin White. The two met every Wednesday in their own time to plan the trip but nothing could have prepared them for the reality. ‘Being there was just so different. It broke down the stereotypes we had had in our heads,’ Yoko says. ‘Yes, they were very poor but we didn’t concentrate on that. Our focus was on making friendships that could build over time and the community was so warm and accepting that we quickly grew attached. The older ladies gave us insights into things that ‘white fellas’ don’t usually get to experience, like women’s business’. The girls attended Arlparra High School every day working with the children as teacher’s aides… and playing basketball.
They also attended community meetings to discuss one of the community’s key concerns – low literacy standards and poor school attendance. ‘The school is not meeting attendance standards which leaves them with a dilemma,’ Yoko says. ‘Many of their students don’t go to school because they are disinterested in the standard Australian curriculum which sees them study subjects like the history of England. The school wants to register as independent, which would allow them to better shape the curriculum to their students’ needs. But they will not qualify to become an independent school until they lift attendance’. Now that the MLC School/Utopia relationship has been established, new projects are being investigated like the possibility of teacher exchanges and scholarships. ‘It is easy for me to forget that the visit started as a CAS project because it holds so much more meaning for me now. I am just so happy that our work has increased the chance of more two way partnerships’.
Caravan A fascinating journey to cosmopolitan Cuba provides lasting inspiration.
In Cuba, art is in the blood and ballet is almost as popular among young people as the national pastime, baseball. In September and October 2015, 32 of MLC School’s Music, Dance and Visual Arts students travelled to the cosmopolitan island to study at the national arts schools, experience high quality performances and absorb Cuba’s colourful influences. ‘It was an amazing experience – my expectations were surpassed in just the first week,’ says Head of Woodwind, Brass and Percussion, Mr Christopher Hayles. The MLC School girls were amongst a privileged few to be given the opportunity to study at the famed Havana arts schools that have been immortalised in books and on film. ‘It was an experience you could never have with your family… no longer just a tourist, we were in the real Cuba,’ says Clara Janssen from Year 9. ‘Because Cuba was operating under the old Soviet system, it still has specific schools for artists, dancers and musicians,’ reflects Mr Hayles. ‘By the time they are
in highschool, Cuban students are already very developed in their chosen discipline. Our students took to the experience like ducks to water attending classes and collaborating alongside them’. ‘We couldn’t speak Spanish and they couldn’t speak English, but when we played we created a real connection,’ says Jasmine Todoroska, a Year 11 student. The authenticity and energy of the Cuban people proved to be contagious. At one workshop when the MLC School Music students were learning to play the sounds of rumba, clave and bolero, a group of small Cuban children and their teacher joined in. ‘These tiny little kids got up and danced without any inhibitions. There were no barriers, we were all having fun and it didn’t matter what anyone thought. It struck me that I wouldn’t mind if our band practice looked like that on Thursday afternoons,’ says Mr Hayles. In fact, the first MLC School Big Band rehearsal back in Sydney did sound a
little different post-Cuba. ‘There was a higher level of energy and confidence in everyone’s playing and everyone seemed to be thinking ‘I know what to do, let’s just go!’ As they grow as musicians, dancers and artists, this experience will remain a part of who our students are’.
‘It was an experience you could never have with your family… no longer just a tourist, we were in the real Cuba.’
The Conversation Project
The Art of
Conversation A Year 9 student lets her passion guide her learning with fascinating results. Klara Zhao
In one of the most popular talks in the history of TED, author and international advisor on education, Sir Ken Robinson, made the call for schools to stimulate and develop, rather than stifle creativity, and empower their students to hone in on their passion. 15 year old Klara Zhao’s passion is reading. At school she is rarely without a book, usually a non-fiction work by a celebrated author on the art of writing. Klara was one of a group of Year 9 students given the chance to devote one day a week for six weeks to a project of their choice. Klara decided to compile and publish a book titled ‘The Conversation Project’. ‘I have always loved reading, especially non-fiction books,’ Klara says. ‘The idea for ‘The Conversation Project’ came from the publication ‘This is Not the End of the Book’ a conversation, among other things, on the rise of e-books and digital readers between writers Umberto Eco and JeanClaude Carriere’.
‘I decided to guide conversations between MLC School teachers from within the same department and different departments, with the aim of comparing them for content and flow,’ Klara says. The nine separate conversations began on the subject of books and meandered across topics as diverse as Freud, the mass culture appeal of ‘MasterChef’, children in detention and the French philosopher and sociologist, Jean Baudrillard. ‘The Conversation Project’ makes for a riveting read. ‘The best conversations were the ones that digressed a lot and in fact most of them did not take too long to stray off topic,’ says Klara. ‘In some cases the teachers were talking so much that I hardly had to intervene. In the less successful conversations they were very reliant on the questions. I came to the conclusion that the flow did not depend so much on whether the teachers were from the same department or from different departments but on the age gap between them and the general disposition of the participants’.
Klara continued the project when she travelled to Cuba on the MLC School Performing Arts Tour in September and October 2015, producing a second book – ‘Cuban Conversations’. ‘The Cubans I guided in conversation had much easier, more fluid interactions than the Sydney teachers’, she says. ‘Perhaps this was because my questions centred around the arts and in Cuba, people live and breathe the arts every day’. Klara will continue to explore the international art of conversation when she visits Chiang Mai, Thailand, with the rest of her year group in early 2016. It is all good preparation for Klara’s current career dream – to one day run a publishing house for avant-garde writers.
‘The best conversations were the ones that digressed a lot and in fact most of them did not take too long to stray off topic.’
Psychology of Work At MLC School students receive an insight into the workplace and more importantly, themselves. When Year 10 student Sreya Parakala was eight she received ‘The Ultimate Guide to the Universe,’ a picture book that came with glow in the dark stars and planets to stick on her ceiling. ‘I would fall asleep dreaming of becoming an astronaut, imagining the work I would do, what I would eat and what my space suit would look like’. Family and friends deterred Sreya, pushing her to choose something more down to earth. ‘Then I met my Science teacher Ms Getts who used to be an astrophysicist and I realised that my dream was still a possibility’.
This year Sreya applied for work experience at the CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) and spent a week studying galaxy formation and learning to calculate the density of dark matter using specifications and formulas that can’t be found on the internet. ‘It was completely different from anything I had ever done before. I felt like I was actually on staff at the ATNF,’ she says. But Sreya’s discoveries about herself
turned out to be more significant. ‘It was really interesting work but in terms of the atmosphere in the office, it wasn’t right for me. Everyone was really nice but they just sat quietly in front of their computers and worked independently all day. I realised that I need a career where I can communicate and interact with people more’. Director of Career Development, Mrs Loretta Toole, says Sreya’s experience demonstrates why MLC School runs a work experience program for students in Year 10. ‘Students find this early exposure to workplace culture and expectations invaluable. They need a wide range of experiences as well as a solid understanding of themselves to help them decide their future careers’. Hannah Kelly is another Year 10 student who had something of an epiphany about her future this year. ‘I always wanted to study physiotherapy but after visiting the Elephant Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre during the Year 10 trip to Chiang Mai, I realised that I want to work in animal conservation or become a veterinarian,’ she says. Hannah organised work experience with the Sydney University Animal Hospital where she observed consultations, scans and surgeries to progress her dream.
As part of the Year 10 Careers and Educational Assessments Program, both Hannah and Sreya completed aptitude and Myer Briggs personality testing to help them determine suitable careers. Hannah turned out to be an ESFJ (extraverted, sensing, feeling, judging) personality type, which makes her warm hearted, conscientious and good at following through. Sreya learned that she is an ENFP (extraverted, intuitive, feeling and perceiving) a people-centred, innovative and enthusiastic personality type. ‘The testing confirmed for me that I not only need to be in a field where I can interact with others because I like to talk, but where I feel that I am making a difference to other people’s lives,’ Sreya says. ‘I am now leaning towards biomedical engineering to improve medical access and treatment for people in underdeveloped countries. I used to live in India where I saw sick people unable to access medical care. I have realised that you have to help people on our planet before you move on to other galaxies’. Mrs Toole says work experience and internships are essential for students from Year 10 right through the course of a university degree. In addition, she says that participating in an International Exchange Program during university is a great advantage. ‘It is particularly important now that it is becoming more difficult to differentiate yourself among large numbers of graduates. Employers are evaluating candidates as much on paid and unpaid work experience and internships now as they are on final exam results’.
Artistry in Time An Old Girl returns to inspire the students to artistic heights. The work of artist Judith Torzillo typifies MLC School’s Powerful Learning philosophy and its encouragement of innovation at the margins where fields of thought intersect. Ms Torzillo was an MLC School top achiever in 2009 with an ATAR of 99.9. Her current focus is an exploration of micro and macro perspectives on time through her creations as an artist in jewellery. ‘I don’t see a separation between science and art – they are on a continuum,’ she says. ‘I continue to consider myself a pretty academic person. Making real material objects and art works is a way to explore my own thinking and to express ideas I am grappling with academically’.
Ms Torzillo was guest speaker at the MLC School Art Illuminates Lecture Series on 3 December 2015 where she shared examples of her award winning interactive works that have been exhibited in numerous Sydney galleries. One of her most significant pieces is a 2014 installation called ‘Our time is Made of Particles: Uncertain and Entangled’ that consists of 178 unique and numbered brass discs suspended in a plane that represent the behavior of quantum particles as expressed by quantum particle theory. ‘When you enter the room you see the twinkling of light but as your eyes adjust to the dark you can make out that all these objects are spinning and that they are symmetrical; similar but unique’.
The next chapter for Ms Torzillo lies overseas. She plans to take up residence in Germany or the Netherlands and make as many art-world connections as she can along with launching an online publication about art and artistic spaces, www.aroundarticle.com. ‘The art world is a difficult industry to succeed in,’ she says. ‘It can be tough to stay positive. MLC School held me to a high standard and taught me to try my hardest and to be an all-rounder which has given me the confidence to take on such a multi-faceted field’.
Parent Participation Our new P&F President aims to shape an inclusive P&F where every parent feels welcome to play a role in the life of the School. ‘The P&F is our voice,’ says Lyn McNally who assumed the role of President at the beginning of Term 4. ‘When I first became involved I was surprised and impressed by the great work the team was doing. I put my hand up for the role of P&F Community Relations Co-ordinator and enjoyed it so much that when I was approached for the President’s role, I thought, ‘Why not?’’ Lyn McNally had originally intended to enrol her daughter Georgie at her own alma mater but on touring MLC School with a friend, was won over by the diverse student population and the range of co-curricular activities, service learning programs, overseas exchanges and study
tour opportunities as well as the School’s outstanding academic results. Since then she has become a strong advocate and is excited to be following on the work of outgoing President, Anna Pyrgiotis and Vice President Kyranne Thomas. She cites the significant contribution made by the P&F over the years including the STEAM labs both in the Junior and Senior schools, the automatic blinds and sound system added to Daphne Line Hall, and the air conditioning provided in Potts Hall and the Drama Theatre. Research into the factors affecting student progress in school consistently shows that parent involvement is a major predictor of a child’s success.
2016 P&F Committee
Judith Torzillo Ms McNally hopes that in her year as President more parents will participate in the P&F, not just because of the impact on their daughters’ development, but for the opportunity to meet other parents and have fun. She particularly stresses the value of the Parent Forums initiated by the P&F, which provide learning opportunities and the chance to participate more fully in the life of the School. ‘2016 will be an exciting year. It is the School’s 130th anniversary and we have lots of special celebrations planned in addition to the regular events such as the golf day, the sports day, the year group functions and the Parent Forums. I hope lots of parents will join in’.
Writing inspiration from an award-winning poet.
‘It is important to me to show the girls that you don’t have be white, male and dead to be a poet,’ says writer Eileen Chong, who has been working with Year 10 English students to inspire them to deeper insights and more thoughtful verse.
‘Now when I analyse poetry I go in with an open mind and an understanding that my interpretation may be different to the person sitting next to me but both of us are right,’ says student Anastasia Kennett.
Born in Singapore, Ms Chong’s greatest influences are the intercultural experiences of childhood. She won the Poets Union Youth Fellowship in 2010 and her first book ‘Burning Rice’ was shortlisted for several prizes, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. ‘Not only are Chong’s poems contemporary, engaging and relevant, they are accessible,’ says Head of English, Mr Benjamen Haeusler. ‘We knew our students would love her work’.
‘Ms Chong’s visit made poetry less daunting for me as it made it seem more accessible and relatable,’ says student Ashley Oliver-Sjahry.
Ms Chong conducted a poetry reading and analysis as well as several workshops to guide the students as they wrote their own compositions. ‘I wanted the students to understand that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to approach the creative arts, only their own way. In my lectures I always speak about being a poet of ‘small things’. The everyday is inspiring to me, but the challenge is transmuting the quotidian into something that is universal to the human experience’.
Another of Ms Chong’s key messages is the importance of simple hard work. ‘Philip Pullman once said: ‘People always ask me where my ideas come from. I don’t know where they come from, but I know where they come to. They come to my desk, and if I’m not there, they go away again,’ she says. ‘I subscribe to this notion; that writing is work, and you have to show up. Inspiration must go hand-in-hand with effort, or it remains ethereal and immaterial’.
‘You don’t have to be white, male and dead to be a poet.’
The Science of
The amazing adventures of a physics professor. The MLC School Science department drew attention to the appeal of scientific thought in Term 3 with Science Week celebrations that included a staff trivia competition, a music presentation and a fascinating talk by the 2015 Women in Physics Lecturer, Professor Jodie Bradby entitled ‘Diamonds Are a Scientist’s Best Friend’. Professor Bradby was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship in 2014, holds a PhD in nano indentation and a start-up company has formed as a result of her postdoctoral work in deformation in thin films. She enthralled her MLC School audience with her description of a career that
began with exploring the wing dynamics of fighter aeroplanes and moved on to the use of $200,000 diamonds cultured especially for her research into the effect of nano-pressure on materials like silicon. Professor Bradby’s lecture included the message that a life in science can not only go in countless fascinating directions but provide the fulfilment of working in teams and the excitement of overseas travel. The mother of two young boys, she also emphasised that a high flying job in physics can also be successfully combined with motherhood, if you have support: ‘This lecture comes to you in part from my husband who is a trooper keeping the home fires burning while I am on tour’.
All this sounded very appealing to Hayley Cavanagh who will sit the HSC next year and wants to study civil and aerospace engineering at university. Hayley was excited to discover that a niche subject area like high-pressure physics could form a whole career and was inspired by Professor Bradby’s message to young women. ‘Some of us may be used to the stereotype of an older, male, Einstein-like figure in a lab coat,’ Hayley says. ‘The truth is that women are also at the forefront of scientific discovery and Dr Bradby’s speech made this aspiration seem more attainable’.
Old Girl Profile
Old Girl Yoko Shimizu sets the daily editorial agenda at Bloomberg TV, deciding what business news to cover and coordinating reporters and camera crews. She has also worked at Channel Seven, CNN and Al Jazeera, producing stories on the issues and events that gripped the world from the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami to the Arab Spring. When did a career in journalism first appear on your radar? I was in Year 8 or 9 when my English teacher suggested I might enjoy journalism – probably because I was quite outspoken in her classes and asked a lot of questions. I didn’t know much about being a journalist back then, but she planted the seed and I’ve never looked back. I owe her so much. What was your trajectory from university to Channel Seven? In my final year at Charles Sturt University, I did an internship at 2GB Radio in Sydney and Michael Pachi who is now the political editor for 2GB in Canberra, offered to take me in to work with him on the weekend shifts so I could see how the place worked. He introduced me to the then Executive Producer of Sunday Sunrise who was looking for a producer to work the weekend ‘graveyard shift’ from midnight to 9am. I jumped at the chance. I drove from Bathurst to Sydney every weekend during my final year of university to do that shift. It got my foot in the door and led to a full-time job with Seven News once I’d finished my studies. I started at Seven News in 2001, moving to Sunrise in 2004 just after Kochie and Mel began fronting the show. I quit Sunrise in 2007 to go backpacking around Asia and was lured back to Seven at the end of 2008 to launch Sunday Night. What appealed to you about Al Jazeera News? Al Jazeera English (AJE) does the type
of journalism I love. They tell the untold stories, and give a voice to the voiceless. I have a strong aversion to inequality and injustice. Being able to tell stories that highlight those issues appealed to me. I meet a lot of people who tell me Al Jazeera English is their favourite news service. I’m proud to have worked there. Could you describe the most intense workday you experienced while there? It was March 14, 2011. I was in Sendai in northeast Japan with around 12 of my colleagues covering the aftermath of a massive earthquake and tsunami. I got a knock on my door early in the morning from my boss, ‘The nuclear plant’s exploded again, we’ve got to go. Get everyone in the cars’. Fukushima was only around 60 kilometres away from where we were. Somehow, we managed to squeeze 12 people and all our camera gear into two vans and we took off. No one seemed to be able to tell us what was a safe distance from a nuclear explosion, so we headed for a town called Akita on the opposite side of the country. Getting far away from Fukushima was the priority, but we also had to report this massive story that was happening so occasionally we pulled over to the side of the highway so our reporters could do live crosses into AJE’s main bulletins. It was snowing heavily. It was very surreal. When we finally got to Akita that night, we got a message from our headquarters
in Doha that travel arrangements would be made for anyone who wanted to leave Japan immediately. I decided to stay. Japan is where my family lives, and it’s where my parents grew up. I felt I owed it to them to tell the major story that was unfolding in their country. What is it like to work at Bloomberg? I really like the culture at Bloomberg. Everyone works hard, but it’s also a very vibrant and fun workplace. Bloomberg employs some of the smartest journalists in the business – their depth of knowledge is astounding. Before I joined Bloomberg, I didn’t appreciate the important role business journalism plays. Our editor in chief says Bloomberg’s role is to be the definitive chronicle of capitalism. We keep people with money and power accountable. Did you bring business reporting experience to the role? No, and I was very honest about that during the interview process! I wasn’t hired for my business and finance knowledge – I was hired for my experience making television. The past year has been a steep learning curve. I’ve read a lot of economics books and I also have incredibly patient colleagues who don’t mind explaining concepts to me. I know enough now that I get excited about things like Bank of Japan rate decisions!
Yoko Shimizu How do you enjoy living in Hong Kong?
Bloomberg, but I’d like to move more into the digital side.
Hong Kong is my favourite city in the world, and I’m lucky enough to live in it. There is so much I love about this place – good food, cool bars, beautiful mountains and beaches, interesting people, its proximity to amazing holiday destinations – I could go on!
What makes journalism your ongoing passion?
Where do you see yourself in five years? The media industry is changing very quickly as the way people consume news changes. I am not one of those people who believe TV will die – but it certainly has to evolve. It’s important to me to continually upgrade my skills so I can keep up with the changes. In five years time, I’ll hopefully still be at
I like the idea of being a witness to history, and shaping how it will be told to future generations. Journalism has given me the most extraordinary opportunities to see things and hear stories that most people never get to experience. It is an amazing privilege. How did MLC School contribute to your success? I was at MLC School for 15 years (I did Pre Kindergarten twice!) so it obviously played a huge role in shaping who I am. I left MLC School a confident young woman with strong leadership skills and a can-do attitude. That is a testament
to the teachers at MLC School and the opportunities the school provided. I will be forever grateful.
‘I like the idea of being a witness to history, and shaping how it will be told to future generations.’
Saving infant lives, influencing public policy and fixing taps were all in a day’s work for Old Girl Evangelyn Carr.
‘Complaining is finding faults. Wisdom is finding solutions.’
Ajahn Brahm The former matron of Tresillian Family Care Centres and Old Girl, Evangelyn Carr knows much more than a thing or two about how to settle a screaming baby and establish a solid sleep routine. Despite modern medicine’s impressive advancements, she says new parenting has never been more challenging. ‘The problems are numerous, not only for the baby but especially for parents. Today there is less family support, more criticism and a sea of contradictory advice from the Internet. Plus, modern mothers are often used to a work life that has given them a strong sense of confidence and control. They come adrift when their baby does not go to plan. I feel sorry for them really’. Tresillian was established in 1918 in response to worryingly high infant mortality rates during World War One. Around 63,000 Australian servicemen died on foreign soil; over the same period back home, about 70,000 children under the age of five lost their lives through lack of hygiene, poverty and disease. Among Tresillian’s listed aims was the saving of baby life and the establishment of educational programs for general nurses in early childhood and maternal care. When Evangelyn began as a Tresillian nurse in 1960, hygiene standards had obviously dramatically improved but there
was still much to be done in the area of maternal and baby health. One of her proudest achievements, along with her senior colleagues, is Tresillian’s work to gain greater recognition and assistance for women suffering from post-natal depression. ‘At that time there were few GP’s and fewer psychiatrists in Sydney who would accept that such a condition even existed. We saw a few very sad cases and decided to keep a record. Then we ran a three-day ‘phone-in’ to gather data on the condition’s frequency and impact, attracting calls from mothers, partners and grandparents from all over NSW. The data enabled us to achieve valuable grants and eventually establish small support groups both for mothers with post-natal depression and the often-neglected fathers. Importantly, we also established a 24 hour live advice helpline’. Today Tresillian assists more than 50,000 new parents each year through their phone and online live-help service. Evangelyn’s entire life has been characterised by a can-do, solutions-based attitude. When the new Tresillian buildings were being constructed in Petersham, it was Evangelyn who sewed soft furnishings on top of her duties as Matron and Director of Nursing Education. She could be found fixing a toilet or the old ‘donkey’ boiler, washing nappies at 4am
on Christmas morning or boiling puddings for the families who would come to Christmas day lunch, in between darting off to meetings. ‘I sometimes thought, ‘Oh my goodness, why do I do this to myself?’ but my philosophy was to never get anyone to do anything that I wasn’t prepared to do myself. My father was a rural clergyman and master builder so I learned early to fix most problems’. Evangelyn attended MLC School from 1948 to 1951, serving as a prefect and often avoiding sport by offering to help the librarian catalogue books and fix their spines in the library. One treasured memory is the sight of the art room walls covered in postcard-sized images of classic masterpieces. She fulfilled a childhood dream by sailing around the world and visiting the museums that housed those paintings after completing her nursing training. When Evangelyn became Tresillian Matron in 1968, she took over from fellow MLC School Old Girl Kathleen Clifton who had also grown up in the country, been a prefect at School and done her nursing training at Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children. ‘It is strange how our lives mirrored each other. Together we carried the ethic of MLC School with us for 50 years’.
After so long devoted to mothers and babies, always ready with a patient ear and sound advice, it is not surprising that Evangelyn is now surrogate mother and auntie to numerous young people and has three official godchildren. These relationships have enriched her latter years and taken her around the country for christenings, graduations and weddings. Evangelyn still attends meetings at Tresillian and R.A.H.C and has joined the Ellen Schofield Society for people who leave a bequest to MLC School in their will. ‘I have enjoyed every day that I have been alive,’ she says. ‘I feel fortunate just to be able to walk around and communicate when there are others who have not been so richly blessed’.
Sapphires’ Luncheon 2015
The annual Sapphires’ Luncheon is hosted by the Old Girls Union for pre-1960’s leavers. It celebrates the shared bond between these very special women and their treasured connection to the School. ‘All our memories came flooding back,’ says Val Pakham (Hedge,1955) who attended the 2015 Sapphires’ Luncheon held in Potts Hall, one of the original School buildings and a location with special significance for every Old Girl. ‘The atmosphere of that room with the piano
on the stage as it used to be sent us back in time. It was a wonderful feeling’. The oldest MLC School Old Girls took pride of place in the ‘Senior Circle’ and were each presented with a bouquet of flowers from the granddaughters of Old Girls in Pre Kindergarten and Kindergarten. The oldest Old Girl and the youngest current girl joined to cut the ceremonial cake, prompting a laugh when the oldest Old Girl re-took her seat and the youngest girl continued to carve herself a wedge. ‘The inclusion of the
youngest girls was a great touch. It was lovely to see them there,’ says MLC School Archivist, Barbara Hoffman. Some witnesses were brought to tears when time came for the School Song and Old Girls from various years, many of whom had never met before the 15 October 2015 event, joined arms to sing in unison. ‘To my mind it was the best ever Sapphires’ Lunch,’ was Val Pakham’s summation.
130 years of fortitude, fearless thinking and educational excellence is something to celebrate. In 2016 we will mark this significant milestone by learning from visiting experts and kicking up our heels at some colourful whole-school events. How better to celebrate 130 years of quality learning than with some exceptional educational opportunities for MLC School students, parents and staff? A year long visit by leading thinker in 21st century living, learning and earning, Erica McWilliam is of particular significance to student outcomes. Ms McWilliam will work alongside teachers, helping them move from ‘guide on the side’ to ‘meddler in the middle’ and further enhance their teaching methods (see article on page 14). Another staff professional learning program, ‘Learning from the Greats’ will invigorate and inspire teaching practice with a focus on the School’s Powerful Learning philosophy. This program will include the first Australian visit by the Cantamus Choir from Nottinghamshire. One of the world’s leading girls’ choirs, the Cantamus Choir will participate in rehearsals and workshops with MLC School musicians, culminating in a public combined choirs concert at City Recital Hall Angel Place. Further enhancement
of staff practice will be achieved through the launch of the New Horizons staff scholarship. Parent learning opportunities will include a P&F forum to be delivered by American parenting commentator Julie Lythcott-Haims, the author of ‘How to Raise an Adult – break free of the over parenting trap and prepare your kid for success’ (see article on page 15). The former lawyer and Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University is deeply interested in the act of living a life of meaning and shares her insights at speaking engagements across the United States. Students will gain enormously from our Artist in Residence for 2016, Professor Emeritus of Art at Northern Virginia Community College, Rebecca Kamen. Ms Kamen’s award winning, internationally exhibited work typifies the nexus of science and art and is informed by wideranging research into cosmology, history, philosophy, and various scientific fields.
Reunions Back to College Day 1976 and 1986 Reunions
Wednesday 4 May 2016 Saturday 18 June 2016
1966, 1996, 2006 Reunions Saturday 20 August 2016 Sapphires’ Luncheon
Thursday 27 October 2016
But what would a birthday be without festivities? We will celebrate with a number of events starting with a special assembly on 8 March to coincide with International Women’s Day. On 4 May a whole school celebration will combine a Back to College function for Old Girls with Grandparents’ Day. This event will include ‘Open Classroom’ activities to deepen the connection between these important community stakeholders and the School. The School grounds will be filled with colour, dance and light for our International Night celebrations on 4 November. This event will have a whole school focus in 2016 and include an outdoor Proms style concert of mixed fun items by students from across the school. We hope that every member of our extended MLC School family will join us for one or many of these special, celebratory events.
SENIOR SCHOOL Term 1
Tuesday 8 March
Tuesday 5 May and Thursday 16 June
Thursday 8 September
Thursday 10 November
You are most welcome to join us to get a good idea of how MLC School works, meet some of our students and generally get a sense of what life is like here. We understand this is a big decision for your family and your daughter, so we encourage as many questions as possible!
Thursday 10 March
Tuesday 3 May and Tuesday 14 June
Thursday 18 August and Tuesday 6 September
Tuesday 1 November
To book a tour please call our Enrolments Manager Nerida Coman on 02 8741 3165 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Vale Muriel Gee (Percival, 1929) Elizabeth Vickery, the daughter of Muriel Annie Gee (Percival, 1929) has written to tell us of the passing of her mother in February this year. Muriel was born on 27 February 1912 and started her education at MLC School at the age of 6, matriculating in 1929. Except for one year as a Boarder when she was 11, she was a day girl. Muriel was very happy at MLC School and made many friends with whom she kept in contact throughout her life. She greatly admired Miss Mabel Sutton (Headmistress 1912 – 1940) and her determination that girls should have the same educational opportunities as boys. Sport was where Muriel shone. She competed in the All Schools Athletics carnival each year, played netball and tennis, and represented MLC School in the Tildesley Shield from the age of 12. After school Muriel studied Physiotherapy at the University of Sydney and then worked in her own practice in Strathfield. In the 1950s she helped start the Ladies Committee at Royal North Shore Hospital and spent many hours working in the Ladies Committee Opportunity shop and taking the trolley of fruit and magazines around to the patients. In later life she took up bridge and became very skilled,
The MLC School Community was saddenend to hear of deaths of some of our Old Girls. winning several tournaments with her life long MLC School friend Phyl Benn (Vickery, 1929). Muriel had a long and active life and celebrated her 100th birthday with her family in 2012. She continued to enjoy hearing about the School and eagerly read Lucis when it arrived. She passed away in February 2015 a few days short of her 103rd birthday. Meg Colwell (Alexander, 1944) The MLC School family is saddened to hear of the loss of one of our ‘very special’ Old Girls. Meg Colwell (Alexander, 1944) passed away peacefully aged 87 on 12 July 2015. Dear friends Shirley Killip (1944) and Barbara Hodgson (Haigh,1944) describe their lifelong friend as brilliant, modest, kind and beautiful – a very special person. Her first name was Mary, but she became known at School as ‘Little Mother Meg’ from the novel Seven Little Australians as, even from a young age, she was always a very compassionate and caring person. Barbara Hodgson recalls that on the first day of Kindergarten in 1933 she was seated next to Meg. Barbara became very tearful and the five-year-old Meg held Barbara’s hand and comforted her and they were best friends from that day.
Shirley Killip told us of some of Meg’s achievements. At School she was known as a brilliant ‘all-rounder’: she was a Prefect, Boralee Captain in 1943 and 1944, Dux of the School, won the Old Girls’ Union Prize, topped the State in Music in the Leaving Certificate (achieving ‘Highest Honours’) and won an exhibition (scholarship) to the University of Sydney. Meg completed a BA at the University of Sydney and Music Studies at the Conservatorium where she was known as a talented pianist. Meg was also an avid sports woman. At School she was the Senior B Hockey Captain, Senior Sports Champion and the All Schools’ 100 Yards Champion in 1944. Patricia Piesse (Birch, 1946) was also a friend and says that Meg was a lovely person; a gentle soul who was modest and admired by everyone. Her beloved husband Jeff, her daughter Pam, and her many dear friends at MLC School will miss this very special Old Girl. Margaret Hearder (Muir, 1946) Susie Hearder has written to tell us of the passing of her mother Margaret Hearder (Muir, 1946). Margaret was born and raised in Burwood and attended MLC School from 1940 to 1945. Her father Tom, along with his brothers Ron and Leslie, founded Muirs Motors and there were quite a few Muir
girls and their cousins the Houstons who attended MLC School. Her lifelong best friend from school, Helen Wolfson (McKinnon, 1946), said Margaret was a bit of a tomboy at school. They fondly remembered their school days playing tennis, netball, running in three legged races and attending gym classes. After finishing school Margaret graduated from the Muriel Steinbeck Film Academy. Soon after, through Helen, she met well known Sydney Photographer John Hearder who she married and then assisted him in his studio in Castlereagh Street, Sydney and also later at Cremorne. Margaret and John were married for 51 years, had two children Tony and Susie and spent their leisure time sailing. After John’s death in 2000, Margaret started her travelling era with partner and world-class yachtsman Gordon Ingate, going to sailing regattas all over the world. At 76 Margaret joyfully became a grandmother. Until recently Margaret attended MLC School functions and was always thankful for her education at the School. Her daughter Susie says that Margaret had a long and happy life and died peacefully at her home in Pearl Beach on 22 April 2015. Lynette Degotardi (Barker, 1949) It is with great sadness that Shirley Mowday (Petherbridge, 1949) and Frances Lawson (Abbott, 1949) report the loss of their life-long MLC School friend, Lynette Degotardi (Barker, 1949). Lynette died in hospital on 20 July 2015 with her beloved children at her bedside a few days after suffering a sudden and unexpected stroke in her home at Lennox Head Lynette always valued the close friendships she formed at MLC School and stayed in contact with Verna Dimsdale (Moore, 1949), Mary Pogson (McGregor, 1949) and Pat Thomson (Hextall, 1949) as well as Shirley and Frances with both of whom she shared a special bond. After graduating in Medicine at University of Sydney where she met her husband, Peter Degotardi, she and Peter established a successful Medical Practice in Dural, NSW. In the early 1960s they set off with their three young children and Lynette’s sister, overland from Bombay to London in a
converted ‘war surplus’ three-tonne blitz truck (which was shipped with them from Sydney on a cargo carrier and was their mobile home for the trip). There were many adventures on the way which Peter recorded later in life. It was while living in England that tragedy struck with the accidental death of their eldest child, six year-old David. Lynette suffered tremendously from this loss but went on with great stoicism and was to have four more children after their return to Dural where Lynette and David continued their Practice. Lynette had a very successful career in Medicine. She had strong ethical beliefs regarding equality for women and safe access to medical care for children. Her interest led to practising community medicine and immunisation clinics for local Councils and women’s health clinics for Family Planning NSW at Parramatta and Mount Druitt. Lynette was keenly aware of the difficulties faced by women in countries where education and access to fresh water and sanitation is limited and particularly supported programs that enabled access to these such as World Vision and Amnesty International. She was also a great supporter of Indigenous Community Volunteers programs. When Peter was struck with Parkinson’s Disease, Lynette spent many years caring for him with her usual great empathy and cheerfulness. It was during this time that tragedy struck them again with the early death of their eldest daughter, Elinor. Lynette was an avid gardener and maintained acres of beautiful grounds. She was also an adventurous traveller and traversed the country with Peter and the children in their four-wheel drive on camping expeditions. They also regularly travelled abroad as Lynette was keenly interested in the history and culture of other countries. Small in stature with enormous inner strength, enduring sadness with great fortitude, Lynette was a dedicated doctor, a warm and loving wife, sister, mother and grandmother and a very dear friend who will be sorely missed by all who were lucky enough to know her.
Darelle Wynne (Wilson, 1956) Ruth Nichol (McAllister, 1956) wrote to tell us of the passing of Darelle Wynne (Wilson, 1956) on 21 August 2015, and of their special friendship that began at MLC School and continued for over 60 years. Darelle worked for the Public Service for many years and was a volunteer with the VADs for a short time. She resided in Canberra for 40 years. Unfortunately 10 years ago she was diagnosed with MS and spent her last years in hospital. Darelle is survived by her husband John, sister Rhonda Wilson (MLC School class of 1958), daughters Melissa and Letitia and their families. Ruth wished to say thank you to all of Darelle’s MLC School friends. Beverley Rose Muddle (Banfield, 1959) Beverley’s husband Norman wrote to us to tell us of the passing of his beloved wife on 18 May 2015. Beverley attended MLC School for only two years from 1955 to 1957 but remembered the School fondly for her whole life. Both Beverley and Norman delighted in hearing about the developments at the School, so much so that Norman has asked to still keep receiving news from us. Hilary Cheers (Stone, 1959) Hilary’s husband Arthur has written to tell us that Hilary Cheers (Stone, 1959) passed away peacefully at home on 23 November 2014. Arthur and their son Murray remember Hilary as a loving person who showed care and support for family and her many friends. Heather Sivertsen (Cameron, 1974) The many MLC School friends of Heather Sivertsen (Cameron, 1974) were shocked and saddened to hear of her sudden passing on 23 June 2015. Heather and her husband Bill attended the Windsor reunion of 1974 Old Girls held on 23 May 2015. All the Old Girls who attended told us how they loved reconnecting with Heather after so many years and meeting up with her husband. Heather was a very beautiful woman who will be missed by all her MLC School friends as well as her husband Bill and their children Gabrielle, Lauren and Bonnie.
Rowley Street Burwood NSW 2134 Tel 61 2 9747 1266 Fax 61 2 9745 3254 www.mlcsyd.nsw.edu.au Follow MLC School on Facebook The Uniting Church in Australia CRICOS No. 02328D A UNITING CHURCH DAY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS, PRE-KINDERGARTEN TO YEAR 12