Dear Parents and Caregivers,






I welcome each and every one of you back to our school for the second half of the first semester.

The vacation break was not a happy one for our community with the loss of two of our parents who passed away.

  • Mrs Margaret Dias (mother of Madison, 12) at the age of 40 years and was laid to rest on 9 April 2015.
  • Mr Greg Doyle (father of Josephine (10) and Isabella (2014)) at the age of 49 years and laid to rest on 24 April 2015.
  • Amy Le (8) also lost her maternal grandmother.

We will all keep Madison, Josephine and Amy in our prayers as they return to school and try to re-connect with their studies.

Prayer for Strength when Grieving

Lord, at the moment nothing seems to be able to help the loss we feel. Our hearts are broken and our spirits mourn.  All we know is that Your grace is sufficient. This day, this hour Moment by moment We choose to lean on You,  For when we are at our weakest Your strength is strongest.  We pour out our grief to You And praise You that on one glorious day  When all suffering is extinguished and love has conquered  We shall walk together again. Amen.

Some wonderful news we did receive was that Mr Guthrie and his wife celebrated the safe arrival of their little daughter Carter Ruby Guthrie. What a great blessing she is for her family!


NAPLAN: 12-14 MAY 2015





As NAPLAN 2015 approaches, we are starting to hear the same sweeping statements and assertions, questioning its value despite numerous ­independent reports and parent testimonials declaring its value. In just over two weeks, nearly one million Australian school students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will take the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy test (­NAPLAN).

Rob Randall, CEO at the Australian Curriculum, ­Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has recently come out in defence of the NAPLAN tests. We know the value placed on NAPLAN by educators, parents and students. They understand it provides information about how children are going at school and is a baseline for conversations with teachers. The data produced by NAPLAN are high quality and any other suggestion is simply an attempt to scaremonger those who value it.

Some people wonder if NAPLAN causes anxiety for children. It’s natural for children to feel a little anxious ­before tests. We encourage familiarisation with NAPLAN, especially for Year 3 students, but it’s up to the adults in a child’s life to put NAPLAN into context — NAPLAN accounts for less than four hours of testing, four times over seven years of schooling.

Here’s a typical NAPLAN Year 5 mathematics question:

Which one equals 564?

5 + 6 + 4

50 + 60 + 4

500 + 40 + 6

500 + 60 + 4

This question refers to a mathematical concept known as “place value”. Understanding this is something most take for granted. We need to know children understand it. It forms the basis of more complex understanding that serves students ­beyond school. Why wouldn’t adults want to know if their child can answer such questions? And know how they compare with other students?

Last year, to respond to criticism that teachers were teaching to the writing test, we chose not to release the writing genre in advance, encouraging the teaching of both narrative and persuasive writing techniques.

The debate about NAPLAN’s value is a tired one. NAPLAN has been ­supported consistently by education authorities, policymakers, school authorities, principal associations, parents and students. NAPLAN development costs amount to a fraction of 1 per cent of education expenditure. The data we get are invaluable.

We hope more people understand the value of ensuring our children have the foundations of literacy and numeracy in place. And if they don’t, knowing this as early as possible. We hope everyone will join us on the education journey designed to build a better future for all young Australians.”

There are a few states/territories who have websites with practice papers. I have included the links for you here so that students can be well-prepared for what they will need to demonstrate in exam conditions: Namely:

Northern Territory:



and  (this is not a free site but has a useful app)



Princess Free Zone






Towards the end of last term, we conducted a comprehensive audit of uniform and we were taken aback by the number of girls who repeatedly come to school with make-up on, inappropriate nails for school (coloured varnish and length) and wearing excessive jewellery. The over-reaction of few of our girls to being corrected in these areas was really disappointing with tears, tantrums and the inevitable involvement of parents defending the breaking of clearly established rules. Girls behaving like real, little princesses; expecting to always get their way. I googled the Princess Syndrome and found a wonderful blog that I would like to share with you.

A girl who suffers from Princess Syndrome (PS) lives life as a fairy-tale: focusing only on the pretty things, putting herself as the centre of the universe, and obsessing about her looks (even if she’s only headed to the playground or sport). While this can be fun and whimsical when a girl is a toddler, it can also set the tone for how she develops into a young woman, influencing her self-esteem, her dependence on others, how she takes care of herself and how empowered she feels in her life.

There are messages everywhere presented to girls that being a princess is the best, and only, way to be. In today’s society, with its focus on appearance, having only the finest things, and the need to be number one, it is understandable that girls are having a difficult time deciphering the messages they observe.

And why wouldn’t they? Abercrombie and Fitch, a nationally known clothing company, sells bikinis with push up tops in them designed for children as young as five. How do young girls learn that they have worth beyond their appearance, when the inordinate amount of pressure on them to “do this” or “look like that” begins so young? And, while this pressure might have started as a teenager in the past, current research shows that girls as young as eleven are having issues with their bodies.

Parents often have the misconception that their daughters can avoid being affected by the messages they are receiving. Unfortunately, as well intentioned as this idea is, it takes an incredible amount of self-confidence and self-awareness to avoid being seduced by these messages. Advertising is incredibly powerful and impacts all of us at all ages. Expecting your daughter, at age 3, 4, or 5 to understand that life is better if you have solid values, good friends and a healthy lifestyle, in comparison to the princess lifestyle, is unrealistic. It is up to you, as a parent, to combat the pressures coming from the outside.

Of course, it isn’t solely about appearance and impaired body image, when considering Princess Syndrome. It is also important to consider the other messages that your daughter gets from the fairy tale life she creates. She may learn that she cannot be self-sufficient, and that she has to rely on a saviour to make it all better. This can include friendships that are vapid and superficial, boyfriends who get to dictate to her what she can and cannot do, and a lack of internal motivation because she “expects” it all to come to her. Being a princess has its place; being a princess who is empowered to create her kingdom herself? A much better option.

So, what can a parent do to help his/her daughter create her own happily ever after? Your first instinct may be to try to shield your daughter from all potentially negative influences. Unfortunately, this is virtually impossible. Rather than avoid it, teach her how to deal with the pressure, and help her to develop positive self-esteem, a realistic body-image and self-sufficiency.

As a parent, you can teach your daughter how to replace the unhealthy “princess symptoms” with positive “heroine values.” By starting young, you can set the stage for your daughter as she grows up. But where to start?

The changes start with you. As you become more aware of the messages in toys, clothing, and television shows, you can begin to share them with your daughter and teach her things that will help her create a more positive, empowered sense of herself. Below are some skills to work on developing with your daughter. It’s never too early to start.

  1. Question the media: Teach your daughter to be an educated consumer and to think about the messages she receives. Start to help her formulate questions about the things she wants, why she likes certain celebrities, why appearance may be so important. Help her to develop her own ideas about what it means to be strong, independent and confident, and to seek out similar things within the media.
  2. Teach her about dressing appropriately: Everywhere you turn, clothes are getting skimpier and skimpier. Skirts are getting shorter; tops are getting tighter. Similarly, clothes that used to be appropriate for teens are now being worn by year fivers. Start early teaching your daughter about the messages she sends by the clothes she wears. You certainly are not going to get into a discussion with your five year old about what is sexy. You may, though, talk about what might be more comfortable or easy to wear when playing with her friends, and how much more fun she will have if she is comfortable. This does not mean thwarting your daughter’s individuality and sense of style. In fact, it may mean promoting it. Let her be mismatched. She’s exploring who she is, and having fun while doing it. Support us at school when we set and enforce rules that are around what is appropriate for learning.
  3. Help her find her voice: Encourage your daughter to speak up and ask questions. If she sees something she doesn’t like, a doll or a shirt with a mixed message, support her choice to talk with you about it. If she comes to you with a concern, make the time to talk with her. All too often girls avoid speaking up for fear of damaging relationships they may have. The more comfortable they feel talking with you about their feelings, and the earlier this starts, the more likely they will be able to do it as they develop into teens (which is when you really want them talking with you).
  4. Remember: Conformity is not required: sometimes your daughter is going to want what other kids have, just because they have it. Giving in to this pressure is easy to do. Help guide your daughter to understand that being an individual is good. Encourage her to embrace her differences and even celebrate them! This will only help her as she grows up and develops a strong sense of herself, her likes and dislikes and in how she determines what she will or will not do.

Throughout your daughter’s development, she will be pulled in lots of directions to act, think and behave in certain ways. As her parent, it is important to use your influence to help direct her towards choosing things that will promote her ability to find her best self, and fight the allure of the princess syndrome. Getting her into some “princess recovery” might be the best way to help your daughter grow into the heroine you know she can be.









We know what happened on 25 April one hundred years ago at Anzac Cove. The facts have been much reported and photographed. But what’s less clear is the meaning of the facts; that’s why we have so many different interpretations of what happened. Was it a defeat, a victory, a stalemate? Was the outcome decided by the bungling of the British or the stout defence of the Turks and the prowess of their leader, Ataturk? Who knows? The play of interpretation will continue ad infinitum.

Among the many interpretations, one of the more curious has emerged recently in certain circles. It claims that what happened at Gallipoli was the victory of Allah over the Christian infidels from the West who launched the attack. This can be explained by the political and ideological pressures at work in Turkey and elsewhere at this time. But it also provokes reflection of a different kind.

Before and after all else, Gallipoli was a triumph of the human spirit against the odds and in the most appalling circumstances. In one sense, it was a defeat for all who took part; there were no winners. But in another sense it was a victory for all who took part – Allied and Turkish. This is because courage prevailed over cowardice, self-sacrifice over self-interest, fidelity over fear, tenacity over terror, humanity over horror.

We glimpse this in a figure like the Catholic chaplain, Fr John Fahey, who landed with the troops in the first assault at dawn and survived the entire campaign. The order had gone out that the chaplains were to come ashore on day two or three, because all the space in the first boats was needed for the fighting men. But the order never reached Fr Fahey. So ashore he went, bullets flying everywhere and men falling all around him. He stayed on the beach tending the wounded; he wanted to climb the cliffs to attend the dead but decided to stay with those still living. His is only one of thousands of stories of extraordinary heroism from ordinary men and women.

Because of such stories, Gallipoli – though a military disaster – was a human triumph which cannot be forgotten. Because Gallipoli was a triumph of the human spirit, it was a triumph of the God who, in Jesus Christ crucified and risen, redefines for ever victory and defeat. It was a triumph of the true God – not the false god who sets one people against another, one religion against another. Only politics and ideology can produce such a tin-pot god who turns demonic. The real God who triumphed at Gallipoli in the triumph of the human spirit is the God who breaks down barriers, who turns “swords into to ploughshares” (Isaiah 2:4), who makes friends of enemies and brings peoples together, doesn’t drive them apart.

This can seem, in the words of the John’s Gospel we have heard, “intolerable language” (6:60). It seems absurd to speak of Gallipoli as any kind of triumph; and yet we do. It seems absurd to speak of a God who doesn’t take sides, except the side of humanity against all that turns us demonic; and yet we do. The Bible speaks of a life that’s bigger than death, and we have heard its words in last Saturday: “The souls of the virtuous are in the hand of God; no torment shall ever touch them” (Wisdom 3:1). This too can seem “intolerable language”. Yet these are “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68); they are, we say this morning, the seeds of hope.

This is a time when the world is riven in new and unimagined ways, unleashing a violence which comes straight from hell despite its appeal to religion. At such a time, we look beyond the beach of Anzac Cove and its carnage to see how grand the human spirit can be in the midst of all that is most dehumanising. We come to a vision of hope born out of what seems hopeless – hope born of the true God who draws life from death, the truly divine from the truly demonic. It’s a vision worth dying for. It’s that vision alone which will secure the future. It’s that vision alone which will preserve the peace and freedom for which the Anzacs fought bravely on a beach so far away and now so long ago. But the vision is here and the vision is now. So too is Anzac.




Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”


Vicki Lavorato