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In this issue

Message Stick – Term 1, Week 6
Heart Mind Life Awards
Gawura Cocktail Party
THRASS and Big Write
Message from our Wellbeing Co-ordinator
Sports News
Library News
Music News
Parenting Tips
Camp Australia Information
Kirrikee Picnic Day
Jane Eyre
Gawura Doctor - Dr Shuo Zhao

Message Stick – Term 1, Week 6


What another busy fortnight it has been in Gawura. On Tuesday 18th February our Year 6 students visited NSW State Parliament House. In a mock legislation activity our own Gawura School Captain, Joylara Ingram, was appointed as the NSW Minister for Education and presented a Bill to Parliament. This is a wonderful opportunity to see how government works and is a precursor to the Year 6 Excursion to Canberra in Term 3 where they will see our own Federal Parliament in action. Joylara has the skills and passion to one day, be a wonderful parliamentarian herself representing Indigenous issues for our First Nations People’s.

Thank you to all the parents who attended the Parent Information Session about our upcoming On Country Tour to Kuku Yalanji Nation in Cape York, Far North Qld. This is going to be a wonderful event for our students in Years 5-12. All permission forms have been returned and plans are underway in regards to the booking of flights etc. There will also be a pre departure Parent Information Session towards the end of Term 2 to give you the latest update and how you can log on to follow the activities that are happening on this year’s On Country Immersion to Cape York.

On Wednesday 11th March we will be conducting audiogram hearing assessments for all of the new Gawura students who started with us in 2020. The appropriate forms have been signed and returned. We thank the George St Medical Practice who provide this ongoing service to our Indigenous students free of charge and to our SACS high school parent who owns this practice and offered his services to make this happen.

Our next scheduled RAP Meeting has been locked in for Tuesday 3rd March from 3:30-5:15pm in the Community Hub on Level 4. We hope to see as many of you there as possible.

Finally please refer to the insert in this Message Stick for the Gawura Cocktail Evening (our major fundraising event for the year) which will be held on Friday 13th March at Macqaurie Group, Level 10, 50 Martin Place from 6:30-9:30pm. Our own Gawura string instrument students will be performing at this event as well.

Have a wonderful and safe fortnight ahead.

Mr John Ralph
Head of Gawura


Dates for your calendar

Tuesday 3 March: RAP Meeting

Wednesday 4 March: Year 6 Kirrikee Camp

Friday 6 March: Year 4 Sydney Observatory Excursion

Wednesday 11 March: Gawura students Audiogram Hearing Assessmnets

Thursday 12 March: Kindergarten "Coffee in the Hub" 8am - 9am

Thursday 12 March: ASISSA Boys Football Trials

Friday 13 March: Year 3 History Excursion

Saturday 14 March: Kirrikee Picnic Day

Monday 16 March: ASISSA Swim Carnival

Wedneday 18 - Friday 20 March: Year 5 Bathurst Camp

Friday 20 March: Traditional Indigineous Games - Gawura Yrs 1-6


Heart Mind Life Awards

Yuin-River Johnson Kindy For his lovely manners.
Djani Haynes Year 2 For his commitment to learning.
La Quaelah Roberts-Carr Year 3 For showing a positive attitude towards her work.
Samara Lyons Year 1 For always applying herself to set tasks.
Anthony Lees Year 2 For very proudly presenting our Acknowledgement of Country.
Kallarah Silva Year 2 For the thoughtful inclusion of key information in her writing assessment.
Jada Caldwell Year 6 For showing a great attitude at school.

Gawura Cocktail Party


Come along and support Gawura through our live auction and wishing fishing nets. Musical performances by Gawura students 

Event details:

  • Date: Friday 13 March
  • Time: 6:30pm to 9:30pm
  • Venue:  Macquarie Group. Level 10, 50 Martin Place, Sydney 
  • Cost: Free of Charge for Gawura Families
  • Dress:  Cocktail 

For further information please contact Catherine Gunning - or at  9009 5465.


Book now


THRASS and Big Write


Big Talk and Big Write at St Andrew’s Cathedral School

So just what is Big Talk and Big Write you ask? Great question…our teachers are continually seeking to improve our teaching and learning practices, and in doing so, they constantly refer to the latest research to determine the best ways to teach literacy to our students. We identified a need, across our school, to intentionally develop our students’ vocabulary levels (including speaking, reading and writing) in order to directly improve their overall literacy skills.  As such, we have implemented the ‘Big Talk’ and the ‘Big Write’ programs this year.

One of the core components of learning any language is developing an extensive vocabulary. The more words your child hears and speaks, the more words they can recognise when reading and then utilize when writing.  Quite simply, the more extensive their vocabulary, the more advanced their literacy skills.

There is so much research that shows that the more children talk productively – the better their speaking, spelling, reading and writing.  It really is that simple, but it needs to happen. The best way for it to happen is to set times for such deliberate talking practice at home followed by discussion time at school.

‘Big talk’ specifically develops students’ writing through talking. Children talk to parents, grandparents or significant others about a topic set by the teacher. The family can help support this talk at home and the students then come to school equipped with a bank of words in their heads, ready to share in the class discussion, where they have the chance to hear and talk about as many words as possible. This sharing of vocabulary directly supports their confidence to then write about the same topic. 

This is the ‘Big Write’ session and we find the students are so motivated to write and to utilize the bank of words they have been talking about at home and at school. The impact is quite dramatic. We are seeing an instant impact on our students’ writing performance.

It all seems very straightforward and obvious, but as a culture we have not necessarily been good at intentionally developing the quality of writing by firstly emphasizing the power of talking. We encourage all families to take this request for talk homework very seriously, use it as an opportunity to deliberately expand your child’s vocabulary about the given topic, share stories, feelings and remind them of their experiences around the topic. If you would like some tips, or more understanding about helping with Big Talk or with supporting reading at home, or even with understanding our Spelling framework THRASS, please consider coming to the Parent Information Sessions on the 11 March at 8am or 5pm. (See the advert below).

Proverbs 18:2 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Rhonda Robson
Deputy Head of School (Primary) / Director of Primary Education


Message from our Wellbeing Co-ordinator


The ZONES of Regulation®

This year in our Junior & Gawura schools we have started a weekly classroom lesson named SEW (Social & Emotional Wellbeing).  This term our focus is on introducing the Zones of Regulation to our students to support their understanding of their emotions and how to respond to them.  The lessons focus on helping students to identify the best state of alertness of both the body and emotions for specific situations. The lessons and learning activities are designed to help the students recognize when they are in the different zones as well as learn how to use strategies to change or stay in the zone they are in.

In addition to addressing self-regulation, the students will gain an increased vocabulary of emotional terms, skills in reading other people’s facial expressions, perspective about how others see and react to their behaviour, insight into events that trigger their behaviour, calming and alerting strategies, and problem solving skills.  Everyone experiences all of the zones—the Red and Yellow Zones are not the “bad” or “naughty” zones. All of the zones are expected to occur at one time or another, our focus is on how students respond to these zones.

All our classrooms have the Zones model displayed and it may be helpful for you to also be aware of this, so that you can reference and reinforce the concepts at home.  The image is with this article and you can also find many variations on the internet by searching “zones of regulation”.

Some ways in which you can support your child’s learning at home in the Zones include:

  • Talk about the Zones as they apply to you in a variety of environments.  Make comments aloud so the child understands it is natural that we all experience the different zones and use strategies to control (or regulate) ourselves. For example, “This is really frustrating me and I am moving into the Yellow Zone. I need to use a tool to calm down. I will take some deep breaths.”
  • Help your child gain awareness of his or her zones and feelings by pointing out your observations.
  • Recognise what zone your child is in and help them brainstorm ways to self-regulate so their behavior is expected for the context.
  • Share with your child how his or her behavior is affecting the zone you are in and how you feel.

Bronwyn Wake
Junior School Wellbeing Co-ordinator


Sports News


Paul Kelly Cup

On Wednesday 26th February JSGS students attended the annual AFL Paul Kelly Cup at Coral Sea Park in Maroubra. There were two boys teams and one girls team. Our boys team won one game against Claremont College but lost the other three against Cranbrook and Clovelly PS. Our girls team were superb and made it to the semi finals. Although beaten by South Coogee Public School the girls were outstanding in their game play, effort, skills and just sheer determination.

The overall highlight was watching the boys teams cheer and support our girls in their semi final, just like it was a grand final. The boys formed a tunnel linking hands like they do in our SACS high school rugby teams which the girls ran through at the end of their match with great excitement.

The spirit of coeducation was truly alive and well as it always is in our school.

John Ralph
Head of Gawura


Library News


Love your Library!

Opens on Monday 2nd March!
From that day, you will be able to log-in for your child and begin to upload the PRC approved books they read. Your log-in details will be the same as last year, unless you have changed schools. NOTE that books that have been read since 1 September 2019 can all be counted towards this year’s challenge. The challenge closes on the 28 August.

A welcome letter will be sent home the week of the 2nd March, which will contain your SACS username and passwords, as well as a summary of the rules of the challenge. In the meantime, you can be keeping a record of the books your child reads, which can then be added to their online record down the track.

Keep an eye out for the PRC-stickered books in our library. There are thousands of titles to choose from!

Successful completion of the challenge is as follows:


For more information, including book lists and the comprehensive rules, please refer to the PRC website

If your child attended a different school and completed the PRC there, please be in touch with me so I can request that their records be merged.  Otherwise 2020 will be recorded as their first PRC year. This is especially important if they are eligible for a gold or platinum certificate this year or if they are looking at earning a Premier’s medal.

As an inspiration to our students, parents and teachers are also encouraged to participate in the challenge. Send any 6 titles to Mrs Cotter in the library and have your name added to our wall of reading stars.

If you have any other questions or issues, please drop into the library or feel free to email me

Although the aim of the challenge is to read a certain number of books, the greater good is that we are our hearts and minds are being enlarged as we read.
“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler

With you in the joy of reading,
Nicole Cotter
JS & GS Teacher Librarian


Music News



Congratulations to William Wheeler who has successfully auditioned for a role in the production of Thirteen with the Rockdale Musical Society.

Congratulations also to the following students on their recent AMEB exam successes:
Daniel Lin – High Distinction in Grade 1 Violin
Taali Paku – Honours in Preliminary Piano
Lucy Lin – Credit in 2nd Grade Piano

Kate Robertson
Head of Music (K-6)


Parenting Tips


Finding the "Off Switch"

5R spoke yesterday about the Zones of Regulation in class. We had a wonderful discussion as a class about what these mean. Some students were honest about some things that had caused them to be upset, worried or anxious in the past. We talked through some ideas of how to recognise these feelings and then how to deal with them and move forward.

Michael Grose has written 8 ideas to try to help our kids let go of these reoccurring thoughts and worries in his last years’ April blog in Parenting Ideas. They may well help us too!

1. Broaden their vision – Enable them to see the big picture. Remind them of what is really important.

2. Put their attention elsewhere. I’m sure we have all used this at some stage – distraction.Try things like going outside, playing a game, or listening to music are great ideas.

3. Give the worry a name. This can make it less scary and more manageable.

4. Put your worries in a jar – nice thought to be able to lock away those things that concern us time and time again. Adults often do this by watching TV or spending time on a devise looking up holiday ideas! Perhaps children can write them down on paper then put them in a jar well away from their room.

5. Limit talking time. Don’t let the worry dominate conversation, going over and over something allows worries to linger longer than necessary. Set aside a particular time for this.

6. Normalise rather than lionise their anxiety. Similar to the above point, in that we need to stop lingering longer than necessary on a worry. Put things into perspective.

7. Give them tools for relaxation. All of us have different things that help us here. Find out what relaxes your child and help them use that in time of anxiety.

8. Move baby move. A great distraction is physical movement and it is the way to release endorphins which help us all in being more optimistic about the future.

I hope these ideas are helpful for you as well as your children. It is a timely reminder of “finding the off switch.”

Joy Rohrlach
Year 5 Leader


Camp Australia Information


Kirrikee Picnic Day


Come and spend some time at a place your kids love.
There’s so much to do – high ropes, mountain biking, abseiling, log rolling in the dam, billy carting and loads more.

Your lunch is provided by the Penrose Rural Fire Service who will be based at Kirrikee for the day.

Whilst Kirrikee survived the recent fires many of our neighbours were heavily impacted. The Penrose Rural Fire Service worked tirelessly during this period. As always, all proceeds raised on the day will be donated to Penrose RFS but this year we are raising extra funds.  When you book you can make an additional donation or purchase an entry into our guessing competition to win a weekend at Kirrikee for your family and friends.

Kirrikee is located in the Southern Highlands, Kirrikee is only 1.5 hours from Sydney’s CBD.

Come for the just the day or stay the night too!

Event details:

Day Picnic

  • $25 per adult / $15 per child
  • $70 per family (up to 4) / $12 each additional family member
  • This includes morning tea, lunch and all activities.

Day Picnic plus Saturday Overnight Stay

  • $55 per adult / $30 per child $150 per family (up to 4)
  • $20 each additional family member
  • This includes morning tea, lunch and all activities as well as overnight camp site, dinner and cooked breakfast.

Tent Rental – Bring your own or use one of ours.

  • $30 / 3 person with self-inflating mats
  • $35 / 2 person with camp beds
  • Venue: Kirrikee Outdoor Education Centre, 2 Kareela Road Penrose 2579.

Book now


Jane Eyre


Performing Arts invites you to the Major Drama Production 2020 Jane Eyre, a dynamic re-imagining of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece by The National Theatre UK. This vivid adaptation uncovers one woman’s fight for liberty on her own terms. From her humble beginnings as a destitute orphan, Jane Eyre’s spirited heroine faces life’s obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and betrayal to find her place in an unrelenting context with resilience and hope. Newcomers and Brontë-holics will be amused and moved by this powerful Drama.

Event Details:


  • Thursday 26 March
  • Friday 27 March
  • Saturday 28 March


  • Thursday and Friday Matinee - 11.45 am
  • Saturday Matinee - 2.00 pm
  • Thursday - Saturday Evening Performances 7.30pm

Book now


Gawura Doctor - Dr Shuo Zhao


Wednesday and Friday Appointments Available.

I would like to advise you that we have secured the services of a very generous doctor in the city who is willing to see our Gawura students and their families free of charge (he will bulk bill through Medicare) if the need arises. Dr Shuo (Shore) Zhao is located at Level 1, 70 Pitt St, Sydney. You can book an appointment with him on any Wednesday and Friday morning between 8am – 12pm.The number of the practice is 02 9233 3399.

We understand that many parents already have their own doctor that they use, possibly even through the Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) in Redfern but this is just another option for you to use if you choose to do so and one that is located in the city, near our school.


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