St John the Baptist Ferntree Gully Newsletter

Tuesday September 5th 2023

Letter from the Principal, Kelli Johnston


Dear Families

As educators we are continually committed to learning and improvement. One area of improvement identified by the Outer East Principal group is to develop our knowledge and understanding of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and perspectives. A group of 19 principals from the Outer East region undertook participation in an Indigenous Immersion program to Cape York with Red Earth. 

As a principal group we were most privileged to enter Indigenous communities and spend time learning with and from Indigenous elders from some of the communities in Cape York. Below is an outline of some of the learnings from our trip. Whilst the itinerary below provides an outline of some of the daily activities; the deep learning, relationships, impact and spiritual development we each gained from the immersion experience is something we are all enormously grateful to our homeland hosts for.  

I look forward to sharing this learning experience with our school community over time to further develop our understanding of indigenous people.

Day 1 - The Journey Begins

* Bus pick up in Cairns

* Travel up to Guurrill homeland - (6-7 hours)

* Set up Camp

Day 4-5 - Wujual & Buru Homeland

* Goodbye to Guuriill & head to Wujal Wujal for a welcome to Country Ceremony at the waterfall - 5 hour drive

* Spend time with the council, women’s shelter, library & health centre

* Welcome to Country in Buru

* Cool off/wash in the creek

* Discover medicinal plants on a rainforest walk with Elders

* Hike to the sacred Caterpillar Dreaming site (men only) or Meg River waterfalls (women only) and cool dip in healing water area.

Day 2-3 - Guurill Homeland

* Learn how & why this family maintains a work farm to  keep their connection to Country.

* Cool off with swim in the creek

* Walk the homeland learning of native plants & their purposes - cooking, medicinal, building etc

* Walk the homeland understanding of living conditions

* Spend time working with the cattle station’s muster dogs

* Lesson in local language - Guugu Yimithirr

* Lesson in preparing & cooking a traditional meal & damper

* Visit Hopevale community to drop into the art centre

* Unstructured time getting to know the Elders

Day 6 - Return to Cairns

* Early pack up of site & prepare for return 5:45am

* Return to Cairns 4pm

* Group reflection evening dinner

My sincere thanks to Ursula DeCorrado and the SJB team for all of their work throughout my period of leave.

St John the Baptist Art Show - Tuesday Sept 5th and Wednesday Sept 6th

The Biennial St John the Baptist Art Show will be held in the school hall this week from 6:00-7:30pm Tuesday 5th September and 2:30-4:00pm Wednesday 6th September.   This is a great community event that celebrates all our students' creativity through their artwork.   

We thank Mrs Renee Armstrong for her tireless work with all students in preparation for the Art Show. We are most excited and looking forward to celebrating our students' amazing efforts.

Thank you to the P&F team for kindly organising a very easy dinner option for parents.

Father's Day Activities

We thank our wonderful SJB community for all of their support with all events related to Father’s Day last week.  All events were most successful due to the organisation and community support and spirit of all.

Thank you to all for the following events

Father’s Day Stall - Parents and Friends Committee for all of the preparation and organisation that went to creating a terrific Father’s Day Stall.

Father’s Day Breakfast - SJB Staff for all of their work in preparing an amazing breakfast for our Dad’s/Special people.

Father’s Day Cake Stall - Parents and Friends Committee for organising the Bunning Father’s Day Cake Stall

- School and Parish communities for their delicious donations that contributed to the day being such a great success.

Father's Day Breakfast

Father's Day Cake Stall

District Athletics

Congratulations to all students who competed in last week’s District Athletics Carnival at Knox Athletics Track, Bunjil Way, Knoxfield on Thursday 31st August.

Our students achieved success in a variety of events. Our relay teams were outstanding with three of the six teams qualifying in First place (9/10 Girls  & Boys,12/13 Girls) and two others in second place (11Girls , 12/13 Boys). These teams have qualified for Division. 

Individual students who have qualified for the Dandenong Ranges Division day which will be held on Wednesday 13th September at East Burwood are:

 12/13 Girls 

Lorelei- 100 & 200m, Ruby- Discus, Ria- Shot Put. 

11 Girls

Matilda- 1500m, Ellie- Long Jump, 200 & 100m,

9/10 Girls

Nishala- 200m, Poppy- Long jump and 100m, Susie- Discus

9/10 Boys 

Zaylen- Hurdles,  Max- Triple Jump, 200m and 800m.

Relay teams - 9/10 Girls- Nishala, Zara, Poppy and Jenna 

9/10 Boys- Max, Teague, Josh A and Sebastian  

11 Girls- Ellie, Isla, Millie and Matilda. 

12/13 Girls- Ruby, Lorelei, Ria and Alxys

12/13 Boys- Ben, Ashan and Jake.  

The day was a wonderful day of athletics competition in which our students represented themselves and SJB school in an exemplary manner.  Congratulations everyone on giving it your best effort!! 

Thank you to our terrific staff for their support on the day too. 


MACSSIS School Improvement Surveys Open - Students, Families, Staff

Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools – School Improvement Surveys (MACSSIS): 

Monday 28 August to Friday 15 September 2023.

Gaining your critical Feedback about St John’s School 

Throughout each year, we pause to listen to our students, families and staff to gauge how our learning community is travelling. This feedback is invaluable to our progress as an effective school community and is backed by evidence-based research and best practices.

A significant and formal way in which we engage and gather data is through MACSSIS, the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools – School Improvement Surveys.

MACSSIS is a set of surveys that have been built specifically for Catholic schools in Melbourne by the Learning Services team at MACS, in partnership with researchers at Learning First and in wide consultation with principals in our schools.

In 2023, students, families and staff are invited to participate in MACSSIS via our secure and purpose-built online platform. The online platform is where our school leaders will access the summary reports that visualise the results of the student, family and staff surveys.    All individual survey results are anonymous.  

The MACSSIS survey platform is operated by an independent supplier, ORIMA Research Pty Ltd. The platform meets with the high security and privacy standards for handling student and school data. 

Family Surveys - Family surveys have been made available to all St John’s families.  Families can complete the MACSSIS survey anytime over the three-week window, (Monday 28 August to Friday 15 September 2023.).  Families will be notified via an email of the online survey link to access the survey along with a unique password allocated to each family.   

Staff Surveys - All staff will complete the MACSSIS survey with the same time frame as our parents. 

Student Surveys - We will advise families and students of the delivery and implementation of student surveys.

Our community’s opinions are critical to understanding how our school is performing – MACSSIS is a key data source for guiding the ongoing work to improve our school. 

All participation is invited, welcomed and 100 per cent voluntary. The surveys are not a test; they are an inclusive way to support the work we are already doing to improve our school. Everyone has the right to refuse to participate, or withdraw from the survey at any point before, during or after completion of the survey. Please notify the school if your child does not wish to participate.

If you would like more information, please contact the school.

Premier's Reading Challenge

The Premier’s Reading Challenge finishes on  Friday 8th September.  Please make sure you have entered all the books your child/ren have read via the website, accessing it by the login details you were given.

Footy Colours Day - Friday September 15th

On Friday 15th September students are welcome to come to school dressed in their favourite teams’ colours in the lead up to all footy finals. A number of  AFL activities will be included as part of the fun throughout the day. 

We invite families to join us from 1:30-1:55pm for our Footy Parade. Students will parade in their Footy Colours to their team’s theme song.  

A Special Lunch to coincide with Footy Day has been prepared by our terrific Tuck Shop Supervisor, Tracey Walker.  Please ensure you have your orders in by Friday September 8th to ensure that your child does not miss out.

Community Support

We thank Simon Mahady for his terrific work in installing a number of new signs around the school grounds.  The new signs provide clarity for families and services entering the school grounds at any of the numerous entry points. Many thanks Simon for your great work.

Classes for 2024

As we plan ahead for 2024 classes, we ask any families who know that they will not be returning to SJB in 2024 to inform the school as soon as possible.

Prep 2024 Enrolments Overdue

Enrolments for Prep 2024 are now overdue. Any families still wishing to enrol for next year are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. 

Finalising Prep numbers is an important aspect of our forward planning.

School Fees

Just a reminder for families, that school fees were due to be paid in full by Friday August 18th, 2023.  If you have not yet paid your outstanding amount, please ensure you do so as soon as possible.

If you have a direct debit payment plan set up, please ensure your balance will be finalised by the end of the year.

Term 4 is when you will receive information about next year's levies and payment details.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties, please contact Kelli Johnston to discuss further on 9758 1013 or email -

Year 3/4 Camp

The Year 3/4 camp is approaching us.  All forms should have been returned to school in preparation for next week.   

This is an exciting time for our Year 3/4 students.

School Closure Days - Term 4 2023

Monday 6 November (Melbourne Cup Monday) &  Monday 20 November

Parents please note that the School Year concludes on Friday 15th December. 

School Closure Day - Staff Time in Lieu - Monday 6th November. 

We wish to advise our school community that Monday 6th November will be a school closure day/Time in Lieu allocation.  The closure day has been set after consultation with Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS). This day is allocated for staff to undertake assessment and reporting obligations and also meets the schools obligation to provide staff with time in lieu, a requirement under the new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.  The introduction of time in lieu allocation for staff is now in place for all Catholic Schools throughout the Melbourne Archdiocese.   Parents are welcome to speak to either myself or Ursula DeCorrado should you seek further clarification in regards to the introduction of staff Time in Lieu commitments.  Please note that the following day, Tuesday 7th November, is the Melbourne Cup Day public holiday.

Starting School 2024

If you have a child starting school with us in Prep next year, you are invited to attend a very informative talk by Carley McGauran, Psychologist and Mum to 3. This is being held in the school hall while you child/ren attend their first transition session on Wednesday October 18th.

Wishing everyone a fabulous week ahead.

Kelli Johnston

School Nursing Program - Prep 2023

 The Department of Education offers a free health assessment to children in their first year of primary school, conducted by a registered nurse with expertise in child health and development.

All children in Prep received a school nursing program envelope last week.

All envelopes need to be returned to the school office by September 11th. You either tick the YES consent box and complete the questionnaire or the NO consent box. 

All information is confidential.

Parents & Friends News

Art Show

We are so excited to see all the amazing pieces of art created tonight and tomorrow afternoon at the Art show.  Don’t forget your pizza dinner orders being served in the 1/2 area from 5.30pm.  There will also be Devonshire tea for purchase at tomorrow afternoon’s viewing session from 2.30pm. Cash and card purchases available. 


Cake Stall

Another wonderful effort by all for our cake stall at Bunnings on Saturday, we are definitely one of their favourite schools to host! The generosity of our school and parish families is very appreciated and the spirit and connection created is very special. Thank you

Social Event

Our Barefoot Bowls evening is all locked in for Friday October 20th, please pop in your calendars and book your babysitters. Ticket and event details will be finalised at our next meeting. It should be a wonderful night full of laughs and fun and daylight savings will be here! If you are interested in joining the team to organise this event please send us an email or find one of us at pick up of drop off!

P&F Meeting

Please come along to our next meeting on Wednesday September 13th at 7.00pm, we have many exciting things coming up and would love your input. Upcoming term 4 events include the Barefoot bowls social event, Mango Drive, Christmas Night Market, Carols evening and whatever else we think we can squeeze in!

Dad's and Kid's Camping

We have once again secured our spot at Gilwell Park for the weekend starting Fri 17th-Sun 19th November.  This year we have the option of 2 evenings and we would like your expression of interest or suggestions on format.  Please email  or come to our next meeting. We have already secured one Dad as a team captain for the event and we would welcome any others who would like to be a part.  We also would like to explore the option of including more supervised activities that the camp has to offer.

Term 3 Dates for the Diary


5th     Art Show - 6.00-7.30pm

6th     Art Show - 2.30-4.00pm

11th    Assembly 1/2B

11th    Year 3/4 Camp - The Briars

12th    Year 3/4 Campers return

13th     Division Athletics

15th    R U OK? Prayer Service Prep at 9.00am

15th     Footy Day Celebration / Footy Lunch

15th     Term 3 concludes at 2.00pm


2nd     Term 4 commences

3rd    School Nurse onsite

4th    School Nurse onsite

6th     First Friday Mass - Year 3/4

9th    Inform & Empower Incursion - Year 1/2

9th     P-2 Swimming Lessons commence

10th    Inform & Empower Incursion - Year 3/4

11th     Prep 2024 Information Evening

16th     Inform & Empower Incursion - Year 5/6

16th     Assembly PM

18th     Prep 2024 Transition Sessions No. 1

Canteen News

Canteen orders can be placed via

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

Footy Day in the Canteen

Footy Lunch in the Canteen is on Friday September 15th.  Please note - this is instead of normal canteen.

Forms came home last week.  Please return them no later than Friday September 8th.

Canteen Roster

Wednesday September 6th Friday September 8th
Rachel Ben

Mark Molan

Rients Huitema

Wednesday September 13th Friday September 15th
Nat Conway

Footy Lunch Day

Helpers Needed!!

Uniform Shop News

Community News

Knox Gymnastics Enrolment Form


St John the Baptist Ferntree Gully