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Principal’s message

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As we come to the end of an exceptional year, I invite you to take the time to read this newsletter and reflect upon the amazing successes of the students of Kew High School. The year started with a deliberate intent by student leaders to expand the co-curricular offerings across the school, and to increase communication of these opportunities to all students. We began the year with a clear message of high expectations, and our students have worked so hard to meet these.

On Presentation Night this year, over 500 students were honoured with either a subject award, an academic achievement award or an ASPIRE award. These achievements are reflective of the amazing community of students they contribute to the school, and they seek to challenge themselves in their studies. Presentation Night itself was a magnificent reflection of our school with the theme One Earth, One Family, One Future.

On that night we farewelled our Class of 2023. I would like to now take the opportunity to congratulate those students on their outstanding VCE results. They are a true reflection of outstanding academic performance across the cohort. The Class of 2023 has greatly added to Kew High School’s culture of exceptional academic performance.

This year, over 41% of Kew High School students who completed a scored VCE gained an ATAR over 80.0. More than 19% of our scored students gained an ATAR over 90.0. The median ATAR for the Kew High School Class of 2023 was 75.4 and the median Study Score rose to 31.

We are pleased to achieve these results as a school which prides itself on our non-selective, inclusive enrolment policy and extensive subject offerings. We are also proud of the fact that the vast majority of our students were supported to complete all assessment tasks and gain a scored result.

We congratulate the Dux of 2023, Guobin (Harry) Zheng who gained an outstanding ATAR of 99.75. This year Harry studied Chemistry (39), Specialist Mathematics (40) and Physics (42). He gained a perfect Study Score of 50 in English. Harry also studied UMEP Maths (University of Melbourne Extension Program Maths) through the Centre for Higher Educational (CHES) this year. In 2022, Harry studied Mathematical Methods (46). This achievement is a testament to the significant commitment that Harry has made to his studies throughout his time at Kew High School. Harry’s brother Gary Zheng was also Dux in 2021 with an ATAR of 99.4.

I acknowledge the passion and dedication of all staff to ensuring that Kew High School students can access an education that gives them agency and opportunity. I also acknowledge the enormous influence of family, carers and the broader school community that collectively foster a culture of high academic expectations and social responsibility. Thank you, Class of 2023, you set a standard to which future students can truly aspire.

On Tuesday 12 December, we welcomed our new Year 7 students for 2024.  The new beginning, the welcoming of new students always brings with it happiness and hope and this year was no exception. The program for the day introduced students to the school and whilst there was some trepidation early in the day, by the end of the day there were smiles and laughter.

Year 10 and Year 11 students have completed Unit 1 and Unit 3 Headstart Program and are to be congratulated upon the manner in which they have undertaken the first sessions in their VCE studies. They have recognised the significant advantage they have by completing the Headstart Program and the purpose and commitment has been evident throughout the school. Holiday homework for all subjects has been set and we are confident that students will enjoy completing these tasks which further prepare them for a productive year in which they are able to reach their full potential.

Our current Year 7, 8 and 9 students have been working hard all term, right up until the day of final assemblies. The CATs are completed, the learning is complete, and the habits of study are being built to ensure learning success in the years to come. As the holiday break begins, I encourage everyone to make the time to rest, to eat healthily and to be deliberate in avoiding screens over the break. 

In the final Newsletter of the year, I would like to wish all members of our school community a very happy holiday and a safe and healthy new year.

I look forward to welcoming you back to 2024 prepared and ready for a new year of learning!

Happy Holidays!

Josie Millard

Outdoor Education at Waratah Bay

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By Dan Norton
Learning Specialist Achievement

A selection of reflections from the Semester 2 Outdoor Education camp at Waratah Bay.

What was your favourite moments of the camp and why?
My favourite moment from camp was when we went to the beach on the second day and we went out to the island. On the way back we swam from the island back to our spot on the beach and I really enjoyed it.

What were the most challenging aspect of the camp for you and why? 
Camp was full of pleasures and discomforts, excitement, and tiredness, but some aspects that challenged me has made me realise how fortunate I am and has possibly altered my character. The biggest (and most obvious) was not having my phone on me for three days. If before camp, I imagined that I would have gasped and thought to myself ‘how?’. But living without my phone and not constantly looking at notifications and checking the time and going on TikTok, has honestly affected me for the good. Before camp I always had my phone in my pocket, and I’ll admit used it during school occasionally. But now I keep my phone in my locker all day and instead of staring at my screen mindlessly on the bus I socialise and communicate with my friends. So, yes having no phone on camp was a difficult adjustment. I felt like I was in the twilight zone not knowing the time and not having an idea of what my friends back in Melbourne were up to, however the effect of not having my phone has greatly impacted me for the better. I am grateful that Mr Norton confiscated our phones otherwise I wouldn’t have experiences camp the same way, so thank you Mr Norton.

What role did you undertake on camp? Were you successful in your roles, what did you learn about leadership, what did you find challenging?
I was an assistant leader on the first day. I helped the leader when it wasn’t clear where to go or what decision to make. I found it challenging to help out at times.

Year 11 P.E.

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By Catherine Gayfer
Leader of Health & Physical Education

During our year 11 PE course we covered the topic of human anatomy and specifically muscle contractions and movements. For this we were able to attend a Pilates class at Strong Pilates in Heidelberg. Both Ben and I thoroughly enjoyed this learn-by-doing activity as it got us sweating and feeling the burn in our muscles. We learnt how our muscles work together during specific actions including bicep curls, rowing and step ups. This was one of the most enjoyable LBD excursions for us out of the whole year and we would definitely recommend attending a Pilates class.

While learning about the human body in the area of study Musculoskeletal system, we visited Simon Olive at Anytime Fitness Gym in Kew to experience first hand different machine and free weight training exercises that targeted different muscle groups. We learnt about different joints, bones and different muscle contraction types. This opportunity I believe inspired a fair few people in the class to go to the gym, now armed with greater knowledge to apply anatomical terms and movements within their workout.

Our Bounce excursion was not just a leisurely adventure but a hands-on exploration of biomechanical principles. We witnessed angular motion, experienced Newton's laws of motion in action, and honed our understanding of balance and stability on the battle sticks. This excursion not only provided us with unforgettable memories but also deepened our appreciation for the physics that govern the world around us, even when we're having fun. It was a perfect blend of leisure and learning, making it an excursion to remember.

During our visit to Bounce trampoline park, we applied many different biomechanical concepts learnt throughout the year, allowing us to gain a deeper understanding of the content. We first applied our knowledge of angular motion (back flips on the high performance tramps) and how human motion can either be recognised as linear, angular or general motion. Next we demonstrated Newton’s three laws in action. An example of applying the first law was when we jumped into the air bag off the trampoline: we stayed in motion until we hit the airbag. Also playing the battle sticks involved Newton's first law, which states that an object at rest or in motion will stay that way, unless acted upon by an external force. This concept can be linked to battle sticks as during play, you won't move unless you are struck by your opponent, which is an example of an external force acting on an object that is at rest. Newton’s second law was seen when we played dodgeball. We saw that the acceleration of the ball was directly proportionate to the force applied. And finally Newton’s third law of action/reaction was present when we jumped onto the trampoline and bounced back up. We also learnt about balance and stability and how we can alter our centre of gravity, base of support and line of gravity on the battle sticks activity and how this can have an effect on the game with the right strategies used. For example having a wide base of support, a lower centre of gravity (crouching down) and keeping your line of gravity inside your base of support and over the beam makes it harder to be hit off the beam as you have greater stability. For one of our excursions this year we were fortunate enough to go to Bounce to put what we had been learning into action.

From household items, we made and labelled a working model of the lungs - this helped us to  understand the mechanics of breathing.

During a recent practical lesson we went through the biomechanical principles involved in softball (and many other striking sports). We first learnt about aspects of our technique that are important for hitting a ball, including trajectory and angle of release of a projectile. This information helped us to improve our swing, reflecting on where to contact the ball on the bat and at which angle for maximum distance (also which bat type demonstrated a longer third class lever). This practical application allowed us to enjoy the lesson and apply the principle learnt. The class enjoyed the lesson more as they understood how to attain maximum distance by manipulating these variables with their swing.

– Luke H and Connor D

A learn-by-doing activity that we did was pickleball and we applied the theory of Newton’s laws to it. As the pickle ball was light, it travelled more slowly through the air due to greater air resistance, making it easier for people to hit the ball, the rallies last longer and the game more engaging. Relating this to Newton’s second law people could hit the ball with less force and it would still get over the net. If the ball were heavier, it would take more force to get the ball over the net. Applying Newton’s third law every time we hit the pickle ball with the paddle there was an equal and opposite reaction of the pickle ball being pounded off the paddle to the other side of the net. This ‘learn by doing’ activity taught me more about Newton’s laws and how to identify them in sporting examples.

– Cassandra N

Year 11 Media

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By Danny Gesundheit
Teacher of Media

Year 11 student Adele Nguyen decided to submit her short film A GLIMPSE OF RAIN to the International Youth Silent Film Festival. Incredibly, it was selected as one of 17 finalists in Victoria. The screening and winners were announced at the Astor Cinema on 22 November. Parents, friends, filmmakers, teachers and judges were in attendance at one of the few remaining art deco cinemas in Melbourne. Before the films were screened, the filmmakers were invited onto the stage (see picture). They were told what a wonderful achievement it was to get this far and have their films screened in such a prestigious venue.  The films were screened and the winners were then announced. There were three categories: the 14 and under award; 15-18 award and the 19-22 award. Unfortunately, Adele didn’t win in her category (15-18 years old), but it is still an outstanding achievement for her. Her friends and teacher thought she should have won! Congratulations Adele. We hope you will enter another film next year.


Embracing Rhythms: The Vibrant Tapestry of African Drumming in School

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By Andrew Thickins
Leader of Wellbeing

In a harmonious blend of culture, celebration, and education, an African drumming program has woven its rhythmic threads into the fabric of school life, creating a lively and enriching experience for students across various year levels, including Years 8, 9, 10 and the English Language Centre (ELC). This vibrant initiative not only serves as a medium for fun and creative expression but also stands as a testament to acknowledging the commendable contributions and embodiment of school values by the participating students.

The program, carefully curated and executed, serves as a bridge between cultural appreciation and communal engagement. The resonating beats of the drums echo through the corridors, infusing the school environment with an infectious energy that transcends linguistic and cultural boundaries. Students, guided by seasoned instructors, delve into the intricate rhythms, learning the historical significance behind each beat and the cultural nuances embedded within.

Beyond the mere art of drumming, this initiative acts as a platform to recognise the students’ consistent embodiment of school values, as evidenced by their Aspire Chronicles on Compass. These Chronicles document their commitment to the school’s ethos, showcasing their dedication, integrity, inclusivity, and resilience in their day-to-day endeavours.

The inclusivity of the program, welcoming students from diverse backgrounds, is evidence of the school’s commitment to fostering a multicultural environment. Students from the ELC, often navigating the complexities of adapting to a new culture and language, find solace and camaraderie in the rhythmic unity fostered by the drumming sessions. This inclusive approach not only enriches the program but also cultivates a sense of belonging and unity among the student body.

Moreover, the program’s integration into the curriculum does not solely aim at honing musical talents but also seeks to instil essential life skills. Collaborative learning, teamwork, discipline, and a profound appreciation for diversity are among the invaluable lessons interwoven into the very fabric of this initiative.

As the beats of the drums reverberate through the school, the African drumming program serves as a testament to the school’s approach to holistic education. It celebrates diversity, fosters inclusivity, and acknowledges the remarkable contributions of students, creating a vibrant tapestry of culture, harmony, and shared experiences within the school community. This initiative not only enriches the students’ educational journey but also stands as a resounding proof of the power of cultural immersion and collective celebration.

VCE VET Sport and Recreation Surf Bronze camp

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By Dan Norton
Learning Specialist Achievement

The Year 10 VET Sport and recreation class completed their surf bronze medallion certificates at Inverloch Surf Life Saving club in November. By completing this qualification students were able to meet a variety of VET unit competencies as well as enabling them to work as volunteer lifeguards on our beaches over the summer.

The first couple of days of the camp saw some less than ideal weather patterns, however this only strengthened the resilience of the group and enabled them to understand the importance of maintaining their swimming fitness!

Victorian Junior Volleyball Open

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By Louise Bates
Volleyball Program Coordinator

The Year 8 girls, Year 8 boys and Year 9/10 boys teams all finished with silver medals. Overall, it was a week filled with lots of volleyball and plenty of fun.

All About Enviro

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By Roman Scott
Year 7

Gardening at Gilbert’s
On 8 November a group of Eco Crew students were selected to take part in a day of gardening at Gilbert’s located on High Street. The students transformed a section the café’s backyard to a productive garden that now includes beans, parsley, oregano, sorrel, mint, strawberries and sunflowers. In addition to the weeding, preparing the soil, planting and watering, students had the opportunity to learn to make coffee and enjoyed toasties and beverages for lunch. Students showed initiative and leadership, and exercised communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills.

We’re grateful to Gilbert’s for this opportunity to regenerate a space, learn and develop skills, and look forward to continuing the connection in 2024.

Q-Up Piece/ Plant Stall
At the Q-Up Twilight Picnic some of the Eco Crew team set up a small plant stall, selling herbs to daisies to cacti to palms. This event was a great opportunity to open the herb garden space and show parents and students plants we grow. Students raised $100 by selling a range of plants and this money will go to purchasing a composting tumbler further expanding Kew High’s waste management strategies. This concept gave the Eco Crew students a chance to learn and the environmental team will be doubling down next year to make it bigger and better! Q-Up was full of smiles, songs performed by the music students and we were lucky to have sunshine and the warmth of Kew High’s community.

Project Stationery
The long-awaited end of term (to the parents’ dismay) meant that students’ lockers needed to be cleared out. This gave students the chance to collect pencils, pens, erasers, sharpeners, plastic sleeves and half-used exercise books that would normally be thrown out. The stationery collected was donated to Project Stationery – a new initiative in our local area that aims to recycle stationery that is still in good condition. This is part of our school’s waste management system and helps others source stationery.

Exploring the World of Martial Arts: Students Embark on a 6-Week Journey

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By Andrew Thickins
Leader of Wellbeing

Over the past six weeks, our school has witnessed a remarkable journey as students delved into the world of martial arts and self-defence. This immersive program aimed not only to introduce various aspects of martial arts but also to instil discipline, focus, and self-confidence in participating students.

The program encompassed a diverse range of martial arts facets, including the graceful and meditative Tai Chi and standing meditation. Students also engaged in push-hand drills, learning the importance of balance, control, and responsiveness in martial arts.

From the powerful karate blocks to mastering punches and kicks, students honed their techniques and developed a deeper understanding of their bodies’ capabilities. They dived into the intricate world of karate blocking and countering, refining their defensive strategies.

The journey continued with Kata applications and partner drills, allowing students to synchronize movements and understand the practical applications of these martial arts forms. Moreover, they explored essential self-defence principles, empowering them with knowledge on protecting themselves in real-life situations.

As the program reached its culmination, the students showcased their newfound skills by participating in the thrilling art of board breaking. This final act encapsulated their dedication and growth throughout the six weeks, demonstrating their resilience and determination to overcome challenges.

Beyond learning the physical aspects, this experience has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on these students. They have imbibed valuable life lessons of discipline, respect, perseverance, and the importance of self-improvement through their martial arts journey.

The impact of this program extends far beyond the confines of the mat. It has equipped these students with a newfound sense of confidence, enabling them to face challenges both within and outside the realm of martial arts.

In conclusion, the Martial Arts and Self-Defence program has not only exposed our students to various forms of martial arts but has also cultivated qualities that will serve them well in all facets of their lives. We applaud their dedication and commend the instructors for their guidance and expertise throughout this transformative journey.

Gardening report

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By Phillip Naughton
Gardener, Kew High School

The gardens have benefitted from good rain through spring. This has enabled new plantings to establish and soils to improve with the mulching that is taking place. Maintenance has continued with weeding and fertilising as well. The fences have been removed from the Burke Road bus stop raised beds as the daisies are now formed into a hedge.

Two new garden beds have been established. One is under the gum tree between the soccer fields. Named the Lizard Garden it is made up of native shrubs and grasses. A student initiative of Arley Hobsbawn, and guided by Ms Elise Dunstan, this was installed by the Environment students with donations of plants and materials through their contacts. The other garden is outside the lower staff room windows. This will be a shaded garden bed with plants donated by staff and friends of Kew High School. Planting was carried out by the Landscape Lads.

Gardens are also being restored. The Memorial Garden below the flag pole has been mulched and irrigation laid out. Plants from donated sources have been put in to continue the shrubs and perennials alongside the perennial Jacaranda Garden. The Landscape Lads have helped with this project. Under the guidance of Ms Dunstan, the garden bed under the senior soccer field wall has new plants added and been mulched. The work was carried out with the help of students, staff and volunteers.

This week Ms Dunstan with the help of two alumni, Joe and Phil from the class of 1977, mulched the garden around the new plants in the north east corner. Mulching the garden being restored below the soccer pitch by the students was completed with woodchips. This is important for building a healthy soil and help protect the plants from the summer heat. The school uses woodchips donated by arborists.

Our thanks go to Ms Dunstan for the time and effort she puts in towards the school gardens. Through her development program, many students, staff, alumni and volunteers have become involved, especially the Enviro Team.

We have now had five Landscape Lads teams working annually since 2019. Thank you to Sam Gleeson, assisted by Tim Gason, for organising and supervising the lads. Nearly all the gardens over the past fourteen years have been developed with student help.

Recommended references to watch:

Dr James White: The Rhizophagy Cycle. This explains how plants farm their own microbes.

Alison Pouliot:The Forgotten Kingdom. Explains lots about fungi.

Kew Premier League

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By Sam Gleeson

A record 14 teams signed up this year with high hopes of winning the 2023 Kew Premier League and taking home the Sayid Cup. Teams from Year 8 right through to Year 12 qualified for the finals, but in the end, it came down to a battle between the Year 12s (Dare Finkum FC) and the Year 10s (The Rat Pack).

In front of a huge crowd, the Grand Final ended 1-1 and went to extra time, where Toby slotted home the winning counter-attacking goal to give The Rat Pack the title. Angus was voted the Grand Final MVP, while the overall winners were Ben (Kew Premier League MVP), Ole (Golden Boot) and Bayley (Golden Glove).

In the Girl’s Kew Premier League, the Grand Final was between the Year 10s and a combined team of Year 8s, 11s and 12s. In was a tense game early on, but goals from Jessie and Nat (from half-way) ensured the combined team were the ultimate winners with a 2-0 scoreline.

Thanks to all the players and fans who came out to watch in droves over the six weeks.

Kew Premier League (Junior)
In Term 4, it was the Year 7 and 8 students time to shine as 9 teams took their place in the field in the hopes of attaining Kew Premier League glory. The Grand Final was a decided between the best Year 8 and Year 7 teams with both going through undefeated and scoring plenty of goals with an attacking brand.

At halftime with the scores locked at 0-0, it looked like anyone’s game, but it was the Year 8s who broke the deadlock with 5 minutes to go, before running out 5-0 convincing winners in the end.

It was great to see so many talented young players and we are really excited for what the future holds for these students.

Student reflections – Year 10 P.E.

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By Catherine Gayfer
Leader of Health & Physical Education

We felt very happy after going on PE excursions to Bounce, Croquet, Mini golf and Ice-skating. These excursions have enhanced the relationship between us (as international students) and our peers. We have spent our time with some other students that significantly improved our social and mental health, by making us feel more confident and less lonely in a new country. Moreover, we feel that those activities are also valuable for our physical health as we built up stamina and strength.

Our class took a trip to Bounce where we participated in a range of activities that furthered our physical, mental and social health and wellbeing. Our mental health was enhanced because exercise is proven to boost your mood and release endorphins that will ultimately make you happier. Furthermore, social health was improved as it’s a very social setting where staff interact with us, along with communicating with other schools, and kids who were a part of the same session as us. I think everyone was involved and participated through challenges, races or just bouncing together. We all came together as a class and did things like trying to climb a wall, race on the rock clinging, doing flips etc. Additionally, our physical health was improved because we were practicing movement and employing our fitness components through physical activities such as bouncing, flipping, climbing, shooting to name a few. Our whole class had a great time and enjoyed going to such a fun place that had something for everyone.

We went to the Kew Croquet Club on 13 September. During this excursion, we were taught how to play croquet by croquet club members and then played a game against our peers. I enjoyed the croquet excursion as it was a sport that I had never played before, and I found that the game was fun when playing with friends. Playing croquet in small groups helped me talk to some of my peers that I had had much less contact with before the excursion. We had plenty of playing time and enjoyed the experience.

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