I recently read an article produced by the International Coalition of Girls’ Schools on “Supporting Healthy Connections for Girls” an extract of which I have reproduced below.

Being ‘connected’ is a term widely used today. But we need to understand what this really means for girls and adolescents in order to support their holistic, healthy wellbeing and development. When we consider that girls can become disconnected from peers, sleep, nature, caring relationships and their own bodies, it reinforces just how important it is that healthy connections are supported and encouraged. But what do we really mean when we talk about connections? Dr Tori Cordiano, consulting psychologist and director of research at Laurel Schools Centre for Research on Girls in Shaker Heights, Ohio, USA, aptly describes this as the importance and power of relationships, not only with parents and caregivers, but with other adults in a girl’s life such as teachers, coaches, mentors and tutors.

Girls will have close family relationships but will also develop other relationships with trusted adults. These adults may have seen these girls at different stages of their development, know and understand each girl’s uniqueness, and support them to feel seen as their own selves. As Dr Cordiano says, from an adolescent girl’s own perspective, it is important that she ‘feels that she can be fully and authentically herself’, knowing that she can be confident, but that she can also ‘be vulnerable, she can be uncertain, and she can know that she can bring that to the relationship without fear of judgement or reproach and she is accepted for who she truly is’ (Hall, 2024a). This truly becomes important when we consider the stress and negativity many families fear could impact their daughters.

As parents and adults seek to support the girls and young women in their lives, many feel overburdened by the negative media and events facing the world. A brief perusal of news and social media outlets reveals the extent to which parents are warned of the many threats that could affect their child. This can create a sense of fear and trepidation as families seek to support girls’ healthy development. How can we empower confident, holistically healthy young women in a world that often appears to be spiralling with negativity, horrific crises, loss and trauma?

Some may fear the solution is to over burden girls further, scheduling regular family time or events, and ensuring that relationships with parents and caregivers are stronger than ever. Yet there isn’t a need to place this type of pressure on young girls. Instead, families can focus on the natural moments that occur where girls feel safe and accepted: As Dr Cordiano says, ‘places that are maybe a little bit more neutral or welcoming for them’ (Hall, 2024a). This is about more than a successful family gathering or event, and is about maintaining what Dr Judith Locke, a clinical psychologist and researcher from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, calls ‘a healthy connection to your daughter as she becomes her own person’, even when she makes ‘mistakes and choices that make you shake your head and make her roll her eyes’ (Hall, 2024b). While maintaining healthy relationships to build connections is important, parents can also be aware of signs that girls are becoming disconnected. Repeated or ongoing changes in behaviour are crucial clues to this disconnection. Parents can, however, help girls navigate this challenge. In the busyness of today’s world, this means that girls also need downtime of their own. This ensures that they have the time to build important connections with family, but that they also have time ‘that is unclaimed, that is their own’: In Dr Cordiano’s words, ‘it’s helpful to think about that level of balance’ (Hall, 2024a)

Dr Locke reflects on similar themes when she talks about parents having the best of intentions with ongoing involvement in their daughter’s life, from building a relationship based on ‘love, affection, quality time, praise, all the stuff that warms your heart as a parent’, to the burning desire to ensure your child achieves well, enrols in the best courses and avoids disappointments (Hall, 2024b). But sometimes supporting girls’ connections means stepping back. Having a positive, loving, healthy relationship is undoubtedly important. Yet helping girls learn how to navigate disappointment while building resilience and coping skills is just as essential as building a positive relationship with her parents. Developing these connections isn’t easy, but it allows families and educators to support girls’ holistic and healthy wellbeing during times that are often clouded with such tumultuous change around the world.

Dr Cordiano talks about this experience for girls as a ‘sort of uncertainty and searching for identity and wondering if you fit in, how you fit in, and who your people are’, suggesting this is ‘sort of a hallmark of early adolescence’ (Hall, 2024a). She reinforces that taking a step back can allow parents to ‘recognise the good things that are also present in addition to the worries that we have about… kids and teenagers’ (Hall, 2024a). This doesn’t necessarily make the path of developing connections easy. These relationships require ongoing work, nurturing, at times repair, and positive role modelling. However, this process is one that will empower girls to be the best version of themselves in a globally changing world, ready to face the challenges they meet each day as individual, unique young women.

MSM provides many formal opportunities for us to connect with parents and caregivers as we work in partnership to support the formation of our young people to develop “commitment, confidence, compassion, conscience and competence”.  Last Friday night it was great to “connect” with almost 100 Year 7 parents and carers who joined us for the P&F Year 7 "Welcome to MSM" Function. Topics of conversation included how are newest members of our community are settling in, home study routines, weight of school bags and Taylor Swift concerts. Thank you to Tim from the P&F and to our MSM staff who organised and supported the event.

Year 7 Fathers recently had the opportunity to “connect” with their daughters at the Father-Daughter Breakfast. Our upcoming Foundation International Women’s Day High Tea on Friday 8 March is an excellent opportunity for Mothers/Daughters/Grandmothers to spend an enjoyable afternoon “connecting” together.  Tickets are on sale now!

We look forward to establishing further “connections” at our Year 7, 9 and 12 Parent Teacher Conferences which are occurring in the coming weeks.

In Faith and Love,

Sharon Volp
Last chance to book tickets to our MSM Foundation IWD High Tea on Friday 8 March from 3:30-5:30pm. Book your tickets now to avoid disappointment. 
Be part of this year’s IWD High Tea Raffle! Ticket sales are open to all – attendance at the High Tea is not required to be in the running. Show your support for the MSM Foundation’s Light the Way Capital Campaign. Check out Rafflelink to see the prizes up for grabs and buy your tickets today.

I am so pleased to see our students return to school with enthusiasm to learn and participate in the many co-curricular groups and clubs offered in the mission, academic, arts and sporting areas of college life.

Many of our clubs, including Yarn Club, TED-Ed Club, French  Club, Japan Club, History Club, Business Club, Colourspace, and Community Action Network groups, meet during lunch. Students are offered Art for the Heart, Music, Dance, and Drama groups prior to the start of the school day.

Breakfast Club is held daily in A11 for Years 7 – 9 students who may require additional support with homestudy and assessments.

Our enrichment and extension groups, DaVinci Decathlon, Australian Space Design Competition, Ethics Olympiad and Future Problem-Solving are running in the morning or during lunch breaks, whilst Writers' Club runs every Friday afternoon, Day 5 for Years 9 – 12 and Day 10 for Years 7 – 12.

MSM began the 2024 debating season in superb form last week, when our Year 10 team emerged victorious in their opening-round debate. The students were not exposed to the topic, "We regret society's increasing reliance on social media for news" until one hour prior to the "short-prep" debate. Although the subject matter was challenging, our students handled it effortlessly. Congratulations to the Year 10 debaters.

Next Thursday evening, MSM is proudly hosting the QDU Year 7 Round 1 debates, and between now and then seven more of our teams will be arguing their cases across a range of topics, from the value of the Commonwealth Games to the need to contribute to the common good. Parents and students are always welcome to come along and watch a debate, so please join us in the Ionian Centre between 6pm and 8pm.

I would like to thank and acknowledge all our staff who volunteer to coordinate, coach and tutor co-curricular groups for our students.

Year 9 Retreat and Sleepout Experience
Our Year 9 students gathered recently for a special Social Justice themed Retreat Day. Our students were challenged to reflect on our 2024 theme Compassion: the courage to look and the courage to act, considering ways that they can respond to injustice in our world in the spirit of Charity.

As part of this experience, our students were challenged to step away from the comforts of home to spend an uncomfortable night on the floor of the Sophia Centre. This experience – our inaugural MSM Sleepout – was developed in partnership with Vinnies Youth. 26 courageous students and 4 very patient MSM staff gathered for an afternoon of interactive workshops designed to deepen student understanding of homelessness. The students stayed the night at MSM, and forwent the comfort and convenience of a shower the next day, simply changing their clothes and doing their best to function during the Retreat day that followed!

Students Georgia and Tilly, who participated in our Sleepout shared this reflection about their experiences:

This was an eye-opening experience to the situation of homelessness in Australia. We explored our understanding as to whether homelessness was a choice or not. We revisited this question later in the session and were challenged by what we had learnt.

The sessions were run by representatives from the local Conferences along with Vinnies Youth Volunteers, led by Veronica. They lead us through the following activities.

  1. We viewed cards that gave a short biography of some people experiencing homelessness. These cards made us realise that anyone can be homeless, from three-year-olds to elderly people. We gained and understanding that we may not have any idea of people’s situation, reminding us that we cannot judge a book by a cover.
  2. The next activity was ‘What to take?’ which focused on the importance of belongings and street security. From about 35 items we had to choose 10 to place in a backpack, then reduce it to 5, then 1. This made us realise that we can’t always take what we want, but we need to consider what we need to survive, what is essential. Some homeless people may have more than others – everyone’s situation is unique.
  3. The final activity was ‘The Housing Hunt!’ We were all given a character with a unique situation, and we had to find housing from various real-life services. We learnt that homelessness isn’t a choice! It is really difficult to get out of homelessness, once you are homeless. Many factors such as age, mental health, gender and addiction make it more complex to secure housing.
We learnt some astonishing facts:
  • At least 126,000 people experience homelessness every night in Australia.
  • 42% are under the age of 25, and many are our age.
  • Middle aged women are very highly represented in the numbers of homeless.
  • 12 year old boys are seen as adults and therefore cannot get into many emergency women’s shelters with their mothers.

After a dinner of a bread roll and beautiful soup made by Tania from the Kaf, the pinnacle of the evening was sleeping rough. We each received a piece of cardboard and set up our bed for the night. It was definitely a situation of being ‘comfortably uncomfortable’. We were so grateful for this experience and definitely learned a lot!

Following the Sleepout, our Year 9 students gathered for their Retreat day. The students explored issues such as homelessness, poverty and the experiences of refugees and asylum seekers. Everyone very much enjoyed the practical, service learning opportunities, particularly the opportunity to make sandwiches with Eat Up!, a charity that provides free lunches to school children who come to school with nothing to eat. Our students made well in excess of 3500 sandwiches. These will be delivered to schools across South-East Queensland.

As part of their experience, students learned about the challenges that face refugees as they flee their homelands in search of safety for their families. We were visited by Richard Langford from the Romero Centre, and launched the MSM Welcome Walk, a special sponsored walk that our Year 9 cohort will take part in later in the year, as a way of raising funds from the work of the Romero Centre. Our day finished with a simple shared lunch of rice and chickpeas, in solidarity with those who live on rations in refugee camps around the world.

On Monday we officially reached the halfway point for Term 1. As the term progresses, it is a good time for all students to reflect on their current study habits and consider how they may be improved to enhance outcomes.

Study Skills
Productive study skills are crucial for success in school and beyond and can help students achieve their academic goals while also fostering lifelong learning. Study skills are essential in promoting a positive attitude towards learning and increasing a student’s ability to concentrate, comprehend, and remember information. Developing good study skills can also assist a student to:

  1. Improve learning: Successful study skills can help a student learn and retain information more effectively. By developing a routine for studying, creating a dedicated study space, and focusing on active learning techniques, a student can increase their ability to comprehend and remember new material.
  2. Increase productivity: By being organised and efficient with studying, a student can increase their productivity and get more done in less time. This can help them balance their academic responsibilities with other important aspects of their life, such as co-curricular activities or a part-time job.
  3. Better time management: Effective study skills can help students manage their time more effectively, which is a critical skill for success in all areas of life. By setting goals, prioritising tasks, and creating a schedule, students can make the most of their time and achieve their academic goals.
  4. Reduced Stress: By developing productive study skills, students can reduce stress and anxiety related to their academic responsibilities. When a student has a plan in place and feel in control of their workload, they are less likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed out.
So how can your student develop good study skills? Here are some tips:
  1. Create a Dedicated Study Space: Find a quiet, distraction-free space where your student can study regularly. This will help them focus and stay on task.
  2. Create a Schedule: Make a schedule that includes time for studying, as well as other important activities. Stick to the schedule as much as possible to create a routine. There are spaces in the College diary where students can create this schedule.
  3. Use Active Learning Techniques: Use techniques such as summarising, highlighting, and creating study guides to engage with the material and increase their understanding.
  4. Take Breaks: Take breaks throughout study sessions to help prevent burnout and maintain focus.

By developing effective study skills, students can set themselves up for success both in school and beyond.

Assessment Calendars
Semester 1, Unit 1 and Units 3 & 4 Assessment Calendars are all available in Student Café and Parent Lounge. These calendars provide an overview of all assessment for the upcoming semester, and it is important that all students use these documents when organising their study schedule to ensure all assessment tasks are completed to the best of their ability.

Students and parents can access their bespoke assessment calendars through Student Café and Parent Lounge using the following steps:

1. Go to Calendar > eDiary Student Name
2. Untick all fields except LMS/Assessment Activities
3. You can view what is due in the coming month

Attendance at School
Like study skills, regular attendance at school is also critical for your student’s learning and development. If your student is going to be absent during the term, parents need to request approval for this absence in writing to Ms Volp. While the value of a family vacation is accepted, as is the occasional need for attendance at events in term time, priority must be given to regular school attendance. This is particularly the case if your student’s absence will involve missing end-of-term assessment.

Extension Requests
There will be circumstances that arise where your student can apply for an extension to an assessment deadline. Please note that, as per QCAA guidelines, family holidays during term time are not valid reasons for an extension. If your student falls behind in her studies, generally through illness or misadventure, then they are entitled to apply to modify her assessment deadlines. If your student feels that they may need to negotiate her deadlines, then I strongly encourage her to contact either Ms Larkings, Program Leader Middle School, for students in Years 7 – 9 or Mrs Kean, Program Leader Senior School, for students in Years 10 - 12. Ms Larkings and Mrs Kean are in the best position to ascertain whether your student will meet the requirements for an adjustment to be made. Please note that any request must be made at least 2 business days before the due date.

Absences when Assessment is Due
If your student is absent on a day when they have an assignment due, they are still expected to submit their assessment digitally using the process required for the specific subject. If your student is absent on the day that they are scheduled to sit an examination, please note that they will be required to complete the examination when they are back at the College. Students will be expected to complete their missed examination as soon as practicable. The procedures relating to assessment can all be found in the College diary.

Year 7, 9 and 12 Parent Teacher Conferences
Parent Teacher Conferences for students in Years 7, 9 and 12 will be held on Tuesday 5 March & Tuesday 12 March between 3:30pm and 7:30pm. These conferences will be occurring onsite in the Sophia Centre. Parent Teacher Conferences are an excellent opportunity for families to connect with teaching staff to discuss the progress their student is making in each of their subjects. They also provide the forum for families or teachers to raise any possible concerns. Students are encouraged to attend these conferences with their parents and caregivers.
Bookings for these conferences have now closed. If you need to cancel an appointment, please contact the MSM Help Desk on 3858 4999 or support@msm.qld.edu.au

House and MSM Pride @ The Valley Pool
Last Thursday we were finally able to celebrate House and College pride at the MSM Swimming Carnival. The day was brought to life with the House themed dress ups seeing everything from a sumo suit to an Elizabethan costume worn in the name of team spirit. The smattering of bold Hawaiian shirts on staff was a big hit and tutus were again a real feature. The House Captains let their lights shine working with the Year 12 cohort in leading the enthusiastic cheering and war cry wars.

Our swimmers were in fine form with hours of training clearly paying off and the muffled sounds of encouragement helped drive them from the blocks to the finishing line. Mrs Roy is still the keeper of the anticipated results, and the community eagerly awaits the announcement of age champions, records broken and of course, the winning House.

This day would not have been an MSM Swimming Carnival without the traditional and spectacular Year 12 dance. The music tripping did not dishearten this years’ seniors whose credible choreography, smooth singing and regal rapping did not skip a beat. Thank you to the House Captains, Year 12 cohort, Year 12 Homeroom teachers and Ms McLaughlin for this scintillating and extremely well-rehearsed performance.

I would like to praise the leadership of our older students in supporting the younger girls with participating in races and modelling the spirit and pride that is the true champion of MSM events. An enormous thank you to Mrs Roy, Ms Tesch and all staff who organised, encouraged, and supported our students throughout this thoroughly enjoyable day!



Congratulations to College Captain, Adelaide who represented the College in the Lions Youth of the Year competition. The competition requires students to attend an interview with a panel of judges, where they discuss their achievements and involvement both inside and outside of school, as well as some general knowledge questions about local, national and international issues. The second part of the competition is a public speaking competition where students present a 5 minute prepared speech and respond to two impromptu questions. Adelaide’s speech on “the impact of technology on the de-evolution of humans” was engaging, entertaining and thought provoking. One of the impromptu questions was “how important is kindness”. There could not have been a topic for which Adelaide would have been more prepared. Adelaide was a fantastic representative of MSM.


Year 7 Design Technology students have finished their first 5 weeks of cooking. Students are working through the unit ‘Garden to Gourmet’, learning new kitchen skills and using our school garden to construct Buddha bowls.



At our whole school assembly, our Year 12 cohort launched their theme to the College, ‘Aspire to be more in 2024'. The theme, taken from the invitation of St Oscar Romero, to “Aspire not to have more, but to be more” acknowledges that we are called to a life of ‘being’ as opposed to ‘having’ because our human dignity is not gauged by what we have but what we are: made in the image and likeness of God. The Year 12 students hope that this theme inspires all MSM students in our year of Compassion. 


Today we welcomed Kanagawa Japanese exchange students to MSM. This is a wonderful opportunity to experience Australian culture, as well as improving  English skills. The students will be joining their host student in classes and hopefully forming many new friendships. This morning, I asked if they enjoyed a good Aussie dinner last night to which I received many smiles. I would like to thank our host families who enable this experience. 


The Year 10 Geography excursion to Moreton Bay was an amazing experience where we had the opportunity to do hands on activities including observing plankton and microplastics from the Moreton Bay waters, cleaning up the local park side areas at Manley beach, and learning how to collect data. Through these activities we learned the effects of litter and microplastics on the ecosystems in Moreton Bay. The team of environmentalists helping us were kind and did their best to make the activities fun and engaging for our grade. After a hot and hardworking morning, we even indulged ourselves with ice cream from the local fish n’ chips shop across the road. We would love to thank the outstanding teachers that accompanied us and worked hard to provide this enjoyable experience.
Keira Heiner, 10D


Year 7 and 11 House Sisters came together with their beloved teddy bears and stuffed toys to enjoy a morning tea picnic on the Convent Lawn.

Our Year 10 students were engrossed in a fun exercise during their Positive Education session this week. They were tasked with building a support network to try and land an easter egg safely from a metre drop. Well done Year 10 students on working as a team to master this challenge!

Recently, a group of Year 10 students set out to QUT to take part in the Science and Engineering Challenge. The girls showed great dedication and aptitude towards the various challenges, which focused on current Science and Engineering issues such as providing the lowest cost electricity to a city, designing effective fish traps, scheduling jobs to cause the least stress in employees, using coding to confound communications and designing an earthquake proof building and an efficient wind turbine. Those completing the flight challenge placed first, receiving a prize from Boeing who sponsored the event. With this success, and the teamwork throughout the day, the girls placed first overall, making the College a QUT Science and Engineering Champion School. 


We celebrated the fifteen Year 12 recipients who were presented the prestigious "Navy" Co-curricular Music Commitment tie badge. These outstanding students not only showcased their weekly dedication to rehearsals and performances over the past six years at the College, but they also embody the spirit of camaraderie and joy in music-making. As one student eloquently put it, "Singing in choir is more than just music; it's about making memories that'll stick with us. We're a team, and we have fun practicing and performing together."  A student from the Concert Band shared, "Concert band is my chill spot. Playing music with friends is awesome." Additionally, a member of the String Orchestra emphasised the communal aspect, stating, "It's not just about playing instruments; it's like a club of music lovers who help and cheer for each other. The feeling after a performance is just so good." We extend our congratulations to these remarkable students for not only their commitment to music but also for fostering a sense of unity and enjoyment in their musical journey. Well done! 


Our Year 11 Dance students experienced the magic of Bollywood first-hand with an incredible workshop led by Dance Masala's Artistic Director.

From the infectious beats to the intricate choreography, students learnt the origins and modernisations of this popular dance style. Thank you to Dance Masala for bringing the spirit of Bollywood to our dance class and inspiring us to move and choreograph with passion, joy and meaning!

Well done to our MSM water polo teams on reaching the conclusion of the 2023-2024 BWPI season. Thanks to all players for their efforts and best of luck to teams progressing through to the finals rounds from 9/3.

Welcome to the first monthly careers newsletter. It is designed to provide you with a snapshot of events, scholarships, study and work options, and some personal skill development ideas. Whilst aimed more towards the Senior School, some of our wonderful Year 9 students may wish to have a read as they start contemplating their futures in our fortnightly careers’ classes.
I look forward to engaging in conversation with our young people as the year progresses, but until then please enjoy the newsletter.

All families must have an arrangement in place to pay school fees, you should now have a Fee Payment Schedule set up via the Parent Lounge.

If you have trouble accessing the Parent Lounge, please contact support@msm.qld.edu.au

Payment Schedules for school fees were due to be set up by 2nd February 2024.

To pay in instalments, you can set up weekly, fortnightly, monthly or quarterly instalments via the Parent Lounge - > Accounts and Payments - > School Fees Account -> scroll to New Payment Method to add your bank account/credit card details.

and then to Payment Schedule - > Add Payment Schedule.

For payment schedules, the following fees:
For a bank account, the fees will be nil.
For a standard Visa card or Mastercard, the fee will be 1.32% of the payment amount.
For a premium Visa card, Mastercard or American Express card, the fee will be 1.85% of the payment amount.

A payment dishonour fee of $15 is payable if a payment fails. Each payment has 1 automatic retry before being dishonoured.

You have the option to pay your fees annually, they were due by 9th February 2024 and these are payable via Parent Lounge - >Accounts and Payments - > School Fees Account -> Make a payment.

The College welcomes our families’ tax-deductible building fund donations especially with the new building plans and the donations are included on your statements and will pre-fill on Payment Schedules. When finalising the setting up of Payment Schedules the building fund donation is an editable amount.
Parents/guardians wishing to pay school fees via extended instalment terms may apply for an Edstart payment plan. You can spread your fees evenly across the school year or reduce your repayment amount with an extended plan over multiple years, up to five years after graduation.

Visit the Edstart website to calculate your school fees – Edstart
If you have any questions about fee payments please contact Emma Grimson, Director of Finance on egrimson@msm.qld.edu.au
All members of the Irish Community in Brisbane are warmly invited to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, Ireland’s national day. The annual St Patrick’s Day Parade will be held in the City on Saturday 16 March, commencing at 10:30am. The parade begins at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. There will be a Mass at St Stephen’s Cathedral on Sunday 17 March, commencing at 10am, with refreshments to follow in the Cathedral Courtyard.

P&F EXECUTIVE NOMINATIONS | Is 2024 the year for you to get involved? The MSM P&F Association is seeking nominations for roles of President and Treasurer. Our P&F supports the College Leadership Team and our students and provides a vital role in bringing our community together.  

To read more and to download a nomination form, please visit the College website - https://www.msm.qld.edu.au/our-community/parents-and-friends. 

For more information contact Paula Ovenden, Community Engagement Officer - povenden@msm.qld.edu.au.

Help Support the MSM Environment Group

Support the MSM Environment Group by donating your eligible containers! Bring your containers to school or use our scheme ID when returning to your local depot. Your donations will go towards funding our current and future environmental initiatives.

Mt St Michael's College scheme ID: C10333591
In the interest of keeping everyone in our community safe and traffic flowing freely, please refrain from double parking in the pick up zone outside the Ionian on Aloomba Road.
Mt St Michael's College
67 Elimatta Drive
Ashgrove, QLD 4060

Add us to your address book
Copyright © 2023 Mt St Michael's College, All rights reserved.