The Auracle – Volume 46, December 2020

From the Principal’s desk

In every edition of The Auracle, we celebrate the many and varied achievements of our students. In this, the final edition for the year, we honour our annual award recipients for 2020. I invite you to view a complete list of our deserving prize winners here.

Prizes were awarded for academic achievement and for success attained via the college’s merit system. Prizes included the:

  • First in Course Award – the recipient achieved first place in the subject in their cohort
  • Academic Excellence Award – the recipient achieved first place in the subject in their class
  • Academic Achievement Award – the recipient showed sustained application and effort in the subject
  • Principal’s Award for Academic Excellence – the recipient achieved an aggregated top ten place in their cohort
  • Galaxy Medal – the recipient showed ongoing commitment to achieving academic excellence in all subjects.

On 2 December, partner schools received certificates and/or medals for all prize winners. I would like to thank our colleagues for presenting these awards, as intended, at the end of year presentation assemblies across the state. Congratulations, to all our bright lights!

Speaking of prize winners, the year ends on a very positive note with national recognition of our school’s achievements via the Australian Education Awards. I am pleased to report that Aurora College was the recipient of the Best Use of Technology Award for 2020. Among the many words of praise from the judges were the following:

“Given the current state of the world, this is an extremely sustainable education model. Congratulations on the technological prowess, commitment and engagement (and of course successful student outcomes!); just wonderful!”

Congratulations, one and all!

This week, we said goodbye to a number of staff who, for a range of personal and professional reasons, will not be with Aurora in 2021. I would like to acknowledge and thank the following staff for the many contributions they have made to our school: Renee Hall (Science); Andrew Le (Science); Wendy Murwood (Science); Katie Rowe (Agriculture); Anthony Scarman (Science); Anthony Martin (Mathematics); Ian Whiteway (Mathematics); Jacqueline Diaz (English); Christianna Elliott (English); Elizabeth Hooper (English); Courtney Rintoul (English); Deborah Royston (English); Susan Powell (Economics); Catheryn Groth (Learning Support); Jocelyn King (School Counsellor); and Frank Zart (Technology Support). I know I speak for the entire Aurora College community when I wish our departing colleagues all the very best in their future endeavours. Remember, Aurora College is part of our shared professional legacy and each of you can be proud of your contribution to the state’s first virtual school.

I am advised by the Department’s High Performing Students Team (HPST) that the selection process for the 2021 Opportunity Class is progressing as planned. Placement outcome advice will be sent by HPST to all applicants in mid-January 2021. To ensure vacancies are filled as quickly as possible, parents with students who are made offers will have just one week to respond. Parents are advised to watch their emails or depute someone else to respond on their behalf, if they will be out of contact when the results are released. In late-January, successful applicants will receive information from Aurora College about the orientation program for our new Year 5 students and their parents which will run in the first weeks of 2021.

With our first intake of Year 5 students through the state-wide Opportunity Class Placement Process, Aurora will commence the new school year with close to 500 students. To put these numbers into perspective, this represents an increase of approximately 250% on the number of students enrolled at the start of 2015, our first year of operation. Connect locally and learn globally!

To accommodate the increase in enrolments in 2021, a state-wide expression of interest process concluded recently with the appointment to Aurora of a number of new members of the teaching staff. I would like to congratulate and welcome to Aurora College: Elena Maroungas (Economics – Concord High School); Kirstie Thomson (Modern History – Callaghan College Waratah Technology Campus); Narelle Straney (Legal Studies – Georges River College Oatley Senior Campus); Alex Newman (Learning Support Teacher – Kurri Kurri High School); Alice Mayes (Agriculture – Dunedoo Central School); Erin Richardson (Science – Coffs Harbour High School); Evan Hefer (Science – Hay War Memorial High School); Michelle Nicholls (Science – Toormina High School); Robert Gorton (Mathematics – Wadalba Community School); and Tina Whitehead (Science – St George Girls High School).

Congratulations go to the following staff who were successful in the merit selection process for full-time positions with Aurora: Scott New (Head Teacher, Secondary Studies – Belmont High School); Jowen Hillyer (Head Teacher, English – Taree High School); Beth Hodson (Classroom teacher, Stage 3 – Rose Bay Public School); Lisa Pearson (Classroom Teacher, Stage 3 – Hunters Hill Public School); and Luisa McDiarmid (Classroom teacher, English – Denison College of Secondary Education, Bathurst). Christina Tantalos and Megan Cooke will also be joining the staff in 2021, sharing the School Counsellor duties. Welcome colleagues!

We also welcome the return to Aurora of: Karen Bellamy (Head Teacher, Mathematics – Gorokan High School); Gregor Newton (English – Hillston Central School); Michael Kelly (Science – Dungog High School); Michelle Kirchmajer (Science – Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts); and Sean Harrington (Science – Toormina High School). Great to have you back in the fold!

To give the majority of our students the opportunity to take part in orientation activities at their home school, Aurora College classes for secondary students in the:

  • Eastern division commence on Tuesday 2 February 2021
  • Western division commence on Tuesday 9 February 2021.

Coursework will not commence until students in the Western division start the school year. Secondary students in class before Tuesday 9 February 2021 will undertake an orientation and revision program with their Aurora College teachers. Students in the Western division are welcome to join their Aurora classes earlier, if their home school program allows.

This week, all students and their parents received an email from me with important information about 2021 classes, teachers and timetables. The email also contains information about key members of staff at your home school, including your Aurora College Coordinator and Science Practical Teacher (where applicable). Please carefully review this information before the start of the new school year.

Finally, it gives me great pleasure to announce that at a public online meeting on Wednesday 16 December 2020, the Aurora College Parents and Citizens Association was voted into being. The meeting was the culmination of a process over several months in which the Working Group, led by David Dubois, researched and developed a Constitution and the Rules of Association. The meeting voted to adopt these documents as the foundation of the Aurora P and C, and also elected the following parents and citizens as your inaugural office bearers:

  • David Dubois – President
  • Bauntai Leise Farquharson – Vice President (Fundraising & Grants)
  • Timothy Hart – Vice President (Student Wellbeing)
  • Wendy Zanon – Coordinator (Student Wellbeing)
  • Nicole Hart – Treasurer
  • Kerry Costello – Assistant Treasurer
  • Narelle Myers – Secretary
  • Momo Dubois – Assistant Secretary

I want to thank all members and registered attendees for taking this important step for our school. At the heart of every great school is a mutually supportive relationship between the school and its community, and the formation of the state’s first virtual P and C will only strengthen Aurora College.

Throughout the process to establish our P and C, the Working Group was supported by our friends at the Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations of NSW, Tim Spencer (President), Hannah Pia Baral (General Manager) and Debbie Clifford (Projects Officer). Tim, Hannah and Debbie provided invaluable advice at each stage of the process and we are very grateful for their support. In the absence of our own P and C, Tim has served with distinction as the ‘P and C rep’ on countless Aurora College staff merit selection panels over the years. My sincere thanks go to Tim and his colleagues for the rock solid support they give to our school and to public schools across the state.

To all our families and friends, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2021.

Chris Robertson | Principal

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Deputy Principal’s report

I would like to thank every member of the Aurora College Community for another productive school year, despite the difficult circumstances that we all found ourselves in.  While overcoming fires, floods, drought and living with a pandemic, so many things have been accomplished once again this year. I can’t thank staff enough for the endless hours of support they have provided to our students.  Thanks and well done to an incredible group of teachers who time and time again show their dedication and commitment.

Year 7-11 lesson orientations

Thank you to Virginia Cluff, who organised our orientation lessons for the new students who will be joining us in 2021. During these lessons, our new students were shown some of the various technology platforms that they will be engaging with next year, including Adobe Connect and Microsoft Teams. There were many engaged students, all excited at the prospect of communicating with teachers and peers in the virtual learning environment.

New Teacher Induction Conference

On Tuesday 24 November, our new 2021 teachers were welcomed to Aurora virtually as we moved to an online new staff induction format. In a very full 4 days, they completed the University of NSW’s mini-Certificate of Gifted Education and were also provided with a comprehensive introduction to all things Aurora. Thank you to all the executive staff who were involved in this event and a warm welcome to the new staff to our school!

Aurora College Coordinators

Thank you to all the Aurora College Coordinators who have supported our shared students this year. Your support, help and communication between the two schools is vitally important to the success of Aurora in educating our High Performance and Gifted Students and allowing these students access to further opportunities. We sent a small gift to each of you as a token of our appreciation.


Semester 2 reports were distributed to parents and Aurora College Coordinators during week 10 of this term. Parents have access to these reports via their email and Sentral portal. Please be aware that all students are working beyond their stage level through a compacted and enriched curriculum.

School holidays begin 17 December 2020 for all students. I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.

Aurora classes begin in 2021

  • Eastern Division Schools – Tuesday 2 February 2021
  • Western Division Schools – Tuesday 9 February 2021
  • Teaching of class content will begin on Tuesday 9 February 2021

What’s coming up next year?

The first Residential School next year for Years 7-10 students will be held in Term 1 from Monday 8 March 2021 to Friday 12 March 2021. Due to Covid restrictions the ‘res’ will take place for Years 7, 9 & 10 at the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation on Sydney’s northern beaches, only 45 minutes from the centre of Sydney and moments from Narrabeen Beach. Year 8 will be accommodated at Sydney Olympic Park Lodge, surrounded by parklands and historic sites, nestled within the historic grounds of the Newington Armory. All Years 7 to 10 students must attend.

Further information regarding the residential is available on the school website under latest news.

Carolyn McMurtrie | Deputy Principal

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Opportunity class

Our final hoorah with Year 6 was a huge week of celebrations. We began the week with parents, grandparents and other family members joining our students as they showcased their work in their Adobe classes. Breakout rooms were busy with presentations and discussions, and in the Kahoot battle, students Vs parents, the champions were definitely our Year 6 students 

Author Will Kostakis provided us with many laughs, discussions and the opportunity to dream of our own book publications in his masterclass session. Will’s open conversations about family and being a Year 6 student writing his first novel in class were inspirational and inspiring. I’m sure there will be many novels written or read these holidays.  

Disco fever was high as we all hit our lounge rooms, balconies, patios and bedrooms for the virtual disco hosted by DJ Steve. Virtual challenges of spoon races, air guitar, karoke and line dancing were some of the highlights. Notable mentions go to Archie for singing into his wooden spoon, Hamish and family with their synchronised steps and Phoebe W and her team grooving the night away. Thank you to all the family members and pets that joined us for the night. 

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What a challenging year our students have navigated! It was with great pride we celebrated their many achievements at our virtual graduation assemblyIt was an honour to hear from Will and Beth as they shared their experiences of AC with parents and family members who attended our assembly. Cayden’s creative animations and Bethany’s heartfelt reflections had us tearing up. Congratulations to our award winners and to all of Year 6 for your successes this year. For the many students continuing with us in Year 7 we look forward to seeing you online. For those students moving on to different schools we wish you all the best. Wherever your paths take you, please be sure to send us an email and share your stories with us; we would love to hear of your journey. 

Thank you again to the many coordinators and principals from partner schools who have supported our students and helped them to achieve their best. We value your organisation and communication throughout the year. Thank you also to our parents for entrusting us with your child, to allow us the opportunity to grow them, challenge them and watch them succeed.  

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas,

The Stage 3 Team: Serena McLean, Lisa Pearson and Claire Houston 

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Faculty news – English, HSIE and Languages

Year 7

In Term 4, Year 7 students engaged with a wide range of visual texts, including picture books, comics and manga, and learned to analyse elements of visual language within visual and written forms. Students were asked to consider where word and visual associations come from and how they influence our reading? They also sought to understand how composers use visual language to communicate meaning. Students also submitted their Reading, Writing and Reflection Portfolio assessments which contained samples of their writing from throughout the year. Students showed growth in their writing skills through being able to refine their work and take on teacher feedback.

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Year 8

In Term 4, we focussed on the works of Shakespeare whereby students examined the characterisation of villains and their role in effective storytelling. They also considered how villains might represent larger social concerns. Please enjoy a selection of classwork from throughout this unit.

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Year 9

Throughout the term, students have been exploring how the refugee experience is represented. They have analysed a wide range of texts to uncover the significance of belonging and have researched the plight of refugees around the world. Please take a look at the creative and analytical pieces that have been crafted in our classrooms.

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Year 10

Year 10 have made it! After all the pressure and stress of the year, the last few weeks we have been having fun in English, by studying the work of various auteur’s and their films. Students examined influential movements in film, such as French New Wave and German Expressionism, and explored how these movements have influenced successful film-makers who are considered auteurs, such as Alfred Hitchcock, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson and Taika Waititi. You will find below some of the research and analysis our students have completed – we believe these skills will prepare them well for HSC study, which is just around the corner!

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Year 12 Advanced English

This Term, students commenced the HSC course and looked at the Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences with the text “Nineteen Eight-Four” by George Orwell as well as Module C – The Craft of Writing, which is taught concurrently over the year, interposed throughout all the other Modules. So far, students have deepened their understanding of how texts represent individual and collective human experiences. They have examined how text represent human qualities and emotions associated with, or arising from, these experiences and evaluate the ways language is used to shape meaning in a range of forms, modes and media.  Please enjoy reading some excerpts of classwork from this term.

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Year 12 Extension 1 English

This term, our study of Extension 1 English was focused on the Common Module of ‘Literary Worlds’. This is where students begin their study of the HSC course.  They became familiar with the central concepts and worked their way through a range of examples relating to this module. Students examined the ways worlds are constructed through individual and collective experiences, they evaluated how texts are shaped by personal, historical and cultural contexts, how texts represent private, public and imaginary worlds and ultimately how texts offer new insights to humanity.

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

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Learning and support

Revisit of School Transitions

The following is an adaptation/ summary from an article by Marianne Stenger and republished on NSW Department of Education site for Parents and Carers

5 things parents/carers can do to make school transitions easier for their young person:

  • Speak positively about the change
    • Always try to discuss the changes in a positive way as your child will pick up on your attitude towards the situation
    • Try to speak enthusiastically and focus on the positives such as the interesting things they will learn, the new friends they will make and the new routines they’ll establish.
  • Acknowledge and discuss their concerns
    • If your child has questions or concerns acknowledge them don’t brush the off with a “don’t worry, it will be fine”
    • Listen to what the concerns are then spend time discussing options and going over details – where from and what time to catch the bus, where it will drop them off etc
    • Having your reassurance is important
  • Actively involve your child in preparations
    • Include them in shopping for new school supplies
    • Plan with them their new routine for school stage and what new expectations/demands there may be
    • Have them make a list of the things they are looking forward to as well as any questions or concerns they may have
  • Pay a visit to the new school prior to starting
    • Ensure your child participates in any transition programs offered
    • Through visiting the school in advance your child will have a chance to get to know school’s layout, see what extracurricular activities they might like to participate in and meet some of their teachers.
  • Help you child stay in touch with old friends
    • Losing friendships is a valid concern for children who are moving from one school to another
    • If your child had a close friend or group of friends in their last school, think of some ways to help them keep in touch after they move on e.g. look for after-school activities, such as sports or dance, which they could join together.
    • Also discuss the fact that they will make new friends, but that this doesn’t mean they will have to choose between their old friends and their new friend/s

The following web sites offer some practical ideas for transitioning to High School. These are also useful for other education transition points.

(12) Top Tips for Starting Secondary School – YouTube

The following is a story written by 9-4 English as part of the Wellbeing Initiative – Keep Learning


  • Students build a story one sentence at a time.
  • The teacher begins by giving the opening line.
  • Each student adds another line to the story.
    • The rules are that the next line has to make sense.
    • It can be silly or outrageous but should make sense.
    • For example, you would not say, “We all went swimming. My truck was making a weird noise.”
    • However, it would be fine if one person said, “We all went swimming.” Then the next student said, “since my truck was making a weird noise, so I didn’t want to drive.”

The Hello Kitty Bandaid Fiasco

Bang! What was that? A loud cracking sound echoed downstairs. I crept through the corridor warily, shivers going up my spine the entire way. I came around the corner, willing my heart to slow in my chest to no avail. I look around the corner to see my brother sprawled on the carpet, blood squirting out of his head. I rushed to the kitchen to fetch him a bandaid. Not too quickly though, he’s never been very nice to me. With bandaid in hand I rushed over to his ever-paling body and that is when I saw the one who had done this.

I let out a high pitch scream as my brother lay whinging next to me. The Hello Kitty bandaids fell from my hand as I dashed after the man wearing a Creeper hoodie out of my house. I raised my fist to shake it at him, calling out to him

“Godammit Jacob this is the fifth time– the fifth time this week and I swear to god if this happens one more time I’ll ki–”

I was quickly cut off when the man pulled his 16th century Italian rapier from his hoodie, and hissed “I don’t want to hurt you Steve, but I will if you make me.”

I smirk at him and say “you know you can’t Jacob, I’ve got her here”

I swiftly kick out his kneecaps and throw my dog in the air to shelter her from danger.

“Oops, sorry,” I said sing-songily taunting him.

After dealing with Jacob for the last time, I saunter back inside grabbing the height of medical equipment from the freezer, preparing to treat my brother.

Then I remember that I left the Hello Kitty bandaids next to the kettle and rush back to the kitchen. I rush to grab the bandaids, yet Jacob beat me to it; he fetched the bandaids and used the last of them as a replacement for his missing kneecaps. I glared at him.

“You fiend”.

My hand shot out, taking hold of Jacob’s arm and twisted it behind his back, forcing him to the ground. I leant in and whispered a final malediction into his ear, tears forming in my eyes

“Those band-aids were for my brother and you took them from me. I would have loved to see his smiling face one last time but… I think I’ll enjoy seeing you burn in hell more”.

I push him into the fireplace, then run outside and the dog falls into my open arms. He seethes in anger before being engulfed in the flames and beginning his process of slow roasting.

Tonight we are eating good! After this terrifying ordeal, I decide to go inside and lie down, completely forgetting about my brother. My eyes shoot open after hearing a loud cracking sound echoing from downstairs.

“What a crazy dream…” I muse to myself as I creep through the corridor.​

……………….you may like to try this at home as a fun round the table activity with family/friends!!

Cathy Groth | Wellbeing Coordinator

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Library news

2020 Borrowing Stars

Our Aurora College “borrowing stars” for 2020 were: Tazmine Campbell (Yr 7), Madolyn Beesley (Yr 7), Zoe Cowled (Yr 8).

2020 Top Reads

Our most borrowed book of 2020 was, The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) followed closely by: Gone (Michael Grant), Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins), Empire of Storms (Sarah J Maas) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (JK Rowling).

Aurora College 2020 Reading Challenge

Congratulations to our Reading Challenge CHAMPIONS for 2020:

Year 7 – Anthony Bethe, Chloe Grabia, Leila Pepperell, Anneliese Rothe, Marianna Smith, Caitlin Thew, Esther Wenham

Year 8 – James Cooper, Edward Duggan, Hayley Fraser, Maya Roze

Year 9 – Hannah Steenbergen, Laura Weppler

Year 10 – Anna Dubois

A wonderful array of books have been read and listened to this year! Keep an eye out for the 2021 Aurora College Reading Challenge – it opens in MARCH!

Our Top Reads

November Top 5

Wonderful to see a mix of new releases and old favourites in the top 5 this month! Students can access the library via their student portal for the entire collection of resources.

Summer Reading Challenge 2020 – 2021

Don’t become a dinosaur – join our summer reading challenge!

Read over your summer break to avoid extinction.

New and returning students are encouraged to keep reading all summer long, as our library never closes! Keep a record of the books read, from our 24/7 digital library, or from your public library, home library, or books shared with friends. Use this Reading Log (attached) to record your reading – Astras will be awarded, along with the chance to win a gift voucher to spend at our Residential Pop-up Bookshop in March 2021.

Email your Reading Log to: by 19 February 2021.


Readers are leaders. Readers are friends. Readers are dreamers. Readers are weirdos. Readers are rebels. And I say thank goodness for readers.

For where there are readers, there’s hope.

Tim Winton, Author

Happy Summer Reading!

Kaylene Taylor | Teacher Librarian

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Bright lights

Congratulations Laura Weppler!

Laura has been invited to participate in the Australian Maths Trusts ‘Curious Minds Program‘ for girls in STEM.

Due to COVID restrictions, she will participate virtually via Zoom and Microsoft Teams later in December and will hopefully attend a camp in July 2021.

What a fantastic achievement!


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 … Raymond Montalban

Where was your previous teaching appointment?

North Sydney Girls’ High School

What is your local community like?

Urban, multicultural, 91% Culturally and Linguistically Diverse

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

Software Design and Development

What do you like about teaching at Aurora?

The ability to apply research into online pedagogies for real and to see where the research matches up and where there are gaping holes.

What are your other interests?

Curriculum planning, design, and delivery; travel; languages; science fiction; home renovation shows; public transport and maps; board games and video games (when played with friends)

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From the engine room

We have had a difficult 12 months with bush fires and then the COVID-19 pandemic which forced people into their homes and to home schooling their children.  The impact to Aurora students was minimal as they moved seamlessly from one platform to another.  Our teachers rose to the occasion and delivered their usual stellar lessons (pun intended).

We in the office adapted to working from home for a short period before it was business as usual.  Let us hope that 2021 is a year of healing and renewal.  We are excited to be welcoming our first official Opportunity Class as well as new and existing students.  We are presently preparing for our first residential camp in 2021; organising payments to vendors for the fabulous activities, checking residential kits and ensuring PPE equipment is in ready supply.

Our preferred means of communication is by email ( or you may telephone the school office Monday to Friday between 8.30am and  3.30pm on 1300 287 629 (cost of a local call).

Thara, Georgia and I would like to wish our current and new families and students a Merry Christmas and prosperous and safe new year.

Denise Deaves | School Administrative Manager

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