YOUR LARGEST GLOBAL NETWORK
Class of 2019: 1+ Year Reunion
The Girton Grammar Class of 2019 and those who would have graduated in 2019 are warmly invited to the GPO Bar and Restaurant in Bendigo for a night of friendship and fun. The event will officially start at 6pm with finger food served until 8.00pm, after which time you are welcome to remain at the venue and enjoy each other’s company. Date: Friday 9th April, 2021 Time: 6:00pm til late Cost: OGA members are free and non-members are $20. Drinks at bar prices Registration essential: www.trybooking.com/BOYEA
Class of 2000: Twenty+ Year Reunion
The Girton Grammar Class of 2000 and those who would have graduated in 2000 are warmly invited to the Brougham Arms in Bendigo for a night of friendship and fun. The event will officially start at 6pm on Saturday 1st May, with finger food served from 6.30pm until 8.30pm, after which time you are welcome to remain at the venue and enjoy each other’s company. Date: Saturday 1st May, 2021 Time: 6:00pm til late Cost: $35, drinks at bar prices Booking Details: More information to come
Class of 2011: Ten Year Reunion
The Girton Grammar Class of 2011 and those who would have graduated in 2011 are warmly invited to the Brougham Arms in Bendigo for a night of friendship and fun. The event will officially start at 6pm on Saturday 1st May, with finger food served from 6.30pm until 8.30pm, after which time you are welcome to remain at the venue and enjoy each other’s company. Date: Saturday 1st May, 2021 Time: 6:00pm til late Cost: $35, drinks at bar prices Booking Details: More information to come
Shouting Quietly About STEM
Dr Madeline Mitchell (OGA 2004) is on a mission to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the visibility of women in STEM. This is an utterly achievable mission based on Madeline’s awe-inspiring Curriculum Vitae. However, those who knew Madeline at school might be a little surprised, only because by her own admission, she was shy. The PhD in plant sciences that Madeline completed at the University of Cambridge in 2014 came hot on the heels of completing her Bachelor of Science (Hons) in plant physiology with first-class honours at the University of Melbourne. But Madeline says that she never envisaged being a Doctor of Philosophy nor achieving the many accolades that she has along the way. “In Year 10, I did graphic design for work experience and thought it was very amusing when I got a prize for Science. “In Year 12, I studied Literature, French, Chemistry, Maths Methods, Biology, Visual Communication and Design. “I suppose I have found ways to incorporate my different interests into my life and career even though I feel I’ve only been working it out one step at a time,” said Madeline, a loyal Frew graduate. Madeline came to Girton halfway through Year 6 and spent a year on exchange in France between years 11 and 12, therefore completing Year 12 in 2004. She says that Mrs Jenkin was one of her most influential teachers. “She was so knowledgeable and passionate about literature. “She suggested I read Virginia Woolf’s ‘A room of one’s own’ for an assignment and this sparked a love of Woolf’s writing and was the first (of many!) feminist texts to shape my views. “Although I’m a scientist now, my grounding in humanities helps me communicate with a wide audience while ongoing learning about gender and other inequalities helps me navigate, and, I hope, improve, the world,” said Madeline. Madeline at University of Cambridge for her PhD graduation. Photo courtesy of David Mitchell. The list of scholarships, awards and other accomplishments achieved by Madeline since leaving school is astounding. She is currently a member of the Cambridge Australia Trust PhD scholarship selection committee and has been published twelve times in international peer-reviewed journals. She was a mentor for PhD students at CSIRO, is currently a Research Fellow for the Centre for Urban Research at RMIT, and she completed her Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Plant Sciences on the Herchel Smith PhD Studentship, one of the most prestigious and highest value studentships offered at the University of Cambridge. Madeline is one of only sixty women scientists selected by Science & Technology Australia to participate in the 2019-20 Superstars of STEM program, which involves undertaking media and communication training to provide role models to encourage girls into STEM. As a guest speaker at the most recent Girton VCE Conference at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds, Madeline is an excellent mentor for our students, speaking passionately about the need for women in Science and making a STEM career choice more tangible for our students. It is clear that she enjoys connecting with the next generation of scientists. But like most people, Madeline started small and worked in hospitality to support herself while she undertook her studies as an undergraduate. Her next casual gig as a laboratory demonstrator and as a research assistant in a botany lab and at RMCG set her on a more defined pathway. “These later jobs were a great way to get relevant experience. I was also a resident tutor at Queen’s College (Melbourne University), and I enjoyed the opportunity to develop my teaching skills. “I continued to do some demonstrating and outreach work during my PhD. After my PhD, I took up a position as a plant scientist at CSIRO Agriculture and Food in Canberra. I worked mainly in plant biotechnology developing new crops to benefit farmers, consumers and the environment,” Madeline said. Last year, Madeline moved back to Melbourne with her husband, a fellow plant scientist, to take up a dual role with RMIT University and the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre. Madeline is leading a research program to better support farmers in managing their natural capital such as plants and animals, soil and water, for sustainability, profitability, and climate resilience. In her role, she liaises with a broad range of stakeholders, from farmers to financial institutions, and a diverse range of researchers. Outside the laboratory, a greenhouse, a farm, or out from behind a speakers podium, Madeline has more talent yet. She was the Women’s Captain of the Cambridge University Olympic Gymnastics Club and travelled to Antarctica with the global leadership initiative, Homeward Bound. As if this is not enough, she can also knit; “My sister and I knitted jumpers ‘together’ (virtually) during lockdown, and I’m getting into sewing now, so I still have a creative outlet,” she said. It would seem that this Old Girtonian is unstoppable, but being conscious of reducing her environmental footprint, she is enjoying being back in Victoria. “After nine years away, I am loving exploring much more locally. I really missed the landscape, and of course the plants, of home, as well as the people,” Dr Mitchell said. Note: For those who dream of a pure cotton shirt that does not need ironing, Madeline and her research team may have the answer: https://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2018/Next-generation-cotton-you-wont-have-to-iron Madeline in Antarctica. Photo courtesy of Nicole Fetchet.
The Doctor who Accidentally Became an Expert
An administrative bungle landed medical practitioner, and 2007 graduate Katie Snow, where she is today, and she could not be happier. Although she intended to train rurally during her GP studies, Katie was accidentally assigned to Melbourne and was unable to change the arrangements. What eventuated was deferring starting her GP training for a year, and instead staying on at the Bendigo Hospital where she was immersed in obstetrics and gynaecology, and paediatrics, which she loved, and gaining a Certificate in Women’s Health and a Diploma in Child Health. She then built on these skills further by obtaining a Certificate in Sexual and Reproductive Health whilst in the role of GP Registrar, Sexual and Reproductive Health at Bendigo Community Health Services. In August of 2020, Katie completed her General Practice training to become a fully qualified GP. Not long after she was stunned to learn that she had been named the Royal Australian College of General Practitioner’s Victorian GP in Training of the Year. After leaving school, Katie became a resident of Queen’s College, to start Medicine at Melbourne University. “The first year of Uni was much less work than I was expecting, but a busy college life more than filled any spare time that I had. I had a great time in my first year of Uni, but things got a bit harder in my second year, and it was a trend that continued until into my third year, due to problems with my relationship with sleep.” After struggling for a couple of years, particularly while completing her research year, she learned that she had a sleep disorder called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. Getting the diagnosis was a relief as it came with a management plan that she was able to put into place. “When I finally saw a GP and a sleep physician, it was literally life-changing for me and although I still see that as the worst year in my life, I did manage to complete a 20,000 word thesis,“ Katie said. Katie has now completed a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Advanced Medical Science at Melbourne University and when asked to identify her most inspiring Girton teacher she deliberates. “That is a tough question, but Johnny Mac is my top pick. “He was the Head of my House (Millward) as well as my Year 8 Maths teacher, and he inspired me to continue to push myself and to value achievement that comes from effort rather than relying on innate ability,” Katie said. After six years of Medical school, Katie graduated and moved back to Bendigo to start an internship. She worked at the Bendigo Hospital for two years, then took a year out to do locum work, effectively working as a contractor and hiring herself out to rural and regional hospitals that were short-staffed. “It was a wonderful experience for me, working for hospitals that needed additional doctors. I worked in Victoria, NSW, Tasmania and Queensland. “It’s a different kind of challenge when you walk into a new hospital in a new state with a new IT system, get a ten-minute orientation, then the bosses leave, and you’re in charge of the ED for the night shift. “It is terrifying, but you certainly learn a lot,” Katie said. Katie said that one of the first things she spent early earnings on was flying to Brisbane as an intern to where her boyfriend, Josh, was living. She helped him to pack up his unit and they road-tripped back to Bendigo to move in together. Spending money on the flight to Brisbane turns out to have been an excellent decision, as Katie and Josh, who is a geologist, were married in Mandurang in 2018. “After we got married, we spent six months travelling overseas doing fun things like hiking in Nepal, off-roading in Mongolia, and driving the ring road in Iceland with friends. “We had one particularly memorable and perilous experience mountaineering the highest mountain in Slovenia, Mt Triglav. “It was when we were given locator beacons and avalanche poles for finding bodies in the snow that I thought I was maybe in a bit over my head. “We thought that snow was a possibility, not a given, and we found ourselves in thigh-deep snow within thirty minutes of commencing the hike. It was hugely challenging, but an incredible feeling to make it to the top, and I am so grateful we decided to undertake all of those adventures in 2019, not 2020,” Katie said. Josh and Katie purchased a house in Flora Hill a few years ago, and are close to finishing renovations, as well as gradually taming the garden and growing the veggie patch. They are also expecting their first child in February 2021, which Katie sees as their greatest challenge yet, despite having helped many others into the world. Given her back story and the fortitude of this Old Girtonian, it would seem highly likely that being out of her comfort zone will be little deterrent to her future plans.
OGA Bestows Twelfth Honorary Life Membership
Below is a copy of the citation that was gifted at the presentation of an Honorary Life Membership to Mr Dennis Garoni, Founding Head of Junior School, Girton Grammar School. The presentation was made on Friday 4th December, 2020, at an all-staff assembly. It is a true delight and honour to bestow an Honorary Life Membership of the Old Girtonians’ Association on Mr Dennis Garoni. Honorary Life Membership is a very special type of OGA membership, which can only be conferred on a person who; Has made a significant contribution to the School. Has demonstrated ongoing interest and commitment to enhancing the ethos of the School and the welfare of its students. It is the OGA’s honour to acknowledge and recognise the outstanding contribution of Mr Garoni, who joins only 11 other people previously bestowed this level of membership to the OGA. It is a monumental decision to embrace a leadership position in a failing organisation, and only those with the sturdiest mettle, the strongest work ethic and a deep love of the job would contemplate such a fate. In 1992, Mr Dennis Garoni became the founding Head of the Girton Grammar Junior School and stared down the obstacles in front of him, rolled up his sleeves and took to the task of making Girton one of the finest schools in Victoria. Twenty-eight years later, having loyally contributed his knowledge, his expertise, his heart, and his soul to every possible facet of the School, Dennis is aptly considered one of the pillars of Girton. No sooner had Dennis resigned from Brighton Grammar to move to Bendigo, had a paintbrush been put in his hands by the founding Headmaster, Mr Clayton Jones, and the job of getting run-down classrooms presentable for students to commence the new school year was underway. They were frantic, heady days in the summer of 1992-1993 when Dennis threw himself into the task of recruiting staff, building curriculum and being all things to all people at all hours of the day in order get the new school fit for purpose. The importance of the founding work that Dennis undertook in the first few years of the school’s operation, with the two Deputy Heads, Mr Tony Sheumack and Mrs Robyn MacCulloch, along with Mr Jones, cannot be overstated. The work required to establish Girton Grammar School demanded contributions by the school leaders in strategic planning and tactical work for which enough appreciation from generations of students, staff and parents can barely be bestowed. Dennis’ work is esteemed across all areas of the school. From the brightest of students to those who struggle on a daily basis, Dennis has taught them all, applying to each of them the insights that only a gifted educator can confer. From stretching the talented students even further, to writing personalised prose that fires the imaginations of those who find literacy challenging, Dennis always wants his students to understand that they can strive for success and take joy in discovering that they can achieve great things. As a master of the written word, many students have delighted in Dennis’ clear imagery conjured from words singing on the pages. Many a Girton editorial, staff testimonial and speech, have been written by Dennis over the years, shaping the culture of the school with his linguistic flair and masterful articulation of school values, which he both evokes in words and embodies in life. Over the years, Dennis has been instrumental in staff recruitment, development, and support, formally in his role as Head of Staff and informally as a mentor and natural leader to staff in all levels of the school. His competence in building strong and collegiate teams and his insight and judgement have been of enormous benefit in various leadership roles. Dennis is known for his gift of connecting with people instantly, through an understanding of the special qualities which make each person unique. He does not judge people harshly or use the artificial constructs of the materially obsessed, vanity driven values, which can lead to quick and shallow judgements. Those who have worked with Dennis know of his sharp intellect and willingness to be the Devil’s Advocate. With a penchant for efficient and practical research, and a readiness to do the work himself, Dennis has helped to nurture a work culture in the school of fact-checking, taking a broad view and continually questioning the rationale for decision-making. Bringing to the table a strong sense of integrity, transparent honesty, and sharp intellect, Dennis has been invited to discussions of every kind within the school because colleagues know that his contributions will enable all to see with clarity the actual issues and to make more finely considered and robust conclusions as a result. Parents, students and staff have many stories to tell of Dennis and at the heart of every narrative is an authentic human connection with a man who cares deeply for others. One parent fondly recalls Dennis joining a traditional half-time football huddle as a father-figure to support her young boy; another tells of a powerful speech at her child’s end of Year 6 celebration evening that she remembers seventeen years later; a colleague talks of Dennis instinctively taking charge when distressed by impending danger facing his/her daughter, making phone calls to family members and offering without hesitation to drive her/him to Melbourne; and on Old Girtonian still recalls expecting punishment after an indiscretion when aged four, but instead being gently and discreetly coached about what it is to tell a lie, a lesson he remembers for its kindness and understanding that has had more impact than a reprimand ever could. Dennis’ love and care for other people is generous and boundless. His compassion and humour have helped many troubled students through difficult days and his work in Inclusive Education, bringing hope and instilling belief in students who do not believe in themselves, has left many families profoundly thankful and deeply indebted to his kindness and expertise as a first-class educator. Dennis has a rare knack for calling a spade a spade without causing harm or insult in the process, and in all likelihood, bringing those around the table together in laughter. Colleagues and friends describe his humour as puckish, rogue, dry and rambunctious, and those on the receiving end of his quips, his quick rebuttals, his puns, and his famous limericks, agree that his company is glorious fun. Dennis’ wife, Lynette, and Old Girtonian sons, Chris and Jonathan, are the great loves of his life and he carries them in his heart on each and every day. He fully exemplifies the richness of a husband and father who celebrates the joy of family. The vividness of this example and the depth of character that it shows has been one of the many immeasurable yet invaluable gifts that Dennis has given Girton students and colleagues over many years. The Richmond Football Club and cricket are his second loves, providing stories and memories shared with many colleagues and friends with pride and hilarity in equal measure in staff rooms over the years. There are generations of Girton boys and girls who knew “they were walking, talking advertisements for the School” each time they wore their school uniform. For twenty-eight years, Dennis has given all of himself to the school that he loves, and in return, he is also much-loved. He leaves Girton a lasting legacy of what it is to be a person of decency, honesty and intellect.
Prue Wilkinson Wins People’s Choice Award at 2020 Top Arts
Prue Wilkinson’s winning artwork, “Cage of Confusion”. Prue Wilkinson (Riley, 2019), has been awarded the People’s Choice award at the prestigious 2020 Top Arts exhibition hosted by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Her watercolour and gouache painting was selected from 1,700 works submitted via the Victorian Curriculum Assessment Authority’s (VCAA) application process for the 2020 VCE Season of Excellence, with just 46 pieces of art selected for exhibition at the NGV. Top Arts is an annual exhibition presenting exceptional the work of VCE Art and VCE Studio Arts students undertaking the Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE). Head of Girton Grammar School, Dr Clayton Massey, said that having work acknowledged by gallery visitors was a great compliment and that Prue had produced an evocative piece of art to which many people can relate. “Prue’s art conveys the lost, scared, and confused expressions of an elderly family member with Alzheimer’s disease. “She has skillfully captured the complexity of the disease and the human suffering that it brings. “Winning the popular vote within the field of the Arts is always an incredible achievement and the Macquarie Group People’s Choice Award, provides significant support for an emerging artist like Prue at the start of their career,” Dr Massey said. This year, Prue will commence her second year at RMIT University doing a Bachelor of Fine Arts specialising in painting. She feels fortunate to spend every day learning about what she loves and enjoys being with like-minded people and being inspired by those around her. “Art is something I have always loved more than anything. I am still learning and intend to keep learning more and more about this industry. “I wish to share my creativity with the world and having my painting on display at the National Gallery of Victoria for the Top Arts exhibition gave me this opportunity. “My goal at the start of VCE was to be in Top Arts, and I worked hard to achieve that goal. “Winning the Macquarie Group People’s Choice award has reinforced for me how much love and support I have received from family and friends these past couple of years. I could not have done it without them. Dr Massey with Prue at the National Gallery Victoria. “My Top Arts piece is titled Cage of Confusion. It reflects how Alzheimer’s sufferers feel imprisoned, transforming their bodies from something familiar to cages of confusion. I depicted confinement through body language and by focusing the subject’s expression to lost, scared, and confused. “The subject of the painting is my Aunt’s father who I spent time with in a nursing home. I was confronted with the reality of Alzheimer’s, including its effects on loved ones and the general devastation of the illness. “The piece took about three weeks to complete,” she said. Prue said that 2020 allowed her to see the world from a new perspective, which is particularly valuable for an artist and that she is excited to see where her art may take her in the future. “Once university went online, I was painting almost every day in my little college room. Once I moved back to Bendigo, I created my first ever sculpture using materials I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. “In the future, I intend to continue creating imagery, and I would love to be doing anything in the industry. I will consider myself successful if I can achieve the happiness and satisfaction that comes from spending every day doing what I love,” she said.
OGA Welcomes New Members
Five staff members were recently welcomed into the OGA after receiving an Honorary Associate Life Membership for having worked at the School for 20 years. Congratulations to: Trudy Matthews, Marita Austin, Dan Slater, Jacqui Vine and Allison Crickmore (not pictured). Congratulations to Board Chair, Dave Jemmett who received an Associate Membership to the OGA for 3 years of service on the Board while Louise Howland and Philip Tune were bestowed an Honorary Associate Life Membership to the OGA for 10 years service on the Board.
Announcing the 2020 OGA Departing Girtonian Scholarship Winner
Many teachers describe Baelea Collins as quiet and self-assured. She is considered by her teachers a welcome influence on any classroom, and this is one of many reasons that she has been awarded the 2020 OGA Departing Girtonian Scholarship. Each year, the Old Girtonians’ Association grants a $2,000 Scholarship to a departing student who epitomises the values of an Old Girtonian. They must have demonstrated commitment and enthusiasm to all aspects of the Curriculum, Co-curriculum and to Community Service, and Baelea has done just that. Baelea is a proud ‘lifer, commencing at Girton Grammar School in Prep and immersing herself broadly in all that the School has to offer, especially since Year 10 when she made a conscious decision to take on leadership opportunities and to become more connected to a broader range of peers. Receiving Half and then Full colours in every year since Year 7, Baelea has played several musical instruments including piano, viola, and clarinet. She has been a member of the Concert Choir, Vocal Stagecraft and Senior Percussion. Baelea was instrumental in helping to establish the Girton Kayaking Co-curricular and has Captained the sport for two years and been a Junior representative of the Bendigo Canoe Club as well as the Assistant Coach of the Junior Kayaking team at Bendigo Canoe Club. As a hardworking, diligent and mature student, Baelea has a strong academic record and has achieved several Academic Excellence and Academic Endeavour awards, as well as achieving first place in two subjects in Year 11. Her teachers credit her with a drive to succeed, and an ability to seek out assistance and these things combined with a strong work ethic, have made Baelea an upstanding Girtonian. The road has not always been easy for Baelea. Despite significant personal challenges owing to her mother’s health as well as coming from a farming family that has endured drought, she has displayed resilience and determination in her studies and in life. Baelea has not always been a badged leader, however, in her time at Girton has developed quality relationships with her peers and teachers, always seeking to help others and to enthusiastically foster teamwork. In her OGA Scholarship interview, Baelea indicated that she has consciously stayed true to her values and to being the best version of herself, which she hopes is an inspiration to those around her. She encourages other students to fill their weeks with co-curricular activities and to have an open mindset. She said that over the years she has learned not to be too hard on herself and that although sometimes things can be overwhelming, the School has many things in place to support every student. During her interview for the Scholarship, Baelea was asked what it means to be an Old Girtonian. She responded by saying that it was about carrying forward all that she has learned about respect and about compassion in her time at Girton. She says she has learned how to be kind and to understand people and this is evident in Baelea’s active volunteering in a range of activities over the years at Girton, where she has offered her time and services on many different occasions. Baelea is known to be considerate, respectful and supportive of others and people naturally warm to her sympathetic character. She was awarded the OGA Departing Girtonian Scholarship because she displays so many of the qualities expected of graduating Girtonians. She is positive, thoughtful, diligent and demonstrates a life-long commitment to learning, leadership skills, resilience and a commitment to social responsibility. The OGA congratulates Baelea on receiving the Scholarship for 2020.
2020 OGA Careers Event
Year 12 students enjoyed a Careers event hosted by the OGA on Wednesday 17th June. Three Old Girtonians returned to share their professional and life experiences since leaving Girton with our Year 12 students. Students heard from a media professional, a GP Resident and a former School Captain in his final year of a Bachelor of Science. Will Hogan (2013) completed a double degree with a Bachelor in Journalism and a Bachelor of Business. He now works as a Journalist/Reporter for WIN News and shared tips on how to best get your foot in the door in an often volatile profession. Dr Katie Snow (2007) is a mere 6 weeks away from becoming a GP, having completed a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Advanced Medical Science at Melbourne University. She spoke about her experiences as a rural doctor and how unforeseen circumstances changed the direction of her career path for the better. Our third speaker was Joseph Baldwin (2016), who midway through his first year of a Bachelor of Commerce at The University of Melbourne, realised that his real passion lay elsewhere and switched over to a Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) in his second year. He reflected on what he wished he had known during his VCE years and had some astute advice for our Year 12 students. It was an informative and fun afternoon, where our students enjoyed hearing from alumni and gaining some insights into what their future may look like. The OGA is very grateful for the time that the three speakers gave to our Year 12 students.