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Past Student News
As President of the Old Girls’ Association, I have the pleasure of representing our group at many school events. Since the last newsletter, I have attended the school’s ANZAC service and Professional Women’s Network Breakfast. I have also been to a stakeholder meeting that was attended by the Chairs of School Council and Foundation and the President of the P&F. At this meeting, there was lively discussion around the support of all stakeholders for the school and how we can all work together to assist the school to continue to thrive into the future.
The Old Girls also had a presence at Open Day, and we were able to connect with many past students who came visit the school and reminisce.
On April 24 we assisted in organising the Annual Past Student Awards. Again, this night was wonderful. This year, both the 2020 and 2021 awards were presented due to COVID cancelling last year’s event. 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. The recipients of the 2020 and 2021 awards are as follows:
YOUNG PAST STUDENT OF DISTINCTION AWARD 2020 – Dr Mikaela Seymour (‘09)
Mikaela has pursued a career in health care, development and rural medical equality and is currently a doctor working in the Western Province, Papua New Guinea, as a member of the Aerial Health Patrol team.
Graduating from Griffith University in 2015 with a Masters of Medicine (MD) and a Bachelor of Medical Science, Mikaela completed a Masters of Surgical Sciences at the University of Edinburgh and the Global Surgery Course at Oxford University. She is currently completing a Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at James Cook University and Global Health Engagement Grad Cert, Uniformed Services University Health School, Washington.
Mikaela is the founder of Bush Dokta Initiative (Project Yumi Charity), connecting PNG and Australian health care workers, supporting grassroots health projects in Papua New Guinea. In 2018 she was awarded Australian Medical Association Doctor in Training of the year for her contributions to health care in the Western Pacific region.
YOUNG PAST STUDENT OF DISTINCTION AWARD 2021 – Ms Ashley McCarthy-Griffiths (‘12)
Ashley is an engineer who sets the technology direction for BHP’s coal operations. She is passionate about combining technology and engineering to solve our world’s challenges by creating solutions that provide a sense of belonging and are inclusive for the community.
Ashley was recently recognised as the 2021 Queensland Exceptional Young Women in Resources runner-up for combining her volunteering and work experience. She strives to be a role model and raise the profile of STEM by breaking down the associated stereotypes to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to consider a career in STEM.
At BHP, Ashley works with executive leadership teams and front-line staff to identify and understand their current challenges and strategic priorities.
Ashley leads a not-for-profit organisation called Power of Engineering, working to build a diverse engineering talent pipeline across Australia. Power of Engineering has reached over 12,500 students, with 80 per cent of students participating now considering a career in engineering.
DISTINGUISHED PAST STUDENT AWARD 2020 – Ms Kate Gibson (‘96)
Kate Gibson is an international criminal lawyer and has been practising before the international criminal courts and tribunals since 2005. She has defended accused before the international courts, in cases arising from the conflicts in Rwanda, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the former Yugoslavia.
In 2018 Kate was appointed as a lawyer with the United Nations Fact Finding Mission for Myanmar, working to document crimes committed against the Rohingya since 2016. She has trained lawyers and judges in international criminal law and procedure in Rwanda, Libya and throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Kate holds an LL.M (First) in International Law from Cambridge University. She is published and teaches in international criminal law and transitional justice.
DISTINGUISHED PAST STUDENT AWARD 2021 – Prof Doune MacDonald ('76)
Professor Doune Macdonald is Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) at The University of Queensland following her position as Head of the School of Human Movement Studies (2004-2013). She completed her undergraduate and honours degrees in Human Movement Studies at UQ before teaching Health and Physical Education in Queensland and NSW, including two years at St Margaret’s.
Joining the academic staff in Human Movement Studies at UQ in 1990, Doune obtained her PhD through Deakin University. In 1998 she won an Australian Award for University Teaching and in 2011 the UQ Vice Chancellor’s Leadership Award. Doune was also Lead Writer for the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education released in 2015.
Doune holds several leadership roles in international professional and research organisations, research journal editorial boards, advisory panels, and university and school directorships. She served on the St Margaret’s School Council (2007-2012) and currently sits on the boards of Brisbane Grammar School and Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority.
Left to Right: Prof Doune MacDonald (‘76), Ms Ashley McCarthy-Griffiths (‘12), Dr Mikaela Seymour (‘09)
Thank you to the committee members who attended this function. A special thanks to Kelsey Booth and Georgina Papworth for the support of this event, and the Development and Community Office for their help, support and hard work in assisting with this evening.
The next few months are busy for the OGA, with Reunions, Chapel Service and the organisation of the new cocktail event. Please see the details in this newsletter with regards to the upcoming events and I look forward to seeing more of you at events.
The school year is now well underway and we are excited to be able to welcome members of our school community back to events once again. Our school principal, Ros Curtis, is on sabbatical leave this term. During this time, she will be visiting schools both physically and virtually around the country to examine best practice and the latest innovations to feed back into some exciting new projects for St Margaret’s.
I’d like to personally thank all our past students who contributed to our Giving Day, held on 20 May. We are so grateful for your generosity, with our current and future St Margaret’s students greatly benefiting from your kind contributions to the building and scholarship programs. We are pleased to announce that our Giving Day appeal raised $254,949. Giving Day itself was a special day, with students joining together in House groups to do a coin drive with Chaucer house winning the longest line of coins and also raising the most amount of money through their coin donations. The students also took part in a House dance off competition, with the winner being announced at the end of the term. Many of us enjoyed a sausage sizzle on Circular Drive on a day that blessed us with beautiful weather.
I’d also like to introduce our new school dog, Luna Peggy Fowler. Luna is the most adorable cavoodle, and I know will be a much-loved addition to our school. We asked our students to help choose a name, and we chose Luna’s name from the multitude of suggestions made through our school portal. The students met Luna at an assembly early in the term and she will soon join us more frequently as both a day and boarding puppy.
Finally, we opened our new Senior Studies Centre this month. This space is open to Year 12 students to access during the day if they have an independent learning option, during lunch hours and before and after school. Boarders are also able to access the area for boarder prep time. The area includes a kitchen (with fridges and microwaves), a café style eating area, a room for quiet study with individual study carrels, and a group study area. We are pleased to offer this space to our students in Year 12, and already our students in this year level have settled in and are using it regularly.
On 20 May, a magnificent, sunny Thursday at St Margaret’s, we held our second annual Giving Day. What a day it turned out to be! We were blown away by the support we received from the community and raised an incredible $254,949. Donations to the Building Fund will help us to ensure our facilities can continue to deliver the best education to St Margaret’s students. Donations to our Scholarship Fund will provide some girls the opportunity of a St Margaret’s education they never thought they would have.
What struck me, on this extraordinary day, was the kind-heartedness of St Margaret’s Old Girls, who donated so generously.
I and my team had many conversations over the phone with Old Girls, and heard amazing stories of their time at the school and why they continue to support St Margaret’s mission to prepare girls to become “confident, compassionate, capable women able to contribute to a global community”.
The winning house for Giving Day was Tennyson who raised the most funds and also had the highest number of donors.
I cannot thank you enough for your ongoing generosity; we couldn’t have done it without you.
I would like to make a personal note of farewell to the St Margaret’s Old Girls community, as my Acting role as Director of Philanthropy and Stakeholder Engagement will soon come to an end. Lara Pickering will transition back into her role in early July. It has been an enormous privilege getting to know some of St Margaret’s Old Girls and I am so pleased to have been given the opportunity to hear your stories. I wish you all the best for the future.
Director of Philanthropy and Stakeholder Engagement (Acting)
As every Old Girl can attest, the St Margaret’s house system plays an integral role in each girl’s time at the school and the cultivation of school spirit.
From swimming to singing, interhouse competitions form some of the strongest and fondest memories for many Old Girls. House war cries and colours can invoke a sense of loyalty and spirit many years after leaving the school. Many of us, too, still look up to our former house captains with a degree of awe, especially those who were in charge while we were in our early years at the school.
The house system has been a fundamental aspect of the school for nearly a century. The system, based on the approach taken by English public schools, was first introduced at St Margaret’s in 1924, initially with five houses each named after a notable literary figure: Bede, Chaucer, Milton, Spenser and Tennyson. Herrick and Lawson were subsequently introduced in 1965, followed by Kendall in 1972.
According to Sister Teresa in the Easter 1924 edition of The Link, the naming of the houses involved “much consideration of possible names”. It was ultimately decided that each house should be named after a notable figure from a particular period of English literature. Beyond merely providing a name, it was also intended that each house would imbibe the “aspirations and achievements” of the men and women of its namesake’s era. Accordingly, each house chose a motto from the writings of its own age.
Bede House is named after the Venerable Bede (or Saint Bede) (672-735). Bede was an English Benedictine monk and is recognised as one of the greatest teachers and writers of the Early Middle Ages. He was also a skilled linguist and translator, who made Latin and Greek writings of earlier religious figures more accessible to the English public. The motto of Bede House is ‘Semper Parata’, or ‘always ready’.
Chaucer House is named after Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1340s to 1400), author of the Canterbury Tales, a collection of 24 tales mostly written in verse. Chaucer is widely considered the greatest poet of the Middle Ages, but was also a successful astronomer, philosopher, courtier and diplomat. The motto of Chaucer House is ‘Look Godward and count this world but a fair’.
Herrick House is named after Robert Herrick (1591-1674), a 17th century English lyric poet and cleric. His magnum opus, Hesperides, is a collection of 1200 lyrical poems. It includes a number of ‘carpe diem’ (seize the day) poems which are among the most popular of all time, including ‘To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time’ which begins with the line ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’. The motto of Herrick House is ‘Optima Petrimus’, or ‘We seek the best’.
Kendall House is named after Henry Kendall (1839-1882), an Australian bush poet. Over the course of his life he worked various clerical jobs, but won acclaim for his poems, which he contributed to newspapers and literary journals and which were evocative of the Australian landscape. He published three collections of poems: Poems and Songs (1862), Leaves from Australian Forests (1869) and Songs from the Mountains (1880). The motto of Kendall House is ‘Strive to be happy’.
Lawson House is named after Henry Lawson (1867-1922), acclaimed Australian short story writer and poet. Lawson began writing poems while apprenticed as a coach-painter in the Western suburbs of Sydney. By the age of 24, he had decided to make his living as a writer and wrote prolifically, particularly throughout the 1890s. Distinctly Australian, Lawson's work reflected Australian life and identity pre and post Federation. An example many will be familiar with is The Drover's Wife. The motto of Lawson House is ‘Fide et labore’, or 'By faith and works'.
Milton House is named after John Milton (1608-1674), an English poet and intellectual of the 17th century. Milton is best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost, and his speech Areopagitica, which is regarded as one of the first impassioned pleas for free speech. Milton wrote at a time of great religious and political instability in England and worked as a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under its Council of State and later under Oliver Cromwell. The motto of Milton House is ‘Noblesse oblige’, or 'Nobility obligates'.
Spenser House is named after Edmund Spenser (1552/3-1599), an English poet of the 16th century. Spenser is best known for his epic poem and fantastical allegory The Faerie Queene, one of the longest poems in the English language. Spenser's unique nine-line stanza form was later imitated by poets of the Romantic era such as Byron and Shelley. The motto of Spenser House is ‘Seek honour first’.
Tennyson House is named after Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), an English Poet of the Victorian era. Tennyson was considered the foremost poet of his generation and was the Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria's reign. Highly prolific, he continued to compose poetry (and maintained the position of Poet Laureate) up until his death at the age of 81. Many lines from his works will be recognisable to even the most reluctant of poetry readers, such as 'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all'. The motto of Tennyson House is ‘Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control’.
Written by Georgina Papworth
Pat began her long association with SSA from her time as a boarder at St Margaret’s from 1943 to 1945. In the 1945 Prefect photo below, Pat Adams is seated in the front row second from right; standing in the middle of the back row is Evelyn Heath (Principal of St Margaret’s 1982-1993).
A lovely story from her daughter Annabelle relates to the end of World War II. Annabelle said that her mother was honoured to be the Prefect chosen to go around all the classes to announce that the war was over. Pat told Annabelle they were given the rest of the day off and went into the city to celebrate in the streets like everyone else.
After leaving school, Pat did nursing training at St Martin’s hospital and during that time formed a lasting friendship with Sister Dorothy. Pat remained in touch with all the Sisters and the Old Girls. She was the foundation member of the Company of SSA formed in 1989 to encourage members in their growth of the Christian Faith.
Pat remained in touch with the Sisters even after she moved to South Australia.
Written by Sister Gillian
Tickets are now available to purchase.
10 year and VIP: https://www.trybooking.com/BRHZL
All Other Reunion groups: https://www.trybooking.com/BQWWL
Old Girls Day and Chapel Service
Tickets now available
Are you interested in being a part of the St Margaret's Aspiring Young Women's Network? To learn more about this new initiative exposing students to real-world application of subjects and mentoring opportunities, follow this link (PDF 109.6KB)
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An independent day and boarding school for girls from Pre-Prep to Year 12; Boarding from Year 5; Boys Pre-Prep and 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.