Week 8, Term 3, 2021
We are excited to have planned many activities with our First Nations partners at the helm, as we enter our NAIDOC Week Celebrations throughout our last week of Term 3. It was to be slated at the beginning of term, however Lockdown got in the way. We have now seized this coming week to bring our focus to the theme, ‘Heal Country. Heal Our Nation’.
It will also be Book Week, and the richness of literature written by Aboriginal authors will accompany the music, art and dance experiences on offer for our students.
Welcome to Country
Local Dhaurg Artist, Leanne Tobin, attended Korowal to record her ‘Welcome to Country’ for us last Wednesday. She stood in the presence of the large lyrebird mural that she painted with students last year. The original lyrebird design in this image was drafted by students Mia and Mariah, and Leanne created a landscape around their image.
The lyrebird is our totem at Korowal. As Leanne explains in her recording, the role of the lyrebird is to care for Country. “The lyrebird is a peacemaker. It imitates what is around it. Its mimicry is an inclusive skill. It is a guardian, a sentinel, a peacemaker. This is an important role for us all to take on, especially in a school.”
We are proud of the diversity of our Korowal community. We are inclusive of all belief systems, working within our School’s values of acceptance, respect, kindness, curiosity and empathy. We are richer for this.
It is timely to hear Leanne speak of the lyrebird as a peacemaker, for currently we are experiencing a low-level disquiet within our community. There are varied responses to the mandated vaccination requirements for staff in schools, and some people are hurting. We are aware of the tension that may sit within class parent group chats where people are voicing opinions and trying to make sense of this situation. Some parents have expressed their concern directly to me that staff have no choice, that their employment may be impacted. Parents are concerned that their children may be exposed to strong opinions that they as a family do not hold, and ask how we are going to manage this situation.
We will manage this as we do all things, calmly, with kindness and inclusivity. Every member of our community is valued. Our commitment is to providing a safe and nurturing educational environment for the children and young people in our care, and for our staff.
Planning for return to campus
As colleagues, we are bringing our focus to preparing for the students’ long awaited return to campus, and we are ensuring that the COVID Safety Plan is thorough. We know from research now undertaken on countries who experienced long school closures, that it is important to get the balance right. The wellbeing of students has taken a priority. The OECD Response suggests that “Closures can also have considerable effects on students’ sense of belonging to schools and their feelings of self-worth – these are key for inclusion in education.”
Prioritising holistic measures will require us to work together as a whole community. We must provide an inclusive and safe environment for staff and students’ return to school. When children are around and within earshot, both at home and school, our conversations need to be positive, of working together and managing this, showing kindness and allowing curiosity.
I ask that we all refrain from judgement and bring our focus to belonging, consciously cooperating at this challenging time to weave the magic that is Korowal. As the NAIDOC theme for 2021 resounds, ‘Heal Country. Heal Our Nation’, there is no greater time for us to all pull together as Korowal, the ‘Strong One’.
Listen to our lyrebird friends.
Week 8, Term 3, 2021
This week marks the end of our 10th week of lockdown and 8th week of Term 3. My oh my!
We are now refining our return to school plan, which we will share with you in Week 9. As we will continue to receive health updates it may have many iterations before October 25th. However, it will be our guide to returning to our School campus.
At Korowal, the values of inclusion, discernment, compassion and respect are our bedrock. On a daily basis I have been receiving a range of concerns and opinions from our families. Mostly they pertain to the public health orders, their application and implications for our community, both positive and negative. Thank you for sharing these and please be assured that while we are all challenged by COVID’s impact, we hold our values close, and intend to succeed as best we can to accommodate our whole community within the requirements.
Thank you also for filling in the return to campus survey. On current responses, it looks to be around 85% returning to classes at school and approximately 15% continuing with remote learning for Term 4. We will run this survey again, closer to October 25th.
It is with gratitude that I share this message from our Chair of the Korowal School Board and applaud the care shown by our directors, led by Chris Lee.
A message from the Korowal School Board to our community
The Korowal School Board is providing support, advice and counsel for our school executive who, with our teachers and support staff, are at the frontline of the school’s response in these unprecedented times. In the dynamic landscape we find ourselves in, decision-making can be extremely difficult. As much as we all wish to provide certainty for our school community, the current environment makes that tricky.
The principle at the heart of Korowal’s COVID response is to control what we can control. There are things that we are required to do, bounded by our funding and accreditation through the State and Commonwealth governments. We develop plans based on guidance from the NSW Health and Education departments, and industry expertise from the Association of Independent Schools. Some of that guidance has flexibility to allow us to develop responses that reflect our circumstances and accommodate the Korowal approach. Other guidance is mandated through Public Health orders, which does not allow flexibility or interpretation. Sometimes information is presented at such a high level - one line in a press release, or a Minister making a statement - that we are unable to decide on a course of action until the detail is made available.
This fluid information environment does make it difficult to plan ahead, but we are doing that and responding and reviewing as new information or guidance becomes available - often on a daily basis. This places enormous pressure on our staff and leadership team.
I want our community to remember that we are all working together to enable the best outcomes for our children. We are balancing external guidance and legislation, developing safe environments for staff and students, within our approach to education. Some of these decisions may not be what we would prefer as a community - nor may we all agree on what these should be as a community - but please be reassured that we will always do our best to balance the competing forces to make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time.
Thanks to those of you who have sent messages of support to your class teacher and the school staff - it is very much appreciated by everyone.
Chris Lee, Chair KSB
Week 7, Term 3, 2021
When we knew that lockdown was going to be extended beyond August 30th we committed to lifting our spirits by holding a virtual staff dinner or cook-up for Friday 27th August. Add to that Friday’s announcements about Term 4’s return to school, changes to the HSC and mandated vaccinations for school staff, and we were glad we had chosen that evening to play together. It was a big day!
We had arranged to meet on Zoom at 5.30pm to share each persons’ menu. My goodness, some people had beautifully prepared menus which involved the whole family in preparations! Others of us just fell over the line to get home in time to Zoom-in while the group was buzzing. The range of ingredients and home cooked dishes was vast while takeaway meals sufficed when there was just no energy left for cooking. Kim brought out his guitar and treated us to a few songs, Kizz’s daughter dressed her mum in a tutu, and Rita sang the praises of green peas!
We will treat you to a few photos of the final products, for it was a deeply satisfying way of showing our appreciation of each other.
Premier & Education Minister’s announcements
On Friday, a roadmap for students returning to school was outlined by the Education Minister, Sarah Mitchell. The great thing is that there is a roadmap, but sadly, this does not see our young people returning to classes for the start of Term 4. We will spend the next week refining our plans for the return according to what is best for our students. We will be consulting with families as we do so.
What is clear at this stage is that Level 3 guidelines for schools will be in operation when we return. Masks will be required for Year 7 and above and are strongly recommended for primary students.
The announcement that HSC exams are put back to Week 5 of term 4, to be held on Tuesday 9 November, was a blow to our Pathways students. After the term they have had, the dissolving of external marking of their submitted projects and music performances, the dogged perseverance it has taken to stay engaged and connected to the course work and each other, they really wish they had been consulted about this by the decision makers.
They would not have recommended extending the start date. They are ready to finish their courses. The Pathways students would have liked to do their HSC exams, but they can release them, and accept that their internal assessment marks would become their HSC marks. Their wisdom lies in knowing the HSC is not the determinant of their futures, as it is becoming immaterial to many universities. As I stated in my letter to the Minister:
“I implore our Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, to review this decision and either revert to the original date for the HSC Exams, or release the exams and allow our students to be free of the stress they have been carrying throughout this lockdown and remote learning period. It is time for them to celebrate who they have become”.
Three weeks further of this term
We have sent care packages to our senior students and the next fortnight’s packs are on the way to primary. This week we celebrated Science Week with three online Science excursions, in both primary and high school.
‘Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 learnt all about the wonderful creatures living our own gardens in our online excursion with Australian Environmental Education. Our presenter, Karen, answered so many interesting questions from the children and even showed how her pet green tree frog swallows his food in a live feeding demonstration. This has opened our eyes even wider to the amazing world right on our doorsteps! Anna, Year 1 teacher.
Andy O’Doherty traipsed across the mountains delivering the Year 8 students bunsen burners, with a warning to parents to keep an eye out! More to come on this when the photos are in.
Talulah is currently communicating with many of our Dharug and Gundengurra friends to record a Welcome to Country for our NAIDOC week celebrations in the final week of term. We feel the timing of this is significant in allowing us to connect to Country, to appreciate the very core of our belonging.
We have arranged for our whole school survey to be conducted so that we can receive your feedback. Please keep a look out for the Perspective Surveys landing in your inboxes, or junk mail, from tomorrow. They are not COVID specific, but are general surveys about our School. They will be open until Friday, September10th. We would appreciate your feedback.
Want to have a chat?
Also, a reminder that we have ‘A Virtual Cuppa Under a Virtual Tree’ on Tuesday Morning at 9.15 am. The link is…………….
Please be assured we will be in contact as we plan for the coming months.
Week 6, Term 3, 2021
With each week we continue to be experiencing a national and societal crisis, and yet we are managing as best we can to keep our young people connected and learning. We hear from you that working from home and assisting with home learning is getting harder for many parents with each further week.
We acknowledge that people have had emotional slides this week.
After the announcement of lockdown continuing until the end of September, we have all felt the struggle. This is stretching from one term’s holiday through to the end of another term’s holiday, and we just want to be free! Yet we are not. So, we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and soldier on.
We know that many students have had both emotional and energetic slumps this week, and the attitude to learning is pretty average for many. For our HSC students this is doubly challenging. For all of our young people, the social separation is really striking a blow.
As this is happening, can we recall what makes us feel good about ourselves and see if we have been including this in our lives? How can we just let go of the expectations a little and be together? Experience things at home that make us laugh, are a bit wacky, or challenge us to surprise ourselves and each other? Maybe take a day off together?
How can we stay connected through this time?
This week, some Year 5 people, led by Nate and his boys, set up virtual playdates. Most of the play was around what they could do with their virtual backgrounds, facial features, and other additions in the zoom or GoogleMeet space. From all reports, there was a lot of laughter and their spirits were recharged when they could just come together - not for classes, but to hangout as a group. Perhaps it is time to work out new ways for social connection between families.
‘Reachout’ is a great resource for young people and parents. The following link will take you to a page titled ‘How to deal With Uncertainty During Coronavirus’. It recommends that we hold onto our ‘Stability Rocks’, our routines and rituals that
help to get through disrupted times. You will find a simple and uncluttered page of clever suggestions at https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-deal-with-uncertainty-during-coronavirus
As you saw in the post last week, we delivered care packages to our Pathways students for a little pick-you-up while they prepare for their HSC Trial exams. As is often the case when something unexpectedly delightful happens, they were boosted by the gifts. One said ‘It put a spring in my step.’
Further emails of thanks include
‘Thank you organising the package! It means a lot to me and to the others. Thank for your devotion to us, in times like this I reflect on the role the school has had on the growth of my character and my heart, without this opportunity of school I do not know where I would be. Things like this package and the notes from staff remind me that… my effort I put into my studies is worth it. You have worked tirelessly to provide us with the school values and customs whilst we isolate at home. You know this, but Korowal is a community and things like this, bring us together in a time we cannot be. Thank you, I hope you are well! ‘
‘I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all the teachers and staff for the wonderful care package. It made me feel very cared for and supported and it was so lovely to receive. I hope that you are all doing alright with everything going on at the moment. Thank you so much again for the care package, I really appreciate it. Hopefully we will be seeing you all again soon!’
At Korowal there is a mighty team effort behind all we are offering our students and families. We cannot be all things to all people, but we certainly give it our best shot.
We are listening, revisiting and rewriting, expanding our offerings within the imposed limitations, connecting wherever and whenever possible.
We know that this is appreciated by you all and thank you for your support.
From my vantage point, I get to witness the openness, cooperation, goodwill, out-of the-box thinking, patience, perseverance and time that our staff bring to this current predicament. They are a professional and compassionate team of leaders- as teachers, assistants, counsellors, finance experts, administrators, gardeners, builders and couriers. Even when they are on the receiving end of parental frustrations, they take it in their stride and look at how we can support our community.
These people are AWESOME! Thank you all for turning up each day.
Week 5, Term 3, 2021
In Week 5, we are missing you all dearly!
Rather than writing our story, we are inviting you into our lives by sharing our experiences. Some staff sent in little video snippets and messages from lockdown which have been strung together in our YouTube video. It’s been a few weeks in the making, and we are delighted to share our messages with you today.
We send a special thanks to Nathaniel for putting this together for us all.
Simply follow this link to connect to our YouTube message to you all.
Simultaneously, today Connor Bruce sent through this photo which he took when fleetingly on campus last week. His message stated, ‘Brighter days are ahead of us, ahah!’ You have to love his optimism. Thanks for the reminder, Connor.
Over the past few days, the sunshine has certainly been a soothing balm. We hope you have enjoyed this weekend.
Week 4, Term 3, 2021
As I sit with a blank page in front of me, there is little inspiration and few notable experiences of the week just passed. I reflect that this is possibly an experience that many of us are having. The parameters of our lives have been reduced to the floor map of our homes, the walking track we follow to exercise the dog and self, the trip to the shops on the allocated day, and for some, the drive to work and back, with the few human interactions we have at a safe distance. We have Zoom and Google Meet fatigue. We are functioning, but the spark has dimmed. I’m feeling it too.
It’s the weekend and time for renewal.
The impetus behind our connections are our children. It is through them that we build our community. In regular times they spring out of buses and cars, or tramp up the steep pathways bringing with them their effervescence, hesitation, and sometimes gloom.
Life explodes onto the campus.
For now, their absence is palpable. Daily, the School sits, waiting for their energetic return, but all we hear and see is the quiet subdued arrival of a few. Cautiously and respectfully, we keep to our allocated spaces. We channel our energy into the computer screen, beaming across the collected images, connecting and reassuring each other that we are ok, that we’ve got this!
We see the energy bounce back from the primary kids, such pure joy at seeing their teachers and friends. We see parents in the background, spluttering in laughter at some of the spontaneous replies and moments of on-air classrooms. We see teenagers as avatars, or (for those of you familiar with reluctant screen attendance), just the top of their heads bobbing in and out, battling the tensions between their desire to connect and their self-consciousness at seeing themselves on screen.
We hear and know the challenges of working from home and supporting our children’s learning. It’s exhausting to have so many demands placed on one person. Where is the space? Perhaps it’s time to just put pens down for a day and say- Enough, today we are going out-side, gardening, cooking, playing, whatever…. enjoying the time we do have together as a family, remembering the things that give us joy and laughter.
If there is one central theme to the COVID restrictions, it must be this- that we grow in acceptance of the things that are beyond our control and find joy in the simplest pleasures and human exchanges.
That above all else, we are kind. To ourselves and others.
Embrace the new day!
Week 3, Term 3, 2021
Four more weeks, what can we say?
We catch glimpses of our students and (some) parents in our morning meetings and morning circles, many even with themed dress-ups! However, it is not the same as hearing giggles gurgling, thigh slapping laughter and screeches reverberating through the grounds and indoor spaces when we have students in the school. We miss you all enormously.
Knowing that we need to reach across the distance for a longer period of time, we have been reviewing and layering our offerings. Your feedback thus far has been important to us and has been considered as we prepared the work for the next two weeks and beyond. Thank you for working with us to make remote learning experiences for our students as rich as possible.
Due to the continuation of the Lockdown, we will be postponing any calendar events such as Open Day/Fair, School Photos, Excursions and Camps until Term 4, when we will revisit the idea.
Our HSC students have been disrupted yet again, this time by the announcement of a return to campus on August 16th, with mention of vaccinations becoming available, and COVID testing required onsite. This information was delivered without any real plan, and promoted confusion not only to the students but to all of us. Yet, in spite of this, our seniors are bringing their best efforts to staying on task! Your teachers, parents and School continue to weave the warp and the weft, binding the thread, creating a web of support. You are awe-inspiring!
The primary staff have been busy getting their home learning packs for the next two weeks, and a portal which will run from Tuesday. Craft activities have been dropped into the primary packs this time around, and the staff have worked diligently and with great care to provide as comprehensive a range as we can manage at this stage of remote learning.
We understand that most have already been delivered!
Tempting as it may be, by all means have a look through them as they arrive on your doorstep, but please refrain from using any of the kit until further instructions from your class teacher.
These packs will be complimented by online, optional, specialist video lessons. Timetable additions will all become available through our new portal! Parents will be sent a link to a new website/portal on Monday, along with the details of our online additions and changes.
Please continue to use your current meeting links for Monday’s Morning meeting,
High School Student Feedback
We heard the expected range of emotional responses from High School students to this week's announcement that Remote Learning would continue for another 4 weeks. Some High School students are thriving joyfully in their online education, while others are unsure how they will make it through without physical connection and social interaction with others.
We are asking students for their feedback in student surveys, to be distributed in PD classes on Monday. While teachers have their perspective of lessons, content and communication, we need to hear more directly what is working and what's the most difficult for students.
High School Parent Meetings
On the evenings of Tuesday 3rd, Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th August we are holding Stage 4 (Yrs 7 & 8), Stage 5 (Yrs 9 & 10) & Stage 6 (Pathways) Parent Meetings to share the student survey responses, and give you a chance to discuss helpful tips/tricks for home learning. The Meeting links were sent out visa SkoolBag on Friday. We hope to connect with you there!
Information Sessions are running online, and we had our 2022 Kindergarten families meet last Thursday. Jodie & Talulah gave a lot of information about what parents can consider as they prepare their children for the big step into Primary School.
Still to come:
- On Wednesday 11th August, 5pm, there will be a Pathways Information Session for Year 10 families and any interested new students.
- On Tuesday 17th August, 5pm, will be a High School Information Session for the 2022 Year 7 students, and any prospective new High School students.
CUPPA… Under the Tree (virtual) (or in the kitchen, or in your garden….)
Tuesday and Friday Mornings
We are resurrecting Cuppa gatherings next week. We have decided to have two drop-in spaces where we can just connect with each other, share stories, ask questions, laugh…and more. Everyone is welcome!
These will occur from 9.15-10.00am every Tuesday and Friday morning while we are in this Lockdown. We would love to catch up, so if you want to pop in please use the link sent to families via Skoolbag/email.
As we enter another week of Remote Learning, let’s take it one day at a time and try to find the joy in as many exchanges as we possibly can.
Barb and Bec
Week 2, Term 3, 2021
At the end of Week 2 of Term 3, it is also the end of Week 4 of lockdown, the first two weeks having been within the school holidays. It continues to be a long stretch.
This week we experienced diverse responses from students, families and teachers through class meetings, individual conversations and emails. In both high school and primary, people are really missing social connection, and while morning meetings online provide space to meet it does not replace the longing to be physically present in a space.
Some parents and students are managing home learning smoothly, while others are not - for many reasons. Children in younger years require more direct support from parents or siblings to engage in the work, yet there is mixed capacity to do so. Some teenagers need the same presence to get started. We have received expressions of appreciation for the primary learning packs, as well as dismay that they are not more comprehensive. We have families requesting more online learning in primary and others who are happy with the level supplied. The layering we are bringing to this program is gradual, and the feedback that you have provided thus far will assist us in our planning for coming weeks.
Thank you all. While we hope that we can return to campus soon, the planning for both home learning and on campus classes are running alongside each other.
In high school, teachers and parents are in constant contact and cross referencing, so that where they feel a student may be fading or hoping to be invisible, they are drawn closer. Several network meetings have been held by Sarah and Lisa this week, to offer greater support for this way of schooling.
We encourage you to continue to make contact with class and subject teachers, if you have questions. If you have concerns, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Talulah, Bec or myself.
As much of what we hear/see/read in the media are negative news stories, we are committed to sharing positive feedback and comments that hopefully, brighten your day.
Some parents in primary have offered:
"So thankful for everything you have done for us, we are loving the take home learning pack!"
"We love seeing all the children's faces at Morning Circle each day, it is the perfect start to move into our learning each day."
"We have set up a designated work space and created our own timetable together."
“We don’t want a timetable; we are happy doing what we can when we can.”
"We really like the way the learning packs were set out, the structure is so easy to use."
“Thankful to be able to spend time with my family and having a front yard!”
“Grateful for our pets, audio books, having nice neighbours and plenty of food!”
“Love the Morning Circles- Hearing the singing, chatting, sharing of poems”
HSC - Changes to date
On Friday evening we were alerted that many HSC practical project due dates have been extended, and that the starting date of the HSC examination period has changed. We will be in contact with all of our Pathways students and families with the specific details of this on Monday.
Having farewelled Week 2, it might just help us all to get through lockdown if we can take control of some part of our lives. Ash Barty’s Mindset Coach, Ben Crowe, talks a lot about learning to accept that we are ‘enough’ by owning our own story, rather than listening to the stories that others say about us. He has this to offer:
“If you can win the morning, you can win the day.
..….. mantras, affirmations, allow you to own your story.”
Crowe suggests that if we don’t take ownership of our own story, accepting that who you are is enough, then the world (others) will.
If you like this notion, you may enjoy listening to the whole podcast of ‘Bounceback’, Episode 13-with Dr Andrew Rochford; featuring Ben Crowe.
May we win each day!
Week 1, Term 3, 2021
This week we were confronted with the reality that remote learning was not for the four days, as we had all hoped would be the case. The truth is that planning for four days was a gentle way of transitioning from the planned curriculum delivery into remote delivery. For in preparation for Term 3, teachers had prepared their programs for our regular schooling over the term break. However, in the last week before term commenced, they needed to redesign these for at-home delivery.
We received a few comments this week that prompt this Window with A View post. In the absence of seeing what goes on behind the scenes, some parents are perplexed when they do not get a quick answer when after they have emailed their child’s teacher. Odds are that if one parent has sent an email, then 20 others have as well. Then there is the rest that is going on….
Remote learning has a whole other system operating in the background, especially when the school is established for distance education, but for face-to-face teaching.
So, what are we up to?
When we switch to planning programs for remote schooling, a teacher considers the specific needs of every child. They prepare resources to go home, or to be uploaded, knowing that some children/students require extension work while others need further detailed teaching and practice before progressing to a new concept. Then they plan for how this new concept will be taught over remote learning- a science experiment for example, and how revision and consolidation will be possible.
The class is as diverse as tonal colour range. Even with the plan in front of you when teaching, there is subtle nuancing and adjusting in every exchange, depending upon the knowledge the teacher has on that individual student.
Not dissimilar to what Henri Matisse had to say in his A Painter's Notes, 1908, "When I have found the relationship of all the tones the result must be a living harmony of all the tones, a harmony not unlike that of a musical composition."
The analogy is that, when we switch to remote delivery, our harmony is disrupted. It is hard to gauge the tone, the mood of the class and the individual, when we are not physically in the same space.
In primary, as we prepare class packs to be sent home, teachers are predicting the level and response for each child. There is a vast range. Combine this with the capacity of families to tweak and react nimbly to questions, or teach concepts, and you have a complex puzzle to negotiate. We know that this is a big ask of parents, so the teachers are trying to provide a midpoint that is attainable, within which the child will hopefully experience success and pleasure in learning.
When the school days were running this Week 1, teachers were facilitating morning circle gatherings online and answering emails in primary. Without the training of actors on PlayschooI, they front the kids, but also parents! This is very challenging for the introvert. In high school teachers also ran morning meetings, delivered classes on-line and responded to emails and Google Classroom requests. Again, there are varying levels of experience and comfort with online delivery.
However, when not engaged in delivering courses they were also planning worksheets, classes and resources for the next two weeks of remote learning. A straw poll of our staff at the end of the week showed that teachers were working until 11.00pm most nights to get things ready for this coming fortnight.
We are ready to continue now for the next two weeks
The work is set, the primary learning packs have been delivered to families, and we move to the next phase where there is more online contact in primary. Teachers will be making one-on-one contact with every child and family throughout the week, and there will be a class online drop-in session for parents to centralise feedback and questions.
In high school, timetables have been reviewed and uploaded with class work. We will have a meeting with all HSC families to update each other on progress on Tuesday at 6.00pm. As we are in this for longer than four days, there is a gear shift needed and we need all of our students to attend online and make serious attempts at their work over these precious weeks, particularly for HSC.
Yet not all students are as committed as others, and we continue to make contact with those families where we feel a student is disappearing. We try to draw them closer. We have more meetings with staff to cross check students. The subtle and incidental scanning we do with students in a classroom are not possible in a remote learning environment. We are often supporting parents as well as students throughout this time, especially where on-line learning is not appealing. Wellbeing touchdowns and support increase at these times.
While we continue to conduct classes online, mark work, give feedback to students, and conduct wellbeing checks, next week the teachers also begin preparing for a further two weeks of remote learning for the very likely scenario that we will continue this way for an additional two weeks into August. While we hope this is not the case, we must be ready for either scenario.
The executive and admin are also working around the clock to update risk assessments, timetables, and all COVID communications, as well as support the staff, students and families. The administrative business of the school does not stop, it just increases at such times.
But we are in this together. There is a great sense of collegiality and positivity in what our compact school achieves. We are very proud of everyone and of our students’ resilience. The character of the school glows at such times.
The most important thing for us all to remember is that when we are feeling overwhelmed or worried, we need to:
Step back and consider our options.
When you have concerns about your child’s experience, please make contact with us through email or phone, asking that we call you or email reply, and wait for us to make contact. You are important to us and we will get back to you asap.
Please avoid downloading anything on the office staff. They are the messengers, and they do not need the details of what is happening for you or your child. If it is
a critical matter, then request to speak with an exec member and again, please understand that we may be on another call or in a planning meeting, responding
to new information.
Remember to laugh, and/or sing
I keep on reminding myself that none of us are perfect and we all have limitations.
May you enjoy your imperfections and limitations.
Week 0, Term 3, 2021
Welcome back to Term 3! While it is not the start to term that we were anticipating, on Tuesday we return to remote learning, in whatever degree that applies for each family. As you will have read in our email communications throughout this past week, we have sent out specific plans for all stages, from K-12, and we are ready to roll.
While working within the current COVID restrictions it is our intention to make the most of every day and every opportunity. Our hearts are extended to all of our students and families. Years 11 and 12 students are finalising their HSC projects in the coming days and weeks, and they have our full support. For Year 12, this is the second year that their HSC has been interrupted, as they do half their subjects in Year 11 and the second half in Year 12. Their ability to adapt to these circumstances is awesome!
It takes courage to individually and collectively manage this interruption. At the same time, it is character building. When we are vulnerable and we pull together, with trust in ourselves and others, we can develop further perseverance and exercise the grit required. This life skill is invaluable. Wellbeing trumps all else.
While we learn from home, please remember to notice the little and subtle things.
Our children notice if we aren’t ok, and the odds are that if we aren’t coping, our children aren’t coping either.
As I wrote to families this week: the weather is beautiful, the air crisp, and the bush is calling! Stimulating the body and mind are of equal importance as we move into our third week of lockdown. In reading books, playing games, gardening, playing and/or listening to music and exercising, our mental and physical health is nurtured. Our spirits come alive.
Go gently! We are in this together.
Week 9, Term 2, 2021
The Fun Run course was moved away from the taller trees in our surrounding bushland and meadow, and went right past our 1960 Bedford MakerSpace Bus. You may have noticed it looking a little bit more polished as a group of parents have been volunteering their time to breathe new life into this space. They have started on the inside, but are cleaning the outside with plans to add some fresh paint over the holidays. Thanks to those who are contributing!
Student Run Assembly
On Wednesday, the High School students gathered in the Hall to share explanations and stories about their Semester 1 excursion and camp experiences. It was a delight to hear about the diverse and engaging venues such as the:
- ANZAC memorial in Hyde Park
- ANSTO Nuclear science research centre
- Wayside Chapel
- Jewish Museum
- Japan Foundation
Students also spoke about their experiences at school:
- Fencing for PE, and
- Contributing to the Masterplan Consultation
Through semester 1, we heard many positive comments about our students’ ability to engage and lift their behaviour to appropriate levels of reverence and reflection. This was evident in the student presentations on Wednesday through what they chose to share and how they kept their audience attentive.
Oracy in Year 7 Art
I was grateful to observe Year 7 Art in-class presentations on Friday, as students spoke about their peer’s ceramic representations of themselves. Thoughtfully lead through the process by Anne, the students were able to practise and showcase their developing Oracy and collaboration skills.
Year 10 Excursion
I was also very fortunate this term to join Year 10 with Mark & Nathanael for a week-long camp at The Crossing in Bermagui. The Year 10 students were friendly, funny and cooperative. There were certainly moments of low energy and reluctance but these were over-shadowed by collective participation and group support. My memories of the week are the distinct moments of action and events such as trees planted, meals cooked, hikes completed and the blood moon eclipse. Equally memorable are the moments in between, the fireside chats, sharing stories, supporting friends and encouraging each other to participate. This group of young people are a credit to themselves, their parents and their school community. Credit also to the tangible commitment, effort and care that Mark has given to Year 10 over the years!
Here’s what some of the students had to say about;
“I think the main intentions of the camp program were to teach us about sustainability, to give us new experiences, and to take us out of our regular lives to some extent.
The Crossing reawakened the thrill of being out in nature for me. It gave me new views on change and how easy it is.”
“Absolutely every one of them [The Crossing staff] was a really down to earth person who is well rounded and really easy to talk to. Amazing group of people, I really appreciated the experience of being with them.”
“Just to have quality time with the class and to chat/engage/having a laugh with people I wouldn’t in a school environment.”
“More meat would be good but I'm not complaining they got everyone to drink the average amount of water needed to make people feel better throughout the day.”
“I don't think they understand how much we actually eat.”
“This camp has given me a taste of hiking and camping and I love it. It has inspired me to do the sea to snow Journey.”
“Cheers for getting our class out in the bush and to show them what they can do around the mountains.”
Wishing you all an enjoyable and restful break. We look forward to seeing students back on Tuesday 13th July, and working together next term towards our fabulous Open Day on Saturday 28th August.
Week 8, Term 2, 2021
Barb’s passion and commitment to our school, now and into the future, was evident this week as she encouraged everyone to be present and engaged with the Master Planning Workshops. Here is her summary of the feedback received from students, parents and staff:
Master Planning Workshops
It was an absolute joy to both participate in, and observe, all four of the workshops run by Dave and Andy from Hayball Architects this week. People came with open minds and hearts, engaging with frankness and honesty, to build a picture of Korowal now. They then imagined Korowal of the future, and created their wish lists.
In each of their sessions, Dave and Andy used photographs as stimulus, asking participants to explain their current Korowal experience. There was alignment across all groups.
When feeding back, the students chose to reference ‘calm’ a lot. Other common themes lifted from their comments include:
Korowal helps us/me grow; many people come here and it’s welcoming and calm; we are working together; guiding everyone; supportive; nurturing; peaceful; we are like stars- all different colours, and all shine brightly.
When the parent consultation group undertook a similar activity, their comments delved a little deeper. Here is a snapshot of their thoughts:
We allow them (students) to fly; warmth, connection, presence; nurturing, trust; being held; celebrating uniqueness; infinite conversation and buzz; we hear something different;
the magic of time at school; centred; surrounded by history, love and relationships, old and new connecting; unexpected - the more you look the more beauty, layers, experimentation, enjoyment, exploration exist; colourful, open and creative teaching; encouraging us to think; beauty; the lengths staff go to engage innovatively; play, fun place to be; a happy family of learners.
Korowal- it’s about individuals, not rigidity, but open mindedness. It is unique, a gift on a threshold, something to pass on.
In the staff sessions what we most liked about our School included: the people; creativity; collegiality; beauty; diversity; relationships with each other and nature; care; and the learning.
Across all groupings there are common themes for our futures focus.
We dream of: creating purposeful creative spaces; collaborating in learning; food being a great connector; sustainability; having authenticity of place - connecting the new and old; connecting with our bushland context; stimulating growth by adventure, exploration and fun; strengthening connections with community and industry.
All of us have a desire for the classrooms to connect further with the outdoors, to be bigger in size; with greater access to natural light; for learning to be held outside and inside; for greater gathering places that are all weather friendly; for play areas that challenge and nurture. We all want to share, grow and prepare food. Everyone stated that we need new and refurbished toilets.
There is a need for interconnection, movement, and a sense of belonging radiating out from the existing structures into the landscape. We want to do this by working with designs that are solar passive, using natural products.
All of this, and more, came from just four workshops! We have yet to hear of the collated responses to our survey, as well as the individual class workshops for all students.
It is powerful to come together and dream and we thank everyone who is assisting us to design Korowal’s future.
It was a busy week on the calendar, with something exciting happening every day!
On MONDAY Year 9 visited the ANSTO facility at Lucas Heights and impressed the staff with their engagement, questions and maturity. Andy came back to school with only positive things to say about the Year 9 students, and there was much discussion about nuclear energy as the students travelled home that afternoon.
TUESDAY, was the Wayside Chapel excursion for the Year 9 & 10 Work Education students. Lisa Taylor wrote:
The students handed over the scarves and shawls knitted by the school. Students also added their own gifts of hygiene products and socks etc to the gift bags. They also added notes to the bags for those taking them stating that someone was thinking about them and to keep positive. I was very proud of how this group demonstrated maturity during this visit and have stated that they feel that this was a very worthwhile excursion and important organisation in our community.
WEDNESDAY, we had local author Jodie McLeod visit to speak to students from Kindergarten to Year 7 about her books “Leonard the Lyrebird” and “Lilah the Lyrebird”. Maria said: It's always a treat to meet a real live author and the children really do love her books!
THURSDAY’s snow in the upper mountains wasn’t exactly pre-empted on our calendar, but there were a lot of hopeful students and staff on Wednesday afternoon who had their hopes realised. Snow started falling just past 7am, and did not stop gently falling all day. We are so grateful for the staff that were able to safely travel to school and keep everything running for the students on campus. It was a lovely, quiet and interesting day for students in mixed Stage groups from Kindy to Pathways. See the video attached of one creative and fun STEAM activity completed by Stage 3 students on Thursday.
FRIDAY, the sun came out for Stage 1 to be able to head off to the Valley Heights Train Museum as part of their “Connections” Focus Study.
Year 1 and 2 had a fantastic time on their excursion to the Valley Heights Railway Museum on Friday. It was amazing to see the concepts about steam trains that students had been learning come to life - the children really impressed the staff with their capacity to accurately recall this information.
The students' squeals of excitement could be heard as they got to ride in a moving old railway carriage and a symbolic moment occurred when we were travelling alongside the modern tracks. As we looked out of the window of our rickety wooden carriage, we saw one of the brand new Mariyung Blue Mountains trains, it's seats still wrapped in plastic and doors taped up, reading 'no rides - testing only.'
The children serenaded the driver with a beautiful rendition of the song, Morning Town Ride, whilst onboard, and I got to enjoy a beautiful discussion with two Year 1 students who excitedly discerned that "our song really has come true! Just like in the song, we are 'rocking, rolling and riding' in an old train and 'all the little travellers are warm and snug inside!"
We were the first school to visit the Museum after it had been closed to visitors due to COVID-19 and the volunteers went above and beyond to share their contagious enthusiasm and in depth knowledge with the children. The children will likely be remembering this excursion for years to come.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON, everyone was treated to a performance by the group Vocalocity, led by Amelia Nell. This fabulous group of young people provided a singing and beatbox concert and workshop, with ex Korowal student Loki teaching students how to beatbox. Vocalocity had the whole school singing, with big smiles, giggles and dancing from the front row of Kindergarten children. Amelia is at Korowal every Friday afternoon, singing with students from both Primary and High. We are hoping the Vocalocity concert inspires more students to join the Korowal vocal group with Amelia.
Next week is our last week for Term 2. Year 7 to 10 reports will be sent to families by the end of the week, with information about Parent-Teacher interviews to be held at the beginning of Term 3.
The whole school Fun Run is being held on Thursday, starting on the school oval and meandering around the school grounds. Parents and families are invited to come along and offer support for the students between 1.25 – 3.30pm. Please see the SkoolBag notification for this event, sent in Week 6. Hope to see you there.
Enjoy the rest of your long weekend!
Week 7, Term 2, 2021
Ever wonder how you can become more involved at Korowal?
Now is a great time to participate in both the School Masterplan consultations and survey, as well as the Open Day and Fair organisation in the lead up to 28th August.
Week 7 continued to be an active period of engagement. Our Primary and Pathways parent/teacher evenings were all well attended. There was a third Parents & Friends set-up meeting on Wednesday evening where a draft constitution was presented and reviewed.
Then on Thursday evening, four Directors of our Korowal School Board attended a Governance training session at the Association of Independent Schools in Sydney. Thank you all for supporting us in this way.
OPEN DAY & FAIR August 28
We also launched our Open Day and Fair, 2021, conversation. After the enforced restrictions of 2020, there is great enthusiasm and excitement around the anticipated event. We will come together as a community to celebrate our work and play, eat delicious food and be entertained by our Jazz bands. With a sustainability focus this year, we hope to be educated on more sustainable practices.
The parents who attended the first Open Day meeting on Wednesday evening have already begun plotting. Some are Korowal Alumni and remember the days of the Fair in Leura, with candle dipping and a fairy walk. These could well be resurrected this year so stay tuned.
Please step forward to help organise, or offer to make crafts, or work the stalls on the day. We have twelve weeks to cook up a storm before the Open Day and Fair on Saturday 28th August. This time will fly!
There was great participation from our high school students in this year’s Futsal Gala Day on Friday.
“Three Korowal teams had a great day at the high school futsal gala. Year 9 mixed team finished runners up after a penalty shoot-out, and one of our year 8 mixed teams lost their final 2-1. Great kids, great Korowal sports shirts!”
MASTER PLANNING – We need your input!
Korowal has been at our Hazelbrook site for 12 years now, can you believe that?
At the time of relocation, we had a few months to transform the site into a school, modifying the internal footprint to accommodate classrooms, and the grounds to create playgrounds.
Since then, we have established ourselves in our beautiful School, with minor modifications, and expansion requiring demountable classrooms. It is now time to plan for our future, to dream big, and we are embarking on developing a Masterplan.
This Masterplan is to be created in collaboration with our community. It is a ‘big picture’ perspective of a potential future and provides the guiding principles for an agreed upon vision. Our Masterplan will plot priorities of both the built and natural environment for the next 10 years.
Dave Tordoff and Andrew Fong from Hayball Architects will guide us through the consultation processes. Together we will develop a plan that addresses creative ways to improve existing buildings and structures, develop new buildings, and review land use. The result will strengthen community connections, support our learning, and enhance a sense of play within our beautiful natural surroundings. Heritage listings, bushfire zoning as well as environmental protection restrictions all apply to our site.
The final plan will sit alongside our Strategic Plan and will include ideas for adaptive reuse and potential development.
We are engaging with the Dharug people to understand the traditional use and songlines of the land and its people. During Reconciliation Week we had our first consultation with our First Nations People. On Tuesday 1st June, once everyone had vacated the School, we welcomed two Aboriginal women to smoke the site. It was a beautiful and quiet ritual. And we look forward to our continued relationship. There will be a smoking for our community to assist us to forge a deeper connection to the land and the ancestors.
CONSULTATIONS- HAVE YOUR SAY.
This is a pivotal moment in the history of our School and we would like to do it TOGETHER with our students, parents, staff, neighbours and alumni from Hazelbrook. To this end, we invite you to participate in our survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Korowal-community
In addition to this, there are still some places available for the parent/alumni consultation workshop on Wednesday 9th June from 3.30-5.00pm. If you haven't already - PLEASE contact us on 4758 7466 to volunteer your time.
Students and Staff will also be involved in the surveys and consultations this coming Monday and Wednesday.
COMING EVENTS AND EXCURSIONS
Once again there are many activities that our students are involved in over the final two weeks of term. Please look to the calendar for details.
Let’s dream big!
Week 6, Term 2, 2021
On Friday morning of Week 6, the primary students gathered on the lawn to prepare for their Bush Day, a lovely way to end Reconciliation Week. Together they sang a refrain of “Earth belongs to all, she belongs to no one, she belongs to herself.” So commenced their day connecting with the earth and each other.
Talulah, our Primary Coordinator and Art teacher, writes the following about the day, and the experiences of all.
“Friday's term 2 bush school was held on such a splendid mountain day- the air was fresh and bright and the last of the autumn colours were scattered about. The children worked in their class groups with Year 6 buddies for each group.
We began the day as a whole school, acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we play and learn, the Dharug and Gundungurra people. Kim and our new student-teacher, Casey, lead a whole-school rendition of The River Song, bringing in new harmonies.
This Bush School we acknowledged Reconciliation Week. The 2021 theme of 'More than a word, Reconciliation takes action' became a key focus for the children as they busily worked together to make the word ACTION using leaves and bark on the lawn. In age-appropriate ways we discussed what reconciliation means within our lives, and in the broader context for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.
Teachers guided children to appreciate and utilise the multitude of natural resources we are so fortunate to share at Korowal, seed pods, grasses, sticks, leaves, trees and land formations. These formed the basis of our scavenger hunt, mask making, tree-face sculptures and navigation through our bush tracks. Emma-Joy, a regular casual teacher with us, lead a drumming circle on the meadow.
It was a day full of creativity, music, connection and a gentle slowing down to listen to each other and work together. A Year 2 child paused to acknowledge the collaboration it took to make the 'ACTION' leaf assemblage "We are collecting the leaves, that group is sorting them into colours and the others are making the word- this is team work!". Another child in Year 3 reflected on the drumming circle "My class was able to work together without even speaking, just by drumming and listening to each other. You could hear the sound echoing off the trees"…” Talulah
‘THE CROSSING’ CAMP
Our Year 10 students, along with Bec, Mark and Nathaniel, spent the week at a sustainability camp near Bermagui, called ‘The Crossing’. They left on Sunday and returned on Friday evening, so we look forward to hearing how they fared. Accommodation was in repurposed railway carriages for the main part, and amongst many activities, they toiled the land.
The mid-week report from Bec went:
“Everyone is well and happy. We are preparing for a bike ride and overnight camp out. There are some concerns about bush toileting but they will be ok.”
As consultations with our First Nations People commence, on Tuesday we welcomed two aboriginal women to walk our site. We are keen to connect to country, to understand the land and its significance over time before we develop the site further. Where were the meeting places? the songlines? What was the significance of the stream, swamplands and water? We welcome the stories and respect the wisdom that we will receive and share as facilitated by our Dharug people.
On Friday we emailed families with a link to our Master Planning survey being run by Hayball. We included a letter with dates for the consultations. We encourage you to read these letters and become involved. As stated in the letter, the consultation workshop has space for two parents from each class, but the survey is for all.
It would be so supportive if we could have every family in the School respond to the survey.
WORK ED CLASS FUNDRAISE FOR WAYSIDE
Congratulations to Lisa Taylor and her Work Ed class who have held a food-fair and car washing over the past two weeks to raise around $400. They will be visiting Wayside in Kings Cross before the end of term, taking scarves that are bring knitted, beanies and warm clothes. If you wish to donate any new warm clothes or money to purchase such, please contact the School office.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
The next two weeks have many events, including primary parent/student/teacher meetings and Pathways Parent/student/teacher meetings. Details will have been sent to you via the SkoolBag APP and email. Please check the calendar attached.
There is so much happening at Korowal! We are enjoying each day.
Week 5, Term 2, 2021
As week 5 ended in a weekend conference for Barb and a trip away on school camp for Bec we offer you some reflections on the week past by way of a wee photo series of photos. Students have been exploring place and culture through a wide range of experiences from trips to wild places, excursion to immerse in other cultures and guest speakers sharing their stories.
On East Timor's Independence Day, Stage 3 were lucky enough to welcome Wendy, Eva and Domingas into their classroom to speak about their first-hand experiences in East Timor. Year 5 & 6 students listened to stories, learnt about East Timorese history and looked at the differences between our ways of life. According to Elise, the students were really engaged and asked very thoughtful questions.
The Elective Japanese class went on their first visit to the Sydney Japan Foundation headquarters. They enjoyed learning the traditional art of Furoshiki (gift wrapping with cloth) and how to greet and welcome a visitor in to a Japanese home. They also had a delicious Japanese lunch and visited a Japanese 100yen store before coming back home.
Stage 2 had a magical day on Friday exploring and observing our beautiful Blue Mountains Landscapes to support their Focus Study unit, 'Beneath Our Feet'. They looked at a variety of landscapes while gathering data on features and signs of erosion. Observing Aboriginal carvings and the Blue Labyrinth at Wentworth Falls. They were surprised (and delighted) by a lyrebird crossing their path while they walked through a beautiful rainforest landscape to view and sketch Witch's Leap in Katoomba. They also took part in a nature treasure hunt, and enjoyed the misty fog at Govetts leap.
Closer to home, primary students have been exploring their wild world by working together to build cubby houses, using sticks, leaves, rocks and team work. This is a lovely way of being in a place and of exploring the nuances of relationships.
Stage 3 are now participating in the Vocalocity Choir each week as a cohort. We look forward to hearing what they are working on next.
On Friday, despite the Katoomba School Strike 4 Climate Action being cancelled, some Year 1 parents and students created their own space to have a voice.
As the term feels it is racing past us, let’s take a moment to slow down and be present.
Week 4, Term 2, 2021
Poetry in Action
“Yrs 8-10 English Classes are all exploring poetry in their current units. To support their learning, we invited the Poetry in Action theatre troupe to perform their show ‘Power of Poetry’ to all of Junior High. Year 7 were also entertained. This fast paced, one hour performance showcased the power of language and the ways in which words can make a difference. Via a humorous plot, students were treated to renditions of 'The Man From Snowy River', Ginsberg's 'Howl' and the poetry of song lyrics, among many others. We enjoyed an entertaining and informative afternoon that perfectly complemented the work being done in the classroom” Lisa Harding
Science Research Projects Market Place
Excursion to see ‘HAMILTON’- the musical
Futsal Gala Day
- HS Monday 17th May Work Ed Market Stall – at school
- HS Tuesday 18th May Japanese Foundation Excursion
- HS Tuesday 18th May ‘Onstage’ Drama Elective Incursion
- Pathways Wed 19th May ‘The Tempest’ excursion - Advanced English
- HS Thursday 20th May Year 10 & 11 Careers Market
- PS Thursday 20th May East Timor Sisters Visit Year 5 & 6
- HS Friday 21st May Climate Strike excursion in Katoomba (pm)
Week 3, Term 2, 2021
On Friday of week 3, our Year 5 & 6 students participated in the local Futsal Gala Day at the Katoomba Aquatic Centre and did us proud. They had fun, worked as teams, and Year 6 boys went through to the final! Congratulations on a great effort from everyone involved. Years 3 & 4 will play in the upcoming week and we wish them well.
You may notice that we are holding a lot of excursions this term, some hot on the heels of others. Experiential learning is always preferred over theoretical learning. We are making up for missed opportunities in 2020, and also catching them while things are open. As we have seen this weekend, cancellations may occur at a moment’s notice as we respond to the presence of COVID-19.
This year we have commenced forward planning in terms of resourcing our beautiful school. Our aim is to review the current use of our built and open spaces, and to plan for upgrading our facilities. To this end, we are about to immerse ourselves in the process of creating our Master Plan for Korowal School. A Master Plan does not contain design details, but rather an overview of the land, the restrictions on development, and possibilities for sequential planning and development.
We have now completed the tender process and can confirm that the successful tenderer is an architectural firm called Hayball. The team will engage with our community through a consultation period to ensure that students, parents, staff, as well as our first nations people, are well represented. The team will be led by Dave Tordoff. By the end of the consultation, we will have identified priorities and phases for development in a 10 Year Master Plan for our site. It will include replacing the current demountables with permanent structures.
The consultation period will commence this term, so be on the lookout for invitations to participate in a survey and discussion group if you are interested in contributing. We intend to have completed this plan over a 2-3month period.
We thank Diego Villar, a parent and also local architect familiar with our site, for being our independent panelist in shortlisting and selecting Hayball.
As we are developing our master plan, we have placed the installation of the solar panels on hold until the plan is finalised. To date, we have reviewed two options for location, each in different areas of the school. The review and recommendations from Hayball Architects for future development of the built environment may introduce a third option not yet explored, so we will pause until this has been finalised.
We are fortunate to have Daniel Maunsel working with us on this. Daniel is a parent at Korowal with vast experience in alternative energies, including solar. He is our expert on the ground as we negotiate the best plan for Korowal. Thank you Daniel.
Today marks a celebration of mothers, of women who are, and act as, mothers, people who care for the vulnerable and support the health and wellbeing of children, as well as the child within the adult. This is such a significant role and we pay tribute to all of you today, and every day.
May you enjoy the weekend!
Remember: that we have a Cuppa Under the Tree at drop off time on Tuesdays.
If wet, on the verandah.
Week 2, Term 2, 2021
We have only been back for two weeks and for many it feels as if Term 1 simply rolled on into Term 2. Holiday rehearsals of the School’s celebrated Cabaret, production week and then the six-show season all came to an end after a final show to a packed house on Saturday night. And we’re still smiling and having earworms of Kermit the Frog’s ‘Rainbow Connection’ and ‘I just Can’t wait to be King’ accompanying our daydreams.
The whole of primary experienced the thrill of being entertained with a mini version of the Korowal Cabaret on Friday afternoon. Many of the children had never experienced attending live theatre before and were in for a treat! This took me back to being a child and going to pantomimes in Sydney. The chatter of voices, excited giggles, the tension of expectation, then a hush as the lights went down and the band started. As the magic unfolded the audience was mesmerised. The high school students really played to the young people in front of them. The theatre rang with guffaws of laughter and loud applause. It was equally hushed in the quiet and dreamlike performances.
Our primary children were attentive and engaged throughout, and the high school students fostered that connection. This was a special and memorable event, and one which encapsulates all that we love about being a K-12 school. It was a polished and slick show, wrapped in love.
As the children walked back to their classrooms, we overheard such comments as:
- Cabaret is THE BEST thing ever!
- I loved it!
- Soooo good!
- My favourite part was when ZAZU said- “I beg your pardon. Now get off!”
- “…The bit where the guy did the splits (in Room where it happened). That was so cool.”
Now we linger in the delight of success as last night we farewelled the Korowal Cabaret 2021. All that work, intense focus and euphoria now disperses. However, what we experienced will remain in our senses, our hearts and minds for many months to come.
After the year that was 2020, the opportunity to be entertained by live performers,
to enjoy our community and smile with huge pride at our students’ and staff’s capacity and courage, is uniquely appreciated.
WE APPLAUD everyone who was connected in any large of small way with this successful and thoroughly entertaining season of our Cabaret. We express gratitude to our senior students for being great leaders and fine role models to our younger children. We are very proud of the big successes that our little School achieves.
Important Events Coming Up
- Tuesdays this term: We will be holding our first Cuppa under the Tree for 2021 on Tuesday morning from 9.20am.
- This Wednesday 5th is Our Annual General Meeting from 6.00pm. This will be held on site and a zoom link has also been emailed to families.
Let’s hope the earworms fade, but if they don’t, just sing along.
Week 1, Term 2, 2021
Welcome to Term 2
Already we are fully immersed in School life and we welcome everyone back after the first term break. The main focus for the high school and admin in Week 1 has been our Korowal Cabaret, which opened on Thursday night and has sold out for the season. The joy it brings us all is palpable. To be able to celebrate together and be entertained by our talented students and staff, after the COVID restrictions of the past 12 months, is doubly appreciated by everyone.
Cast and crew rehearsed throughout the last week of the holidays, including the weekend. Because of this the show was ready for opening on Thursday night, with a preview for the high school on Thursday afternoon. Kelly Wyburd, Kim Poole, Jason Carthew, Rick Morris, Lisa Taylor and Peter Kennard have dedicated their expertise to the production. Kim has done musical arrangements and conducting, and performs throughout; Kelly has woven it together with theatrical direction and design; Jason has trained his team for technical production and lighting; and Peter is our master in sound production. Together they have coached the students so that they can now mostly run each show. We have ex-students coming by to support with back stage and catering; Caroline, Deb and Cassie keeping bookings and front of house smooth; teachers from primary and high school supervising dressing rooms and students in performance. It takes a school to raise a Cabaret!
The senior students in Years 11 and 12 have stepped up to lead the junior cast members. They have thrown energy, talent, commitment and good humour into the rehearsals and, in that very inclusive way, invited students who may be shy yet aching to perform to join in the group numbers. Even up until the day before opening! Year 7 are looking at Years 11 and 12 with starry eyes.
Why a Cabaret?
The Korowal Cabaret is unique for many reasons. It is framed around the theme of ‘the Musical’ and both Music and Drama electives for Years 8,9,10,11&12 study aspects of ‘The Musical’, its context and development through the decades. The Art Co-curricular steps in to assist with design. It is cross-curricular project work at its best.
Students are invited to work up a piece from a musical for inclusion according to their interests, and the level of commitment they are willing to bring to the production. For solos and small group acts, they need to demonstrate that they can develop their act to a particular standard through working independently, then present the piece to Kelly and Kim who assist to refine it for performance. Some choose to do a stand-up comedy piece, or to sing a solo from a musical, such as ‘Wilcommen’ from Cabaret, or ‘Speechless’ from Aladdin. Others are keen to be involved singing in duet or trio in a group choreographed piece. Such examples this year include ‘I Just Can’t Wait to be King’ from the Lion King and ‘The Room Where it Happens‘ from Hamilton. Then there are the big showstopper numbers with over half of the high school on stage, where there are lead roles and ensemble roles, but where everyone is having a great time. Some of these push the boundaries beyond a PG rating.
For this reason, we will be selecting three or four songs to perform for primary next week, outside of the regular evening performances.
The origins of our Cabaret
The Korowal Cabaret has now been part of our school culture for around 14 years. It is created every second year. It was born out of our observation that while our primary students were involved in singing, they lost the drive for singing in high school where they became far more self-conscious.
We pondered the questions
- What may entice our students to continue to enjoy singing?
- How do we create the possibility of a fully inclusive performance, without needing auditions based on top talent selection?
- What would encourage students to nominate and refine their musical pieces, as well as provide meaningful contextual performance experience?
- Where can our senior students demonstrate leadership?
- How can students give back to our community in a way that celebrates their talents?
Thus, the Korowal Cabaret was born as the perfect variety show for our purposes. It has become a biennial celebration of our unique School. We are extremely proud of everyone involved, from the performers to the stage hands, to the runners, the catering and marketing team.
Students are challenging themselves to perform for an audience. This ensemble approach reflects our core values. Why not accept the challenge rather than shy away? Give things a go and we will support you to go as far as you can. We do not focus on individually becoming stars, but rather, on bringing everyone together to support each individual to be their best self.
This way we create a galaxy.
Thank you all for bringing smiles, laughter, tears and joy back into our lives. We appreciate what you have conquered to give us the gift of your performance, as well the commitment of support people hidden in the wings.
Week 9, Term 1, 2021
We hope you have enjoyed the sunshine as much as we have in Week 9. While we have kept away from the trees for three days following the rain, there have been plenty of spaces outdoors to play, kick balls around, and picnic on the grass. The creek through the middle of the playground was the perfect place for Year 1 to play ‘Pooh Sticks’, by throwing sticks into the flowing stream and watching them race each other.
Forging cultural links and experiences was one focus that went on hold under the COVID restrictions, but it’s one which we highly value. With these lifting, we have been able to immerse students in museums and galleries, to lift learning off the page or screen and into the sensory realm. In both Week 9 and 10 we are seeing many classes getting out and about. On Monday the Fire and Rescue NSW’s Lawson crew met with our primary children to talk about safety in fire situations. By Wednesday our senior Visual Arts students had ventured to the NSW Art Gallery to see exemplar 2020 HSC artworks, and then the White Rabbit Gallery’s exhibition of a significant collection of Chinese contemporary art, a topic which they study in their Year 11 Course. Year 9 attended the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park on Thursday.
Coming up in week 10, Years 5&6 will attend the Cultural Centre for the Arthur Boyd Exhibition, while Years 11 and 12 enjoy an excursion to the Royal Easter Show, and Kindy, Years 1&2 have their Teddy Bears’ Picnic at school. Thursday is the last day of term before holidays commence on Friday, which is a public holiday.
Unfortunately, Bush Day plans for last Friday needed to be postponed until next term. However, everyone enjoyed the Pyjama Day fundraiser on Thursday.
In keeping with the opening up and returning to traditions, on Thursday morning we will be welcoming primary parents to school for an end of term primary assembly. The primary vocal group have been preparing for this day and will sing ‘We Are the world’, accompanying it with Auslan signing. Some of us were privileged to have a preview of this on Friday. The children, under Amelia’s direction, touched our hearts, bringing tears to our eyes as they connected with the lyrics.
We will also say farewell to Clare at this assembly and thank her for care, warmth and passion in teaching Years 1 and 2 over the past three-plus years.
Our Korowal Cabaret rehearsals have picked up momentum. High School students are rehearsing acts in every free moment of the day, with senior student taking leadership in a number of areas, and Jason and his tech team setting the spaces in preparation for the performance at the beginning of Term 2. For students in the Cabaret, rehearsals will run in the last week of the holidays so be sure to have a copy of that schedule where the family can all see it. It opens on Thursday 22nd April, in week 1 of Term 2.
The most important aspect of these final weeks is that the cast is reliable and meets their rehearsal commitments. Time is of the essence, and every single person’s contribution is what strengthens the ensemble. The band cannot rehearse without the full suite of instruments, nor can the dance routine or vocal group refine their gig if people are absent. Every person matters and any absences slow down the momentum. The run-throughs, feedback, the entrances and exits, the costume calls, all require that everyone hears the same message at the same time. Changes in direction are quick and frequent in the final weeks as the show comes together, with great joy and excitement generated by the group.
The cast and crew take the show to the next level in preparation for their ultimate purpose, which is to share the fun with an audience and simply entertain us. Tickets are on sale from this week and more information on how to purchase these will be sent home via SkoolBag. The good news is that we can welcome bigger audience numbers!
Darcy's Swimming Success Continues
Congratulations to Darcy Hollingsworth in Year 9 for swimming personal bests in nearly every event at the AICES swim meet, including blistering a 1 min 07 secs in her 100m freestyle. Over 3 secs off!
Darcy now moves on to represent Korowal at the Combined Independent Schools (CIS) Swimming Event. If you know Darcy, you will no doubt agree that she is a determined and disciplined young woman, with a gentle and caring disposition. This is a well-deserved result. She has our confidence and support with her as she swims for CIS.
School Holidays Commence on Friday
As swiftly as we commenced the term we are now signing it off! Years 11 and 12 have their Course exams on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this coming week, and many subjects in high school have been presenting and submitting tasks over the past two weeks. If you follow Korowal on facebook or Instagram you will be seeing many posts of dynamic work being undertaken by students across primary and high school, celebrating our unique learning environment, including Oracy and Project Learning presentations.
Thank you all, students, teachers and parents, for being engaged and supporting our beautiful school.
There is a parent meeting being held this Monday night, 29th, from 6.00-7.00pm. This will provide the space to come together, meet new friends and share questions, comments and ideas. Everyone is welcome. We ask that you just let us know you are coming as we prepare our COVID Plan for this event.
I’m off to get a hit of Vitamin D as the sun is calling me outdoors.
May we all have a gentle week.
Week 8, Term 1, 2021
It was lovely to arrive back at School on Wednesday after a few days of leave. Staff were all sporting orange ribbons in honour of Harmony week, which culminated with many students and staff decked in orange on Friday. Bec did such a beaut job of explaining how we integrate conversations, value respectful relationships, and layer restorative practices across the school on a daily basis in her ‘Window with A View’ post. Here we include many photos of just what activities with such focus looked like at School this week.
We encourage our students to give voice to their experiences or feelings, especially when things are not ok. Trusting that they will be heard and believed without judgement can take time, depending on their previous experiences of situations where they have felt threatened or intimidated.
Sunday 21st March is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. One of our students, Elrica, has developed such confidence over the past 12 months that on Friday, she accepted an invitation by the Blue Mountains Refugee Group to speak to students at Grammar about her refugee experience.
‘It was an honour to be part of the team accompanying Elrica to visit Blue Mountains Grammar School on Friday. Elrica was invited to be interviewed by Brendan Doyle from the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group in front of the BMGS Senior students. Standing in front of more than 300 students, Elrica spoke with courage and honesty about her and her family's experience in Malaysia. She described her education at Korowal, with great warmth and gratitude’. Bec Finch
Elrica and her family have been part of the Korowal community for 2 years and this is her first experience of speaking publicly about her life prior to coming to Australia, which drove her family to flee their homeland of Malaysia and apply for refugee status. This year Elrica has set herself a goal to become stronger in speaking up, before she graduates, so we will be hearing more from her soon at Korowal. You may recall that her HSC Multi-Media project was shortlisted as an exemplar piece by NESA last year, when she did her first round of HSC subjects in Year 11. For those interested, here is the link to her project Possibilities. https://fb.watch/2fXzBsslqB/
The Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group and Korowal have provided a haven for the Danish family and they speak glowingly of our school and the people here. As a community we are richer for having Elrica, Groshen, Rosie and Danish with us. Their perspectives on the stark contrasts between their lives in Australia and their previous lives accentuate our privilege, and the need to be acknowledging and exercising gratitude as a regular practice. With our students, we start by opening our hearts and minds, and together creating an inclusive culture of which we are proud.
As part of her talk about life before Australia, Elrica read a section from her poem, the complete version of which I include here.
KOROWAL By Elrica
The tree that grows in the centre
is ever so sweet and lively
it glows a warm light
it gently takes the people in
and brings them out again...
It has planted smiles, bigger than ever before
and...it made them glow!
Extraordinary...the people not only glow...
they shine! They're brighter than the tree...
The tree gives.
My, what selflessness...
The tree takes me in
What life would take in another lifeless soul?
That I do not know
but I give in...
It gently brings me out...
I'm shining and smiling and living!
Thank you tree
I am fixed
This kindness shall be repaid...
May you have a safe (yet very wet week). Let’s not let the rain dampen our spirits!
Week 7, Term 1, 2021
Many Windows with Many Views
While Barb enjoys a weekend with her family, I’m taking the opportunity to share some thoughts on diversity and harmony. This coming week is Harmony Week with the theme “Everybody Belongs”. We will celebrate Harmony Week on Friday 19th March and invite everyone to wear orange signifying “social communication and meaningful conversations. It also relates to the freedom of ideas and encouragement of mutual respect.” https://www.harmony.gov.au/ As well as wearing orange, Harmony Week will be acknowledged by teachers appropriately for their students’ age, subject and context. Maria has gathered a collection of books, and Talulah has organised a lunchtime activity making friendship bracelets.
Harmony Week celebrates Australia’s cultural diversity. It includes the 21st March, which is the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Schools are called to address racism with a multi-tiered approach to education about diversity and acceptance. Our Japanese language course at Korowal has long been established as an immersion in Japanese celebrations, traditions, philosophies, art and dress. Students participate in tea ceremonies, craft activities and small culinary treats to experience the textures, tastes, sounds and sights of a different culture. This subject is held with commitment and care by our Senseis, Louise and Harumi.
Harmony Week’s theme of inclusion and acceptance is embedded in our daily practices of meeting circles, respectful relationships and restorative practice. Dialogue is at the heart of our teaching, learning and communication through our network meetings and Oracy program; supporting all voices to be exercised and heard.
Parents, families and friends wish to belong and participate, and we invite meaningful conversations. The change to Covid restrictions early last week, opened the school campus for parents, with many taking the opportunity to reconnect with teachers face-to-face. The feeling before and after school was celebratory! Some parents have asked for greater opportunity to talk together and have organised a community meeting on Monday 29th March at 6pm. We have a vibrant, passionate, and engaged community.
Meaningful conversations are not always harmonious and we experience conflict, frustration and upset daily. During lunchtime on Friday, I listened to a 7-year-old’s elaborate explanation of his “dance-off” and how upset he felt about another child’s dance-off rules. Restorative Practice addresses issues by asking questions to open conversation, hearing from multiple perspectives and listening to the impact of words and actions. Our first question is always “what was happening for you?”
Sarah Farrell-Whelan’s practice is the school’s adaptation of Open Dialogue which has its principles grounded in curiosity and inviting a polyphony of voices. The founders of Open Dialogue decided to “free themselves from searching for a non-existent truth…Linked to this, they incorporated the recognition that language shapes our reality, and that one’s language, and thought, is dependent on seeing the world through a personal lens."
Starting inquiry with a question is a healthy way to invite conversation and develop greater understanding. Project Based Learning works from a driving question with real-life context, inviting investigation, collaboration and communication. Our students are learning how to navigate the world. They are naturally curious, they are learning how to express their ideas, and to listen to the ideas of others. There are different ways to hold a dance-off!
For Harmony Week, let’s celebrate freedom of ideas and equally encourage mutual respect. Let’s open our conversations with questions and be ready to listen, reflect and accept difference.
Week 6, Term 1, 2021
As you may have seen on our facebook page, in Week 6 we have enjoyed the new seating provided by our Japanese cedar rounds collected beneath the Maple tree in our entrance.
At the close of business on Friday we received the good news from NSW Health that we may welcome parents and carers back into the School for drop off and pick up from Monday. This latest development in easing restrictions has been welcomed by us all. Unfortunately, it doesn’t give us a lot of time to think through the best way to proceed but we have developed a plan over the weekend. Our comprehensive summary of the current COVID-19 arrangements has been emailed to families and posted on SkoolBag on Sunday, and importantly we adults must all maintain the 1.5m distance rule. We need to avoid the corridor crush.
No doubt we will soon be able to reinstate our Cuppa Under a (different) Tree!
Throughout the media, and from many different areas of our society, we have been confronted by the lack of respect, cultures of abuse and silencing in both our government and leadership, as well as amongst our youth. This is extremely concerning. It is our responsibility as a school, and also as parents, to ensure that we are opening conversations around consent, respectful relationships, and speaking out against violence and abuse. To this end we have commenced reviewing our personal development program and the resources that are currently available to schools, students and parents. There is one YouTube video, titled ‘Tea and Consent’, which is a great conversation starter. It does contain some swearing so the link is not included here, but we highly recommend this for your viewing and even sharing with your teenage child.
As always, we encourage you and your child to bring any concerns you have to us directly. When we are made aware of disquiet, friendship challenges, any sense of isolation or unkind behaviours, we always act towards a resolution.
On a positive note
Darcy has returned from the WAS swimming meet triumphantly. From Kizz:
‘She won every race she swam, thus making her the age champion. She also qualified for AICES in a variety of additional long course races based on her times. She also reported to us that she broke a WAS record.
In short, she’s phenomenal! And smashed Crossfit on Thursday knowing she had 2 hours of swimming training ahead of her that day too.’
Congratulations Darcy, and all the very best for the Association of Independent Coeducational Schools meet.
Year 7 camp to Yarramundi
As we commence Week 7, we wish Year 7 and their teachers a fabulous time at camp. Such experiences create memories that stay with us throughout our lives. Time away together, conquering new challenges, learning new things about ourselves and each other are the foundations on which resilience is built. To our staff, thanks so much for giving these your priority and leaving family to be with our students. No doubt you will all have a lot of fun.
Time is passing so quickly as we approach the final weeks of first term. Equally, it has been and continues to be, a rich and supportive environment for us all.
Week 4, Term 1, 2021
In Week 4 we had the pleasure of hearing beautiful singing and music merging across the School as vocal groups, band rehearsals and music classes gain momentum. In high school the focus on our Cabaret in Term 2 has many of our co-curricular activities working in a themed approach. The Friday afternoon tech art group and vocal groups are preparing and upskilling, while elective music and drama classes are working on specific pieces. Many senior students are leading lunchtime rehearsals for group dance pieces.
Kim has begun arranging music to enable the students to accompany many of the songs, and Kelly is working alongside the students on the production elements such as rehearsal schedules, publicity and design while also assisting students to incorporate the elements of performance into their chosen pieces. It is still early days but with each passing week time becomes the challenge.
Our primary vocal group continue to work with Amelia to create harmony that sends tingles down our spines!
High School Swimming School Carnival - Thursday 25th February
This event at Lawson Pool will be a lot of fun with challenges built within the activities. We encourage every high school student from Years 7-10 to participate as best they can. Whether it be as a swimmer, a timekeeper, announcer or runner, we need your energy and support to make this a festive occasion. This has started already with class discussions at morning meetings around a suitable theme for the day.
Each class can collect points through participation in the races as well as by upholding the theme, wearing hats, sun protective gear, or taking on other jobs that support the whole event. Some previous examples of class themes include Hawaiian, 70’s and rainbow. There are serious races against the clock as well as novelty races, with an overall intention of enjoyment and participation by all.
Even though we are all back at school we miss having our primary parents visiting us. We are working on ways that we can include you in a staggered pattern, so that you can visit your child’s classroom and they can share their work with you. Meanwhile, we encourage you to make contact with your child’s teacher if you have any questions, concerns or positive feedback. Our goal is to keep communication channels open as we all support the ethos of our beautiful school, where relationships sit at the heart.
ARRIVING AT SCHOOL READY FOR LEARNING
When students regularly arrive late to school, they start the day outside of the group, where morning meetings and morning circle are used to bring us all into the learning space. As we try to avoid entering a meeting which has already started, so also do our children, circumventing any unwanted attention this may draw upon us.
Hopefully by now your child/ren have re-established sleep patterns for school, rather than for the fluidity of life in the holidays, where nights may linger and morning wake-ups merge across the afternoons.
We are approaching the change of season, from Summer to Autumn, and noticing the fatigue levels in some children and teenagers. At such times there is a tendency to catch whatever bug is going around. We know that keeping to routine bed times and waking times assists our children to be ready for the day. Depending upon the age of the child, having an old-fashioned clock rather than a digital device and its inherent connections, may be beneficial. Transferring the responsibility for setting the alarm to your child may give them ownership of the routines and help to develop self-discipline around bedtimes. Having all electronic devices switched off from a family-decided hour is also a great habit.
We encourage you to let us know if sleeping routines are an issue for your child so that we can work together, with them, for optimum wellbeing.,.bmn
We also praise the students for their good humour during these wet days. It is terrific that primary children have their wet weather gear at school for outdoor activities.
And now, the weekend has brought the sun. May you bask in it.
Week 3, Term 1, 2021
After two and a half weeks of Term 1 we are feeling quite settled back at School. In Week 3 we enjoyed the conversations we had at meetings with our parents. All class meetings from Kindy to Year 10 have now been completed. They provided the welcomed opportunity for us to share our story of the significant developments within our strategic priorities over 2020. In spite of COVID interruptions we made sound progress in further embedding Oracy, Project Based Learning and Sustainability projects.
Thank you to all who were able to attend and rekindle our sense of community.
Interschool Sporting Events
We take a moment to shine a light on a couple of students who are representing Korowal at interschool sporting events. Our enthusiastic and talented PE teacher, Kizz Boyd, has made the following observation:
“As a small school, we have very few students attend major interschool sports events, so those who do need to be quite confident and courageous. It is therefore double the achievement to make it to a WAS (Western Area Schools) or a CIS (Combined Independent Schools) team when coming from a school such as ours.
Dylan McKerrill of Year 10 recently attended the WAS Basketball Trials in Bathurst and was selected to represent WAS at the CIS Tournament in Homebush. This is a fantastic achievement considering he would have been the only solo student to attend. All other schools sent a team, and Dylan had to manage the social challenge of being subbed into a team from a different school with teachers and students he has never met.”
Dylan will now represent Korowal as he plays in a WAS Basketball team.
Darcy Hollingworth of Year 9 is familiar with this situation, as this is the fourth year that she has represented Korowal at the Western Area Swimming Trials. Darcy will swim on 26/2 and hopes to finish strongly to then progress with the WAS team to CIS later this term.
We extend a big thank you to both of you, and hope you enjoy the experiences and challenges ahead.
Students from Years 3-6, as well as 7-10, have all begun singing within COVID safe plans. This is such a joy for us. Primary students have recommenced learning ‘We Are the World’ with the beautiful Amelia, who is also teaching them Auslan signing to include in the chorus. The children had just begun with Amelia before singing was cancelled (COVID) last year so they are overjoyed to have Amelia back.
Amelia is running vocal masterclasses for our high school students on Friday afternoons at cocurricular. They are preparing songs for the Korowal Cabaret which is planned for the beginning of Term 2. Kelly, Kim, Jason, Bec and students are building the buzz, with every new week bringing us closer to performance dates.
Health Reminder - Covid
As we often see with change of seasons, there appears to be a cold spreading through some classes. This is a timely reminder that we are still required to observe the COVID Health directives that we had in place last year, and while we sent out information outlining the procedures prior to returning to school, some parents may have overlooked these important instructions.
Korowal is following this same advice given to all Department of Education Schools to ensure the safety of students, staff, and parents. We require that any students who are unwell or displaying cold or flu-like symptoms, stomach aches, headaches, or fevers, to stay home and be COVID tested before returning to school.
If families do not wish to have their child tested, and the doctor has not given exemption for hayfever, asthma or any other specific condition, then the following advice exists for all schools.
“Students who do not undertake a COVID-19 test will not be permitted to return to school for a 10-day period. Additionally, they must be symptom-free for at least 3 days prior to returning to school”.
Please present the negative COVID result to a staff member on return to school, or email a photo of the result to the email@example.com address prior to attending classes.
We realise that this can be hugely inconvenient. However, we are still operating within a pandemic regardless of whether there are any local cases, and we are committed to keeping everyone as safe as possible.
Thank you for your understanding in this.
Finally, this quote may put a spring in your step this coming week.
“If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times.”
John O’Donoghue: Anam Cara: A book of Celtic Wisdom.
Week 2, Term 1, 2021
In Week 2 we pay homage to our elephant tree.
On Wednesday of this week just passed, our beautiful old elephant tree, our Cryptomeria Japonica- or Japanese Cedar, was struck by lightning from the tip down through to the ground. While she is still standing, after such a strike there is no way of saving her.
Nor will the roots provide for any future regrowth.
It is with great sadness that we will farewell this grand old dame next week.
For the eleven years that we have been Korowal at Hazelbrook this beautiful protector has been at the centre of our gatherings, even establishing ‘A Cuppa Under the Tree’ in her presence. One can only imagine the stories she could tell, the things she has seen and the calm and joy she has provided over her 112 years, where she has stood proudly alongside
the carriage way. She became the guardian of our gathering place.
Planted no doubt in the first years of the establishment of this site as the R.T Hall Sanitorium, we expect that this tree dates back to 1908 when the Hall was open as a Sanitorium for consumptives. Since then she has lived through its many iterations as a Home for Boys and a Hall for Children, before becoming Korowal School.
Not only does this cedar transform carbon dioxide to oxygen and provide extensive shade, but she has extended her limbs over our children as they have arrived each day. From Monday to Friday the primary children and parents pass beneath her. We often interview new families under this tree. When we returned from our COVID lockdown the classes gathered to play recorder and sing in the protection of our elephant tree, her strength and beauty evident to us all. She has received, and given, many hugs.
There exists a calm in the courtyard. This was the area where Dawn and Nigel Foote chose to farewell their son Lachlan Foote, a recently graduated student who tragically passed away three years ago. It has a significant energy.
On Friday some of our primary students came to pay homage, to draw her and just sit, to acknowledge her presence.
We cannot get too close for safety reasons, but throughout the coming week we can take a moment to just give her a nod and a big thanks for the time we have had to enjoy her blessings.
These continue for Years 5&6 Thursday evening, Years 8&9 Tuesday evening, and Year 10 also Thursday evening. Please check your emails and SkoolBag App for details. We appreciate your attendance.
Thank you to all parents of Kindy, Years 1&2, Years 3&4 and Year 7 who came and engaged in conversation with us in Week 2. It was refreshing to have you in the rooms with us after such a long time of distance. These meetings not only provide the opportunity for us to discuss the class program but also the developments we have made, and will continue to make, around our purpose and whole school strategic priorities.
We are thankful for the beauty that surrounds us each day at Korowal.
Week 1, Term 1, 2021
In our first week of Term 1, 2021, the rain has dampened our shoes and clothing, but not our spirits. We were greeted with smiles as we met the students across the School on Thursday and Friday. The same can be said for the welcomes we have made to parents of Kindy, Years 1, 2 and 7. It was delightful to invite you into the classrooms for a brief moment. We also enjoyed seeing our parents in the turning circle but due to the rain, it was mostly behind masks or glass that we tried to decipher the identities of the drivers and cars in the mist.
With indoor play throughout primary, the Year 1 children explored the dress-up box. On Friday, I quickly found myself in the patient’s chair with young doctors and nurses taking my temperature and blood pressure, checking my irises and reflexes, then giving me an injection. When I asked what I had been given, ‘Is it medicine? Is it blood?’, I was told with a most sincere expression, that I had been given ‘magic and sparkles’. As you can imagine, Friday was a terrific day!
We welcome 22 new students to Korowal from Year 1 to 12. The first day was a bit hectic with parents needing to sign COVID paperwork, and we thank you all for your patience.
Caroline, Deb and Cassie have been efficiently processing all paperwork and lastminute phone calls, text book orders and queries about transport. They are gems!
The traffic can get very congested, at pick up in particular. However staggering primary and high start and finish times has eased this. We remind you that parents of high school students need to enter the carpark after 3.30pm, which is high school’s finishing time. This gives time for all of the primary parents to come between 3.15-3.30pm. No child will be left unsupervised, but the flow of cars is eased from 3.30pm.
While we had tentative dates for these, we delayed them so as to wait and see if restrictions on numbers of participants had eased (COVID). That is now the case, so wherever possible we will have stage meetings in the School hall. Dates for Primary and Year 7 have been being sent via SkoolBag and email to all families. The others will follow. We highly recommend attending these meetings to hear the overview of the year for your child/ren, to meet each other, and to ask any questions that may arise.
Our Kindy students and parents attended their final orientation session on Friday, as we were not able to offer the usual number of introductory sessions for them in 2020. They arrived with sensible shoes, grins from ear to ear and effervescent energy. Their first official day of school will be on Tuesday, 2nd February. We are unable to host a morning tea so please welcome our new families as you come across new faces.
For daily changes to routine please call the school office, as teachers may not get the email before classes commence. We send all notices to you through the SkoolBag Ap. If you are not sure how to download this, the office staff can talk this through with you. Emails are preferred for brief communications that alert us to a need for a meeting, or for permanent change in arrangements.
Korowal Policies and Procedures
Our suite of relevant policies is available through our School website. While you may not need to refer to them when things are running smoothly, it is good to be familiar with the suite as they comprehensively cover all areas of management. We follow our policies and procedures to keep us all safe, to ensure that we are employing best practice measures throughout the School, to be fair and equitable, and compliant in all matters. It may come as a surprise that the language within our policies and procedures can be more formal than our regular communications, and this is to ensure that nothing slips through the net and all legal requirements are met. We take our duty of care seriously.
I will leave you with a few photos of the chalk drawings that are a feature of the boards in primary, depicting images of their first Focus Studies Topics for 2021.
May you enjoy the novelty of the weeks ahead.