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In this issue

Message Stick – Term 4, Week 4
Year 3 Camp
Year 5 Camp
Year 6 Camp
Gawura, the journey so far
Gawura Doctor - Dr Shuo Zhao
NSW PSSA Championships
How are we preparing Year 6 for the transition to Middle School?
Parenting Tips
Performing Arts News
SACS Food and Wine
Heart Mind Life Awards
Uniform Requirements
School Opal Cards
Colin Buchanan - Christmas Concerts

Message Stick – Term 4, Week 4


What an amazing fortnight it has been in our Gawura School. Our Year 5 students had a wonderful time down at Kirrikee in the southern highlands of NSW. It is fantastic to spend three days and two nights with our friends in the Junior School and do the variety of activities that encompass the outdoor education program at St Andrew’s Cathedral School.

On Friday 26 October we had a tv crew from SBS and NITV come to both our Gawura School and the Junior School to interview students about learning the indigenous Wiradjuri language. The students were wonderful in their presentation and the knowledge of Wiradjuri which they shared with reporters from both SBS and NITV. You can read the article by clicking on the following link:

Also NITV have just released the interview on their website and social media.

The wonderful thing about our Wiradjuri program is that it is learnt by both our Gawura School and the Junior School reaching over 300 students in total. We thank our Wiradjuri teacher Ms Peta Joy Williams for all the work she has done with our JSGS students in teaching Wiradjuri language. It was a pleasure to take our Gawura students from Years 5-12 on the Wiradjuri On Country Tour late last term. Our students not only learn the language but walk on Wiradjuri land too. Indigenous cultural learning is embedded throughout our two schools.

Thank you to all the parents who have returned the Uniform Shop Fitting note. Students will be fitted with appropriate school uniform this week and will be sent home later in the term before the beginning of the school holidays.

Please see the Dates to remember section below for the important events that are coming up during the rest of this term. May you all have a safe and wonderful fortnight ahead.

Mr John Ralph
Head of Gawura



Want more photos?

For more pictures, please visit the Gawura Facebook page at


Dates for your calendar

Thursday 8 November: KOALA Awards

Thursday 15 November: IPSHA Speaker's Challenge

Friday 16 November: Junior School Ensemble Concert

Monday 19 November: Kindergarten Force and Movement


Tuesday November 20: Year 7 Orientation Day (for Year 6 students)

Friday 23 November: Year 6 Celebration Dinner

Wednesday 28 November: Junior School and Gawura Awards Assembly

Tuesday 4 December: Evening of Celebration and Prize Giving

Wednesday 5 December: Junior School and Gawura Picnic Day

Thursday 6 December: Christmas Carol Service (Last Day Term 4)


Year 3 Camp


In Week 1 of Term 4, Year 3 went to Kirrikee! It was our first school camp. At Kirrikee we did lots of fun activities. We did night games, kite making, raft making and jungle vines. We slept in tents and we ate cereal and pancakes for breakfast! For dinner, we had chicken schnitzel, peas and carrots. My favourite part was when we did jungle vines because even though it was hard, it was also a lot of fun!

Veda Vonghangool (3V)


Year 5 Camp


Thank You - From the Year 5 Campers

Dear Kirrikee,

Thank you!

Thank you for providing us with a wonderful space that we can escape the city. Thank you for letting us get dirty and expel our energy. Thank you for teaching us about facing our challenges and pushing ourselves both physically and mentally. Thank you for allowing us to have time to slow down and have conversations about God. Thank you for letting us explore and learn about what a wonderful space you are.

Thank you to the leaders who listen, encourage and laugh with us. Thank you to Jo who fills our tummies with hearty food. Thank you for the memories and friendships that are created.

Thank you from the bottom of Year 5’s hearts, we love you!


Year 6 Camp


How do you sum up our two-day Chowder Bay camp?

This is what some of Year 6 had to say:

  • “This is the best camp I’ve ever been on.”
  • “I enjoyed the rafting because we got wet and had fun splashing around.”
  • “Rafting was great, we got to muck about in the water which really cooled us off from the heat of the day.”
  • “I really enjoyed marine biology where we were in the water and trying to catch small animals.”
  • “My favourite part of camp was when we went rafting.”
  • “I liked the rafting because I love swimming.”
  • “I thought rafting was the most awesome part of camp.”
  • “I though rafting was really fun when we did a race against each other.”
  • “The best part of camp for me was being able to swim in our beautiful harbour.”
  • “Camp was an amazing, beautiful place to be.”

Kaye Chalwell
Junior School Teacher


Gawura, the journey so far


SACS made a huge leap in April 2007 when our Gawura School opened. At the time founder and School Council Member, Pastor Ray Minniecon described it as ‘like pushing a wheelbarrow full of people across a tightrope – we made it across.’

“The Gawura story is an incredible one of a substantial educational enterprise, operating and succeeding against innumerable odds.
Now in its eleventh year, the students and alumni of Gawura are thelegacy of this unique educational model which has evolved through consultation, relationships and the sheer hard work of many hands, over many years.”  said
Dr John Collier, Head of School.

Our corporate partners at Lendlease have toiled over the past year to help us produce ‘Gawura, the journey so far’. We are very excited to let you know the book will be released and available for sale at the end of Term 4. Further information will be provided in the coming weeks.

Catherine Gunning
Gawura Fundraising and Foundation Development Manager


Gawura Doctor - Dr Shuo Zhao


Wednesday and Friday morning appointments offered to Gawura families

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.


Mr John Ralph
Head of Gawura


NSW PSSA Championships


Congratulations to Cadel Holmes on yet another incredible achievement! Cadel competed at the NSW Primary Schools Sports Association Athletics Championships last week and came 1st overall in Junior Boys High Jump! He managed to equal the state record with a whopping jump of 1.55m, which was previously set in 1995. He will now attend the Australian School Championships in Melbourne at the end of November. This is amazing and we wish Cadel all the best in his preparations and performance in the coming weeks.

Saturday sport is in full swing with girls basketball, boys basketball and cricket all happening over the past couple of weeks. We’ve managed to get some convincing wins in boys basketball and both teams remain unbeaten. The girls are just beginning their basketball journey and have showed plenty of promise, but most of importantly have been having plenty of fun along the way. The boys cricket team has gone up to the top division this season, taking on the largest schools around Sydney. They narrowly went down at the weekend, but signs are good for our budding young cricketers! Good luck to all teams again this weekend!

Tony Dunseath
Coordinator of Sport and Cocurricular K-6, PDHPE Teacher


How are we preparing Year 6 for the transition to Middle School?


It is an exciting time for Year 6 students at the moment. They are coming to the end of their time in the Junior School and Gawura and the celebrations that go with that. They will soon be entering Year 7 where they move from being the oldest in their school to the youngest. This can be smooth sailing for some while for others the prospect of this change can be daunting.

At SACS we have the luxury or being able to help our current Year 6 students settle into Middle School smoothly and pass on important information which will help us cater for them into the future. Already the Year 6 students and parents have been invited to an information evening just for them to talk about Middle School and the changes involved. Moreover, the Explore Year 7 evening was held in Term 2 for all students enrolled in Year 7 2019 to which our current families were invited. Next year’s Year Coordinator, Ms Rebecca Leeds and myself have visited a Year 6 meeting with the Year 6 teachers to introduce ourselves and talk about what Middle School is like. They then had an opportunity to ask questions. The Year 6 teachers are also currently preparing them for Year 7 in the classroom.

In the coming weeks a key team from Middle School including Mr Partington (Head of Middle School), Ms Penni Maher (Director of Specialised Learning), Dr Yvonne Hammer (Leader of Learning: Gifted Education) and myself will be meeting with each Year 6 Junior School teacher. The Junior School teachers will talk about each student; their strengths, areas for growth and learning styles. This will be invaluable for us in the Middle School so we can cater for our current students.

On November 20, we are holding a Year 7 Orientation Day which is for both students and parents. All students and parents will be together in the cathedral for the first part of the morning before splitting up. Parents will meet key members of the school and have further opportunities to ask questions and the students will take part in a whole range of activities with the aim of making them feel comfortable and ready for 2019.

Lastly, all students and parents will receive a transition booklet and another on Middle School to help them even further. Since introducing these varied measures to help the students move to Year 7 we have noticed a much smoother transition for all. It is an exciting time and we want to make our new students from both the Junior School, Gawura School and beyond as welcome and comfortable as possible.

Mrs Kate Layhe
(Director of Learning) Middle School


Parenting Tips


Taming childrens' attention

As a children’s technology and development expert, Dr Kirsty Goodwin is a speaker, author and  mum. She translates the latest research into practical and digestible information for parents (and teachers) who want peace-of-mind and evidence-based information about dealing with children in the digital age. She has written a blog this week about tips to tame children’s attention. It makes for a good and helpful read for teachers as well as parents.

Gaining and sustaining students’ attention in today’s classroom is hard.

Teachers are increasingly reporting that students (both at a primary and secondary level) are finding it more challenging to manage their attention spans. Technology is one of the chief reasons why today’s students are finding it hard to pay attention in class and at home when undertaking homework. Alerts and notifications can certainly hijack students’ attention and multitasking has huge costs in terms of student learning and wellbeing.

However, the increased prevalence of screens is not the only reason why students’ attention spans are waning- a decline in physical movement levels, underdeveloped vestibular and proprioception systems, poor sleep quality and quantity and an absence of boredom are some of the other contributing factors

Regardless of the causes for the decline in students’ attention, learning to manage their attention is the most vital skill students need to develop to thrive in the 21st Century. Without the capacity to pay and direct their attention, students will get seduced by the sensory seductions the online world offers- alerts, notifications, videos, sound effects, pop-ups will divert students’ attention from learning. This problem is likely to be exacerbated over time, as more and more digital distractions vie for their attention.

Therefore, it’s imperative that teachers and parents help children learn to tame their attention and here are some simple ideas we can implement:

  • Green time – the nature restoration theory suggests that time in nature calms down students’ nervous and sensory systems and helps them with self-regulation. Time in nature is slow-paced and calming.
  • Mono-task – teach students why it’s important to do one task, as opposed to multitasking. Despite what students believe, the brain is incapable of multitasking- even when students think they’re multitasking they’re actually engaging in ‘task switching’ or ‘continuous partial attention’. This constant switching between tasks has cognitive costs - one cost is that their brains release cortisol, the stress hormone, which prohibits neural pathways from forming which in turn, hampers their learning.
  • Productivity techniques – Students’ brains aren’t designed to pay attention for long periods of time (a general rule of thumb for sustained, focused attention is the students’ chronological age plus 1, so a 14 year old should be expected pay attention for 15 minutes). Allow students to work for short bursts and then have a rest, reorient their attention and then resume the task at hand.
  • Mindfulness – there’s increasing research evidence to support the use of mindfulness techniques to assist learners manage their attention (and also promote general well-being too). It is through mindfulness that students can learn how to orient and direct their attention.
  • Breathing techniques – deep breathing, particularly, diaphragmatic (deep stomach) breathing can be a valuable tool to help students control their attention.  Time with digital technologies, especially if the screen content is rapid-fire, distracting or hyper-arousing, can alter students’ physical states.

I think these are very helpful, practical and simple ideas to assist our children tame their attention.

Joy Rohrlach
Stage Three Leader


Performing Arts News


Congratulations to Jedidiah Sam in Year 4 who achieved a B+ in his Grade 4 Trumpet exam. Jedidiah only began learning the trumpet quite recently, so this is a remarkable achievement.

Congratulations to Hayden Lewis in Year 6 who achieved a B in his Grade 5 Trumpet exam. Hayden is a valued member of the Junior School Ensembles programme and will continue to thrive in Middle School in 2019.

In Term 4 there are a number of concerts we are preparing for. Emails will be sent to the relevant groups, but please look below so that you can start to plan your movements – it is “the silly season” where lots of events are happening:

  • November 16 – Ensembles Night Junior Choir, Infants Choir, Junior Strings, Training Orchestra, Junior Orchestra, Chamber Strings, Junior Concert Band, Rock Band. Please note that this is a compulsory event for all musicians involved.
  • November 23 – Year 6 Celebration Year 6 and Rock Band.
  • November 28 – End of Year Awards Ceremony Junior Strings, Junior Orchestra, Chamber Strings, Junior Concert Band, Trumpet trio, Junior Rock Band, Year 6.
  • November 29 – Town Hall Arcade Carols Selected students from Infants and Junior Choir.
  • December 4 – Celebration 2018 Junior Choir to perform.
  • December 6 – Carols Service 2018 Carols singers from Arcade group along with Junior Choir members.

Sarah Turner
K-6 Leader of Learning Music


SACS Food and Wine


Last Saturday night the Association of Parents and Friends held their Food and Wine with Christmas Market event on the rooftop at SAH. Greeting guests in the foyer were our lovely choristers singing carols, before moving to the roof which was beautifully decorated in the Christmas theme,  where guests could sit in the jazz lounge listening to gorgeous music provided by our very own SACS students. Diners enjoyed their Christmas dinner and the festive long tables, which concluded with a dessert demonstration by MasterchefAU contender Hoda Kobeissi. Many took advantage to do some Christmas shopping from our stall holders, many of whom had gorgeous ethical gifts for sale. It was a delightful evening of music, market browsing, dining, gift shopping, wine-tasting and friendship. These enormous events cannot be done without hours and hours of work by volunteers. Thank you to the P&F and their events team and the volunteers who spent many many hours setting up, only to return on Sunday to pack it all down again. We are fortunate at SACS to have such a generous and warm parent community.

Lyn Jarvis
Director of Community Engagement


Heart Mind Life Awards

Mariah Keegan - Yr 5 For exploring new things with confidence and determination
Kayliah Keegan - Yr 6 For exploring new things with confidence and determination
Peta-Lacey Smith - Yr 3 Improving in her ability to complete tasks in a timely manner
Leann Bray - Yr 2 Applying newly learned skills of expression whilst reading
La Quaelah Roberts-Carr - Yr 1 A courageous attitude towards reading group tasks
Jada Caldwell - Yr 4 For engaging enthusiastically in writing lessons
Stanley Hickey - Yr 5 For making good decisions and thinking carefully
Torey Thomas Martin - Yr 6 For making good decisions and thinking carefully
Maya Hughes - K For being an outstanding leader
Talaara Simpson - Yr 1 Executing the phonemel grapheme activity during THRASS
Leann Bray - Yr 2 For creating and maintaining efficient work habits in the classroom.

Uniform Requirements


Summer Uniform Term 4

St Andrew’s Cathedral School is one of the most visible schools in NSW with students moving between buildings throughout the day, seniors visiting the Town Hall Arcade during lunch and over a thousand of our students catching public transport all over Sydney and beyond as they travel to and from school. Parents send their children to St Andrew’s because of its high standards in academic, pastoral care, co-curricular and Christian education. In turn, St Andrew’s has high expectations of students. Literature also shows that good uniform standards lead to reduced discipline problems, an increased sense of belonging and higher academic engagement and standards. It also shows pride in the school.

Summer uniform is to be worn from the beginning of Term 4, students have been reminded of our uniform standards.

Below is an outline of the topics that have been discussed:

Hair – to be neat and tidy. Hair cuts must be conventional and unlikely to cause comment. No shaved sections, no facial hair. Girls’ hair to be completely tied back; boys’ hair to be cut above the collar and eyebrows.

Shirts & Ties –shirts must be tucked in, top buttons done up and boys’ ties worn correctly at the neck. Shirt sleeves not to be rolled up.

Blazers – to be worn to and from School and between buildings. (If it is very hot, I will communicate to students a variation to this rule on the day)

Jewellery – no rings, bracelets, necklaces. Only one pair of earrings for girls - small sleepers or simple studs only. No other piercings allowed. No earrings for boys.

Makeup – no makeup or nail polish allowed.

Sport Uniform – students to wear SACS tracksuit/sports uniform to and from venues.

Shoes – black leather traditional school shoes. No casual style allowed. Please see student diary for allowable styles.

Socks – Boys must wear grey or black socks. Girls must wear white plain socks that sit above the ankle. Socklets are not allowed.

Skirts – skirt hems should be at the knee. Skirts must not be rolled.

Please be aware that these expectations and standards remain applicable to the very last day of the school year. For those who have summer uniform requirements, please contact Mr Ralph or the Uniform Store, on 9286 9547 for a fitting time.

Please label all new (and old) items of uniform.
The Uniform store normal Hours of Operation are:
Monday – Wednesday – Thursday  |  8am to 3.30pm


Home reading

To improve reading and fluency, we ask students to do the following every night:

K-2          10-15 minutes home reading a night

Year 3      at least 15 minutes home reading a night

Year 4      at least 20 minutes home reading a night

Year 5      at least 25 minutes home reading a night

Year 6      at least 30 minutes home reading a night


School Opal Cards


Colin Buchanan - Christmas Concerts




Uniform Store

For those who still have 2018 uniform requirements please contact the Uniform Store, on 92869547 for a fitting time. Remember that students in Kindergarten to Year 6 wear the same uniform so please label all items of uniform.


Mobile phone use

Older students, who travel to and from school on public transport and have a mobile phone, need to ensure that they are switched off during the school day and kept in school bags or handed to your child’s/children’s teacher each morning.


Health Centre

Please send in a note detailing any daily medication needs. Daily medication is to be dispensed by the School Nurse at the Sick Bay. Any medication to be dispensed by the School Nurse must be given to the nurse in its original box (containing the prescription label and your child’s name).



If your child/children are absent from school, I ask that you text or call Neal on 0439 653 334 or the Reception on 9286 9500 before 9am to notify us. The school requires a note from a parent or guardian explaining any absence from school.


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