The Auracle – Volume 9, May 2016


Vol. 9, May 2016

In this issue:

Aurora College

3B Smalls Road
Ryde NSW 2112

Phone: 02 9886 7560
Fax: 02 9886 7525

From the Principal’s desk

Teachers and school leaders from across NSW descended on Bathurst for the first Rural and Remote Conference

Teachers from locations across NSW descended on Bathurst for the first ever Rural and Remote Conference

As I indicated in the previous edition of The Auracle, one of Aurora College’s strategic goals is to establish and share best practice in learning and teaching in a virtual environment. To this end, and honoring a commitment to our current and potential partner schools, Aurora College co-hosted the first ever Rural and Remote Conference on 17 and 18 May 2016.

Held at the Mt Panorama Racing Circuit in Bathurst, the conference attracted more than 220 teachers and school leaders from across the state. Of these, 10 school sites were ‘virtual participants’, joining us for the keynote addresses and selected sessions via live web streaming.

The theme for the conference was Building bridges, building futures. It provided an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of rural and remote educational communities and a forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist today and into the future. With clear links to the broad reform agenda underway in NSW public education through such initiatives as: the Rural and Remote Education Blueprint; Local Schools, Local Decisions; Great Teaching, Inspired Learning; and Connected Communitiesthe conference explored how rural and remote schools are improving outcomes for all students and how they are meeting the needs of the diverse communities they serve.

The conference commenced with a very moving Welcome to Country by Wiradjuri community elder, Aunty Gloria Rodgers. Aunty Gloria reminded all present that we were meeting on land that is of special significance to the original inhabitants, the Wiradjuri people. She referred to the mount by its traditional name and spoke with great pride about the successful application by the local Aboriginal Land Council to have Mount Panorama dual named Wahluu.

The opening address was then delivered by Professor Toni Downes, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic) of Charles Sturt University. Professor Downes struck a chord with the 15 Aurora staff present when she spoke of the importance of building aspirations and capabilities by focusing on belonging, engagement and success. Keynote addresses were delivered on both days of the conference by Allan Carrington (an Apple Distinguished Educator and former learning designer with the e-learning team at the University of Adelaide) and Dan Haesler (an international keynote speaker, educator, author and consultant).

Delegates at the conference participated in a range of high quality workshops with clear connections to one or more of the conference aims, to:

  • share innovative pedagogies
  • demonstrate new and emerging technologies
  • explore the impact of current and imminent educational reforms
  • celebrate educational transformation
  • deliver engaging learning through ‘hands-on’ experiences
  • showcase local and international research.

Aurora College staff delivered the following sessions:

  • Lessons at Aurora College (Jake Henzler, Renee Dawson and Carolyn McMurtrie)
  • ‘Hands-on’ in the e-learning environment (Silvia Rudman)
  • Science resources – Where are they? (Virginia Cluff, Fiona Boneham and Geoff Goldrick)
  • Virtual collaborations in English (Carolyn McMurtrie)
  • Connect locally, learn globally (Chris Robertson)

Given its success, it is likely that the conference will become a regular event in the NSW Department of Education calendar.  I would like to thank Greg Alchin, the members of the organising committee and our co-hosts and colleagues in Rural and Distance Education for their hard work in planning for and running the event. The conference website has a collection of presenter handouts and links to recordings of the key note addresses and selected sessions.

The process of selecting our Year 7 cohort for 2017 will enter the final phase on 6 June with a meeting of the Selective Schools Panel at the High Performing Students Unit in Sydney. I would like to thank Angela Robbers (mother of Jack, Year 10) for volunteering her time as our parent representative in this process. Placement outcome advice will be sent to all applicants early in June and we look forward to welcoming our next intake of ‘bright lights’ soon after.

Finally, I would like to welcome Louise Swanson to the staff. Louise will be relieving in the position of Head Teacher Secondary Studies whilst Kate Thompson is on leave.

Enjoy another great issue of The Auracle.

Chris Robertson


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Deputy’s report

Aurora College staff at the Rural and Remote Conference, 2016.

Aurora College staff at the Rural and Remote Conference.

I would like to add my thanks to the Aurora College staff who contributed to the success of the first ever Rural and Remote Conference in Bathurst. Showcasing the great work being done at Aurora, the sessions led by our staff provided the perfect opportunity to inform and build relationships with our current and future partner schools.

Term 2 has been another busy time for Aurora students as they learn to balance their home school and Aurora workloads. In this issue of The Auracle, I would like to remind you of a number of important roles and procedures.

Aurora College Coordinators

From time to time, students will need some assistance to manage their concerns. The first port of call should be the Aurora College Coordinator (ACC) in the home school. The role of the ACC is to help students with things they may not be able to manage themselves and to contact Aurora College staff, if necessary.

The role of the ACC is similar to that of a Year Advisor and includes the provision of wellbeing and administrative support. The ACC is the ‘onsite face’ of Aurora College.

All student absences must be reported by the ACC to the Aurora College Office via email ( This includes sick leave and leave for students who are on official school business, such as a swimming carnival, athletics carnival, or a home school excursions.

Additional curriculum support

For students who are experiencing difficulties in keeping up with their home school and Aurora workloads, we are also providing targeted one-on-one support in English, mathematics and science. If, at any time, a student feels as though they are struggling and would benefit from help in organising their time efficiently, they (or their parents) should contact the coordinating office and speak to either the Principal, or myself on 1300 287 629.


Semester 1 reports will be issued for students in Year 11 in Week 6 on 3 June and Years 7 to 10 in Week 9 on 20 June. Unlike the Term 1 interim report, the Semester 1 report is a full ‘academic’ report. It will show the progress that each student is making towards achieving specific course outcomes.

Parent-teacher meetings will occur in Week 10 on Monday 27 June between 4.00 pm and 6:00 pm for Yr 7, 9 and 11 and on Tuesday 28 June between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm for Yr 8, 10 and 12.

This will give all parents the opportunity to meet and discuss their child’s progress. Meetings will take place via telephone this semester. Further information, including how to book an appointment, will be emailed to all parents.

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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Tip from a techie

iSee Virtual Environment

Over the last 18 months, Aurora College has been working with the developers of an exciting new application called iSee. This is a virtual 3D environment where users can communicate and collaborate in a natural way. One of the exciting features of this application is the spatial audio, which mimics real life by making sounds from a distance appear quieter. As you move closer to the source of the sound, it becomes louder. This feature allows teachers to break classes into small groups, without having to separate the groups in separate virtual spaces.

We have developed a number of custom spaces in the iSee application, including a lecture theatre, a hall, and a virtual playground. We hope that classes will start using these spaces this term, as well as allowing students to socialise in the playground during recess and lunch breaks. Unfortunately, we have encountered a small technical issue relating to the Departments’ new Secure Internet Service which has delayed our roll out of the application. We are currently working with the developers to resolve this issue, and we will provide further information as soon as possible.

Windows 10

A number of users worldwide are reporting that the Microsoft’s Windows 10 upgrade tool has forced them to install the new operating system. I would like to reassure everyone that all the hardware and software that Aurora College uses is compatible with Windows 10, so you do not need to panic if the upgrade starts inadvertently. The upgrade process will not delete any files you have saved, or applications that you have installed. Of course, we still advise you to always have a complete back up of your files stored in a safe place.


Did you know you can download a copy of your child’s reports from the Sentral Parent Portal? When you log in, simply click on the picture of your child, select Reporting from the Dashboard menu in the top left, and then select Published Reports. You will see a link to each Report that has been published so far. The Report can be displayed in your browser and then printed, or you can download the Report as a PDF file.

If you need help logging into the Sentral Parent Portal, please call us on 1300 610 733 or email at

Ben Hillsley

Learning Technologies Support Officer

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Connect locally, learn globally

Katana at her first Karate Grading

Katana at her first Karate Grading

My name is Madaline Murphy, but you might know me as Katana. A lot of people don’t know why this is, but the actual reason is because my Mother promised my Great, Great Grandmother to call me by my middle name, a bit of a strange promise, but it stuck after my Dad chose my middle name to be Katana, after a motorbike!

I live in Orange, New South Wales, which is about four hours away from Sydney. My town is very sporty, like a lot of towns, but is mostly known for its wine and vineyards. There are several wine festivals throughout the year, as well as food festivals. This seems a bit strange since the name of the town is ‘Orange’ yet we are known for grapes and other foods! The thing I like about Orange the most is probably the extinct volcano, Mt Canobolas. It’s heaps of fun to explore the different walking tracks!

When I am not at school I am usually at my local dojo or primary school. I volunteer once a week at the primary school, where I help kids to learn maths and how to read. I train in Karate and Muay Thai at my local dojo ‘Kumiai Ryu’, so I spend a lot of time there! I only recently started doing this afterschool, but so far I have found it to be very fun and interesting and have met some great friends through training. I also like to hang out with friends from my old school on the weekends.

When I leave school I hope to go into either teaching or something medical. I really like helping people and so I think that would be the most rewarding career path for myself.

At my home school, Blayney High, which is about 35 minutes drive from Orange, I believe there are about 300 students, and 50 or so in my year. They all seem very nice and I have gotten to do many great things since moving schools this year, such as debating!

The view from the top of Mt Canobolas

The view from the top of Mt Canobolas, Orange

In terms of my Aurora life, my whole school life is pretty much Aurora now days! I do Chemistry, Physics, Advanced English, Extension English, 2 Unit Maths and Extension 1 Maths with Aurora, and Biology with Distance Education. I am never really in a classroom, rather sitting at my cool teacher desk all day. I think the best thing about learning at Aurora is the small class sizes, as well as how easy it is to contact with teachers when you need help. I also think everyone is super nice in Aurora.

I chose Aurora because it just seemed to work best for me and made me the happiest! I have always liked technology and so being online is quite comfortable for me. My experience has been really good so far, besides a few little bumps in the road (mostly technology), which I am sure we have all had. I previously did Xsel, from year 7 to 9, so this is my 5th year of online schooling and I am pretty used to it now. I have gotten better and better with time management over the years, and that is part of the reason I chose to do all my studies with Aurora. Any younger students will also acquire this skill as they move up the years in Aurora, but it can be a tricky thing to master when there is no teacher physically in the room telling you to do your work. I think I probably have a preference for self-directed or guided learning because I seem to get the most done that way, as I have learnt to be very efficient. It also allows me to use my own techniques I have learnt over the years.

One thing I really enjoy about Aurora is that, although I appreciate my town for the great activities like tracking that it has, Aurora gives me the opportunity to go to other places I have never experienced with a group of great people who are all like-minded.

Katana Murphy

Year 11 (Blayney High School)

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Mathematics and barcodes

Numbers and mathematics exist everywhere in the cosmos. Year 7 recently completed their first assignment based on the mathematics of barcode and data strings. Students were introduced to the idea that even the most simple of mathematical principles are used in unique and innovative ways. They looked at barcode systems that made everyday life such as shopping easier. Students also looked at the SETI program (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) which searches space for patterns and signals that may be messages from outer space. Students then used mathematics to design an image or message they would use to send to aliens, similar to the Arecibo Message sent in 1974.

Renee Dawson

Head Teacher Mathematics

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Community liaisons

Travelling across the state for the Community Liaison Officer position. More towns and schools to come!

Travelling across the state in the role of Community Liaison Officer. Click for a bigger view.

In 2016, Aurora College created a Community Liaison Officer position. The purpose of this role is to travel around the state to visit our current and future partner schools. I have the privilege of holding this position and I have been traveling the state to visit students, teachers, parents, Aurora College Coordinators and science practical teachers. In my travels, I have had the pleasure of meeting many people and will continue to meet many more.

As part of the role is to ensure that schools and communities know about Aurora College and the opportunities it can offer, I am happy to travel to primary schools, high schools and parent meetings. If your school or community would like to know more about Aurora College or would like to experience an Aurora lesson, please let me know and I will try to visit as soon as possible.

Virginia Cluff

Head Teacher Science | Community Liaison Officer

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HSC study days

Aurora College will be hosting a series of HSC study days in coming weeks. This is an opportunity for any HSC class in a rural or remote Department of Education school to connect, learn and revise with others. A range of experts, experienced teachers and HSC markers will present up-to-date information on course content. Students will have opportunities to ask questions and seek answers in real time. Study days will be held on the following dates:

  • Physics: Friday 17 June
  • Economics: Thursday 23 June
  • Mathematics: Wednesday 29 June
  • English: TBA

These sessions will be available online through Adobe Connect and have a cost of $50 per school. Registration is via Eventbrite. You can find a link to register on the Aurora website under Learn With Us, HSC Study Days.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Bright lights of Aurora

Reif with his CHS Sailing Nationals medal

Reif with his CHS Sailing Nationals medal

Aurora College students achieved some truly outstanding results in the recent Computer Algorithm and Thinking (CAT) competition. Tynan Matthews of Year 8 (Parkes High School) was awarded a High Distinction with a perfect score! Also from Parkes High School, Alex Williams of Year 7 achieved a Distinction, whilst Alleyne Gaut of Year 7, Madison Bland, Julia Williams and Trefor Robinson of Year 9 each achieved a Credit. Jonah Menzies of Year 7 (Maclean High School) received a Distinction and Djer Kenny of Year 7 (Mudgee High School) received a Credit. Congratulations to all students for their fantastic achievements.

Congratulations also to the following students:

Reif Oliver of Year 7 (Eden Marine High School) travelled to Lake Macquarie in the Term 1 holidays to compete in the 50th CHS Sailing Nationals/NSW Championship. He placed 25th overall, 3rd in his boat class (O’pen Bic), 5th in his NSW division and 7th in his All-schools (Public + Private) division. Congratulations Reif!

Emma Hocking of Year 8 (Broken Hill High School) represented West Darling in a week long soccer competition.

Molly Harris of Year 9 (Bourke High School) participated in ‘Shave for a Cure’ in Term 1. This involved having all her hair cut off. Brave girl Molly! This term, Molly was also involved in ‘Nibble and Natter’ which is a pre-Mothers Day celebration. All female students, staff and female members of the community were invited to have a great afternoon, taking part in competitions and sharing in some delicious nibbles.

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

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Masterclass program

Richard Short from the Sydney Story Factory (SSF) ran a creative writing workshop for Years 9 and 10 on Thursday 28 April as a follow-up to the residential school workshop. SSF are very keen to hear from Aurora students, read their work and further develop their skills. Students are encouraged to participate in the Pen Pal program where works can be refined and published.Sydney Story Factory - Pen Pal Program

It is crucial for student well-being that we host masterclasses where students hear, not only from experts in their field, but from ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, such as dealing with anxiety and resilience. Lucy Neville from Beyond Blue shared her life story of challenge, mental illness and continued recovery with students on Monday 9 May. Students empathised with her and admired her courage. If any students missed this session or would like to access the recording, more information, advice or resources relating to this, please contact our Learning and Support Teacher, Sharleen Mulawin via email ( or phone 1300 287 629.

On Thursday 5 May, we were fortunate to host Helga Denes from the CSIRO Centre for Astronomy and Space Science and Australian National University at Ryde. Helga’s master class focused on her PhD work on the hydrogen content of galaxies. She shared amazing images of galaxies and conveyed incredible data and information about them. In fact, during her research, Helga discovered a new galaxy which she nicknamed ‘Smudgy’ because of  the way it looked in an image. Galaxies are actually named according to their location relative to us in the universe.

Students are encouraged to check out the slideshows on their OLIVER Library homepage. They relate to the masterclasses provided and link to websites and digital resources that students can access if they would like to further explore the topics covered in the masterclasses.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Opportunities to shine

Want to study science at university? Win a trip to Hobart and check out the opportunities to study science at the University of Tasmania. All you have to do is write 25 words or less about why you are interested in studying science. Entries close 31 May, 2016. For more details, visit

What’s your hometown like? New South Wales is more than Sydney Harbour, the Bridge and the Opera House. Take a photo of your hometown to show how diverse the ‘real NSW’ is. This is a competition specifically for youth. Phone-quality images are fine. Entries close 30 June, 2016. For more information, visit

The Australian Maths competition will be held on 28 July, 2016. So far, 24 Aurora College students have entered. Students have been provided with a GETSET code to assist in familiarising themselves with the style of problems posed and working online. It’s a school-based competition so ask your teachers if you can compete! More information is available at

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The mentoring program continues with a small but committed group of Aurora students and mentors from Microsoft and CAASTRO. We are also towards the end of a project with Kathleen Vella, a specialist in mentoring, who has developed and refined mentoring packages specifically for Aurora. We look forward to expanding the mentoring program and trialling the great new activities.

Kate Thompson

Head Teacher Secondary Studies

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Storytelling with Year 7 English

As part of the English unit, ‘Storytelling’, Year 7 students were required to submit a narrative incorporating the important elements of storytelling such as setting, plot, character and narrative voice that conveys a sense of a particular culture or sub-culture. We received many outstanding submissions showcasing the writing talents of Aurora students; too many to include in one edition of The Auracle! Get ready to read some in every edition for the rest of the year! To kick off the work samples, we have included ‘Still life’, by Maria Tynan – a wonderful narrative centred firmly in the sub-culture of a French artist, and ‘The Farm’, by Alex Williams – an engaging story about farm life in rural NSW.


Penny Boucher & Daisy Little

Teachers, English

‘The Farm’ by Alex Williams of Year 7 (Parkes High School)

Ew…Ew, ew! I know I shouldn’t be disgusted but…EW! It lay on the ground, slimy, bloody, and looking repulsive, yet amazing. It was a miracle. The chances of it being alive were incredibly small. I felt an enormous sense of pride. I, Rebecca Lily Thomson, helped bring this miracle into the world. But…EW!

My Dad looked over and smiled at my expression. “You’ll get used to it.” He said with a rural accent.

“Maybe,” I sighed.

“You’ll have to get used to it if you’re going to be a vet!” he replied laughing.

I smiled. I’d wanted to be a vet for as long as I could remember. What better job could there be than helping animals? I grinned at him and we turned away from the cow and her calf which I had just helped pull.

I helped my dad often; he was a farmer and there was always work if I wanted it. Pulling calves, herding cattle, and going for rides in the header were just a few. At harvest I missed a few weeks of school so I could help my Dad. In the header I’d strip the crops, if I was in the chaser bin I’d run alongside the header where the grain was transferred, or I might be in the tractor taking the grain to the silos where it could be stored. Whatever I did I loved it!

My Dad and I walked away from the heifer and her newborn calf. As we mounted my Dad’s Quad bike he asked, “Do you want to check the other calves and heifers?”

I thought for a moment then said, “Sure”

As we sped down our front drive, the wind whipped my hair, tangling it as I let out a shout of laughter. I loved going for rides on the quad bike; the speed, the adrenalin. I clutched onto the back of my dad’s jacket and watched the ground flash past about a metre away. I laughed again and the sound was snatched away from me.

When we got to the two paddocks full of calves and their mothers, we moved slowly through them, the mixture of brown, cream and blacks all staring at us. We saw calves feeding from their mothers and great numbers of them playing together. They chased after the bike, which had slowed down considerably, and I yelled to Dad, “They’re so cute!” I laughed.

“They are, aren’t they,” he replied.

I smiled and watched as they lost interest in us and meandered off. Soon we came to the edge of the first paddock and began trundling slowly along the fence line. We were looking for any trouble – calves and their mothers separated and things like that.

In a matter of minutes we were close to the fence that the two paddocks shared. I suddenly heard something, a bellowing noise. ”Dad, can you hear that?” I asked.

“No… Actually yes!” He pushed his thumb harder in to the accelerator leaver, our speed increased and the bellowing sound became louder and louder. A creamy-brown heifer was bellowing, frantically trying to find a way into the second paddock. I scanned it, looking for a calf that was perhaps alone.

Within seconds I saw a small brown calf; it was running around frantically, trying to get to its mother. I sighed; my Dad slowly moved the bike forward. We would have to go around the mother to be able to push her towards the gate. She didn’t seem to notice us as we crept slowly around her.

Once we were behind her we began to edge her forward, push her towards the gate. She was immensely distressed and began to panic as we edged closer to her. Suddenly the agitated beast made a quick dash past us, putting herself further away from the open gate and her calf. My Dad growled, angered at the animal’s stupidity. He quickly turned the bike, heading behind the panicking animal.

This time my Dad proceeded more cautiously. Slowly, painstakingly, we pushed the distressed mother towards the gate. Once we got to it, my Dad swiftly turned, blocking off any other means of escape. Finally the heifer ran through the gate, where she was greeted by her agitated calf.

The sun was setting as we sped home; I clung onto the bike with one hand and the other gripping my Dad. The sky was stained gold, the clouds pink and lilac that faded into blue… It was so peaceful. As the sun finally sank below the horizon, the gold was overtaken by the other colours.

We sped over the bumpy dirt road and I watched the scenery flash by. I ducked my head over my Dad’s shoulder, smiling as the wind rushed passed me, as we whizzed up our darkening driveway.

“Still Life” by Maria Tynan of Year 7 (Leeton High School)

Winter’s room was always a clutter of unfinished paintings. Into her latest work of art, she sunk deeper and deeper. Her painting depicted terrified people huddling close, trying to evade the hideous monster that was just around the corner. But it was no monster; it was just a boy with ugly growths on his body.

“Winter, my petit oiseau? Are you still working?” called out a voice from the salon. In walked her loving pére, Pierre. He was a tall and finely built man famous for his champagne wines. Winter smiled to herself; she loved when he slowly walked in, not annoyed at her for staying up painting. “Come child. It is time to go to bed,” he whispered to Winter in a thick French accent. Walking calmly out of Winter’s room, he returned to their salon. Sitting himself upon his canapé, he admired the wedding-day picture of his loving wife, Aurore. In this photo, Aurore peered over her shoulder with a dazzling smile. Her dress was made of pure white silk, the finest that her fiancé could afford. It was a very slimming dress. She had a beautiful figure. Down her back was a parade of pearls, arranged in the shape of a dahlia. Her gold veil was as sheer as gossamer.

Her soul was as pure as gold.

A silent tear ran down Pierre’s cheek; “Where would she be now?” He asked himself, “Would she know me in Heaven?”

The next morning, Winter awoke to the sound of a quiet sizzling. A gentle smell wafted its way up the staircase. “Haloumi. My favourite,” Winter thought out loud. She loved the way the cheese gave a gentle squeak when it was chewed. Winter rushed down the stairs, skipping two stairs in every leap. At the bottom of the stair case, she stopped for a second and peered into the kitchen to see her gentle father smiling at her. “She’s tall and beautiful, like her mother,” Pierre thought to himself. They devoured in silence every last bit of crispy cheese that was their delicious breakfast. It was too good to be wasted!

Finally, when they had finished, Winter rushed back up the stairs and grabbed her satchel containing her paints and brushes. On her way back down, she barely noticed her pére waiting at the bottom of the stairs. “Bye, je t’aime,” she chirped. Pierre nodded in return and smiled. The loss of his lovely wife still made his heart ache, especially when he looked at his gorgeous sixteen year old angel. Skidding to a messy stop like a child playing in mud, she walked back to give him a dainty kiss on the cheek.. He could hear Winter’s “dainty little steps”rush outside.

She was on her way to the French School of the Arts.

Finally, Winter arrived at the station and took the 8:31 Metro to the city. When she arrived in Paris, a familiar bustle surrounded her; the noisy cars chugging past, the chimes of the Conciergerie. On a nearby wall, she noticed a flyer, flapping like it was asking her to read it. It was an entry form for the International Art Competition. Grabbing the flyer, she sprinted off to school, which was just across the road, knowing the perfect piece to enter.

Winter could not believe she had done it; she’d won the National Round for the International Art Competition! She had entered her painting, now famously known as, “The Beautiful, Hideous Boy”. Standing up on the podium, Winter thought about how proud her father would be. Pierre was too busy to be able to come to the ceremony that day. The vintage season had just started, and he couldn’t afford to lose the time.

On the way back home, Winter couldn’t stop thinking about what she would do with her prize money, ₣5000! And she couldn’t believe that in only two weeks she would be off to New York for the Finals!

The next morning, Winter checked the mail and found a letter for her pére. “Papa! There is a letter in the mail for you….Papa?” Winter rushed into her father’s room, wondering why he wasn’t answering. Then she saw him… lying as still as a corpse. She immediately called an ambulance.

It turned out that her beloved Papa had a major stroke and would need to stay in hospital for at least the next month. The Art competition was in two weeks time!

Her friends told her she was crazy. They said her father would be fine, that they would look after him, that she shouldn’t miss out on something like this and she knew she was missing out on the most brilliant opportunity of a lifetime; to go to New York and meet other young artists like herself. Anyway, what if she didn’t get this far again?

But for her, the decision was easy. Her father had always been there for her, now was her chance to reciprocate. Besides, she really didn’t HAVE to be there to receive her prize, even if she were to win. “I love you. And now that you can’t move, I can finally create my masterpiece!” she said with a cheeky grin …

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Spotlight on … Ms Renee Dawson

At what other school do you teach?

My home school is Toormina High School. It is located on the mid north coast, approximately half way between Sydney and Brisbane. I have been here for 5 years. We have a current enrolment of about 740 students.

Renee Dawson, Head Teacher Mathematics

Renee Dawson, Head Teacher Mathematics

What is your local community like?

We are a sea side community. Coffs Harbour is about 10 kilometres away and has most major retailers. It still has the feel of a large country town, not a city. The beach is an important part of our lifestyle and community activities.

What’s your favourite subject to teach?

Maths of course! It was my favourite subject at school and I still get so excited about teaching it every day. I love relating my engineering knowledge back to students and showing how mathematics plays a part in real world events. For example, when the Malaysian airline went missing, solography and deep ocean mapping was used to try to locate the plane. The challenges and problems that were faced were solved using mathematics.

What do you like about teaching at Aurora?

I think teaching is all about the interaction with students. I love how students at Aurora interact and think outside the square. In the small classes you get a chance to really connect with each student as an individual and work with them to achieve their best. I am asked lots of very interesting and challenging questions about mathematics and other subjects.

What are your other interests?

I am involved with Surf Life Saving. My 3 boys are doing surf club and I volunteer as an age manager for Urunga Surf Club. I recently completed my bronze medallion to patrol next season.

I also love quilting and make my own quilts on my sewing machine. In winter, my boys play rugby union so I go along to training and games to cheer them along.

Renee Dawson

Head Teacher Mathematics

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Library report

Top readers for term one

Congratulations to the following students for excellent borrowing and reading habits in term one: Madeleine Ross; Zoe Jenkins; Emily Henby; Ella Roberts; Kahli Henley; Susannah Curnuck; Anita McKenzie; Elijha Fortescue; and Djer Kenny. Astra awards have been issued to all of these students.

New resources

Students have been requesting resources for our digital library to complete popular series that they have started to read. An email was sent out last week to all students and staff outlining the new resources purchased in May, including books from Anthony Horowitz, John Flanagan, Rick Riordan and A.G. Howard. Please let me know if you have not received a copy and I will gladly email one directly to you. If students would like a resource to be made available digitally, please send me an email ( with the subject, book title or author’s name. Student and staff contributions are always welcome.

Book Week 2016

The theme for book week 2016 is Australia! Story Country. The ‘long list’ of books being considered for the title of ‘book of the year’ has been announced by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. In the older reader category, entries may be fiction, drama or poetry. We have the following titles available for students to borrow for our online library:

  • Cloud wish – Fiona Wood (who also delivered a masterclass in 2015 on creative writing)
  • The guy, the girl and his ex – Gabrielle Williams
  • Inbetween days – Vikki Wakefield
  • A small madness – Diane Touchell
  • For the forest of the bird – Sue Saliba
  • Newt’s Emerald – Garth Nix
  • The beauty is in the walking – James Moloney
  • A single stone – Meg McKinley
  • Talk under water – Kathryn Lomer
  • The Pause – John Larkin
  • One true thing – Nicole Hayes
  • The Flywheel – Erin Gough
  • The river and the book – Alison Croggon
  • In the skin of a monster – Kathryn Barker

Cosmos Magazine Online

Did you know that astronomers have a way to weigh a super-massive black hole? Or that the prehistoric hammerhead was the first herbivorous marine reptile? Ever wanted to know what’s in the perfect recipe for a replacement bone? These are just some of the featured topics in this months’ Cosmos Magazine online. Open OLIVER from your Student Portal and then click the link to Cosmos Magazine Online to learn more.

COSMOS front page, May 10 2016Reading Challenge 2016

Students are encouraged to keep reading and to send me a quick email as they complete each square on the grid, as published in the last newsletter. Each square you complete will be entered into a draw for an end of year reward. The more you read the more chances you have!

Happy reading!

Kaylene Taylor

Teacher Librarian

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A message from our technology sponsor, Microsoft


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From the engine room

Did you know you can telephone the Ryde Office on 1300 287 629 for the cost of a local call? Our office hours are 8:30 am to 3:30 pm Monday to Friday.

Have you “liked” our Facebook page? This is a great way of keeping in touch with events and happenings.

We also have the Skoolbag application which you can download to your iPhone/iPad or Android device for free. You will be able to view the school calendar which is updated daily as well as our latest newsletter .

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We always enjoy chatting to our parents.

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:
Website:; Facebook:


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