Vol. 8, April 2016
In this issue:
3B Smalls Road
Phone: 02 9886 7560
From the Principal’s desk
On 16 and 17 March I was very pleased to attend the 44th Annual State Conference of the Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association of NSW (ICPA NSW). Organised by the Rankins Springs branch, the conference was held in Griffith, in the heart of the great food bowl of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area.
At the invitation of Kate Treweeke (President, ICPA NSW), I was honored to be on the list of guest speakers, which included Professor the Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO. Professor Bashir, born and primary school educated in nearby Narrandera, entertained and delighted conference delegates with stories from a truly spectacular life and career in medicine, psychiatry and academia. Professor Bashir, of course, also served as the 37th Governor of NSW from 2001 to 2014. Following her keynote address and in star-struck conversation with her, I reminded Professor Bashir that when I was a child, she was also my family’s doctor and had, in fact, removed my sister’s tonsils.
Professor Bashir spoke with great passion about her childhood in rural NSW, the challenges and the opportunities that this presented and also about her work in the service of the many and varied communities across the state. Speaking and listening to Professor Bashir and to members of the ICPA NSW, I was reminded that there are challenges that are common to all rural and remote communities, but there are also challenges that are unique to individual communities and to individual families.
The conference program reinforced in my mind that a genuine understanding of rurality acknowledges that our state is not homogenous and that each of our students has a unique context. Aurora College now spans a great expanse of NSW, and as we celebrate in each edition of The Auracle, our students and teachers are drawn from very different communities. The great strength of Aurora is that our students benefit from being citizens of two educational communities. Our students are able to remain in their local community where they have a strong sense of identity and where their social and emotional needs are supported in familiar surrounds. They also belong to a much larger community of like-minded students and are able to work with, and learn from, teachers, industry experts and organisations from other parts of the state and beyond.
When I first read the ICPA NSW conference theme, Generating the winds of rural education, it immediately struck a chord with me. As readers of The Auracle know, the inspiration for naming our school came from the southern lights, Aurora Australis. The colourful light display in the sky that is an aurora, is caused by the collision of solar winds with electrons in the Earth’s magnetic field. The winds of change that Aurora is generating in rural education was the theme of my address to the conference and, despite having to follow Professor Bashir (easily one of the best speakers I have seen), the reaction I received from the audience was very positive. I would like to thank members of the ICPA NSW for the opportunity to present at their conference and also for the generous contributions they have made to the planning and implementation of Aurora College.
Continuous school improvement and the pursuit of excellence are the core business of all good schools, including Aurora College. Throughout 2015-2016, our school and every other NSW public school, has been engaged in an ongoing process of planning, self-assessment, reporting and validation. Supporting all NSW public schools in this process, the School Excellence Framework provides a clear description of the key elements of high-quality practice across the three domains of learning, teaching and leading.
The School Excellence Framework underpins a new approach in NSW public schools to school planning and reporting. School planning focuses on three key areas for improvement to ensure a measurable difference to the ongoing growth and development of the school. The Aurora College School Plan 2015-2017 describes the purpose of three strategic directions for our school:
All NSW public schools must also prepare and publish an annual school report which is a summary of the school’s progress and achievements. It includes information about the context of the school, evaluation and self-assessment of programs and their impact on student learning.
The Aurora College School Plan 2015-2017 and Annual School Report 2015 can be viewed on our website at http://www.aurora.nsw.edu.au/school-excellence/.
Have a safe and enjoyable holiday!
Our first residential school was held from Monday 29 February to Friday 4 March at Elanora, 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 students participating in a whole school team building activity Win it in a minute and our special guest speaker, Dr Karl, entertained and informed us about future directions in science. Students also participated in the Inquisitive Minds Maths Challenge, a Sydney Story Factory creative writing workshop and Powerhouse Museum and Bell Shakespeare masterclasses. Year 7 visited Taronga Zoo, Year 8 completed a squid dissection at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, and Years 9 and 10 visited the Quarantine Station at North Head, followed by a surf skills and awareness class at Manly Beach.
Planning for our second residential school program is well underway. It will be held in Canberra from Monday 31st October to Friday 4th November. Details will be forwarded to parents and students early in Term 2.
Distribution of student devices
We thank our technology sponsor, Microsoft, for their continuing support of Aurora College. With their assistance, in Term 1 each of our new students received a laptop to support their learning at home and at school.
A reminder that students should be connecting to their virtual classrooms on a Department of Education computer supplied by their home school.
A parent’s guide to health and safety issues related to laptop use can be accessed at:
Please contact Ben Hillsley by telephone on 1300 610 733 or email AuroraCollegeITSupport@det.nsw.edu.au for further information or assistance with technical issues.
Student representative council (SRC) 2016
We now have 30 students who have expressed an interest in joining the SRC. They come from a wide variety of locations across the state. Mr Smith is working with the group to begin the election process. Hopefully, we will be able to announce the members of the SRC early in Term 2.
Interim reports were issued via email and the Sentral parent portal (https://aurora.sentral.com.au/portal) on Friday 1 April 2016. This interim report describes how your child has begun the new academic year, identifying areas in which he or she might require further attention or support. It is also an opportunity to make contact with teachers in each subject about student progress.
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.
Coordinator of the term
Mrs Helen Dziura has been identified as a ‘star Aurora College Cooordinator’ this term. She has been proactive in supporting our students by meeting with parents, home school teachers and Aurora staff.
Along with her duties in completing timetable plans and forwarding relevant documentation, Helen can always be relied upon to respond in a timely manner. Thank you for doing a great job, Helen!
Assessment handbooks and Scope and Sequences
Assessment handbooks and scope and sequences are now available in Sentral via the parent portal link. This will allow parents to further support their children by accessing timelines for formal assessment tasks and topic outlines of specific subjects.
What’s coming up next term?
Tip from a techie
Sentral Portal for Students
The Sentral Portal is now available for students to use. You can log in to see your timetable, message your teachers, read school notices and more.
To log in, go to https://aurora.sentral.com.au/portal
Click the big blue “Log in with NSWDEC” button.
You will be taken to the Department Portal login page where you will need to enter your DoE Portal Username and DoE Portal Password.
The site will automatically take you back to the Sentral Portal and log you in.
If you have any problems, be sure to contact me on 1300 610 733 or AuroraCollegeITSupport@det.nsw.edu.au
In case you haven’t already seen our Facebook page, you can find us at https://www.facebook.com/AuroraCollegeAU. Drop by for the latest information about what is happening at Aurora College!
For all the new parents, we would like to introduce you to Skoolbag. Skoolbag is used to send instant notifications to parents, students, and staff. You can download the application on iOS devices (iPhone, iPad etc), Android devices, and Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows Mobile devices. Click the links below to be taken directly to the app store for your device.
Once the application is installed, you will need to configure the alerts you wish to receive. To do this:
Please note: Subscribing to an alerts category will not necessarily provide you access to the content. Users who are not staff members of Aurora College will not be able to view content in the staff area.
I would like to remind you that there is no support during the school holiday period. Please feel free to call the IT Support line and leave a voicemail, or send an email through, however there are no staff available to respond until after school returns next term.
I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday.
Learning Technologies Support Officer
Connect locally, learn globally
I am Maria Tynan in Year 7. I play 3 instruments: the piano, the clarinet and the ukulele! I play clarinet in the Leeton Town Band. I love writing and art. I enjoy playing netball and basketball, and I also do a bit of swimming. I have a small family (excluding my extended Italian family); only one sister, my Mum and my Dad. But what we lack in humans, we make up for in pets. We have two dogs, 3 fish, 4 chickens, 2 budgies, 2 cockatiels and 1 axolotl (whose name is Aristotle).
I live in a small country town called Leeton, about 600 km south west of Sydney. The population is about 11,500 people. Leeton is in the middle of the M.I.A., The Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. We farm a lot of things down here. We produce heaps of varying grains, like wheat, rice and barley, a lot of different fruits, wine and livestock. Leeton’s rice brand is called Sunrice. You may have heard of it. Sunrice exports to heaps of countries like China and even some places in Europe!
Leeton’s designer was Walter Burley Griffin, a man who also designed many towns, including Canberra! Leeton is named after Charles Alfred Lee, who was the minister for public works in NSW from 1904 to 1910. It has one of the oldest movie theatres in Australia, called the Roxy Theatre and has been screening since 1930. Other historical things around Leeton include a historical garden, about 30 minutes out of town. This garden is about 140 years old and the house belonged to an old station master. It is right by the Murrumbidgee River, and even includes an old jail that stored convicts. The place is so historic, that a book was actually written about it. This book is called “Jessica” by Bryce Courtenay and is based on true events.
On Easter weekend, we had our famous Sunrice Easter Festival. This relatively famous festival is only on every two years, so it is a pretty big deal here in little Leeton. There are people that come from places like Canberra and Sydney that bring along their hot air balloons. We have our local band performing and all the schools and clubs from around the area get to make up floats that display their ‘theme’. This usually happens the day before Easter. On Easter night, they have the balloon glow, where all the balloons that were in the Parade go down to our sport ovals and start up. Usually about 10-20 balloons turn up, but every morning when they go ballooning over Leeton, there are about 30-40 balloons flying right over our house! This year we also had some fireworks. It all looked totally awesome.
My home school is Leeton High School (LHS), one of three high schools in Leeton. LHS has about 400-450 students and there are about 60 people in my year. LHS is a school that specialises in performing arts. Every second year, they put on a HUGE talent show called SHINE. SHINE involves most of the schools in the Leeton area. It showcases the talent of students.
I am so glad I was accepted into Aurora because I get to meet fantastic people that are really similar to me. I have made great friends with a lot of other kids. All the teachers are fabulous and very supportive. Everyone has heaps to share and I think that everyone can learn from each other.
My favourite subject is Science, because I like to try and solve mysteries. When I finish school, I would like to have a doctorate of astrophysics, chemistry and vet science. I know it is a lot of time to spend at university, but if I do it gradually, it won’t be that bad. I also really love Maths and English, because mathematics is the base of most sciences, and I love to let my imagination run wild when I am writing.
Year 7 (Leeton High School)
As you have read in the Deputy Principal’s Report, the Term 1 residential school was a great success. For those who haven’t seen the great images, please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AuroraCollegeAU.
Lucinda Begg of Year 8 (Denison College Bathurst Campus) took the time to write to Aurora about her first experience at ‘res’. Lucinda wrote:
I wanted to share my thoughts on the first res of this year. Having only started Aurora this year, I was very nervous to attend my first res. Looking back, I have no idea why I was so scared. It was so great.
I thought that the bus ride would be everything but fun, but I was proven wrong. The trip really set the tone for the rest of the week. Never did I think that I would make so many amazing friends as I did. I can’t wait to the next res to see them all again.
Another highlight was going to the Sydney Institute of Marine Science. It was incredible, the things that we were shown and did. I particularly liked the dissection.
I was so sad when this amazing week was over. The only thing that I would change about res would be having them every term at least! The first res of this year was the best.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Lucinda. The staff had a great time as well!
I have developed an infographic about the camp activities which also incorporates the feedback from students and teachers. Click here to view the infographic.
Head Teacher Secondary Studies
English lesson starters
I have 11 students from 7 different schools in my year 7 English class. At the beginning of the lesson it takes a few minutes for all the students to come in and get set up.
This term, we have been using this short time to write Haiku poems. Haiku poems date from 9th century Japan and consist of 3 lines with 17 syllables (5-7-5). Haiku poems draw inspiration from the natural world and encourage us to look closely at the physical world around us.
Zoe Jenkins in 07ENG5 developed the following Haiku poems:
That’s the Turtle’s Way:
Man’s Best Friend:
Teacher, Year 7 English
Aurora at the Royal Easter Show
Year 12 agriculture students, Jessica Kitto and Olivia Tiele, participated in the 2016 Meat Chicken competition at the Royal Easter Show. This involved the girls receiving 14 day old meat chicks and then raising these chicks to 6 weeks of age.
This was was an interesting step for the college, as the girls were required to care for the chicks while learning about their management and sharing data on their progress, all in the virtual classroom setting.
The 6-week project enabled the girls to meet the Experiment Design component of the Agriculture course. The girls were required to monitor the chicks each week and record their weights. They also had to monitor the amount of feed eaten and note any changes in the behaviour and development of the chicks.
The competition involved the chickens being assessed as live chickens by a Steggles representative. The chickens were then processed and the carcasses assessed. The girls then each had to submit a detailed report on the project, including photos and results.
Olivia placed third overall in the competition. Congratulations to both girls for an outstanding project!
Teacher, Year 12 Agriculture
Bright lights of Aurora
Congratulations to the following students:
Darragh McMullen of Year 9 (Cobar High School) performed exceptionally well in the Gifted and Talented Discovery Program Qualifying Examination (>97%) and has been offered the opportunity to attend the University of Sydney Gifted and Talented Discovery Program in 2016. Over 2500 students in Years 8 and 9 from across Australia sat the exam and his results placed him in the top 12%. The program will be held over three days in the July school holidays at the University of Sydney campus.
Darcy Hopkins of Year 8 (Nowra High School) qualified to represent his home school in cricket and swimming at the Zone Swimming Carnival.
Connor Fergusson, James Stoddart of Year 11 and Alex Henderson of Year 12 (Dunedoo Central School) competed in the FIRST Robotics competition at Sydney Olympic Park Sports Centre on 17 and 18 March. In this competition, students build a robot and in the process they sharpen their collaboration, public speaking, technical science and engineering skills.
Rohan Cutting of Year 8 (Broken Hill High School) travelled to Adelaide on 18 to 21 March to compete in the Country Basketball Championships. The Broken Hill Broncos Under 16 basketball team went through undefeated to the grand final, but unfortunately lost to Roxby Downs 42 to 37. A superb effort Rohan!
Amy Ibbott of Year 9 (Coonamble High School) represented her region recently at the State School Swimming Competition held in Homebush, Sydney.
What have you been doing in your home school recently? Ask your Aurora College Coordinator to send a brief report for the next edition of The Auracle. All contributions gratefully accepted by email to email@example.com.
We have had quite a few amazing masterclasses this term. Students have been enthralled with the different information they’ve heard and the people they’ve ‘met’. They truly value the opportunity to connect with experts in their field. Below is a list of the masterclasses held online this term.
Head Teacher Secondary Studies
Apologies: In our first newsletter for 2016 we misspelled the names of two students – Jack Robbers and Daniel Cook. Both boys participated in the MAAS physical computing course held on Wednesday afternoons. We have corrected the last newsletter to include the correct spelling of both names.
Opportunities to shine
Libby Hathorn competition
Libby has issued a challenge to our students to write 4 lines (maximum) in response to the image of a cigarette tin painted by a soldier in World War 1, just as she did in writing A soldier, a dog and a boy. Submissions can be poetry, prose, words as a stream of consciousness, or anything creative! A prize of an autographed copy of A soldier, a dog and a boy has been offered by the publishers. The winner will be announced next term. A few great entries are below:
He sees the world around him
Maddison Gay of Year 7 (Jindabyne Central School)
How can something so small, contain something so beautiful
Emily Henby of Year 9 (Oberon High School)
We sat around the campfire, watching the red hot flakes fly up into the night sky, like shooting stars. I could hear the gentle “crack, crack, crack” of the wood being burned. Like the sounds of gunfire at dawn. Minus the terrible screams of anguish that often follow. The smell of the smoke from my cigarette teased my nose. Rations were small, but the taste of the ANZAC biscuits made by our mothers and wives were savoured. That was what we were. ANZACs. And this was OUR last supper.
Maria Tynan of Year 7 (Leeton High School)
The Memory Tin (title)
Nina Walters of Year 7 (Blayney High School)
Apollo – the Aurora College creative writing group
This group provides opportunities for students of all year levels and writing abilities to write, share ideas, and collaborate with like-minded individuals. Email Miss Little if you are interested in joining: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sydney Story Factory
Sydney Story Factory comprises volunteers who assist students with creative writing processes. Seven representatives delivered a face-to-face session at the residential for Years 9 and 10 students. They wrote poems based on prompts such as: a sound that they like; a food that the like; or a smell that they like. ‘I am’ was added to each sentence at the last stage, which created images and directly applied to students, suggesting they are a collection of their experiences and their likes.
Sydney Story Factory staff were so impressed with the pace and quality of work, that they would like to run further creative writing workshops with a view to publishing student works at the end. The next scheduled workshops will be held on Thursday 28 May:
This year we are offering students the opportunity to complete mathematics competitions and challenges through the Australian Mathematics Trust. So far we have had 2 students complete the Computer Algorithm and Thinking (CAT) competition online and we have 13 students signed up to tackle the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians.
The Mathematics Challenge is a 3 week problem solving and extension program that will be run by Mr Ian Whiteway. The Mathematics Challenge will be held during Weeks 1 to 3 of Term 2.
Students wishing to complete the Australian Mathematics Competition online this year have until the end of Week 2 Term 2 to let their mathematics teacher know or email Mrs Renee Dawson (email@example.com) directly. Costs for the competition are being met by Aurora College.
Spotlight on … Mr Jake Henzler
At what other school do you teach?
My home-school is Killara High School on Sydney’s North Shore, where I’ve been teaching for four years. With an enrolment of around 1600 students, it’s one of the largest comprehensive co-educational schools in the state. Until 2012, I was teaching at Pennant Hills High School, which is further north.
What is your local community like?
We have a great school community at Killara. There is a really active set of student leadership groups who keep students involved and a supportive P&C who are invested in the success of all students. We are a big staff of just over 100, which makes for great opportunities to learn from one another. I grew up on the Central Coast, but now I live in Chippendale, in Sydney’s inner-city, which is about 25 minutes’ drive to work (so long as I leave early enough). Crossing the Harbour Bridge a couple of times each day is something I remind myself not to take for granted.
What’s your favourite subject to teach?
Naturally, English is my favourite subject. In my final couple of years at high school, a few clever teachers introduced me to fiction that really resonated with me and reading has been a bit of an addiction ever since. Students tend to think of English as being about books, poems and Shakespeare – and there’s no denying they’ve got a lot to do with it – but in high school the subject of English is really about mastering language and communication. Knowing that there are infinite ways to express the same idea and understanding the implications of each is a valuable skill. It also makes us better able to understand one another. In the same way that Science and Mathematics give us systems of describing the way that our world works, literature gives us access to the experiences and ideas of all of humanity throughout history. In another life I might have been a Visual Arts teacher. English and Visual Arts both appeal to me because they’re essentially about philosophy and meaning.
What do you like about teaching at Aurora?
I like that I’m participating in realising a really great idea. We’re using technology to reach and engage gifted and talented students from around the state. It’s not just internet in the classroom, it’s internet as the classroom. In addition to the novelty, the school is delivering equity of access to selective secondary education, which is a great credit to public education in NSW. Aside from compilation cat videos, Aurora College has to be the most useful thing we’ve seen the internet do yet. I might suggest that as our slogan.
What are your other interests?
Cryptic crosswords, gardening and knitting mainly. I make time for reading, enjoy going to the theatre, and sometimes I take on elaborate cooking projects during the holidays. All woven in between a healthy diet of television.
Head Teacher English and Languages
There were over 100 suggestions made at residential about the types of books our students love to read and want to see added to our digital library. Students will be emailed a summary about all the new titles that have been purchased and added to the library.
As Dr Karl Kruszelnicki was such a popular presenter at the residential, the following resources are now available via the Aurora College Digital Library – login into OLIVER (via student portal) and borrow any of the following titles through Wheelers (email me if you need your username or password reset):
There is also a web link in our catalogue to ABC’s Science in space page – including features such as ‘A brief history of gravitational waves’.
Many students enjoyed having a library space set up at the residential and also appreciated the opportunity to discuss books of interest to them.
One of the activities was: Tell your own story in pictures. Using the art resources supplied– create a picture or series of pictures to tell your own story. This activity was partly inspired by LEIGH HOBBS, our current Australian Children’s Laureate. Check out Leigh’s ‘story calendar’ for 2016 for more inspiring ideas. http://www.childrenslaureate.org.au/project/leigh-hobbs-its-your-story-calendar-2016/
Reading Challenge 2016
If you missed out on picking up a challenge card at Residential – there is one here for you to print:
Send me a quick email as you complete each square on the grid and your name will be entered into a draw for an end of year reward. The more you read, the more chances you have!
Each year in April, a number of reading lists are announced; these may help you to complete the challenge:
If students would like a resource to be made available, please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the subject, book title or author’s name. Student and staff contributions are always welcome.
A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft
From the engine room
We have a large amount of lost property retrieved from the Term 1 residential camp, including Aurora College T-shirts. Anything that had a name tag has been returned to the owner. We urge parents to label all clothing that is packed for residential camps to ensure speedy return to owners should anything be left behind. We will also purchase some laundry markers which will be available at the next camp to mark names on Aurora College T-shirts.
We are still seeking homes for the following items:
If any of the items belong to your student please contact the Administration Office,
School Administrative Manager
Aurora College; 3b Smalls Road, Ryde, NSW 2112