The Auracle – Volume 42, June 2020

From the Principal’s desk

The COVID-19 pandemic has set in motion changes to the way many of us will live and work, now and in the future. The dire need to distance ourselves socially and to temporarily live in isolation, has propelled societies across the globe into the domain of technology-enabled remote working.

As a result, office-based businesses and organisations clustered in the central business districts of our cities, with workforces commuting to and from the workplace each day, may be less common in a post-pandemic world. The prospect of people being able to enjoy the lifestyle offered in a regional or rural community whilst working for an employer based elsewhere, is perhaps a more realistic option now, given our recent experience in ‘lockdown’.

The Regional Australia Institute’s Big Movers: Population in Australia report suggests that the experience of dealing with COVID-19 has removed one of the most significant barriers to a substantial population shift in Australia. Liz Ritchie (Chief Executive Officer, Regional Australia Institute) is quoted as saying “If location is no longer a barrier for employment, it’s possible that the trend line over the next decade could see an even greater swing to regions.”

The prospect of people being able to enjoy the lifestyle offered in a regional or rural community whilst working for an employer based elsewhere, is perhaps a more realistic option now, given our recent experience in ‘lockdown’.

For many of the bright lights of Aurora, a transition from ‘connecting locally and learning globally’ to ‘connecting locally and working globally’ is well within the bounds of possibility. Moreover, the hard skills and soft skills that Aurora students develop by working remotely in a technology-rich environment will be in high demand in the globally connected workplaces of tomorrow.

Historically, Parents and Citizens Associations incorporated by the NSW Minister for Education, have not had an enabler within their constitution to hold meetings in any form other than ‘face to face’. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions on public meetings, the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of NSW (the P&C Federation) sought approval from the Minister to amend its constitution to allow for virtual meetings.

The amendment approved by the Minister is as follows:

“If face to face meetings are not possible, P&C Associations may hold a meeting at 2 or more venues using any technology that gives the members as a whole an opportunity to participate effectively in that meeting. This allows P&C Associations to host virtual meetings or hybrid meetings with a mixture of face to face and virtual platform/s) agreed upon by the members.” [Source: P&C Federation website]

Of course, this change to the constitution removes a significant barrier to the formation of an Aurora College P&C Association. I am pleased to inform you that I have commenced discussions with the P&C Federation to advance the establishment of the state’s first ‘virtual P&C’. I welcome this important development and in the coming weeks I will call for expressions of interest from Aurora parents and citizens. Watch this space!

Meeting the commitment we made to our State Reference Group, the 2021 Partner School (Secondary) Information page of our website went ‘live’ on Monday 15 June 2020. Available on the Partner School Information page is the common timetable template for 2021 and a range of related support documents. Throughout Semester 2, Aurora staff will work with colleagues in our partner schools to plan for and support the curriculum of our shared enrolments.

Once again, a range of initiatives will assist our partners in this endeavour, including targeted timetabling support via our own staff, and at our cost with external timetabling consultants. The Partner School Information page is at I invite all community members to review the documents on this page.

The application processes for enrolment in Aurora College in 2021 are well underway. By way of update:

  • Applicants for Year 7 (2021) will receive outcome advice from the Department’s High Performing Students Unit during the upcoming school holidays.
  • The application process for vacant positions in 2021 for Years 8, 9 and 10 opened on Friday 19 June 2020 and close on Friday 24 July 2020.
  • Applicants for Year 5 (2021) will sit the Opportunity Class Placement Test on Wednesday 16 September 2020.

Current Year 10 students and their parents received an invitation via email to our Stage 6 Subject Information Evening to be held online on Wednesday 29 July 2020 at 7:00 pm (AEST). Please register your interest in attending here. A reminder that applications for entry in:

  • Year 11 (2021) open Wednesday 15 July 2020 and close on Friday 23 October 2020
  • Year 12 (commencing Term 4, 2020) open on Wednesday 15 July 2020 and close on Friday 21 August 2020.

To view the full list of Stage 6 subjects offered at Aurora College in 2021, click here. Current and potential partner schools have received information regarding the enrolment process for Years 11 and 12. Visit our website ( for information on how to apply.

The Rural Youth Ambassador Program was developed by the Country Education Partnership to provide young people in rural and remote communities with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and provide a voice on rural and remote education to government and education sectors. The program forms part of the national Rural Inspire initiative which aims to increase the aspirations of young people in rural and remote communities.

The Country Education Partnership has been working with Aurora College to bring this highly regarded program to NSW. With a significant allocation of resources from the Commonwealth Government and with support from the NSW Department of Education, I am pleased to inform you that we are now ready to commence the program. Congratulations to Year 11 Aurora College students, Ben Caughey (Hay War Memorial High School), Harry Bottero (Tumut High School), Cordelia Lloyd (Guyra Central School) and Neve Lawson (Ulladulla High School), who will join 25 representatives from 15 other schools as inaugural NSW Rural Youth Ambassadors.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have had to rethink the delivery of the program and have established a virtual Rural Youth Ambassador centre utilising the iSee platform. This 3-dimensional video conferencing platform has been in use at Aurora College for a number of years and has been used recently with great success in implementing the Rural Youth Ambassador program in both South Australia and Victoria. It is our intention to utilise the Rural Youth Ambassador virtual centre for the initial forums of the NSW program, but hope that as restrictions are relaxed, we may be able to bring participants together, face to face, later in the year.

As at the time of publication of this edition of The Auracle, excursions and school camps continue to be categorised by the Department as ‘activities under consideration from Term 3’, but for the moment, they remain on hold. We are, therefore, continuing to make preparations for our Term 4 residential school; however, we cannot say whether or not the event will take place. We will, of course, keep you informed of developments as they occur.

Enjoy the school holidays!

Chris Robertson | Principal

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Deputy Principal’s report

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our staff who completed reports and conducted parent interviews. If parents have not yet viewed their child’s Semester 1 report, this can be found in the Sentral Parent Portal. Similarly, if parents have missed out on the opportunity to have an interview with your child’s teachers, please feel free to arrange an interview by contacting the coordinating office by phone on 1300 287 629 or email

Coordinator of the term

The Term 2 ‘Star Aurora College Coordinator’ goes to Susan Bell-Mackie from Bowral High School who supports students from Years 7-11. Sue supports the students in the two Aurora rooms within the school which have been designed specifically for our partnership. She is an amazing contact and support with all our 7-10 and Year 11 Chemistry students. Thank you for doing a great job, Sue!

Stage 6 (2021) subject information evening

This informative session will take place on Wednesday 29 July 2020 from 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm.  At this session we will look at the NSW Department of Education and NESA requirements for students enrolling in Stage 6 and will also allow students and parents to look at the wonderful selection of courses that can be studied with us.  Click here for further details and to register your interest.

Attendance notifications

Aurora’s attendance notification system will be ‘switched on’ again following suspension of this process during the COVID-19 restrictions. With the return of normal practices in partner schools in Term 3, the regular process of sending automated emails and text messages asking for explanations for whole and partial absences will recommence from Monday 27 July 2020 (Week 2).

School discipline code

It is an expectation that Aurora College students will behave in a manner that reflects well on Aurora College and their home school, at all times. Below are the core rules that all students in NSW are expected to follow. Aurora College’s School Discipline Code incorporates these core rules.

Core rules

All students in NSW Government schools are expected to:

  • attend every school day, unless they are legally excused, and be in class on time and prepared to learn
  • maintain a neat appearance, including adhering to the requirements of the school’s uniform or dress code policy
  • behave safely, considerately and responsibly, including when travelling to and from school
  • show respect at all times for teachers, other school staff and helpers, including following class rules, speaking courteously and cooperating with instructions and learning activities
  • treat one another with dignity and respect
  • care for property belonging to themselves, the school and others.

Behaviour that infringes on the safety of others, such as harassment, bullying and illegal or anti-social behaviour of any kind, will not be tolerated. Source: Core Rules – Student discipline in NSW Government Schools

School rules

When a student enrols with Aurora College, they become a shared enrolment of two schools. It is an expectation that our students will behave in a manner that reflects well on Aurora College and their home school at all times.

Students should:

  • Be prepared to engage in learning, by:
    • showing a positive attitude
    • having the correct equipment for every lesson
    • doing their best at all times
    • arriving to class on time
  • Respect themselves and others, by:
    • accepting responsibility for the choices they make
    • treating all people with respect
    • using appropriate language and actions
    • following teachers’ instructions at all times
    • being responsible for looking after their own property and school property
    • respecting the property of others
  • Behave safely, by:
    • following class rules
    • caring for themselves and others
    • behaving in a way that does not put themselves or others at risk
    • negotiating and resolving conflicts

Appropriate and acceptable use of internet and online communication services

As heavy users of the internet and online communication services provided by the NSW Department of Education, all Aurora College students must abide by the Department’s conditions of acceptable usage.

Online Communication Services: Acceptable Usage for School Students lists three key areas of responsibility for students when working in the college’s virtual learning environment. These relate to:

  • Access and security
  • Privacy and confidentiality
  • Intellectual property and copyright.

What’s coming up next term?

  • Term 3 Aurora classes commence on Tuesday 21 July 2020.
  • Stage 6 Subject Information Evening on Wednesday 29 July 2020 from 7:00 pm to 8:15 pm. Click here for further details.
  • Outcome advice for Year 7 (2021) applicants will be sent early Term 3 by the High Performing Students Unit.
  • Applications for enrolment in Years 8 to 10 (2021) opened Friday 19 June 2020 and close on Friday 24 July 2020.
  • Applications for enrolment in Year 11 (2021) open Wednesday 15 July 2020 and close Friday 23 October 2020.
  • Applications for enrolment in Year 12 (commencing Term 4, 2020) open on Wednesday 15 July 2020 and close Friday 21 August 2020.

For further information, please visit

Carolyn McMurtrie | Acting Deputy Principal

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Girls in engineering

Aurora College has worked very closely with UNSW Maker Spaces in the past and we are excited to continue to do so in the future. Year 10 are expected to return to UNSW next year during Residential 1, but in the interim, they have proposed some exciting offers.

For girls that are interested in STEM, there is the Girls in Engineering Club. It’s suitable for girls from Years 7-12, though their biggest cohort is Years 10-12. For those who sign up, they would be exposed to workshops, blogs, stories and inspiration to pursue a career in STEM.

All you need to do is sign up through their website here and you will receive newsletters, challenges and all kinds of great stuff. Lots of prizes are available too. You can also join the closed Facebook group here for more contact.

Connor Boyko| Rel. Head Teacher, Teaching and Learning

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Faculty news – English, HSIE, and Languages

Year 7

In Term 2, Year 7 completed the unit, Out of this World, where they explored how fictional worlds are constructed in written, visual and digital texts and considered the significance of these settings as well as the characters and themes commonly found in the fantasy genre. Students were able to analyse and discuss the conventions of the fantasy genre in the form of a formal essay using a scaffold to ensure that the correct structure was followed. Below are some fantastic sample introductions showcasing the students’ newly learned skills in essay composition.

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Year 10

We read books to empathise, to connect with people whose experiences are outside our own, and by reading their experiences we learn about crucial themes and issues.

But what if those stories were told by someone who can’t be trusted? What if our narrator is someone who is unreliable, whose perspective is skewed?

These are the questions Year 10 has been grappling with in Term 2. They’ve looked at how the narrator can change the way we see events, other characters, and ideas in a novel study, examining unreliable narrators and the limitations that certain narration imposes on readers.

The following extended responses show our students grappling with this question: what if you can’t trust the person who is telling you the story? We’re immensely proud of their hard work, as they begin consolidating the skills they will need moving into Stage 6.

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Luisa McDiarmid (Simeonidis) | Relieving Head Teacher English, HSIE, and Languages

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Faculty news – Science and Agriculture

Year 7

Recently, Year 7 completed a science assessment task focussed on the human body and its systems.  Students were challenged to select a system as a “holiday” destination and create a short video and brochure to convince the audience to visit the system.  Many excellent submissions were received that showcased the talent and creativity of our students.  A very small sample of videos is shown here.   

Year 8

Year 8 recently displayed their ROCK STAR capabilities in creating some very impressive models of the rock cycle.  They were given an array of choices in materials or systems, such as using Minecraft to create a model to represent their understanding of the rock cycle.  There were some excellent submissions and we have showcased a couple of them below:  

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Stage 6 – Science Extension

Science Extension is a very challenging subject in which students choose their own research projects.  Last year, the topics ranged across many subject areas in science, including biology, physics, social studies and chemistry. This year, the topics are related to biology and climate change and the impact that humans have on the environment. 

We have two students, Eleesa Rosetta from Port Macquarie and Nicholas Houston from Bathurst. 

Eleesa is investigating the effects of rising temperatures on the reproduction patterns and survival ratio of guppy fish. She has fish tanks set up at different temperatures. Eleesa counts how many fish are born and survive. This is not an easy procedure since the amount of newborns is big and they are very small in size. As soon as they are born, they have to be separated from the adults to avoid being eaten.

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Nicholas is researching the effect of microplastic on the survival rates of Daphnia Magna, a microscopic crustacean which inhabits freshwater streams in Australia. The method that Nicholas is using to test the effect is feeding Daphnias with microplastic beads, recording the rate of survival, and observing under the microscope how the digestive system of the crustaceans is blocked or contaminated with the nano plastic beads.

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Preliminary results from both projects are excellent. If you have a curiosity about any topic related to science and you have a high self-driven motivation to achieve and challenge yourself further in your study, join our science extension team.

Silvia Rudmann | Science Extension Teacher

Virginia Cluff | Head Teacher Science and Agriculture

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Academic competitions

Aurora College has registered for the ICAS Assessments for Years 7 to 10 students. The assessment is online now and Aurora College is happy to incorporate this in the extra-curriculum activities that we offer to our students. 

Why are we offering this assessment? Because the tests: 

  • provide objective ranking of performance
  • encourage students to attain greater academic success
  • require students to think beyond the classroom
  • recognise student success through medals and certificates .

Recently we sent an email to all parents of students in Years 7 to 10 requesting permission to enrol your child.  We are offering 4 papers in 2020: Science; Mathematics; English; and Digital Technologies. 

Note: The Digital Technologies paper provides us with an opportunity to gain an insight into students’ technology skills. We feel that this is a great measure of our students’ capabilities in this area and may help us to tailor future student orientation sessions. 

The closing date to enrol is 27 July and the test will be held between Monday 10 August and Friday 4 September, during the Aurora College science lessons. The tests are one hour long and comprise multiple choice style questions. 

Here is a link to the parent permission form.  

Classroom teachers will provide enrolled students with more information closer to the testing date.  

Aurora College has also registered to take part in the BEBRAS competitions for Years 6 to 12.   

The 2020 BEBRAS Australia Computational Thinking Challenge ( is part of an international initiative with the goal of promoting computational thinking amongst students. BEBRAS is aligned with and supports the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum.  

The Challenge is delivered online and will be held in a school hours during September, 2020. 

A parent letter with permission form to enrol students was recently sent to parents of Year 6  to 12 students. 

Click here for the Year 6 form.  

Click here for the Year 7 to 12 form.  

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Masterclasses and professional learning


Dr Dorian Thorpe

It’s not every day you get to meet an archaeologist who spends three months every year excavating Egyptian tombs. Aurora students were enthralled with this masterclass on and all the interesting facts, images and anecdotes that Gillian Smith, PhD candidate at Macquarie University shared. She recently worked at Dra’ Abu el-Naga near Luxor. It was great to get insider info about the team she works with and their various areas of expertise. In a great interactive session, students were even given the opportunity to decode some hieroglyphs and attempt to write their name.

Award-winning musician, composer and author Dr Dorian Thorpe, aka Dorian Mode, presented his craft of writing ‘toolbox’ in a masterclass on Thursday 2nd July. He engaged over 100 Aurora students in both the 9:30am and 11:30am sessions and had everyone participating by either using their microphone or contributing two word sentences to the chat pod, for example. It was great to hear such wonderful expression and read all the creative responses. Now, we will all have to put the tips and techniques to use!

Professional learning

‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint’ this term and to finish off, psychologist and counsellor Jocelyn Brewer, delivered two hours of registered professional learning to staff across NSW on Thursday 2 July.

Her information on teaching teach-savvy teens, digital distraction and digital nutrition complemented a term of digital saturation! All participants were grateful for the in-depth, up to date and evidence based information she shared.

Kate Thompson | Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Scholarship opportunities

Australian Business Community Network (ABCN) Foundation

The ABCN Accelerate Scholarship Program is a three year program that targets exceptional students who are facing economic, family or social challenges that impact on their study or capacity to achieve their desired tertiary pathways.

ABCN is seeking students who demonstrate significant promise to succeed in their aspirations and to become a leader in their respective field. Scholars receive support from a dedicated corporate mentor and $7000 in financial assistance amortised across Years 11, 12 and their first year of tertiary education or training.

Scholarships awarded in 2020 are for years 2021–2023. Applications opened on Tuesday 9 June 2020 and must be submitted to the ABCN Foundation via the online form by Friday 14 August 2020. Scholarship winners will be informed personally in October 2020.

To access a scholarship application, click here, or to download a brochure, click here.

Australian Property Research and Education Fund (APREF)

APREF is funding one regional or rural* high school student to study an Australian Property Institute (API) accredited property valuation tertiary degree in 2021. The $30,000 scholarship will be awarded to a student for the duration of a three-year undergraduate degree.  The recipient will have access to senior property professionals who will act as a mentor, for varying periods, during their studies.

In this inaugural year, the scholarship will open up an opportunity for one Year 12 student to study at one of the 11 universities providing education pathways to a career in property valuation, land economy, property development, asset management, and more. APREF and the API are committing to grow the interest in the many accredited degrees with the intention that the funds will support a student who may be able to travel interstate or study online. APREF is funding two scholarships in total, the second is open to one Tasmania high school student.  To access a scholarship application click here, or to get further information click here.

The Australian Property Institute is the leading contemporary membership body for Australia’s property community. The Institute’s primary role is to promote and maintain the highest standards of professional practice, endorse high quality education, and set the standard for professional conduct for members and the broader profession.

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Learning and support

Bullying No Way! 

Parents and other carers have a key role in preventing and responding to bullying. Bullying No Way! has a website to support parents and carers. The following is taken directly from the website; please follow the links to find out more information.

Support for parents and carers includes the following:

  • Learn what bullying is and what it is not. This is the first step in talking about how to prevent or respond to bullying with your child. ‘Bullying’ is a word that is used for lots of things that are not actually bullying. These other behaviours may be just as serious, but may require different responses.
  • Talk about the value of diversity with the community and understanding that each individual is unique and brings with them individual differences that should be values and respected.
  • Talk about bullying with your child at home to make it easier for them to tell you if something happens. Make sure they know what bullying is and how they can respond. Help prepare your children to prevent online bullying and to know what to do if it happens.
  • Start when your child is young to guide them to develop the social and emotional skills they will need to build positive relationships throughout their lives, including problem-solving skills.
  • Recognise the warning signs of bullying. Although there may not be an issue, you should talk to your child if you have any concerns. Raise the topic generally if you don’t want to ask directly. Be aware that many times children and young people won’t ask for help, so it is important to know what to look for.
  • Learn about how to respond appropriately if your child tells you about bullying. You can reassure your child by remaining calm and being supportive.
  • Find out as much as you can about what has happened by talking calmly with your child. A good understanding about what has happened can also help you in communicating with the​ school about the situation.
  • Read about strategies that can help. Practising strategies at home with your child is a good way to prepare them to use them at school.
  • Contact the school if bullying has occurred and the school needs to be involved. Read about how you and the school can work together to support your child, whether your child was bullied, bullied others, or witnessed bullying.
  • Get involved in what your school is doing to prevent bullying.
  • Learn about relevant state or national laws about bullying.
  • The Student Wellbeing Hub Online Safety for primary students and secondary students ​provides resources for parents, educators and students about being safe online and making responsible online choices.
  • Find additional assistance if, after working with your child and your school, you need more information or help to address the situation from outside the school.

Kids Help Line

The Kids Help Line also has pages devoted to parents and carers. They cover a variety of topics to support you through the various stages of child rearing, including the ability to talk with a Parentline counsellor. Advice on the website includes:

  • Coping with family stress
  • Communication tips
  • Building respectful relationships
  • Building healthy family relationships
  • Cyberbullying
  • Helping kids identify and express feelings
  • Bullying at school
  • Returning to normal after COVID-19
  • Anxiety in kids and teens
  • Risk taking and teens
  • Sexting and the impacts on young people
  • Helping kids cope with exam stress
  • Social media and safety
  • Social anxiety in kids and teens
  • Helping kids stop cyberbullying
  • Keeping kids safe at parties
  • Empowering young people to ask for help
  • Should I be worried about gaming addiction?
  • Helping kids and teens deal with peer pressure
  • How Kids Helpline can help your child

Cathy Groth | Wellbeing Coordinator

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Library news

New options to access to our digital library – SORA and ePlatform Apps

Our wonderful school library can be accessed in its entirety via OLIVER in student portals. BUT NOW –  we have more versatility at our fingertips! Students can access aspects of the collection via the SORA App (US based) or the ePlatform App (NZ based).

Watch the video below to get familiar with how ePlatform may work for you.


Your login and password are your current Department of Education email and password.

Watch the video below to get familiar with how Sora may work for you.


Ask a Teacher Librarian for support with your Stage 6 research needs

Mrs Taylor will undertake some research to support you with your studies in Stage 6. Students are encouraged to complete this form for assistance with individual research needs.


Students in Years 9-12 now have access to JStore to support their academic needs at Aurora College. JSTORE is a digital library of academic content across 75 disciplines. This gives students access to more than 12 million journal articles, books and primary sources. To learn how to access and conduct a basic search to get you started, watch the video below.


Aurora Book Club

Our Term 2 trial has seen keen students in Year 7 come along to Book Club in iSee to discuss a range of themes in literature. So far, we have covered: The Classics; Harry Potter; Science Fiction; and Food!

During Book Club time we talk about our favourite books, new releases and what’s new in the Aurora College Digital Library for ebooks and audiobooks. Students meet in the iSee lecture hall on a Thursday from 1.20pm.

Premier’s Reading Challenge  

Did you know that we have a reading list in OLIVER for the PRC? There are currently over 130 books supporting the PRC for 2020 in our digital library! Students can access the list by logging into their student portal, opening up OLIVER, and clicking on the news page to find the link to reading lists. The PRC is offered in some home schools or via Aurora College for students in Years 6-9.

Recommending resources

To recommend resources for our digital library, it is as easy as sending me an email (, with a subject, book title,or author’s name. This is our school library, so student and staff contributions are most welcome.

Kaylene Taylor | Teacher Librarian

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Bright lights

Congratulations to Year 11 Aurora College students, Ben Caughey (Hay War Memorial High School), Harry Bottero (Tumut High School), Cordelia Lloyd (Guyra Central School) and Neve Lawson (Ulladulla High School), who have joined 25 representatives from 15 other schools as inaugural NSW Rural Youth Ambassadors.

The Ambassadors met for the first time in the iSee lecture theatre on Thursday 2 July 2020. The NSW Rural Youth Ambassador program is a collaboration between the Country Education Partnership and Aurora College.

The NSW Rural Youth Ambassadors meeting for the first time in iSee on Thursday 2 July 2020


If your child has a passion outside of our virtual classrooms, please feel free to email us a few words and an image. It is always lovely to celebrate what our students are up to in their local communities! Please email:, marked: attention The Auracle.

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Spotlight on… Marnie Etheridge

Where was your previous teaching appointment?

Kanahooka High School, located near Dapto, which is not far from Wollongong. Before that, I was in Vincentia, London, and Batlow.

What is your local community like?

This community is an enormous mix of indigenous locals, immigrant families who have come to work in mines and the steelworks, students who are here for uni, Sydney folk enjoying cheaper real estate, and everyone in between! We’ve got the escarpment for bush-walking and the beach for swimming, so there is always something great to do outdoors.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

English, because of books. My email tagline is Fight evil, read books because I believe reading makes the world a better place.

What do you like about teaching at Aurora?

Meeting all the uniquely fabulous students and hearing about their interests and their lives in their local communities. My students are the best!

What are your other interests?

Reading, writing, watching films, baking, gardening, surfing, swimming, learning French and I’ve even been known to go for a jog every once in a while.

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