Welcome all students, staff and families to the start of the 2024 school year, I trust that everyone has had a wonderful break and was able to rest and recharge for another great year ahead. I especially want to welcome those students, staff and families who are new to the college this year including our new Year 7 cohort (who are currently enjoying their first high school camp in Phillip Island).

The start of the school year has largely run quite smoothly despite changes to school structures, programs and staffing and, aside from a few hiccups with Compass and a small number of students needing some additional subject and course counselling, everyone is now organised and ready to go.

As has become customary, we started the year with a whole school assembly in the stadium and then each cohort experienced a Year level-based assembly with their new coordinators to ensure that things started on a positive note. I congratulate the students on the way in which they engaged and participated in these assemblies and have begun the year in their various class groupings. In these assemblies, the school values of Curiosity, Compassion and Community were emphasised, and it has been wonderful to see so many students exemplifying these values across the past two weeks.

We all look forward to a positive and productive 2024.

Welcome to staff joining us in 2024

We have a number of staff joining us in 2024, including:

  • Ms Sarah Bowes – Literature, English and Humanities teacher
  • Mr Garth Hardwick – PE/Health/Outdoor Ed and Year 11 Coordinator
  • Ms Chantelle Dykman – Biology, Science and Maths teacher and Gilmore House Leader
  • Ms Liz Ford – Teacher Librarian
  • Ms Dette Harris – Admin, attendance and student support
  • Mr Sam Shannon – English and Humanities teacher
  • Mr Matthew Grant – English and Humanities teacher
  • Ms Lexi Patman – Media, Arts, Drama, Performing Arts teacher.

Key contacts for parents and families

Depending on the information that you are seeking, there are a number of key people that you may wish to contact to discuss your child’s program, progress, or social engagement. The following is not an exhaustive list, but it may help direct your inquiries to the right people. I take this opportunity to remind parents of the use of the Compass portal. This portal is the easiest way to get in touch with staff members in the first instance. If you have misplaced or lost your username or password, please contact the front office who can help you on 9871 4888.

Year level coordinators

Contact the YLC for your child’s year level to discuss day to day concerns, bullying issues or general wellbeing concerns:

Year 7 – Mr Michael Starr

Year 8 – Mr Trent Pitts 

Year 9 – Mr Jack Lynch

Year 10 – Ms Marijke Graham

Year 11 – Mr Garth Hardwick

Year 12 – Mr Josh Chappell

Overseeing the work of the coordinators, we also have:

Leading Teacher Middle School – Ms Allana Constance

Leading Teacher Senior School – Mr Lachlan Hunter

House Leaders

For general enquiries or wellbeing concerns

Gilmore House – Ms Chantelle Dykman

Hollows House – Ms Dee Dharmesena 

Flynn House – Mr Michael Meagher

Monash House – Mr Rob Lawrence

 

Wellbeing Team

Fiona Adams is our Wellbeing Team leader and Mel Yoffa is our Mental Health Practitioner.

Changes to school structures

We have embarked on a number of changes this year in response to changes at the Department level to teacher working conditions as well as feedback from students and staff.

This year, we move to a five-period day with each period being 60 minutes in length (previously each period was 57 minutes long). We are not running Mentor Group this year but instead are running Nourish every day as an optional space for students to connect with each other and their teachers first thing in the morning while grabbing some breakfast foods and drinks. It has been great to see so many of our students taking advantage of the Nourish program already and I expect that this will continue.

Student achievements

On Monday, we held our swimming carnival for the year, and it was fantastic to see the level of engagement from both staff and students. Across the day, there were numerous school records broken and some very strong performances across all events. The weather was not as perfect this year as it has been in previous years however, this did not appear to deter students from being involved. It was a great day and there is further detail on this later in this newsletter.

Our Year 7 cohort have also made a great start to their high school journey, completing their transition program last week, which included activities to support them to become more familiar with the spaces and the people of Heathmont College. They are currently enjoying their time on the Phillip Island camp, and I am about to head off to meet them there for their final evening and last day. The Year 7 transition camp is something that is mentioned at every Valedictory event, so I know that it is very important time for students as they enter the college. I am sure that many of the students will return tired and well-worn out, but they will also return with new friends that they will likely have for the rest of their time at school and much more confidence as newly minted high school students.

Student leadership

In the coming weeks, there will be opportunity for students across the college to nominate for student leadership positions. Our student leadership program has grown exponentially across the past couple of years and have so far led to some very significant changes around the college. I encourage all students to engage with the leadership program. If you have ideas and opinions, then leadership is the best way to have those acted upon. There will be more information about this circulated in the coming weeks (in fact, this has already started) so keep an eye out.

Mobile Phone Policy

A reminder that the Department’s Mobile Phone Policy remains in effect and requires students to switch off their phones from the start of the school day until the end and to store their phones securely away in between these times. Students are not to access their phones during the day and breaches of this may result in confiscation of the phone for the day. Repeated confiscations also will require a parent to collect the phone at the end of the day. Parent / carers cannot expect to communicate with their child during the day except through the front office or coordinators. If you urgently need to contact your child, we encourage you to ring the front office and we will ensure that this will be affected. Students who wish to be picked up or to leave the college grounds due to illness MUST organise this through the front office.

Thank you for your support with this matter.

Kerryn Sandford

College Principal