​I am certain that all girls and families who were at St Paul’s Cathedral for our annual Carols Service will agree that we are truly blessed to have a school capable of producing such beautiful singing and creating such a special occasion. The girls, as always, made me incredibly proud as they lifted their voices together in song with great enthusiasm. An enormous thank you to everyone who contributed to the service, particularly our Director of Choral and Voice, Ms Joanne Carroll, whose repertoire choices and training of the choirs are always thoroughly well advised!

​Our Service of Lessons and Carols at St Paul’s Cathedral, Thursday 3 December, 7.00pm, is for all students in Years 4 to 11, their families and other members of the Lowther Hall community. An inspiring service of reflection on and celebration of the true meaning of Christmas.

This week the events in France have given reason to stop and reflect on life and to be grateful for every day that we have to enjoy. Our thoughts as a community are with all those touched by this tragedy, and particularly with our friends at our sister school La Malgrange. At School this week I have enjoyed visiting the Year 10s on their camp, hearing the rehearsals for the various Christmas services, seeing lots of wonderful learning in Junior School and the relief of exams being finished or nearly finished for Years 7, 8 and 9 girls. Next week the Junior School girls will “move up” for the morning of the 25th and Senior School girls will commence their 2016 classes. I hope that this will be a time of optimism and positivity as we look forward to everything that the new year will bring.

This morning our 2016 Prep cohort had their first transition experience in preparation for next year while at the other end of the School, our Years 10, 11 and 12 students are all busy with examinations. This led me to reflect once again on the journey that each girl makes and on the privilege that it is to walk that journey with every student. Attending Lowther Hall does not guarantee that you will be protected from the vicissitudes of life – the griefs, disappointments, fears or challenges – but it does mean that through those, and indeed through the joys as well – you will find yourself surrounded by a community of adults who genuinely care and who are there to help with the navigation. In meeting with the 2016 Prep parents this morning I felt absolutely confident to assure them that their girls will be in excellent hands as they begin their travels through formal schooling at Lowther Hall. I hope this is continuing to be the experience for all our families as the year draws to a close.

This week, we bid our final farewell to the class of 2015. We have recognised them at formal assemblies, watched them throw their hats off the Mansion balcony and at their Valedictory service yesterday afternoon they were given a lit candle as they left the Cultural Centre which they symbolically carried out into the world, ready to shine! At Lowther Hall we see our job as being to educate young women so that the world might be a better place because they are in it. And I am confident that each of our graduating students is ready to fulfil that mission – to shine a light into the world. I thank each girl for all that she has contributed to our School during her journey. This morning, I spoke to girls in Years 7, 8 and 9 about preparation for exams. In particular, the girls have been encouraged to get a little more sleep (9 hours is the ideal for teenagers), to commit to study in silence (no messages, notifications, music with lyrics or TV) and to use study techniques which are really likely to make a difference. Girls in all three year levels have the slides from today’s assembly and parents of girls in Years 7 to 9 might like to ask their daughters to step them through our discussions so that they can support them in the coming weeks!

It has been delightful to welcome back girls and staff for Term 4 with some warmer weather. The term is off to a busy start and the Visual Arts staff are working hard to prepare for the Revealed Art Exhibition which opens on Friday night. I do hope that all families will make the effort to come and view not only their own daughter’s work, but the fantastic work produced right across the School.

Congratulations to all girls and staff involved in last night’s Annual Music Concert at the Recital Centre. The standing ovation at the end of the evening was testimony to the level of enjoyment and appreciation felt by everyone in the audience. I was certainly very proud of the standard of performances, but even more than this, enjoyed watching so many girls achieve personal milestones regarding confidence in performance and the pursuit of excellence. The Sound of Music finale captured the special place that music has at Lowther Hall, with a palpable love of singing evident. Thank you to parents for their support, to the music staff for their vision, leadership and commitment and to the wonderful girls for their outstanding playing and singing. Thank you too, to everyone who offered feedback after last year’s concert so that this year could be even better. We will now begin planning for next year! This morning our Year 9 girls set off on their Duke of Edinburgh Adventurous Journey to the Grampians and the Year 12 students commenced their 2 day Retreat. The term will finish with a whole school assembly tomorrow where we will continue to celebrate the School’s 95th year and share highlights from Term 2. I wish all families a safe and enjoyable break and encourage our most senior students to strike a good balance between rest and study as they prepare for their final external examinations in November.

Father’s Day Breakfast I am looking forward to celebrating Father’s Day (a little in advance) with girls and their special guests tomorrow morning at the School. Dads and male mentors play such an important role in the raising of girls and I thank all of the fathers in our school community who support their daughters to develop the skills and values that will assist them in the adult world. Annual Music Concert No doubt many families are eagerly anticipating this year’s Annual Music Concert which will take place next week at the Melbourne Recital Centre. We have taken on board parent feedback from last year in planning this year’s event, which we hope will prove an enjoyable night out for performers and audience alike. Summer Uniform Changeover at the start of Term 4 A reminder that from the beginning of Term 4 we have an optional changeover period as the girls transition to summer uniform. Students can make an informed decision about whether to wear summer or winter uniform for the first 2 weeks of term, however, full summer uniform must be worn from Week 3 in Term 4. Summer uniform items should be checked during the forthcoming break to ensure that the various pieces are neat and correct and that dresses are the appropriate length as girls are likely to have grown.

It has been a week full of opportunities to catch up with parents – be it at Coffee, Cake and Conversation, the Book Week Parade, the Year 7 2016 Information Night or at the Wednesday Breakfast for current Year 7 parents. I am so grateful to families for the ways in which they work with us to support the girls and create the wonderful sense of community that we enjoy at Lowther Hall. We have also had a very positive response to our parent survey with a higher response rate from parents than Independent Schools Victoria usually see. Thank you for supporting us in this important feedback process.