St Raphael's, Cowra


St Raphael’s inaugural Year 12 graduates

Formal school days have come to an end for Y12 students at St Raphael’s Catholic School.

The school community farewelled its first Y12 cohort with a number of special events which focused on significant elements that form the school and its members, past and present.

Students and staff were treated to a special lunch in the Hospitality faculty, as an expression of gratitude for the years of connection between these young people and the infants, primary and secondary staff who have guided them.

Fun, games and lots of laughter were enjoyed at the whole school picnic where everyone joined in the games: piggy-back races, wheelbarrow races, tug-o-war and the much anticipated staff versus students dodgeball match.

The final day for Y12 was filled with four events of memory and celebration. We began with the Graduation Assembly where students were presented with various awards including ‘First in Course’ and ‘Application’ Awards and special awards: ‘The Long Tan Leadership Award’, ‘St Raphael’s Caltex All Rounder’ and ‘The Brigidine Award’.

A special feature of the ceremony was the formal handover of the symbols of academic and faith life of the School from the 2017 school leaders to the incoming leaders.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a special morning tea provided by St Raphael’s staff members, was held in the Heritage Courtyard where students, families and staff enjoyed time to reflect and relax.

The Graduation Mass was held at St Raphael’s Church, Cowra where the theme of Be a Light for the World was symbolised in words, song and the handing over of a candle to each student by their teacher mentor. A highlight of the Mass was the presence of the staff choir, whose performance was a special gift to the graduating class.

The final event of the day was the Graduation Dinner, held at the magnificently decorated Civic Centre. Again, a team of staff members co-ordinated this event and the evening was enjoyed by all. The night was filled with memories, laughs, formal presentations, and above all, great joy, as these students have reached this part of their life journey.

St Raphael’s is very proud of the 2017 Y12 Class, as it is of all its students.  

Susan Whitely

Archibull has arrived at St Raphael’s

The beast, or rather the bull, has finally arrived and projects for our entry in the Archibull Prize are well underway.

What is the Archibull Prize? The Archibull Prize is a world renowned program with curriculum-linked teaching resources which explore the role agriculture plays in the health, wealth and happiness of Australians and many other people around the world.

Only 30 schools in Eastern Australia have qualified for this year’s Archibull and St Raphael’s Catholic School has the honour of representing our area in the competition.

The theme for 2017 is ‘Feeding, Clothing and Powering a Hungry Nation’ and encourages students and teachers to address one of the greatest challenges to Australian agriculture - climate change, food and fashion waste, declining natural resources and biosecurity. The program design invites the students to be part of the solution by sharing their ideas on how to tackle these challenges as individuals, as a community and as the mums and dads of the next generation.
Put simply, the Archibull Prize brings the farm into the classroom. Special thanks to Mrs Date for her energy, enthusiasm and passion for this project - she has the whole school excited about Archie. 

Secondary students showing their skills

Our secondary school students have be demonstrating their skills in public speaking and spelling in fine style over  recent weeks.

The public speaking team of Jaida Smith, Kyle O’Brien, Kate Price, Olivia McLennan, Lucy Proctor and Annaleise Prescott travelled to compete in the annual CWA Competition in Orange.

The students spoke with confidence and aplomb with entertaining and thoughtful presentations. In very large section of more than 45 competitors, our team represented the school with pride. We look forward to next year to build on this year’s success.

Secondary students also participated in the House Spelling Competition with the finalists for the Diocesan Spelling Bee being decided.

In a very exciting, nail-biting final the 2017 winning house was Kilbreda. Each house fielded four representatives in the Stage 4 and 5 finals with the first two competitors qualifying to represent St Raphael’s at the Diocesan Spelling Bee in Wellington

Congratulations to the finalists:

Stage 5: Owen Munro, Ellie Garlick, Samuel Frazer, Ky Thompson, Parneet Kaur, Benjamin Myers, Benjamin Azzopardi, Thomas Treasure, Emma Chalker, Logan Leatherland and Jordan Triming.

Stage 4: Raziq Shaji, Laura Casey, Ruby Frazer, Matilda Proctor, Cameron Melton, Matthew Mallon, Grace Richmond, Cameron Forsyth, Depp Ryan-Lukasiak, Mollie Pozza and Jessica Trengove

Our spelling team of Owen, Jordan, Raziq and Laura competed impressively in Wellington and represented their school with pride - St Raphael’s Super Spellers!

Sue Whiteley

Swimming Champs and Football Greats at St Raphael’s

A great way to cool off in Cowra’s heat is to spend time at the local pool. St Raphael’s Swimming Carnival gave participants plenty of opportunity to cool down and enjoy some vigorous competition recently.

There was a good mix of events with championship races for all age groups as well as a great array of novelties for all to have a go. This year’s winning house was Raphael.

Many thanks go to Miss Isedale, the chief organiser and our many volunteer helpers for supporting such a fun event.

In late February, St Raphael's students were lucky enough to enjoy some coaching tips from Rugby League greats who were riding through Cowra on their Harley Davidsons. The football legends shared the message about youth homelessness on behalf of Fr Chris Riley and his Youth off the Streets Foundation.

Horizons Program at St Raphael's

The Horizons Program is an initiative that began in 2016 and aims to create opportunities for our students to encounter people who, by their own life story, broaden the horizons of our students.

We have been fortunate to welcome ex-student Dr Amber Beavis, a research assistant to Australia’s Chief Scientist, and Michael Brissenden, ABC foreign correpondent. Recently eight Y12 students were invited to attend a Women’s Graduate Dinner where another ex-student, Dr Rachael Diprose was the guest speaker. Rachael’s message to our young women was to make the most of opportunities which come your way and to be open to change.

Susan Whiteley


St Raph’s embraces technology

At the end of term two, all stage 4 and 5 students, along with 14 teachers from St. Raphael’s Catholic School in Cowra, spent a day in Canberra immersed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) experiences.

What a great day! In a jam packed program, visits were made to Questacon, the Royal Australian Mint and the Ian Potter Technology Learning Centre.

In small groups, students actively experienced a multitude of creative, analytical and problem-solving challenges, as well as investigating the scientific processes involved in the making of money.

Workshops at the Technology Learning Centre focused on taking recycled materials and using state of the art equipment to build structures which could solve everyday problems. Students negotiated, consulted, experimented and designed a variety of structures. The range of designs was truly amazing and indicative of the active minds and enthusiasm of St Raphael’s students to embrace STEM and the challenges of learning.

A visit from Spiderwoman

Like many little girls growing up in the bush, Dr Amber Beavis, while still a student at St Raphael's School, Cowra, was fascinated by the creepy-crawlies in the paddock. Remembered by her teachers as a talented student with wide-ranging interests, she has followed her delight in learning - gaining a PhD on the funnel-web spider, completed post-doctoral study at the University of California and has done further research in Samoa and Tokelau.

As an arachnologist (aka spider scientist or popularly, Spiderwoman!), Amber worked from 2012-2015 at the Western Australian Museum identifying arachnid species. During this time, she discovered her talent for science, communication and the use of storytelling techniques to translate complex data into compelling narratives, through radio broadcasting. In 2015, she was named as one of ABC Radio National - UNSW Top 5 Under 40 Scientists, leading to work on Life Matters, Offtrack, and the Science Show.

Recently, Amber decided to hang up her lab coat and to exchange her life behind a microscope for a career in science communication in Canberra, joining the office of Australia's Chief Scientist as a Senior Researcher. Overall, she is passionate about using storytelling to engage diverse audiences in life-long scientific learning.

As a special favour to her old school, Amber spoke with students last month, about her love of science and how growing up and being educated in a country environment has helped equip her in following her chosen path.

This is another of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) events being promoted by St Raphael’s for our students, as we educate young people for the exciting opportunities presented by the 21st century.

Susan Whiteley

Refurbished School – Refurbished School Crest

St Raphael’s has been undergoing some impressive changes recently. The School is now a K-12 School with the first cohort of Y11 students commencing at the beginning of this year.

The expansion and upgrades to buildings and facilities have recently been completed. Watch out in Term 3 for an official opening to showcase our students and their work.

Whilst there have been many upgrades to facilities to ensure the school maintains its traditions in a contemporary world, it was also decided to upgrade the school crest, to bring it into this new environment.

The crest represents who we are, how we educate our students, what our values are that underpins the life of our school.

The background story of the St Raphael’s School Crest is based on the foundations the school is built upon - the charism of the Brigidine sisters. Each element represents this link to our founding sisters:

  • St Brigid Cross: this is the badge of the Congregation of St Brigid. The Square: this represents the four corners of the world
  • Lamp of Knowledge: this represents the light of Christian faith and the light of learning
  • Large cross of diamonds – this is taken from the badge of Bishop Daniel Delaney, who founded the Brigidine Sisters.
  • Strength and Gentleness: this was the motto of the Bishop Daniel Delaney and represents the characteristics of Brigid of Kildare.

For more information about St Raphael’s Catholic School, Cowra contact the School on 6342 2940 or visit the website

Michael Gallagher

New Year celebrations at St Raphael’s 
2016 has begun in a big way at St Raphael’s Catholic School with new and exciting things happening in all parts of the school.

School life has begun for a happy band of Kindergarten students who are already in the swing of “big school” with their teachers Mrs McNamara and Miss Blazley. Who knows where the education journey will take these little ones, but they have certainly made a great beginning.

Y11 students are extremely focused and enjoying the experience of trail blazing the education journey in the school.  New staff members have joined the school and bring a great deal of senior school experience to the already high quality of teaching at the school.

Another cause for celebration is the sensational school garden which has just been named a finalist in magazine Country Style’s Harvest Table Australia-wide school competition.  One of eight finalists (four from NSW), the prolific vegetable plot has given enormous scope for a band of gardeners from across the school.  The prime mover for the garden is Mrs Alison Rutledge whose energy and passion for the project is boundless.  The possibilities the garden has created for interested students continue as another aspect of learning at St Raphael’s grows and grows.

The School joins in celebrating the achievements of ex-students who completed the HSC in 2015. Many successes have been reported and the challenge of post-school life awaits.  Congratulations to ex-student Maddison Johnson on being chosen to attend the National Science and Youth Forum in Canberra.  Maddison always exhibited the qualities of a serious student who had a clear understanding of her life goals. She was Dux of St Raphael’s in 2014.

The construction of the new secondary building is progressing well and is almost at completion. The facilities include VET Hospitality and VET Construction, Science Laboratories, Art room, 5 classrooms, and change rooms. The school has been buzzing and are looking forward using these facilities.

2016 has begun full of great possibilities in education at St Raphael’s. 

Andrew Casey

Y9 Students Complete the Student Catechists Helper Program
Ten Y9 students recently worked with Vicki Mair and Helen Ryan to complete the Student Catechist Helper Program. The students are assisting Catechists at Mulyan and Holmwood Public Schools in Special Religious Education (SRE) classes. In program involved the students completing an introduction to the Ministry of SRE, Child Protection and Safety, as well as an introduction to the curriculum used by the Catechists, Classroom Behaviour and Management, and Nurturing their own Faith.

Thanks goes to the Religious Education Coordinator of St Raphael's, Peta Bischof for her dedicated assistance to bring this program to fruition.

Young People Brave Cold for a Good Cause
On Friday 20th June, 16 brave young people slept rough to make a difference in our world. The volunteer students from St Raphael’s Catholic school spent the night exposed to the elements as they participated in the NSW Vinnies School Sleepout.

As part of St Vincent de Paul’s program to help open the eyes of Australians, the NSW Vinnies School Sleepouts program came to life. The NSW Vinnies School Sleepouts provide a unique insight into the complex issues that people experiencing homelessness face and provides a physical outlook on the issues of being a homeless person. The program helps raise important funds for Vinnies' homeless services and also helps raise awareness to the issue of homelessness. The program also helps not only the poor and homeless in NSW, but encourages students to connect with their community and understand what is happening around them. It also challenges schools and communities to make a difference to those experiencing homelessness in local areas.

The NSW Vinnies School sleepout program brings up the idea of social justice in Australia and this challenges students and people in the community to understand what it is like to be one of the less fortunate  in our community. It also helps open the eyes of the next generation, who will inherit the ever growing problem of homelessness, of what is really going on and the evident problem there is and this will help students break the stereotypical idea of a homeless person and really understand what it is like to live in an unsafe and uncertain world.

Being involved in the event had three dimensions. Firstly, to become more aware of the issues of homelessness in Australia and raise awareness of the problem. Secondly, to raise money to support the great work of St Vincent de Paul, and lastly to sleep rough in an effort to gain some experience of what homeless people face.

The “sleepout” was supported by our local St Vincent de Paul, who pointed out to the students that homelessness is a problem in Cowra. They were impressed and grateful to the young people for their participation and stressed Cowra Vinnies will be well supported by money raised.

The students were joined in their efforts by eight teachers who saw this as a valuable cause and wanted to show their support.

All involved saw the "Vinnies School Sleepout" as a great opportunity to get a reality check about how lucky we are and to do something positive to change the situation around homelessness in Australia. Thanks to the support of a very generous community the group have raised over $4500 and are still going.

Peta Bischof

Bishop's Choice Winner
Samantha MacCabe of 6C was humbled and delighted to receive the Bishop’s Choice award for her painting entitled “The Special Night”.

Samantha’s painting was chosen from 122 final entries submitted by Y6 students across our Bathurst Diocese.

Samantha’s painting is now hung in St. Mary’s Cathedral Sydney where it will be judged by a panel including Cardinal Pell. Good luck Samantha!

Our school community is very proud of Samantha and all of our 2013 Y6 students who, for the first time, have entered this prestigious competition. Well done to Ms Slaven and Mr Colemane for encouraging Y6 to display their artistic skills with such competence and to write an accompanying explanation of their artistic work. All paintings represented an excerpt from the Christmas story in the Bible.

Jenny White REC

Mind Games Success
As one of a number opportunities provided to students at St Raphael’s School who excel in academic work, an Academic Olympics is held each year at James Sheahan School, Orange.

Participating schools attend from all over the Central West and further away, from Catholic, State and private education sectors.  Schools can enter 2 teams of 6 students for the Olympics. 45 teams participated in the competition. 

The day is jam-packed full of challenging, mind-bending activities ranging from Forensics to Engineering to Drama to Problem Solving.  All the activities are timed and collaboratively solved and presented.

St Raphael’s students enjoyed a fantastic experience, working very effectively in their teams to challenge themselves and compete strongly against all other teams.

One team from St Raphael’s was 1st placed Secondary Team.  The other team was placed in the top 10 teams.

Another huge success for our students, again representing the smallest high school in attendance on the day.

Sue Whiteley

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