A College to be proud of – outstanding academic results, and leading in the High Table Cup

Hot on the heels of superb academic results in first semester, St Mark’s has again taken the lead in the inter-collegiate High Table Cup competition – with a convincing win yesterday in men’s football, and a strong second in women’s football.

The year began with St Mark’s winning the inter-college tennis and then swimming. After the resumption of inter-college competitions following the easing of pandemic restrictions, St Mark’s has come third in women’s netball and fourth in men’s netball, third in debating (live-streamed from Lincoln College), and now second in women’s football and first in men’s football.

St Mark’s now leads the High Table Cup, and looks ahead hopefully to a strong end to the year with the inter-collegiate athletics in October.

This strong performance in inter-college competitions has been combined with excellent academic results, a strong focus among students on community service, and the resumption of some social activities within the constraints of continuing pandemic precautions.

The academic results of our students for Semester 1 were outstanding. 22% of all grades received by St Mark’s students were High Distinctions, and 29% of all grades were Distinctions – making 51% of all grades at HD or D level, compared to 39% last year.

Our first-year students did particularly well, with 60% of all first-year grades being High Distinctions or Distinctions.

Individually there have been some standout performances, with nine students achieving four HDs in Semester 1, and 10 students securing three HDs.

Hearty congratulations to our students on these superb results!

It is an exceptional achievement, individually and collectively, and reflects hard work by our students in the testing circumstances of the pandemic – during which the College has strongly maintained academic support for students, online as well as face-to-face, including for those students who went home for some weeks or months.

Now halfway through Semester 2, with almost all students back in College, College life has clearly settled into a new normal, with our students as vibrant, active and engaged with their studies, sport, cultural and community pursuits as we would expect, adapted for the challenging times we’re currently living in.

Back in May we shared stories of how our students were finding ways to stay in touch online, with many of their peers heading home temporarily. Highlights at that time included live-streamed table tennis competitions, virtual quiz nights, participation in activities like the May 50K fundraising jogging challenge, planting succulents, baking competitions, and coffee club catch ups under the Learning Commons balcony.

Alongside this, our students stepped up their service to others, helping vulnerable members of our community with shopping, gardening and other activities, and achieved the truly outstanding academic results mentioned already.

Returning for Semester 2, our students have adapted to the changing dynamics of the pandemic by finding new ways to enjoy favourite activities and events.

Our much-enjoyed arts evenings are back, with our musicians performing to an audience that made use of the spacious Learning Commons to enjoy a socially-distanced show.

Highlights on the social scene have included – for example – a delightful “Christmas in July”, complete with Christmas tree and decorations, a visit by Father Christmas, and a traditional festive dinner (socially distanced). The annual Ball (minus dancing) was also a hit. After careful planning, the College Club Committee were delighted to host this highly popular event at Adelaide Oval, where they could balance good food and great company with COVID-safe service by the Oval staff, all with a classic Hollywood theme.

As classes resumed, we have welcomed the return of Formal Hall, which was put on hold in Semester 1. Some careful adjustments to service and seating arrangements have allowed this much-loved tradition to return safely.

Alongside these activities, service to others has remained at the heart of our College values and is being wholeheartedly embraced by our students. The student Charitable Foundation has been very active this year, both onsite and offsite – for example, with successful fundraising efforts in support of Rural Aid, Taboo and Drought Angels, running a quiz night as well as regular coffee club events (including on Open Days) in the newly completed student buttery in the Junior Common Room (pictured above). A fundraising car wash and coffee event also brought together the efforts of our football players and the Charitable Foundation.

Teaming up with Habitat for Humanity, our students have got their hands dirty helping with bushfire recovery efforts in the Adelaide Hills, including helping with tree planting and fence mending activities. Other student activities – including a “vegie patch” in College – have also promoted environmental sustainability.

Amongst other causes supported has been Wear It Purple Day (to support LGBTIQ+ young people), and just in the last week, over $2500 has been raised by students for the Black Dog Institute for mental health research.

Alongside all of this, and buoyed by superb results in Semester 1, students have settled back into their studies. After the abrupt transition by universities to online learning in first semester, the hybrid online and on-campus teaching this semester is a more comfortable norm. Our College academic program continues to expand, with over 60 tutors providing support to students studying 97 different degrees. The Dean (Professor Peter Tregear) and Director of Learning (Dr Rachel Buxton) have been undertaking Learning and Well-being Reviews with every student again this semester.

Faculty events have also resumed, with Faculty Evenings providing students the chance to hear from professionals from their fields. Meanwhile, the student book club has enjoyed lively discussion of their current read, Tony Birch’s The White Girl.

One of the major developments for St Mark’s in 2020, eagerly welcomed by students, has also been the expansion of the College carpark, made possible by the generosity of Ian Wall AM and Pamela Wall OAM. The expansion work, soon to be completed, adds an extra 60 car park spaces – a great asset for the College and especially our students.

In reflecting on the year so far, we are proud of the compassion, resilience and leadership so many of our students have shown in finding a safe and enjoyable ways to engage with their community.

Times of adversity have a way of highlighting what is most important, and in these challenging times connection, compassion, service to others, and the pursuit of excellence shine through. It is, as we all know, a strange year, but one in which our students have given us much reason to be proud.

Students enjoy a socially-distanced “Christmas In July” dinner

The Charitable and Environmental Groups assist Habitat for Humanity with bushfire recovery efforts in the Adelaide Hills, including fence repairs

Our students took part in tree planting in Morialta Conservation Park in the Adelaide Hills

Beach clean ups help keep our oceans healthy for future generations

Our men’s and women’s football teams gave outstanding performances

SAAUCC sports returned with a highly contested netball carnival

The Charitable Foundation runs regular fundraisers to raise money for charity

Open Days started a little drizzly, but ended up being a beautiful weekend

Even in mid-winter it was nice to relax in the sun

Car park renovations are providing much-valued extra spaces for students

The Environmental Group replanted the student vegie patch with some winter greens

The Aboriginal Flag flew over College to mark National Reconciliation Week.