Vol. 1, May 2015
In this issue:
3B Smalls Road
Phone: 02 9886 7560
From the Principal’s desk
Welcome to the first edition of The Auracle.
The title of our e-newsletter was selected in a vote by students, parents and staff earlier this term. The wordsmiths among you will know that Auracle is a portmanteau formed by the combination of the words Aurora and oracle. By definition therefore, The Auracle is a regular source of ‘infallible and authoritative information’ on Aurora College.
As well as informing, The Auracle will seek to entertain readers, to celebrate the achievements of our students, and to interpret and report news from the wider education community.
The second term of operation of Aurora College holds great promise. It will be a period characterised by further consultation, consolidation and innovation. Highlights will include:
A tutorial centre staffed by key learning area specialists is now in operation. During free periods (times during the day when students do not have a home school lesson or an Aurora lesson), students can ‘drop-in’ to access additional help with their studies. Please refer to the article in this issue for further details.
This term, we will continue to work with our partner schools and with the Aurora College State Reference Group to refine our operation and to ensure engagement with and by all stakeholders. Your parent representatives on the reference group are Genie McMullen and Andrew Strachan. Genie and Andrew urge all parents/carers to complete a brief online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AC_parents_2015. A survey to collect feedback from students is currently under development.
The Selective High Schools Selection Committee meeting will be held in Sydney on 9 June 2015. At this meeting the committee will review applications for entry into Year 7 at Aurora College in 2016. The role of the committee is to produce an order of merit list which places students into three categories – students who are: to be made offers; to be placed on the reserve list; unsuccessful. I am seeking a parent representative for this committee to join the meeting via video conference from your local DEC school. If you are interested in assisting in this process and do not have a child applying for entry in to Year 7 in 2016, please email me at email@example.com before Friday 29 May.
Finally, I would like to welcome Sharleen Newcombe to the staff. Sharleen takes on the position of Learning and Support Teacher (LaST). She will work closely with Greg Smith (Head Teacher Administration) in developing a personal learning plan for each of our students.
I hope you enjoy the first edition of The Auracle.
Aurora opened its ‘virtual’ doors for the first time on 2 February 2015 with over 150 students connecting with each other in daily lessons in our virtual learning environment. Our first term of operation has been a busy, challenging and rewarding term for both students and teachers. Highlights included:
Our first residential school was held from Monday 2 March to Thursday 5 March at Hurlstone Agricultural High School, Sydney.
Students and staff travelled from all parts of the state to enjoy a range of curricula and extra-curricula activities. An educational and fun-filled program included competing in Survivor Olympics and enjoying a Sydney Harbour cruise and cultural performance on Clark Island. The residential school also included visits to Microsoft, Royal Botanical Gardens, The Australian Museum, Fuji-Xerox, University of NSW and Sydney Observatory. Bud Lambert’s residential school report in this issue is essential reading.
Planning for our second residential school program is well underway. The camp will be held at Hurlstone Agricultural High School from Monday 19 October to Thursday 22 October.
Distribution of student devices
We thank our generous technology sponsors, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard for their support of Aurora College. Courtesy of our sponsors, in Term 1 each of our students received a laptop, a soft keyboard cover, a travel charger, a soft-carry case and a wireless mouse. Year 7 and Year 8 students will soon receive an additional travel keyboard.
A technology accessory pack was also provided to each student for use with the DEC computer supplied by the home school. Supplied by Aurora College, each accessory pack contained a webcam, a headset with microphone, and a graphics tablet with stylus pen.
A reminder that all students should be connecting to their virtual classrooms on the DEC computer supplied by their home school. For further technology news, read Ben Hillsley’s Tip from a techie in this issue.
Student leadership team 2015
Our first student leadership team was formed in Term 1 following a self-nomination and election process. Congratulations to the following students:
The student leadership team held its first meeting on Thursday 3 April. Students were welcomed to the team and suggestions were made for the naming of our new newsletter. The team will soon commence work on the development of a model for Aurora’s first Student Representative Council (SRC).
Interim reports were issued via email and the Sentral parent portal in Week 9 of Term 1.
Semester 1 reports will be issued for students in Year 11 in Week 6 and for students in Years 7 to 10 in Week 9. Unlike the Term 1 interim report, the Semester 1 report is a full ‘academic’ report. It will show the progress of each student towards achieving specific course outcomes.
Parent-teacher meetings will occur in Week 10 on Monday 22 June between 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm. This will give all parents the opportunity to meet and discuss their child’s progress. Meetings will take place via telephone this semester. Further information, including how to book an appointment, will be emailed to all parents next week.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s progress or well-being, please contact the coordinating office by phone on 02 9886 7560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tip from a techie
Following a successful Term 1 trial of the IT Open Day, I will be available again between 9 am and 3 pm on Thursday 28 May to assist students, parents, coordinators and staff in solving technology issues. Drop in to the technology support room at https://connect.schools.nsw.edu.au/aurora-it.
Last term we invited parents to sign-up for access to our Sentral parent portal. This facility allows parents to view timetables and progress reports and to monitor attendance. Later this term, parents will also be able to book parent-teacher interviews via the Sentral parent portal.
If you have not yet created a parent portal account, please follow the steps described in the video below.
A reminder that our technology partner Hewlett-Packard has created a custom site where members of the Aurora community can purchase a range of products. Go to the Aurora College portal on the Education Store website.
If you are having technology difficulties, please feel free to contact me for help. You can call me during school hours on 1300 610 733 or email anytime at AuroraCollegeITSupport@det.nsw.edu.au.
Learning Technologies Support Officer
Connect locally, learn globally
My name is Kodie Hardy and I live in Warialda, which is a small rural town in the northwest slopes region of NSW (see the Google map below). I go to Warialda High School which has less than 200 students. I am one of about 20 Year 11 students at the school.
Warialda is known in the district for two annual events – the Warialda Off-Road Race and the Warialda Honey Festival. Both are important dates in our community and everyone in the town and the surrounding area enjoys the celebrations. One thing I particularly like about the area is the night sky, where the stars, not the streetlights are on display.
Being a small community, everyone in Warialda knows everyone else. Volunteer work is a good way of meeting new people, as well as learning new skills. In 2014, I attended a State Emergency Services (SES) cadet camp and it opened my eyes to some great opportunities. The night after the camp ended, I joined my local SES and have enjoyed serving my community this way ever since.
When I leave school, I would like to join the air force and train to be a pilot. To do this I need to study physics, so when Warialda was not able to offer this course in Year 11, the Principal gave me some information on Aurora College. The idea of studying at the state’s first virtual school appealed to me and the next day I applied to study physics at Aurora.
Being a student at Aurora is all about new ways of learning. I’m also enjoying meeting and working with new people from different parts of the state.
Kodie Hardy (Year 11)
Note from the Editor: Kodie is a very humble role model and a great ambassador for his two schools. See the entry on Kodie’s award later in this issue.
Who or what is Oliver?
As the state’s first virtual school, it is fitting that Aurora College should have one of NSW’s first virtual libraries. The ‘Oliver’ library provides access to a wide range of online resources, including magazines, fiction and non-fiction books, an encyclopedia and approximately 1500 websites to complement learning in each subject area.
At the residential school in Sydney, students were asked about their literary interests and a range of e-books have been purchased that reflect these interests. We will continue to build the collection throughout the year and in the future.
Our teacher-librarian, Belinda Doyle, has the task of developing and maintaining the college’s collection of e-books. She is also providing training for staff and students on how to search for, borrow and return items.
Students and teachers can access Aurora’s e-collection through the DEC portal.
Spotlight on … Mr Joshua Westerway
Where is your ‘home’ school and what is your role?
I am Head Teacher Science at Ulladulla High School, which is about 3 hours south of Sydney (see the Google map below). The school has more than 1200 students and I look after the eleven staff in the science, agriculture and marine studies faculty. I have an envied spot in the staffroom as I can see the ocean from my desk!
What can you tell us about your local community?
Ulladulla is rural coastal town, with a population of just over 12 000 people which swells to a much larger number during the summer holidays and Easter break. Ulladulla and the surrounding area is a popular spot with tourists who come from far and wide to see a local tradition – the ‘Blessing of the Fleet’ parade. It’s a lot of fun and quite a serious thing for the community. They bless the local fishing fleet and crown the ‘Fleet Princess’ which is a major deal for our Year 10 girls.
Do you have a favourite subject that you like to teach?
I am passionate about technology and all the sciences, but particularly enjoy teaching chemistry and physics.
What attracted you to teaching at Aurora?
Since starting with Aurora College this year I have met many fantastic and equally passionate teachers, students and parents who are all working very hard to make the most of this awesome opportunity for students in rural and remote government schools. As Aurora College continues to grow and adapt to better serve our school community, I am looking forward to seeing where everyone’s hard work takes us.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In summer, I like to fish, snorkel and spearfish in many of the local areas as well as enjoy the local beaches. In winter I snowboard!
Bud’s residential report
Bud Lambeth of Year 10 is one of the many talented students who joined Aurora College this year from the Western NSW Xsel program.
Bud attends Denison College Kelso Campus and was enrolled in Xsel from 2012 to 2014. Bud’s natural flare for journalism entertained and informed readers of Xsel’s newsletter throughout this time.
Aurora is very fortunate to have secured Bud’s services for the first edition of The Auracle. We all hope that he will find the time to be a regular contributor to our e-newsletter.
Click here to enjoy Bud’s report on Aurora’s first residential school program.
Rewarding outstanding effort and achievement
The start of Term 2 marked the launch of our new merit system. Astra, stellar, galaxy and universal achiever awards will reward the outstanding efforts and achievements of our students.
View the video presentation below to understand how the system works.
For further information, please contact Greg Smith (Head Teacher Administration) on 02 9886 7560.
The aim of the mentor program is to encourage self-confidence and resilience in our students, to broaden their awareness of opportunities, and to enhance their career planning and long-term academic outcomes.
Individuals and specialist external organisations will be engaged to run mentoring sessions as required. Each must be approved by the Principal of Aurora College and comply with DEC guidelines and regulations such as the Code of Conduct, Working With Children check and Child Protection Policy training.
Themes for mentoring sessions aim to address topics that are age-appropriate and relevant to students at their stage of schooling. The structure of each session is largely driven by student interest and mentor willingness. The content is flexible and may take on new directions as a result of relationship building and increased trust throughout the program.
So far, approximately 30 students have registered their interest in participating in the program. We have commenced the process of finding and matching appropriate mentors to student interests. If you would like to take part in this ‘opt-in’ program download a copy of the application form.
For further information, please contact me on 02 9886 7560.
Aurora seeks to build partnerships with a range of educational, scientific and cultural institutions. The masterclass program will be a key feature of the learning experience, providing unique opportunities for students to engage in robust discussion and discovery with experts and leaders in their field.
The masterclass program aims to:
Masterclasses closely align with the NSW syllabuses in the subject areas offered at Aurora, including English, mathematics, science and economics. The delivery of masterclasses is flexible, given the Aurora context.
Masterclasses may be of variable periods of time such as 30 minutes, 1 hour or even to half or full days depending on the nature of content delivered. The audience of each masterclass may be:
We are currently working with a range of external stakeholders to provide masterclasses. For further information, please contact me on 02 9886 7560.
Accessing extra help with your studies
A tutorial centre staffed by key learning area specialists is now in operation. During free periods (times during the day when students do not have a home school lesson or an Aurora lesson), students can ‘drop-in’ to access additional help with their studies.
The tutorial rooms can be accessed using the following links:
A copy of the timetable can be viewed here. For further information, please contact Greg Smith (Head Teacher Administration) on 02 9886 7560.
Bright lights of Aurora
Congratulations to the following students:
Madi Bland and Julia Williams of Year 8 (Parkes High School) received distinctions in the Informatics (Computational and Algorithmic Thinking) competition run by the Australian Mathematics Trust.
Isabella Swadling and Madeleine Waller of Year 9 (Condobolin High School) were part of the Sonic Racing team who competed in the F1 in Schools National Finals held in Albert Park, Melbourne in March. Sonic Racing had four great days of competing in different areas including, car racing, pit display and marketing judging, verbal presentations, engineering judging and portfolio judging. Approximately 30 000 people passed through the marquee and Sonic was always willing to discuss their entry and offer key rings, lollies, stamps and other marketing items. The girls were ranked 6th in Australia overall. The girls will be continuing with the program throughout the year.
Kodie Hardy of Year 11 (Warialda High School) has been awarded the title of NSW SES Cadet of the Year for 2015. He received this award from the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and the SES Commissioner in Sydney on Monday 11 May 2015.
Lupa, Native Alaska
Congratulations and thank you to Ella Roberts of Year 7 (Cowra High School) for the following contribution.
I drew my rabbit skin coat closer around my body and pulled the fur rimmed hood over my brown hair, which was plated into two long braids. I griped my father’s spear in my right hand and waited in the bushes, my eyes darting towards every movement in the sky and soggy melting snow. I reached for the small carved wooden totem hanging around my neck on a length of plaited hair and held in in my hand for a few seconds, it brought me mental strength when I needed. My totem was that of the wolf. My people, an (ancient) Inuit tribe in Alaska, believe that each person is connected to an animal though their spirit could connect to this animal in spiritual ways. We also believed there would be a person who had an ‘alpha’ spirit of that of a certain animal; meaning that instead of their human spirit just being connected to animal they would have the spirit and soul of that animal instead of a humans. Not one ‘Alpha spirit’ has been recorded in our history.
It was starting to get dark so I decided to head back to where our people dwell. I had a poor hunting day and was going to return with only two small rabbits and a large trout, I was especially disappointed since tomorrow night was the spirit gathering and there is supposed to be a huge feast, so I made an effort to collect some berries and herbs on the way. Then I collected my game and set off, hoping that others had better success than I.
As I grew closer I could see the smoke and sparks from the fires, dancing shadows flashed up against the painted rock wall and distant voices were singing, everyone was readying for tomorrow night. The chieftain wasn’t expecting me back until the sun had completely disappeared behind the mountains so I stopped, heaved my kill off my shoulder and set it atop a large rock along with my father’s spear. I cupped my hands over my mouth and howled, unnatural as it is, I had taught myself to howl just like a wolf and could vaguely communicate vocally with my spirit animal. The noise came right from the bottom of my throat and was unlike any noise a human should be capable of. Far in the distance, somewhere in the mountains my call was received and returned by the depressing moaning sound of a single wolf followed by a chorus of others.
I handed by game to chieftain and showed my respects then briefly greeted the elders and headed quickly to my lonely little cave. I tended to my fire, shoved a handful of berries in my mouth and replated my hair then collapsed on a pile of caribou skins; I lay awake for hours but eventually drifted off to sleep.
I awoke at midday and wearily crawled out into the dim sunlight which was melting the small amount of last night’s snow. My people were busy setting up for tonight, stings with animal bones threaded onto them were hung up around the site and others were already dressing up in feathers and furs and wooden masks of their spirit animals. Children ran around in their best rabbit furs while mothers yelled at them to stay clean. I felt I should be excited but I felt nothing even close, my feet were heavy and stomach felt like I had swallowed stones, I felt that I could never enjoy this and as if an invisible string was pulling me away from it.
I snuck through the crowds and fled deep into the forest and ventured far over our borders. It was growing dangerously dark but I did not turn back, I didn’t dream of it, I had always known deep down inside I didn’t belong in a tribe and it wasn’t like they were going to miss me. I headed for the mountains, and only when I reached them did I stop. The colourful ribbons of the aurora flowed like a calm sea above me; they slowly and silently lulled me to sleep.
I awoke to the bitch black darkness of midnight, my eyes surged opened suddenly and my senses seemed stronger, I sensed someone or something had just been here. I stood up quickly and reached for my spear only then realising I didn’t have it. Something moved in the snow, not just something but multiple something’s. I felt no fear. I moved closer to the movement and sniffed the air.
The wolves came slowly towards me, they didn’t seem frightened but they seemed to be showing me respect. I allowed them to come closer but showed them that I would fight if they chose to attack. I felt an unknown feeling pulsing through my body and instinctively lowered myself to their height. The wolves formed a circle around me, I stayed calm and unfrightened, nodding my head once to show them my respect. One by one they tipped their heads back and howled a perfect note, I howled my return and then we all howled together. I was part of them; I had the spirit and soul of a wolf.
I did not belong in a tribe. I belonged in the pack.
Note: The ‘spirit gathering’ and ‘alpha spirits’ are things I made up to fit with the story and culture. It has also been known for humans to live in packs with wolves. I worked these things into the story to make it more entertaining and easy to read and write. I enjoyed creating this story!
The name ‘Lupa’ is a Latin word meaning ‘she-wolf’.
Ella Roberts (Year 7)
It is now possible for parents to make online payments to the school via a secure payment page hosted by Westpac. Payments can be made using either a Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card. The payment page is accessed from the Aurora website by clicking on the ‘For Parents’ tab and then selecting ‘Make a Payment’ (see below)
When you access the ‘Make A Payment’ page, you will be asked to enter:
These details must entered each time you make a payment as student information is not held within the payment system. There is also the option to enter the Student Registration Number and reference number, if provided. Fields marked with an * are mandatory.
Please note that the payment system is hosted by Westpac. To ensure that your credit/debit card details are captured in a secure manner, these details are not passed back to the school.
You have the ability to check and change any details of the payment before the payment is processed. Receipts can be emailed and/or printed.
Details of the payments are passed to the college on a daily basis where they will be receipted against your child’s account. As a receipt has been issued from the payment page, a further receipt will not be issued by the college.
For any inquiries regarding the Online Payment process please contact the school on 02 9886 7560.
Aurora College; 3b Smalls Road, Ryde, NSW 2112