Dear PLC Sydney Community

Connections_Paul Burgis_verticalWelcome to our new Connections. Between now and 2017 you will see some significant changes occurring at PLC Sydney as we act on our Strategic Plan.In the communications area these include:

  • The introduction of a new website that fits desktop computers, laptops, tablets and phones (this was launched on 9 May).
  • The renewal of our portal in a similar manner to that developed by Newington College. Ours will be called PLaCeS. This is a very large task and development has commenced. Our plan is to launch it in 2016.
  • The development of an electronic and printed portfolio alongside the school reference for Year 12 when they exit.

We are very proud of our new website and hope that you find it easily accessible. As with any technology launch there are inevitably hiccoughs. Please inform us if something isn’t working. This first edition of Connections is being delivered to numerous types of devices. You should be able to access over twenty articles and information pages in this edition. You will be able to see everything clearly on a laptop or desktop. Please check that your phone accesses the same information. If you are having difficulty please inform us at:

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In the school we speak of ‘excellence’ and ‘reach’. Consider both of these in the production of our recent musical.

Two weeks ago as a College our Performing Arts staff and students presented the complex and beautiful musical Les Miserables to our community. Over fifty actors and over sixty musicians performed for over three hours.

As I sat there watching I was exceptionally proud of the orchestra, playing this marathon with such exquisite control and tenor; the characterisation and singing of the players, expressing the deep feelings and power of the script with such energy and sensitivity; and the production of the play by the staff, leading this group to get the most out of each student. I know from the many conversations I have had and emails I have received that you were also proud. Deservedly, it received four standing ovations.

I pondered again the themes and noted how effectively our students and staff captured the richness of life, including the life we might hope for in our College, as girls grow up. None of us want a sterile school – made banal by the inability to ask questions or express feelings. Just as in the 1820s in Paris we live in a world that is profoundly impacted by faith and politics. And impacted by Art and Music. Les Miserables has it all – the big ideas and the intense feelings. Victor Hugo was brave enough to not hide these away. The great Biblical and political themes are borne out using all that music can bring: the parables of Jesus and the epistles of Paul are all about grace, forgiveness and mercy. Jean Valjean epitomises the person who understands they need God’s forgiveness and lives a life of gratitude in response to God’s kindness to him. He is truly grateful, his whole life is an act of gratitude.

Javier holds to the Law, or Religion and its power to bring order. And yet he cannot accept grace. It is as if he chooses the Law and death, rather than the possibility of redemption of himself, and thus life. The unrequited love of Eponine and the tragic injustice done to Fantine show the importance of love. To love another person is to see the face of God.

In this month in which we heard of condemned men in Indonesia singing 'Amazing Grace' as they went to their executions, and in which we heard of more mass executions in Iraq in the name of a ruthless interpretation of Religion, this musical reminds us that these themes and griefs are timeless. The Law, which is established to protect us, can be the tool of power. And even our own power – as a parent, teacher or leader – can be corrupted. We each have the potential to be like the Master or the Servant in Matthew 18:21-35, in regard to seeking the good of those that do ill to us. And yet Les Miserables has some empathy for each character’s situation. Javier has a humanity too.

I thank the Drama and Music faculties for bringing these themes to life in our own school. And I thank them for enabling Natasha Jabbour to display great vulnerability as Eponine; Peyton Cole to reflect innocence lost as Fantine, Maria Glinellis to be astonishingly boisterous as Thernadier, Yanna to be thunderous as Madame Thernadier, Annie McCarthy to be angelic as Cosette, Erin Harmer to shine as Gavroche, and all of the boys and regular cast to shine. And thank you for the music – I was so very impressed by the orchestra! To back a show like that is incredible.

Further, we are very proud of our Year 8 students who competed in the Computational and Algorithmic Thinking (CATS) Competition. Our goal is to continually challenge and encourage students in Mathematics and Science. This is a competition that attracts entries from Australia and Asia and 36 is considered a perfect score. Angeni Bai scored a perfect score of 36 High Distinction. Claire Shi and Tay Leung scored 32 and 29 respectively and achieved a Distinction. Six students achieved a Credit. Eighteen students entered the competition in total. Congratulations to Mr Gavin Sinclair and the Mathematics faculty.

Dr Dawe informed me this week that the next major event is the very difficult UNSW School Mathematics Competition. Only 350 students enter it across the state. Most schools only enter two to three students. With our Mathematician-in-Resident’s support we are entering 62 students – the most of any school. There is a regular lunch time group.

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We also enjoy great depth in Swimming. Over the past few weeks we have also had some fabulous results in the pool. At the CISNSW our Junior School Girls were crowned fastest primary team in NSW! What a tremendous effort. All four girls came through our swimming system. In the senior school the Years 7–8 Medley Relay team finished second, the Intermediate Relay team finished first, and the Senior Relay team finished second. In the All Age Relay (6 x 50) the girls came third. This collection of results makes us close to the fastest girls’ school in NSW. Nineteen girls were selected to represent at ‘All Schools’ – an amazing result. These results are also astonishing and speak to the dedication and quality of the work of everyone involved.

At All Schools our students continued to excel. PLC Sydney swimmers competed in all seven relays:

  • The Intermediate 4 x 50 m Freestyle relay team won gold and broke the record that we held from last year
  • The Intermediate 4 x 50 m medley relay team also won gold
  • Our Years 7–8 and Senior 4 x 50 m Freestyle relay teams both won bronze
  • Our Years 7–8 team won silver in their 4 x 50 m medley relay
  • Bronte Marshall and Ishani Roy were members of a combined multi-class relay team who picked up a silver medal.

Our divers are also enjoying success in their sport. Elizabeth Macarounas won both the 17–18 years Springboard and Platform event. Elizabeth was awarded the NSW All Schools Outstanding Female diver. Congratulations to Eloise Cain who won the 12 years Springboard division and came 2nd in the 12–14 years platform event at the NSW All Schools. Both girls have been selected for the NSW team to compete at the Pacific School Games in November.

And in the IGSSA Cross Country Carnival our runners were super. Our Year 7 team won their division and we had place-getters in each other year group. School Vice-captain Edwina Hobson won the 18 years and over event. See the Sporting Success article for further details.

In that sport with words – Debating – our students have also been fantastic. We have three teams in the Sydney-wide Quarter Finals this week:

  • Year 7 v Kincoppal at Tangara at 7.00 pm
  • Year 8 v Pymble at Barker at 7.00 pm
  • Year 9 v Loreto Kirribilli at Tangara at 8.00 pm.

In Art students are also achieving excellence. We have had three students selected for the National Art School’s Intensive HSC Studio Practice: Kimberley Woo, Maggie He and Katie Taylor. Congratulations to these students and to all staff in The Croydon.

Finally I congratulate the Year 11 students who were our first group to complete an ‘A’ level Cambridge Examination. Please see later in Connections for the details.

All of these accomplishments remind us of the importance of getting involved and of ‘having a go’, of never giving up. We encourage the girls to resist the temptation to define themselves, but rather to keep on turning up and doing their best.

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I am very pleased to announce that my new PA will be Mrs Sabita Mathews, a very experienced and capable administrator who will support the College very well. 

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All of the above is possible because we are a community. There is a wonderful spirit at PLC Sydney. And nowhere is it better indicated than in the Open Day and Fair. I add my thanks and congratulations to the P & F Association on their tremendous work. Daniel Bosco is a wonderful organiser and he is supported by a fantastic team. Thank you to each parent who worked to support the College, to each student who participated and to every staff member. I think I speak on behalf of everyone in saying how fabulous it was.

Dr Paul Burgis