The Auracle – Volume 5, November 2015


Vol. 5, November 2015

In this issue:

Aurora College

3B Smalls Road
Ryde NSW 2112

Phone: 02 9886 7560
Fax: 02 9886 7525

From the Principal’s desk

The Microsoft WeSpeakCode masterclass at the University of Technology Sydney

The Microsoft WeSpeakCode masterclass at the University of Technology Sydney

In our eight months of operation, October was particularly eventful for Aurora College. It was, of course, the month in which our second residential school of the year was held. I confidently speak for staff and students when I say that it was a program that was enjoyed and appreciated by all.

In a week of highlights, the trivia night organised and hosted by Year 10 was the favourite of many. Personally, my enjoyment on this night came from seeing many examples of the developing Aurora College school spirit and pride. Throughout the entire camp, the positive attitudes that students and teachers share about our school and each other was clear to see. As these connections grow, our school can only get stronger.

Another personal highlight was the final assembly at which we celebrated the first recipients of the Galaxy Medal. Congratulations once again to:

  • Kasey Cross (Lithgow High School)
  • Rohan Cutting (Broken Hill High School)
  • Lauren Fisher (Willyama High School)
  • Samuel Greville (Broken Hill High School)
  • Bronwyn Kemp (Yass High School)
  • Maighan Mashford (Willyama High School)
  • Bryan Mitchell (Cobar High School)
  • Jack Wickes (Blayney High School)

Obviously, a residential program of such high quality cannot happen without a great deal of hard work by staff. I would like to thank Kate Thompson for her outstanding organisation and leadership; thank the team at the coordinating office for the support they gave her; and thank our teachers for ensuring that the program was implemented with great enthusiasm.

In October, the staff at the coordinating office had the pleasure of receiving two important visitors. On Wednesday 14 October, Minister Piccoli (Minister for Education) had the opportunity to join Ms Cluff’s Year 7 science class and on Friday 30 October, Mr Gregory Prior (Deputy Secretary, Schools Operations and Performance) connected with Dr Goldrick’s Year 8 science class. Both visitors also enjoyed the experience of exploring Aurora’s new 3D virtual playground and learning spaces. The Minister’s visit was recorded by Prime7 News and featured on the evening news bulletin the following night. View the news story.

October also saw the completion of two promotional videos for our school. Produced in collaboration with the Department’s media production team, Strengthening local communities and Connect locally, learn globally explain why and how Aurora College operates. Both videos can be viewed in this edition of The Auracle and on the landing page of the Aurora College website

Finally, I have the honour and the privilege of writing this article as principal of Aurora College, having been successful in the recent merit selection process. I look forward to working with the Aurora community to make our school the beacon of best practice teaching and learning that we all want it to be.

Chris Robertson


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Deputy’s report

Thank you to the students and staff who joined us for the residential at Hurlstone Agricultural High School this term. The aim of the residential was to promote team-spirit, nurture leadership and foster new relationships with online peers.

The residential next year will be held in Term 1 from Monday 29 February 2016 to Friday 4 March 2016 at the Elanora Convention Centre. Elanora is  situated on Sydney’s northern beaches, only 45 minutes from the centre of Sydney and moments from Narrabeen Beach.

Our second residential for 2016 will move to Term 3 and we are currently investigating a number of different options. Further information will be communicated when a venue and dates have been finalised.

Attendance of students in Term 4

The Department of Education requires all students  to attend school until Wednesday 16 December, the last day of teaching for Term 4 2015. Prior to this date, students in all year groups will be engaged in meaningful work based on the curriculum and syllabus requirements.

If parents are seeking permission for their child to be absent from school for a period of time, the current Exemption from School – Procedures should be followed and permission sort from your home school.  A copy of this documentation should then be forwarded to the Aurora College.

Assessments for students in Term 4

As we progress through Term 4, many assessments will be completed by students that will contribute to their yearly results for 2015. Students must ensure they are well prepared for these assessments and that they give their best effort. Students who require extra assistance with their study routines should contact our Learning and Support Teacher, Sharleen Newcombe.

Student Representative Council (SRC) 2016

Nominations for the SRC were received earlier this term and we had hoped to finalise the process for Years 8-10 2016 before the residential school. Unfortunately, too few students were keen to display their leadership skills. We will seek further nominations at the start of 2016. I encourage students who did not consider this role initially to think about taking up the opportunity early in 2016.

What’s coming up next term?

Western Division Midterm break will be held from 6 November 2015 to 9 November 2015. This will only affect some of our students and lessons will continue as normal.

School holidays begin 16 December 2015 for all students.

Preparations for 2016

We continue to work with our partner schools in preparation for 2016.  This term, the principal of the home school of each student will:

  • provide the name(s) of the science teacher(s) who will be provided with an allocation to deliver the science practical program 13 November
  • provide the name of the teacher who will be provided with an allocation to fulfil the role of Aurora College Coordinator 13 November
  • monitor the construction of their school timetable to ensure each:
    • Year 7 to 10 student is timetabled to attend all Aurora lessons in English, mathematics and science (400 minutes per subject per fortnight); have one timetabled science practical period per fortnight per Stage; are able to attend all partner school lessons; and have the allocated recess and lunch breaks at the home school Ongoing
    • Year 11 and 12 student is timetabled to attend all their Aurora lessons (450 minutes per subject per fortnight per 2 unit course and 225 minutes per fortnight per 1 unit course); are able to attend all partner school lessons; and have the allocated recess and lunch breaks at the home school Ongoing
  • check that the timetable team has ‘roomed’ students in a suitable area of the school where they are able to connect to Aurora’s virtual learning environment on a Department computer, connected to the network via ethernet cable 4 December
  • check that the timetable team has ‘roomed’ science practical periods for each Stage in a laboratory 4 December
  • forward a copy to Aurora of each students’ integrated timetable showing clearly when each student is attending Aurora College lessons and lessons at their ‘home’ school 4 December

Kathy Klados

Deputy Principal

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Connect locally, learn globally

You can view an audio descriptive version of this video here.

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Strengthening local communities

You can view an audio descriptive version of this video here.

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2015 English Faculty Writers Prize

In the lead up to the Residential, English students were called upon to submit a short piece of writing for the 2015 English Faculty Writers Prize. Submission could be fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, and could come from any genre or mode. The following piece, written by Ellita Hunt of Year 9, was awarded first place.

The Movement was always going to come. The human race had set the trajectory. In the months before, during the final testings of the oxygen generating machine, Stephen Lizabeth would watch from his porch, with gradually aging eyes, the fist fights in the streets. They were only young, around fifty or so, desperate for their share of oxygen. The boxing match would occur, and a crowd would gather around the forming ring, egging them on, chanting, and screaming. The first knock would make Stephen flinch. An upper-cut would follow, slammed into the bottom jaw. A fierce jab to the stomach would double over a victim, and a sock to the nose would produce an ooze of crimson from one nostril. He would watch the stranglings and the stabbings. Each brawl would end in the death of at least two combatants. The clean-up squad would arrive when it was safe. They would set fires to rid the streets of bodies, always being cautious to work under controlled fire measures. Humans were a danger to themselves.

So in March of 2135, when the oxygen generating machine was considered reliable, the government announced the Movement. They said it would put an end to the Devastation. They said it would ensure the continuation of human life. Citizens watched as the cement cubes came to the suburbs, stacked up like playing blocks, soon multiplying into the city. They always came at night. You never knew who was next, or when in the darkness it would knock at your door. You just knew they were coming.

An aged gentleman, Stephen was part of the first wave. The night migration, and the drugs, the government announced, would assist with the efficient transfer of maximum number of citizens without disrupting daily routines.

Stephen Lizabeth remembered waking up in a small, cemented square. The dim light only highlighted the most basic of features. He was confused, scared. There was no door in sight. A hard mattress lined the floor, draped in a skimpy, grey blanket, which scratched at the skin, leaving a stinging, bleeding rash. The initial stage was the worst. It was terrifying. A nine-to-five office job meant Stephen had lived his life knowing where he was, what he was doing and where he was going, and he liked it that way. Here, he could only control his thoughts. He would bury his head into his thighs and, hugging his knees, the old man would rock his torso back and forth like a swing set did on a windy day. He’d learned that no amount of thrashing, kicking, or beating his fists on the wall would get him out. He would often stare at the bloody stains that remained in the rough concrete, now dried a crusty maroon. He had nothing better to do.

Sitting there, Stephen Lizabeth would think about death. Death was the only escape, from this nightmare that enclosed him. The claustrophobia often made the cement feel like a tomb, the ceiling as low as it was. The silence was deafening, the whir of the oxygen machine gnawing at his skull, slowly driving him to insanity. This new way of life, it wasn’t worth living. 

Ellita Hunt

Year 9 (Nyngan High School)

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Tip from a techie

Don’t forget that you can keep up-to-date with Aurora College by following our social media sites. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, or download the smartphone app from the app store.

FB-f-Logo__blue_29 AuroraCollegeAU
Twitter_logo_blue.fw AuroraCollegeAU
YouTube-logo-full_color AuroraCollegeAU
iOS App Store Aurora College
Google Play Store Aurora College
Windows App Store Aurora College

Ben Hillsley

Learning Technologies Support Officer

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Residential school camp

The most recent residential was held at Hurlstone Agricultural High School from 19 to  22 October. Positive relationships continue to build within the Aurora community and I would like to thank all staff for not only travelling and being away from their own families for a week, but also for going above and beyond their normal roles to form such a productive and proactive team.

We were fortunate to participate in a range of exciting activities, including: a Bell Shakespeare masterclasses; a 3D movie; a #WeSpeakCode event presented by Microsoft; a tour of UTS; a ‘Drumbeats’ team building session; science practicals; maths puzzles; cross-country runs; and a hugely successful trivia night. A list of activities and recount of events does not do justice to the wonderful school spirit that developed during the residential. Perhaps the most telling and honest accounts of the residential should be left to the students. Below are some quotes from the evaluation survey recently completed by students.

What did you like best about the residential?

  • Nothing was the best… All of it contributed to one of the best times of my life.
  • Seeing all my friends from other towns and years and also making new friends.
  • The part of residential camp I enjoyed the most apart from the necessary lessons, was the time spent with like-minded peers during leisure and rapport-building allocated times.
  • Seeing all the people with whom I had made extremely powerful personal connections with.
  • I really like the way that everyone intermingles and talks especially during the trivia night. An important part of Aurora, in my opinion, is bringing people of like minds together over vast distances, and year groups should not be any more of an impediment in forming bonds.
  • I enjoyed becoming better friends with everybody, and seeing my teachers. There was a good balance of learning and fun which was great!

Looking forward to the next one already! It will be held at Elanora from Monday 29 February to Friday 4 March 2016.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Bud’s residential report

Once again, Budjarn Lambeth has written a comprehensive report on the recent residential camp. For a better look, click on the preview image below.

Res Newsletter

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Bright lights of Aurora

Congratulations to the following students:

Aiden Wallis of Year 7 (Nowra HS) was ranked in the top 10% in the Australian School Mathematical Olympiad, and recieved a credit in the ICAS Mathematics test.

Darcy Hopkins of Year 7 (Nowra HS) received a distinction in the Australian History Competition.

Ritesh Baral and Darcy Hopkins of Year 7 (Nowra HS) are members of the Nowra HS Hassett Cup cricket team.

Alycia Trainor of Year 12 (Coolah CS) has successfully auditioned to be a featured dancer in the Jazz Ensemble and the Musical Theatre Ensemble in the NSW Schools Spectacular.

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Masterclass program


Our relationship with Macquarie University continues to strengthen, with a number of masterclasses scheduled at times that suit our lessons.

English classes were fortunate to hear very inspiring and practical information and experiences in a session titled, Turning ideas into creative writing by Dr Elizabeth Claire Alberts from Macquarie University.

Both students and teachers alike benefited from hearing about new strategies to approach the creative writing process and a variety of practical tips, many of which consolidated class discussions.

If you would like to view recordings of any past masterclasses, please contact Kate Thompson via email at

Upcoming masterclasses

Topic/provider Date Target classes
Tristan Bancks (author) 11 November 2016 Year 7 and 8 English
Special Relativity, CAASTRO 18 November 2016 Year 12 Physics


Our first masterclass for parents was offered on Tuesday 27 October. ThinkUKnow is a partnership between the Australian Federal Police and our technology sponsor, Microsoft Australia.

A small but committed group of parents participated and were able to ask questions and interact with the presenter, Phil Meyer from Microsoft. The presentation was centred on three key areas: how youth have fun online; how to help them stay in control on the net; and how to report when things go wrong.

Fact sheets on the issues outlined above can be downloaded from the ThinkUKnow website,

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Mentoring program

We continue to make progress in the area of mentoring. All ‘first round’ mentors have been briefed and some students were fortunate enough to meet their mentors for the first time during the recent residential school.

The week beginning 16 November has been flagged as a time for mentoring, so students will be notified via email of the exact time and virtual meeting room.

Mentors from Microsoft and CAASTRO met with students at UTS during the recent Residential Camp.

Mentors from Microsoft and CAASTRO met with students at UTS during the recent residential camp.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Spotlight on … Ms Denise Deaves

Oreo Cookie Monster and Jala Lilli. Photo provided courtesy D Deaves

Oreo Cookie Monster and Jala Lilli. Photo provided courtesy D Deaves

I am the School Administrative Manager at Aurora College’s Ryde office.  I have worked for the Department of Education for over 20 years and was very excited to receive a promotion this year and join the Aurora College team.  It takes approximately 40 minutes to drive to Ryde each morning through the never ending Sydney traffic.

I reside on the Northern Beaches of Sydney with my daughter and two dogs, Jala Lilli (Jack Russell Terrier) and Oreo Cookie Monster (Border Collie).  The Northern Beaches boasts some of the best beaches in Sydney including my favourite beach at Bayview which allows dogs.  There are a number of cafes along the beach fronts and my favourite café, COOH (the chemical symbol for Carboxylic Acid) which provides a great breakfast, is located in Curl Curl.  I have travelled extensively in Australia, going as far north as Darwin and as far west as Perth.

I really enjoy the diversity of my job; conversing with parents and teachers over the telephone, managing the school’s funds, answering emails, typing documents, updating the school calendar, updating attendance, new enrolments to name just a few.

Sunrise at Dee Why Beach on Anzac Day, 2015. Photo provided courtesy D Deaves

Sunrise at Dee Why Beach on Anzac Day, 2015. Photo provided courtesy D Deaves

In my spare time I am a National Archery Judge.  I recently travelled down to Morwell in Victoria to judge at the National Archery Championships.  I was appointed Director of Shooting which basically means I get to press buttons.  But seriously, the Director of Shooting is responsible for ensuring the competition is run to time as well as ensuring the target range is safe.  An archer has to shoot 6 arrows in 4 minutes (an end) and has to do this 6 times to make up a bracket.  Sometimes they shoot 3 brackets or even 4 brackets.  A competition can take all day which means the Director of Shooting needs to maintain concentration.

Denise Deaves

School Administration Manager

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Library report

Aurora’s e-collection continues to grow. As a result of one masterclass with award-winning teen fiction author, Fiona Wood, we now have her two novels as part of the Aurora Library. Six Impossible Things and Wildlife can be borrowed through Wheelers. Other new additions can be accessed via

A selection of new titles recently added to our online library

A selection of new titles recently added to our online library

Belinda Doyle

Teacher Librarian

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A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft

Microsoft is excited to announce the availability of two new content creation tools, available free to all students and teachers.

Office MIX and Sway

  1. Sway makes it quick and easy to create and share polished, interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more. Add your content, and we’ll do the rest. Bring your Sway to life with interactive content. Include a video to talk about your idea or add an interactive chart to let others dive into the details. You don’t need to worry about formatting, Sway’s built-in design engine takes care of it. If the first design isn’t right for you, Remix! it to see others or customise it to make it your own. Read more about Sway at or go to
  2. Office Mix is a free add-in for PowerPoint with everything you need to easily create and share interactive online lessons or projects. Office Mix adds functionality to PowerPoint 2013 that allows you to record audio or video of yourself presenting, write on your slides as you speak to them, insert quizzes, polls, online videos, and more. In fact, you can even do full screen capture and record anything on your PC. Once your presentation is ready, just click “Upload,” and we will work our magic to transform your presentation into a mix. You choose when and with whom to share it. See more at

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A message from our technology sponsor, Hewlett-Packard

HP-ShopHewlett-Packard has developed their NSW Education store for students, parents, staff members and families to purchase devices like the Elite X2 (pictured left) at special prices.

  • Intel® Core™ Processor M-5Y71 (4 MB cache, 2 cores)
  • Windows 8.1 Pro 64
  • Intel® HD Graphics
  • 11.6″ diagonal FHD BrightView IPS eDP ultra-slim LED-backlit touch screen
  • 256 GB M.2 SE SSD, 8 GB 1600 MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM

Be sure to check out the store at 


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From the engine room

Have you recently changed your email address, contact telephone numbers or address? Please notify us if any of your details have changed. We communicate in large by email and want to ensure all our parents receive regular updates. Please contact the Aurora College office on 02 9886 7560 or email

Denise Deaves

School Administrative Manager

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Aurora College; 3b Smalls Road, Ryde, NSW 2112
Phone: 02 9886 7560; Fax: 02 9886 7525; Email:
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