School Newsletter

Apply Now for 2024 School Bus Travel Passes  

Will your child be catching the bus to school next year? Applications are now open for a Bus Travel Pass.  As it’s a busy time of year, we highly recommend you make this application before the end of the year. It’s also good to check the bus timetable to make your child’s journey to school as easy as possible.  Here is how it works:

Bus Passes

  • All students catching the bus in 2024 will need a school travel pass.
  • Under the School Student Transport Scheme (SSTS), eligible students can apply for free or subsided travel between home and school.
  • For more information about the School Student Transport Scheme and how to apply for a school travel pass, visit from a desktop computer.

Bus Timetables

Busways is the school bus operator that runs your schools’ bus services. To find your child’s school bus timetable visit the Busways website by using the following steps:
1. Go to
2. Click on ‘school services’ in the navigation bar and then proceed to ‘school timetables
3. Enter the school’s name in the field that says ‘enter a school name’
4. Select the school’s name and the timetable should open on your device. If you are unable to find or search for the school’s name, use the drop-down menus on the same web page to find the school.
5. Once the timetable is opened, you will be able to identify which school bus services are available in your area for your child to use.

Busways Customer Service Team

On Monday 13th November, the Diocesan Golf Championships were held at South West Rocks Golf Club. It was a windy tough day on the course at SWR but a great turnout with over 40 students taking part in the Championships. Congratulations to Annalese McKee who represented McAuley and was named the Girls Gross Champion which means she shot the lowest score of the day. Annalese was also the Girls Net Runner Up which is based on Handicaps. 

Well done Annalese, looking forward to bigger and better things next year. The Convenor also wanted to thank the staff and parents who attended the day from various schools, very much appreciated. 

Jim Hand
Sports Coordinator


As the end of the term looms, the weeks are becoming more action packed. With assessments slowly coming to an end, we have been able to do more fun activities like Year 9 and 10 camps, the Netball House Cup, debating, announcing new leaders, looking forward to upcoming Christmas events, and end of year activities. 

The Netball World Cup has been a massive success, with outstanding participation and a great time for everyone. As of Wednesday, 22nd November, the Junior Division (7 and 8) is led by McCarthy in first, Champagnat in second, Mercy in third and Tracey in fourth. The Intermediate (9 and 10) and Senior divisions (11 and 12) winners are still to be decided with Tracey and Mercy competing for first, and McCarthy and Champagnat competing for third in both divisions.

Years 7, 8 and 9 recently went to Sydney for Debating Championships, coming back with amazing results.  Year 8 placed 2nd in the Region and Years 7 and 9 were the Regional winners and progessed to the State Titles where they received second place- an amazing accomplishment for a small regional school. Congratulations to all involved.

McAuley is hosting a Combined Parish Christmas Carols event for the Grafton Catholic Primary Schools: St Mary's and St Joseph's. This will involve stalls, games and performances from the young students and should be an amazing time. The event commences Thursday, 30th November from 5.30 pm.  

Finally, we are excited to welcome our new leaders to the SLT for 2024 who we know will be a good addition to the team. Congratulations to the successful applicants, there was definitely a lot of passionate and keen leaders to vote for this year.

Congratulations to our 2024 Student Leadership team who were announced at our whole school assembly on Thursday, 23rd November.

Year 10

(L-R) Raimi Mortimer, Max Forwell, Liam Salvestro, [Absent - Eve Van Leest]


Year 11

(L-R) Amali Rainbow, Alicia Boehme, Beau Thompson, Axel Vereyken


Congratulations also to Eva Patricks (R) who received an Award from the South Grafton RSL Chapter for participation in and speech deliverance at their Rememberance Day Memorial Service held on Saturday, 11th November 2023. McAuley also received an Award of Recognition for the same event received by School Captain, Brooklyn Roach (L) at the same whole school assembly.


The new McAuley uniform will be available to order via the new online store from Wednesday, 1st November 2023, with collection from the new uniform shop located onsite on the first day of trading scheduled for Wednesday, 17th January, 2024.

Customers who order online will save time by collecting from the prepaid line.

Learning and Teaching

It is lovely to share some remarkable student achievements and updates as we approach the end of this term. Our students continue to shine brightly in various spheres, showcasing their talent, dedication, and commitment to learning.

1. Celebrating Artistic Excellence

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Fallon Smith, a Year 12 student whose major artwork has been selected for display at the prestigious Art Express. Fallon's masterpiece will grace the walls of the Southern Highlands Regional Gallery next year, representing both her dedication and talents and McAuley's commitment to fostering artistic talent and creativity.

2. Debating Triumphs

Our school's debating representatives have excelled. In the State debating arena, our Year 7 and 9 teams secured a remarkable second position, while our Year 8 team were runners-up in regional NSW. Their dedication, teamwork, and eloquence have brought pride and recognition to McAuley.

3. Record of School Achievement (RoSA) Updates

For our Year 10 and Year 11 students, the RoSA serves as a testament to their academic journey. The release dates for the 2023 RoSA Grades are as follows:

  • Year 11 results released – November 14, 2023
  • Year 10 results released – November 30, 2023

As we enter Week 8, we encourage our students to maintain high attendance rates and stay engaged in their studies until the culmination of the term. Our dedicated staff remains committed to challenging and supporting every student as we prepare for the end of the year. 

4. HSC Results

Year 12 2023 students will be welcomed to the College on the day of the HSC result release. Please pass on to any of our year 12s that the school will host a morning tea with students starting at 11 am on Thursday, 14th December.

Year 7-9 Focus on Growth

As the term nears its end, we urge our younger students to persevere and remain committed to personal growth. By fostering good work habits, a passion for learning, and effective collaboration with peers, our students lay the groundwork for their future success. To aid this journey, we encourage parents to guide their children by emphasising key aspects such as being prepared, adhering to instructions, and positively engaging with learning environments.

Year 10: Exploring Job Options 

For our Year 10 cohort, Week 8 work experience is pivotal in exploring potential career paths. We emphasise the importance of promptly returning to school after work experience, as these concluding weeks are vital in shaping their future endeavours. Students who are continuing with us at McAuley will complete NESA-mandated requirements to prepare for Stage 6, while those venturing into apprenticeships will benefit from structured support for their TAFE commitments.

Year 11: Navigating Academic Challenges

Year 11 students face mounting academic pressures and assessment deadlines as the term progresses. Striking a balance between studies and personal life can be challenging during this phase. At McAuley, we prioritise academic success and the development of resilient, goal-oriented individuals. 

As our seniors commence their HSC assessment tasks, we emphasise the importance of familiarising themselves with assessment policies and maintaining open communication between home and school.

Elevate Free Parent Webinar
We’re excited to announce that Elevate Education's final free webinar of the year will be taking place on Wednesday, 6th December.
Elevate Education works with our students, delivering high-impact workshops on study skills, motivation, wellbeing, and exam preparation. By tuning into their webinar series you will learn how you can help better support your children at home through reinforcing the skills they learn at school. The topic of discussion is:
How You Can Set Your Child Up for Success
In this webinar, Elevate will guide you through the foundational study skills required to hit the ground running next academic year – skills such as:
  • Effective Note Taking
  • Deliberate Practice and Implementing a System of Review
  • Extra Reading, and How to Read Around a Topic 


Dianne McGowan
Assistant Principal - Learning and Teaching

Combined Parish Celebration

As mentioned in the last newsletter, you are welcome to join us for an enchanting evening on Thursday, 30th November at McAuley College. Starting at 5:30 pm, the celebration includes a BBQ (provided by the parent council), stalls, games, and a concert at 6:00 pm. the night promises a blend of music, fun and delicious treats. 

Remember your gold coins for activities. This celebration supports the Vinnies Christmas Appeal, uniting us to make a meaningful difference to those in need. See the flyer at the end of the newsletter for more details.

Advent Liturgy and Prizegiving

Join us for our Advent Liturgy and Prizegiving on Wednesday, 13th December at 9:30 am. We will celebrate our students' remarkable achievements at the ceremony and embrace the festive spirit.

Remember that students need to be presented in full school uniform.  Parents are warmly welcomed! 

End-of-Year Activities

Over the last week, we have meticulously curated an engaging activities program for the last two days of school. The annual activities program in the last week of term is a highlight for students and teachers alike. This year, most activities will be held on Thursday and Friday, December 14th and 15th

The students have put in their preferences and will receive detailed information via Compass, seeking permissions and funds. Please ensure completion by Friday, 1st December. 

Understanding Vaping: A Crucial Conversation

Vaping among our youth remains a growing concern.

Using the conversation starters provided, this would be an excellent time to engage in meaningful conversations with your children, empowering them to navigate peer pressure confidently and cherish healthy friendships.

Conversation Starters

Be ready to have these conversations with your child with a sense of calmness and interest in what they say. Be prepared to listen to their responses without jumping in too quickly to correct them. Choose your timing wisely, perhaps during a relaxed moment at home, when driving somewhere together, or when no other stress are occurring.

  1. Why do you think more children and teens are vaping? Listen to understand. Your child may mention one of the reasons listed above or have another opinion. This conversation starter opens the door to healthy dialogue.
  2. Could you confidently say no if you were offered a vape? How could you do this? Help your young person create an ‘exit plan’ if they are offered a vape.
  3. How would the person offering you the vape react to you saying no? How might that make you feel about this friendship?

Now might be a good time to discuss what your child values in their friends.

Peer pressure can be powerful, so coming up with realistic action steps and practising them together in a safe environment will prepare and empower your child to make good choices when it matters. Remind them that only some people are vaping. Many young people are making healthy choices to say no.

As we approach the end of this year, let's stay connected and informed and collectively make this end-of-year season at McAuley Catholic College a memorable and heartwarming experience for our entire community.

Margaret Bertalli
Assistant Principal Mission & Wellbeing (Acting)

Debating Champions

Last week we travelled to Sydney to compete in The Catholic Schools’ Debating Competition hosted at St Patrick’s College, Campbelltown.

The difficult topics for the debates were:

Years 7 and 8: 'Eliminating plastic is a dream.'

Year 9: 'Testing on animals can be justified.'

Year 7 and 9 were successful in these debates naming them the NSW Regional Champions. Year 8  just missed out on the reigning title, naming them the NSW Regional Runners Up. These students are congratulated on this amazing feat.

Year 7 and 9 then competed against the fierce Sydney schools for the State Title. The topics for these debates were also very challenging and included:

Year 9: ‘Religious schools should be banned.’ 

Year 7: ‘Schools should not be dealing with contemporary political issues.’

The teams fought valiantly in these debates but unfortunately, after a close score, the debates were awarded to the Sydney schools, so our Year 7 and 9 teams were named Runners Up for NSW State.

The teams have developed well with some students only beginning debating this year, so it was an impressive achievement for all involved. The teams displayed excellent teamwork and oration skills. The students have grown in confidence and should be very proud of their achievements.

Furthermore, they were an absolute joy to be with and our long train journey went very quickly thanks to their crazy sense of humour, singing and dancing talents, and general good spirit.

Thank you to Leanne Kelly for accompanying us on this epic trip and her support of the team. Thank you also to the College Librarian, Linda Gleeson who has also assisted the development of the team.

Mrs Maria Rouse
Debating Teacher

Year 7 - Maya Conaghan, 
Amiah Carroll, Willow Rowney IMG_1900.jpg

Year 8 Ahlia Hartley, Judy Irwin, Paisley Padayachee 

Year 9  Aalyiah -Scarlett Roach, Poppy Ross, Emily Newman


Congratulations to Year 12 Graduate, Fallon Smith, whose post-modern painting
major work entitled "Man Made", was selected to be included in the ARTEXPRESS Exhibitions, 2024. 
ARTEXPRESS is an annual series of exhibitions of exemplary artworks created by NSW visual arts students for the HSC exam. Exhibitions are selected by gallery curators and education officers in association with ARTEXPRESS, from works nominated by HSC markers that are deemed excellent examples suitable for exhibition.

Regarding the concept of the piece, Fallon states, "My art piece communicates the influence a group of girls have on an individual going through adolescence. The women I have painted surround the audience with their intense eyes, refining themselves with plastic distortions of the lips and exaggerated dark eyelashes and deathly-sharp nails."

The piece uses many symbolic measures to communicate the concept further including, "The blankness on the girls' faces [to] represent how women overwork their image in ways that make themselves look non-human, to become acceptable for the male gaze," she said and she has used this as the influence for the piece's title.

"I have become a product of my own environment by the intense pressure others make me feel. Like I need to dramatise these features and strip away my inner child and natural beauty," Fallon continued.

This is an amazing feat for Fallon and a testament to her talents, hard work, and interpretation skills. She has excelled at her craft.


G.O.A.T Retreat

On Thursday, 9th November, three students (Anthony Y, Mitchell D and Hayden L) represented MCC in the first G.O.A.T. retreat; a gathering for Year 10 male students from parish secondary schools in the Diocese of Lismore to celebrate their faith at a Diocesan level. The students went to the Coffs Coast Adventure Centre, Bonville.

The overnight retreat was a fantastic emphasis for the students' capacity to become a gift of service to others by living out a radical adventure as a young Catholic man. The students participated in various activities designed to provide them with a transformative faith experience as they embarked on their journey through manhood, guided by the life of Jesus, the Saints and the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

The students were able to build relationships with other young men at the retreat by talking and sharing about their faith journey and working together to complete physical tasks and activities.

Overall, The G.O.A.T experience was received positively by the students with a sound recommendation being provided for future Year 10 boys to take part in this insightful and challenging event.


Year 10 Camp

Bright and early at 6am on Wednesday, 15th November, Year 10 embarked on a three-day adventure at Camp Kokoda, situated just over three-hours north near Maroon Dam in Queensland. As you can imgaine, it was a very hot and humid three days.
There were a tonne of activies that were both mentally and physically challenging. These entailed a lot of sweat, some blisters and even a couple of bruises, but also a load of laughs, whistles and songs. 
Some highlights included the giant swing, abseiling, swimming and canoeing, ziplining, conquering the high ropes course, the food, the amazing instructors and playing cards and spoons. Everything was fantastic EXCEPT the bushwalk up the hill carrying heavy packs in 35 degree heat, the brown snake in the form of a stick, and the sneaky bandicoot who tried to commondeer a camper's tent for the evening.
A massive thanks to the Year 10 students who made camp a really fun and memorable experience. You were brave while facing many challenges and you showed strength, resilience and teamwork. 
Ms Sarah Nicholls
Year 10 Coordinator


Year 9 Food Technology

Our Year 9 students created some scrumptious chicken burgers with roasted golden potatoes in class this week. 


Jacaranda Woodshow 2023

As part of the annual Jacaranda festival, the Clarence Valley Woodworkers Association organises an exhibition for woodworkers in the region. The showcase includes a dedicated section for schools, allowing students to present their projects. This year, McAuley students participated with over 30 projects, demonstrating the high calibre of their work and earning numerous awards.

Congratulations to all participants, with special recognition for the following award winners:

  • Year 7 and 8 Section: Holly Cooper and Lucy Sowry
  • Year 9 and 10 Section: Kate Morgan and Sam Waterhouse
  • Open Section: Ella Cahill, Mack Brennan and Will Pattison

Thanks to the outstanding efforts of our students, McAuley secured the title of 'The Most Successful Secondary School', claiming a $500 prize that will be reinvested in the Workshop for the continued benefit of our students.

Gratitude is extended to the members of the Clarence Valley Woodworkers Association and The South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club for their sponsorship and unwavering support.

Mr Adam Bancroft
Leader of TAS


Dates to note:


27th-1st Dec: Yr 10 Work Experience Week


4th: Yr 7 Love Bites

4th-5th: Yr 10 AMOW

4th-8th: Yr 10 Minimum Standards Testing

6th: Yr 10 Love Bites

7th: Yr 11 QLD University Tour (select students)

8th: House Reward Day - Mercy House

11th: SLT Leadership Day

13th: Christmas Liturgy & Prizegiving

14th-15th: EOY Activities Days

15th: Last Day of School, Term 4


January 31st: Yr 7, 11 & 12

February 1st: Yr 8, 9 & 10

Year 10 Work Experience and Structured Workplace Learning

The Year 10 compulsory Work Experience Program is this week from the 27th November to the 1st December.
Thank you to those students who completed the required paperwork by the due date of Friday, 10th November and to those students who advised me that their documents had been delayed for various reasons. You will make great employees!
The students had their final meeting on Wednesday, 22nd November in preparation for Work Placement. They received a Thankyou Letter and an Evaluation Sheet for their employers.  Parents, please ensure they take it with them on the first day.
We wish the Year 10 students all the best for the coming week as they embark on the first steps of their career journey.

Reminders for Students

Students are reminded that if they can no longer attend work experience/placement on their organised days, it is the student's responsibility to inform the School and their work experience/placement employer of their absence. 
Year 12, 11 and 10 students are reminded to check their school email regularly as I send information on University Open Days, early entry, the university application process and employment opportunities to students.

Visit the link below for important upcoming student career opportunities and dates.

Please note COVID-19 is still present in our community. 

Please be reminded that students and staff CANNOT attend school if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19. 

Students who are unwell

If a student is unwell, displaying any COVID-19 or cold and flu-like symptoms at any time, they CANNOT attend school and should undertake a rapid antigen test. 

If the rapid antigen test is positive and the student is unwell and/or experiencing any symptoms, they CANNOT attend school.

If the rapid antigen test is positive and the student is not feeling unwell and not displaying or experiencing any symptoms, they CAN attend school under the following conditions:

  • the school office is informed of the positive test result, AND
  • the student (over 12 years old) wears a mask for a period of 7 days in all indoor settings.

Dear Parents and Carers,

It is with great pleasure that I write this newsletter following my return to the College from long service leave. Thank you to Dianne McGowan for stepping into the Principal role and to Tiffany Lee and Marg Bertalli who have also been in Acting Assistant Principal roles this term. It certainly makes it easier to take leave knowing the school is in very capable hands. I thoroughly enjoyed my 6 weeks of travelling in Europe and feel refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to finish 2023 and prepared for 2024. 

Visit to Mercy International Centre, Dublin, Ireland


In the last newsletter, Mrs McGowan wrote about the legacy and vision of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, and the namesake of our school. While travelling in Ireland I was given the opportunity to visit and stay at the Mercy International Centre on Baggot St, Dublin, also known as the First House of Mercy or the House of Catherine McAuley, as it is the actual house that Catherine McAuley commissioned to be built in the 1820’s in response to the needs of the poor in Dublin - an amazing feat for a Catholic, single woman at this time.

IMG_5952.jpgThis was my own small 2-day pilgrimage to the place where the work we do at MCC Grafton originated. And even though we are a long long way from Baggot St, Dublin and nearly 200 years on I felt very blessed and validated that we at MCC are carrying out the work this amazing woman - Catherine McAuley - started. 

The House was completed in 1827 so Catherine and others could help the poor and less fortunate people of Dublin, especially women and children. IMG_6033.jpgIMG_5974.jpgThe centre was a school, a safe shelter for young women, and a centre of outreach to the sick and those in need. 200 students enrolled at the school on the first day!  
I was able to spend time in the garden, visit Catherine’s grave and take in the tranquil space.

The official tour of the House with Sister Margaret from Cork allowed me to visit various rooms withinIMG_5981.jpg the house and view items from Catherin'es life, such as thecup and saucer shown here. IMG_6004.jpg

Today the "good cup of tea" represents Mercy hospitality and is always part of the symbols used in our school liturgies and Masses

Visiting the House of Mercy has allowed me to obtain further insight into the life, work, vision and legacy of Catherine. IMG_5870.jpgThe experience has certainly inspired me to continue in my work, to advocate, to educate our young people, and to promote our Mercy values to ensure they are our guiding lights.

New A Block Toilets

The new toilets in A block are complete and they opened on Monday 13th November. They have been designed by a company that specialises in toilet design and construction. The new design is quite different to our previous toilets, allowing for teacher supervision from the outside and increasing safety, as students have indicated in their feedback surveys that the toilets were the area that felt most unsafe in the College.  Students are asked to take care of this new facility and be proud and appreciative of the investment we have made in response to their feedback.



The amazing sunflowers planted by Brett Bowling and year 9 & 10 students at the entrance to the school can only make you smile! Thank you Brett and students for this great initiative! 



Alumni Come to Visit! 

Former student Katie Brown popped in to say hello when she was visiting Grafton recently. Katie graduated from McAuley in 2009. Katie currently works as a reporter on Channel 7’s Sunrise. Katie has had an exciting and interesting career after graduating from SCU with a Degree in Media. Katie has also worked for the NRL, on Radio SEN, with Channel 7 as a Sports Reporter and founded her own media outlet which puts a spotlight on women's sports. 



A huge congratulations 

  • To the year 7, 8 & 9 Debating Teams who recently competed in the State Debating Championships in Sydney and achieved outstanding results. Congratulations to Maya Conaghan, Amiah Carroll, Willow Rowney; Ahlia Hartley, Judy Irwin, Paisley Padayachee; Aalyiah -Scarlett Roach, Poppy Ross, Emily Newman.
  • To Fallon Smith on the inclusion of her HSC major artwork in ART-EXPRESS
  • To Annalese McKee on her Diocesan Golf results
  • To Year 7 - 12 woodwork students for their great results in the Jacaranda Woodshow

Year 10 & 11 Leaders for 2024

Congratulations to the following students who have been elected as student leaders for 2024:

Year 11 2024: Alicia Boehme, Amali Rainbow, Beau Thompson, Axel Vereyken

Year 10 2024: Raimi Mortimer, Eve Van Leest, Liam Salvestro, Max Forwell

I wish to thank all the students who applied for a leadership position and went through the election process. All students who were involved in the process will receive a certificate of participation. 

Uniform 2024

Please note all students in years 7 & 11 2024 will be wearing the new College uniforms. All other students will gradually progress to the new uniform over a 2-year period. Parents of students in years 8,9,10 & 12 are welcome to purchase the new uniform items. If parents wish for their child to try on uniforms for size before purchasing in January, time has been made available from 3.30 - 5.00 on Monday 4th & Tuesday 5th December.  

Parish Christmas Gathering - Thursday 30 November

We are looking forward to hosting the Parish Christmas Gathering at our College on Thursday, 30th November. There will be performances from students from St Joseph’s, St Mary’s and McAuley as well as the Parish choirs. I’m sure a great night will be had by all.

Year 10 Work Experience

I wish Year 10 all the best for their week of work experience. We see this as an important part of their education in terms of career planning and development. Thank you to the numerous businesses, organisations and individuals who have generously accepted our students into their places of work.

Preparing for the end of the year

As we head into the last few weeks of the 2023 school year, it is important that we finish well. All students are to attend school each day and engage in learning activities and experiences such as reflection days and excursions. School rules and expectations are to be followed by all students. Save the Date: Year 7 - 11 Liturgy and Prizegiving on the 13th of December.  Activities 13 - 15 December 


Next Sunday, 3rd December, we begin the Advent journey of waiting for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ. This is a time when we prepare for Christmas. We are called to live in this time of waiting by loving and placing our trust in God, and by caring for one another, especially the poor, needy and vulnerable in our world - and for the whole of God’s creation. 

All the best for the fortnight ahead.



Kate Thomson


“We should be shining lamps, giving light to all around us.”

Catherine McAuley