2019

Our Stories

ALEX WILSON
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"DETERMINED AND MOTIVATED"

Alex Wilson is a current Year 10 student at St Mary's College. She is an organised student who loves learning and has a passion for education. Alex is a determined girl who strives to succeed in any challenges she takes on board.

Alex has experienced many great times so far during her time at St Mary's College, such as re-enacting the class' favourite memories for their teacher. Another strong memory she holds was in 2018, when she won two Easter Raffles. This was a special memory that she will cherish forever.

St Mary's College has helped shape who Alex is today; a strong, happy and determined young lady who tries her best under any circumstances. St Mary's College has helped Alex become a more confident, energetic and motivated student. Alex has enjoyed all her years at this amazing school and cannot wait to see what the future brings for her.

Written by Katija Zujic (student)

ALEXANDRA MANTIS
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

2007-2011, 2019-CURRENT

"COMMUNITY AND MUSIC"

Alexandra Mantis, a past student and current Music Teacher at St Mary's College started at St Marys in 2007 and graduated in 2011. Alexandra felt the community was super supportive. It's something she's never forgotten and something she always thinks about. She loved participating in Social Justice and community activities. It was a good feeling to be a part of the community.

At St Mary's she learnt how to play music, when Mr Chambers first pushed her to join a band.  He gave her confidence to start her own band and perform at a young age. Music stuck with her through her life and she has now started teaching it as well as performing on the weekends. Her most nerve-racking and exciting moment was in 2009 when she went on a Music trip to Ireland. Staying with her music friends away from family, gave her a feeling of independence and freedom.

Written by Taya Dunks (student)

MICHAEL KIRKBRIDE
STAFF ASSOCIATE

2009-2019

"OAK VALLEY MEMORIES"

Michael Kirkbride, a nurse, embarks on the Year 11 Oak Valley trip ever year with Mr Napoli, his high school friend. Michael's strongest memory is coming home after the trip where he feels many different emotions; always feeling privileged to be a part of the journey. Sharing his experiences with the college and Oak Valley community enhanced his love for the journey.

The first day is the most exciting as he gets to know everybody's stories. Michael hopes it is enjoyable for the students as they learn about Indigenous culture. His advice is step out of your comfort zone and experience something different. A special memory was sharing the trip with his wife Rachael and daughter Alice in 2017. He believes this trip empowers students, allowing them to open their hearts and minds to Indigenous culture. Michael has treasured the time spent with St Mary's and hopes to continue.

Written by Emily Giglio and Josie Douglass (students)

AMELIA PRICE
OLD SCHOLAR

2015-2019

"CONFIDENCE"

Confidence has helped shaped who Amelia Price is today. She is a current Year 12 student who has learnt a variety of skills and qualities over her years at St Mary's. St Mary's has helped and inspired Amelia to grow into a sensible and confident young adult. A key lesson Amelia has learnt while being here is to focus on the positives and not to focus on the negatives. Amelia has been involved in a variety of activities, like school productions, overseas trips and activities in the Music and Drama Department. She has made some great friends, which she will cherish for the rest of her life.

Amelia has learnt to be confident in herself and her ability to improve her passion in singing and acting. Her advice for younger students is to get involved and enjoy every moment, "Be confident, get involved and make the most of every moment".

Written by Claudia Dutton (student)

AMY MUNCHENBERG
OLD SCHOLAR

2015-2019

"SCHOOLING AND FRIENDSHIP"

St Mary's College has helped Amy make lots of friendships and although she is in Year 12, she thinks that she will stay friends with everyone that she has connected with. Amy loves being a part of the band and coming third in a competition after four years of practice.

The College has given Amy skills for different situations. Amy would advise the students at St Mary's now, to be yourself, be positive and to not be afraid to try new things. A passion that she followed is being a part of the band in the Music Program. Amy treasures the friends she made and the craziest thing she ever did was sleep at the school for Music Camp.

The school has been a good influence on Amy because it has prepared her, and she feels confident for when she has to leave school at the end of the year.

Written by Emma Mundy (student)

BRIANNA SAVAGE
OLD SCHOLAR

2007-2019

"PROSPER"

Brianna Savage a current Year 12 has been at the College throughout her schooling. Brianna is truly grateful that she could develop as a person within the safety of the school. She developed self-confidence while still knowing her strengths and weaknesses. Stepping out of her comfort zone is where she found herself happiest.

She reminisces about guest speakers and the advice they gave about structure and writing techniques when  completing assignments. She gave remarkable advice, delve into what you are doing otherwise you won't achieve your potential. Brianna did that when she was reviewing her Research Project, as a result she received a Merit Award - what an amazing achievement! Despite Brianna still being at school, she has grown from a child to an empowered and independent woman. Being at the College has been a truly great experience allowing her to have strong a work ethic with a persistent attitude.

Written by Natasha Savage (sister and student)

ANDREA AOUKAR
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

1995-2001, 2019

"PASSIONATE"

Andrea Aoukar, an ex-scholar of St Mary's College completed her schooling in 1995 to 2001. Andrea's connection with the college continues today. Andrea's most favourable times at St Mary's were the camps each year and the retreats in Senior School. Through these experiences Andrea formed positive relationships and built positive friendships with her peers. Andrea states that her life-long friendships have taught her valuable lessons in life. That is honesty and truth.

Andrea continues to hold these friendships close to her heart. Andrea has always been a passionate and curious person. She embraces possibilities and feels that this has led her to achieve many goals. Today Andrea is a Year 5 teacher at the college. Andrea feels a strong sense of support from the school, past teachers, classroom peers and family members. From this support Andrea has gained a strong sense of confidence and continues to be a passionate individual.

Written by Dakota Stanford (student)

ANGELINA LAM
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"ORGANISATION IS KEY"

Angelina Lam has been at SMC since Year 8. Her favourite part of her schooling has been being able to 'hang out with friends'. A life lesson SMC has taught her has been good organisation.

She was very stressed in Year 9 when homework became heavier. She learnt many social skills and said that SMC prepared her for later life. An example of this was when she needed to get ready for other things and she had to be super organised. A piece of advice she had was, "Have fun, don't stress, don't get involved in student dramas and don't spend all your time on your phone." She is proud of finishing her homework on time, her good grades and her social skills. SMC has shaped Angelina into the person she is today by teaching her how to solve friendship issues, how to problem solve and also gain lots of knowledge.

Written by Lexi Hopkins (student)

BRONTE MENZ
CURRENT STUDENT

2018-CURRENT

"PERSISTENCE"

Bronte Menz, who is currently in Year 9, has enjoyed the past two years at St Mary's and has learned many valuable lessons in life. The values of Justice that Bronte has been taught in school are an important part of who she is and who she wants to be.

Being able to choose her subjects is important because they will help her when she goes to university and work. Drama and Design have become a passion for Bronte, and she hopes to use them in other aspects of her life, and she wonders how to make them into a career. Bronte has had an amazing experience at St Mary's College and cannot wait for her Senior Year. St Mary's has helped shape Bronte into who she is today because of the great teachers who have taught her, her dedication towards education and all of her friends along the way.

Written by Ava Boffa (student)

ANNA FONTANELLI
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

1985-CURRENT

"MEMORIES"

Mrs Anna Fontanelli, a current teacher at St Mary's started at St Mary's college in 1985. She was fresh out of University, aged twenty, with no teaching experience and not much older than the girls she first taught in Economics and Maths. Her first job was a Maths Teacher and whilst she knew a lot about Mathematics, teaching itself was a different story! However, the Maths Faculty were helpful, encouraging and gave her plenty of teaching tips. She learned a lot in her first year of teaching. A career highlight for Mrs Fontanelli was when a student she taught achieved a Merit in Maths. She was very proud of herself as well as the student.

St Mary's College has been full of surprises, nurturing and memorable for Mrs Fontanelli. She still loves to teach and says she would not be the person today had she not been given the opportunity in 1985.  

Written by Isabella Hasda-Hall (student)

AUDREY FLETCHER
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES"

Audrey Fletcher is currently a successful Year 10 student at St Mary's College. She says that St Mary's College is helping her decide what she's interested in and is helping her choose the job that she wishes to succeed in in the future.

Audrey's most beloved and memorable moment at St Mary's College, was Year 9 Camp, she says it was such a fun experience that she will always remember. Audrey was most surprised when she won the award for Age Champion on Sports Day, a happy bubbly feeling lit up inside her as she did not think that would ever be a possibility.

Audrey is extremely happy with how St Mary's College is teaching her about future opportunities that she is interested in. "St Mary's College is shaping me into the person that I want to be and is always reminding me to study hard and to never give up."

Written by Siena Mazel-Vurlow (student)

BROOKE SIMPSON
CURRENT STUDENT

2013-CURRENT

"ACHIEVEMENTS"

Being a current student since Year 2, Brooke Simpson has immersed herself into the rich curriculum and community of St Mary's College. Brooke definitely loves all the opportunities that she has been given and the ongoing support that she continues to receive.

With Brooke's positive attitude towards school, she was awarded the Middle School "Ethos Award," awarded to students who show social justice and compassion, and through times of doubt show ongoing persistence. Whilst Brooke has been at SMC she has made several memories, for example when she competed in the Walk a Mile in My Boots Challenge and auditioned with some of her friends for St Mary's "Got Talent". Brooke has loved her time at SMC to date, and as she grows older she will remember many life lessons that St Mary's College has taught her. In particular, "how to be the best version of yourself".

Written by Eleanor Gehan (student)

CAMERON GOLDING
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"RELATIONSHIPS"

Cameron Golding, a student of St Mary's College started her education in 2017. Cameron has always been involved in school sporting events and has always focused on study. For Cameron, friendships and lifetime bonds are significant. Cameron has maintained primary school friendships and built new positive relationships at the college.

Cameron has always been involved in school sporting events and has found a way to balance her love for learning and sporting commitments. In Year 9 she went to the Netball Academy in the Gold Coast and came runner up in the grand final. Later that year Cameron got into the 15 and unders South Australian team. Cameron states that St Mary's has helped her get into elite sporting teams through their specialist Netball programs and dedicated coaches. Cameron hopes that all students take on new opportunities and that they are confident in what they do and who they are.

Written by Madison Golding (sister and student)

CLAUDIA CARBONE
OLD SCHOLAR

2007-2019

"APPRECIATION FOR LEARNING"

Some of Claudia's highlights of St Mary's was when she remembers getting her Leader's badge for the Junior School. Claudia says SMC taught her to be grateful for everything because there are others in the world who have nothing. Claudia's anxious time atschool was when she performed her first EYEC with the school band.

St Mary's prepared Claudia for her life by teaching her to be organised and being to be kind to everyone. St Mary's taught her to focus when working and listen to someone when they have something to say. Claudia is very appreciative for learning these skills. She feels that she would have never had the opportunities to go to different states or play music for her audience. Claudia's St Mary's College experience has shaped who she is today by teaching her such vital life skills.

Written by Angela Caiazza (student)

ELLA DAVID
CURRENT STUDENT

2009-CURRENT

"INVOLVEMENT"

Ella David is a current Year 10 student and at St Mary's since Reception 2009. During her time Ella David has made many memories, including friendships, participation at the End of year Eucharistic Celebration and more. She enjoyed the community gatherings that St Mary's has held because she appreciated seeing the whole school come together. She always believed that St Mary's is a community orientated school, and she has always enjoyed participating in Sports Days, Swimming Carnivals, Social Justice Days, and other community gatherings that the whole school has been involved in. She has always loved to get involved with the school community.

Ella David says that during her time at St Mary's she has become a better person. The advice she would share with students at St Mary's is to get involved with the school community and to try new things, even though you may not be good at it.

Written by Maja Szmeja (student)

CARMEN GAMBAROTTO
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

1958-1970, 2000-CURRENT

"DETERMINED"

Carmen Gambarotto's strong connection with St Mary's College has lasted a lifetime and has always been her safe place. She attended St Mary's College from reception in 1958 to Year 12 in 1970 and again in 1999 as a teacher. Carmen has many fond memories, some include her Drama group coming runners up in a Drama competition and raising money for the missions. St Mary's College fostered Carmen's love of learning, music, drama and fascination in reading.

From a young age Carmen has always felt the need to see things from a different perspective. She sees that the students at SMC have always been empowered to speak up, have a voice and be strong people. Carmen's time as a student and teacher has taught her that everyone has a story that we need to hear before we pass judgment. St Mary's College shaped Carmen to be resilient, strong and determined.

Written by Mia Bath (student)

CHARLENE DINH
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"OPPORTUNITIES"

Charlene Dinh is grateful for the opportunities she has since starting at St Mary's College in 2017. She was anxious when she started, as she did not know anyone, but she soon realised there was nothing to be worried about. Charlene developed a love for multi-media and editing. She remembers a time where her friends and herself were playing Minecraft in class and the teacher didn't notice. Charlene learned to be grateful and to not think that a small thing is the end of the world. She once had a class project and her friend accidently broke a chair during the process of making the video.

Charlene received a Service Award and was proud to be acknowledged. She is now passionate to help others and is grateful for the opportunities she has received. Her advice for students is to go for opportunities because you don't know unless you try.

Written by Lucinda Wickens (student)

ELLA VANEHOUSE
OLD SCHOLAR

2007-2019

"FRIENDSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT"

The strongest memory Ella holds from her time at St Mary's is the 2018 Oak Valley Immersion Trip. She along with seven other Year 11 students journeyed to the remote Indigenous Community of Oak Valley for 10 days. She says, "This trip was like nothing I had ever experienced before and was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity." This trip, along with her time at the College, taught her a great deal about herself and shaped her into the strong, honest, independent young woman that she is today. Another lasting memory Ella shared was winning the 2019 SMC Swimming Carnival as she is one of three St Catherine's House Captains.

Ella is very grateful for the teachers at St Mary's who supported her during her schooling and prepared her for the future challenges.

Written by Niksha Do (student)

CHLOE JAYE SHARMAN
OLD SCHOLAR

2015-2019

"RESPECT"

Chloe Sharman is a Year 12 student who has been here since Year 8. She has learnt many life lessons, to respect one another and to remember equality. She has a strong memory from Year 12 Retreat as she feels that the whole Year level connected and grew and was surprised by how superb it was. Chloe explained that all the life lessons she learnt have been applied to her world outside of SMC, and in the process has developed a passion for helping other people by supporting other students with their work or any problems they may have even if they just need someone to talk to, Chloe is always there to listen.

Chole mentioned that she is proud of the young lady she is today, and she thinks that the teachers have helped with that. Chloe stated that SMC has shaped her to be more mindful and respectful.

Written by Sofia Maur (student)

CLARE NOCKA
CURRENT PRINCIPAL

2017-CURRENT

"TEAMWORK"

Clare has been Principal since Term Two, 2017. She recalls feeling emotional when she witnessed her first whole school welcome assembly, just seeing everyone gathered was a powerful moment. Her experience of beginning as Principal made Clare nervous yet excited about the new challenge. One important lesson has been to embrace the benefit of having a team approach in leadership. She has developed many skills through working with other leaders, including that of true teamwork.

During her own all girls high school years, Clare embraced learning and valued intelligence in; she realised that young women could be leaders in any chosen field. Her advice to students at St Mary's College is to get involved and make the most of every opportunity presented; you get out of the community what you put in. Celebrating the St Mary's College 150th birthday as leader is one event of which Clare is very proud. She feels honoured to lead the wonderful St Mary's College community; she loves her work and the team she works with.

EMILY DENNIS
CURRENT STUDENT

2010-CURRENT

"SISTERHOOD"

Emily Dennis began her journey at St Marys College in year 1 and has since then developed a love for Music. Passionate about saxophone and clarinet, Emily feels as though St Mary's College has allowed her to explore and develop her musical talent. Emily remembers her first lesson and the feelings of nerves accompanying her. However, throughout years of music, Emily feels confident in performing at both large and more intimate settings. Emily thanks the school's opportunities and the consistent support of her music teacher since her first music lesson in Year 1.

Connections mean a lot for Emily. Her close relationships with friends and staff have given Emily the support she needs. She feels as though she has had a chance to meet new people and try new things. Emily hopes all students try their hardest and to love what they do, because that will make you successful.

Written by Zahli Rypstra (student)

EMILY DELL
CURRENT STUDENT

2016-CURRENT

"ACTIVE"

Emily Dell started at the College in 2016 as a Year 7 student and is set to graduate in 2021. When Emily first started at St Mary's College, she was quiet and nervous however her teachers and Care group made her feel part of a large community. In year 7 she made new friends and memories in which she will always cherish.

Emily enjoys participating in outdoor and sports activities. She is enrolled in Outdoor Education and has played both Volleyball and Netball for the school. In Year 9 Emily was pleased to be the captain of the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup in Melbourne, 2018. Emily is excited for years ahead at the college and what her last years will bring. She aims to study hard and enjoy these moments with her friends. Emily's advice to current and future students is to surround yourself with people who make you happy.

Written by Lexi Dell (sister and student)

DAN-VY NGUYEN
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"MEMORIES"

Dan-Vy Nguyen or Vy to her friends, started in Year 8 at St Mary's College and is now a current Year 10 student. In 2018 Vy attended the Year 9 camp to the Grampians. She was over-joyed that she was able to do so many different activities that she hadn't done before.

Vy developed her passion for music and has participated in many musical events. Her most nerve-racking event was leading up to Generations in Jazz. But by the end was ecstatic with the results. Vy says involvement with extracurricular activities is important as you will meet new people and develop stronger relationships, not just with girls in your grade but in other year levels as well. During her time at St Mary's College, Vy has had many amazing memories and will still have many more to come. She will always look back on her time with appreciation and affection.

Written by Abbey Lockley (student)

DINA TSEREGOUNES
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

2001-2007

"PASSIONATE"

Old Scholar and current teacher at St Marys' College, Dina Tseregounes was the first Social Justice Captain to create Vinnies on Parade Fundraiser and International Women's Day biscuits. Throughout Dina's education from 2001 to 2007, Dina was passionate about caring for our wider community. The school's Justice focus influenced Dina to volunteer in India to help with the poverty and the food and water shortage, eventually leading her to become a teacher.

Some highlights at St Mary's College were spending time with her best friends, being a Social Justice Captain, formals and Social Justice days. Dina is currently teaching Year 2 students, guiding them to have a flexible open-mindset and informing them on what is happening with the world around them. Dina states that her experiences have helped her realise that even if you are not the good at something you should try your best and take risks.

Written by Deanne Zampogna (student)

HANNAH McCARTHY-OLIVER
TEACHER

1999-CURRENT

"PRODUCTIONS"

Mrs McCarthy-Oliver is currently Coordinator of Drama and started working at the college  in 1999. She has also been the Arts Design Technology Coordinator. School productions, she said, are the most fulfilling, exciting and teambuilding experiences to be involved with. Although stressful they are all full of emotions. Every day she learns more and more about theatre, drama and education which she also pursues outside of school. Through productions she has learnt a lot about supporting each other as a community and being true.

Mrs McCarthy-Oliver has seen some major changes in the subject area she works in. She said we did not have Senior School Drama or the Centre for the performing Arts when she started. All the productions have been the highlights in her life along with building relationships and seeing students succeed. St Mary's is a very dear place to her with all the highs and lows she has  gone through in life.

Written by Isis Estella Golotta (student)

HILLARY THURSBY
OLD SCHOLAR & JUSTICE CAPTAIN

2012-2019

"YOU ARE MORE THAN CAPABLE OF ACHIEVING EXTRAORDINARY THINGS"

In 2012 Hillary Thursby walked into the gates of St Mary's. Hillary experienced happiness that has shaped her into the person she is today. In 2018 Hillary participated in the Cambodia Pilgrimage which she will cherish forever. In Year 10 she won the Simpson Prize and was an Oak Tree Ambassador. Hillary has been in the choir, played the flute and piano.

These experiences are the things she has remembered the most and reflects on these events and what they have taught her. Hillary's advice for girls at St Mary's is to be confident and try your best in everything. In Year 7 Hillary struck a deal with Mr Batty to raise a certain amount of money for Project Compassion. They reached their goal and he dyed his hair pink. Hillary has learnt how to empower others to do their best because she believes everyone can make a difference in the world.

Written by Sophie Crippin (student)

KEVIN HANNAM
ESO

1992-CURRENT

"BE KIND AND HELPFUL"

Kevin has been working at St Marys College for 25 years as an Education Support Officer (ESO) in the Maintenance Department. In his working career, Kevin has worked in three jobs, ten of these years as a house husband. Kevin was a parent first at the College. His daughters, Carol and Kelly started in 1992. He was heavily involved with his daughter's sporting events and has continued to work with the swimming teams. Kevin has performed various roles in his work and in his early days, he remembers being the Traffic Monitor at the Franklin Street crossing.

Kevin has loved helping with the Japanese exchange students, driving  music students involved in Generations of Jazz to Mount Gambier. Kevin said about his role, "You have to do what you have to do to help the students". Some advice that Kevin has, "Enjoy yourself, do the best with your subject choices".

Written by Matilda Plunkett (student)

HOLLY ARNOLD
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"CONFIDENCE"

Holly Arnold is attending St Mary's as a Year 10 student. She started here as a shy Year 8 feeling extremely overwhelmed. Eventually, with the help of friends and teachers, Holly felt placid and appreciated. Holly's first day was anyone's worst nightmare: going to a new place, not knowing anyone and getting lost in a massive school. Ever since then, Holly thinks making friends and staying organised is vital.

Holly studies Art and Design at school. At first, she was daunted by these unfamiliar activities, but Holly loved both of these subjects. She is now inspired to draw, create and take on new experiences. Although she's still in school, Holly is organised, independent and makes friends quickly. She expressed that trying things may be intimidating but pulling out of an opportunity will not pay off. Holly has benefited from being at St Mary's and is excited about a more confident future.

Written by Ava Arnold (sister and student)

ISABELLA PORTARO
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"BE YOURSELF"

Isabella Portaro is a current student at SMC. She has been at SMC for three years and has two more years left. In Year 8 she was quite shy and a bit timid, so she didn't really talk to many people. However, in Year 9 she talked a lot more and made many more friends.Year 9 Camp was Bella's strongest memory because she made many friends and had a great learning experience. Bella learnt she had to be organised and not to leave anything until the last minute.
 
Bella's advice for younger students at SMC is always be yourself and if you are asked to do anything, just do it! She is proud she is a SMC girl and proud she's a strong, independent woman. SMC has shaped her today as she has become a better person and now is herself. She is proud she is a SMC student.

Written by Ruby Williams (student)

KAYLA KAPINIARIS
OLD SCHOLAR

2017-2019

"CLOSE FRIENDSHIPS"

Friends have been a big part of Kayla's school life. Her memories include when she was in Year 9, her classmates surprised her for her birthday, and she skipped lunch to get HJ's! In Year 8 she started at SMC and met her best friend to this day, Pia-Carla Bernardi. Advice Kayla has provided me with is, to keep your friends close and to hand in your homework on time. Kayla is proud of how much she has changed, especially her personality. When she started here, she was shy. She thinks St Mary's brought out the real her and taught her to be herself.

Since being at St Mary's for four years Kayla has changed and grown into a mature and independent young woman. St Mary's has helped her to be herself and she feels she will leave with lifelong friends and experiences she will treasure forever.

Written by Tyanna Krecu (student)

ISHA SAINI
OLD SCHOLAR

2017-2019

"POSITIVE"

Isha Saini has attended four different schools including St Mary's College and feels that the college has allowed her to grow into a confident woman. Starting in 2017 in Year 10, Isha will graduate in 2019. Throughout Isha's time at St Mary's she has formed strong connections and built positive friendships. Isha cherishes these and feels that it is through her connections that make her the person she is today.

Isha has loved attending the annual school's camps and feels that camps are a chance to place you outside of your comfort zone and an opportunity to make new friends from other classes. St Mary's has allowed Isha to follow her passion and supported her throughout her education. Isha has developed a balance between social life and schooling and feels confident in seeking help from teachers. Isha hopes that all students take the opportunity to be involved in school activities.

Written by Ash Saini (sister and student)

JASMIN PARASIERS
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

2001-2005, 2011-CURRENT

"COMMUNITY AND CONNECTIONS"

Jasmin Parasiers has been teaching here for eight years, including her practice teaching. Before that she was a student for Year 8 to 12. Ms Thursby and Mr Ray were the two people who inspired her to be a teacher. St Mary's has taught her about justice, equality and to help other people. The craziest thing she did with her friends was use butter from the canteen to get a suntan on the K11 ramp. Her scariest class was Year 9 English, but this taught her to be the best writer she could be.

She learnt that St Mary's is a community and the connections you make here are lifelong. One of her proudest moments now is when she helps a student with a subject and they come back with a better grade. Her time at St Mary's has been inspiring, and she has been especially inspired by her students.

Written by Tara Whiteley (student)

KAREN VONDERWALL
TEACHER

1991-CURRENT

"LIFELONG MEMORIES"

Since 1991, Karen Vonderwall has had the opportunity to teach at St Mary's College. She began her teaching role and Sports Coordinator until 2004. During her time as Sports Coordinator, she formed an Aerobics troupe who travelled to National Competitions. Karen was overwhelmed with pride for the students as they won a National Aerobic Championship. Once she resigned from that position in 2012, she moved to teaching Year 12 Hospitality and Nutrition.

She is a valued staff member at St Mary's and continues to share her knowledge with the young women who attend SMC. Karen continues to offer her time and effort to the St Mary's community and will remain to make lifelong memories. She has built strong relationships with the students and other staff members through her teaching career. Through Karen's journey she has treasured every moment and remains a pivotal part of St Mary's College.

Written by Lucy Palmer (student)

JOANNE SURMAN
TEACHER

1998-CURRENT

"EVERYONE MATTERS"

Joanne Surman was living the life of a single woman when she started teaching at St Mary's College 20 years ago. She has many memories and loves all the jokes shared with teachers and students, and how well she can connect with them. Often the students surprise her in a positive way and are a pleasure to teach. Joanne had taught many different Science subjects and year levels; her youngest year level being in Primary School and the oldest Year 12.

Her advice for students today is to be grateful for being here as 'everyone matters and is thought about'. She also has many connections with past teachers and students from the college. Her experiences helped shape who she is today and have made her appreciate what she has in her life. Joanne believes if she didn't come to St Mary's she would not be the person she is today.

Written by Lily Freer (student)

JORDAN McCARD
CURRENT STUDENT

2016-CURRENT

"LESSONS FOR LIFE"

Jordan's strongest memory is when she was worried that she wouldn't make friends. However, some girls from her class came up to her and sat with her, they soon became Jordan's friends. Her proudest moment was making friends because she kept doubting that she'd ever make some. One of her biggest life lessons from St Mary's is, you do not always have to be included in things which doesn't mean you shouldn't push yourself. Another is to work as part of a team, even when you don't know the people you are working with, after all it's a team effort!

She believes school will prepare her for her future job and assist her in organisation, especially prioritising tasks. Saint Mary's has helped her to be who she is and has inspired her to be more outgoing rather than shy, Jordan now has the confidence to ask for help with her work.

Written by Amy Clune (student)

KAROLINA SZMEJA
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"EXPERIENCE"

Karolina Szmeja, a current student since 2017, has strong connections with the community. Her advice to students remains constant: have fun, as you go to school once in a lifetime. She is passionate about being a leader and doing acts of kindness. Karolina mentioned the Grampians trip as her strongest memory. She felt that this experience developed her social skills, and she enjoyed attempting all the activities... The craziest thing that she did was the "Crazy Hair Day" as she got to be her unique self. Karolina is studious and her interest to study, helps her to enjoy school.

Throughout these years, Karolina has enjoyed every moment. She is thankful to the teachers for offering her an education. Since coming to this school, she has become a strong person. Karolina has two more years of secondary education and is looking forward to university saying she will truly miss the community.

Written by Sirisha Subramani (student)

LORNA STARRS
DEPUTY PRINCIPAL

2011-CURRENT

"BE CONFIDENT IN YOURELF"

Lorna Starrs is the Deputy Principal at St Mary's College and her job is to work with students in Reception to Year 12. She said the community at St Mary's is very important as it brings everyone together and one which unifies and gives meaning to the spirit at St Mary's.

St Mary's has given Lorna many important life lessons and all these understandings have come from students who have experienced some tough times in their life. She has learnt how important relationships are at St Mary's and acknowledges it takes hard work to maintain positive relationships. The skills Lorna uses when she works restoratively with students, helps them to have conversations that repair their relationship with others. She also works by listening and being empathetic when working with all students. Lorna said one piece of advice is to be comfortable with yourself.

Written by Hannah Bugeja (student)

LUCY JUDD
OLD SCHOLAR

2015-2019

"AMAZING EXPERIENCES"

Lucy is a Year 12 student at St Mary's and has been here since Year 8 in 2015.

She went to Oak Valley in Year 11; she enjoyed her time there because she got to leave life behind to take a minute to think and form strong connections with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Lucy also went on the Ireland trip where she stayed with a family and went to school there. It was one of the best experiences in her life so far.

Lucy believes that organisation and confidence are good skills. Lucy hasn't left yet but believes this school has taught her lots of life lessons and has helped her to be an amazing person. Lucy says to always try your best and try new things. Lucy played the flute and is proud of her commitment to the school and the school bands. St Mary's is amazing; she is glad she spent her time here. Lucy believes that it has been the best five years of her life.

Written by Abby Judd (sister and student)

OLIVIA NOVAKOV
CURRENT STUDENT

2012-CURRENT

"INDEPENDENCE AND HAPPINESS"

Olivia Novakov is a current student at SMC. She came to SMC in 2012 for Year 3 and will continue until 2021. She remembers a day at SMC when she decided to go down a slide, due to wet conditions she fell off! Olivia continually says, 'Be yourself to make friends and be the best person you can be.'
 
She was excited to play an important part in her Junior School play. SMC encouraged Olivia to play many instruments including violin, piano, bass and drums. Throughout the start of Olivia's schooling at SMC she struggled with friendships and work, so she became a Big Sister in 2019 to help students in their first years at SMC.

SMC shaped Olivia to be a strong leader, an independent woman and to be a welcoming person. She wants all students to enjoy every moment with their friends, follow the rules as applied and respect everyone.

Written by Bianca Portaro (student)

LYNDA JUSTIN BARBER
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

1996-2001, 2007-2019

"FRIENDSHIPS ARE PRECIOUS"

Lynda attended St Marys, but then came back in 2007 and still works here today as a Year 8 and 9 Maths and Science teacher. She said that as a student in Year 12 the friendships you form are important because you are about to embark on something quite different. Year 12 was stressful but having friends was good support and significant memories were retreats, formal and graduation.

Teaching her first class in 2007, meeting her students was nerve wracking and exciting. Lynda learned many life lessons, including the importance of community and friendships. She was part of the Music program playing clarinet and in Year 12 she did reading with the Receptions and Year 3s. As a teacher she helped with the Big Sister Program. Her advice is not wishing your time away; things are challenging at times, but you should work through those moments because time is precious.

Written by Scarlet Vandepeer (student)

MARIAH VIZZARI
CURRENT STUDENT

2016-CURRENT

"CONFIDENCE IS KEY"

When Mariah first started at St Mary's College, she was very shy. Over the years she made friends and became more confident.

Being at St Mary's has taught her many things, like managing her time responsibly, so she never leaves assignments and homework until the last minute. She says that attending this school has helped her develop a deep passion for music. Mariah is currently part of the Concert Choir and has vocal lessons. She is also part of the Big Sister Program. Mariah is very happy that she chose St Mary's over other schools. She says that what she has, and will learn here, will greatly help her in later life. Her message to the younger students is, 'Try your best and always think positive. Remember there is always room for improvement.' Going to school at St Mary's has helped Mariah build up her confidence and become more motivated.

Written by Sienna Nickless (student)

OLIVIA GEORGIOU
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"EMPATHY"

Olivia Georgiou has attended the school since beginning in Year 8. She developed a passion for school sport and being part of the community, after graduating she plans to continue with some aspect of sport. A memory of Olivia's was making close friends and working together in class. Year 9 was a year where they bonded so well, it was when she felt happiest. She learnt respectful social skills and how to react appropriately.

Sometimes you have to look past small conflicts because there's often a reason as to why they're acting out. A lesson she learnt is to be respectful of everyone regardless of who they are, it's important to enter situations with a growth mindset to understand another perspective. Advice she would share with another student is to enjoy school in general while you can and not to stress about the future because then you're going through it twice.

Written by Jana Jinaro (student)

MELINDA O'HARA
OLD SCHOLAR & ESO

1988-1992, 2016-CURRENT

"FOLLOW YOUR PASSION"

Melinda O'Hara started at St Mary's College in 1988, when she was 12 years old. At the time, Marie Dorrington was the principal. She remembers her Year 8 classroom being on the third floor of the Moore building and the Middle School Library was located on the second floor. She also recalls boys attending SMC in the Junior School. Melinda's favourite subjects were Maths and Woodwork taught by Mr Waigth. She also enjoyed, English and Religion with Sister Mary Matthews, who was the last nun teaching at the school. She remembers her least favourite subject being PE. The summer uniform was pale blue with stripes.

SMC provided Melinda with many positive experiences, where she felt a sense of belonging and was accepted into the school community. Her happiest memories were the friendships formed, eating two chocolate donuts with a friend every morning before school started and being elected for SRC.

Written by Hannah Ismail (student)

NICOLE COPPOLA
CURRENT STUDENT

2015-CURRENT

"CONNECTIONS"

Nicole Coppola started her schooling in 2015 in Year 6. Nicole's time at St Mary's College has helped her establish strong connections with her friends and the wider community. Passionate about Social Justice, Nicole values the schools emphasis on helping those in need. A strong memory for Nicole was when she went on year 9 camp to Rose Gap. She completed hikes and achieved things such as jumping off the giant pole and the giant swing with her friends. These moments have built confidence. In 2018 Nicole decided to become a Big Sister to the 2019 Year 7s. The process included interviews and applications as to why Nicole would be best suited to the role. Nicole states 'being a Big Sister has been very eventful and provided a special experience.'

Nicole has continued to strengthen her friendships with her peers, teachers and been a role model to younger year levels.

Written by Tehya Bird (student)

NICOLE CERMONA
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

2008-CURRENT

"COMMUNITY"

Nicole Cermona, a current Primary School teacher and former St Mary's College student. St Mary's has taught her to be a young, confident and helpful person underpinned by the power of opportunity and community. While at school, Nicole studied Italian as a language and later used her knowledge when travelling to Italy with the Year 10 Language Immersion Trip. Nicole kept in close contact with St Mary's College and attended Year 12 Retreats as an Old Scholar. Since completing a degree in Teaching, Nicole is now a 2019 Year 6 teacher.

Nicole has always dreamt of having her own class and to bring joy to her students through new opportunities and learning skills. The most important thing that St Mary's College has taught her is the power of a community and how important having a support system is. Nicole states that she would not be who she is today without St Mary's College.

Written by Autumn Wijesinghe (student)

RENEE IRVINE
TEAHCER & ESO

1994-CURRENT

"MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY OPPORTUNITY"

Renee Irvine started working at SMC in 1994. She currently works as the Director of Middle School, teaches a Year 9 class and prepares the timetables. Her strongest memories from her time at St Mary's were camps she has been on and the School Production, 'Wind in the Willows', where she played a duck and she was taller than all the other ducks in the play.

Renee's time at St Mary's taught her everything she knows about teaching, values and being a leader. Relationships with students and parents have helped her be a better parent to her daughters. Her previous times at SMC come back to her when she sees old scholars. Advice that she has for current students at St Mary's is to take every opportunity offered and make the most of them. SMC has shaped who she is today, she wouldn't be the same if she hadn't worked here.

Written by Amali Prins (student)

RENEE TSOULOS
OLD SCHOLAR & TEACHER

2010-2014, 2019-CURRENT

"COMMUNITY"

Renee Tsoulos is a past student and now teacher of the College. The College is at the centre of Renee's identity. Renee is proud to be part of the St Mary's community and holds her connections with her peers and teachers close. The teachers at St Mary's inspired Renee to become a teacher herself. She remembers her teachers being passionate and dedicated to their roles. Renee feels that the College has taught her to be confident, resilient, honest and welcoming to others.

As a student Renee enjoyed Social Justice Days and spending time with her friends. Now, as a teacher Renee loves coming back each day and putting 100% in everything that she does. At first, she felt nervous coming back to school as a teacher but now she feels settled. Renee states that no matter what you're going through, there's always a place for you at St Mary's College.

Written by Felicity Cheng (student)

ZOE WITKOWSKI
OLD SCHOLAR

2006-2019

"PASSIONATE"

Zoe Witkowski's time at St Mary's College started in 2006 when she was in Reception. Since day one Zoe has always been a passionate young girl who places a huge emphasis on justice and caring for the community. In 2018 Zoe was selected to travel to Vietnam for the school's annual Immersion trip. Zoe defines this experience as a 'life changing opportunity' that gave her an opportunity to grow as a person and to learn about gratitude, teamwork and resilience. Zoe's advice to anyone at St Mary's is to always get involved in the extra-curricular activities like arts, sports and charity work.

Zoe understands that there are opportunities in life to help others and is grateful to the college for providing Zoe with such experiences. Zoe feels that St Mary's has prepared her for life and that her passion for caring for people has been and continues to be supported.

Written by Amelai Page (student)

ROSIE CATRALL
OLD SCHOLAR

2015-2019

"PERSPECTIVE"

Rosie Catrall began her time at the college in 2015 and will graduate in 2019. Rosie feels that the college has prepared her for her future, building her into a confident and empowered individual. A significant moment for Rosie was when she travelled to Cambodia in 2017 to volunteer and help young kids and their families. This experience has deepened Rosie's understanding of the world and provided Rosie with a different perspective on life. For 10 days Rosie taught English in a centre for kids. While this was rewarding, it was also challenging as Rosie wasn't familiar with the language.

Rosie feels the college has helped her with many things like confidence and standing up for what she believes in. Rosie has enjoyed her time at the college and has learnt life lessons. Her piece of advice for girls at St Marys is to make sure you experience it all.

Written by Ava Johnson (student)

RUBY NOBLE
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"EXPERIENCE AND FRIENDSHIPS"

Ruby Noble is a current student since 2017 and has worked with a wide range of people who have taught her new abilities. She says that the school has given her tremendous knowledge and appreciation. She has had many leadership moments which have helped her gain confidence and that working hard pays off and it will help in the long run.

Ruby made strong friendships with her peers and teachers, learning life long lessons while at St Mary's College. Some strong favourite memories are camps and interacting with peers and doing silly things with friends. She says friends made SMC most memorable experience. Ruby said that the work opportunities have helped her with finding employments and small talk. Some advice she would give to students is to keep calm under pressure and accept things for the way they are because it won't change if you think about it.

Written by Amelia Noble (sister and student)

VICTORIA SEVERIN
CURRENT STUDENT

2016-CURRENT

"OPPORTUNITIES AND FRIENDSHIPS"

Victoria Severin started at St Mary's College in Year 7 2016. From then on has found opportunities and friendships have been a major part of her experience. She has bonded with many students from her Year nine class last year. Vicky made friends with people she never thought she'd hang out with. Being educated at a city school, Vicky had the chance to experience meeting many new, lovely and delightful students and staff from all over Adelaide.

Another topic that Vicky spoke about was that there are so many activities offered at SMC. Vicky's advice to students is to take every chance that is given and investigate it before you decide, you never know you may like it. During these opportunities, she enjoyed meeting new people and getting out of her comfort zone. Therefore, St Mary's has helped her find confidence in herself and build strong relationships with her peers.

Written by Ailish Hutchinson (student)

SARAH FREEZE
CURRENT STUDENT

2008-CURRENT

"CREATIVE"

Sarah Freeze started her schooling as a reception in 2008 and is very grateful of her education and the opportunities that have been presented. Sarah has been an SRC and a Big Sister in the Year 10 Big Sister Program and feels that St Mary's has helped prepare her for her future. Sarah remembers being in Year 5 and being dared to put glitter all over the floor.

While Sarah and her friends found it amusing, the teacher did not. This memory is something that Sarah and her friends laugh at today. Passionate about playing the Flute, Sarah has been able to learn music since starting at the college. Sarah has performed in solo and in larger bands. Music continues to be a positive experience for Sarah. Sarah feels confident in playing and speaking in front of people and feels this confidence has grown throughout her time at the college.

Written by Ava Fleming (student)

SOPHIE TEAKLE
OLD SCHOLAR

2006-2019

"SUPPORTIVE, FUN, CHALLENGING"

Sophie recalled St Mary's as a place where she has made friendships that will last forever. Being involved with SRC, Sophie discovered a sense of leadership and a love of doing things to benefit others. Perhaps it was this sense that led her onto the Vietnam Pilgrimage; discovering new perspectives on life.

Having had many challenges at school has instilled a sense of determination that Sophie never would have discovered if not for her teachers. Sophie found a sense of belonging at St Mary's and learnt the lesson of not trying to change yourself for others, realising that the right people will find you if you stay true to yourself. Looking back on her time at school, Sophie realised just how much her friends and teachers have shaped the person she is today; a strong, independent woman who is ready to explore the outside world as she graduates this year.

Written by Kiara Hutchinson (student)

VASILIA ANTONIOU
CURRENT STUDENT

2013-CURRENT

"CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS"

In 2014, Vasilia was chosen to play Rapunzel in the school play, Princess Whatshername. Vasilia became fond of music around Year 7 and her Music teachers encouraged her to join choir, which she enjoyed. Vasilia's advice for students at SMC is, don't stress. She said, "School will only get more challenging but if you get stressed about the little things you are going to find yourself getting overwhelmed quickly." In Year 9, Vasilia accidentally ran onto her teacher's chair, leaned too far and broke it. At the time, Vasilia was very scared, but now it is something she can look back and laugh about.

Vasilia's SMC experience has given her life skills. She has faced good and challenging times; she has learnt to be resilient. She believes we need to embrace all experiences. Most importantly know when to have fun, when to be serious and finding a healthy balance between the two.

Cowritten by Ioanna Antoniou and Summa Arrizza (student)

TANA CHIRARA
CURRENT STUDENT

2017-CURRENT

"SISTERHOOD"

Tana Chirara started as a Year 8 in 2017 and has had many opportunities to become independent and self-reliant. Tana believes that men and women are equals, so that the world can be balanced. She has developed a passion for Design that has helped her take the initiative for school posters and websites.

SMC has opened Tana's eyes to the possibilities and achievements for women. Being independent has inspired Tana to live her life and dream out loud. She has learnt to take charge and to not be afraid of the challenges ahead. While at St Mary's College, Tana has taken responsibilities in the roles of Justice Representative, Big Sister and SRC. SMC had helped her become more confident in being able to step up. The teachers have helped her to believe that women can do anything and everything. She has become more open-minded and thinking about her surroundings.  

Written by Savannah Douangphoumy (student)

TRACEY THURSBY
TEACHER & ESO

1998-CURRENT

"I AM PRIVILEDGED"

Tracey Thursby is the Director of Teaching and Learning. She has been at SMC since 1998, starting as a teacher. She remembers the fire alarm going off in her interview as a funny memory. Another is when the Year 12 Care Group Teachers dressed up as nuns and ran around the school telling kids to say their prayers. SMC is where Tracey feels she belongs. Tracey has been deeply influenced by the Cambodia trip and seeing that we aren't so different. She discovered that learning is the most important thing girls need. It is her belief that it's not about the money, it's the kids. She feels so fortunate and privileged.

A moment of nostalgia was the Old Scholar Reunion and seeing the students she taught many years ago with their family. She says anyone can do anything and that's what makes SMC so special. SMC has made her optimistic.

Written by Isabella Rogers