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Principal’s address – Term 4, 2021

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Josie Millard
Principal

As 2021 comes to a conclusion and we reflect back upon the year, my overwhelming feeling is pride. I am so proud of our school this year. The students have engaged in their learning program with resilience and tenacity, despite the many uncertainties of the year. The teaching staff have been so incredibly flexible, moving the program on and offline, re-writing curriculum overnight, and making extraordinary commitments to keep our students learning in classrooms. The educational support staff have been the backbone of our school. Many of the support staff continued onsite through each lockdown, providing a program to those students who were most vulnerable. And throughout the year, we have all continued to be innovative, working and planning for the continued improvement of our school. We have achieved so much throughout the year, despite the interrupted learning environment.

The new School Strategic Plan may be found on the Kew High School website. You may notice that the website has been completely updated over the past year. Our school team who has driven the website to be an accurate reflection of our innovative, future focussed school has been exceptional. I thank everyone who has contributed to the development of the new website and the School Strategic Plan.

The STEM Centre is finally looking like a school building. Its completion has been delayed by the pandemic but it is now taking shape very rapidly. It is likely that the building will be completed and handed over to the school in March 2022. The team of teachers who are involved in the planning for the building have been meeting regularly, and preparing for the learning and teaching programs that will take place in this amazing learning environment. As we talk about the requirements for Virtual Reality, Engineering, Textiles and the 3D Print Workshop, amongst other things, I feel so excited about what our students will be able to do and to learn in STEM from next year.

I would particularly like to thank the staff and students who have contributed to the compilation of this Newsletter. The school is always so very busy that it is sometimes difficult to find the time to capture the true essence of the school day. Thank you to everyone who has made this a ‘bumper’ edition of the Kew High School Newsletter.

Finally, I would like to state how much I am looking forward to 2022. I know that, as a school, we will prepare for the unknown and we will do so knowing that, if the unknown occurs, we will be ready for it. We know that we are able to do so because of the quality of the people who make up this community. The capacity and resilience in our students were exemplified in the interviews for the 2022 Student Leadership applicants. Students undertook a group interview where they were asked to discuss the school values. Anyone who witnessed the following conversations would know that we are indeed going to have an inspirational and exciting 2022. It will be founded in values that are truly reflective of a wonderful school community.

I wish every member of our school community all the very best for a happy and healthy holiday break – and I look forward to seeing those who return and those who join us for the first time in the new year.

Happy holidays!

Volleyball – Open Honours Girls competition

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Michael Brandt

Whilst playing in the Open Honours Girls competition – the top division at the School’s Cup Tournament and the division wherein all National and State representatives play – Kew High School’s own Claire Williams was voted by opposition coaches and players as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament!! This is an extraordinary achievement by Claire, especially as she was playing as a Libero (defensive specialist) which is a position that does not usually receive the same attention that the attacking hitting positions do. What is even more impressive is that Claire only moved into this role this year!!! Well done, Claire; we are all so proud of you!!!!

Japanese speech competition success!

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Andrew Cerini

This year’s JLTAV Junior Japanese Speech Competition was by online video entry. We had record participation with students in the Year 7 & 8 pair and individual divisions and the Secondary Open division. Congratulations to 7E student, Tao Murasawa, who placed third in the state against other background speakers of Japanese. All students recited a set speech or dialogue, followed by their own original. Well done to all students for writing, rehearsing and performing (and recording) their speeches.

Participants

  • Tao Murasawa 7E, 3rd place prize winner in Secondary Open Division
  • Gabriel O’Shaughnessy 8A, Year 8 Pair Division. 
    Not in photo: Fergus Whiting 8B, participant, Year 8 Pair Division
  • Not in photo: Amy Zhao 8B, participant, Year 8 Individual Division

Year 9 Outdoor Education camp

Year 9 Outdoor Education
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Dan Norton

Some quotes from the students who attended the camp.

The top two highlights of the camp for me was the surfing and going to South Walkerville. Surfing was my top highlight because it was an awesome experience to learn how to surf. It was a bit difficult at first but, once I got the hang of it, the feeling was so good. Another highlight was when we went to South Walkerville.

– Tyler
Year 9 Outdoor Education -Surfing
Year 9 Outdoor Education - Surfing

During camp I was a leader as well as a packer. As the leader I think I was quite successful and I helped plan out the day quite well. I learnt that not every decision has to be made by the group but the important ones do. As a packer I learnt how to properly organise a trailer. I enjoyed the surfing a lot as it was the first time I had done it and I was impressed with how I went. I also enjoyed the cooking as it was quite fun and the food was good.

– Seb
Year 9 Outdoor Education

My first role on camp was being in charge of safety so make people put sunscreen on during the hikes. The second role on camp was time keeper where we had to keep a track of time for each activity throughout the day. The activities I enjoyed the most were the surfing lesson because it was my first time surfing and I was able to get up on the surf board and the night games because it was fun.

– Jake
Year 9 Outdoor Education
Year 9 Outdoor Education
Year 9 Outdoor Education

Danielle's and my food was good. We premade two meals and then cooked pasta the last night. None of our meals tasted like metho and we had enough to eat - sometimes too much

– Rowena

VCE Physics

VCE Physics
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Barbara McKinnon

To give you some background students in VCE Physics Unit 2 AOS 2, choose from a number of topic options and this year we asked them to prepare a presentation (video or oral) explaining the operation of a device and its context in their chosen option. Matthew Yammouni and Mike Grech chose the option, “Is there life beyond the solar system”, and created a video about radio telescopes and the search for evidence of extra terrestrial life that can be seen at the link below.

It is a terrific piece of work and I thought it would be good to share with the school community.

A message from School Captains 2022

Hello from School Captains 2022
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Hello everyone,

We are Kew High School Captains for 2022. My name is Claire Williams. I am passionate about making Kew High a welcoming place for all, as well as taking any opportunities within the school including sport, leadership and academic studies.

My name is Jude Harris and I love playing music, riding my bicycle and taking my dog for a walk. I have been heavily involved in the music program since year 7 and I feel that Claire and I have the capacity to empower students to find their own passions at Kew High School like we have.

We feel privileged to take on this role and have such a significant opportunity to represent our students and greater school community. We have many goals we look forward to achieving next year. Our goals range from both academic and social backgrounds. We want to reengage all cohorts to make them feel excited about learning as well as enjoying the welcoming and inclusive culture of Kew High School.

We are looking forward to next year. It’s going to be a good one! Have a lovely, relaxed and safe holidays.

Jude Harris and Claire Williams

Attitudes to school survey: Student focus groups

Attitudes to school survey
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Talia Barrett 9G

The Attitudes to School Survey (AtoSS) is an annual online student survey offered by the department of education and training to assist schools in gaining an understanding of students’ perceptions and experiences of the school. Students are asked about their thoughts and feelings about school, their learning, peer relationships, bullying and life in general, with a range of multiple-choice questions such as “Do you learn best in a group or by yourself?” or “Have you been bullied at school recently?” All of the students’ results remain anonymous.

During term 4, Ms Cleghorn, Ms Millard and Ms Dunstall sat down with focus groups from each year level to discuss the results of the AtoSS that we had completed earlier this year. The focus groups consisted of 15 to 20 students per year level, including the year level leaders and other students. These groups were used as a sample of the year level as it would be challenging to have an in-depth conversation with everyone.

Student voice at Kew High School is really important and is seen as a very necessary tool that is often disregarded in schools attempts of wholistic improvement. Without opportunities like this focus group, there would be a disconnect between the school and the students, and we wouldn’t be getting the best out of our prime educational time. The student focus groups are really important to get a real idea of ways in which the school can improve in the areas that may have been marked low in the survey, and to also expand on the ideas that are only partially touched upon in the multiple choice questions. Anecdotes and behavioural responses to questions give a lot more information than percentages do, although they are both invaluable.

In our focus group, we were asked about teaching methods (the way we like to learn, lesson structure and how we can improve consistency), how our school is viewed by others and what we think of the school and its reputation, among other topics.

I hope that with this information, the school will be able to better our learning environment by giving more support and options for people who learn in different ways (including people who work better in a loud or quiet environment, doing solo or group work, doing creative or logic-based tasks to). We discussed improving student engagement, wellbeing and quality instructions, increasing consistency between subjects and classes, and to just overall being able to listen closely to student voices.

I believe that the focus groups are a great way to increase student input and to expand on the information provided by the whole school completing the Attitudes to School Survey.

Talia Barrett

Garden program

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Phillip Naughton
Gardener Kew High School

The Kew High School Gardens benefited from above average Spring Rain. The lockdowns caused some loss of time lost during the middle of the year, however, the gardens were kept maintained and tidy. Over the past two years, new gardens have been regenerated along the Burke Road Fence, the Burke road bus stop, the Jacaranda car park and behind the VCE court yard.

During term 2 and 3, the gardens were weeded and mulched. The vegetable garden boxes have had perennial shrubs added due to the predation from animals. The herb garden pots were tidied up.

The Landscape lads helped with the fencing around the native plant garden along Burke Road and finished off the planting out the grasses. They also pruned out the ornamental pear suckers from the shaded garden north of the Library.

The school’s alumni coordinator, Elise Dunstan, along with Kirsten Lomax, developed a team of volunteers and we worked on a new school garden project. The Theatre retaining wall is being made into a vertical green wall. This will be ongoing and many more hours of work will be required.

Next year looks like having more support from students and alumni. There will be many more shrubs to plant out and gardens to regenerate.  

Breakdancing workshop

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Claudia Dal Pos, 7D

On the 24th of November some Kew High School students and I participated in a Breakdancing workshop. This lesson went for two hours, and it was very educational and extremely fun. We learnt lots of new skills and moves. The two instructors running this class were exceptional. They were fun, educational, and supportive. They created a safe and inclusive environment that made everyone feel comfortable stepping outside of their comfort zones and trying new things. All my peers and I who participated loved the class and had heaps of fun. We would like to thank the two dance teachers and School Sport Victoria for providing the opportunity. We encourage everyone to try it out next year!

Student Leadership

student leadership wilsmere
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Henry Habben, 8D

My name is Henry Habben and I decided to become a student leader for the Wilsmere house in 2022. I decided to take on this responsibility to make an impact in the school community. I realized that the best way to try and make a positive change in the school was to enlist in this position and access the resources that were required. This positive change can be a result of fundraisers or raising house spirit in school sport days.

So how did this task become a possibility? First, there was a written application. Anyone who wanted to become eligible for the job completed the application. There were the basic questions but one question asked for what we could do to make a change. I talked about fundraising and motivation for my school, and how I wanted to create something unique. This basic part was only 150 words or so, but it set a tone and expectation for what the leadership team were expecting from me. The next stage of the process was a group interview. I was invited to a room with 8 of my peers to talk about which values were the most important. We collaborated and all decided that every value was important but we all concluded that respect was the biggest value we needed to focus on. We elected this value because we all believed that respect was the stronghold of all the other values of ASPIRE. We knew that respect held up all the other values because it is a sign of acceptance towards one another, and a sign that you won’t let the other person down. Another one of our chosen values was participation. We chose this because a lot of the other values, such as excellence, can’t happen without participating first. The next stage was the speech. In this stage, I presented to the students of our year level why I was the best candidate for role. The speech was important because it let the students know who they could come talk to, if need be, and who will be representing them if elected. This was the basic leadership process and how I became a student leader.

What I am looking forward to next year as a student leader is helping in the community, and encouraging my house in school and extracurricular tasks.

Student Voice in Teaching and Learning

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Pedagogy Team (Josie Millard, Jane Thornton, Pamela Dunstall, Harriet Lobb, Penelope Cleghorn, Dan Norton, and Calli Varoussiadis)

This semester, the Pedagogy Team have collaborated with students and staff to review our current Instructional Model. The purpose of our instructional model is to provide a consistent approach to teaching and learning at Kew High School. It was so fantastic to have students involved in this process through student focus groups and their collaboration with teachers at a Staff Meeting after school on Wednesday 1 December 2021. Student voice plays such a crucial part in our decision making, ensuring that students are at the core of everything we do at Kew High School. 

Teaching and Learning 2021

QNetwork -A heart felt thank you

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Catriona Christie

A decade ago I dropped my eldest at the front of Kew High School. We had had an emotional summer culminating in a family funeral the day before he started year 7 so we were both feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and disorganised. I particularly felt at a loss with the new systems and routine. Someone suggested that I go to a QNetwork meeting that occurred within the first couple of weeks of the term. Thank goodness I made the effort. 

I was warmly greeted by a small band of enthusiastic parents, one of whom was Paula. These strangers allayed my anxieties, showed me how to navigate compass and extended a hand of friendship that I was so grateful for. No question was too silly and I had plenty of questions. I felt welcomed and knew that there was a place for me in the school community. 

Through QNetwork I have benefited from others experiences and would like to pass on a few pearls of wisdom that have held me in good stead for the last decade.

Firstly, education is a group effort , especially public education. We need to support our kids education at home and support our teachers. A quick email to your child’s teachers if things are tough in any areas of their lives keeps them in the loop. 

Go to the parent teacher interviews all the way through if you can. This is a great opportunity to meet the teachers and put a face and voice to a name. I have had such lovely connections with our great teachers and some have taught all three of my kids! 

If you can offer to help at a school event, even once a year, then I highly recommend it. 

We are fortunate to have a culture of parent involvement. Most secondary schools are not so welcoming. It is wonderful to see the interactions between the kids and between the kids and teachers and the small amount that we do is always gratefully received. 

I have made some wonderful friendships through QNetwork which will continue into the future and I have a whole store of great memories. This is my Valedictory present! 

Speaking of Valedictory, after another year seriously affected by Covid we were, at the eleventh hour, able to help send off our graduating year of students with a hybrid style  Formal/Presentation Night/ Graduation. Although the parents couldn’t attend, a small band of QNetworkers were able to prepare food and drinks for the year 12’s and their teachers. The night was a wonderful success and the kids particularly loved this special night after two of the toughest years of their young lives. 

We also squeezed in two opportunities to run a small canteen on the recent presentation nights. 

QNetwork continued this term to have zoom meetings, with the number of parents attending growing at each meeting. Thank you to all the executive for the work they do but a special thanks must go to Agi ( secretary ) for the cheerful way she keeps us all organised and in touch. 

Our final function was a Christmas meal together. It was wonderful to sit around a table and share good conversation, good food and good wine. It was the last official function for Paula, Clare and myself and we were sent off with beautiful words from Ken ( President) and completely unexpected and unnecessary gifts that we all were thrilled with. 

Finally, an enormous thank you to Josie, Pamela and Jane who so enthusiastically support us, and who see the value for the whole school community in involving the parents as much as possible. We thank you for your commitment to our young people, the teachers and the parent body. 

On behalf of Clare, Paula and myself, we wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and we look forward to hearing of QNetwork moving forward to a bigger and better future. 

Year 7 Ambassador visits

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Pamela Dunstall

Transition to secondary school can be a very daunting step for many Grade 6 students. In order to assist in this transition, a group of Year 7 students were selected as Transition Ambassadors to attend some of the local primary schools to speak to students about top tips and tricks when starting secondary school. While last year this process had to be done via Webex, this year we were lucky enough to be able to visit many of the schools in person. In the lead up to the visits, students worked with Ms Elizabeth Spence to develop their presentations, including its content and the delivery. Some of the topics covered included organisation, different classes, timetables and the all-important canteen. When it came time for the presentations, many of the Ambassadors were able to return to their old primary schools and meet with their former Principals, teachers and the current Grade 6 students. Our students were so excited to share how their journey to secondary school has gone and answer all the questions that the Grade 6 students had.

I would like to thank all of our Ambassadors for 2021 including Taj Cairs, Radin Issavi, Summer Leitl, Cooper Asciak, Paula Bleby, Stella Davis, Luke Ditchburn, Elis Parton, Niamh Hogan, Ben Luescher, Matisse Varga, Apollo Koutsogiannis, Claudia Dal Pos, Elsa McEvoy, Hannah Sertori, Holly Porter, April Callahan, Rohan Hobbs, Charlie Drew, Samuel Elliot, Molly Cunningham, James Edgar, Zane Ibrahim, Siena Jobsen and Tao Murasawa. You did a great job at both representing the school and alleviating some of the worry that the Year 7s for 2022 had.

Literacy Testing in 2021 at KHS – On Demand and PAT Reading

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Calli Varoussiadis
Leader of Literacy

This year we have continued to use On Demand Literacy testing in Reading, Language Skills and Word Building to determine our students’ skill levels and growth. Data is central to our successful teaching and learning programs, and On Demand is one set of data that assists teachers in targeting their curriculum to meet the needs of all students. With a strong focus on Literacy Across the Curriculum and guided by our school goal of improving our students’ literacy outcomes, we remain committed to collating, analysing and using the diagnostic information these tests provide to drive our pedagogy and practices. This year, we have also added the PAT Reading literacy test to our data set and the specific information around reading comprehension PATR offers will add yet another layer of useful data analytics.

Community gardening day

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Elise Dunstan

The School was thrilled to welcome six alumni (Gemma Penglase ’19, Connor Kinkead ’19, Aaron Korczak-Krezeczowski  ’19, Siobhan Galligan ’12, Anton Jensen ’17 and Alex Renaudin ’17) and past parent and staff member, Jock Murphy, back to school on Wednesday to help Gardening guru and “Kew High School icon”, Phil Naughton with a couple of gardening projects.

Alumni and some Yr.7 and Yr.9 students spent much of the day preparing the wall outside the Theatre to be planted out as a vertical garden in 2022. Coordinators of the day, Kristen Lomax (Enviro Club) and Elise Dunstan (Ourschool), were very impressed with the work ethic and collaboration between the students and alumni tackling this big and not-so-glamourous but very important project! Gardener Phil was also rapt to have the support of so many members of the school community pitching in and working together.

One of the highlights of the day was alumni sharing their post school pathways, school experiences and advice with the students to inform, inspire and encourage them. Each participant was treated to a healthy lunch, gifted a new pair of gardening gloves and a home-grown seedling or plant to encourage further greening of spaces both at home and at school.

The gardening day event was a fun day, it's a fun activity to volunteer in and bringing along a friend made it even better.

– Brian Lee

The project was really fun to do, especially since I was doing it with my friend.

– Jeremy Dsouza

The students and staff love seeing alumni back on-campus, and are so grateful for their support. Phil, Kristen and Elise look forward to having more students involved in different gardening projects around the School in 2022. Students are encouraged to email the Environmental captains to register their interest in helping to plant out the vertical garden in Term 1, 2022.

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