New leaders get to work
06 Feb 2024
Penola's Leadership team: Charlie Thomas (Vice Captain), Ben Norris (Captain), Peta Sparkes, Imelda Wright (Captain) and Montana La Rosa (Vice Captain)
Local students heading back to school this week may have noticed a few new faces in the office, with two new principal's staring in the area.
Gabriela Osterlund is swapping a five-storey building for acreage, coming to Emmaus Catholic College Kemps Creek from Santa Sophia Catholic College in Gables.
Formerly, Osterlund's role was Head of School - similar to an Assistant Principal - but she said she's always wanted the top spot.
"I've been aspiring to be a principal for a little while, and I feel that I can lead a school well," she said.
"This particular school took me by the heart, because I I have worked in the western suburbs before in Mount Druitt and Marayong, and I just love the community out here."
Osterlund said her main goal for the school in 2024 is to encourage growth in all areas, nurturing the uniqueness of her students whilst also pushing them to fulfil their academic potential.
"My priorities are having high standards and that pursuit of excellence, but I think that excellence is multi-dimensional - it's not just about academic excellence", she said.
"It's about students getting to their personal best, seeking and embracing different challenges, being courageous, and trying to get to what is possible as far as academics, but also as far as their personal nature."
Brand new to the school and the area, Osterlund said she can't wait to get into the year and build relationships within the school community.
"I'm most excited to meet the new community, I think that's always really important," she said.
"You've got a lot of feeder primary schools, all the parents, all the students, so I'm really looking forward to day one and having everybody return and meeting all the students."
Over at Penola Catholic College in Emu Plains, the new principal is a much more familiar face, with Peta Sparkes starting her first full year in the job after being an assistant Principal at the school for six years.
"I feel really proud, and I feel it's a great privilege, having been a child that grew up in this area and had all of my schooling and my sporting background in Penrith," she said.
Noting that she has big shoes to fill, Sparkes said she can't wait to bring her long-term visions for the school to life.
"I've had great leaders in the past in Jim Fanning and Tania Cairns, and there's been about 12 principals here in the time of McCarthy and Penola," she said.
"There's a great sense of care in the school community, so I stand on the shoulders of those great people who have always shown great care of the kids, the families and the staff. That's something I absolutely am taking forward, but we absolutely need to keep growing and lifting our kids."
Finding this balance between care and challenge is a key goal for Sparkes in 2024.
As an advocate for western Sydney, she added that she has big dreams for the school and its students, coming along with a restructured leadership team, and a new pilot program for mental health.
"When I first went to university people would say, 'You're from the west? How did you get into uni?'," she said.
"I want kids in this community to continue to believe that they deserve a seat at the table, that everyone's got gifts, and it's our job as educators to bring forward those gifts and those talents.
27 Feb 2024
⭐SMASHED LIVE 2024 - ALCOHOL EDUCATION⭐ On Wednesday, our Year 9 and 10 students experienced an impactful presentation from Gibber Educational called 'Smashed.' This life-changing education program addresses underage drinking through positive thinking. When young people encounter tough choices, ‘Smashed’ aims to empower our students to make good decisions. Our students were highly engaged and found the presentation incredibly insightful. Thank you to Gibber Educational. Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese
23 Feb 2024
🏊SWIMMING CARNIVAL🏊 Last week, we hosted our Penola Swimming Carnival at Ripples Penrith. Despite the temperamental weather, our students had a wonderful time and truly embraced the school spirit. A special thank you to Mr Elston for coordinating the event and our teachers for their hard work in making this day possible. Lastly, we express our gratitude to our enthusiastic students. We had the best turnout ever, and it was fantastic to see our students and their amazing efforts in the pool. Thank you Ripples Penrith for having us! Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese
23 Feb 2024
School leaders from across Penrith and the South West have shared their hopes for 2024, from vying for class dux to aspiring heart surgeons and talented athletes. Meet the new year’s young legends.
23 Feb 2024
⭐PARENT/CARER HUB⭐ WEDNESDAY 6 MARCH 2023 9:00am to 10:00am AND 6:00pm to 7:00pm Book tickets through compass: https://compasstix.com/e/p5haphp7dr Ticket bookings close Tuesday 5 March 11:00am.
22 Feb 2024
🚌BUS SAFETY WEEK🚌 This week is Bus Safety week. Bus Safety Week raises awareness among all road users on how to stay safe on and around buses, helping to reduce injuries and fatalities.
21 Feb 2024
⭐BETHANY CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL VISIT ⭐ On Monday of this week, our Principal Mrs Sparkes and Assistant Principal Mr Borg accompanied by our Vice Captain Montana L and SRC Year 8 representative Anjelica V, to visit Bethany Catholic Primary School and let their students know about our Open Night on Monday 11 March 2024 4pm to 7pm. These visits to Catholic Feeder primary schools provide Year 5 and 6 students with the opportunity to learn about Penola Catholic College and the learning opportunities we provide. The students were captivated and thoroughly enjoyed asking Montana and Anjelica questions about their experiences as Penola Catholic College students. Thank you to Mr Rosato and all of the Year 5 and 6 students and staff for a wonderful visit. We look forward to our visits to other local Catholic primary schools in the upcoming weeks. Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Bethany Catholic Primary School, Glenmore Park
19 Feb 2024
📚 LIBRARY ACTIVITIES 📚 During break 2 last Friday, our library hosted the weekly activity 'Giant Games and Board Games.' It was delightful to observe numerous students actively participating together and thoroughly enjoying the experience. 🎲♟️ Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese
16 Feb 2024
📷 PHOTO DAY 📷 Last Friday was our photo day, and it proved to be a resounding success. We extend our gratitude to our students and staff for their cooperation in ensuring the day ran smoothly. Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese
16 Feb 2024
⭐ BIG FISH LITTLE FISH ⭐ Last week our Year 7’s attended a workshop run by Human Connections titled ‘Big Fish Little Fish’. The Big Fish into Little Fish presentation focuses on easing Year 7’s transition into high school, building rapport among the year group and enhancing self-esteem and resilience. Our Year 7 Students participated in activities to help minimise fears and maximise their collective hopes and dreams. Together they worked to develop empowering self-identity beliefs, which will lay the foundation for our students to continue to grow in the areas of resilience and self-worth. In addition to this they were able to discover ways to engage with new friends and develop the cohesion among the year group. Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Human Connections - Student Wellbeing Sessions
16 Feb 2024
🌟 ASH WEDNESDAY 🌟 Wednesday was Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a time where Christians all over the world spend time renewing their faith in Christ through increased prayer, fasting and almsgiving. To commemorate the penitential nature of this season, Christians traditionally place ashes on the heads of those undertaking the fast as a sign of their mortality and their sorrow for their sins. This symbol is most ancient, mentioned, along with sackcloth, throughout the Old Testament. Penola hosted a liturgy for each stage, where students were invited to receive their Ashes. Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese
16 Feb 2024
🥞 SHROVE TUESDAY 🥞 On Tuesday in celebration of Shrove Tuesday, the day preceding Ash Wednesday and the commencement of Lent, our students enjoyed pancakes, the proceeds of which contributed to supporting Caritas Australia. We extend our gratitude to all our students and their families for their support. The pancakes were a big hit! 🥞 Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese Caritas Australia
15 Feb 2024
🏊♀️SWIMMING CARNIVAL🏊♀️ Our Year 12's final Swimming Carnival, so we captured a few moments in their 'Aussie Icons' costumes before they set off this morning. Stay tuned for more photos covering the entire carnival... Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese
15 Feb 2024
💝VALENTINES DAY💝 In celebration of Valentine’s Day yesterday and Library Lovers Month, our library has curated captivating displays and organised a reading activity titled ‘Blind Date with a Book.’ This initiative serves as a delightful way to promote a love for reading among our students. This month, our library is also offering a book matching service and inviting students and staff to answer the question ‘why do you love the library?’. Happy reading! 📚 Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese