News  » Principal's message - December 2017

Last updated 10:58 AM on 14 December 2017

It is hard to believe that this is the end of 2017 and the end of my first year at JJCahill Memorial High School. It has been a challenging but exciting year, challenging to learn the processes and structures of a new school and exciting getting to know the community. I have immensely enjoyed getting to know the staff, students, parents and broader community.

Thank you to everyone for making me feel welcome and working with me to look at what we can do better to improve student learning engagement, a sense of belonging and success. Thank you to the students who have spoken to me in the playground and greeted me each day, and for applying themselves to their studies, treating people with dignity and respect and attending school everyday.

Thank you to the parents who have worked in partnership with me and the school. As I have said, it is by working in partnership that we give students the greatest chance to achieve the greatest success in their learning.

I want to acknowledge the ongoing hard work of staff at J J Cahill Memorial High School.

Thank you to our administration staff who ensure that people visiting the school feel welcome and quite often provide the first point of communication with people contacting the school.

Thank you to our Support Staff who work with the students on a one-to-one basis supporting the teachers to help students learn.

Thank you to our General Assistant who keeps our school in working order, painting, mowing lawns and fixing things and always with a smile on his face.

Thank you to our dedicated and hardworking teaching staff who are intensely focused upon ensuring your children have every opportunity to learn and excel.

Congratulations to Ms Margaret Tyson who took up the position of Deputy Principal earlier this year.

I would like to thank Mr John Mifsud and Ms Margaret Tyson our Deputy Principals for their consistent hard work and the calmness with which they do this challenging role.

In 2018 Ms Margaret Tyson will be the Deputy Principal of Years 8, 10 and 12. Mr John Mifsud will be Deputy Principal of years 7, 9 and 11.

I would like to thank the year advisers for their dedication to students' wellbeing. They often go above and beyond to meet the needs of students. Thank you to Mr Nathan Potter who was the year adviser for Year 12 in 2017. The year advisers for 2018 are:

  • Year 7 - Ms Tamara Tickle, (Teacher English/Math)
  • Year 8 Mr Petros Goudis, (Teacher HSIE)
  • Year 9 Ms Emily Lawson, (Teacher HSIE)
  • Year 10 Mr Luke McNaught, (Teacher PDHPE)
  • Year 11 Mr Stephen Theodorou, (Teacher HSIE)
  • Year 12 Ms Maria Perez, (Teacher LOTE)


It is impossible for me to list all of the things that we have achieved this year. I am likely to miss many things. If I do, please forgive me.

We started the year with HSC student, Tamara Soto Astorga, who was selected to perform her composition La Noche at the Opera House as part of Encore. A number of students and teachers attended the night including myself and were blown away by the quality of the performances. La Noche was an absolute standout on the night.

Mr Thomas Fienberg, (Teacher Music – now Head Teacher CAPA) and Ms Brenda Doran-Higgins, (Teacher PDHPE – now Head Teacher Welfare/PDHPE) gained promotions positions this year. While we were disappointed to see them go, we were also excited to see their careers develop and grow. It is certainly a credit to a school when staff develop in their teaching and leadership capacities.

Congratulations to Ms Octavia Bonacci-Edelkoort who won the position of Head Teacher Special Education at JJCahill Memorial High School.

Our Aboriginal community acknowledged Mr Luke McNaught, (Teacher PDHPE and School Aboriginal Support Person) for his work with our Aboriginal students honouring him by presenting him with a boondi. Mr McNaught has kindly allowed the school to put it on temporary display. You can see this as you enter the administration office.

Big Night Out is a night that allows students to display their talents in the performing arts. While music is indeed a key part of the night, we were also entertained by drama and dance.

There was growth in opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities during 2017. Some of these activities included:

  • The School Choir and School Band led by Mr Luke Chapman and Mr Henry Bidwell, (Teachers, Music)
  • The Chess Club organised by Ms Tara Mylan (Teacher English/Librarian)
  • Art Club organised by Ms Angela Tao and Ms Katya Batho, (Teachers, Visual Arts))
  • The Debating Team led by Mr Stephen Theodorou, (Teacher HSIE/English)
  • We dipped our toe in the water of Tournament of the Minds led by Ms Tara Mylan
  • We now have a technology club led by Mr Marc Sneddon, (Teacher English/Drama and our computer coordinator), affectionately called the Nerd Herd or Sned Shed where students get to tinker with technology. It is very popular and very hands-on

During 2017, the school under the leadership of Mr John Mifsud, (Deputy Principal) has continued to grow its partnerships with local primary schools. These include:

  • A reading program where students and teachers visit every Wednesday to work with the primary school students, focusing upon sharing expertise across schools to raise student results in reading. This program would not have run without the commitment and hard work of Mr David Gracie (Head Teacher English/Drama/LOTE) and Tamara Tickle (Teacher English).
  • A band mentoring program was run with students at Mascot Primary School by Mr Luke Chapman.
  • Ms Kelly Griffiths and her students ran Science Lessons in primary schools.

We won first prize in the Pauline McLeod High School film competition.

Allen Ashley was recognised for his hard work and commitment in VET construction, at the VET Excellence awards at Bonnie Doon Golf Club in September.

Partner universities acknowledged JJCahill Memorial High School for our work in mentoring students training to become teachers. Thank you Mr David Gracie for your work in organising practicum students with the universities and for the dedication of staff in taking on student teachers to share their profession.

I would like to congratulate students who put themselves forward for school service by applying for leadership positions. I would like to acknowledge our school leadership team for gaining the positions and look forward to working with them in 2018. To take on leadership is a brave thing to do. It will challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone. It will surely help you grow in confidence and develop many skills that you will find useful in life. I will write more about this in the New Year.


I wish our whole school community a safe and relaxing break and look forward to continuing work in partnership with families to improve opportunities for your children our students in 2018.


Warm Regards,

Mr Ralph David,

Principal JJCahill Memorial High School