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In this issue

Message Stick Term 1, Week 3, 2022
Dates for your calendar
Message from our Wellbeing Coordinator
Music news
Sports news
Library news
Parenting tips
Message from the Registrar
Save the date!
Resources for COVID-19

Message Stick Term 1, Week 3, 2022


We are delighted to have all the children back at school

A very big welcome back to all of our returning families and a special welcome to the 6 brand new Kindergarten students and their families joining our wonderful Gawura School. Gawura has the largest enrolment ever in our school’s short history. We have a total of 36 students across our K-6 primary school. We also have 100% retention of students moving from Gawura Year 6 into Year 7 in St Andrew’s Cathedral School to continue their secondary education.

We thank you for your patience during the first few weeks of school as we navigated the staggered start and finish times but starting today we have resumed normal operating hours with just one start and finish time. The school day for all students K-6 is from 8.35am to 3.10pm.

We are excited about the year ahead and the opportunities that will be available. Our students from Years 5-12 will be going on the twice postponed On Country tour to Kuku Yalanji Nation on the Indigenous Homelands of Cape York in far northern QLD.

Preparations are already under way for this years NAIDOC Event to be held on Thursday 23 June this year with the theme Get Up, Stand Up, Show Up.

During the holiday break we have had two resignations from staff. Neal Flatley who has been at Gawura for six years has moved into a chaplaincy position in Woolloomooloo and our Aboriginal Education Mentor Secondary, Matt Hammond left us last Friday to help grow their family business.

We are still searching for a Gawura bus driver for two days per week (Monday and Friday) as Uncle Bill Russell drives on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We are finalising interviews this week for the secondary mentor and will be making an announcement the successful applicant soon.

Please reach out to myself or your class teacher if you have any queries around the Term ahead.

We are delighted to have all the children back at school and look forward to having a wonderful Term of learning ahead.

John Ralph 
Head of Gawura


Welcome to the new year!

It is so nice to have our students back where they belong, in the classroom, learning face to face and playing with their friends.  There is a genuine excitement, seemingly felt by all, that school is feeling more normal than it has for a long time. We have been delighted to see the return of virtually all our students. They are a bit taller and refreshed and very eager to learn.

The Starting Well Interviews have been a tremendous new initiative, allowing our students the opportunity to meet with their class teachers before school commenced and for the teachers to get to know their students. One teacher reported that in all her years of teaching, she has never known her class so well at the beginning of the year, as she has this year. This is so affirming. It has resulted in a very calm and productive start to our year for all.

We have been excited to welcome our new Head of School, Dr Julie McGonigle. She joined us at our first assembly on the rooftop, telling us an important message; 1. you matter, 2. your life matters, 3. your choices matter and 4. what we do together matters. Dr McGonigle has asked the students to think about what it is that ‘good learners do?’ She was invited to ring in the new year on our Kingsford Smith Memorial Bell, along with our Junior School Captains. All the Junior School student and staff population welcomed her and together we also welcomed all new staff and students, including our new Kindergarten students.

We were also excited to learn from Mrs Robertson and Mr Milis that the Junior School will be holding the Musical Production of Madagascar this year!

Co-curricular and Ensembles
All co-curricular activities and Music ensembles will commence this week.

National Sorry Day
Our school acknowledges and raises awareness of the history and continued effect of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from their families, communities and culture. We continue to acknowledge the mistakes that have been made against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and pray that we will together work toward a reconciled future which honours our First Nation’s People’s history, culture and rights.

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


Dates for your calendar


Changes to 2022 Term Dates

Due to COVID challenges with booking interstate Staff Professional Development (PD) workshop leaders for IB training, we have had to move the two PD days at the start of Term 3 to the start of Term 2 and move a PD day to Term 3 Week 4 (Monday 8th August). The term dates can be found here.


Monday 14 February: Co-curricular commences

Thursday 17 February: JSGS Swimming Carnival 
Years 2-6 for competent swimmers only. Unfortunately, no spectators allowed.

Monday 28 February: Year 5 Kirrikee Camp (5O and 5R – Monday to Wednesday) plus Gawura

Wednesday 2 March: Year 5 Kirrikee Camp (5L and 5M – Wednesday to Friday)

Wednesday 2 March: Year 6 to Canberra


Message from our Wellbeing Coordinator


Wellbeing in our Junior School and Gawura

As we begin another wonderful year of learning and growing at SACS I thought it may be helpful to explain some of the ways in which we support the growth and nurturing of each student’s sense of wellbeing. There are many ways in which we approach this including weekly classroom Social & Emotional Wellbeing (SEW) lessons. These lessons focus on the development of our SACS Character Strengths, emotional regulation, attention & awareness, positive relationships, coping & resilience, habits & goals.

The content and concepts of these lessons are reinforced and integrated into the broader curriculum and across our wide range of Junior School activities. Our wellbeing programme integrates a wide range of evidence-based programmes such as Bounce Back, Zones of Regulation, Social Thinking, Grow Your Mind, Peacewise kids and URstrong.

In addition, our SACS character strengths come to life with visual icons which are displayed across our classrooms and open spaces, and perhaps you may even notice “strength spotter” stickers on our students as we spot them living out our character strengths through everyday school life.

Individual care and student support continue to be primarily embraced by the classroom teachers who seek to have strong and nurturing relationships with their students. However, if additional support is required, we do have a wonderful network of pastoral care and counselling support available through our grade leaders, specialised and executive staff, as well as our school psychologists.

We are so mindful in the Junior School and Gawura that our work is a partnership with parents and so we seek ways to support and connect with our parents as we work together. As part of this we continue to provide our parenting resource SchoolTV which is an online resource to provide parents with current, evidence-based information about mental health and wellbeing issues in children.

As 2022 begins we look forward to journeying with you and your child, and our hope is throughout all that we do we recognise the importance of nurturing the whole child; with hearts that love, minds that grow, and lives that give.

Bronwyn​ Wake 
JS and GS School Counsellor and Well Being Coordinator


Music news


Wonderful music achievements

With so many restrictions last year, one could think that Music was somewhat silenced! Whilst this is true to an extent, as I return from my time on maternity leave I am in awe of the musical achievements some of our children have made in recent times. I am also incredibly thankful to Mr Ben Milis who covered my role whilst I was on leave. Mr Milis is a wonderful asset to SACS and I look forward to our continued work together in 2022.

Many of these achievements occurred at the end of 2021 and I am thrilled to share some of these with our school community. Congratulations on these outstanding results. They show an amazing level of dedication and good practice!

Idelia Cao was recently awarded 2nd place in Pre 20th Century Piano (8 Years) event at the Sydney Eisteddfod at the end of 2021, as well as a Highly Commended in the 20th or 21st Century Piano (8 Years) event. Congratulations Idelia!

Hiroki Takahashi-Zhong received a 3rd place award in the Sydney Eisteddfod 20th and 21st Century Piano (11 and 12 years)section. What a wonderful achievement!

Freddy Beck has successfully auditioned to take part in the Junior Performing Choir at Sydney Children’s Choir. Well done Freddy!

In addition, congratulations to the following students and their tutors on their recent (2021) AMEB Music Exam results:

Joshua Ahn – Grade 1 Viola - Pass with Credit

Tennille Edbrooke – Preliminary Violin – Pass with Honours

Daniel Hezari – Preliminary Violin – Pass with Honours

Grace Shing – Preliminary Violin – Pass with Credit

Annabelle Tee – Preliminary Violin – Pass with Credit

Candice Yu – Preliminary Violin – Pass with Honours

Vanessa Tsui – Grade 1 Violin – Pass with Credit

Taali Paku – Grade 3 Violin – Pass with Credit

Isabelle King – Grade 1 Violin Repertoire – Pass with Credit

Annabelle Douglas – Grade 2 Violin Repertoire – Pass with Honours

Emily Wang – Grade 8 Piano Video Repertoire – Pass with Honours

Annabelle Douglas – Grade 2 Piano - Honours

Siddhan Krishna – Grade 4 Piano – High Distinction

Hiroki Takahashi-Zhong – Grade 8 Piano – High Distinction

Jonathan Liu – Grade 7 Piano - Honours

If you have recently completed a Music examination or achieved something wonderful which we could share, please email

I am looking forward to the shared experience of music making with our students again this year. If you require further information or did not receive the letter detailing our ensemble opportunities, please contact

​​Kate Robertson
Head of Music (K‑6)


Sports news


Welcome back to sport for 2022!

It’s fantastic to see we have a Term 1 sport programme that is all systems go and looking relatively normal. I know the students are excited to be back running around and the staff certainly are as well. We have Term 1 Saturday sport fixtures kicking off, with teams for basketball, cricket and soccer representing SACS each weekend. Seeing them in action and having fun with their classmates on the weekend is always a highlight! Thursday sport is underway with K-2 beginning their fundamental movement skills development, Year 3 are being coached by the AFL, Year 4 is at gymnastics, while Year 5 and 6 prepare for interschool sport in the coming weeks. There’s plenty going on and it’s great to have it back.

This will be my final newsletter for SACS, as my family and I move back to New Zealand. I’d like to say thank you to all of the parents, students and staff for being so supportive of the Sport and Co-curricular programme over the years. It’s developed considerably and will continue to grow as we have more and more students looking to explore a range of experiences in their formative years. I’m blessed to have been part of such an amazing community and will miss it greatly.

Tony​ Dunseath
PDHPE Teacher, Head of Co-curricular K‑6


Library news


Welcome to the Library for 2022!

Our theme for the opening of the school year is “Grow like a tree”. This year in the library, we will be actively supporting student growth, with particular emphasis on our SACS Character Strengths. We know that the library is uniquely placed as a hub for whole-person development. Students grow in knowledge, become more open-minded and caring as they listen to the diverse voices of characters they meet in the pages of novels, biographies, and non-fiction texts. There are opportunities to serve and communicate with others during lunchtimes and as library monitors. As students develop a specific set of research skills in library classes, they grow as inquirers and as we allow space for critical thinking, students are growing in their capacity to be reflective. Our question to our SACS community this year is “How will you grow?”

Browse and borrow in the Library

Each class in our Junior School has two timetabled library sessions per week. One session involves visiting the library for Browsing and Borrowing. See your child’s grade letter for borrowing limits for each grade. Books may be borrowed for 2 weeks. Librarians take great pleasure helping students find a book they will love. Book recommendations and book chats are a feature of Browse and Borrow time.

Research and information skills development @SACSLibrary

In the other session, teacher librarians visit classrooms to deliver our Research and Information Skills program which links with core history and geography syllabi and equips students to solve problems or make decisions by using information. Students also learn essential skills that enable them to evaluate the reliability and trustworthiness of the information they access – especially digitally. As students gain confidence, they grow in independence as capable learner-researchers.

Book Clubs for Stage 2 and Stage 3

On Thursday and Friday mornings, we will be hosting Book Clubs for Stage 2 and Stage 3 students. Unfortunately, spaces are limited, so if your child missed out for this term, please keep your eye out for when sign-up is released for Term 2.

Library monitors in 2022

It is wonderful to have responsible and helpful Stage 2 and Stage 3 student leaders in the library as Library Monitors. This year, students may apply to become a Library Monitor by creating a 15 second video of what they love about the library. Successful applicants will serve for two terms and then may reapply for the second half of the year. Students who are responsible, committed, willing to learn, able to help others, have a good attitude and (of course) who LOVE BOOKS are welcome to apply.

The year ahead

Once again, the library will be hosting some wonderful events in 2022. The Premier’s Reading Challenge, National Simultaneous Storytime, Australian Reading Hour, Book Week, International Games Week, NAIDOC celebrations, the Great Book Swap, various author and illustrator visits and hopefully, this year, Grandparents Day, will be celebrated and enjoyed in the weeks and months ahead. As usual, the calendar opens with Love Your Library Week.

Looking forward to the year ahead with great anticipation,

Nicole Cotter
Coordinator Information and Digital Literacy – JS & GS


Parenting tips



I am Joy Rohrlach and I am a Year 5 teacher as well as the Year 5 leader. Every 2 weeks I write an article about something that has caught my attention or I include an article I find interesting or have read that I think you may enjoy.

As we start the new school year, this advice from a leading Australian parenting educator, Michael Grose, in his 2021 February Parenting Ideas blog, is a most helpful read.

“Studies show that healthy parent–teacher relationships are a more significant factor in student success than parent income levels or social status. Parent–teacher relationships require effort and energy from both parties if they are going to really benefit children and young people. Here are some suggested strategies to help you build a healthy working relationship with teachers in the year ahead.

Get to know them
For your partnership to be meaningful and successful, you need to meet with your children’s teacher(s) with the goal of forming a respectful professional relationship. Be willing to share your aspirations for your child and be willing to build the teacher’s knowledge about your family.  For balanced perspective, also gain an understanding of the teacher’s approach and what focus areas they have for their particular year group. This can be done formally by attending start of the year information evenings and informally through conversations, reading newsletters and staying in touch in digitally and in real-time.

Trust their professionalism
Children need to know that their parents are fully behind what their teachers are trying to achieve if they are going to commit fully to learning. The best way to support your child’s teacher is to trust their knowledge, professionalism and experience. Avoid the temptation to question the expertise of teachers in front of students, particularly when the teachers use methods that you are unfamiliar with. Initiate conversations with teachers around methodology to give them the chance to explain the approach they are taking.

Go through the right channels
Despite the best teaching practices things do go wrong at school. Kids experience learning difficulties. Conflict and peer rejection happen. Kids will often come home from school with grievances, and call on you for assistance. Resist the urge to react emotionally. If you need to contact teachers do so respectfully, calmly and through the correct channels. A measured response will generally achieve the best result for your child.

Utilise their resources
Teachers and schools often put a lot of work into sourcing and sharing credible resources that they think will help parents. Take the time to read, utilise and enjoy the information provided to you. It’s intended to make your parenting journey easier, which will also benefit your child not just at school, but at home.

Build links to student learning
There’s a huge body of research that points to the correlation between parent engagement in student learning and their educational success. If you want your child to improve their learning, take an interest in what they are doing. Follow school and teacher guidelines about helping at home and attend as many conferences, meetings and events involving your child as possible. This strategy has a significant, long-term impact on your child’s attitude to learning.

Stay in touch
Life’s not always smooth sailing for kids of any age. Family circumstances change. Friends move away. Illness happens. Mental health challenges can hit anyone at any time. These changes affect learning. Make sure that you keep teachers up to date with significant changes or difficulties that your child or young person experiences so they can accommodate your child’s emotional and learning needs at school.

Be loyal
Show your loyalty to your child’s teachers by being an advocate. Talk positively about your child’s teacher and school, rather than being negative about them when speaking in the wider community. Teachers hold very public positions and generally work hard to build good reputations both within their school and their wider education community.

Building healthy parent–teacher relationships doesn’t just happen
It takes goodwill from both sides, a commitment to setting aside the time necessary to support the home-based learning tasks that are expected, and a willingness to communicate both concerns and commendations through the correct channels.”

I think this is really helpful advice for us as teachers. Staff at SACS endeavor to do follow the same suggestions when we are working alongside you as parents.

The key thing is to talk through your ideas, thoughts or concerns with your class teacher.

Joy Rohrlach
Year 5 Leader


Message from the Registrar


Dear SACS Community

I am delighted to announce that we started Day 1 2022 with 1410 students in St Andrew’s and 36 students in Gawura. This represents the largest ever Gawura enrolment and the largest ever number of girls across the school. We are completely full in most year groups with very healthy waitlists. We also had an extremely high student retention rate from 2021. Much higher than nationally recognised benchmarks.

Just a reminder that it is essential to make sure you have applied for your younger children. We do prioritise siblings but they do need to be on the waitlist first. In particular, if you have another child and looking at 2023 enrolment, or Year 7 2024, we really need an application very soon.

Similarly, if you have any friends or colleagues who are interested, please direct them to the website and pass on my contact details. We really appreciate your positive word of mouth.

Also a reminder that we do require, as part of the enrolment terms and conditions, ten school weeks’ notice of withdrawal.

Have a wonderful 2022.

Bruce Perry
02 9286 9507


Save the date!


Gawura Cocktail Party

You are invited to join our community at the annual Gawura Cocktail Party which will be held in Chapter House on Friday 18 March. Raise funds for our wonderful life-changing Gawura School and learn about The Emu in the Sky, a well know First Nations astronomical constellation that is the inspiration behind this year’s event.

We look forward to this opportunity to get together, sip champagne and enjoy delicious canapes with other members of the SACS community.

Venue: Chapter House
Friday 18 March – 6.00pm to 9.30pm
Bookings: link coming soon
Dress: Cocktail


Resources for COVID-19


Koori COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

The Koori Vaccination Clinic is operating out of Redfern Town Hall, offering free walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots. 

Free Pfizer Vaccines are available for anyone who is Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander over 12 years of age and their families. (Bring your parent or guardian if you are between 12-16).

You can also access a booster vaccination at this location.

Remember, you can’t get vaccinated if you’re waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test.

Koori Vaccination Clinic

  • Redfern Town Hall, 73 Pitt Street Redfern
  • 10am to 4pm, every day except Christmas Day (25 December), New Year’s Eve (31 December) and New Year’s Day (1 January).

Walk in for your vaccination or book an appointment here


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