I would like to congratulate all the cast and crew of the ‘The Raspberry Beret’, which was performed on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week. The quality of performances of all the cast was very high and was the result of many hours of organised rehearsal, along with a great deal of time spent by students learning their lines and thinking about their character. I also congratulate the musicians who supported the actors with their high level of musicianship. It was a very entertaining and high quality production.
To find a play that can cater for such a large group of students is not easy and the expertise of our Drama teacher, Mr John Doherty, who directed the play and encouraged the Year 8 to 10 students to display their talent, was appreciated by the audience. I’m sure the positive feedback from the audience will encourage many of the students to continue with their Drama studies.
A special mention must also be made to the Year 11 Drama students who provided guidance in a wide range of areas to the cast. This is a great example of the support the older students provide to the younger students within the Senior School.
This Saturday our Indigenous Students’ Co-ordinator, Nahla Baroudi, Indigenous Learning Support Assistant, Lydia Smith and I will be guests of the Smith Family, who administer the Indigenous Youth Leadership Project (IYLP), at their annual Graduation Dinner for all IYLP Scholarship students across Australia who have completed Year 12. This event is in Darwin and I will be very proud to see our IYLP students receive their Graduation certificates. The students who will be receiving their certificates will be Doreena Hansen, Jas Lloyd, Nadia Henry, Patrick O'Brien, Ronald Wicham-Keeler and Tori Cubillo.
Each of these students thoroughly deserve this recognition and I am sure that their future pathways have been enhanced by having spent time at Westminster and benefitting from the opportunities that have been provided. Since the introduction of our Indigenous Students Program, we have seen many of our Indigenous students achieve success in a range of areas, whether that is gaining their SACE, pursuing Tertiary Study, entering the workforce or going back to their communities as leaders and role models.
The transition for some students is not always smooth and I would like to acknowledge the enormous amount of energy and emotion that Nahla Baroudi invests in each of these students to ensure that they make the most of the opportunity that they have been given. She is often the first member of the Westminster Community that they meet and usually she is the last one to say goodbye. Her encouragement, support and persistence, I believe, is a major reason why our Indigenous students achieve success.
There are a number of staff who will be leaving us at the end of the year. Some have been with us for a short period of time on contract while there are others who have been at Westminster for many years and have had a significant impact on many students.
I would like to thank Mary Bryker and Jacinta Cheesman-Smyth for their work as Laboratory Assistants in the Science faculty, ensuring that the staff and students have the materials they need each lesson.
Other staff who have been on contract during the year have included Luke Agalidis, who has worked across both schools teaching Science. I know from talking with the current Year 7 students that they appreciated Luke’s teaching and the opportunity they have had in being in the Science Laboratories. Whitney Goldsmith has been with us since Term 2 teaching Mathematics and providing individual support to many Year 12 students in particular. Daisy Ashby, who has been with us since late last year teaching Geography, History and English, has undertaken her duties in a cheerful and professional manner developing strong relationships with staff and students.
Rebecca Hassam came to Westminster in 2017 to teach Drama and concentrated mainly on the Junior Drama classes. This year Rebecca taught the Year 11 Drama class, and provided two opportunities for the students to show their acting talents when she directed ‘Stolen’ in Semester 1, and more recently ‘The Girl who was 100 Girls’. Rebecca is leaving Westminster to move to Prince Alfred College where she will be developing their Drama program.
Lyndal Vincent began at Westminster School in 2011 and has been instrumental in supporting our International Students improve their English by providing an intensive English program. She was responsible for setting up our WESTBridge program, which allowed International Students to access language support at Westminster rather than attending an external provider, allowing them to feel part of Westminster sooner. Lyndal is leaving us to follow her passions of travelling and teaching transcendental meditation.
Sun Kim came to Westminster in 2008 to teach Japanese. In the her time here, Sun has developed a reputation as a highly effective teacher of both Japanese and Chinese who has inspired many students to appreciate the benefits of learning a second language and gain a cultural understanding of other countries. Sun was also our International Students’ Coordinator for several years and provided excellent support to the students. Sun is taking up a leadership position in the international school system.
Nick Finos arrived at Westminster as an experienced teacher of History in 2006 and soon expanded this to include Business. It did not take long for students to build relationships with him and feel comfortable in his classes. His gentle and supportive manner has placed him in high esteem among both staff and students. He spent time as Head of History and later the SOSE Faculty, and then took on the role of Head of Dunstan House and built an environment where students felt a strong sense of belonging. Nick’s passion for teaching students has always been evident and it is no surprise that students were excited if they had him as their teacher. I know Nick has had a significant impact on many students and staff, as he is a great role model. Unfortunately, Nick’s year did not start well with him being diagnosed with cancer but I am glad he has been able to return to the classroom for Term 4 before making the decision to retire to spend more time with his family.
Jenny Cheesman came to Westminster in 2003 to teach Physical Education. Jenny was Head of the Physical Education Faculty for several years and worked at inspiring students to be active and to pursue their sporting passion if they had one. As a former Olympian in Basketball and elite athlete in Softball and Netball, Jenny was able to provide high level of coaching and advice to many students. For someone so talented, Jenny presented a modest and calm manner when interacting with staff and students. Jenny is retiring from teaching to focus on other interests.
Sarah Vezis ('93) began teaching Physical Education at Westminster in 2003 and established herself as a friendly, engaging and highly competent teacher who developed positive relationships with staff and students. Her interest in student wellbeing was always clear, and she was able to build on this as Head of Dunstan House for a short time. Sarah has been a valuable member of the Year 9 Wellbeing program. She is a strong advocate for students and staff, understanding the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Her time as President of the Staff Association has seen a number of initiatives to bring staff together in a more social setting away from the classroom. Sarah is leaving to pursue her other passion of horticulture and to have more time with her family.
Michelle Cassidy arrived at Westminster in 2001 and quickly became involved in the sporting life of the school as well as teaching IT, in particular Information Processing and Publishing to a large number of Year 12 students with a great deal of success. In her role as Head of Girls Sport Michelle grew the profile of girls sport and increased the number of activities that were available for the girls to play. She willingly took on the role of coordinating the Senior School Athletics Carnival for many years. The level of organisation and the amount of time that is required to make the event run so smoothly over a day and a half and involving so many students and staff has been greatly appreciated and she has set the bar very high for future years. Michelle was involved in managing several UK Netball tours and hosting visiting school to play our girls. I’m sure Michelle will now have more time to spend with family travel and will continue to be involved in school sports administration in her role as Tour Leader for School Sport Australia’s International Hockey Tour to the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany from late May to early June 2019.
John Foreman started at Westminster in 1985 when he accepted the positon as Head of Economics. He quickly gained the respect of the students for his knowledge and his creative teaching approach. John has held a variety of roles during his time including Head of Clark House, Head (Dean) of Senior Students, Director of Activities, and Head of Special Projects. He was instrumental in introducing Accounting to Westminster, and many of his students have gone on to have successful careers in the Accounting profession and commerce more widely. He was the first staff member to bring a computer into the school to use as part of his teaching. John’s interest in the use technology has continued, and he has implemented many teaching strategies involving the use of technology to enhance the learning of students, which other staff have subsequently applied. His involvement in the co-curricular program has seen John support students in Sailing during the 80s, and then move into Basketball in recent years. He was one of the staff who organised the first cricket tour of the United Kingdom in 1991. John’s impact on Westminster has been significant in so many areas and he has always been a keen supporter of the Performing Arts - I believe he and his wife Carole are the number one ticket holders of the Music Department! In retirement, John will be able to spend more time with his family, to travel, and I am sure to play more bridge.
I wish to thank all of the staff who are leaving for the service they have given to Westminster School and I am extremely grateful for the support and guidance that they have given to the students.
Last year’s ‘Reflections’ is at long last being distributed with one copy being sent home with the ‘youngest student’ sibling (Reception upwards). This process will continue through this week and into early next. Students are either being given copies in their classroom (Prep) or if Year 8 and up, asked to collect from the Senior School Office. If you haven’t seen your copy at home by early next week, please check with your son or daughter. Student collection from the Senior School Office will still be possible next week before the end of term and then family collection until Thursday 20 December. The same applies to both our Class of 2017 and 2018 graduates, with some being posted to more distant home addresses. If you have any concerns, please contact Communications Manager Peter Trenorden (’77), via Email or T: 08 8276 0234.
Students should begin cleaning out their lockers so that they are empty, as locker allocations for next year could change. I encourage all students and their families to check school uniforms towards the end of the holidays and take appropriate steps to ensure that they comply with the School’s Uniform Regulations.
Finally, I would like to extend to all students and their families my best wishes for the Christmas and New Year period and hope that it is a relaxing and enjoyable time. To those students who are leaving, I thank you for your contribution to Westminster and wish you all the best for the future. To those students who are returning, I also thank you for your efforts this year and encourage you to look positively to returning in 2019 with enthusiasm and determination to achieve the goals that you have set for yourselves.
Head of Senior School