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Welcome to the first edition of the OGA newsletter for 2022. I hope you find the OGA stories and updates from the school informative. We welcome this year as the archivist (replacing Bronwyn Perry) Mary Surtees, who many Old Girls will know as a previous teacher at St Margaret’s. Mary retired from her leadership and teaching role at St Margaret’s last year and has taken on the role of archivist. In this edition of the newsletter, Mary shares some history of the formal school uniform.
We have also added a new section to the newsletter called Per Volar Sunata Moments. In this section we are looking to share more about the members of our association. The intention of this section is to celebrate the lives of those who have passed, and the milestones achieved by members of our Old Girls community, including births, marriages, significant educational achievements, awards, and honours. If you have news from an Old Girl, please share these with me by emailing email@example.com.
The OGA Committee met for the first time for 2022 in February. I warmly welcome the new members of the committee and we are all looking forward to working together this year. The focus for the OGA Committee this year is connection. We have been working with the Development and Community staff at the school to look at developing a networking and mentoring process to connect past students. I will hopefully be able to tell you more about this exciting initiative in my next newsletter.
Another way for us to connect is to celebrate the accomplishments of our association through our first event for the year - the Past Student Awards. This event will be held at the school on Saturday 23 April. The Past Student Awards were first presented in 2015 and were established to recognised and celebrate the many and diverse achievements of St Margaret’s past students and to honour their legacy.
There are two award categories:
Applications are now open. Please take the time to nominate a school friend to celebrate the contributions they have made in their chosen area since finishing school. The application process is simple and can be found at https://www.stmargarets.qld.edu.au/community/past-students/past-student-awards
As we continue to plan for 2022, if you have any suggestions to improve our ability to connect as an association, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Per Volar Sunata
Unfortunately, the 2022 academic year has had an unpredictable and challenging start. However, in challenge there is also triumph. After all, smooth seas do not make skilful sailors.
The pandemic has continued to test us all, but despite the challenges, St Margaret’s has continued to demonstrate its strength not only as an educational institution, but as an enduring and close-knit community of students, parents, staff, past students, and friends, who make it our collective mission to support one another, in ways large and small. So, despite choppy seas, St Margaret’s successfully navigated 2021 and is on course for another great year.
I believe, with a double digit increase in enrolments over the past two years as evidence, St Margaret’s has continued to deliver a quality education underpinned by a high quality of care, irrespective of pandemics.
St Margaret’s has a proud history of academic excellence borne of the school’s commitment to leading teaching and learning programs, our students’ enthusiastic engagement with the school, and a supportive community. Since its inception in 1895, the school has been guided by the SSA Philosophy which focuses on the education of the ‘whole child’ and providing a rich experience to students across all aspects of its academic, extracurricular and student wellbeing programs.
Our focus on teaching and learning led to success for our Year 12 students in the new ATAR system. Over 63% of ATAR eligible students received at ATAR of 90 or above, which places them in the top 10% in the state. Our pathways students graduated with a rich array of diplomas, certificates, and school-based traineeships.
After a NAPLAN hiatus in 2020, our 2021 results were again well above state and national averages across all year levels, once again highlighting our absolute commitment to providing our students with the best possible foundational learning skills.
Beyond the classroom, St Margaret’s extensive offerings continue to enrich the student experience. The new Sports Precinct, now past a full year of operation, continues to deliver all that it promised. Around the campus, improvements continue as space is created for the growing student body. Over the Christmas break, two new classrooms were completed on Circular Drive in early 2022, and there were several refurbishments other spaces in the school in readiness of the 2022 school year.
Our theme for 2022 is 'Embracing Joy' and we have borrowed that one from the Archbishop who inspired us at the beginning of the year with an invitation to look for moments of joy in our lives. I encourage you to adopt this theme for yourself this year.
Per Volar Sunata
The Student Mentoring Program is an exciting new initiative being introduced this year to St Margaret’s students in Years 11 and 12. The program will be managed and facilitated by Ms Danielle Guinea, Relationships and Mentoring Manager and will match and link girls with an appropriate mentor in the field they’re aspiring to study or enter when they graduate. The structured sessions will be conducted online.
Being a mentor is an opportunity to engage and connect with young women wanting to learn more about their chosen area of study and what a future career could look like. Supporting and encouraging the next generation through insights, knowledge and experience will be rewarding and continue to strengthen the relationship between current students and Old Girls.
By familiarising students with mentoring in a formal educational context, young women who find the experience rewarding are more likely to seek out mentors during their careers.
The time commitment for mentors is minimal; however, the benefits for the students will be invaluable. The range of study and professions that the girls pursue is wide and diverse, so we are seeking mentors from as many fields as possible.
If you are interested in nominating as a mentor or would like further information on the program, please contact Ms Danielle Guinea via email to email@example.com or on (07) 3862 0767.
Congratulations to St Margaret’s past parent Tony Elliot who is the recipient of a 2022 Lord Mayor’s Australia Day Award in recognition of his contribution to advancing the cause of the sport of rowing for young girls and women.
The awards recognise Brisbane’s unsung heroes and pay tribute to those people in the community who have gone above and beyond to help improve the lives of others and make the Brisbane of tomorrow even better than the Brisbane of today.
At St Margaret’s, we owe so much to Tony for his establishment of rowing as a prominent sport within the framework of the school. Tony was also one of the founders of the Brisbane Schoolgirls Rowing Association (BSRA), a significant event on the sporting calendar culminating in the Head of the River rowing competition.
So successful is the rowing program at St Margaret’s that several alumni have represented Australia in the sport including Olympians Sally Kehoe (’03) and Maddie Edmunds (’09). St Margaret’s is also one of the most successful schools within the BSRA competition taking out six successive Head of the River wins between 2011 and 2016 and again in 2019.
In 2005, St Margaret’s Rowing Shed in Albion was named the ‘Tony Elliot Rowing Shed’ in honour of Tony’s contribution to rowing at St Margaret’s. He is still present at training and regattas each week and is committed to improving the program and winning more Head of the River titles.
Tony is held in high esteem and affection among current and past families of St Margaret’s, which was demonstrated at the celebration for his 80th birthday held in November 2021. Over 60 Old Girls gathered to honour Tony at the event, which was organised by past parent Lyn Lisle, and St Margaret’s Head of Rowing Jared Bidwell.
We congratulate Tony on receiving a Lord Mayor’s Australia Day Award this year – a well-deserved honour for his contribution to schoolgirl rowing in Brisbane.
Thank you to our Old Girls who donated in 2021. Your generosity ensured a number of girls were afforded the St Margaret’s education they might have only dreamed of and enabled the physical transformation of the school, with the addition of the new Senior Study Centre and two new classrooms on Circular Drive.
Philanthropy has and will continue to empower young women through education at St Margaret’s. You can donate to the ‘Every Girl, Every Opportunity’ appeal now online, or by calling Lara Pickering, Director of Philanthropy and Stakeholder Engagement, on (07) 3862 0884.
The modern-day zipper was designed in 1913, went on sale in 1914 and had a patent listed on it three years later. Very little, if anything, appears in early copies of the Link or the Annual Reports as to why we had that form of ‘tie’ at the neck of the middy top. In early school photos, a large ribbon is shown where our present ‘shoelace’ exists. These later morphed into the shoelace that we know today.
With the zip being such a new invention on the market, the change-over to a zip at the front of the middy top never eventuated. Perhaps the cost was prohibitive. The shoelace made it easier for the middy top to be taken off and put on – especially for little hands!
Our knowledge of the evolution of the school uniform has been formed from photos we presently possess. In one of the earliest photos, 1907, the fashion of the day appears to be a dress, with collar and tie at the neck.
Regardless of the reason for its existence, the tie or shoelace has been a part of our uniform since our school began. During the Second World War, a shortage of material saw the sleeves go from long to short. Whilst our uniform has changed little in our history – perhaps the length of the middy skirt was the only ever-changing factor – it remains such an easily identifiable uniform when out and about.
Left: A sports uniform is in evidence from 1913, still with the collar in place but no tie, although buttons are used down the side as the fasteners.
1918 and 1927 photos clearly show the presence of a tie at the neck.
1918 Form V – the “tie” is clearly evident.
1927 Tennyson House - the photo shows a variety of styles, some with short sleeves and some with long sleeves and differing ties at the neck.
Gai Dunlop is the CEO of Festcom International, an event co-ordination service and television production company, and Ambassador to Australia for the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Gai established Festcom International in 2002, when her (then) employer, Granada Television Australia, moved to Sydney and she preferred to stay in Melbourne working at her beachside property. In addition to event co-ordination and television production, Festcom International provides specialist knowledge of Australian and international footage libraries and material to clients worldwide. It also provides freelance coordinating, producing and consulting services for many other production companies as well as administrative work for event organisations, involving the coordination of groups of crew and talent to various locations in Australia and internationally
In 2006, Gai was nominated to join the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. She was subsequently appointed Ambassador to Australia in 2007. In this role, Gai organises judging panels for several of the categories in the International Emmy® Awards and coordinates Australian entrants for the International Academy’s Sir Peter Ustinov Scriptwriter Awards, JCS International Young Creative Award, International Kids Awards and International News Awards. She also represents Australia with the Academy delegation to countries around the world every two years.
Before establishing Festcom International, Gai worked in a variety of roles and fields; however, she says "there has always been the underlying links towards entertainment, event production and the visual arts'. Her past roles have included working on many programs for networks and organisations such as the 7 Network, Ten Network, BBC and Granada. Gai has also served as a live event producer for the Brisbane Warana Festival, Gold Coast Indy Car events and the John Farnham "Age of Reason" and "Royal Command Performance" live broadcasts at Expo 88, and as a Public Relations Officer/Producer for the Queensland Police Service. Gai has also been involved in providing footage and arranging artists' appearances for numerous Australian and international television programs (which she continues to do) and, until recently, owned her own footage library (until it became too large for her to house!).
She previously also worked as an international cabaret singer/performer. Based in London, she performed in 45 countries over 10 years at top casino showrooms and entertainment venues. Gai says she is now "looking forward to her next work 'adventure'", including by looking at ways she can use her expertise working with Government to assist in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Outside of work, Gai loves reading, travel and Australian fossil research. Gai says that she is "forever interested in finding out about new subjects of interest and new ways of doing things. This is my passion and what lights me up." Her interest in fossil research began when she was asked to film and document a dinosaur dig for the Queensland Museum. Gai says that this work has been of great interest to her ever since and that "just being in the Australian Outback fills [her] with joy".
Asked about her fondest memories from her time at St Margaret's, Gai recalls "the pride I felt being a student at such a respected and long-established school" and "the wonderful life-long friends I met there and the happy memorable times", as well as "mixing with BGS boys on the 4.05pm Ferny Grove train from Central most afternoons"!
Written by Georgina Papworth (’11)
Sahara Herald (’86) is one of the most influential people in the Australian music industry. Prior to her current role as Tour Director for Frontier Touring, for 18 years Sahara was the National Event Coordinator for the iconic music festival, Big Day Out. She has worked with some of the most interesting and diverse performing artists in the world. With the pandemic having such a drastic impact on live music, here Sahara reflects on her time working on Big Day Out.
It’s an indisputable fact that Big Day Out changed the course of music history and the music industry in this country. And for good or for bad, for a long period of time it defined who I was.
And when it was good it was a glorious beast to behold. I absolutely loved it. It was a massive travelling circus, averaging close to 330,000 punters nationally at its peak, with a tour party of 800, and several thousand staff in each city: it truly was BIG. Everyone wanted to play it. We could virtually pick and choose the line-up, but we were invested in bringing diverse, interesting and dynamic artists to the masses. I had the joy and at times fear of working with my long-time musical heroes such as Patti Smith and PJ Harvey. And we were able to bring new and interesting acts to our shores for the first time like At the Drive In and Polyphonic Spree and, of course, Rammstein.
But more importantly, we were also able to bolster the fledgling careers of local artists, too, giving them equal status and billing on the event. Bands such as Hilltop Hoods, Silverchair, Magic Dirt, Spiderbait and, of course, my hometown heroes Regurgitator and Powderfinger were all catapulted to household names after appearances on BDO, along with the simultaneous rise of Triple J and the nationwide airplay it afforded them.
It was big and blustery and beautiful for those two and half weeks each summer, but the rest of the year was hard work, too, with what was a very small group of people who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to deliver the biggest touring festival in the world.
When you’ve lived and breathed something every day with long term colleagues, when you’ve fought the battles, cried at the losses and celebrated the triumphs, and lent on each other under extreme pressure, these are bonds that bind you. I do miss the thrill of it, but mostly I miss the camaraderie. There’s been nothing like it since, and I doubt there will be again.
Written by Sahara Herald (’86)
Year 11 student Ella Menigoz swapped the traditional summer school holiday activities involving sun, sand and surf for a hard hat, high vis and coal, when she attended the ARISE Oresome Engineering Camp in December. The camp is facilitated by Australian Resources Industry Skills and Education (ARISE) and supported by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA)..
Ella said the opportunity to go behind the scenes at two coal mines, experiencing firsthand the day-to-day operations of the resources sector, opened her eyes to the range of career possibilities in the mining industry.
“The week-long camp kicked off at BMA’s Caval Ridge Mine in Moranbah where I worked closely with staff, including St Margaret’s Old Girl Ashley McCarthy-Griffiths (’12) as well as mining engineers, project engineers, site supervisors, safety advisors, project managers, various machinery operators, and many other experts and professionals who were on-site.
“We then headed to Hay Point Coal Terminal, the metallurgical coal loading terminal for the nine Bowen Basin mines in Queensland, where we met with terminal managers, electricians and mechanical project engineers and witnessed the ins and outs of coal transportation and exportation.
“We also toured the Resources Centre of Excellence in Mackay and had underground mining experts show us the underground mine simulator, which was really cool because it allowed us to safely experience what it was like underground,” Ella said.
Ella also worked in a group with other students to formulate a solution to a real-world industry project taking in supply chain aspects “from pit to port”, which she and her fellow group members then presented to the BMA leadership team at the end of the camp.
“Our project task involved devising a strategy and processes to deliver a new product to market. We investigated blending and pricing strategies while also evaluating the logistics involved in fulfilling customer orders,” Ella said.
This year Ella is studying Mathematical Methods, Specialist Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Digital Solutions and English, and while she is not entirely sure what she would like to study when she graduates, she is certain of pursuing a STEM pathway.
For Ella, attending the camp has helped her identify the necessary skills to thrive in a STEM field and placed her in a position to make informed decisions about her future study and career options.
“It was interesting to understand how the mining industry works and to see what it might be like to live and work in Central Queensland,” Ella said.
“It was also valuable to make connections with other students from all over Queensland and St Margaret’s Old Girls as part of the experience. Who knows – I might even end up studying or working with some of them in the future!” Ella said.
For St Margaret’s Old Girl Ashley McCarthy Griffiths (’12), it was a lovely surprise to come across Ella when she was hosting the ARISE site tour at Caval Ridge Mine.
Ashley who is an Improvement Engineer at BHP as well as the President of not-for-profit organisation Power of Engineering whose main aim is to build a diverse talent pipeline across Australia, is passionate about providing opportunities to breakdown the stereotypes associated with engineering for students to be able to make an informed decision about whether or not a career in engineering is for them.
“If you had told me when I was at school I would be an engineer working on a mine site in central Queensland, I would not have believed you for a second. Engineering is a career with plenty of associated stereotypes, but in reality, you can have a very creative and rewarding career making a positive impact in communities.
“The ARISE program offers students the opportunity to step outside the classroom and experience what it is like to work on a mine site. Having students on site, meeting an array of people with different career journeys helps transform their thinking and illustrates what is possible in a mining career. When the students visited BMA's Caval Ridge mine and Hay Point Coal Terminal, students worked on a project whereby they have to apply their knowledge and skills to solve a current challenge faced in industry. From pit to port, students worked to understand the supply chain, different career roles and exciting challenges the industry face, all with hope of empowering them with information to consider a career in Mining,” said Ashley.
Ashley said she hoped experiences such as the ARISE camp helped alleviate the overwhelm of choosing a career option straight after school for students.
“These experiences help showcase what career roles can look like day to day and the flexibility associated with careers. My hope is students walk away empowered to make a decision if a career in Mining is something that interests them or not,” Ashley said.
L to R: St Margaret’s Old Girl Ashley McCarthy-Griffiths (’12), Year 11 student Ella Menigoz and Old Girl Madeleine Greene (’13)
In this new section we are looking to share more about the members of our association. The intention of this section is to celebrate the lives of those who have passed, and the milestones achieved by members of our Old Girls community including births, marriages, significant educational achievements, awards, and honours. If you have news from an Old Girl, please share these with Nicole Devlin by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this edition we acknowledge the passing of Old Girls Dorothy Holberton (’50) and Judy Burke.
Vale Dorothy Holberton (’50)
Dorothy Holberton attended St Margaret’s as a boarder for her secondary schooling, finishing Year 10 in 1948. After leaving St Margaret’s, Dorothy spent a brief period working for the Bank of New South Wales before marrying her husband Marleigh in Innisfail in 1954.
Dorothy and Marleigh went on to have four children together, relocating from Brisbane to regional Queensland as Marleigh’s job would often take them. Dorothy, who passed away on 12 September 2021, is survived and greatly missed by three of her children, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
Dorothy is remembered as a resilient, peace-making woman who was devoted to her family. The nurses who cared for Dorothy in her final years remarked that she would always ask for a cake fork when cake was served - the type of etiquette her family attribute to her education at St Margaret’s.
Vale Judy Burke (nee Mackenzie)
Judy grew up on her family property “Maranda” in Barcaldine. Her parents moved to Windermere Road, Hamilton for their children’s education. Judy had a ready-made friend, Roslyn (Kerr) Ross, awaiting her at St Margaret’s in Form 4 with Miss McKay and Mrs.Miller of Milton House. The two families were very entwined. Judy’s Grandmother was Roslyn’s Godmother. They were bridesmaids for each other. Roslyn considered she should not be a Matron of Honour for Judy as she was quite pregnant at the time, but Judy insisted. Judy could be very determined! In those days a pregnant bridesmaid was unusual. Roslyn gave Judy an Annual Membership to the Queensland Turf Club. Judy died unexpectedly on a Saturday morning prior to her hair appointment before one of her greatly enjoyed race days.
In those days girls mainly did nursing, teaching or secretarial studies. Judy attended the Commercial classes at St Margaret’s where she excelled. She first gained work in the city at Dalgety’s near Gayle Horn, who was also her bridesmaid, and other school friends where they enjoyed regular lunches.
During show week she would attend the show all day, returning home about midnight then make a cake for Dalgety’s clients the next day. Amazing and quick cake making, especially chocolate, is a talent which continued throughout her life.
Later Judy worked at Jones,Flint and Pike surveyors, University of Chicago Law School and Brisbane Postal Institute until eventually she retired after some years as Secretary at Queensland Motorways She was known for her loyalty, reliability, exceptional skill at shorthand and her great work ethic.
Regular reunions with her workmates continued until COVID lockdown indicated Judy’s special quality of building and maintaining long term friendships. Her attendances at St Margaret’s reunions and fundraisers were highlights of her year. She enjoyed supporting the sale of school memorabilia gifting many items to Old Girls especially those who could not make reunions. Pamela (Tear) Alvarez was a regular recipient of this generosity and became a house guest for many Old Girls Weekends or special events, in particular the VIP lunches. Judy especially loved catching up with Dawn Rees at Old Girls weekends.
Judy was a Brisbane girl through and through. She could rarely be enticed away. However shortly after her marriage to Michael Burke they took off to the USA as Mike had been offered a position teaching at the Chicago University as a former Churchill Fellowship Awardee for his renowned work as a Maxillo-facial prostist.
Following their time in Chicago they returned to Hamilton where their children were born. Judy’s life revolved around her family and friends. She loved being a homemaker, wife, mother and grandmother. Her lovingly prepared scrap books for every event and memorabilia took up an entire room. The Burke home was always the centre of hospitality, open and welcoming with a variety of home-made treats.
Judy is survived by her husband Michael, son Andrew and Daughter-in- law Alex, daughter Louise, also a former St.Margaret’s Girl, and son- in-law David Hefter. They had four grandchildren, Abigail and Tom Burke and Nicholas and Georgina Hefter. Sadly, Judy just missed out seeing her two little granddaughters, cousins Abigail and Georgia, commence this year in her family connected Milton House.
Judy was a greatly loved member of St.Margaret’s and the wider community. To be her friend you would be very fortunate. She is greatly missed.
The Past Student Awards have been established to both recognise the many achievements of St Margaret's Past Students, both professionally and personally. They are also used to celebrate the diverse achievements of Past Students and provide an opportunity to share stories of success. Nominations are now open.
Join us for the first Professional Women's Network Breakfast for 2022. Hear from Genevieve Gregor (’86), Co-Founding Partner of Colinton Capital Partners, as guest speaker. This is a steadfast and inspirational opportunity for professionals at all stages of their career to expand their network. Attendance at PWN events may qualify for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Learn more.
All future and prospective families and Old Girls are warmly invited to attend our annual Open Day (which has been postponed from 5 March to 26 March), where you'll have the opportunity to hear from the Principal, meet senior educators and our admissions team, and take a tour of the school with current students. Learn more and register online.
Save the date for the Past Student Awards Dinner to celebrate the many and diverse achievements of St Margaret’s past students and honour their legacy. Tickets will be available for purchase soon.
Contact Our Admissions Team
An independent day and boarding school for girls from Pre-Prep to Year 12; Boarding from Year 5; Boys Pre-Prep
A School of the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent St Margaret's School Council Ltd ABN: 69069684019 CRICOS Code: 00511K
The St Margaret’s community acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land upon which we gather each day. We pay our respects to the Elders past and present, for they hold the memories, traditions, culture and hopes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across the nation.