Marie Wood, Deputy Principal

Dear OLMC Families

‘We have ever confided largely in Divine Providence and shall continue to do so.’

Catherine McAuley

In these words Catherine McAuley identifies the source of her support and trust – her faith in God – to see her through the daily challenges that she faced and those that she witnessed being faced by others in the poverty of 19th century Dublin, Ireland. As she used all of her inheritance to build the house in Baggott Street, she faced each day with a hope and a conviction that made it possible for her to engage with each challenge and to look for solutions rather than being halted in her actions.

Having such a positive attitude helped Catherine to be fully alive and we can do well to live our own lives by following her example. Catherine’s sense of mercy and her deep integration of a values-focussed life sustained her always and forms for us a solid guide in our contemporary world.

Indeed, we have all taken this positive attitude and placed our trust in Divine Providence throughout 2020. As Term 3 draws to its close, we can be very proud of the way we, as a Mercy community, have trusted in God and always done our best. The pandemic has not broken us but made us stronger as a faith-filled community. Together, students, families and staff, we have withstood a period of self-isolation that tested us, but we have emerged with an even stronger sense of connectedness and with our sense of humour intact! We have proven ourselves to be an agile and responsive community that values each member and ensures that the health and wellbeing of each of us is a priority. How glad we should all be to members of such a vibrant Mercy community!

I wanted to draw your attention today to three members of our Mercy community who deserve our accolades at present for being who they are in representing the best of themselves and of us by association!

Our 2020/2021 Head Girl - Yasmine Alwakal recently competed in the World Debating and Public Speaking titles. Yasmine was placed 10th overall which is a remarkable achievement. Expecting to go to Shanghai to compete, COVID-19 meant no international travel but rather virtual travel instead! Undaunted Yasmine competed via Zoom early each morning of the competition and, afterwards attended her lessons each day at school. Yasmine – you have made us all very proud. Today, I presented Yasmine with her trophy acknowledging her 10th place in this competition, as well as a gift of appreciation on behalf of the P & F.


I would like to speak about two long-serving members of our Mercy staff. Traditionally on Mercy Day each year, such service would be acknowledged publically at Assembly so that our gratitude and respect can be shown. At smaller ceremonies this week, I can assure that these two valued colleagues have received such acknowledgment of their 30 years of service to the College community.

I congratulate and acknowledge Christine Hackett, our much-respected Leader of Learning Library, for her 30 years of loyal service to our community both in the Library and as a Religious Studies teacher.

I congratulate Poppy Liangas, a much-respected member of our valued Support Staff for her 30 years of loyal service to our community.

All three of these Mercy women model grace and dignity and a desire to be of service to others. Yasmine, Christine and Poppy - we are grateful for your presence and we thank you!

Excitedly, I additionally want to share with you the news that two of our Year 12 Drama students, Angela Younes and Ellen Durbridge have been nominated for ‘OnSTAGE’, for their individual performances. OnSTAGE is an exhibition of group and individual performances by HSC Drama students who have been deemed as exemplary by NESA. We congratulate Angela and Ellen on their nominations and wish them all the very best as their nominations move forward.

R U OK Day was on 11 September this term. This is a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask, ‘Are you ok?’ It is important on this day, as it is on every day, to ensure all our students and staff feel connected and supported. It is a reminder to check in with the people in your world who might be going through a tough time. Our College staff, donning the R U OK colour of yellow, greeted students as they entered the Mercy Gates on this day handing out R U OK wrist bands as a visual symbol of who we are as Mercy community and who and what we value – the dignity and wellbeing of each other.

This week on Tuesday, 22 September, the College celebrated Mercy Day. You will know it as a much-loved celebration of the College’s Mercy tradition that occurs annually on the Friday closest to the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy on 24 September. This year, in response to pandemic restrictions, we decided to do things differently, without losing sight of the purpose of the day itself. Mercy Girls wore bright pink and red attire to school to symbolise the theme of ‘From the Heart’. During Homeroom, the girls took part in a Liturgy where they engaged in activities around this theme. These included writing postcards to students from Sacred Heart College in Kyneton, Victoria, a Mercy school that has been in Stage 4 lockdown, as well as our new students who will be starting high school at OLMC in 2021. Money was raised for Mercy Works, the development arm of the Sisters of Mercy in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Mercy Works partner with challenged communities in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Australia to promote justice and self-reliance. This year all funds raised will be donated to women’s projects in PNG. Mercy Day is a wonderful celebration of who we are as a Mercy community.

In Term 4, we have several staff members who will be enjoying their much-deserved Long Service Leave from the College. I know that you will join me in wishing a relaxing and refreshing break to Christine Hackett, Sheila Ibarra, Cathy McNulty, Ann-Marie Herd and Kevin Brooks. It is a testament to their loyal service that they are now due to be taking this leave and I wish them all the very best.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the resilient efforts of our Year 12 students as they complete their final week of learning at the College – and their final year of school education! Next week they will be attending the Study Week at the College in their preparation for the Higher School Certificate Examinations commencing in Week 2 of Term 4. Plans will be finalised regarding their Graduation Ceremony and disseminated to parents later this week and on an ongoing basis as we respond to any restrictions of the pandemic and the guidelines provided by NSW Health. Thank you for your patience!

Upcoming dates for you to note:

  • P&F Meeting - Tuesday, 22 October
  • First day of Term 4, 2020, Monday, 12 October

Term 3 concludes this Friday at 3.20pm for all students and staff.

I wish everyone a relaxing break, a time for family and friends and a safe return to the College ready to start Term 4 on Monday 12 October!

Stay well and stay safe.

Warm regards

Mrs Marie Wood
Principal (Acting)


The English department welcomed several new members this year to join our team as we continue to expand including, Ms Rebecca Knox, Ms Naomi James, Dr Kelly Cheung, Ms Katherine Bull and Mr Gerard Altura. It has been a pleasure to welcome these dedicated and professional teachers and work alongside them to deliver the best English curriculum to our students at OLMC.

We also began the year with the intention of streamlining the delivery of the curriculum by using weekly learning schedules where we outlined both the teaching and learning as well as the learning intentions for each year group. While this was designed to support the new staff to transition smoothly, the benefits were to come in Term 2 when we were thrust into the world of remote learning. Having already designed a template, the department found the shift to online learning reasonably smooth. This was also helped by our focus on streamlining our use of Canvas over the last two years, including its use for assessments in 2019. We are now expanding our repertoire and using this online learning platform to innovate and strike long term change allowing us to design inclusive and differentiated learning experiences.

The Year 12 Class of 2020 have certainly experienced a year to remember and we are so proud of their focus and commitment. English Extension 2 students, Marielle Sonido and Charlotte Burns completed their Major Works while in quarantine! Both students elected to compose a Short Fiction of 6000 words with a 1500 word Reflection Statement. 

Marielle Sonido examined the way society, in its construction of rules, determines the nature of transgression, as well as the way transgression is punished, is her short fiction, Eden. It explores the implications of using punishment as a blanket solution for those who rebel against constantly evolving, subjective rules. Through its use of traditional Gothic conventions, a literary genre rooted in repression and the human need to transgress, it questions the true validity of certain social expectations as well as their often blind enforcement. Eden attempts to apply such questioning as universally as possible through its setting of an isolated boarding school, a microcosm in which rules, both written and unwritten, intensely govern its inhabitants. It is through this setting that human reactions to both the transgressions of their peers and intense isolation can be explored conceptually and with applicability to the real world. Eden attempts to have readers reflect on what transgression means in their society and how it came to be defined that way. More importantly, however, it compels one to ask if such things are worth punishing another over, especially when the rules are bound to change. 

Charlotte Burns speculative fiction short story, A Woman’s Words, explores how Michael Foucault’s Panopticon Theory can be applied to social media and technology’s reinforcement of patriarchal power, forcing women to seek a subversive power through writing. Foucault’s Panopticon Theory, as influenced by Jeremy Bentham’s physical prison model, is a metaphor for the relationship between surveillance systems of social control and the people who are disciplined by these systems. The short story connects Foucault’s Panopticon Theory to social media’s perpetuation of patriarchal voices like Donald Trump and Alan Jones. A metaphor for surveillance and its ability to enforce social control through the self-censorship of a minority, Foucault’s Panopticon links to how social media platforms like Twitter, provide a forum for misogynistic voices to ingrain their beliefs in women, who internalise comments that degrade their worth and capabilities. As Foucault says 'Where there is power, there is resistance,' Charlotte explores how women can subvert their lack of agency on social media and technology through the power of writing. 

Despite the limitations of remote leanring, Year 10 students were able to participate in the Writer in Residence program this year in both Term 1 and Term 3. Dr Felicity Castagna ran four workshops with all eight Year 10 classes at school in Term 1 with the intention of supporting this cohort to develop their own Major Work modelled on Year 12 Extension 2. Students were introduced to the writing process and how to use research to inspire their own compositions. Unfortnatley, the second workshop scheduled for Term 2 was cancelled, however, we were able to run the workshops in Term 3 via Zoom. Classes participated in a 75-minute workshop with Dr Castagna focusing on the editing process. This experience has offered the English department another opportunity to demonstrate both their agility as practitioners and willingness to adapt to ensure our students receive the very best learning opportunities.

2020 has been a year where the English department at OLMC has discovered new skills, explored new possibilities with our online platforms and supported each other. I am very proud of the way both students and teachers, faced the challenges of an unprecedented global event to ensure the students of OLMC have been supported and challenged in English. Small changes to our delivery of the curriculum have brought about significant creative benefits to the way we think about how students learn. In the words of Professor Allen Luke, a 'symphony of pedagogy' has been brought to our real and virtual classrooms in a way that has expanded our expectations of ourselves and our students in the longer term.

Mrs Leanne Portelli
Leader of Learning English


Volunteering opportunities

Conservation Volunteers Australia
Do you want to make a difference to the environment? There are so many options to explore! Conservation Volunteers makes it easy for people to care for nature by volunteering on one of our many conservation projects across the country. Volunteers come from a wide range of backgrounds and no prior skills or experience are required, and volunteer projects are available to suit your availability and particular interests. Together we can make a positive difference to conservation of nature upon which all life is interconnected.

Vinnie’s Youth
Vinnies Youth is for young adult members and volunteers of St Vincent de Paul Society. Getting involved in Vinnies Youth is about putting faith in action – we offer a number of opportunities to serve people in your local community. These include Kids Days Out, Buddy Camps, Home Visitation, Tutoring and Mentoring, Vinnies Shops, Soup Vans and even school’s engagement.


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Public Speaking

Australian Titles

In a week when Yasmine Alwakal has been acknowledged for her remarkable performance in the recent World Titles, eight of our girls are preparing for this year’s Australian Individual Debating and Public Speaking Competition and its junior counterpart, Speakfest.

The Senior girls will be competing for a place in next year’s Australian team which would qualify them for a place in the 2021 World Titles. The girls who represent OLMC are all chosen because of their outstanding ability in public speaking over many years at the College. Sabrina Catania and Riley Rodewald of Year 11 are joined by Year 10 students Maeve Nolan and Stephanie Ogle in a demanding three-day competition during the September holidays.

The Junior Speakfest team of Karshini Dahal of Year 9 and Sophie Assaad, Avni Mathur and Tia Monga also compete in four events like the Senior girls but rather than qualify for the Australian team, gain useful experience should they make the Senior competition in the future.

Already, all girls have put in a lot of effort into their preparation. They attended an all-day workshop several months ago, have recorded and submitted two of their events on video, had further practice in debating and impromptu speaking and have worked hard all term to hone their skills in the four required disciplines of the competition.

We wish them all the best of luck in their endeavours. Results will be announced in the next edition of Parragraph.

A special thank you goes to Mrs Leanne Portelli, Leader of Learning in English, who has kindly agreed to come into the College next week to assist the girls in their Zoom events as well as acting as a judge for the competition.

Legacy Competition

Other competitions are gathering momentum as organisers become more proficient in the possibilities of modern technology. Two of our excellent young speakers, Aaliya Garg of Year 9 and Summer Rayne Roughley of Year 8 will be submitting video recordings of their speeches to Legacy by this Friday and hope to proceed to the next level of the competition. Good luck to both girls!

UN Voice

Over the holidays, no fewer than fourteen of our girls will be preparing speeches for the UN Voice competition, an event which requires entrants to submit their speeches by the last day of the holidays. For the first time, there is a Senior category in this competition. Our entrant will be Riley Rodewald of Year 11 who, in the Junior event, reached the National Final in Hobart a few years ago. We also have a large contingent in the Junior category: Ananya Arunkumar and Iris McKenna of Year 10, Alannah Issa, Jemima McKenna, Jheyanne Mostoles and Cassandra Sastrillo of Year 9, Karen Pannu, Abby Parnell, Neha Sharma and Ivana Stefanovski of Year 8 and Kaira Dasgupta, Emma Elias and Gabrielle Fleming of Year 7. We wish them well in their preparations.

Parramatta Clift Competition

A week after we return from holidays, there is actually a live competition being held by Parramatta Rotary, suitably spaced and COVID-safe, of course. Schools are allowed one Year 9 entrant only and this year, we are fortunate to have Freya Scothern as our representative. Freya already has an Australian title for after-dinner speaking under her belt and is certain to perform very well once again.


Mr Christopher Ostrowski
Public Speaking Coordinator




We are still waiting on confirmation of the restrictions and guidelines for Term 4 sport, but hopefully, sport can be back on next term!

Saturday Netball

The 2020 Netball season has now finished. Well done to all the players and a big thank you to all the parents/supporters who helped out over the season. It was a very different, trying season, but we made it!

You can view the final placings on the ERNA website -  

A final thank you must also go to all the OLMC Umpires who were able to help out across all the games.

Mr Stuart Guthrie
Sports Coordinator



The next P&F Meeting will be held on Tuesday, 20 October 2020. This meeting will be via Zoom (7.00-8.00pm) and we are inviting the first 25 parents to accept this invitation. If you would like to join the meeting, please click here to register. Once you have registered, you will receive an email confirming your attendance and a link to join the Zoom meeting.

Blazers – replacement blazers have been delayed for several months and are due to arrive in Week 2 of Term 4. When blazers are received, we will advise the process for replacement as we will require that students return their old blazers at the same time as receiving the new.

Face Masks in school colours - will be available to purchase from the online Uniform Shop in Term 4. This is a non-compulsory item.

The Uniform Shop is temporarily closed for all visitors including parents, carers and students. It is open every Monday to Thursday (school days only) for online purchases of uniforms items All orders placed will be delivered to the Student Centre for collection by the students.

Uniform Fittings will recommence in late October of Term 4. We will advertise appointment times next Term.


If you have any concerns regarding uniform items, please don't hesitate to contact the uniform shop on 8838 1275 or

Final Week of Term 3

Girls can wear either the full summer uniform OR the full winter uniform.

 Please note: 

  • The College blazer is still to be worn as the outside garment to and from school if you are cold.
  • Jumpers or cardigans cannot be worn to and from school unless under the blazer
  • Scarves cannot be worn with the summer uniform
  • The length of the summer uniform must be 2cm below the bottom of the kneecap

Term 4

All girls are to wear the full summer uniform

Fee Reminder

Instalment 3 fees that were due on 24 July 2020 are now significantly overdue unless you are on an existing direct debit arrangement with the College. Please ensure all overdue fees are paid by BPay, cheque, money order or by credit card via the Parent Community Portal (Visa or Mastercard) as soon as possible.

The College does appreciate 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. Should you be experiencing any difficulties with paying these fees or you have any queries please contact the Finance Office on 8838 1214 weekdays during 8am – 4pm or by email to


Anne-Maree Ironside
Finance Manager


The Canteen is available for online ordering and contactless collections via Flexi Schools. This is currently the only means of purchasing food and drinks at the College. Orders for breakfast must be placed each morning by 7am and morning tea and lunch by 9am. All food will be labelled and collected at the Year Groups designated playground area in the College.

Information on how to register for the Flexi Schools app can be found here

Please be advised that Flexi Schools charges a service fee on their account. The details of these fees can be found by clicking here.

Gabrielle Scanlon, Director of Identity

May God who established the dance of creation,

Who marvelled at the lilies of the field,

Who transforms chaos to order,

Lead us to transform our lives

To reflect God’s glory in creation.


May our blessing be to hear Mercy purely,

To know and speak it clearly,

To show and receive it lovingly,

And to become, each day

More truly Mercy


The prayer above was one shared by Sr Mary-Louise at our recent Mercy Day Liturgy. 'To become, each day, more truly Mercy'. What a lovely way to finish a beautiful prayer. This really sums up the experience of Mercy Day 2020.

Mercy Day Liturgy

2020 has been a year that has presented challenges to us all. The defining moment for us all this Term especially, I believe, has been our complete resilience and ability to 'get on with it'. I have never been more proud to be a member of the Mercy Community at large, and also our local school Mercy community. Directors of Mission from around Australia gathered virtually to compile and compose beautiful songs, prayers and blessings which were all pre-recorded and viewed in our Pastoral Care lesson on Tuesday this week.

Fr Walter provided a thought-filled reflection on the Gospel reading, Sr Mary-Louise sent her good wishes, Mr Paul Witney transformed a prayer written by the Sisters of Mercy of the America’s into a beautiful song which was recorded and performed by girls at the College. The entire school community wrote a Postcard of Love to Year 6 2021 students or a student from a Mercy school in Victoria as a sign of solidarity for our Mercy friends who have been working remotely for all of Term 3! Girls made origami hearts and write their hopes on sticky hearts to hang up in the playground. The liturgy was a rich reminder of our strong Mercy heritage and remembers and celebrates Mercy Day - officially held on 24 September this was the day Catherine McAuley opened the doors to her House of Mercy on Baggot St in Dublin in 1827.

Thank you to Ms Ellen Lonergan, Retreat and Liturgy Coordinator; Ms Dominique Granturco, Audio Visual Technician; Mr Paul Witney, Director of Music Performance; and all of the girls who were involved in filming or reading on the day!


Mercy Works Appeal

A major component of Mercy Day is fundraising for Mercy Works: the development arm of the Sisters of Mercy in Australia and Papua New Guinea. They partner with challenged communities in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Australia to promote justice and self-reliance. Students wore red and pink as part of our 'From the Heart' themed day. We raised $2500 through donations from staff and students. This money will be sent to Papua New Guinea where it will be used for women’s projects to train, support and educate women and children.

Student’s Day of Action for the Environment

Friday, 25 September is a day where we are encouraged to speak up for the environment. The use of fossil fuels has long been a topic of discussion and this year’s theme 'Fund our future not gas'. This campaign seeks to raise awareness of the need to reduce the amount of money spent on non-renewable energy sources and increase the money that Governments put into renewable energy sources, like solar panels.

As Term 3 draws to a close, I would like to thank all of the staff and students who have assisted, been involved in and supported Mission activities. Joining as a community is at the heart of Mission, and despite our challenges this Term, we have been able to share liturgies, prayer and action to stand up and show others that we are a strong and unified community- ready for whatever challenges come our way.

I wish you all a happy and safe Term break, and look forward to sharing Term 4 with you all,

Mrs Gabby Scanlon
Director of Mission


Fear of failure


For some people, the fear of failing is stronger than the hope or possibility of success. This fear of failure causes them to either not even attempt or to unconsciously sabotage their chances of success. Failing can provoke some strong uncomfortable feelings such as disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness and regret. People who have a fear of failure are motivated to avoid failing because failing also makes them feel deep shame. Shame makes us feel bad about who we are, impacting our emotional wellbeing. In children and adolescents, we may notice that they avoid trying new things, procrastinate, experience somatic complaints, talk about expecting not to succeed, and worry a lot about what other people will think of them.

Some tips that can assist us to overcome a fear of failure include: 

  1. Self-acceptance helps us to be more resilient and manage any setbacks without emotional reactivity. It helps to focus on the mistake as this provides us with options for making changes. If we only focus on self-criticism this does not allow growth, it just means we are less likely to try in the future.
  2. Adopt a no shame policy and learn from your mistakes - be part of a group who do not laugh or shame you when something does not go right. Talk as a family about learning from mistakes and not letting them hold you back in the future.
  3. Address the problem - burying your head in the sand and avoiding looking at the problem does not help you to see what you can do to make the problem better.
  4. Don’t bottle it up - talk to someone about how you are feeling.
  5. Question your fears - are they based on reality or are they irrational fears.
  6. Focus on what you can control - worrying about things that are not in your control only means that you are not focused on things that you can change in order for success to be more likely next time around.

Mrs Sandra Portela
Senior Counsellor


Annie Gittany



What is your Leadership Portfolio?


Sport Leader


What are the key responsibilities of your Portfolio?


As Sport Leader, the key responsibilities are to uphold the communication between all involved in sport including students, Sports Coordinators, House captains and the various team coaches. I  want to promote involvement and inclusiveness across all Year levels. It is also my responsibility to encourage all students to pursue their sporting ambitions and celebrate their peers' achievements.


What is your vision as Leader of this Portfolio in 2020/21?


My vision is to increase the involvement of students in school sporting events across all Years. I want to encourage students to try out for a variety of sports. My goal is to motivate Mercy Girls to embrace OLMC’s sporting culture and to form new friendships and memories.





Name one person whom you would like to share a meal with and why?

I would love to share a meal with Operah Winfrey. She is one of the most influential woman in the world and I feel I can relate to her. At the heart of everything she does, there is the consistent message that individuals should take personal responsibility for their lives in order to improve the world. I believe that to improve our environment and the people around us, we have to search for the good within ourselves. 

What are your interests outside of school?


My life outside of school is always exciting as I have many interests that keep me busy. I love the idea of expressing emotions and telling stories through art and music. I enjoy painting and sketching as well as singing, playing guitar, piano and drums. I also am passionate about expressing my personality through fashion. 



Clarissa Guino

What is your Leadership Portfolio?

Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA)

What are the key responsibilities of your Portfolio?

To organise and manage creative and performing arts events, as well as encourage students to involve themselves in the arts.

What is your vision as Leader of this Portfolio in 2020/21?

I'd love to see many students engaging with CAPA, through ensembles, cocurricular activities and outside of school. I'd love to see the success of the classic CAPA events, as well as some brand new events and ideas to integrate CAPA into College life.

What would be your superpower? Why?

Shapeshifting. I'd be able to do all the cool things humans can't do, like flying or swim to the bottom of the ocean without worrying about drowning.

What are your interests outside of school?

I like art, music and reading. I draw in my spare time, play some instruments (mostly violin and ukulele) and collect books and CDs. I skate every now and then, though I do seem to spend more time on the floor than on the board!