The Auracle – Vol. 28, September 2018

From the principal’s desk

In the August edition of The Auracle, I reported that Aurora was awarded the Technology 4 Learning (T4L) Award for Productivity and Collaboration. This prestigious award recognised our school as a leader in the use of productivity and collaboration tools to empower great learning and teaching. At the award ceremony, judges also acknowledged Aurora as an extensive contributor to online networks and support groups that support teachers in NSW schools with the application of these tools.

Following our success with the T4L Awards, our school was recognised again on 29 August, this time in the 2018 Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence. Managed by the Public Education Foundation, these awards celebrate the best of NSW public education – some of our finest students, our most impressive schools and teachers, and some of our most committed employees and parents.

On behalf of the science faculty, Dr Silvia Rudmann accepted the 2018 Secretary’s School Achievement Award from Mark Scott AO, Secretary, NSW Department of Education.

At the ceremony, the Secretary of the Department of Education, Mark Scott AO, said the range of achievement within public schools was a source of great optimism for the future of the system. Mr Scott said:

“Whether it is students’ academic excellence preparing them for jobs of the future, teachers’ innovation in guiding and supporting them, support staff or whole-school and community efforts helping our schools be their very best – everyone is helping to lay solid foundations for our future society.”

Aurora College received the 2018 Secretary’s School Achievement Award for stages 4 and 5 science. Schools receiving this award must demonstrate significant improvement in learning outcomes and opportunities, excellence in student learning, maximising learning opportunities for all students, as well as community leadership.

Underpinning Aurora’s award were the outstanding results of our Year 10 (2017) science students in the department’s Validation of Assessment for Learning and Individual Development (VALID) program. VALID provides online end-of-stage assessments for the science key learning area. Aurora students complete the VALID assessments in Year 8 and in Year 10. An impressive 94.4% of our Year 10 (2017) cohort achieved greater than their expected growth in achievement from Year 8 to Year 10. Significantly, the average scaled growth for the Aurora students was 50% more than the average growth of students in all other selective schools. Congratulations to our hardworking students and teachers.

Of our current partner schools, eight schools received a variety of awards at the 2018 Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence. On behalf of the Aurora community, I congratulate the students and teachers of: Denison College Bathurst High Campus; Dubbo College South Campus; Dubbo College Delroy Campus; Forbes High School; Mulwaree High School; Orange High School; Ulladulla High School; and Wagga Wagga High School. Congratulations to our award-winning partner schools.

It was a great pleasure to meet our incoming Stage 3 students and their parents at our first Aurora Opportunity Class Pilot video conference on 4 September. This was the first opportunity for me, Virginia Cluff, Serena McLean, Lisa Pearson and Jessica Kennedy-Williams to meet our first primary school cohort. At the ‘meet and greet’, we were able to share our plans for the program which commences in Term 4 this year.

Visits by Aurora staff to our new Stage 3 partner schools commenced in Week 9, with Virginia Cluff, Serena McLean and Lisa Pearson travelling to seven schools on the South Coast. Similar trips are planned to all other primary partner schools for early in Term 4. Staff reported the high level of anticipation and excitement among our new students and their parents. We are all looking forward to starting this next phase of development for our school.

Finally, a reminder to all current and potential secondary partner schools that students in rural and remote government high schools may apply to study one or more Stage 6 subjects with Aurora College. Applications for enrolment in Year 11 (2019) close on Friday 26 October 2018. To view the list of subjects offered in 2019 and to download an application form, visit

Enjoy reading The Auracle, e-newsletter of the multiple award-winning Aurora College.

Chris Robertson  | Principal

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Deputy’s report

Farewell and good luck Year 12

This is both an exciting and sad time for Aurora as we embark on our next cohort of students graduating Year 12.  Their achievement is to be commended and we wish our students the best of luck in their future endeavours. All schools have been sent a graduation certificate to issue to all Year 12 Aurora students. We have asked schools to present these at their graduation assemblies.

HSC examinations begin on Thursday 18 October 2018 for all students in Year 12. Students will not be required to be at school from day 1, Term 4. However Aurora teachers will be available during their lesson times, up to and before the HSC begins, to provide assistance for their students in their studies. Students are encouraged to make appointments with their teachers during this time to ensure they maximise their learning opportunities.

Semester 2 reports for Year 12 have been issued through the parent portal in Sentral. These reports show the progress that each student has made towards achieving specific outcomes in their HSC course. This report is issued independently of their home school who will supply their own report for the other subjects studied by each student.

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s progress or well-being, please contact the coordinating office by phone on 1300 287 629 or email (

Coordinator of the term

Joanne Garland has been nominated as coordinator of the term, she has been an excellent support person for all of the students at Willyama High School. She is very quick at getting things organised and returned to Aurora staff. She is always positive about the student’s participation in Aurora and is always encouraging them to continue in their studies. We appreciate and congratulate Joanne for her outstanding effort. She is also the science practical teacher at Willyama and does an amazing job with science too.

Professional Learning

WIRED FOR WONDER: last week Serena McLean and I had the privilege of attending this amazing professional learning opportunity entitled Wired for Wonder which is the Commonwealth Bank’s premier leadership and professional development event.

This year, the theme was “evolve”. We were able to seek and to explore new ways to develop applied learning into real experiences that can move and shape our young people. We got hands on with the tools of design thinking and were provided with the opportunity to meet peers from across NSW.

The event curated thought leaders across a range of key fields to stimulate and open our thinking around the topic of the future of work and life. They mixed neuroscience, design and anthropology with a Netflix co-founder, an interactive artificial intelligence (AI) filmmaker, a business shark, and a mindfulness coach to consider “What does the future hold and how might we need to evolve learning?” It was an unforgettable day with phenomenal people. Find out more about the stellar line up of speakers here.

It involved an inspirational day of immersive experiences and interactive networking and provided opportunities to open our minds and challenge the way we thought.  The event has had a profound impression on us and we are now looking at new ways of thinking, learning and working as a result of the insights from the speakers and workshops.

Study Skills Handbook

Recently Aurora College purchased an online subscription to ‘Study Skills Handbook’. Check out some study tips further in this edition of the Auracle.

Subscription details to access this resource were emailed to all parents and students. The username to access this is: auroracollege

If you have misplaced the subscription details with the password, please contact the school.

Life Choices for students in year 12

When students reach the end of their final year of school they are faced with making some big choices and career decisions. It is not uncommon for students to feel that the choice they make at the end of year 12 will determine their entire life. This idea can cause anxiety and stress and make students feel they are under a large amount of pressure to make the right choice. It is important that parents provide support and understanding to students throughout this time. Put time aside to listen to your child and what they want and assure them that if what they choose to do after High School doesn’t work out there will be another pathway to success. Please access the following sites to support your child:

Graduating from high school

Finished with school

Taking a gap year

Moving away to study

Managing study and work

Study and school work

With the prospect of HSC and yearly exams coming up, some students may feel the pressure of study and school work more intensely. It is normal to feel some stress and pressure when it comes to studying and school work; however, it is important that students and parents know when stress becomes a threat to wellbeing and mental health. It is important that students have support to help them manage their stress levels and study in an effective and productive way. Some students may also face extreme disappointment or feelings of hopelessness if they do not get the marks they were aiming for. It is therefore important that students learn to manage failure and not let test scores seriously impact their wellbeing and sense of self-worth. Please access the following sites to help you deal with exams and school work:

Beating exam stress

Burn Out and chronic Stress

Dealing with exams results

What’s coming up next term?

  • Applications for entry into Year 7 in 2020 open on 9 October 2018 and close on 12 November 2018. The Selective High School Placement Test for entry to Year 7 in 2020 will be held on Thursday 14 March 2019.
  • Applications for Year 11 2019 enrolment close Friday 26 October 2018.
  • The next Residential School will be held from Monday 29 October to Friday 2 November in Canberra. All Years 7 to 10 students must attend. For further information, please visit the ‘latest news’ page on the school website.

Virginia Cluff  | R/Deputy Principal

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We had two masterclasses last week, the first being with Maurizio Rosetto Lead Scientist for the Restore and Renew project. Over 20 000 plant samples have been collected so far and the Royal Botanic Gardens are only about a third of the way through their project. The goal of the project is to enhance long term environmental sustainability through researching, documenting and analysing the most appropriate plants for certain areas, in order for long term bush regeneration. The data and maps will eventually be available to  local councils, farmers and other individuals and organisation. Quite a few students were interested at the mention of ‘megafauna’ while another wanted to know if the Royal Botanic Gardens took work experience students.

The second masterclass was with the State Library of NSW, that once again presented with such enthusiasm. Four of Shakespeare’s folios are held at the Library and we were privileged enough to get a great look at the third folio, published in 1664. It is one of the rarest copies in the world as others were burned in the fire of London. Curator, Sarah Morely shared interesting facts about the folio itself and the printing process, but I think the best reactions from students was when the curator showed the miniature Shakespeare collection!

Whilst some masterclass topics may not appeal to everyone’s interests, hopefully other topics do. So we aim to provide masterclasses that tackle deep knowledge in a range of topic areas and expose students to various career paths as a way of enhancing their aspirations and knowledge of post-school educational and vocational opportunities.

Parent webinar

Clinical Psychologist Roxanne Goff interacted with parents on Thurs 13th September at 7pm. 40 people registered for this event hosted by the Centre for Emotional Health, Macquarie University. She differentiated between stress and anxiety and how to manage both effectively before they potentially escalate further. Please email me if you would like a copy of the presentation and other resources that were shared – email

Professional learning

Our professional learning events continue to attract hundreds of people. Two hundred people registered for the most recent course about ‘Allocating Grades Consistently’ on Thurs 13th September at 3:30 pm for 1.5 hours with Paul Jansons from NESA.

The Writing Science course, also offered online, ensured participants from across NSW were upskilled in rich, scientific and extended writing task development and analysis. This workshop was a 5 hour accredited course with Teacher Training Australia. Participants worked collaboratively across platforms and we look forward to putting in to practice what was learned.

Kate Thompson | Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Stage 4 Enrolments 2020

Is your future looking bright in 2020? It may just be your year to join Aurora College!

Applications for entry into Year 7 in 2020 open on 9 October 2018 and close on 12 November 2018.

Students are considered for entry on the basis of academic merit, which is determined by the students’ performance on the school curriculum and in the Selective High Schools Placement Test.

The Selective High School Placement Test for entry to Year 7 in 2020 will be held on Thursday 14 March 2019.

The test consists of reading writing, mathematics and general ability components.

For further information visit the ‘Learn with us’ page on our website.

Virginia Cluff | R/ Deputy Principal 

Science news

Another term done! The science faculty have been really busy with all the classwork, marking and preparing engaging and challenging lessons for all our students. I would like to personally thank all the science team for the excellent work that they do every day to make our lessons engaging, challenging and successful.

Bebras Australia Computational Thinking Challenge

Bebras was a great success across all junior classes. More than 2 million students participate every year from around 44 countries. We contributed with 161 participants! The results were outstanding with 36 students achieving Credit, 15 students awarded with Distinction and 9 students placing in the top 5% of the world, achieving  High Distinction. Those students with a HD are:

Year 10 – Mackewin Strachan (Nowra H.S.), Luke D’Ettorre (Willyama H.S.) and Luke Wilson (Cowra H.S.).

Year 9 – Kayden Dunne (Moruya H.S.), Thomas Derwent (Moruya H.S.), Felix Stone (Moruya H.S.), Riley Mashford (Willyama H.S.), Sarah Burnes (Moruya H.S.) and Jordan Fisher (Willyama H.S.).

Congratulations to all the participants, I am looking forward to your participation again next year. Your certificates are coming soon.

The ANCQ – Chemistry Quiz

 Another competition that we completed this term was the Chemistry Quiz – ANCQ. This quiz is very challenging and difficult. We want to congratulate Emily Kearny (Year 7, Gloucester H.S.) and Rory Stein (Year7, Dubbo College South)  for their Distinction Award and Amelie Robinson (Year 8, Melville H.S.) and Zoe Jenkins (Year 9, Tenterfield H.S) for gaining Credits. We are looking forward to more participants next year.

VALID year 10 is done and dusted, results are going to be sent to students next term.

Senior science 

HSC teaching has finished for all our students. We wish them all the best in their HSC exams.

We welcome our new senior students in Science Extension. Many of them are former Aurora College students who we are delighted to have back. We look forward to the privilege again to mentor and inspire these students towards successful careers in the future.

Image from

What is going on in the world of science?

Mosquitos plastic diet (adapted for New Scientist, by Yvaine Ye)

Mosquito larvae that grow up in water contaminated with plastic accumulate the micro plastic particles in their bodies and some of it remains there even after the larvae emerge as adult flies. This plastic accumulation is transferred in the food chain when other animals feed on mosquitos. On average, a larva contained over 3000 2-micrometre-wide beads. This research has opened new doors into how plastics are spread out and bio-accumulates in the environment. So, recycle your plastics and place waste in bins. Thanks.

Tripple Astra Challenge!

Last Auracle the challenge was folding a piece of paper. Congratulations to: Genevieve Bland (Year 7, Parkes H.S), Momo Hayashi-Kinny (Year 10, Murwillumbah H.S.), Daniel De Haan ( Year 9, Coolamon C.S.) and Heidi Parkin (Year 7, Parkes H.S.).

This edition’s challenge is found in the following image

New Astra Challenge

Silvia Rudmann  | R/Head Teacher Science

Spotlight on … Anthony Scarman

Where was your previous teaching appointment?

Gorokan H.S. science faculty. Mr.Scarman is front row far right. Dr.Rudmann is reclining in the middle.

My home school is Gorokan H.S. on the NSW Central Coast. It is a partially selective school of about 1100 students. Prior to becoming a teacher, I worked in medical science research and have a PhD in molecular biology. My main area of expertise was in characterising genes and their proteins as potential targets in cancer.

What is your local community like?

For me, on the Central Coast, it’s mostly about the beach, the beach and (you guessed it), the beach. Actually, a lot of the community around this area resides near and enjoys Tuggerah Lake. It’s also a favoured holiday spot for many people from Sydney. There are a whole range of community areas, including quiet places, trendy coffee shops and beach-front cafes. It’s actually a mix of semi-rural and beach – my kind of place.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

Any, and all, science. One hundred years ago, human-kind had barely invented the motor car, electronic communications and flight. Forty years ago, we didn’t have personal computers, mobile phones or personal music devices. Today we have so many technologies born out of our scientific knowledge and investigation. Today’s Aurora College students will be the first generation to have driver-less cars, people on Mars and personal quantum devices!

What do you like about teaching Aurora?

The best part of teaching at Aurora is the rapport you establish with your classes and individual students. Although we are separated by many kilometres, the interaction with the students is amazing. Add to this that the students love to be challenged (without too much grumbling) and it makes for great classes.

What are your other interests?

Walks around Tuggerah Lake, floating around on my boat fishing and listening to Triple J. I’m also an avid gamer and my chosen time-wasters are World of Tanks, Everquest II and any of the Total War series.

Anthony Scarman | Science Teacher

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Bright lights

Amazon Festival of the Cloud Champion

Congratulations to Hunter (Year 10, Eden Marine H.S.) who was crowned “Amazon Festival of the Cloud Champion”. He is pictured being presented with the champions’ gold medal. Hunter presented his winning entry in the Amazon Alexa Competition at the Amazon Web Services summit in Canberra, in front of 200 students from a variety of schools in the ACT.


NSW Combined High Schools (CHS) Athletics

Lachie at Sydney Olympic Park

Congratulations to Lachie (Year 10, Eden Marine H.S.) for his achievement in the  NSW CHS athletics carnival, held at Syndey Olympic Park during week 7 of Term 3. Lachie’s training for the month between regionals and state paid off as he came 12th overall in Javelin and added 60 cm to his personal best.

The Knox Grammar DaVinci Academic Decathlon

Aurora Students recently competed in the Knox Grammar DaVinci Academic Decathlon in Armidale. We had two teams of students representing Aurora College and other students who competed in their home school teams. Our Year 10 team took out 3rd place in the science challenge, the Year 9 team gained 3rd place in the English challenge and equal 1st place in the general knowledge challenge. It was Glen Innes High School who won the regional Da Vinci Decathlon with Jack (Year 10) representing his home school in their winnings.

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SRC news

Just a quick update about what your Student Representative Council is involved in at Aurora College, this term.

SRC Year Reps:

Year 7:

Ruby Callaghan (Dubbo College South), Lily Wilson-Starr (Bega H.S.), Maya Wicks (Kempsey H.S.), Emma Buckland (Condobolin H.S.), Jaslyn Mackenzie (Ulladulla H.S.), Brayden Chapple (Parkes H.S.).

Year 8:

Charlotte Kelly (Canowindra H.S.), Shannon Bourke (Nyngan H.S.), Ella Dennis (Jindabyne C.S.), Sarah Hall (Dubbo College South), Amelie Robinson (Melville H.S.), Jordan Moody (Parkes H.S.).

Year 9:

Maria Tynan (Leeton H.S.), Roshan Caldwell (Tenterfield H.S.).

Year 11:

Lauren Fisher (Willyama H.S.).


We try to meet in our Adobe Connect room a few times each term, to talk and see each other live on screen.  As there isn’t a common time that all of us are available, we have been busy interacting via TEAMS to share ideas, encourage each other and generally work on getting things done.

What we’ve been working on this term:

Introducing ourselves to Year Groups in iSee

Suggesting Core Values for Aurora College

Participating in the Premier’s Sporting Challenge

Our BIG ideas:

Implement core values at Aurora College

Create a plan for House Culture at Aurora College


If you have suggestions to make, please contact a student representative for your year or Mrs Taylor.

Kaylene Taylor | SRC Teacher Coordinator

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Study Skills Tip – Best way to study

Students sometimes ask ‘what is the best way to study?’ The answer, there is no best way.

An important lesson for students to learn is that everyone learns in different ways, everyone has different approaches and preferences, and what works well for one person may not work well for another. This truth applies to all aspects of effective learning – time management, research skills, writing skills and so on. There are certainly good techniques and strategies available in all of these areas, and also approaches that work well for the majority of students. However, it is essential that all students try different techniques to see what works best for them.

Preferences could also change over time, so it makes sense to at least once a year stop and reflect on your approaches to learning. What did you do, what worked, what didn’t, what should you change, what should you keep, and what new things could you try. This is what ‘metacognition’ is all about. It means taking the time to try and understand more about the process of learning and your role as a learner.

Students who take a metacognitive approach to their learning are much more likely to improve their results. How can you find out different study techniques to try? Talk to the people around you – friends, siblings, parents – ask them what techniques they have used. Also ask your teachers what they would recommend for their subject. You can also visit the unit on the Study Skills Handbook that covers how to study for tests and exams. You will find lots of active studying strategies and grids to help you plan for exams. Just remember – there is a worse way to study – just reading your notes over and over and hoping the information stays in your head!

Virginia Cluff  | R/Deputy Principal

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Library report

50 word short story competition 2018.

Congratulations to all students that participated in the 50 Word Story Competition, we had over 60 entries in our school section. The judging panel at Aurora College were impressed with the effort and talent on show in 50 words. All participants have received an Astra. Congratulations to the students and staff that participated. Take a moment to enjoy reading the winning entries, below:



Highly commended


Morrow Taplin (Wauchope H.S.)

Jacqueline Long (Cowra H.S.)

Morrow Taplin (Wauchope H.S.)


Zoe Jenkins (Tenterfield H.S.)

Maddison Potts (Griffith H.S.)

Lili Henderson- Clark (Griffith H.S.)


Luke Wilson (Cowra H.S.)

Mackewin Strachan (Nowra H.S.)

Luke Wilson (Cowra H.S.)


Mrs Thompson (Head Teacher, Teaching and Learning)

Miss Elliott (English Teacher)

Year 7 Winning entry:

Waves rear up against the slick and jagged rocks, a dark sky overhead. Mottled grey cloud cover, morphing, shifting. Low grasses, russet and olive, blown diagonal by fierce gales. Everlasting daisies, with papery yellow petals. Sea dark grey, reflecting. Lone figure, wandering, clambering over the rocks – what are they doing?

Year 9 Wining entry:

When the sun exploded and light smothered the sky, the deafening roar of silence choked the Earth. As the purifying heat and flames washed over the fraudulent cities, cardboard fields and plastic life there was no movement. As the world burned and the wound was cauterised there was no objection.

Year 10 Winning entry:

The rain fell upon the shattered city, ending an age of dust. But this place was devoid of life, not the hub it once was. Glass towers stood empty and alone, only the wind breaking the forever silence. It had been this way for an eternity; since the bomb fell.

Staff Winning entry:

Everything is salty; our tears and the sea. So much water but nothing fresh.

Everything is about life; our jackets and savings. Leaving our past for the future.  Hoping and surviving.

Everything is visible; the wreckage, bodies, uniforms, our boat on the news.

Everyone is shouting but somehow we’re unheard.

Author Will Kostakis at our next Residential

Will Kostakis

Will Kostakis and the pop-up bookshop will be at our next Residential. Will is an award-winning author for young adults. He won The Sydney Morning Herald Young Writer of the Year Award when he was a high school student for a collection of short stories. His first novel was published when he was just 19! His latest novel, The Sidekicks, won the 2018 Ena Noël Award; a biennial prize for emerging writers and illustrators.

Reading Hour 2018

Students, parents and staff at Aurora College were encouraged to pick up a book – and read – on Thursday 20th September for one hour!

Here are a few photos from Reading Hour, 2018 at Aurora College

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Kaylene Taylor | Teacher Librarian

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Student work samples

Visual Representations

In Term 2, Year 9 have been studying the work of Indigenous Poets such as Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Jack Davis and Lionel Fogarty.

For this task they were asked to create a visual representation of the ideas, concepts and themes explored in one of the poems they have studied.

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Daisy Little  | English Teacher


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Connect locally, learn globally

Hi! My name is Ella and I am in year 8. I live in a small town called Jindabyne, Jindabyne is a popular tourist attraction because you can come and ski in the 3 resorts that surround us. In winter our town becomes very busy with tourists from all around the world coming to ski and a lot of young people come down to work. I really enjoy living in Jindabyne because we have a very tight community that loves to help people in need.


Nosey jumping 1.15m

I go to school at Jindabyne Central School, which is currently the biggest central school in Australia with over 850 kids from K-12, there are roughly 60 kids in my year and we have 4  year 8 students in Aurora, along with 4 in year 7 students, 1 student in year 9 and 2 students in year 10. We all really enjoy Aurora and are all very close and help each other out.

My hobbies include equestrian, skiing and dance. I have been riding competitively since I was 5 and skiing and dancing since I was 2. I don’t dance or ski competitively very often as I am away a lot for riding. I compete with my horses almost every weekend for 9 months a year across NSW and the ACT. I have two horses that I am currently competing, Nosey (Hotton Gossip) is 16.1hh thoroughbred who I am show jumping up to 1.25m and eventing prelim, which is 95cm, I also have Rene (Weemala Renegade) who is 5 years old and is my young horse who I am currently introducing to competition. I love competing as it introduces me to so many people and I can travel to a lot of different places.

When I leave school, I hope to continue riding horses and I would like to study medical science at university. I love being in Aurora because you get to make so many new friends and get to learn from some amazing teachers. I would definitely recommend Aurora to kids looking to try something new.

Ella (Year 8, Jindabyne Central School)

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Aurora College: C/- Mowbray Public School635 Mowbray Road LANE COVE NORTH NSW 2066Phone: 1300 287 629; Email:; Facebook:


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