from the principal
Dear WWHS families –
The end of Term 3 has been a busy one for our school and others throughout the state. I’m so happy to say that together we made it through what has been a constantly changing and at times difficult few months. We could not have done it without the commitment from our wonderful families who supported learning from home and maintained ongoing connections with the school. It truly has been a partnership. I want to thank you all for your efforts to continue to keep our school community safe.
I’d also like to acknowledge the resilience and diligence of our terrific young people. You have had your bumps and your triumphs. But you have kept pushing through! We miss you terribly and cannot wait to have you back on site in the coming weeks.
I couldn’t go any further without recognising the efforts of our incredible teaching and support staff. In 21 years of working in schools I have never experienced teamwork, collaboration, care and innovation as I have with the West Wallsend High School staff. It is truly an honour to serve, support and lead such a fantastic team and community.
I hope everyone enjoys a break over the holidays and is looking forward to the COVID-safe return to school sites that we are planning for in Term 4.
Return to school roadmap for Term 4
Learning from home will continue from Tuesday 5 October until we return to face-to-face learning through a staged return from 25 October. On this date, Year 12 will be the first cohort to return. Year 11 will then return on the 1 November and Years 7-10 on the 8 November.
Students and staff will return under strict health guidelines including mandatory mask wearing, no offsite visitors and highly limited activities. I will share more details of this prior to students returning to face-to-face learning.
Vaccinations for all school-based staff across all sectors will be mandatory from 8 November. Those staff on-site to support the senior student return will need to be fully vaccinated by the 25 October. All students eligible for a vaccine are strongly encouraged by the government to do so however, it will not be mandatory for students to be vaccinated before returning to school.
Currently, the clear message from NSW Health is that until these return dates families should be keeping children at home unless it is absolutely necessary for them to attend school.
The return to school roadmap is subject to change depending on new information expected through the Public Health Order and additional advice from NSW Health. You can stay up to date with the most recent advice on the Department of Education’s Advice for families page.
Congratulations to our Year 12 students! You’ve nearly made it to the end of a unique and very tough year. Your resilience and work ethic through this time has been admirable.
The official last day for Year 12 is Friday 17 September 2021, however students will be supported up until their exams. Mr Chandler has sent out a detailed update to Year 12 students and families with further details around this, including the important reminder that from 25 October, all Year 12 students will have access to our site. I strongly encourage all students to return on this date. This will ensure we can provide face-to-face support in the lead up to exams. However, it is also important for Year 12 to have an opportunity to connect as a cohort and enjoy the last few weeks they have together. Further information in relation to end of course reports, the graduation assembly and formal can be found in Mr Chandler’s recent letter.
Year 11 update
Mr Gauci has provided detailed information to Year 11 families in Week 10 in relation to students kicking off their HSC coursework from next term. It’s an exciting time for our seniors and while the term will start from home we can’t wait to see our 2022 HSC cohort back on site very soon.
Another big congratulations must go to our new senior leadership team! They are a brilliant bunch and I know the school will be in fantastic hands as they transition into their new roles.
Wellbeing focus to continue in Term 4
Thank you to the many families who reached out and shared how positive and successful they found the Wellbeing Wednesday we ran several weeks ago. Based on this we will be implementing a screen-free wellbeing focused day for Years 7-10 in Weeks 2, 3, 4 and 5 as part of the learning from home program next term.
Students will be encouraged to engage in a range of fun, hands on wellbeing focused activities throughout the day. It will also provide a pressure-free opportunity to catch up on independent study. Year 11 and 12 students will be encouraged to engage in some of the activities and their teachers will also remain available to them on these days.
Mrs Jenness and the Wellbeing Team will share more information about this great initiative early next term. In the meantime, take some time to check out our wellbeing resources for students and families.
Our RISE Team will continue our wellbeing check-in calls with families next term to ensure you have all of the resources you require to support your young person learning from home.
Learning from home packs for Weeks 1 and 2 will be available for contactless pick up from the front of the office from 9am Tuesday 5 October.
Semester 2 Reports
Semester 2 reports for years 7-10 will look a little different from our usual reports next term. Teachers will still provide a clear snapshot of student progress but in a more simplified template. This will reflect a state-wide approach. Reports will be available for all 7-10 students at the end of Term 4.
Reports for Year 11 and 12 students will remain the same detailed report as previous years. This is because both year groups were able to complete all formal assessment for their courses. Year 12 reports are available to download now from the Parent Portal. Year 11 reports will be available mid-Term 4.
Year 7, 2022
For those of you with Year 7 students starting with us next year, keep an eye out for important information that will be mailed to you in Week 1 in relation to the drop off period for enrolment documents and an upcoming transition meeting for parents and students to be held online early next term.
Thank you again for your ongoing understanding and support. We hope you and your family enjoy a safe and very well-deserved break over the holidays. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if we can do anything to help you to prepare for Term 4 or if you have any concerns about the return to school.
Please take good care and stay safe.
As we started Term 3, little did we realise how important Wellbeing Week would be for our students. The Wellbeing team organised various activities – lots of games and challenges to appeal to academics and sports lovers. There was a dress-up day, a PJ Party and HOT CHOCOLATE! It was wonderful to see our staff and students come together to recognise the importance of 'belonging' and prioritising wellbeing and self-care.
Since graduating, I was appointed into the Royal Australian Navy as a Maritime Warfare Officer. Having completed a New Entry Officer Course 64, I am now studying at the School of Navigation Warefare at HMAS Watson in Sydney.
I believe that everyone has the potential to learn something at every stage in life, and just because an individual has completed a learning goal they have set for themselves, there is always something more to strive for in their education.
Since leaving school, I have worked for local power stations, recently retiring from AGL Macquarie.
Lifelong learning helped me be promoted from an apprenticeship to being an operator in the power industry. Without my continued study, this would not have happened. Continued learning helps you grow and stay in touch with new technologies.
Since graduating from WWHS, I have done quite a few different jobs, though now I am in a job I LOVE – working as a disability support worker.
I think lifelong learning is important to help students realise what they would like to do after leaving school and to, of course, study hard to get what they want.
Since graduating, I have finished a Certificate III in Music Industry (Performance) at TAFE NSW, and I am now studying for my Certificate IV.
No one ever stops learning, whether it is in school or the real world. So in a way, we are all lifelong learners. As well, if no one learns, nothing new can be discovered.
Since graduating, I have completed an apprenticeship as an electrician, worked in sales and now work for myself as a videographer and drone technician.
Throughout the different industries I have worked in, I've always kept a willingness to earn. It's what has enabled me to find an alternate career path than what I originally thought I wanted to do out of school.
Since graduating, I have moved into Newcastle and founded a recruitment and consulting business called SC People and co-founded an advocacy group called the Hunter Collection Diversity and Inclusion Collective. I am also an active member of Hunter Young Professionals, HunterNet, and I am the Kirsten Keegan Scholarship recipient for the 2021 Future Leaders Program.
In 2021 it is demanded of our organisations to be more adaptive and innovative, to remain competitive and relevant. Whether you work within a large corporation or run your own business, success and a competitive advantage in 2021 and beyond will require us to remain agile and develop innovative solutions to problems. This can only be achieved through a commitment to lifelong learning.
After graduating I completed a Bachelor of Business degree part-time whilst working in a number of senior marketing and public relations roles for the NSW Government and major consumer brands. I made my best ever(!!) career decision 7 years ago to retrain as a high school teacher. My areas of expertise are legal studies and ancient history, and I am also the Head Teacher of the HSIE Faculty leading a dedicated and talented team of humanities teachers.
This year's theme means a lot to me because I am the definition of a lifelong learner! Since my undergraduate degree, I have also obtained post-graduate qualifications in communications, teaching and arts (history) and am midway through a Masters' of Education (Leadership and Management). As a teacher, I hope to inspire today's WWHS students to achieve whatever they set their minds to during their time at school and throughout their lives.
I became a journalist, spent many years travelling the world as a Motoring Journalist before moving into editorial management, holding numerous positions from Chief of Staff of a newspaper up to Editor and later Managing Editor responsible for more than 100 publications. I have worked in radio, TV, newspapers and magazines including the Sydney Morning Herald and Wheels Magazine where I was Assistant Editor. Later I started a PR company that became the largest non-metropolitan PR company on the eastern seaboard.
It is natural when we are young to pigeonhole educational institutions as the only places we will learn. The reality is, every day of your life you will learn something. Some will learn despite themselves but the people who are successful in all aspects of life and truly fulfilled will be those who embrace the experience and constantly seek to learn, to better themselves.
I have become a full-time musician, successfully releasing 2 songs this year that have reached the top ten in the iTunes charts. Along with playing my shows, I connect with people worldwide through interviews and other music platforms.
The theme is important because no single person stops learning throughout their lifetime. It's always a smart decision to connect with others and learn from their experience and knowledge.
Online In CAPA
Since going online, the CAPA staff have been working hard to ensure students keep up their creativity! Whilst it’s hard not having access to all our wonderful musical instruments and art materials, we have become innovative through fun drawing activities, photography, stop motion tasks and online music production.
Year 8 Visual Arts have been busy exploring Pop art and spent some time creating new book covers for their favourite novels (We love Book week!).
Year 10 Visual Arts have been exploring a new style of art – Dada! Students are exploring their artmaking skills through creating a fun, whimsical collage. Year 10 Photographic and Digital Media have made some amazing Stop Motion films using innovative techniques and objects around their home.
The CAPA teachers are super proud of Westy’s creative students and their ongoing commitment to honing their artmaking and photography skills! Year 9 Photographic and Digital Media have explored photography utilising a variety of light sources. Using this style, they have captured still-life and portraiture photography.
Year 11 Photography, Video & Digital Imaging have explored various themes through black and white photography.
To celebrate Book Week 2021, students had the opportunity to capture an image that represented a book. Can you name the book based on the photograph?
Year 7 student Johnathan Sandiford
Johnathan has worked independently to develop his composition skills using Mixcraft 9 and is to be congratulated on his outstanding work. Well done Johnathan!
You can listen to his 'Cool and Classic Jazz' composition at this SharePoint link.
We are looking forward to seeing all our creative students back at school soon. T. Turner, Head Teacher CAPA.
Going online has been a real challenge for many of our students, and it’s been tough not being able to learn on our beautiful school grounds, which lie on the land of the Pambalong people of the Awabakal nation. Instead, we may learn from all areas of Awabakal Country as we connect online from our homes.
There is now a Moodle page for Aboriginal Engagement that we regularly update with new events, information, and resources for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to access. Check it out!
English faculty update
Book Week 2021
Book Week 2021 was a great success! Even though we were online, we still managed to have lots of fun with our daily challenges. We had activities such as:
My Reading Spot Monday
Trivia Thursday and Book Face Friday.
We had lots of students and staff get in on the action and send through photos of themselves either completing the challenges or dressed up for our Book Week Parade on the Wednesday. Make sure that you follow our Sugarloaf Hub Instagram page to see all of the photos and fun things!
High Achieving Targeted Students (HATS)
One of our HATS teachers, Mrs Gordon has put the challenge out to the whole school, including staff, for a reading challenge! All you need to do is to read a book, send Mrs Gordon or Ms Holding an email and let them know the title of your book, the author, how many pages it was and 3 things that you liked about the book. You will be added to our leader board where staff are competing against the students. The aim is to read as many books as you can before the competition ends next term. Remember to use the hashtags on social media to document your reading journey #BeatMrsBevin #ChandlerandGauciarenochance #HATSreadingchallenge2021
Kangaroos are jumping
and hopping high -
their bounding springing
touches the sky.
By Azuriah McNamara
Sunburnt skin touching the cool water.
Nothing could get better unless it’s the blue water.
Sand hotter than the sun - burning your feet as you run.
Hot chip and cold coke on the sand,
pesky seagull snacking it from your hand.
Getting pushed off the jetty, make sure you're ready
Paddleboarding in the sun, make sure you're having fun.
By Mia Power
Summer in Australia
The tar melts beneath me like an icecream.
The colours run down my hand like a sticky sweet sweat.
The sun beams down on my shoulders just to say hello.
Slip n Slides and thrilling rides, the best I’ve ridden yet.
I look for the trees with the tallest limbs.
They invite me in - a pleasant break from the summer wind.
The days grow shorter, the fires end.
Till next season, summer my friend.
By Willow Caslick
Year 8 have been learning how to persuade others of their viewpoints. Year 9 have taken a trip through time to learn about William Shakespeare and the world of Romeo and Juliet. Year 10 have been preparing for their stage six English courses focusing on different types of writing such as imaginative, persuasive and discursive.
Year 7 students are currently studying cells. As part of this, they must practice drawing cells as seen under a microscope. Due to online learning, they haven't used microscopes to view specimens yet but were given previous images taken on a microscope to practise drawing.
Simone Kulupach of 7G, has constructed a fantastic drawing of the microscope image of an Elodea, which is a water plant, during online learning to practise her skills in drawing cells.
Although we are missing our Westy scientists, we encourage our students to remain curious and ask questions about what they observe! We also highly suggest settling down to watch some David Attenborough during lockdown – it's informative, visually appealing, and there is something very soothing about his voice!
Human society and its environment (HSIE) update
Whilst Term 3 has brought us many challenges as we have transitioned our teaching and learning in HSIE online, our teachers have really enjoyed connecting with our students and continuing to provide high-quality learning experiences using Zoom and through Moodle.
In Year 7, students will complete their studies of Landscapes and Landforms in Term 3 before learning about human geography in their next topic, which is called Place and Liveability. Students in Year 8 have been studying Water in the World, with a learning partnership with Hunter Water in the works to round out their learning at the end of this term. These students will also have the opportunity to learn about the impacts of travel, tourism and technology in their next topic, Interconnections. In Year 9, students are wrapping up their studies of Biomes and how these communities of vegetation and wildlife across the world support the world’s supply of food. In Term 4, Year 9 will be studying issues of urbanisation and sustainability in their topic, Changing Places. Our Year 10 students have been examining Environmental Change and Management and will be wrapping up the term with some fieldwork activities they can do at home. They also had a ‘virtual visit’ from Mr Wagenaar, who, as a water engineer, develops and uses responsible technology to maximise water usage, test water quality, and provide filtered solutions where water is scarce. Thank you, Mr Wagenaar, for taking the time to explain some of the real-world applications of Geography and for answering our questions, and to Mr Gayoso and Miss Wratten for their coordination of the ‘visit’!
With the impact of learning from home, our highly-anticipated and always-popular Year 9 Commerce Bizfair has, unfortunately, had to be postponed, but rest assured that our Commerce team, comprising Mrs Bailey, Mr Chambers and Mr Dorahy, are working on some ideas!
We have missed connecting with our wonderful students in person, but we have relished the opportunity late in Term 3 to dress up and have some fun whilst teaching online. We wish all of our students and families a well-deserved and restful break and look forward to seeing you all again in Term 4. Mrs Jo-Anne Bailey, Head Teacher, HSIE.
Learning support and wellbeing update
Seasons for growth
During Term 2 and 3, a small number of West Wallsend High students participated in the Seasons for Growth program. This is an innovative, evidence-based change, loss and grief education program that draws on the metaphor of the seasons to understand the experience of grief. Seasons for Growth helps students build the knowledge and skills necessary to strengthen social and emotional wellbeing following a significant loss by exploring the impact of the change or loss and learning effective ways to cope.
The program focuses on helping students understand that they are not alone in their experience of change, loss and grief, as well as building communication, decision making and problem-solving skills within the context of a safe and supportive peer group learning environment.
The students who participated in this small-group, 8-week long program, reported that the program had a positive impact on them, with the pre and post program surveys showing that they had an improved ability to talk about change, an enhanced understanding of the importance of asking for help and a corresponding ability to reach out to their support network when needed. They also reported that they now have a better understanding of their emotions and how they change over time and that they would recommend the program to their peers.
Seasons for Growth will run again in 2022. Parents and carers are always welcome to contact Head Teacher Wellbeing Sharon Jenness to request their child be added to the waitlist. If you want more information about Seasons for Growth, check out the fact sheet or call the school and leave a message for our School Support Officer, Jen Elhindi.
Wellbeing step challenge
We are all aware of the importance of exercise and its impact on our physical and mental health. Congratulations to all students and staff who took part in the Wellbeing Step Challenge during Week 6. The students with the highest step count receiving a $20 gift voucher were Ella-Rose (Year 7) and Ricky (Year 10). A big shout out to Mr Munro, who absolutely blitzed the staff challenge.
In Week 8, students were encouraged to participate in the Wellbeing Wednesday challenges. We suggested activities for students to look after their physical, emotional, cognitive, social and spiritual wellbeing, such as cooking dinner for the family, connecting with nature, going on a bike ride, learning a new skill. Congratulations to the students who sent photos of how they participated in the challenges and to Saxyn (Year 8) for winning a $50 Uber Eats voucher.
The Learning Centre (TLC) News
This term we welcomed the amazing Mrs Sam Reeves, a long-time staff member and Student Learning Support Officer (SLSO) at WWHS, to our Learning Support TLC team. Sam has been working closely with Miss Meares in the TLC to support students with their classwork and assessment tasks.
In Weeks 3 and 4, Miss Meares and Sam worked together to provide significant support and supervision for our Year 12 students with additional support needs to complete their Trial HSC exams. We are so proud of all of our Year 12 students who worked so hard to prepare and complete their exams to the best of their ability.
The TLC has looked very different during remote learning, but we have been lucky to regularly jump into class zooms and work with our RISE staff to run support sessions for students from Years 7 – 12. It has been so great to see so many of our students working diligently online with their teachers. We have also worked hard to contact families for wellbeing check-ins and put effective support in place for our wonderful students who are doing their best in their learning from home.
Learning support when learning from home
Please complete the Learning Support request on Moodle or the WWHS Website if you require any learning support during the remote learning period. Our RISE and TLC staff are available for 1:1 support over the phone, or you can arrange for small group support via Zoom.
Student support on Moodle
Our School Support Officer (SSO) Jen Elhindi, regularly updates the Student Support section on Moodle with useful resources to get us all through remote learning. The Digital Lunch Break section has some amazing activities that cover everything from art to the environment. You may discover a hidden talent or a new hobby!
R U OK? Day – 9 September 2021
This year’s R U OK? Day message was: ‘Are you really OK? Ask someone today'.
Your genuine support can make a difference to someone who is struggling. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going. Your conversation could change their life!
SSO and School Counsellor referrals
Our School Counsellors and Student Support Officer are available if a student requires support during the remote learning period. Request support by completing a referral form via the link on Moodle.
It has been quite a learning curve for all students during Term 3 to remote learning. Despite this, all of the students in the SAIL classes have made an amazing attempt to participate in Zoom lessons. Our main focus for zooming is to allow the students to communicate and engage socially in fun and creative ways. The students really enjoy playing interactive online games, quizzes and watching interesting documentaries. The two favourites for SAIL 3 that have kept the class connected and entertained are Minecraft Education and Among Us. It has been amazing to engage with the students in less formal styles of lesson delivery. A lot of the time, it has been the students teaching the teachers. Who would have thought there were so many ways to interact online?
We have been lucky to have Mrs Ryan join our lessons and provide more incredible activities to keep the lessons interesting.
For History, SAIL3 are learning about Ancient China. Additional to their online work tasks, they have been working together in a Minecraft Education World to recreate the Great Wall of China and ancient villages. Here are some examples of their hard work so far.
- Something you have enjoyed about the lockdown. "Being able to spend more time at home."
- The best thing about learning online/at home. "Not sure, my mum makes me do it."
- The hardest thing about learning from home. "It feels like home and not like a school classroom learning environment."
- Something or someone who has helped with learning from home. How? "My Aunty Eliska zooms with me and helps me with my Maths."
- One thing you enjoy that you have been learning. "I enjoy doing trivia with the class."
- Something you miss about going to school. "Seeing my friends!"
- Something you appreciate more since being in lockdown. "Being able to spend more time at home."
- A message for your teachers and peers. "I miss the laughter in class."
- Something you have enjoyed about the lockdown. "Being able to sleep in for longer."
- The best thing about learning online/ at home. "You can wear whatever you want (most of the time, a Newcastle Knights jersey!)."
- The hardest thing about learning from home."It can be tricky connecting to Zoom for some classes."
- Something or someone who has helped with learning from home. How? "My dad has been helping me with the hard copy work."
- One thing you enjoy that you have been learning about. "The New Zealand culture in HSIE."
- Something you miss about going to school. " Seeing my friends."
- Something you appreciate more since being in lockdown. "Not having to get up and rush to school."
- A message for your teachers and peers. "Thank you for helping me learn online."