We are looking for volunteers for MHS Giving Day.

Melbourne High School Foundation is hosting an innovative Giving Day on Thursday 8th December and we need volunteers to help us reach out to our community.

For one day only, every donation will be doubled by generous matching donors. That’s right, a $50 donation will become $100 and a $500 donation will become $1,000. Now that is real impact!

We are raising funds to renovate dilapidated classrooms in the Castle on the Hill and we need your help to maximise this opportunity.

Join us at Giving Day HQ at the Hockey Pavillion to help us telephone old boys, parents and friends of MHS. You will help ensure our whole community is aware that they can double their impact on this special day.

We are planning a fun community event so invite your old classmates, school friends, fellow parents or teaching colleagues to join in the fun.

Shifts are for 2 hours only and after-hours shifts exist. If you speak a language other than English, we would love your support to reach out to people in your community.

Let’s come together as a community and ensure MHS students have access to learning environments that meet the needs of today’s education.

This is your chance to help MHS get our classrooms ready for the Centenary of the Castle on the Hill in 2027.

The state’s brightest students get a head start on university. 

Last week MHS celebrated a milestone at the Centre for Higher Education Studies. The Minister for Education, The Hon. James Merlino and Ms Nina Taylor MLC, Member for Southern Metropolitan, popped on a high vis vest and a hard hat to inspect the progress at 669 Chapel St. The tour was designed to publicly launch enrolments for the new centre.

On this wintery Melbourne day, the Minister was joined by Dr Tony Mordini, MHS Principal and members of the MHS Foundation Board. MHS students Nathan More, Jarrod Menezes and Vicente Morillo Morales were also in attendance with Morales providing a stellar address to the assembled media and guests. He explained how extension opportunities in higher education studies will help students like himself realise their full potential.

The event provided an opportunity to hear from both the Minister and the project architect, about the vision for the building which includes university standard science labs, recording studios, flexible learning spaces and a 200 seat amphitheatre.

Channel 7 News were also on-site to capture all the action. Click here to watch the coverage.

CHES will offer high-achieving and highly-abled secondary school students across Victoria, first-year university courses and select VCE subjects, contributing to their ATAR, whilst gaining university credits. 

“Think of this place as a bridge between secondary school and university.

Whether it’s Health and human movement, Biology, Philosophy – you name it. There will be opportunity here.”

Minister for Education, James Merlino

The Centre was only made possible by generous donors to the MHS Foundation who helped purchase the land. This huge contribution was recognised by the Minister in his speech.

The higher education hub, worth 27.5 million, is the first of its kind in Victoria. It can host 325 students at one time. Hundreds more will be able to enrol online.

Students will remain enrolled at their secondary school and CHES studies can be taken as part of their VCE program. To expand access, and to support rural and regional students, CHES programs will be offered through virtual platforms as well as on-site.

Outside of CHES programming hours, the facility will be available for use by the MHS community for classes and other events, making it an incredibly flexible resource for MHS.

The first intake will be in January 2023. Applications for VCE subjects at CHES are now open on the CHES website. Applications for Higher Education Studies through CHES will open on Monday 11 July.

Visit www.ches.vic.edu.au/

Want to help support the upgrade and development of new facilities at MHS? Consider a tax-deductible donation to the Building Fund today. Click here to find out more.

Donor story: A lifelong love of trains is helping fund our classrooms for a new century!

Old friends since primary school, Phil A’Vard AM (ex 1954) and Graham Watsford (ex 1952) shared a lifetime love of railways. While at Melbourne High School, they both had a passion for building model trains, and won many competitions with their collective work.

On leaving school, they were foundation members of the Puffing Billy Preservation Society and in the 1950s helped rally volunteers to get the decommissioned train line between Upper Ferntree Gully and Belgrave operational again. It became only the second operating preserved railway in the world and has become one of Victoria’s most popular tourist attractions since.

Graham Watsford and Phil A’Vard doing restoration work on Puffing Billy.

Alongside their love of trains, both Graham and Phil had long and successful careers. In his final year at MHS, Graham shared the role of Dux, taking an exhibition in mathematics at the Matriculation examinations. In his University days he was awarded a scholarship in mechanical engineering at an American university and on return was employed as a production engineer at the Government Aircraft Factory.  In later life he was the chief engineer at the Peter McCallum Hospital.

Phil studied to be a teacher but abandoned this (for a time) to work at the Princess Theatre as an actor and stage manager. A successful career in theatre and television alongside teaching, followed. In the 1960s he was engaged by Monash University to head up their newly opened Alexander Theatre where among other things, he pioneered a long-running children’s theatre programme.

Graham Watsford

The two men remained firm friends throughout their lives, with Phil supporting Graham during his battle with cancer.  Before Graham died in 2018, he bequeathed his significant collection of model railway equipment to Phil, saying he could do what he liked with it.

After careful consideration, Phil decided to sell the collection and donate the funds to MHS, the school that Graham loved and supported throughout his life.  In memory of Graham Watsford, Phil A’Vard has provided a matched donation for the 2020 MHS Giving Day on the 25th March when our community will come together to raise funds for our classrooms. For 15 hours only donations will be matched by our generous matching donors.

Donate and follow the countdown at www.charidy.com/mhs or volunteer your time to make the day a success here

Archival Film: Australia’s Puffing Billy Preserved (1966)

Honouring the work across generations

Pole – a name synonymous with hard work, generosity, and commitment to MHS.

Lorraine and Bill (William John) Pole (ext 1934) were the backbone of an emerging parent group in the 1950s who were instrumental in raising funds to build a physical education centre that included a swimming pool and gymnasium. The building was opened in 1960.

A highlight of these fundraising efforts was an annual fair on the school oval. The event was advertised in shop windows across Melbourne and was a much anticipated event on the city’s social calendar. According to the 1953 edition of the Unicorn the ambitious event, featured highland dancing, Punch & Judy shows, pony rides, merry-go-rounds and displays of fancy work, knitting, cake decorating and archery. No one worked harder at these events than Bill and Lorraine, who organised teams of Old Boy and parent volunteers for the stalls. Bill was well known for his BBQs that he constructed from three huge 44-gallon drums. Besieged by the hungry MHS boys at lunchtime, he and his team of volunteers cooked literally hundreds of chops and sausages each year. Thanks to the leadership of Lorraine and Bill, in 1953 alone the fair raised £1,706 pounds (equivalent to $63,000 today).

In the late 1950s and through to the 1970s Lorraine worked tirelessly creating costumes as the wardrobe mistress for  the school musicals. Bruce Worland the musical director during this time, spoke glowingly of Lorraine efforts. Following a request from the Vice Principal, Jack Charles, Lorraine was instrumental in revamping the school canteen, returning significant profits to the School. She continued to volunteer at the canteen for more than 40 years.

The Pole’s also served on numerous committees and boards. Bill was an active member of the Old Boys Association. He was President between 1971 to 1979 and was made an Honorary Life Member. He was also involved in the Old Boys Football Club as a player and later served as President. Lorraine was a founder of the Parents & Friends Association, that is still active today, joining in 1959 and holding the position of Vice President from 1962 to 1967. Lorraine unfortunately, never had the opportunity to be President, as in the pre-women’s liberation era, this position could only be held by a man! Lorraine also served on the School Council from 1959 to 1979.

To honour her tireless service to MHS, Lorraine was appointed a Patron of the School by Principal Ray Willis in 2002. In celebration of her 90th birthday in 2007, Principal Jeremy Ludowyke presented her with the School Medal, only the second time the medal had been awarded.

Bill and Lorraine’s legacy lives on in their son Laurie (ext1959) and daughter-in-law Olga, who regularly volunteer with the Melbourne High School Foundation. Laurie is also an active member of MHSOBA and GM&B. Last year, Laurie organised a highly successful 60-year reunion for his class, that due to his efforts was very well attended.
We would like to thank Laurie and Olga, who recently gave a generous gift to the MHS Classrooms Appeal, in memory of Lorraine. When COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and we can resume construction work on the classrooms, we will ensure the Pole family’s contribution towards educating our past and future students is recognised at a classroom opening. We hope you can join us at this time.

*This article includes exerts from Lorraine Poles MHSOBA obituary written by
Alan Gregory with contributions from Laurie Pole and Colin Green. We also acknowledge Luke Savage, MHS Historian, for his contribution to this article.

MHS Foundation responds to COVID-19

Funds raised during this year’s Annual Appeal are helping MHS Students cope with the impacts of COVID-19

The return to distance learning has been challenging. This is especially true for our VCE students, who are struggling with the uncertainty of how remote learning will impact their final ATAR score and their choices for the future.

Recent Australian studies have found that remote learning is resulting in vulnerable students falling further behind their peers. This is often due to limited finances, family pressures, crowded living conditions, and inadequate technology. Our wellbeing team has been working hard to identify students with living situations that are not conducive to home-based learning and identifying ways to support them to excel in their studies.

Since returning to distance learning, the Wellbeing Team has received urgent requests for technology support. They have also experienced a significant increase in demand for counselling services as students once again deal with the unique challenges of lockdown and remote learning. A lack of face-to-face contact with peers and teachers is also resulting in high levels of anxiety and depression for many of our students.

Using the funds raised through our COVID-19 Appeal, the MHS Foundation responded quickly to these pressing needs. We are pleased to advise that, to date, your generous donation has supported the:

– Purchase of five computers and internet dongles that can be loaned to students who are struggling to access their classes at home because they do not have internet access or a computer that supports online learning

– Provision of funds to increase the part-time school counsellors’ hours by one day per week, to meet the extra student demand for her services

Many of our students have been through one of the most challenging situations they have faced in generations. Jennifer Mill, the Health & Wellbeing Coordinator, asked us to share Tom’s story below. Jenny wanted you to hear first-hand how your support is helping students to continue to reach their potential while studying at home.

Not always an exemplary student, in his earlier years Tom was frequently disruptive and argumentative with his teachers and peers. To help him understand why he was acting out at school, Tom was referred to the Wellbeing Team. After a few sessions he disclosed that there were significant disruptions at home with family arguments and court involvement. With counselling support, Tom was able to gain an insight into his behaviour, develop tools for managing his emotions and build his confidence. As a result, he found his academic rhythm, started connecting with the school and his grades improved. He was well on his way to VCE success.

Unfortunately, moving to remote learning has not been great news for Tom. Shifting his learning environment to the family home removed the safety and stability of school. He found it difficult to connect to online learning and lost his motivation. Members of the Wellbeing Team recognised that Tom was struggling and kept in weekly contact. For Tom, this support has been critical, saying himself that at times this contact is all that has kept him going. The counselling support has helped Tom to keep pushing forward with his studies and stay encouraged and motivated in spite of the challenges of remote learning.

*Tom is not the students real name

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