St John the Baptist Ferntree Gully Newsletter

Tuesday February 20th 2024

Letter from the Principal, Kelli Johnston


Dear Families,

Last Wednesday we gathered as a school with the Parish to celebrate the commencement of the Lenten Season. Father Thomas shared with the students the Season of Lent as being a time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  The students were asked to think about Lent as being a time of change and a time in which their actions can reflect the Season of Lent.  

The season of Lent is significant within the Catholic faith. The season of Lent is a liturgical season consisting of 40 days commencing on Ash Wednesday and ending on Holy Thursday.  The liturgical colour of the Lenten season is purple.

During Lent some things families may like to do with their children include:

  • Entering in prayer - quiet meditation, prayer of thanks, songs.

  • Give up or do something kind for 40 days

  • Read stories about Easter

At the commencement of the season of Lent we launch Project Compassion through Caritas Australia.  We encourage families to become familiar with the work of Caritas and the faces of Project Compassion for 2024. Throughout the 6 weeks of Lent, stories and the faces of how the lives of people have been transformed through the support of Caritas’ Project Compassion will be shared.  We ask our community to support and contribute to Project Compassion throughout the season of Lent.

First Reconciliation Family Evening and First Reconciliation Commitment Masses

We thank our Year 3 families for joining us last Thursday evening for the First Reconciliation Family evening. The evening was well attended by families. We thank Father Thomas, Mary Makarucha, Mrs Marialisa Mandarino and the Year 3/4 team for presenting a most informative and interactive session.

We thank all families for their attendance at the Reconciliation Commitment Masses throughout the weekend of the 17th & 18th February.  The masses were well attended by our Reconciliation candidates and their families. We thank Father Thomas and the parish for such a warm welcome and for their support of the candidates as they prepare for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Halogen National Young Leaders Day

On Friday our Year 6 School Captains had a great day at the Halogen National Young Leaders Day.  As a group we travelled by public transport to the Exhibition & Convention Centre.  Our leaders were able to hear from a range of different leaders in our community.  When they reflected on the key messages to take away from the day they highlighted resilience, persistence, courage and never giving up.  It was terrific to immerse our SJB leaders in such a day and we look forward to seeing them enacting their learning at school

Four Generations attending St John the Baptist

We were most fortunate to have Lucille Thomas reach out to our school community and share her family’s wonderful story of 4 generations attending St John the Baptist.

Lucille shared her family’s wonderful story, history and photos of the 4 generations at SJB. We are most excited to have Suhanee commence her schooling with us at SJB this year.

Lucille’s story starts with her mum, Clare Clarke attending SJB in the 1940s, Lucille attending between 1966-1973, son Tim Grimshaw attending between 1996-2003 and Tim’s daughter Suhanee commencing in 2024. We look forward to Suhanee’s twin sisters joining SJB in future years.

What a wonderful story for Lucille, Tim, Suhanee and their family to share together. We are thrilled to have such a lovely family connection that continues across generations.

St John the Baptist Open Days for 2025 Prep Children

Let your neighbours, friends and relatives know St John’s School Open Days are set for March.

School Open Days will be held on:

Wednesday 6th March

Thursday 14th March

Tours will operate at 9am, 10am, 4pm & 5pm

Alternatively families can book tours by phoning the office or through the school website.

Every day is Open Day at St John the Baptist School!! Come and see us in action.

We request that parents already with children in the school enrol as early as possible.

Sacramental Calendar 2024

We ask families to please place the dates for this year’s Sacraments in your calendars. Sacraments are important milestones and celebrations in our students' faith journey.

SacramentImportant Dates


Year 3 students only

Sacrament of First Reconciliation - Wednesday 20th March  5pm


Year 5 & 6 students

Family Evening - 24th July 7-8pm

Commitment Mass - Saturday 27th or Sunday 28th July

Reflection Day - tbc

Sacrament of Confirmation Thursday 29th August at 6pm


Prep Rest Days

A friendly reminder that the following Wednesdays are ‘Rest Days’ for our Preps.  Wednesday 21st February and Wednesday 28th February.

Our Preps will commence full time at school from Monday 4th March.

Prep Family Welcome Mass

Prep families will receive an invitation from the SJB in the coming days inviting Prep families to join the parish at Mass on Sunday 3rd March at 11:00am. The Prep Family Mass is a lovely way for the parish to welcome our newest members of the school and parish community.

Working Bee - Saturday March 2nd 1.30pm-4.00pm

We look forward to welcoming parents to the first working bee of the school year on Saturday 2nd March from 1:30pm-4pm. There are always a number of jobs to complete at our first Working Bee each year, while the weather is good.

If we have any landscape gardeners that would be able to repair the sprinkler system in our sandpit, please contact Ursula (this does not not have to occur on the date of the working bee if there is another day that suits you).

If you are able to attend, please RSVP to - (please include number attending), alternatively, you can return the attached form.  Thank you.

Working Bee Reply Slip


School Advisory Council

The St John the Baptist School Advisory Council (SAC) will meet throughout 2024 to reflect on and gain feedback on a number aspects of SJB school.  We look forward to working in partnership with the SAC members to reflect and discuss important aspects of St John the Baptist. We have been most fortunate to have a full SAC with parent representation across school year levels.

School Advisory Council evenings are scheduled for Wednesday evenings commencing at 7:00pm in the St John the Baptist staffroom.  The following dates below outline the SAC meetings for the 2024 school year.

21st February

20th March

15th May

31st July

4th September

23rd October

20th November

Year 5/6 Camp

The Year 5/6 Camp to Campaspe Downs is approaching. Our Year 5/6 students will depart for camp on Monday 26th February and return to school on Wednesday 28th February.

We ask that families please return the medical forms distributed by the Year 5/6 team.  We are looking forward to a terrific 3 days away with our senior students.

Webinar - Managing Big Feelings

We look forward to providing our families with the opportunity to attend a webinar led by Carley McGauran.  Families will be familiar with Carley through her Prep transition session in 2023.  This session is designed to support you in the most helpful way when your children experience big feelings.

In this session Carley will cover:

  • How to be an emotional coach

  • The brain and emotional development

  • Understanding meltdowns and how to manage them

  • Let’s talk anger, anxiety and sadness

  • Tips for encouraging self regulation

  • Recognising when big feelings may be a concern

Managing Big Feelings

Presenter: Carley McGauran

Date: Thursday 7 March 

Time: 7.30pm (75 min)

Here is the link for your parents to register for the webinar :

Second Hand Uniform

The Second Hand Uniform Shop will be open on Tuesday afternoons from 2:45pm.  Families may purchase second hand items for $5 per item. 

Families donating items are asked to ensure that items are delivered washed and in good condition.

Inquiries in regards to second hand items may be sent to

CSEF 2024 Applications

Parents/carers of students who hold a valid concession card such as Health Care Card, Pensioner Concession Card, Veteran Affairs Gold card or temporary foster care cards are eligible to apply for Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund (CSEF) through the Dept of Victoria Education. A payment of $150 may be paid to schools to benefit eligible students.

Applicants who received funding under the program in 2023 are not required to complete an application form for 2024 provided there have been no changes to your circumstances. 

Any families who have recently acquired a concession card or are new to CSEF are welcome to enquire at the school office.

Schools are able to process CSEF applications up until 28 June 2024.

CSEF Application Form


Wishing everyone a terrific week ahead.

Kelli Johnston

Audiri (formerly Skoolbag) App

Audiri app is a simple and effective way to communicate school information with families.

As a school we will use the Audiri app to communicate reminders and events occurring throughout the school.  Families can also use the app to advise student absences.

We ask that families install the Audiri app on their phones and then add St John the Baptist School. Information on how to add the Audiri app and St John the Baptist School can be found below.

Term 1 Dates


21st - Prep Rest Day

21st School Advisory Council Meeting 7.00pm

23rd - Assembly Year 5/6RD presenting 

26th - Year 5/6 camp - Campaspe Downs

28th - Year 5/6 camp returns

28th - Prep Rest Day


2nd - Term 1 Working Bee 1:30 - 4:00pm

3rd - Prep Welcome Mass at 11.00am

4th-   Swimming Squad St Joseph’s Secondary College 8:00am - 8:30am

6th - Open Day No. 1

8th - Division Swimming - Croydon Pool

8th - 3/4GA Assembly - 2:30pm

11th - Labour Day - School Closed

13th- NAPLAN Commences

14th - Open Day 2

18th - Squad Swimming St Joseph's Secondary College 8-8.30am

20th - Sacrament of Reconciliation - 5pm

20th - School Advisory Council

21st - Harmony Day - wear a touch of orange

21st - Harmony Day Prayer Service

22nd - Athletics Day

22nd - Regional Swimming

28th - Holy Week Stations of the Cross

28th - P - 2 Easter Bonnet Parade

28th - Term concludes at 2.00pm

Second Hand Uniforms

Thank you to all the families who have donated items to the 2nd Hand Uniform Shop. There are lots of great pieces available, so come in on a Tuesday afternoon 2:45pm - 3:15pm and see if there is something your children need. All items $5.00 - cash only please.

Janice Stiglich

Canteen News

Canteen orders can be placed via

Orders must be placed no later than 7.30am on the Wednesday or Friday.

The Canteen is seeking volunteer helpers who can offer up just a couple of hours once per term (9.00-11.00am) on a Wednesday, or in particular on our busy Fridays.  If you think you can help, please complete the form below or contact Tracey Walker on 0408 101 100 if you have any questions.

Canteen Volunteer Form


Canteen Roster Term 1, 2024

Wednesday February 21st Friday February 23rd 
Rachel Ben

Nelson Serrao

Cassie Croning

Caroline Walsh

Wednesday February 28th Friday February 30th 
Nat Conway

Leanne Gaunt

Carolyn Lonsing

Parish News

St John's Netball Club News

SJB netballers had a great afternoon a couple of weeks ago getting together and meeting Rudi Ellis from the Melbourne Vixens.  Rudi played lots of fun games with the kids, and our wonderful coach Fleur, and graciously signed everything from hands to drink bottles and anything else put in front of her.  Our netballers were able to ask her lots of questions, and there were some truly curly ones! 

We also held a lunchtime clinic for Grade 2/3 children interested in netball last week and had a great turn-out and lots of fun. 

St. John’s Netball Club is open to both boys and girls and we’re particularly in need of more players aged (or turning) 7-13 this year.  Those interested under 7 can join the NetSetGo program at MDNA.

Our first season runs from 24th Feb to early August and we play on Saturday mornings and train on Monday at 3.30pm (11&under) and 5.00pm (12&over) at Knox Regional Netball Centre.  

If anyone is interested in playing netball this year, we’d love to hear from you (please refer to flyer below for more details).

Camp Australia News

Community News

St John the Baptist Ferntree Gully