Newsletter - Term 3, Week 8, 2023


​From the Pen of the Principal

Dear Parents and Carers,

Recently our Secondary students attended an assembly focused on responding to and preventing bullying. As a way to reinforce the message many staff dressed as superheroes, which was a part of the national campaign against bullying. If we are to make progress, we need to work in partnership with parents, be vigilant and be brave enough to talk about it. The following story provides an excellent description of the three mindsets that can be manifested when it comes to bullying.

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(Image:©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​

Standing Up and Growing Up
“At the beach one day I watched a group of teenage boys playing a casual game of touch footy.  They were all strong, agile, muscular, bronzed Aussies.  All, that is, except one.  He was the ugly duckling of the gang – overweight, slow on his feet, sunburnt rather than sun tanned.  He was clearly paying for his differences.  I watched, sick to the stomach, as the boys on both teams teased and jeered him, making him the butt of every joke.  Whenever he got the ball it was as if the game would temporarily stop as a player pummelled him into the sand, tackling him with a ferocity reserved for him alone.  This was bullying with a capital B.

To make it worse, the boy played the role of the perfect victim.  He made no effort to stand up for himself.  He was pretending he didn’t mind the bullying and practically made himself into a human punching bag through his passivity.  My thoughts flashed forward – ten, twenty years into the future – and saw a young man damaged by poor self-esteem, carrying a truckload of painful memories.  Dear God! I prayed.
At that moment, as if an answer to prayer, two more boys joined the game.  They were obviously part of the gang but I could see them taking offence to what was going on.  ‘Hey, get off him!’ ‘Just play the ball, mate.’  They had a knack of calling off the bullying while encouraging the boy to be more proactive in his defence.  I was mentally applauding them for their goodness and courage.

I left the scene pondering the complexities of human nature.  How is it that some people have the courage to withstand the temptations of peer pressure while others so readily succumb?” (from the Story Source)

When I first read this story, it reinforced to me that growing up can be a difficult and challenging process.  The tension in each person between being a bully, a victim and a liberator is a hard call to make when you’re dealing with the pressures of adolescence.  These same pressures affect each young person in our community. The journey to adulthood is the journey to the position of the liberator.  A person who possesses enough self-confidence and self-belief will not act as a bully, nor a victim.  Rather they radiate the kind of confidence that enables others to find the noble and mighty spirit within them.  Liberators allow others to enjoy life in all its fullness.

Bullying has no place at Xavier Catholic College.  Every person within our community has the right to feel safe, valued and free to pursue their interests.  As a community filled with young people searching for their identity, from time to time, students will get it wrong and succumb to the temptation of putting others down. But bullying is never acceptable and as a community we respond to each circumstance with vigilance.  Our policies and practices are in place to keep children safe.  They are there not only for the protection of the victim, but the education and growth of the students who commit the bullying behaviour.  Their journey to growth is just as important.  Bullying behaviour must be challenged if such growth is to take place.

What underpins all we do are our values which are sourced firmly in the gospel.  Educating our young people to respect the dignity and value of each and every person is a crucial starting point.  It is the critical partnership that the parents and the school share.  Together, we promote the respect of self and the respect of others, so that every student can grow to adulthood in a healthy way.  Such values are the ultimate non-negotiables of Xavier Catholic College.  At times it means we challenge students, but we do so in the spirit of partnership with the parents who desire the same outcomes of growth towards adulthood.  When we challenge a student’s behaviour, we are not challenging the parents.  Rather, we are providing the greatest form of support in our shared task of educating and raising young people.

Personal growth does not take place in a vacuum.  It takes place in the seedbed of values which are promoted both at home and at school.  Let’s make sure that we are consistent in the values we share with our children.  The constant drip, through word and action, helps water the soil.  At the end of the day, in a spirit of partnership, I hope that both parents and the College will be able to take great pride in the strong and healthy crop that is grown.
To be honest, some of the statistics from the Government’s ‘Bullying No Way’ campaign are quite shocking.

Research from shows:

  • Approximately one in four Year 4 to Year 9 Australian students (27%) reported being bullied every few weeks or more often.
  • Approximately one in five young school students reported experiencing online bullying in any one year.
  • Hurtful teasing was the most common bullying behaviour reported, followed by having hurtful lies told about them.
  • 84% of students who were bullied online were also bullied in person.
  • Students often tell parents about bullying rather than anyone else.
  • In 85% of bullying interactions, peers are present as onlookers, and play a central role in the bullying process.
  • Enhancing social status with peers is the most commonly reported motivator for bullying.
  • 83% of students who bully others online also bully others in person.
  • Students may not report bullying to the school because they fear not being believed or making things worse.

(Source: Bullying No Way. (2020, July 21). Bullying No Way.

There are many ways that students can be ‘liberators’ that help end bullying and empower others. The following present 8 simple actions that can make a huge difference.

1. Memorize a simple statement
Most school-based bullying prevention programs tell students to show kindness and empathy by standing up for kids who are bullied—which is spot-on advice! We know that when kids step in to stop bullying, an incident of cruelty typically stops within 10 seconds, more than 50% of the time (Hawkins, Pepler, & Craig, 2001). Unfortunately, too few programs teach kids how to stand up for others.

My students tell me that one of the most frequently applied skills I teach them is the use of Bully Bans. Bully bans are short, to-the-point statements meant to interrupt an incident of bullying in its tracks without escalating the conflict. Bully bans take into account that during stressful moments, kids’ brains rarely come up with “helpful” things to say. Rather, the heat-of-the-moment usually sparks emotionally-charged, conflict-fueling words and actions.

Bully bans are meant to be developed with kids during non-stressful moments, then committed to memory so that kids can easily access them when they are needed. Effective Bully bans include simple, non-emotional phrases such as:
  • Cut it out, dude--that’s not cool
  • Hey, that’s over the line
  • Whatever
The key is in letting kids brainstorm their own simple statements, so that their language feels comfortable and natural to them. Then, adults can help kids role-play saying their assertive words in a confident, casual voice.

2. Change the subject
Some young people will find it too risky to say something during an episode of bullying, no matter how comfortable they become with effective wording. That’s perfectly understandable and even logical; too often, brave upstanders find that when they show kindness and empathy for someone who is being bullied, the aggressive student immediately unleashes their cruelty on them.

Some kids have the confidence and social capital to take that risk but for others, a great strategy is to teach them how effective it can be to stop an episode of bullying in its tracks by simply changing the subject. For example, a child who wants to quickly deflect the pressure off of someone being bullied can simply ask aloud if someone knows the date of the math test or how their March Madness bracket is going.

3. Scatter the crowd
Another effective diffuser: prepare kids to say something like, “Guys, we’ve gotta get to class before the bell rings.” This is a quick and easy way to scatter the crowd of onlookers from whom a bully is deriving social power and to stop bullying on the spot.

4. Use humor
Teach kids how effective it can be to lower the stress of a bullying situation by making kids laugh. Tell a joke, do something funny, share a meme, or bring up a funny pet video. There are lots of ways caring, empathic kids can use humor to diffuse a tense situation and take the pressure off of a vulnerable student.

5. Stand with the person being bullied
For those moments when verbal interventions such as Bully Bans, distractions, and humor won’t work, encourage your young person(s) to simply walk over and stand close to a person who is being bullied. Often, just the act of wordlessly standing with a vulnerable person can be enough to change the mood and stop the bullying. It also lets the person being bullied know that he or she is not alone.

6. Reach out after the fact
Good news: On-the-spot strategies to bring an end to bullying are highly effective. More good news: if the opportunity is missed, all is not lost! Teach kids that when they aren’t able to intervene in the moment, the efforts they make to show kindness and empathy soon after an incident of bullying can also have a significant impact.

Encourage kids to make time later in the day to talk to a peer who has been on the receiving end of cruelty. Invite the student to hang out with you at lunch or sit with you on the bus. Send him a friendly text. Message her on social media.

7. Express sympathy
Another effective way to show kindness and empathy to a student who has been bullied is to find them later in the day and tell them that you are genuinely sorry about what happened. The power of this simple act of looking a fellow human being in the eye and letting them know that what happened to them also pained you cannot be understated.

While they are at it, encourage kids to tell the bullied kid that he is awesome and doesn’t deserve to be treated badly. This simple act of friendship and compassion can make all the difference.

8. Get Help
Bullying is all about making a person feel isolated and alone. By the upper elementary and middle school years, many kids already believe that their life will only get worse if they tell an adult they are being bullied, anticipating that they will be called a “tattletale” (and worse!) and further degraded for their act of reaching out. This is part of the basic m.o. of a child who bullies; creating this fear is how they keep other kids isolated and powerless.

(Source: 8 Things Kids Can Say and Do to Stop Bullying | Psychology Today Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2023, from

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(Photo:©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​

One thing bystanders can do to show kindness and stop bullying is to be the one to bring the matter to an adult’s attention. This takes the heat off of the bullied student in a big way. Encourage kids to think carefully about who they go to for help, as not all adults help equally. They should be sure to choose someone who they believe is fair and will use discretion in their interventions, so as not to cause new problems for a bullied student. A trustworthy adult can work to uphold school standards of safety and dignity for all students while also addressing the situation in a way that prevents it from recurring.

Blessings and Peace,
Simon Dash

Acting Head of Primary School

A reminder to all that this Friday, 1 September is CTJ Day (Common Teacher Judgements). This is a student free day, which allows teachers the opportunity to moderate student work to ensure consistency and equity.

Father's Day Breakfast
It is that time of the year again when we celebrate all the Dads and Father figures in the lives of our students.  The Father's Day breakfast sausage sizzle and games was very well received, and it was also nice to see so many parents present for the Father's Day liturgy.  On behalf of the College, I would like to wish all the men in our community who fill the role of Dad or are special in some way to our students a very happy Father's Day. 

Last Sunday, we had 3 teams representing Xavier Catholic College at the Wide Bay Regional Opti-Minds tournament in Maryborough.  From Year 5 we had the Spark 5 team competing in Media Communication.  The Year 6 Xavier One team competed in the Science Engineering category and from Year 10 and 11 we had the Mostly 10’s competing in Science Engineering.  

The Spark 5 and Mostly 10’s team won their divisions and will now compete in the Queensland finals in Brisbane in October.  Congratulations to all teams and a big thank you to Peta Spencer, Terrie Hanhe, Kim Holz, James Ferrier and Mark Milstein for your coaching, guidance and assistance before and on the day.

Events to look forward to
We have some important events coming up next week.  Our Year 4 students are heading to Splitters Farm for their Year 4 camp on 7 and 8 September.  Year 5/6 Gala Day is Friday 8 September.  We also have the Year 2’s heading off to the Brolga theatre in Maryborough to see the live performance of “The Twitts”.

Kind regards,
Sarah Love

Head of Secondary

Staff Professional Learning
We currently have 30 staff involved in improving their teaching practice. As such, they are taking part in lesson observations, reflection on their teaching and surveying of students to collect data. We are very proud of our teachers here at Xavier Catholic College and the way they have embraced this learning opportunity. In 2009, Professor John Hattie released his groundbreaking book on Visible Learning. His book has been used to improve what we do in schools since. Visible teaching and learning occur when learning is the explicit goal, when it is appropriately challenging and when the teacher and the student both seek to ascertain whether and to what degree the challenging goal is attained. It is teachers seeing learning through the eyes of students, and students seeing teaching as the key to their ongoing learning. Our staff engaging in improved practice will lead to better learning outcomes for our teachers. Just like a coach in sport who helps us improve our practice, we currently have a ‘coach’ in education to improve our pedagogy. 

We are talking about our teaching practice to raise awareness of whether the teaching strategies put in place are working or not, how we can better learn from each other and what our students say about their learning. It is a work in progress, and we hope to continue to share our journey with you. We also know from the work of Lyn Sharratt and Michael Fullan, Putting Faces on the Data (2012), that improving teacher capacity is the most effective way to improve student performance. We know that everyone matters. That we will do whatever it takes to ensure every young person can learn and thrive here at Xavier Catholic College. 

World Teacher’s Day 
Friday 27th October is World Teachers’ Day World Teachers' Day Queensland ( We celebrate this here at Xavier and, maybe you as a parent, can have a conversation with your son or daughter about how they might celebrate their wonderful teachers. I will send out more information in upcoming newsletters. 

With every blessing,
Ursula Witham-Young


Pupil Free Day
A reminder to all parents and carers that Friday, 01 September 2023 is a Pupil Free Day at Xavier Catholic College for all P-12 students.

Science Class News
Mr Ferriere’s Year 8 Science class has been learning about all the organelles of plant and animal cells. Students completed a hands-on activity with jelly and lollies simulating a cell design. Students used recall and reasoning to apply their knowledge in different ways. And the model building tasted good too!

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(Photo:©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​​

Book Week
A big thank you to all the students (and staff) who participated in the K-6 Book Week Parade last week. The effort and creativity that goes into all the different costumes is what makes the parade such a wonderful event each year. This year’s theme was ‘Read, Grow, Inspire.’ The Xavier Catholic College event was also featured in 7 News. You can find the clip and our full Book Week gallery on the College Facebook page.

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(Photo:©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​​

Kondari Mission Week update
Thank you to the entire Xavier Catholic College community for supporting Kondari Mission Week this year. Together, we raised $985 and were able to donate many hamper items to the St Vincent de Paul Society. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. Find more Kondari Mission Week photos, here.

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(Photo:©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​​

Maths News​
​Students that have achieved 133% or higher Growth Rate or 100% Accuracy will be recognised each fortnight. To achieve 133% Growth Rate, students need to master 4 out of the 6 modules completed each cycle. 

Why is 133% Growth Rate important?

Students achieving this consistently shows more than a years’ worth of knowledge mastered. As students are filling in gaps in Year 6-8 this is ultimately the goal of Maths Pathway.

Each newsletter will acknowledge the achievements per cycle and the last newsletter for the Term will acknowledge the whole Terms achievements.

Congratulations to the students listed below!

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SVDP School annual sleepout

Once again, our Vinnies school sleepout has come and gone.  This year was a little different, as we began the night with our Year 4 students and discussed the St. Vincent De Paul Society was and the work of Fredick Ozanam.  Blessed Frederic Ozanam founded St Vincent de Paul Society to serve the poor in his community.  Our annual sleepout focused on the mission of the SVDP society, especially here in Hervey Bay.  Our Year 4’s played educational games, keeping the balloon up, labelling resources and making a Lego house, which looked at how hard it is to build a home when the circumstances that cause homelessness take hold. 

Then our Secondary students joined us to continue to learn about the work of SVDP and help our primary students continue to understand the concept of homelessness and the stereotypes that we as a society label those who are experiencing homelessness. Our Year 4’s left us for the remainder of the evening as we continued our discussion with Kate Everlyn from SVDP about the issues surrounding how people find themselves vulnerable through no fault of their own.  The night was cool, but we felt blessed to know that this was only temporary and we have a safe place to call home.  Thank you to Mr Neville Fowler, Ms Baldwin for sleeping over with us.  Thank you to all the staff who helped, Mr Barker, Mrs Logan, Mrs Love, Mrs Oliver, Mr McDonald, Mrs Grambower, Ms Mills and all the leaders who helped us discern this experience and to our year nine leaders for the delicious soup we shared for dinner. 

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(Photo:©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​​


Congratulations to Xavier Catholic College Year 5 student Luca Elix on an awesome display at the Fraser Coast Equestrian Competition recently. Luca represented the College in multiple events, coming first in the dressage, second in hacking. Luca has been riding horses since he was 5-years-old. Well done, Luca. The Xavier Catholic College community is proud of your achievement! Keep it up!

Year 3 and 4 Gala Day
Our Year 3 and 4 students participated in various Gala Day sports last week. Soccer, Oztag and netball were held at the Fraser Coast Sports Precinct in Nikenbah and Newcombe players travelled to UPSS. Thank you to the convenors and Hervey Bay District Sports for organising these great events. 
Also, a big thank you to Xavier Catholic College Secondary students who helped out with netball and Oztag. ​Year 3 and 4 students had a great time playing friendly games and practicing the skills they have been learning in Friday sport this term. Lots of smiles on faces all day!

(Photo:©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​​

Rugby League
The Xavier Catholic College Confro boys are continuing their impressive run this year. The Xavier Wolves qualified for the Queensland final of the NRL Trophy by showing much courage and resilience in a seesawing match against Pimpama SSC. Xavier Catholic College emerged 26-24 winners in a match that literally went to the final play of the game. The team will now play against fellow Confro school, Columba College as part of the NRL Schools Finals Day in Brisbane on 12 September. Well done on another fantastic achievement.  

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(Photo:©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​​

​Disclaimer: Copyright in some materials appearing in the newsletter is owned by third parties and should not be used or reproduced without the authority of the third party. The links to websites or web pages are for information purposes only. To the extent that such third-party materials are not owned by BCE, we accept no responsibility for such content. 

(Thumbnail image: ©️ Brisbane Catholic Education, Xavier Catholic College, 2023​)​