The Auracle – Volume 20, September 2017


Vol. 20, September 2017
In this issue:

Aurora College

3B Smalls Road
Ryde NSW 2112

Phone: 1300 287 629

From the Principal’s desk

Chris Robertson receiving the Secretary's Award for School Achievement

Receiving the Secretary’s Award for School Achievement

On Wednesday 13 September, a distinguished group of students, teachers and parents were celebrated at the 2017 Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence.

The Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, and Mark Scott AO, Secretary, NSW Department of Education, presented awards to 35 students, 37 staff and eight parents from across NSW in a ceremony held at the William Wilkins Gallery in Sydney.

The awards presented were:

  • Minister’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement
  • Secretary’s School Achievement Award
  • Secretary’s Award for Excellent Service
  • Secretary’s Award for an Outstanding School Initiative
  • Public School Parent of the Year

On your behalf, I was honoured to accept the Secretary’s School Achievement Award. The award was recognition of the outstanding work of our students, teachers and parents in establishing and leading best practice learning and teaching in a virtual environment.

The Secretary’s accolade was also an acknowledgement of the wider role our school has adopted, beyond providing broad curriculum opportunities for our own students. For the benefit of public school students and staff across the state, our school happily embraces a commitment to share expertise and to facilitate opportunities that otherwise would not be possible. The award recognised the impact of highly successful examples of this commitment, including our HSC Study Days Program, Teacher Professional Learning Special Events Program, and the Rural and Remote Education Conference.

Current and 2018 Aurora College partner schools to also receive awards were Dubbo College Delroy Campus, Dubbo College South Campus, The Canobolas Rural Technology High School, Forbes High School, Tumut High School, Ulladulla High School and Wagga Wagga High School. Congratulations to these communities!

Last year in Bathurst, Aurora College planned and co-hosted the inaugural Rural and Remote Education Conference. This year, our school once again lead the planning and hosted this important event on the department’s calender.

Held on 7 and 8 September, more than 240 teachers and school leaders gathered to share examples of practices that are having a positive impact on student outcomes. Sponsored by First State Super, Microsoft and Teachers Health, the event presented delegates with an opportunity to celebrate and share successful school-based strategies that are centred around innovation, resilience and community.

The conference program included 28 workshops presented by educators from all parts of the state, nine spotlight sessions with innovative schools, three Aboriginal education spotlights and the Future’s unit MakerSpace. Aurora College staff presented the following outstanding workshops:

  • Collaborative projects virtually (Carolyn McMurtrie)
  • Collaboration is the key (Virginia Cluff)
  • Gifted students and rural and remote (Silvia Rudmann)
  • Digital literacy in the science classroom (Fiona Boneham)

Our school also delivered a keynote session on the second day of the conference, titled Innovation at Aurora College. On the big screens of the conference venue, 240 delegates were taken on a tour of our three-dimensional virtual playground where they had the opportunity to meet a number of students, each taking their turn to talk about an aspect of the curriculum and to explain what Aurora College means to them. Thank you and congratulations to Mackewin Strachan (Year 9, Nowra High School), Harry Bottero (Year 8, Tumut High School), Maria Tynan (Year 8, Leeton High School), Vincent Ward (Year 7, Young High School), Eric Hills (Year 10, Narooma High School), Jordyn Chapple (Year 9, Parkes High School), Lauren Fisher (Year 10, Willyama High School) and Charlie Allen (Year 9, Parkes High School). During the session, Charlie experienced what must surely be a first in education when 240 teachers sang Happy Birthday to him from the conference venue in Sydney.

Also joining us in the virtual playground was Genie McMullen (mother of Connor and Darragh at Cobar High School). Genie did a magnificent job of explaining the benefits for her family of having children enrolled with Aurora College. Our session concluded with Kurt Wawszkowicz (Principal, Billabong High School) talking about his school’s growing partnership with Aurora College and the benefits this is bringing to the community of Culcairn in the south-east Riverina region of NSW. Visit the conference website for further details.

Finally, I would like wish our departing Year 12 students every success in their upcoming Higher School Certificate examinations. I hope that the completion of Year 12 is the next step in happy and fulfilling lives for all of you.

Enjoy the school holidays!

Chris Robertson


Deputy’s report

Good luck and farewell to Year 12

It is that time of the year again that we farewell and wish Year 12 the best of luck in their future endeavours.

Higher School Certificate written examinations begin on Monday 16 October 2017. Students will not be required to be at school from day 1, Term 4. Teachers will be available during their scheduled Year 12 lessons to provide ‘last minute’ advice and assistance to their students. Students are encouraged to make appointments with their teachers during this time to ensure they achieve their best in their examinations.

All year 12 partner schools have been sent a graduation certificate to issue to our students. Additionally, subject prize-winners will also receive medals in recognition for their excellent school-based results. We have asked all partner schools to present these at their Year 12 graduation assemblies.

Best wishes for the future!

2018 HSC subject selections

The 2018 HSC year commences on the first day of next term. Our HSC cohort will be studying the following subjects:

  • Agriculture
  • Chemistry
  • English extension 1
  • Economics
  • Italian beginners
  • Mathematics
  • Mathematics extension 1
  • Mathematics extension 2
  • Physics
  • Software design and development

Coordinator of the term

Joe Doyle at Forbes High School has been awarded Outstanding Aurora College Coordinator for Term 3. Joe has provided excellent support for Rohan Webb and has been a great communicator with his teachers. Congratulations, Joe. We appreciate your outstanding effort and commitment.

Professional Learning

A number of professional learning activities have taken place this term. Staff attended the:

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing of Young People and Kids in Cyberspace Conference in Sydney, hosted by Generation Next Community and focusing on nurturing healthy minds and healthy digital habits with our students.
  • NSWSDPA Conference with the theme “Thinking about Tomorrow” and focused on preparing our students for successful futures in our rapidly changing world. Keynote speakers included Professor Young Zhao from the USA, who spoke on “Fixing the past or investing in the future” and Dr Andrew Martin speaking about “Motivating and engaging the 21st Century Learner”.
  • Rural and Remote conference held at the Novotel Sydney Brighton Beach which once again brought together teachers and school leaders from across regional and rural NSW who shared examples of practices that are having a positive impact on student outcomes.
  • Aurora College Executive Conference focusing on the 2018-2020 school planning cycle and developing our strategic directions and associated improvement measures. We will be asking for consultation from our community. Information to be forwarded early next term.

What’s coming up next term?

  • Applications for enrolment in Year 11 2017 close Friday 27 October 2017. For further information, please visit
  • The next Residential School will be held from Monday 23 October to Friday 27 October 2017 in Bathurst.
  • The Yearly examination period for students in Years 7 to 10 is scheduled from 30 October to 3 November 2017.
  • Meeting for parents and students new to Aurora in 2018 on Monday 6 November 2017. Information to be forwarded early next term.
  • Year 7 (2018) Orientation Days on Wednesday 29 November and Friday 1 December 2017. Information to be forwarded early next term.
  • New Years 8 to 11 (2018) students Orientation Day on Thursday 30 November 2017. Information to be forwarded early next term.

Finally, a reminder that parents are able to access their child’s attendance records via the Sentral portal. Please contact the office if there is a discrepancy that needs to be corrected.

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 (

Kathy Klados

Deputy Principal

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Connect locally, learn globally

I’m Jess and I live in Tumut, in the Riverina region of southern NSW.

Tumut is a pretty town, especially during the autumn, and it is known for its forestry industry. The thing I like most about my community is the netball community.

On the weekends I play netball, piano, sing, and hang out with my friends. Tumut High School school has between 450 and 500 students and there are about 80 people in my year.

When I leave school I would like to work for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) or work as a homicide detective in the police force.

The best part about being a student at Aurora College is the many friends I have made. I especially like spending time with them at the Residential Schools. Aurora was a good choice for me because I love the people I work with and I have amazing experiences here.

Jessica Larter

Year 9, Tumut High School

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Science faculty news

The Australian National Chemistry Quiz (ANCQ) is a unique chemical education activity run by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI). In an exciting and stimulating way, it provides a major focus for secondary school students on the relevance of chemistry.

The Quiz is a truly international competition with papers translated into seven different languages. The Quiz attracts students from across Australia and 17 neighbouring countries as well as Austria and Germany. The Quiz is not a nationwide assessment of chemistry knowledge, but rather an opportunity to promote chemistry and for teachers to gauge the understanding their students have of the subject.

Around 1600 schools and 110,000 students sit the quiz. Aurora College has entered interested students for the last 2 years. I am pleased to announce the following students have achieved Merit or higher in the competition for 2017.

Year Student Result
7 Vincent Ward Distinction
8 Thomas Derwent Credit
8 Chloe Gruber Distinction
8 Zoe Jenkins High Distinction
8 Maria Tynan Credit
9 Mackewin Strachan Credit
10 Helana Trantino High Distinction

I would like to congratulate the students who entered the competition and encourage all students to consider entering next year.

Virginia Cluff

Head Teacher Science & Community Liaison Officer

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Spotlight on …

Hi, I am Dorothy Wakelin, the School Counsellor for Aurora College. School Counsellors are teachers and psychologists.

Where do you call home?

I live in an outer suburb of Sydney. Half an hour drive to the east will see me at the beautiful Sydney Harbour and half an hour drive to the west will see me at Wiseman’s Ferry and the Hawkesbury River. I enjoy having easy access to both the bustling city and the peaceful bush.



What are your interests?

Reading, music, movies, theatre, Pilates, a pot of brewed tea, kayaking, bushwalking (National Parks), beach walking (Culburra Beach), skiing (Thredbo), traveling and dogs (Border Collies, Kelpies). I also enjoy the Sydney Writer’s Festival, Art Galleries, watching my son play soccer, AFL (go the Swans) and the development of the Women’s Australian Football League. 

Who are some of the people you admire?

Fiona Wood, Adam Goodes, John Olsen, Cathy Freeman, Cate Blanchett, Jack Charles, Fran Kelly, Stan Grant, Malala Yousafzai, Dorothea Dix, Anh Do, Deborah Mailman, Brian Cox, David Attenborough, Judi Dench and my mother.

What are some of your favourite memories?

Riding my bike, fun with friends, family caravanning holidays around country NSW, studying teaching in Wagga, studying psychology at The University of Sydney, my first puppy, when my son was born, eating gourmet pizza, doing volunteer work at Ku-ring-gai National Park, and long sunny days.

The Swans at the SCG

What do you like most about your job?

Working with young people. Selective school students can present with challenges but equally are very rewarding to work with. I appreciate their ability to think deeply and talk over matters that concern them while they can enjoy a joke too. I like to assist young people to appreciate the present and aspire towards living a good life. I see so much hope for their future.

What is your role at Aurora College?

To strive for the best outcomes for students as a whole person so that their overall wellbeing can be achieved, academically and emotionally. I can supplement homeschool counsellors where necessary, help with Aurora related concerns, provide psychoeducation and consult about complex issues. I like to finish my sessions on a positive note. Today, I am very pleased to be connected with Aurora College and working with the bright young stars of tomorrow.

“Like stars across the sky, we were born to shine.” ~Andrea Bocelli

Dorothy Wakelin

School Counsellor

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Bright lights

NSWCHA Tennis Open

Zoe Jenkins (Year 8, Tenterfield High School) represented the North West Region at the NSWCHA Tennis Girls Open. Zoe reports that “North West came 9th overall, which is an improvement on our region’s usual performance. Everyone played very well and it was a great experience.”

Zoe Jenkins on the tennis court

State Championships – Javelin

Jackson Winter (Year 8, Nowra High School) qualified for the State Championships in Javelin. He competed on Wednesday 6 September at Sydney Olympic Park, making it into the finals where he threw his javelin in a crosswind of around 40 km per hour.

Jackson Winter at Sydney Olympic Park

Hi, my name is Jackson Winter and I was fortunate to compete in the State Athletics carnival in Sydney in javelin. There were 16 competitors from around NSW and the top 8 got to take another 3 throws in the finals, once everyone had thrown. I was lucky enough to come 8th with a throw of 33 metres, which is pretty good, so I got to take another 3 throws. I came home with a finalist ribbon and 8th place in state!

I really enjoyed the experience as I had never been before and was expecting it to be loud and chaotic. It was the opposite with a very quiet stadium with even the starters pistols for the track events done electronically via speaker.  It was very surreal and I am hoping to go back next year and do better as I had a really great time. 

Jackson Winter

Year 8, Nowra High School

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Masterclass program

Award winning author Christopher Cheng demonstrated his enthusiasm for writing during a masterclass on Thursday 14 September. He took 55 students and their teachers through the process of research and synthesising information into his historical fiction book set in the goldfield at Lambing Flat near Young, NSW.

New Gold Mountain is about a boy who witnesses brutality and rising tensions over the ill-treatment of Chinese miners by white people in this area, culminating in riots. In conjunction with our partners at the State Library, we saw real artefacts including the signed petitions to government from the 1860s. Chris also shared his tips for inspiration, planning notes and timelines for historical events that were integrated into his book. And…while he was talking, our librarian added two copies of his book into the virtual library – such is the nature of a virtual school!

Coming soon – Series on ethics

I am currently working with The Ethics Centre on a series of masterclasses for students that tackle ethical issues and decision-making. Developing ethical understanding is one of the general capabilities specified in the Australian Curriculum and is embedded in NSW syllabuses. Below are a couple of examples just to give you a taste of the kind of scenarios that could be addressed as part of this series:

  • 100 people on a one way trip to Mars (visit for more info)
  • News journalism and resource use in natural disaster zones
  • If money is spent wisely, does it matter where it comes from?
  • Is it ever fair to discriminate between your children?
  • Thought experiments

Parent masterclass

ThinkUKnow presented to parents on 19 September about safety online and what to do if something goes wrong in relation to content being shared via social media and mobile technologies. Phil Meyer, who is a volunteer from Microsoft for this federally funded partnership between law enforcement agencies and corporations, shared the latest information about online activities that can affect young people in our care.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Residential school

Planning for the residential is well in place and we have been able to organise some final additions to the program, including a chess competition and a professional photographer who will take portrait shots of all students for administration purposes.

All information regarding the residential is available on the Latest news page of the school website. We will email parents of any updates regarding buses and what to bring. Parents can also stay updated during the residential via the Aurora College Facebook page.

Time has been set aside at the residential for a chess tournament. Students can enter for Stage 4 (Years 7 and 8) or Stage 5 (Years 9 and 10).

Aurora College now has a stock of new competition-standard chess sets. We also have 4 chess clocks.  These timers mean that players have to play all of their moves in a limited period, which will allow us to get through more matches!

Mr Whiteway is looking for students to nominate themselves to take part. Once we know the numbers, he will see how we can set up region-based teams.  So, we might end up with teams from South Coast, Riverina, North/Northwest and West.

For fans of Kriegspiel Chess, we will see if we can squeeze it into some of the free time.

To enter the inaugural Aurora College Chess Tournament, please register by email to Mr Whiteway ( as soon as possible. Be sure to include:

  1. Your name
  2. Your school
  3. How often you play
  4. Whether you have previous competition experience

Sharleen Mulawin

R/Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Student wellbeing

Snapchat: compromised accounts

The Department of Education has issued the following advice to schools regarding compromised Snapchat accounts.

The issues arose after the release of a new Snapchat feature – ‘Memories’ – where users can keep content in a secure archive on their phone. This includes a section called “My Eyes Only”, a PIN protected area where explicit snaps can be stored.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner and NSW Department of Education strongly warn against students sharing their Snapchat account passwords with anyone (even friends) as this may grant them access to intimate content, which may then be shared without permission.

Parents are encouraged to advise children to set strong passwords/PINs for all accounts, use 2-factor authentication, and never give out confidential information (even to friends).

For more information and for tips on how to prevent a compromised Snapchat account, please refer to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner website.

Young and eSafe online

The office of the eSafety Commissioner has published a new website to equip students with the skills to help themselves and their friends to have safe positive online experiences. The Young & eSafe website provides practical advice by young people, for young people to help challenge the haters and fakers online.

Why not check it out these holidays?

Sharleen Mulawin

R/ Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Mentoring program

Mentoring is fast becoming a key component of the Aurora College curriculum. The program aims to:

  • encourage self-confidence and resilience
  • broaden awareness of personal skills, attitudes and values
  • enhance career planning and long-term academic outcomes
  • provide insights into different occupational environments
  • develop leadership capabilities and expand career options.

Mentoring sessions take place in our virtual learning environment, during school hours and under teacher supervision.

Students are invited to participate in our e-Mentoring program for 2018. Students who wish to participate in the mentoring program require parental consent and need to be able to show that they can keep up with their schoolwork.

Further information and permission notes are available on our school website.

Sharleen Mulawin

R/Head Teacher Teaching and Learning

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Student work samples

Virtual Worlds

Students in 7Eng3 have completed a unit called Virtual Worlds and composed articles to demonstrate their learning and inform their audience about online dangers. Enjoy reading the following samples:

Jennifer Densley

English Teacher

Noble gases

Students in Year 8 have been studying the noble gases (Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon and Radon).

They’re all special elements because they don’t need to form bonds or compounds, they don’t need other atoms! They are all chemically stable. However, Year 8 students identified that Radon was unstable in a different way. Its unstable nucleus means that it is doomed to decay, to fall apart.

Year 8 was asked to creatively empathise with Radon. How might life be for an atom with its days numbered?

Alex Williams met the challenge to provide a compelling and romantic telling of Radon’s last days.

Owen Brown

Science and Mathematics teacher

50 word stories

Students in Year 10 were among the entrants in the 50 word story competition run by the children’s bookshop. Our winners have been mentioned in the Library section of this newsletter. Enjoy!

Kaylene Taylor

Teacher Librarian & Community Liaison Officer

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Library report

50 word story winners

Congratulations to David Ibbott and Charlotte Kelly for their winning entries in the 50 word story competition. The Children’s Bookshop ran this competition to celebrate Love Your Bookshop Day. Over 20 Aurora College students entered, with the judges commenting on the exceptional quality of our student’s entries. Well done to all students who submitted 50 word stories.

David’s entry was up against published authors and adults, and was declared a joint winner.  Here are his 50 words:

He was a liar. A stone cold gambler from the west with charcoal eyes and a rusted beard. He travelled along the border. Hoarding his fortune in the saddle pockets, the town watched him to the bar. When asked his name he replied with a smirk and said, I’m no-one. 

Charlotte’s story was highly commended, as judged by children’s author Tim Harris. Enjoy Charlotte’s story:

The shiny, slick silver bullet brushed past my face, I rotated my head to see the victims fate. He was dead for sure. I turned to see who was holding the gun. But then the dark silhouette suddenly slithered away into the darkness, never to be seen again, I hoped.

Student work published

Students at Aurora College have access to SpineOut, an online magazine written by and for Young Adults published by Good Reading Magazine. The current issue includes reviews written by two Aurora College students, Zara Gardiner (Jindabyne Central School) and Zoe Jenkins (Tenterfield High School). Once students have completed their reviews, they are able to keep the books!

To read the reviews you can go to the Oliver home page and click on the link to SpineOut or check them out below:

If you are interested in reviewing for SpineOut, please contact me for the relevant permission forms. SpineOut also welcomes submissions of short stories, poetry, art, short films or original music – so get creative and get your work published! Access to SpinOut is via the OLIVER homepage in the student DoE portal.


I am just loving the range of “shelfies” (pictures of your favourite book shelf) that are coming in. Please keep emailing them to me!

Happy reading!

Kaylene Taylor

Teacher Librarian & Community Liaison Officer

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A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft

You may have heard of the term STEM and it’s applicability in modern teaching. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and Microsoft has a vast range of STEM tools available to parents and students.

Click the poster above to download a brochure with links to resources for embracing STEM with Microsoft!

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Aurora College; 3b Smalls Road, Ryde, NSW 2112
Phone: 1300 287 629; Email:
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