Principal's Blog

Each week, our Principal shares his reflections on learning in this Catholic community.


Week 5 Term 1 2016

Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Friends of the Magdalene Community,

On Friday 12 February the school conducted the Annual Swimming Carnival at the Swimming Centre at Bradbury. The day was a bright sunny occasion, which matched the enthusiasm and approach of the students. The willingness of the students to support each other and the commitment of competitors was certainly commendable. I congratulate all involved.  On Wednesday the winning team Wilson was announced at our assembly. This result is a credit not only to the competitors but those who supported them through well wishes and cheering. Well done Wilson.

On Monday 15 February and Tuesday 16 February Year 7 were given an overview of expectations, strategies and support available in the use of their iPads. The day proved to be most fruitful with presentations by the police, representatives from the Catholic Education Office and Magdalene staff.  Presentations covered topics such as: Online safety and cyber bullying (Police talk), Managing the device, school expectations and Apps, Google Drive, Calendar (organisational skills and time management), Library (Oliver, reading, literacy, borrowing books and setting up Overdrive), Pages/Docs (how to use, create, share and submit documents), Google Classroom, Video (creating, editing, Youtube, Zaption). The overview is essential for Year 7 as they continue to use their iPads as a valuable learning resource. It is essential that every student uses their iPad or computer in the proper and most efficient manner. If unsure how to do this they should approach their teachers or Mr Avalos for support.

Last Monday evening the school conducted the Year 10, 2016 Information Evening. The purpose of the evening was to give some insight into expectations of Year 10, The Record of School Achievement (ROSA) and provide an opportunity to meet the Year 10 Pastoral Care Teachers. A number of matters were discussed on the night but I would really like to emphasise one here. At times it is possible to become focussed on the HSC and lose sight of the educational journey. I wish to emphasise that the HSC or any other credential is the result of a continual journey from Year 7 to Year 12 or for that matter Kindergarten to life beyond school. Each year needs to be viewed as an important part of the journey and contributing to the final result. I encourage all students to recognise the importance of making the most out of each experience in each year so as to add to their experience of success and to also enhance their life’s journey.

Last Wednesday the school had the opportunity to welcome parents of Year 7 students to the school. It is always gratifying to welcome new and returning parents to the school and Wednesday evening was no exception. As I said to the parents on Wednesday the journey through school is one filled with great successes and many challenges. I reminded all parents that they are not alone on that journey. As a school our partnership is an important one and as a school we want to travel that journey with parents. I ask all parents to ensure that communication is ongoing with the school so that the partnership supporting the journey of your sons and daughters can be enhanced. 

Congratulations to Mrs Duke and Mrs Agland who have become new mums recently. Mrs Duke and her husband David welcomed little Henry David Rogerson Duke into the world, he was born in November 2015. Mrs Agland and her husband Russell welcomed Sophie Jane Agland into the world on Saturday 20 February. Both families are doing very well. I am sure everyone will, join with me in wishing both babies a blessed and long life.

Congratulations to the following students who were acknowledged at our recent assembly for their contribution to learning either individually or as part of the community.

Year 7  - Jack Haines - Assisting others with their learning.

Year 8 - Mitchell Phipps - Assisting in other students learning.

Year 9 - Justin Vella - Always trying and doing his best

Year 10 - Tom Wales - Assisted in learning and always kind and willing to help.

Year 11 - Chloe Mortimer - Contributing to class discussion

Year 12 - Alexandra Nagle - Improved learning and contributing to class discussion.

This week we continue on our Lenten journey. As stated in our last newsletter this year’s Caritas theme is ‘Learning more, creating change.’ This can certainly be done through education. Pope Francis proclaimed that “Education is an act of hope”. This year Project Compassion celebrates the power of  learning and the many ways in which Caritas Australia is working with local partners around the world to provide vital learning and renewed hope to children, women and men most vulnerable to extreme poverty and injustice. Each of us has an obligation to help others and Lent (Project Compassion) continues to provide an opportunity to support others in many ways and in this instance in their education. Let us keep the poor and needy very much in our thoughts and prayers.

Prayer for the poor and needy

Lord God, 

You came to give honour to the least, those forgotten, overlooked and misjudged.

You came to give first place to the last, those left behind, misunderstood and undervalued.

You came to give a warm welcome to the lost, those who are orphaned, abandoned and destitute. 

Help us to be your ears to listen to their cries.

Help us to be your voice speaking out love and acceptance.

Help us to be your feet walking beside those in need.

Help us to be your hands to clothe, feed and shelter them. 

You came for the least, the lost and last of this world. 

Lord, hear our prayer.


(a contemporary prayer for the poor and vulnerable from


God Bless 


Mr John Lo Cascio




Week 3 Term 1 2016




Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Friends of the Magdalene Community,

Last week we celebrated the Opening School Mass and High Achievers Ceremony. The Mass, officiated by Fr Michael, was a fitting way to begin the year, to come together as a community and to acknowledge God’s presence in out midst. Mass was followed by the High Achievers Ceremony. The students present at the High Achievers Ceremony, each achieved a Band 6 result in the HSC and/or an ATAR over 90. They are certainly a fine example of dedication to the students and the wider Magdalene community. 

During the High Achievers Ceremony the 2015 Dux, Luke Papandrea, expressed some reflections on his journey to the Higher School Certificate. I thank Luke for sharing his thouughts with us and encourage students to take note of his advice:

“After six years at Magdalene, I’ve found that going to school, is pretty much the same as going to the gym, and it's not just because you start off small and end up a lot bigger.  Both the gym and school offer tough challenges and it's sometimes hard to stay focused and push yourself further. When working out, some people are motivated by the perfect beach body and that gets them through the session, but at school it can be sometimes more difficult to see a clear goal. Now I know it’s a huge cliché to set goals, but I found that it was really helpful. To give you a quick idea of how my goal setting worked, I started off very broad, as:

I would like to drive an Audi R8 when I’m older.

And I thought to myself, this means I’m going to need a good job and work hard.

But if I’m going to be working long hours I should do something I enjoy.

Well I’m a bit of a computer nerd, so software engineering sounds great,

Which means at school I should choose subjects that relate

And of course, I need to do well in each of my subjects to get the marks and drive that beautiful car.

This won’t work for everyone, as we all have different interests and ideas about the future. But having a simple plan of where you want to end up, makes the road getting there a lot easier.  Going back to the gym analogy, the question, “how much do you lift?” is like asking, “hey, what mark did you get?” and much like going to the gym, the time spent training or studying, will determine what you achieve. You can’t expect to instantly bench 90kg without training, nor should you expect to get 90% without studying. 

Another thing that I found very helpful was trying not to stress, get angry or frustrated. When these emotions took over, information wouldn't sink in and it made me just not want to study. Trying to stick it out just made things worse, so I would just take a small break, by having a kit-kat, or a coffee, or watching an episode of friends. The 20 minutes you spend “destressifying”, means you can study for longer and with it being more beneficial.

When working out, there are those people who can help you reach your potential. At school, your teachers are your personal trainers, and if you listen to their advice, you will definitely be much better off. Friends are those who spot you, lending a hand when things get tough. And family are your cheer squad, that helps you do more than you thought was possible. I certainly would not have achieved as much without these people in my life.

Finally I would like to end with a quote from a wise man of our generation: “Don’t let your dreams be dreams, yesterday you said tomorrow, so just do it”.”

Well done Luke!

Last Tuesday the first meeting of the Parents and Friends Association and the Parent Consultation Committee was conducted. The Parents and Friends have been most supportive of the school and have endorsed the purchase of a school bus. This is in addition to the construction of a shade cloth structure, which is in the process of obtaining engineers specifications.

Following the Parents and Friends Association Meeting, the Parent Consultation Committee viewed the Annual School Improvement Plan. The 2016 directions were explained and input was invited for future directions. A copy of the priorities is included in this newsletter.

This week we began the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday ceremonies. As Catholics we are reminded that Lent is a time to reflect, repent, pray and reach out to others, traditionally expressed as “Prayer Penance and Alms giving”. Lent thus is an opportunity to bear witness to our Christian faith and carry on the work of Christ during and beyond the Lenten season. One way of being truly committed to the practical aspect of “Alms giving” is to contribute to Caritas. The Caritas Lenten theme in 2016 is “Learning More Creating Change.” We can make a difference to others across our world.  This Lent let us all learn more about the plight of those less fortunate than ourselves.  In doing so, let us commit to bringing about change.


God of all people,

we offer you our Lenten journey.

May we learn to walk as one human family,

remembering in a special way the men, women and children around 

the world who are most vulnerable to extreme poverty and injustice.

Bless our prayers, our fasting and our Lenten gifts to Project Compassion,

in this its 50th year.

Through these actions, we show our love for your Son, Jesus, and answer your call to love one another.



God Bless 


Mr John Lo Cascio







Week 1 Term 1 2016

Dear Parents, Students, Staff and Friends of the Magdalene Community,

Welcome back to 2016.  I especially welcome new staff and students who join us for the first time in 2016. It was wonderful to welcome the entire student body back today and it was certainly gratifying to witness their enthusiasm and eagerness to begin a new school year. 

Last year finished on a positive note with the Higher School Certificate results being released in the last week of school. Of particular note was the performance of the school dux who achieved an ATAR of 98.95. 5 other students received an ATAR above 90. Other performances of particular note were Samantha Coupe who came second in the state in Food Technology and Caitlin Fitzgerald who was placed thirteenth in the state in PDHPE. The review of the Higher School Certificate will take place over the coming few weeks. This will allow us to learn from successes while developing strategies for areas of improvement.

The high achievers will be acknowledged at the Opening School Mass and High Achievers Ceremony on 4 February  beginning at 9.30am. I take this opportunity to invite any parents who are able to attend and be part of both celebrations. Congratulations to the following students who achieved an ATAR over 90.

Luke Papandrea (98.9 ATAR DUX), Caitlin Fitzgerald 98.1 ATAR, Anna Kelly 96.65 ATAR, Samantha Coupe 95.75 ATAR, Frank Gerada 93.6 ATAR and Alexander Hamilton 91.2 ATAR.

This week we welcome ten new members of staff who join us at Magdalene in 2016. The following teachers have become members of the teaching staff: Ms Jennifer Foldes (Assistant Principal) Mr Abourizk (Religious Education), Mr Matthew Bubb (PDHPE), Ms Madelaine Joyce (English HSIE), Mr Marco Cimino (HSIE, Religious Education), Mrs Elaine Fernandez (Mathematics), Ms Aimee Boughton (Science), Ms Sara Gray (English, Learning Support), Mrs Stacey Treloar (English) and Mrs Chantelle Angileri. We also welcome back Ms Walker who will join us in a part time capacity for 2016.

As we begin the year it is essential that students begin with the right mind set. Last year they were spoken to about the  importance of a growth mindset. Students should firstly believe in their ability to achieve and secondly to aim for excellence in everything that they undertake. It is my hope that every student strives for personal excellence in all that they attempt. It is also essential that every student adopts a “can do” attitude. Too often students will say that they cannot do something and will accept that they not move beyond their present performance level.

I ask everyone in our community to recognise the importance of a “can do attitude”. I also ask students to continue to strive for personal excellence in the spiritual, academic, social, physical and emotional aspects of their lives in order to make a difference both to their lives and to the lives of others. 

I remind all parents that the first meeting of the Parent Consultation Committee and The Parents and Friends Association will be conducted on Tuesday 9 February beginning at 7pm in the Learning Resource Centre. I encourage parents to     become involved in the Parent Consultation Committee and the Parents and Friends Association in order to support their children’s education. Any parent who would like to join the Parent Consultation committee should 

Last Tuesday as a nation we celebrated Australia Day. Australia is a nation of which we can all be very proud. As we begin a new year as a school I ask everyone to be aware that we can make a difference to this wonderful Australian community and indeed our own community. I encourage everyone to pray the following prayer and to recognise our role in spreading the word of God. It is appropriate as we begin a new year to make this our commitment.

Over the recent holidays a significant amount of maintenance work was carried out across the school in order to ensure the school was in pristine condition for the return of the students. The maintenance work involved: the repainting of the   chapel, the painting of all classroom doors and hand rails, the steam cleaning of carpet in all classrooms and corridors and the rectification of plumbing issues. I thank Mr Trimarchi for overseeing these significant works.


Over the recent holidays a significant amount of maintenance work was carried out across the school in order to ensure the school was in pristine condition for the return of the students. The maintenance work involved: the repainting of the chapel, the painting of all classroom doors and hand rails, the steam cleaning of carpet in all classrooms and corridors and the rectification of plumbing issues. I thank Mr Trimarchi for overseeing these significant works.


Father, you reached out by the power of the Holy Spirit

through Jesus your Son

to show your love for all creation.

You invite everyone to share in your life

made available to us in Jesus.

You established the Church

to bring your good news to all people.

Let your Holy Spirit help us

to be the presence of your saving love to all.

May that same Spirit help us

to proclaim your good news

in a way that is meaningful to people

and touches their hearts.

May we, like Mary, Help of Christians,

have the courage of the cross,

to fulfil the mission you gave us,

no matter what the cost.

Sharing in his confidence and trust in you,

we ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.


1300 4 FAITH (1300 432 484)

God Bless


Mr John Lo Cascio