Hillcrest News

18 February 2022

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

John 3:16 NLT

Jeff Davis
Executive Head of College

Executive Head of College, Jeff Davis welcomes students and families back to a new school year, and shares an update on what’s been happening around the College in our first two weeks of face-to-face learning.


Here you will see an interview with Executive Head of College, Jeff Davis and one of the very first students, Jessica Salmon, to enrol at Hillcrest back when it was known as Southern Gold Coast Christian Community School. Jessica talks about her experience being one of the first students and the move from the Palm Beach Baptist Church to our current location where we still reside today. She also spoke about how much she loved school, the values she gained through Hillcrest and how she applies those values in her current role heading up diversity inclusion for an engineering company in the UK.


Early Learning


Junior Years


Middle Years


Senior Years


Sports, PA & More

Other News

Other News & Key Dates

Culture and Wellbeing

Transitioning Back to School

The beginning of the school year is a huge time of adjustment and never more so when you add a global pandemic to the mix. It is completely understandable that for some members of our community there is an increase in anxiety around returning to school. Anxiety is our brain’s normal response whenever we face something that is a bit different. Our brains need a bit of time to work out that we are safe and we are going to be OK.

To help our brains adjust to our new normal there are a few things you can try:

  • Connect with the familiar.

Whether it’s being around people you know, places you feel comfortable in, activities, sports, and co-curricular groups that you enjoy.

  • Get back into a predictable routine as soon as you can.

This may mean being aware of your sleep routine. You may need to go to bed a bit earlier and get in the habit of setting an alarm for the same time each morning. Allow time in the morning to do all the things you need to do so that you don’t arrive at school feeling rushed and stressed. Familiarise yourself with your new timetable and have copies around home to remind yourself of what you have on each day.

  • Tune into your self-talk.

Is it positive or negative?  You can remind yourself of the things you are thankful for and the things you are looking forward to this year.

  • Think about what you can control and what you can’t control.

At this moment in time, there are many things that you just don’t have any control over. However, there are many things that you do have control over.  You might choose to brainstorm those things on a piece of paper.

  • If you are worried about anything in your life, and those worries just don’t seem to be leaving you, make sure you talk to someone you trust.

This can be a parent, family member, teacher, close friend or member of the Wellbeing Team. You are never alone and there is all sorts of support you can receive to help with this transition time.

  • Importantly, remember that you are part of a community at Hillcrest.

Many health measures are in place to manage the impact of COVID in our community. Processes and plans are in place for our protection, staff are here to support you and guide you through any uncertainty you experience. We have a great big God who is the heart of this community, who we can go to for peace, strength and wisdom.

Life Groups at the College

2022 Life Groups are a hive of activity, connection and discussion each morning around the College. JLC students enjoy Life Group with their core teachers, whilst MLC and SLC students engage with others in their House to develop relationships with those from other classes and year levels. Life Groups form an integral part of building a strong culture of connecting, belonging and caring. Life Groups are a safe, eternity-focused environment to grow, where each student feels safe to connect, share and understand each other. They provide the foundation for the whole College community to promote student wellbeing, safety and learning outcomes. The aim is to deeply know each child so they can be encouraged and learn in a positive, inclusive and valued environment. If you have any pastoral, social or relationship concerns for your child, please reach out to your student’s Life Group teacher via email. They are here to support your students or assist you to access more specialised support.

From the ELC

Welcome to the wonderful world of Pre Kindy and Kindy in our Early Learning Community, which is the first stepping stone in a child’s formative educational journey here at Hillcrest. We consider it the greatest privilege to nurture and teach young learners in our early learning environment. We recognise that our youngest of students learn best through play, and our inspirational early learning environment at Hillcrest has been designed to encourage hands-on play, child-initiated learning, and peer interaction, giving each child the thrill of discovery. Research shows that children learn more in their first five years, than at any other stage in their life, and we love partnering with families during these precious early years, as they present a valuable opportunity for us to ‘together’ instil a lifelong love of learning. We have loved welcoming our families to begin this journey in 2022 and are looking forward to the fun and adventures we will have with each of our special children and their families this year. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
Michelle Cecil

Director of Early Learning Community

From the Head of the JLC

To our JLC families/carers,

It has been lovely to welcome all our JLC families back to the College for the 2022 school year, after a delayed start. My name is Christy Gittins for those who are new to the College, and I am the Head of the Junior Learning Community and Early Learning Community.  The JLC/ELC leadership team comprises of:

Mrs Michelle Cecil – Director of the ELC: Pre Kindy & Kindy

Mr Mike Collins – Deputy of the JLC – Curriculum: P-4

Mr Damien Taylor – Deputy of the JLC – Pastoral: P -4

As a leadership team we work closely with families, teachers and support staff to ensure all students are reaching their potential academically, spiritually, socially, and emotionally. We provide a value-based education, with a focus on developing the whole child to reach their full potential.

Over the last two weeks it has been delightful when visiting classrooms to see students eagerly engaged in their learning and becoming familiar with their new environments. We are very excited to journey with all our JLC families and look forward to the learning and fun to be had and connecting with everyone during the year.

COVID-19 has delayed many of our events for the start of the year and as such we will also be postponing our Parent Teacher Interviews until the start of Term 2 to allow teachers time to determine how your child is performing academically, spiritually, socially and emotionally. If you feel you would like to discuss your child at an earlier date, please email your classroom teacher and they will set up a time before or after school.

We thank you all for your patience and kindness during morning and afternoon drop-offs and pick-ups. Your feedback has been invaluable as we continue to optimise efficiencies during this time. If you are a parent in P-2, please ensure you have your parking passes to access Chocolate Drive. If you require these passes, they can be picked up through JLC Reception, or call JLC Reception 07 5655 0920 to have them placed in your child’s bag.


Christy Gittins
Head of Junior Learning Community

What’s been happening in the JLC

Welcome to our Preppies

It has been wonderful to see so many new Preppie faces in the JLC and how quickly they are settling into College life. The first few weeks have brought much fun and learning for our Preppies from learning names and new routines, to starting the fun process of learning letters, sounds and reading! They have been busy learning through painting, cutting, singing, drawing and listening! Imagine all the knowledge and skills they will have gained by the end of the year.

From the Head of the MLC

Welcome back!

If the start of Week 3 was anything to use as insight into the year ahead, it is going to be a great year in the MLC. Staff couldn’t wait for their students to return to the College after starting online in Week 2 and it was amazing to walk around last week and see both teachers and students with big smiles on their faces upon their return. It has been a smooth transition into face to face learning and many of our newest students, those in Year 5, have commented on how excited they are to finally be in the MLC and experiencing new opportunities to grow.

Life Group has moved to the start of the day on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday this year and already there is a strong sense of family within these groups. Older students are acting as mentors to the younger students and it is providing a platform to drive House Spirit while building connection between the students in the MLC. Assemblies and Gatherings have been online so far but there has still been some great messages shared, particularly as we unpack the values of the College Shield each week.

As parents, you have already received several messages about the uniform expectations for 2022 and I will take this opportunity to thank you for supporting College expectations. I have been walking through the MLC to check in on the student uniforms daily and so far I am pleased that the majority of students are turning up each and every day impeccably dressed and without concern. By now, students should be aware of the days of the week they are to wear formal or sport uniform and this will also be enforced with consequences handed out to students who are wearing the incorrect uniform on any particular day. Parents are reminded that there is never an issue if you have a legitimate reason for your child to need a uniform pass for a single day; however, we ask for your support by writing a note for your child in these circumstances. The uniform policy can be viewed here.

We will continue to follow the Government guidelines around COVID-19 precautions. For the moment there has been no change to mandatory mask wearing for students in Years 7 and up. Please continue to support us by reminding your students in Years 7 and 8 to have not one, but several masks with them while on the College grounds. Students are welcome to remove their masks when sitting but we ask all students in these year levels to have their masks on whenever they are moving around in the MLC.

I look forward to sharing more news with you over the coming weeks. Stay safe and have a blessed week.

Darren Rackemann
Head of Middle Learning Community

What’s been happening in the MLC

Hot Potato Band Workshop

Year 5 students enjoyed an active music performance this week from the Hot Potato Band. Hot Potato Band demonstrate the connection between music and movement through arrangement of rhythm, harmony, and melody. And our students had a turn of creating music using only their bodies. This was such a fun way to engage with and learn more about music.

Appreciation Day

On Monday, 14 February, the MLC celebrated Appreciation Day! Appreciation Day is all about intentionally thinking about what and who we appreciate and doing something, big or small, to show our appreciation. These intentional thoughts and actions of gratitude contribute to a healthy sense of wellbeing and a positive mindset. Students had the opportunity to post a note of appreciation on the Appreciation Day Wall, write a letter of thanks to someone and have a go guessing the number of lollies in a jar. Thank you to everyone who participated and filled our MLC spaces with appreciation messages. We love the MLC!

SECRET Skills focus: Reflective Learner

Within the Reflective Learner domain of the SECRET Skills, there is a sub-skill of Inviting Feedback. This can be a tough concept during the Middle Years, when students are already very self-conscious. The ‘Science of Adolescent Learning’ report states that biological and environmental changes mean children of this age “have an increased sensitivity to social evaluation”. The SECRET Skills ladder helps students to explore how to both give and receive positive, truthful and helpful feedback. It teaches students to value the opinion of others, as well as how to improve their work as a result of the feedback they receive. Markman points out that criticism often stings so much because it delivers a blow to your self-confidence, and also gnaws at your self-esteem, as it makes you aware that at least one other person knows your limitations. He gives these three tips for embracing and using criticism to your advantage:

  1. Repress the urge to be defensive; thank the person for their feedback and say this has given you a lot to think about, and you appreciate their help.
  2. Put the critique aside for a day or two until you don’t feel so emotionally charged.
  3. Once you can face the critique without feeling the heat rise, take an honest look at how you can use the feedback to develop your abilities and skills. You may not be as good as you thought you were – and that’s okay! Use this as an opportunity for growth.

Student Conferences

In the MLC, we believe strongly that students should be at the centre of their learning journey. Teachers regularly encourage and assist students to set and achieve academic goals, and work towards improving their SECRET Skills (Self-Manager, Effective Participator, Creative Thinker, Reflective Learner, Enquirer and Team Worker).

This term, students have been busily preparing for the compulsory Student Conferences (SCs) in Weeks 8 and 9, where parents, students and teachers will come together to view students’ work, and you as parents can hear first-hand from your child about their academic progress and goals. At this stage, we are planning for a virtual event; however, we are hopeful that by that time we may be able to welcome parents back on site. More information, including booking details, will come closer to the time.

Session 1: Week 8 – Wednesday 16 March 3.30-7.00pm

Session 2: Week 9 – Tuesday 22 March 3.30-7.00pm

These conferences will be facilitated by your child’s Life Group Teacher, and will run for 15 minutes per student. During the session, students will share work and goals from both Mathematics and English, as well as speaking about how they are settling into the routines of their new class. If you have pressing issues that you would like to discuss in a particular subject, please reach out to your child’s subject teacher separately, prior to the conferences. We look forward to meeting you at the upcoming Student Conferences, and thank you for allowing us the privilege of partnering with you in the education of your child.

From the Head of the SLC

Welcome to the first newsletter of 2022.  It has been great to have students back on campus. Again, I wish to welcome back all continuing families and especially welcome new families to Hillcrest Christian College. All reports indicate that your children have settled into learning and friendship groups.

This year we have a clear improvement agenda in the Senior Learning Community (SLC) that we believe will result in a better experience for all students. With the uncertainty of COVID still prevalent, we have kept student wellbeing as a priority. Some initiatives include software to monitor student wellbeing, and the introduction of Service Week for Year 9 and Work Experience for Year 10. In the area of academics, we are focussing on student engagement, student feedback, use of data and the explicit teaching of the SECRET Skills.

As a community we value the partnership with parents, which is why we started the year with the Meet the Life Group sessions. We encourage you to make contact with class teachers as soon as academic issues are identified at home or the Life Group teacher to discuss pastoral issues. Teachers in these roles will contact you to express any concerns they have identified. We would rather address concerns early rather than wait until they are out of control and appear unsolvable. Contact details can be found in Parent Lounge.

Throughout the year there will be a number of activities that we encourage you to be involved in. These include the Parent / Student / Teacher interviews, Careers Festival and a myriad of other parent evenings. All of these events are listed in the College calendar.

I thank you for entrusting me and my staff with the education of your child.  It is a responsibility we do not take lightly.

Until the next newsletter.

Jason Day
Head of Senior Learning Community

What’s been happening in the SLC

Year 12 Engineering

In our first week of face-to-face class, our Year 12 engineering students hit the ground running. They designed and built planes with a goal in mind of either speed, height or perhaps a smooth flight. They hooked them up to a power anchor and put their planes to the test. After some trial, error and adjustments, students submitted a report detailing their design and how they worked through failings along the way to achieve their desired outcome.

ATAR Assembly

On Tuesday morning we had the joy of honouring some of our 2021 Year 12 students who achieved an ATAR of 90+, at an SLC assembly. Of those who were able to make this special event, Mr Fernance interviewed each student as they shared the journey they went on to choose subjects specific to their interests and career aspirations. Each student took a different path which is inspiring for Year 9 and 10 students to hear as they think about subject choices they will have for Year 11 and 12. Well done to all on outstanding results!

Life Groups in the SLC

Community and a sense of belonging is integral to who we are at Hillcrest. In the SLC, one of the ways we foster a sense of belonging and community is through intentional connections in Life Group classes. Life Groups meet each day for 40 minutes either in class or in Assembly and Gathering. Life Groups are House-based and made up of students across all year levels in the SLC. Life Groups support the spiritual growth, social-emotional and wellbeing development, pastoral care and academic monitoring of our students and are staffed by exceptional educators who are aligned to each class and walk alongside and support our students across their entire senior years.

The aim of Life Group teachers is to deeply know each child so they can be encouraged and learn in a positive, inclusive and valued environment. Should you have any pastoral, social, emotional or wellbeing concerns you wish to discuss, please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s Life Group teacher via email. They are here to support your students or assist you to access more specialised support.

Year 10 Work Experience

This year we are delighted to announce that our Year 10 Work Experience in back! This week we held an information evening for students and parents which was also filmed for those who were unable to attend.

Academic Enrichment

Update for Term 1 – week 5

At Hillcrest we cater for students with a wide range of abilities and seek to provide a range of opportunities for them throughout the year. The Academic Enrichment opportunities include (but not limited to) – The World Scholar’s Cup. Ethics Olympiad, Readers Cup, Science and Engineering Challenge, STEM Ambassador, Write a Book in a Day, Public speaking, and many more. These opportunities allow students to grow and develop academically; explore passions and represent the College community. The fortnightly update will include upcoming events, how students can become involved and all relevant details. These opportunities are open to anyone in the year level that it applies to and all students are encouraged to embrace these.

Senior Ethics Olympiad (Term 2 – 12th May)

The Ethics Olympiad provides schools with a unique opportunity to develop skills in critical thinking, collaboration and communication.  During an Ethics Olympiad students engage with each other and students from other schools on interesting and relevant cases. Students work as a team to respond to questions while building and critiquing their own and others’ arguments.  

On the day of the Olympiad all students are involved in a series of four Ethics Olympiad heats where they will be scored according to set criteria which rewards clear, concise, respectful discourse in response to questions about the ethical cases. Judges award points on the basis of clear, concise, critical and collaborative thinking. 

  • Term 2 – 12th May
  • Years 10-12

Send expression of interest to jdutoit@hillcrest.qld.edu.au  Closing date 25 February 8:20am


STEM Ambassadors – Griffith University  (Start in Term 1 Week 7)

The Griffith Sciences STEM Ambassador Schools Program uniquely promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics in Queensland and Northern NSW secondary schools. The STEM Ambassadors inspire others and share their passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They work together to represent their school at Griffith University Science on the GO! events and develop individual strategic STEM plans tailored to their school. 

Hillcrest STEM Ambassadors support the Science Faculty during Science Week. 

  • Start in Term 1 Week 7 
  • Year 9 & 10

Enquiries and completed forms can be sent to jdutoit@hillcrest.qld.edu.au Closing date 28 February 8:20am 


Readers Cup (Start in Term 1 Week 9)

Readers Cup is organised by the Qld Branch of the Children’s Book Council of Australia. It is a state wide competition for young readers. Teams of five students together read a set of books, and then compete with other teams to answer quiz questions from the books. Winners from regional competitions then compete in a state final.  

Hillcrest is the host for the Year 9/10 Gold Coast Round. 


Staff Spotlight: Introducing Director of Co-curricular Activities

We have some new staff members in new roles within the Co-curricular department this year. This week we’d like to introduce you to the Director of Co-curricular Activities, Mr David Gemmell. Mr Gemmell comes to us from Victoria where he worked at Brighton Grammar School. He has been working with schools in the Outdoor Education industry for over 15 years all over the world, including Scotland, Canada and Western Australia. Below you will find more fun facts about Mr Gemmell. Welcome to Hillcrest!

Tell us about your family: We’re a family of four + dog. My wife Jill and I have two beautiful daughters Piper(4) and Mackenzie(2) and our husky/kelpie dog Action(10).

What was your passion at school?: I loved Drama, English, History and Biology as subjects, but found a passion in swimming, lifeguarding, scouting and student leadership. While at university I developed a passion for adventure sports like kayaking, climbing and mountain biking along with continuing in student leadership and my involvement in performing arts at an ‘excellence’ level.

What about team sports?: Grid Iron (Canadian and American rules) mainly, but I can still enjoy watching and playing Cricket, Rugby and AFL.

What’s on your YouTube watch list?: You’ll find a fair bit of Simon Sinek and TED talks mixed with Whitewater kayaking and funny cat fails.

Explain the photos you chose: One is my time in the University touring choir called ‘Sojourn’ in 2003 but the paper labelled me incorrectly, I’m near the front right. Being part of a creative community is so special and a cherished memory. I’m still friends with some of those choir members too. The other is of me on the highest mountain in PNG, Mount Wilhelm. I was born in PNG and years ago found an old picture of my mother at the top of Wilhelm when she was in her 20s and teaching there. A long time dream came true when I managed to trek the same path and summit that mountain four years ago.

College Musical Rehearsals

Rehearsals for our 2022 musical, Beauty and the Beast, resumed last week and with over eight weeks since their final rehearsal of 2021, the cast did not disappoint! Many studied the script and score so well over the Christmas break, they were able to jump straight back into their characters without hesitation. Behind the scenes, the props and costume team have begun gathering ballgowns and candlesticks to help bring the magic to life. If you wish to offer a helping hand, please let us know via email (musical@hillcrest.qld.edu.au) – we would be grateful for your help in any shape or form! As the rehearsals continue to ramp up, one thing is already crystal clear – our cast aren’t afraid of hard work, and they are determined to create an entertaining show of exceptional quality.

Music Lessons Through Hillcrest

A reminder that you can still enrol your child into music lessons with one of our expert tutors here. Learning an instrument at Hillcrest also gives students the opportunity to be involved in a number of different instrumental ensembles, and most importantly the joy and magic of performing and making music together.

District Swimming Carnival

On Monday of Week 4, a group of 24 enthusiastic students from the JLC, MLC and SLC attended the District Swimming Carnival representing Hillcrest Christian College. Competition was tough but all swimmers swam to the best of their abilities and all had nothing left as they glided in to the wall. There were some amazing results with a number of our students progressing to the Regional Swimming Carnival. A big thank you must go to Mrs Shireen Geddes for organising the nominations in tough COVID circumstances.

Cross Country Training

All MLC and SLC students interested in improving their general fitness and cross country ability are invited to two running sessions each week. This is part of the lead up to the College Cross Country carnivals held in week 10. Training will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:15am to 8:00am. Students are encouraged to change out of their training clothes into their correct uniforms at the end of the training session.

Where: On the oval
When: Every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:15am (weather permitting)

Hinterland District School Sport Trials 2022

If any students are wanting to trial in any of the sports below please contact the sports office, slcsport@hillcrest.qld.edu.au and we will email more detailed information to you. We’d love to have you on board!

Sport Age Group Trial Date Nomination Due Date
Basketball 16-18 years Girls 28-Feb 25-Feb
Basketball 16-18 years Boys 28-Feb 25-Feb
Hockey 13-19 years Girls 28-Feb 25-Feb
Hockey 13-19 years Boys 28-Feb 25-Feb
Basketball 10-12 years Girls 8 / 9 March 4-Mar
AFL 13-15 year Girls 7-Mar 4-Mar
AFL 10-12 years Boys 7-Mar 4-Mar
Rugby Union 17-18 years Boys 7-Mar 4-Mar
Volleyball 12-15 years Girls 8-Mar 4-Mar
Volleyball 12-15 years Boys 8-Mar 4-Mar
Volleyball 16-19 years Girls 8-Mar 4-Mar
Volleyball 16-19 years Boys 8-Mar 4-Mar

Student Achievements

National Youth Rock Climbing Success

Congratulations to MLC students Hudson Moore (Year 5) and Levi Moore (Year 7) who competed in and placed in the Queensland State Youth Rock Climbing title over the summer holidays.

Hudson placed 1st and Levi placed 3rd.

Both will now be going on to compete at the National Youth Rock Climbing titles in May. Well done!

Other News

The Hub Cafe New Menu

As many of you may have noticed, this term we have a new Hub Menu. Please see the link here to view the Menu and also instructions on how to order using Flexischools.

Hillcrest Bus Travellers

Thank you for your requests and feedback on our Bus System. We are delighted to announce that this term we implemented Phase 2 of our bus app RollCall. Thank you to all our wonderful parents who have been so patient and understanding as we work through our teething problems.

Please keep in mind, parents can still see where the bus is on the app map as your child travels to and from the College. You can also see when they get on and off of the bus. You can now book your children onto the bus of your choice, advise the driver of the stops they will get on and off, and the days they will be on the bus, all in the RollCall app. Finally, payments for bus fares are all managed through the RollCall app.

We hope these changes will help to improve the service we offer you over the longer term. Please keep your feedback coming in to buses@hillcrest.qld.edu.au as we work on continually improving our service.

Hillcrest Alumni Success

Congratulations to Kathryn Woodward, Hillcrest Christian College alumni (class of 2015) for being awarded the prestigious 2022 Australia-At-Large Rhodes Scholarship; one of only nine awarded each year in Australia.
After overcoming significant health challenges during her time here at Hillcrest, Kathryn is using her experiences to create change and make a difference for others with a future in public health leadership. She will completed her Doctor of Medicine degree from Griffith University last year with Distinction, after completing a Bachelor of Medical Science, also with Distinction in 2017. She already serves in a number of leadership roles across many health groups and is the current deputy chair of Canteen Australia, a support service for young people dealing with cancer themselves or those close to them.
Kathryn will use the Rhodes scholarship opportunity to study at Oxford University later this year.
Congratulations Kathryn, you are an inspiration to us all and we will cheer you on as you continue your wonderful career!
Read more about Kathryn here.

Key Dates