College Principal's Need to Know 6 September 2021


Dear Parents, Students and Penola Families,


Thank you once again for your continued support of your child’s remote learning program. Your guidance and direction has been highly appreciated by the dedicated staff of Penola.

The premier has also announced that gatherings such as mass, formals and similar events will not be possible until further notice. More information will be communicated to Year 10 and 12 students, parents and staff regarding this once we have confirmation of this decision and the implications for us at Penola. At this stage, I would like to remain hopeful, but we will need to accept the decision that is made for the health and safety of our community once it has been reached.




Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the Penola community for your beautiful words of congratulations at the recent announcement that I have been appointed as the new Principal Leader of Caroline Chisholm College. I have absolutely no doubt the high expectations and strong learning culture that we have established at Penola will be sustained by the incoming Principal and the College community. There will be further news about the exact time that I will be departing Penola once there has been a new Principal appointed to the college in the coming weeks. I look forward to saying my words of farewell to the community in appreciation of the care and support you have extended to me in my time as Principal Leader of this fine college. In the meantime, I am fully committed to the ongoing work of continuing to build our strong relationships and learning culture.


I would like to congratulate HSC students in both Year 11 and 12 who have now completed their HSC Trial Exams and done remarkably well. Students will be receiving feedback to guide their study and revision in the final stages leading up the HSC Exams which are now scheduled to commence 9 November. The students have maintained a committed and dedicated approach during the online HSC Trial Exams and very readily adopted the ‘new way’ of doing the exams with full cooperation. We understand that this has been a challenging experience for HSC students and congratulate them for their openness in undergoing this approach which has enabled them to gain the exam experience that they require for the HSC, along with critical feedback and coaching as a formula for success. Well done 2021 HSC students, we are all very proud of you indeed.



Year 11 will commence their final assessments online for the next two weeks to conclude their Preliminary course assessment. This will allow students to confirm which course they will drop as they progress to the commencement of the HSC course in Term 4 2021. Students will drop either 1 or 2 units to have a minimum of 10 units for their HSC study package. Many students will also one completing at least one HSC course in 2021 allowing them to have adequate time to manage their remaining HSC courses and have positive

wellbeing also. More information will be forthcoming to students from Mrs Sparkes and Mrs McCully (Admin. Officer) to students via email. We ask that students respond to this and if they require further consultation in making a decision, please do not hesitate to contact us. Best wishes for success to our Year 11 students.


The NSW Government has released a plan to return students to school for face to face learning in a staged process from Monday 25 October Week 4 of Term 4. Year 11 is scheduled to return on 1 November (Week 5) and Year 7-10 on 8 November (Week 6). I am sure parents (and students) will have many questions about how this will work and how we will balance the need to resume face to face classroom learning with the safety of our staff and students in our learning community. Please know that we are working closely with the Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta to ensure that our College plans will best support the learning and wellbeing of our community. There will be further information about how we will transition from remote learning to face to face next term. Of course, we need to meet the expectations for high rates of vaccinations in our community.

In the meantime, there is a clear expectation that students continue to be fully engaged with their learning, with Zoom lessons, Google Classroom activities and with their assessment program. Apart from our Wellbeing initiatives, your child should be spending the whole school day following her regular timetable and checking in with her teacher via Zoom every lesson. If you are having trouble getting your child to engage with a particular subject, please reach out to that teacher directly to discuss the concerns and they will help you to support your child.



It is also important to encourage your child to have device free blocks of time (computer and phone). It may take some family organisation to create these opportunities, but we know that it is not healthy for our children to be inside their rooms on devices during the day for school and remain on their devices and during the evenings. Try to get out together or in small groups to engage in a walk or run to ensure that you are breathing fresh air and keeping up a healthy level of fitness too.


It’s also a good time to think of family games or activities. At my home we have been getting some of our old board games out and playing them. Our favourites are scrabble, backgammon, card games and monopoly. I’m sure you have some board games at home that haven’t been played for some time. Bring them out and have some device free time together



Unfortunately, it was not possible to proceed with the Year 12 overnight retreat scheduled for June 9-11, 2021 due to COVID restrictions. This retreat was scheduled to be held at the Benedict XVI Retreat Centre and the cost of $360 per student will be refunded.



It is my strong belief statement to all Year 11 and 12 students to remain committed to your hard work and focus towards achieving the award of the HSC in a diligent  and conscientious manner as you currently are. You have faced many challenges and prevailed.

Please maintain your preparation in each course, connect with your class teachers practicing your HSC style exam questions and respond to feedback from your teachers. It is in this way, that you will continue to lift your performance standard and achieve your goal of completing the HSC successfully. Stay positive and keep supporting your HSC class members. Together we will achieve the best possible results!


We pray for our Penola community and extend our special intentions to beautiful students and staff who appreciate our collective prayers at this difficult time. Please join me in praying for:

  • Mr Nick Hall’s Mother Rosemary who passed away suddenly.
  • Mr Daniel Nekic’s Mother -in-law Marielle Martens
  • Mrs Cynthia Mauriza- Visual Arts and Diversity Teacher- Serious illness and undergoing treatment.
  • Families who are experiencing extensive financial pressures due to COVID.

  • Our 2021 HSC students are travelling a challenging journey towards their final HSC exams and end of year closure.

As a community we need to continue to pray for the above special intentions calling for the healing spirit of St Mary of the Cross Mackillop. I encourage all families and students to ask for the intercession of St Mary of the Cross Mackillop to give those needing the strength and courage to travel through their difficult circumstances.



Ever generous God,

You inspired Saint Mary Mackillop To lived her life faithful to the

Gospel of Jesus Christ and constant in bringing hope and encouragement to those who were disheartened, lonely or needy.

With confidence in your generous providence and through the intercession of St Mary Mackillop We ask that you grant our request.

We ask that our faith and hope be fired afresh by the Holy Spirit so that we too, like Mary Mackillop, may live with courage, trust and openness.

Ever generous God hear our prayer. We ask this through Jesus Christ.





May the courage and compassion of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop be with you and your families as you face the challenges that life presents to you all.

God Bless you and your families

Mrs Tania Cairns

Principal Leader