Mercurius Issue 12 – September 2019 - 2 Sep 2019
Principal’s Report

Principal’s Report

Dear Fortians, Parents, Carers,

I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Year 12 Drama and Music showcase evening last week to see and hear the works that Year 12 students have been preparing for their HSC performances and practical submissions. The standard of these evenings is always very high, and all students deserve praise for the time, effort and creativity that have gone into their works. It is difficult to single out particular individuals amongst such a high standard, but the Drama group performance of Lucy Bailey, Rosie Hearne, Tara Luckock, Julien Parry and Oliver Reucassel was particularly entertaining, the Music Extension performance by Hugo Giles (Clarinet), Patrick Wu (piano), Michelle Yang (flute) was a delight, Robert Hart’s composition in the style of Philip Glass mesmerising and Tara Luckock’s imagining of Antigone powerful.

The Drama students completed their HSC performance examination on Thursday 29 August, and the HSC Music performances are scheduled for Friday 13 September. Thanks and acknowledgement must also go to the teachers who have guided and advised these students throughout their projects – Ms Carolyn Mattick for Drama and Mr John Ockwell for Music. I am looking forward to seeing the completed Year 12 Visual Arts Bodies of Work and English Extension 2 projects at their respective showcases this week, on Monday 2 September from 5:00pm in the Library and Friday 6 September from 6:00pm in the Staff Common Room.

On Friday 30 August the school celebrated Wear it Purple Day. Students and staff had the opportunity to wear purple mufti to school to show support for their LGBTQI+ family, friends, colleagues and peers, and to take a stand against discrimination, bullying and homophobia in all its forms. Our assembly was planned and led by the school’s Diversity Committee under the leadership of Marley Donald and Meg Raven from Year 10. They sourced a guest speaker who spoke personally about the importance of recognition, support and respect in her own life. It was a powerful message, and one that seemed to be appreciated by the whole school.

A presentation ceremony for the 2019 NSW Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence was held at Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday 27th August. The Hon Sarah Mitchell MLC presented 37 awards to students across the state and I am extremely proud to congratulate two of our wonderful Year 12 students for receiving this significant award for student achievement. Congratulations to Niamh Elliott-Brennan and Georgio Hawi on this outstanding achievement. It was also a great honour for one of our students Emily Miers (Year 11) to be one of only two students selected by the Performing Arts Unit to attend and perform at this ceremony. Emily performed a piece on the French Horn.


Over the past fortnight I have received two contrasting emails from members of the public. The first:

“I wanted to sincerely express my appreciation for the conscientious behaviour of one of your senior students this morning, Tuesday 20 August. The student was traveling to school, on the 440 bus, boarding in Lilyfield and alighting at the south end of Norton St.

“The bus stop was crowded with 15 or so people yet he stood and waited until everyone else boarded on the bus including those who arrived after him, helping people with their things or waving people ahead of him. He sat down only if there was a seat left for him and was the first to stand and offer a seat to anyone who hopped on. He wasn’t staring at a phone, just listening to something via his headphones…

“If these virtues of consideration, politeness, mindfulness, respect for others and humility are encouraged and emphasised by the school, they certainly are appreciated and this ought to be continued, especially as they become rarer in our fast paced faceless Sydney society.”

And the second:

“The school needs to remind students that seats on trains are to be offered to the elderly and people who are pregnant. I am 37 weeks pregnant and two of the students from your school did not get up or offer the seat.”

Obviously the first was a delight to receive, the second a disappointment. I believe and hope that the former is more typical of our students’ behaviour. Although it is rare for members of the public to make the time to contact the school for positive reasons, I have observed similar behaviour from our students myself on my public transport journeys to and from school. However, I would ask all families to discuss not only students’ obligation to offer their seats to adult passengers when travelling on public transport, as one of the conditions of their Opal Cards, but also the courtesy and good manners that they are expected to show on public transport generally, whether they are travelling to or from school or as private citizens.

The school is currently preparing for the commencement of three major and long-awaited building projects. The refit of the K2 workshop to provide a space more suited to the needs of a modern Technology faculty has already begun, and the relocations of the Library and Food Laboratory facilities are underway so that renovations of those spaces can begin shortly. There will be significant disruptions and inconveniences over the next six months as these works are completed, but I am looking forward to having the greatly improved learning facilities that our students and staff deserve.

Mr Giorgio Speranza (PDHPE) and Ms Francesca Triolo (Front Office) were the holders of our staff trophy in weeks 5 and 6 respectively. Giorgio was nominated as an outstanding temporary staff member who has been doing a great job as assistant advisor for Year 11 in Ms Cotton’s absence. Francesca was nominated for her professionalism and for making everyone feel welcome at Fort Street. Congratulations to both of these staff members.

Finally, this week Public Schools across NSW have celebrated SAS Staff Appreciation Week, in honour of the hard work of School Administrative and Support staff in our schools. Fort Street is privileged to have a particularly fine group of SAS Staff led by our SAM Ms Janette Levy, who work not only in the Front Office, but also in the Library, Science and TAS faculties. The dedication and commitment of these staff to the school, and their care and concern for our students and families is greatly appreciated and invaluable to the smooth and effective running of the school, and the teaching and learning that happens within it. I would like to acknowledge the essential role they play at the Fort, and encourage students and parents to show their appreciation as well, as you have the opportunity in the coming weeks.

Fort Street High School Wellbeing Roadmap

Fort Street High School Wellbeing Roadmap

This year, members of the Wellbeing Team, students and teachers across the school have worked hard to deliver a quality wellbeing program to create opportunities for every student to experience a sense of belonging to their school, develop resilience and respectful relationships and be inspired to give back to the community to become global citizens.
We understand that the journey through high school can sometimes be a bumpy road. The aim of this roadmap is to design a structured student wellbeing program that caters to the wellbeing and developmental stages of each student.
In designing the student wellbeing program we have consulted with teachers of PDHPE to ensure our program supports what is delivered in this subject area. We have liaised with a range of outside providers to enhance the delivery of some aspects of our program, including Dr Prue Salter from Enhanced Learning and the Elevate Team for our study skills elements. We have collaborated with the staff at Somerset and NSW Sport and Recreation to design challenging and empowering camp experience for students in Years 9, 7 and 11.
Fortunae and Peer Support for Year 7, the Duke of Edinburgh for Year 9, ‘Lovebites’ for Year 10, Year Meetings, Year 11 Seminar, Year 12 Picnic….. All these learning experiences are a part of our wellbeing roadmap to support each of our students to flourish and succeed.
I would like to acknowledge the great work of our Assistant Year 7 Adviser, Ms. Sarah Wilkins and design students from Years 9 and 10; Liam Young, Clinton Trang, Augustine Evans, Athanasios Bouteas, Jack Lohning.
This team refreshed the design of our Wellbeing Roadmap and as a part of the design process sought feedback from members of the wellbeing team, the Executive and the SRC. I have included our new look Roadmap here:Wellbeing Roadmap



Penelope Starr
Head Teacher Student Wellbeing

Robocup Junior Australia results

Robocup Junior Australia results

On the 20 August, 26 Fort Street students travelled to Sydney Olympic Park to compete in the New South Wales division of Robocup Junior Australia. This was preceded by over three terms of learning and preparation to build and program robots that needed to autonomously navigate an unknown scenario. Ten teams from The Fort entered: seven in the Open Rescue Line Division, one in Secondary Rescue Line, one in Open Rescue Maze and one team in Lightweight Soccer.

We are proud to announce that three of our teams placed in their divisions:

·         2nd Open Rescue Maze: Ariadne: Cristina Koprinski, Amelie Skelton

·         2nd Open Rescue Line: ductAPE: Gabriel Thien, Xavier Cooney, Felix Fan

·         3rd Open Rescue Line: Space Monkeys: Yash Agarwal, Carlo Famularo, Pranav, Jacob

Two of our teams further won some special awards:

·         Innovation Award: ductAPE: Gabriel Thien, Xavier Cooney, Felix Fan

·         Soccer Honourable Mention: X-MANkey: Manit Anand, Xavier Cooney, Gabriel Thien, Felix Fan

Across the whole process, we gained many valuable skills. These include communication, programming, building techniques and design processes (CAD and CAM manufacturing).

We would like to thank our sponsors, OpenMV, Calm Aluminium, Laser Wizard, WiseTech Global, PCBWay, Pakronics, Maxon Motors and Ultimaker. A special mention also goes to the Fort Street Foundation for their continuous support of Robotics.

The future forecast for Robotics is that twelve students will travel to Melbourne to compete in the Robocup Junior Australia National competition during the last weekend of the school holidays. This completion allows students to collaborate with interstate students, learn new concepts and to challenge their problem solving techniques.

Cristina Koprinski, Xavier Cooney and Gabriel Thien

Year 10 Commerce and Business Studies Market Day

Year 10 Commerce and Business Studies Market Day

Junior Legacy Sydney Regional Final

Junior Legacy Sydney Regional Final

Congratulations to Manit Anand who represented the school at the Arts Unit Junior Legacy Sydney Regional Final. He spoke on the power of artificial intelligence to affect change. His impromptu topic was fate.
Manit accredited himself well but unfortunately will not proceed to State Semi Final.

Penny Schlam

Open Evening Address by Sam Alexander Prideaux (Fortian 2017)

Open Evening Address by Sam Alexander Prideaux (Fortian 2017)

I’d like to pay my respects to the Cadigal people of the Eora Nation, and extend that respect to any elders past, present or emerging. I think it’s important we keep in mind that the land in which we meet tonight was forcibly dispossessed, and indigenous sovereignty of the land was never ceded.

I graduated from the Fort in 2017, and am now in my second year of university studying Arts and Law at the University of Sydney. I play the trumpet, play hockey, and love to read and watch Scandinavian Crime shows. Tonight I’m going to tell you two or three things about my time at Fort Street, and why this school is so dear to me.

There are three things that I think set Fort Street apart from other schools. The first has to do with academia, but it does not necessarily relate to the academic results that Fort Street achieves each year, which are, irrefutably, incredible. Every kid that is lucky enough to get into the Fort has brains, and your child will thrive here; however, what makes Fort Street different is the quality and style of its teaching. The teaching style is fluid, collaborative, and does not teach strictly to hit curriculum markers and satisfy numbers on a department of education checklist; the teachers at Fort Street, as unique as the students that go here, foster creativity, an intellectual hunger and an approach to teaching that puts the student firmly at the helm of their own education.

The result is not just that students are able to think critically and look at problems in different and varied ways, but that Fortians are instilled from an early age with a curiosity and love of learning that stays with them through life and allows them to form real bonds with teachers. English was my particular love at school, and I still regularly catch up with some of my English teachers to discuss books and movies.

I also have the unique academic environment of Fort Street to thank for my love of Philosophy, which began in Year 9 when I was lucky enough to partake in the extra-curricular philosophy program, run by an ex-Fortian from the University of Sydney. My friends and I were at first uncertain about giving up our Wednesday afternoons to do more school; however, we were soon were enthralled by both the fascinating subject matter and the innovative composition of the class, which had students from Years 7 all the way through to Year 12.

So, Fort Street taught me to love education for its own sake, and fostered my intellectual creativity. Creativity of a different sort is the focus of the second part of my speech, and this more than anything else is what I think makes Fort Street special; especially what sets it apart from other selective schools.

The creative spirit that flourishes at Fort Street is truly spectacular, and for me, this was evident in two particular regards. The first was music. You have heard the wonderful performances from members of the Instrumental Music Program tonight: this is a program without parallel in the public education system in NSW, with nearly a third of all students at Fort Street participating.

I have played the trumpet since Year 3, and was extensively involved in the IMP; at one point coming to school four mornings a week for the Jazz Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Stage Band. Apart from the regional tours, annual music camps and countless City of Sydney Eisteddfod’s, by far the highlight for me of my time with the IMP was an international European tour in 2015, which I am so privileged and thankful to have been a part of. We visited Austria, Slovenia and Italy, performing in grand old churches, singing in St Peter’s Basilica, playing in the snow outside of a palace in Austria and rehearsing with an Italian Maestro; experiences I will always be grateful for and experiences that aren’t available at other schools. The IMP was a transformative and wonderful experience for me and if you do end up coming here I can guarantee the same will hold for you.

The second example of creativity that was particular to my time at the school was the Flamingos hockey team; a sporting team I started with a friend in Year 10. Our hockey was never brilliant, however the Flamingos were an opportunity to provide fun and spontaneity in the school environment. We created promotional videos involving teachers and students, fundraised, put up posters, and even showed one of our videos at a Year 7 and 8 disco. The school provided such outstanding support to the Flamingos; allowing us not only to have fun with the team, but to create happiness and school spirit for everyone else.

This school spirit is perhaps best categorised by the inclusion of Michael Kirby in one of the Flamingos videos. On a whim, I sent an email to the most esteemed of High Court judges, asking him to appear in a promotional video for a school’s sporting team. Here is the response I received:

Dear Sam,

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. I was in Washington DC when your email arrived. In principle, I would be happy to record a statement on video to support the Fort Street Flamingos.I know nothing about hockey and very little about any form of sport. However, I am prepared to be a small-time fraud if it helps your team…

If the shortages of time and limitations of recording facilities make this impossible, I offer apologies. But if you can fit in with my crazy program, I will certainly make a statement to support The Flamingos.

Best of luck! Faber Est.

Michael Kirby

This story really shows, for me, the indivisible bond that links Fortians through time and distance; a bond born out of shared creative and intellectual spirit and values.

These values make up the third and final part of my speech. Fort Street shapes people that are not only smart and creative, but who are respectful, diverse, kind and willing to fight for equality and the elimination of discrimination and subordination in all its forms. Fort Street upholds and instils the overwhelming value of public education; which creates kindness, and teaches us the value of equality – that your education should be decided by the ferocity of your intellect and the kindness in your heart, and not by your postcode or the circumstances of your birth.

Fortians, then, are above all good people who have the skills to question the world around them and help others who haven’t had the fantastic opportunities that they have had. From the speeches I have heard from students tonight, I know that this will be true of future Fortians, and I am proud to stand before you today and applaud these inspiring young speaker. From my year, I already have friends who are producing thoughtful and interesting music, who are touring with the Australian Youth Orchestra, who are presidents of university clubs and societies, who are volunteering and making a real difference to people’s lives.

In an uncertain and troubling world, people who are not afraid to be different, who are not afraid to use their brains to question the world around them and who are not afraid to be kind and good when others seem to have forgotten these things, are people we need more of. Fortians, in short, are people we need more of, and I know that you prospective Fortians will grow into good, kind and fiercely intelligent people that Fort Street has and will always produce.

Instrumental Music Program

Instrumental Music Program

Congratulations to the Saxophone Quartet  (Phoebe Lim, Jack Coleman, Eleanor McLeod and Liam Young) who won the Sydney Eisteddfod School Chamber Music section last weekend, beating over twenty other ensembles from around Sydney. The Saxophone Quartet are a special ensemble funded by the IMP Grants program in 2019.

Tour 2021
The IMP will be touring to Spain and Portugal in 2021.
Students who will be in Years 10-12 in 2021 are eligible to attend. In limited circumstances students who will be in Year 9 in 2021 may be invited to join the tour, subject to availability of places and the instrument needs of tour ensembles.
Interested parents and students should attend an information meeting on Monday 23 September in the Hall. Geoff Hayes from Hayes Travel Enterprises will present the proposed itinerary, and Mr Manchester will talk about touring in general, and some of the school requirements, and to answer any questions you may have. It is very important that families and students who are interested in this tour attend the information evening.
If you would like a taste of what an IMP tour has to offer, check out the 2018 Tour Blog:​

Chamber Choir and Vocal Ensemble in Concert
Chamber Choir and Vocal Ensemble, directed by Alex Pringle, will be appearing, along with the Sydney Male Choir, at the Sydney Town Hall on Sunday 8th September. The concert begins at 2 pm. Please come and support the Vocal Ensemble and award winning Chamber Choir.
Bookings can be made at  Enter fortstreet as the promotional code in order to get the discount price of $40 per ticket. Under 15s free.

Wanderers Schools Cup (Y7/8 Boys and Girls Football)

Wanderers Schools Cup (Y7/8 Boys and Girls Football)

Our teams trained hard in preparation for this tournament and performed admirably on the day. The boys were unfortunate to not advance to the semi finals in a very competitive competition with schools from all over Sydney present. Our girls who only had 9 players all day (11 a side competition) played out of their skin and made it to the grand final. Having played 3 games already (1 more than their opponents) they played like warriors and played out a 0-0 draw. The match was to be decided by a penalty shootout which we unfortunately lost. The tournament organisers were so impressed with our girls that they offered us a wildcard entry to the finals series which takes place later this year.

Well done to both teams.

Randev Uppal

Football Friendlies

Football Friendlies

Fort Street welcomed The Conservatorium High School to our grounds to compete in friendly matches against our Y7/8 Boys and Girls Football Teams. The games were very competitive and a great display of community was on show in what we hope will be the start of a fruitful relationship between the two schools.

Randev Uppal

Hockey Club with Patrick Vastani (Y12 – 2019)

Hockey Club with Patrick Vastani (Y12 – 2019)

A group of keen students meet FSHS star hockey player Patrick on the oval every Friday at 8am for a skills and drills workshop. Patrick plays high level representative hockey and generously volunteers his time to share his passion for the game. Any student interested in learning to play hockey is invited to attend, all you need is your own mouthguard, the school can supply you with a stick and shinpads.

(The Hockey Club will move back to the futsal courts  later this term)

Randev Uppal