Principal's Blog

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


Week 9 Term 3 2015




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

In my brief time Mr Lo Cascio has been away I have learned a great deal about leadership: mostly from the twenty–five Year 11 students who were nominated by their peers to be considered for the 2016 Student Leadership Team. In their speeches and during the Leadership Discernment Day, these twenty-five wonderful young people taught me the following lessons:

1.  Leadership grows out of love.  These people love Magdalene Catholic High School and the students here. Their love for the school inspires them to want to lead.

2.  Leadership is an act of service. Not once did a student say that their reason for leading was to receive the status, to exercise power or to put it on their resumé. Each person in the team sincerely wanted to work hard for the benefit of the students of the school.

3.  Leadership is situated in a community. Each of these people expressed an understanding that they cannot achieve anything in leadership without the support, energy and gifts of the wider community. 

4.  Leadership is an expression of spirituality. Our students have a clear sense that, in our Catholic school, leadership can be countercultural, and can stand in opposition to the selfishness and meanness of some aspects of our culture.

I wish to congratulate all twenty-five students for the contribution they made to the process and the gifts they share so readily with our community. In our newsletter you will see who is in our Leadership Team for 2016. I am sure that Magdalene is in safe hands with such high quality individuals leading and representing us. Congratulations, in particular, to our new School Captains, Elyse Beauchamp and Tyler Bosco.

Our Year 10 students have been engaged in a series of activities that are critical to their futures, both as students and as citizens. The subject selection process for senior school has concluded, with our students taking the time to discern the best pattern of study for their Higher School Certificate. It is a terrific opportunity for the students to clarify their goals and focus their efforts on their learning. Just last week, Mrs Dobbie organised a full Work Readiness Day.  Students arrived at school dressed as if they were attending professional job interviews.  They young men looked excellent in dress shirts, suits and ties, while the young ladies looked equally professional in business outfits. It was difficult to recognise some of them.  As a part of the day, a team of visitors from industry and the community conducted a mock interview with every student, one at a time. The students were appropriately nervous, yet they acquitted themselves with distinction.  I received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the visitors at the end of the day, with some of them saying they wish to offer a number of our students jobs when they are ready! Once again, this is evidence of the quality of Magdalene students and the credit that comes from being a student here.

We have been working  with all students in Years 7 to 11 about the idea of having a GROWTH MINDSET. We have shared with the students that a FIXED MINDSET is one where a person believes that they can’t do much to change their intelligence or ability; that these are fixed characteristics about a person. Conversely, a GROWTH MINDSET is a belief that, with effort, anyone can improve and achieve personal excellence. People with a GROWTH MINDSET enjoy the challenge of learning, and see setbacks and failure and an opportunity to work differently or seek help to improve, while people with a FIXED MINDSET are more likely to give up and see failure as confirmation that they ‘can’t do it’.  As parents and carers you can support your child’s development of a GROWTH MINDSET in four simple ways:

1.  Only praise your child’s effort, not their intelligence.  “I can see how hard you worked to achieve that” instead of “Aren’t you clever!”.

2.  Help your child to see failure as a signpost for improvement “I know you’re disappointed, so what can you do to get better at this?”

3.  Never label your child as ‘smart’ or ‘not academic’ or ‘no good at Maths’.  These things cause the child to become stuck in a FIXED MINDSET.

4.  Encourage them to persist. Giving up is the shortest path to a FIXED MINDSET, and being given permission to give up just cements it.

For more information about Mindset, please visit

At the end of this term a number of staff will be leaving Magdalene.  Mr Luke Eisenhuth, who has been job-sharing with Mrs Hort, will be leaving to take up work at St Benedict’s College.  Mrs Samantha Grey will leave to prepare for the birth of her first child.  We wish her and her husband, Scott every blessing on their new family.  Mr Brent Lipscombe is leaving to take up a significant leadership position at FlexiSchool – a Catholic high school for students who have had seriously struggles in mainstream schools. Mr Lipscombe has had a wonderful impact on Magdalene in his role as a senior Year Coordinator since 2012. We are grateful to each of these teachers for the gift they have been to Magdalene, and we pray that the next steps in their lives will be filled with God’s grace.

Please join with me in praying for our brothers and sisters trying to escape the daily tragedies in Syria and the Middle East, that the world may recognise our common humanity and reach out with care and generosity.

A Prayer for Refugees

Almighty and merciful God,

whose Son became a refugee

and had no place to call his own;

look with mercy on those who today

are fleeing from danger,

homeless and hungry.

Bless those who work to bring them relief;

inspire generosity and compassion in the hearts of our poeple 

And in the hearts of our nation’s leaders; 

and guide the nations of the world towards that day

when all will rejoice in your Kingdom of justice and of peace;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. 



God Bless 

Mr Greg Elliott

Acting Principal






Week 5 Term 3 2015




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

If you were asked to recall the high points from your time at school; those things that have remained with you as good or important memories, I wonder what things you’d bring to mind?  Would it be a mathematics formula? Or maybe a geographic skill?  The biography of an artist, or a lesson about the difference between a simile and a metaphor?  I would suggest that those things that remain with us for decades after we leave school are the celebrations, the relationships and the experiences that moved us. That’s why, at Magdalene, we place great emphasis on community activities such as our Feast Day and, more recently our athletics carnival.

On Wednesday, students had a wonderful day competing at the carnival.  The weather was kind to us however we did get interrupted by a sudden passing storm, and we even saw some records broken.  I hope you enjoy the photos in this newsletter and the ones we have posted on our Facebook page. Thanks to Mrs Agland and the PDHPE team for another wonderful carnival, and to our Year 12 students who always add such colour and fun to the event.

Students from Year 5 at St Clare’s and St Anthony’s Catholic Primary Schools have recently spent a day with us for their ‘Taste of High School’ day.  I had forgotten how excited primary children can get in a new environment!! They experienced lessons in a range of subjects, had recess and lunch with the big kids and managed to find their way around this very big school.  The handball competitions at lunchtime were fiercely contested! Thank you to the Magdalene teachers who taught our little friends, and to the teachers from the primary schools who accompanied them.  We are looking forward to meeting the students from St Paul’s on 10 September.

Last Sunday, Mr Lo Cascio and our student leaders attended the Thanksgiving Mass for the Campbelltown Catholic Club.  Each year we gather with the directors of the Club, and all the Catholic schools in the region to celebrate the partnership we enjoy with this important institution.  This year we received a generous donation from the Club to support our work at Magdalene. A photo of our captains at the celebration is included in the newsletter.

This Sunday, we are looking forward to an afternoon of exquisite music from our choir, orchestra and musicians at our annual concert “Magdalene Classics”, from 2pm at the Mater Dei Chapel. I can guarantee an uplifting experience of music from very talented students (and their teachers). Thank you to Mr Mäe and the music staff for the preparations for this.  

This is Mission Month, and Magdalene supports the work of Catholic Mission in a variety of ways.  Each year group has taken on both awareness raising and fund raising to support the work of the Catholic Church in Madagascar – a very poor country with serious and structural problems which especially effect children.  We have had a steady supply of cake stalls, pizza deliveries and sausage sizzles to raise money. Next week we will see teachers potentially embarrass themselves as they have auctioned off such challenges as the Ice Bucket challenge, eating raw chillis and being covered in glitter. I’m wondering if maybe the teachers enjoy this part of their work a bit too much. It is all for an excellent cause and we seek your support.

Next Friday, 21 August, is our Trivia Night in support of The Childrens' Hospital.  Tables and sponsorship opportunities are still available.  We hope to see many of you there.  A reminder that this is an adult and senior student event only.  

Mr Lo Cascio has begun his leave, and we had the opportunity to wish him well at our recent assembly.  He will return to Magdalene on 14 September, in time to join the celebrations for our Year 12 students: their final assembly and Mass.  Please don’t let Mr Lo Cascio’s absence discourage you from contacting the school.

Finally, it was the Feast of St Mary MacKillop of the Cross last Saturday. Mary MacKillop is our very own Australian saint who set such a wonderful example of what it means to be a follower of Christ in this land.  Her impact on education for Catholic children continues to this day, and we must always strive to follow her example of faith in God’s providence and humble service.

Mary MacKillop PRAYER

Let us pray:

Ever generous God,

you inspired Saint Mary MacKillop

to live her life faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ

whilst bringing hope and encouragement

to those who were disheartened, lonely or needy.

With confidence in your generous providence

and joining with Saint Mary MacKillop

we ask that you bless the work of this Catholic school 

and of these families entrusted to us.

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. 


God Bless 


Mr Greg Elliott

Acting Principal






Week 3 Term 3 2015




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

On Wednesday 22 July the community celebrated Magdalene Feast Day. This was a day to reflect on the message of our patron Mary Magdalene while coming together as a community to support each other. The morning featured a whole school Mass, celebrated by Fr Michael Williams. During the homily Fr Michael reflected on the important example set by Mary Magdalene, in terms of living our lives by being witnesses to Christ’s message of love. Fr Michael also spoke about Mary Magdalene’s devotion to Jesus Christ, reflected in her emotions firstly of grief at the death of Christ and joy in the resurrection. In following this example of Mary Magdalene all of us are encouraged to share our emotions with our God. Fr Michael then proceeded to encourage all of us to be willing to find solitude with God, as Mary Magdalene did. This can be gratifying but is a real challenge in the present busyness of today’s society. 

Mass was followed by a fair, consisting of rides and stalls, which raised funds for the Magdalene St Clare’s Care Fund. The day proved to be a wonderful celebration of who we are and an opportunity to be thankful for the blessings we have received as a community.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge our special guests who attended Magdalene Feast Day: Fr Michael Williams, Mr Alan McManus, Mr Ken Bryant, Mr Tom van Kints, Mrs Lara Symkowiak, Mrs Jennifer Foldes, Mrs Isabella Potts, Mrs Lee Hughes SVDP,  Janine Ashton SVDP Mrs Mary Ellen Bland, Ms Jane McDonald Pastoral Care Coordinator Carrington Mr Tony Fitzgerald,  Mr Kevin Devine and students from St Clare’s and Mater Dei. Finally I thank all members of the community for their involvement and willingness to be part of this wonderful community.

On Friday 7 August I will be taking long service leave from Magdalene and returning on Monday 14 September 2015. As a result of my absence the following staff will assume temporary roles.  Mr Elliott will assume the role of Acting Principal, Mrs Forner will assume the role of Acting Assistant Principal, Mr Zakris will step into the role of Acting Pastoral Care Coordinator and Ms Marie Partridge will undertake the role of acting Year 12 Coordinator. I wish each of these staff members all the best in their temporary roles.

Over the past two weeks the school has been host to 20 students from Hong Kong. The students have had the opportunity to be involved in Magdalene Feast Day as well as a number of classes on various afternoons. The visit has proved to be a most worthwhile experience for both Magdalene students and our visitors. We wish all of the students well as they begin their journey back to Hong Kong tomorrow. I also acknowledge our host families for their willingness to support our visitors during their time in Australia.

This week Year 12 students began their Trial Higher School Certificate Examinations. This is quite a stressful time for students but it can also be quite affirming. It can be stressful in the sense that students undertake unseen examinations and are working in a limited time frame to fully complete answers. It can also be quite affirming in that the results offer feed back to students and allow them to have confidence in their progress while giving them direction in the lead up to the Higher School Certificate Examinations. I ask everyone to keep Year 12 in their thoughts and prayers as they complete the Trial Examinations and in the lead up to the Higher School Certificate.

On Monday morning Mr Zakris led the staff in prayer in support of Year 12. I share that prayer for everyone to use in support of Year 12.

A Parent’s Prayer for Students Sitting Exams

God our Heavenly Father

You know the hard work that we all have done

And the times when we have failed to give You our best.

You know the future that lies ahead for these children and 

You have prepared a banquet for them.


As they go into this examination:

Calm their hearts, O Loving Father,

That they may feel Your peace.

Calm their minds, O Loving Father,

That all their thoughts may be clear and correct.

Bless every person who has given of themselves on this journey,

Family, teachers, friends and classmates.

As we surrender our children to You, in every way,

Let Your Will be done in their lives today and always



God Bless 


Mr John Lo Cascio