Mercurius – issue 3 March 2020 - 9 Mar 2020
Principal’s Report

Principal’s Report

Dear Fortians, Parents and Carers,

Sydney International Women’s Day Breakfast

It was an absolute pleasure to accompany the Executive SRC members to the ICC for a 7am breakfast on Friday 6th March at the ICC in Darling Harbour to celebrate IWD and to learn about some of the fascinating programs being run by UN Women Australia. The event was MC’d by Janice Petersen from SBS World News. We heard from Sonali Hedditch – Coordinator of the UN Women’s Second Chance Educational and Vocational Learning Program, Luz Restrepo – Founder and CEO of Sisterworks and Wendy Yarnold – CEO and Chairperson, Real Futures.

UN Women National Australia hosts Australia’s largest International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrations in March each year. IWD is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women. It is also a day to review how far women have come in their struggle for equality, peace and development. IWD also provides an opportunity to unite, network and mobilise funds to foster meaningful change into the future. It was satisfying to hand over the student raised funds – $580 and to learn that this contribution could fund the education of 5 young women who would otherwise not have the opportunity to go to school.

Library Review

It has been rewarding to see the students and staff enjoying the new library spaces and furniture. There will be a review of the library undertaken in term 2 to evaluate what further improvements students, staff and parents would like to see in the library and to the way in which it operates. Students, staff and parents will be consulted about many aspects of the library including the types of books they might like the school to purchase this year.

Homework Centre

The Homework Centre which is now operating out of the Library on Monday and Wednesday afternoons is growing in popularity. A new model involving the hiring of ex-students as tutors in the homework centre is currently being trialled.

Merit Selection Panels

I would like to thank Hema Kolla (Year 7 parent) and Sophia Tang (Year 7 parent) who have volunteered to participate in the upcoming Maths Head Teacher merit selection panel and Dr James Edwards (Year 9 parent) who has volunteered to participate in the merit selection panel for a new permanent mathematics classroom teacher.

International Trips

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, the Department of Education has instructed all overseas excursions to be placed on hold until further notice, the safety of our students and staff is paramount. For this reason, it is more than likely that the upcoming STEM Tour planned to depart in late September this year to the United States will either be postponed or cancelled. All families impacted by this will be sent further details and a meeting date and time will be determined shortly. At this meeting parents and students will have an opportunity to ask any questions and to discuss the implications of a cancellation or postponement.

There is a meeting scheduled for 7.30pm on Monday 16th March for all parents and students who have paid their deposit for the 2021 IMP Camp at which options will be discussed. At this stage Matt Manchester has negotiated with the travel agent a delay to the next financial instalment until late in July. This will at least provide some more time to monitor the unfolding developments.

Congratulations to:

The Sax Quartet (Jack Coleman, Phoebe Lim, Eleanor McLeod and Liam Young) recently performed at the Palace Norton Street Cinema, Leichhardt for the Inner West Seniors Festival 2020. I received the following email from one of the organisers of the event;

“Just dropping a line to confirm that the Sax Quartet are indeed astonishing! I had the good fortune to attend our Retirement Symposium and we received so many compliments to pass on about the music and the great atmosphere the quartet created. Council staff found the quartet a delight to deal with – mature, professional and at home in their event management.”

Senida Krcic (mathematics teacher) who has been successful in gaining a Relieving Head Teacher Mathematics position for the remainder of the year at the NSW Virtual Selective High School – Aurora College.

Teachers of the Week – over the past 4 weeks this award has been received by Ms Gillian Maury (School Counsellor), Ms Liz  Propsting (Music teacher and Year 7 Adviser), Mr Tim Hasenbein (currently relieving HT Science) and Mr Shane Fischer (PDHPE teacher).



Michael Kirby’s Speech

Michael Kirby’s Speech




21 FEBRUARY 2020

(photo of principal Juliette McMurray, The Hon.Michael Kirby AC CMG and past principal Ros Moxham)



The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG*

Fort Street High School, 1955





It is always a privilege for an alumnus of a famous school to return to events that remind the erstwhile pupil of the wonderful early days of family, teachers, learning, and fellow students.

I offer respects for the Indigenous people of Australia.  They were not represented in any way in my school days.  I know that, in recent times, there have been Aboriginal Fortians.  We must ensure that the neglect and wrongs of the past are reversed.  The road to Aboriginal equality requires the provision of the best educational  opportunities.  Including in school days.  Including at Fort Street High School.

I congratulate the students whose prizes and awards are acknowledged on this occasion.  I also congratulate others who did not win prizes but tried their best.  That is all that can be expected of any of us.

I honour the teachers of this School, past and present.  In my day they were outstanding; as they are today.  Next to family members, teachers are generally owed the greatest debt for one’s preparation for life.

I also thank the parents and other family members who are present today.  This day was my father’s birthday.  He was born in 1916.  He died at age 95 in 2011.  He came with me, and later with my brother David Kirby, during our school days to events at the school. David was himself to become a Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.  He regularly presided in murder trials.  That is a very difficult and responsible task.  In comparison, my office as a Justice of the High Court of Australia, was easier because it involved re-examining cases that had already been handled by very clever people.  Let us express our thanks to our parents and families, and also our teachers, for the love and support they have given us.

I particularly congratulate those who bring music into the lives of the students at this School.  In my school days I sometimes came to this Town Hall for “youth concerts”, with professional orchestras and soloists.  I doubt that any of them had more accomplished musical performances than we have witnessed today.  I particularly cherished the singing by the Chamber Choir of the religious anthem Come Sweet Death by J.S. Bach.  The modern arrangement by Rhonda Sandberg was a reflection of the special features of this School.  Within the discipline of Bach’s composition, the new arrangement allowed free falling voice parts that permitted each singer to express their personal musical sense.  This is a special feature of our School.  Discipline; but within creative freedom.  Studies of the common links of Nobel prize winners show that the greatest creativity comes not from a logical continuity.  It comes to those who think (and sometimes sing) outside the square.[1]



There are many changes evident at this Ceremony:

*      The shift from the separated Boys’ and Girls’ schools into the amalgamated school of today is the most obvious change.  With that change came an expansion in the size of the School, together with new buildings and facilities as a consequence;

*      In my time, Speech Day was held in the School Memorial Hall.  With the expanded numbers this was no longer possible; so that we now celebrate in this Town Hall.  It is old.  But Fort Street School is older still;

*      The ethnic composition of the School has radically changed.  In my day, in a school of 500 boys, there were only 9 pupils who were Asian Australians.  Now more than half the School are not Caucasian.  In those days, “White Australia” made multiculturalism impossible.  However, one of the 9 boys was John Yu.  He later became a Professor of Paediatrics; Chancellor of the University of New South Wales; and Australian of the Year; and

*      Scripture, as the dedicated weekly period was called, attracted almost all of the students at the School, although it was not compulsory.  In those times nearly half the school, on Thursday mornings, attended the Anglican class in the Memorial Hall.  Church of England was the biggest religion in Australia. It comprised more that 40% of the population.  Now things are different.

Despite all these changes, two particular features of Fort Street remain steadily the same:

*      The School was then, and still is ‘selective’.  It boasted, as it still does, top results in academic outcomes.  In my day as now, the results in the final exams were generally amongst the top 10 or so schools in the State of New South Wales.  It is still so;

*      The School is, and always was, a public school.  It was part of the great experiment of school education that was initiated in Australia in the mid-19th Century.  Its requirements were described in the Public Instruction Act 1880 (NSW), precursor to today’s legislation.[2]  It was to provide education for all children from all classes of the population.  That education was to be free; compulsory to a specified age; and secular.  The commitment to “secular instruction” could allow “general religious teaching” related to the history of England and Australia.  But as a public school it was forbidden from teaching what Parliament called “dogmatical or polemical theology”.  Even the single hour set aside for religious instruction was excluded “if the parents or guardians of such pupils object to such religious instruction being given”. [3]   These were very deep concerns and indelible features of public education in Australia from the start.  They still leave their imprint on our public schools and on our nation.



My biggest academic achievement at Fort Street was coming top of the State in Modern History in the Leaving exams of 1955. At the time, I was very proud of this, and the School was well pleased.  However, just 4 years ago a pupil of Fort Street, Janek Drevikovsky, was placed first in the State in five subjects, putting my accomplishment in the shade.

Still, I always loved history.  My remaining words will be about that topic.

Reflecting on the origins of public education in Australia, I resorted to the history of Fort Street High School written by my teacher of German, himself a Fortian, Ronald Horan.[4]  Although the school was established in 1849 by Governor FitzRoy, its creation was really the brainchild of Governor Bourke.[5]  Sir Richard Bourke derived for Ireland, where he had seen the bitter sectarian and denominational conflicts in education between Catholics and Protestants.  He was liberal in most things, including the emancipation of the former convicts, the establishment of jury trial and the limitation on excessive punishments.  However, most of all he took on the opposition of the churches to the notion of establishing public education for all children in the colony.

Shortly before he set out for Sydney, in 1831, a National Board of Education had been established in Ireland to provide for non-denominational schools supported by public funding.  This ideas was greeted with great enthusiasm in Ireland.  However, it later attracted opposition from the churches.  They saw it as an interference with their prerogatives.  The idea of religious schools eventually faded away in Ireland until revived in very recent times.  In Australia too, the churches (which had enjoyed a monopoly in education until the 1830s) tried to kill off Bourke’s scheme.

Ultimately Governor Bourke’s dream was to be partly fulfilled by the spread of public education throughout Australia that now serves two thrids of Australian school children.

Near the State Library in Sydney, on the edge of the Royal Botanical Gardens, is a statue of Richard Bourke.  It was the first public statue erected in Australia.  It was paid for in 1842 by subscriptions from the residents of the colony.  Governor Bourke died in 1855.  He is buried near his home in Co Limerick in Ireland.  His grave is in disrepair.  Those who have benefited from his dream of public education should subscribe to a new memorial in his honour at his grave.  The current times show that it would be timely and well merited.




The longest established school in Australia still functioning is The King’s School at Parramatta.  Governor Bourke considered this Church of England school an offence to his national school ideal.  He planned ‘national’, ‘model’ or ‘public’ schools.  The earliest of these that has had a continuous record of teaching and education is Fort Street School.  It took over the building that had served as the Military Hospital in Sydney, established in 1815.  We can be proud not only of our school but of the role and example it has afforded for public education throughout Australia.

When the federation of the Australian colonies was discussed in the last decade of the 19th Century, the role of religion in the proposed Constitution was hotly debated.  Ultimately, over much opposition, reference to God was slipped into the Preamble to the Imperial Act to which the Australian Constitution was annexed. [6]     It declared that the People of the uniting colonies were “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” in establishing the Constitution.

This mention of God led to furious disagreement.  Ultimately, section 116  of the Constitution was included, forbidding the Federal Parliament from making “any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion” or imposing any “religious test”.  This provision was largely copied from the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.  However, unfortunately (unlike in that country), it has been given a needlessly and mistakenly a narrow interpretation by the High Court of Australia.[7]

The consequence is that, although our Constitution reflects the common wish that Australia should be a secular country, in large part, the textual provision has proved incapable of enforcing effective secularism. This is particularly so in the public funding of religious schools. [8]   In consequence of this, Australia has one of the highest levels of governmental funding of religious schools amongst the advanced democracies that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  As a result, the dream of Governor Bourke survived; but his concern about denominational schools experienced an afterlife that has emboldened religious supporters to make ever increasing demands on the legislatures and the Australian community.

The success of these demands is the more surprising because of the strong support for secularism that continues in Australia, doubtless reinforced by the general dedication of State public schools to secular education.  The demands are also surprising because of the evidence, in successive national Census returns, indicating the decline of religious affiliation over the years since Federation.

Whereas in earlier years, the overwhelming majority of Australians identified as Christian (and specifically as Church of England) in more recent times things have changed.  In the Census of 2011, the largest religious group was Roman Catholics.  In the 2016 Census, the largest group were those who identified as “no religion”, 30%.  That represented an increase of almost 10% in the space of 5 years.  Now only 52% of Australians identify in the Census as aligned with “Christianity”.  Faster growing religions include Hinduism (1.2%); Buddhism (2.4%) and Islam (2.6%).

All of this indicates what our experience confirms. This is that Australia is much less religious than the United States.  It is rapidly embracing a “post religious” ethical alignment.  This is especially so amongst young citizens.  It presents itself as a country which, in the matter of religion, is tolerant, relaxed and believes in ‘live and let live’.  Thus, in my own home, my partner Johan is an adherent to “no religion”.  I remain connected with the old religion of my school days, Anglican. We have robust conversations about this subject. But our differences oblige us to respect each other’s views.  And not to try to force our opposite opinions upon one another.



Onto this scene has now come a new proposed federal law that has not so far enjoyed the public attention that it deserves.  Especially amongst those who have had the advantages of secular education in public schools.  It would be a mistake to believe that this is an outcome necessarily destined to last forever.

One consequence of the introduction of same-sex marriage in Australia was a commitment in the Coalition Parties which form the present Federal Government, that, if same-sex marriage were adopted, contrary to the wishes of most religious organisations and their adherents, new and stronger legal entitlements would be enacted for people of ‘religious belief’.  This audience will include people of different political opinions and religious beliefs, as well as people of no religious belief.  Everyone’s right to have their own opinions in such matters must be respected.  However, there are provisions in the new Religious Discrimination Bill that need to be considered very carefully, in case the Bill is enacted by Federal Parliament:

*      A pharmacist will be entitled to deny birth control treatment to an unmarried customer because of his “religious belief”;

*      A religious school will be entitled to deny employment to a gardener or tuckshop manager who cannot produce proof of alignment with the school’s religion;

*      A doctor will be entitled to refuse stem cell therapy for a disabled person on the ground of his or her disability because of his beliefs and to send them away without advice on where to go to get help;

*      Teachers, even in public schools, will be entitled to ridicule gay students and people belonging to another faith, on the grounds of the teacher’s religious belief; and

*      A non-Christian will be entitled to ridicule Christian believers without remedy because of that person’s religious belief.[9]

One of the basic flaws in this proposed law is that it does not counter-balance the rights of people to secure legal protection for their religious beliefs and speech against the competing rights of others to enjoy their own basic human rights.  In Australia we do not have a general charter or rights in our Constitution or in federal law.  This Bill is intended to override State anti-discrimination laws.  Many commentators consider that this is an undesirable direction for our law to take.  The human rights of particular people have to be reconciled with the human rights of other people.  The right to “swing my arm, finishes when I hit another person’s chin”. [10]



This is why those who have had the great advantage of secular education in public schools (including people who may be themselves religious) have an interest to know where this new legislation is pointing.  It is not a good direction.  Those who are of that view should raise their voices.  The new law could encourage the intrusion of an individual teacher’s religious beliefs into the secular space of public schools to diminish the dignity, self-respect, beliefs and position in life of others.  All in the name of the “religious belief” of others.  We have only to look around in our world to see that sometimes religious beliefs can be decisive.  So far, we have got by in Australia without adding legal enforcement to religious beliefs.  Our multicultural and multifaith community is a model for the world.  We should not unravel it by encouraging legal enforcement of religious beliefs, whatever form they may take.

This is why the beneficiaries of public education in Australia, and others who share this view, should oppose the current moves. They are unnecessary and potentially damaging.  Secularism is one of the greatest gifts in Australian constitutionalism that we receive from our British heritage.  All citizens should be vigilant to defend secularism.  But above all, those whose education is, or has been, in public schools: “free, compulsory and secular”.  The beneficiaries of public education should be vigilant sentinels of secularism.  We must not lose the dream of Richard Bourke.

* Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009).
[1] A Prize for Originality is offered by the school in the name of Fortians, Michael Kirby and John Singleton AM.  It was won jointly in 2020 by Bonnie Huang and Lucy Bailey.
[2] Public Instruction Act 1880 (NSW) (Act 43, Vic. No. 23), s.7.
[3] Ibid, s.18
[4] R.S. Horan, Fort Street – The School, Honeysett Pub. 1989, 7.
[5] General Sir Richard Bourke KCB (1777-1855).  He was Governor of NSW 1831-1837.
[6] Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia Act 1900 (Imp.); 63 and 64 Vic. c12 First Preamble.
[7] Luke Beck, Religious Freedom and the Australian Constitution – Origins and Future, Routledge (Taylor and Francis, London, 2018, 165.
[8] Attorney-General (Vic) ex rel Black v The Commonwealth (DOGS Case) (1981) 146 CLR 559 at 634; cf at 588; cf Williams v The Commonwealth (2012) 248 CLR 156 [109]-[110].
[9] See Generally submission by Australian Discrimination Law Experts Group on Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 – 2nd exposure draft, 30 January 2020.
[10] Z. Cowen, The Right to Swing My Arm, Tagore Law Lectures 1959, Uni of Calcutta.


CAPA co-curricular

CAPA co-curricular

The Creative and Performing Arts faculty are offering a number of extension opportunities for Fort Street Students. I would like  to invite all students to get involved in our co-curricular groups to develop your skills in the arts. These are the groups being run:

Art Studio 1 

This class is designed for talented art students in years ​7 – 10 to focus on a particular medium and produce a finished work. These classes are run on Wednesday afternoons from 3:30 – 4:30 and are run by Ms. Blake. (There is a cost associated with this course for materials)

Art Studio 2

This class is designed for students in years 7 – 10 who are less confident with art making but would like to build skills in this area and would like to contribute to a group – developed project. These classes are run on Thursday afternoons from 3:30 – 4:30 and are run by Mr. Manuell.

Drama Club
This ensemble is designed to develop confidence and skill in communicating and performing for an audience. It is open for all students in years 7 and 8 and Drama students in year 9. Participation in this class will offer multiple performance opportunities. This group meets on Wednesday mornings at 7:45 and is run by Ms. Mattick.

This group learns Theatresports games in order to develop skill in improvised performance. It is open to students in years 9 – 12. Students develop problem solving skills and spontaneity as well as the ability to work effectively with others. Drama students participating in this ensemble will have the opportunity to be included in teams to represent the school in external theatresports competitions. These workshops are run on Monday afternoon from 3:30 – 4:30 and are run by Mr. Longfield.

All students have been emailed a permission note to join these groups so all they need to do is return this to the teacher responsible for that group. ​I would encourage all students to get involved in the rich learning opportunities being provided by the CAPA faculty as a way of building skills, meeting new people and having fun with their learning. If you have any questions about these groups please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Ms. Mattick – Head Teacher Creative and Performing Arts

Calling all budding musicians!!

Calling all budding musicians!!

The Talent Development Project is the most successful youth training and development program for young musicians in Australia.

Applications are now open for students to audition for this incredible program. All singers, singer-songwriters, musical theatre performers, instrumentalists and bands of all genres, in years 10 -12 at NSW public high schools are eligible to apply. Live auditions will be held in Sydney from Monday 20th – Friday 24th April 2020.  Video auditions are also available.

Application forms, Principal & Contact Teacher Endorsement forms and more information can be found on the TDP website through link below.


​If you have any further questions about this program, please don’t hesitate to contact me at

Carolyn Mattick
Head Teacher Creative and Performing Arts

Rowing success

Rowing success

Conor Greenwood, Finn Kirk and Hunter Edson all represented Fort Street impressively at the NSW CHS rowing regatta on February 21 at the Sydney International Rowing Centre. There were over 200 competitors and over 400 entries, an average of around 2 races per athlete.

Conor came 2nd in the state in the under 15 single, and Finn and Hunter came 5th in the open double race.

Congratulations boys!


Fortian Writers’ Club Editor Pick #1

Fortian Writers’ Club Editor Pick #1

Prompt: “Head up. Always up. You know where the ground  is. You don’t need to look at it” (250-500 words) 

Since I was a child, I’d always been used to looking up. As the small uncoordinated toddler I was, I’d naturally lift my head up. Whether it was to blink up to my parents smiling faces through glassy eyes or to admire the pureness and of our white ceilings that lead from the running vertical curls and swirls of the wallpaper at the end of a long treacherous crawl across the sponge couch. I recall lying there on there like a rounded stone in the palm of a hand. Arms and legs splayed out like a starfish as my eyes followed the array of bumps and other irregularities on the clean surface. Sometimes a spider or some other insect would be making their own treacherous epic across the uncharted topography of the ceiling. I didn’t mind that it was there. As long as it didn’t accidentally fall on me.

My focus would shift as I grew older, I’d look up to my teachers and friends when school started. More role models outside just my parents. I got to see more children like me. Small and chubby beings all running around acting like, you know, kids. The crazy little idiots we were, learning to speak our first sentences and muddle with building blocks and paint and dried macaroni. We had more to look up to. We had access to the endless sky whenever it was lunchtime and teachers ushered us out to play. And when it was not lunch, at exactly eleven o’clock the sun would stream through the coloured panes of the church, bathing everyone in  amber and emerald and ruby. I liked playing in the coloured lights a lot.

When I grew older still, I learnt more than to just look up. I knew how to look sideways (when I cross the road all by myself) and behind (when I wanted to look at the past), diagonally and downwards.

I noticed that sometimes other children looked downwards sometimes when they were sad. “Head up. Always up.” was the advice we’d get. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that sad to look down before…

Last time I got sad was when I scrapped my knee. But I was looking at my knee, not down at the ground right?

My friend cried the other day. About three days before I wrote this. She said she lost something. I want to help. I was wondering what makes a person so sad that they must look down. Head up. Always up. You know where the ground is. You don’t need to look at it.

What happens if you must look at it? I was trying to lift my friend’s head so she wouldn’t look so sad. Grabbed her by with an open palm on both sides of her head and lifted gently. It weighed a tonne. “Is your head a magnet that’s stuck with another in the ground?!” I gasped in disbelief.

“What?” she looked at me half surprised.

“I said, is your head a magnet that’s stuck with another in the ground.”


“I thought so!”

Connie Wong 

Dining in the Sydney Skylines and Witnessing Yes Ministers!

Dining in the Sydney Skylines and Witnessing Yes Ministers!

On the sunny Thursday 27 February 2020, the Year 10 Accelerated Business Studies class went on an excursion to learn about the operations of the Sydney Tower Restaurants. We also learned about the legal system, by taking the rare opportunity to attend Question Time at the New South Wales State Parliament House.

We all met early in the morning armed with questions to fire at the guide from Sydney Tower Restaurants. On arrival, the friendly chef spoke to us about all the processes for the hospitality-based business. We also toured the walk-in freezer, which was the size of our classroom! Escaping the freezing chamber, our shirts were unbelievably cold. We then had a Q&A session in the fancy lounge in the 360 degree a la carte restaurant. The aerial view of our city was breathtaking. We found out that all four hundred and twenty exterior windows are cleaned by Charlie the Robot every three days. At last, we had lunch in the ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet, some favourites being the ice cream, churros, profiteroles and mango mousse. We were able to gather lots of notes and ideas about the operations processes and strategies of Sydney Tower Buffet Restaurant, which will hopefully be used to better formulate our responses for our upcoming HSC exam.

Stomachs full, we all went to the NSW Parliament for a quick tour of the Lower House chamber followed by Question Time. Our class was specifically welcomed by the Speaker of the House as guests of The Hon. Jenny Leong MP for Newtown. We made history in that our attendance has been permanently recorded in the Hansard for future generations to reminisce us by. Funnily enough, the MPs were acting up more than classic Fortians!

On behalf of the Year 10 Business Studies class, we thank Ms Jerrems for organising such a fun and enriching excursion for us.

Wish us luck for our HSC exam this year!

Anna Ivanova and Peter Tran – Year 10

The Bread and Butter Project

The Bread and Butter Project

On Wednesday of Week 5, myself and 25 other Fort Street students from years 9 to 11 visited the Bread and Butter Project’s factory in Marrickville to learn about and better understand the Project in preparation for our Duke of Edinburgh volunteering with them.

The Bread and Butter Project was first established in 2012 and it is Australia’s first wholesale, artisanal bakery and social enterprise that invests 100% of their profits into helping shape the lives of those seeking refuge and asylum. In other words, the Bread and Butter Project is a not for profit bakery that aims to retrain refugees on humanitarian visas over a 6-8 month period as bakers so that they can find jobs in Australia. As a part of this program, each refugee who graduates will receive a TAFE accreditation as a Certificate II Baker, learn practical baking experience by working side by side with professional bakers at the Bread and Butter Project Factory and Harris Farm bakeries, receive one on one English tutoring from volunteers and support from a professional social worker, and a job is found for them at the conclusion of their training program with a professional bakery.

Fort Street was given a tour around the factory where they produce approximately 500 loaves of bread each day, as well as pastries and other delicacies. We visited the fermentation room where the starter is fed daily (the room had an overpowering smell of yeast), the area where they mix the doughs, form the bread, bake it and pack it, ready to be transported to various locations such as cafes, Google offices and Harris Farm. There were many different industrial sized machines in the bakery including massive, walk in ovens and fridges and a waist height mixer. We all tasted some delicious, warm, freshly baked bread and we were taught how to form the dough into the bread shape – it is a lot harder than the bakers make it look!

Overall, Fort Street had a wonderful time learning about the bakery, what they believe in and their goals for the future, hence we are excited to start volunteering with them. Our jobs as volunteers will be to promote their bread in Harris Farm Leichhardt by going around and offering the public samples of the bread, telling them about this amazing project and encouraging them to buy the Bread and Butter Project bread instead of a different, possibly cheaper type of bread.

So far, the Bread and Butter Project has been very successful as a wholesale bakery but they are finding it harder to sell their bread in grocery stores because it is more expensive than mass produced bread. I am very excited for this volunteering opportunity to begin because I believe that the Bread and Butter Project is a truly amazing program and I would love to help them grow as a company.

To conclude, I would like to say thank you to the wonderful volunteer, Danny, who showed us around the Bread and Butter Project factory, told use about the project and answered all our questions. I encourage the entire Fort St community to go to Harris Farm Leichhardt and other cafes that stock Bread and Butter Project products and try the delicious Bread and Butter Project Bread.

Jess Lovatt, Year 11, Bread and Butter Project student leader

Mr de Bres joins Macquarie University’s Khirbet el-Rai excavation

Mr de Bres joins Macquarie University’s Khirbet el-Rai excavation

Recently I was awarded a $3000 teacher scholarship from Macquarie University to participate in a three week archaeological excavation at Khirbet el-Rai, an iron-age hilltop settlement situated along the ancient coastal route that passes through the Judean foothills. The 2020 dig was the fifth year staff and students from the university and teachers from NSW schools have excavated the site. We left our accommodation at 6.15 every morning and passed a Roman amphitheatre on our way to the dig site – there are a lot of Roman ruins in this part of the world.

At Khirbet el-Rai we uncovered evidence from several periods of history including Roman, Hellenistic; Persian, Babylonian and Canaanite. This evidence included ancient stone walls; silos; standing stones; grinding stones; flint tools, pottery (including storage vessels, bowls, oil lamps, business seals and a shard of pottery with an inscription), a smiting god (a small religious figurine of Canaanite origin), animal bones and other organic matter. I myself found a small bronze ‘bracelet’, possibly between 2500 – 3000 years old, which was sent to a university laboratory for testing. There was also a scientific laboratory set up by the university at the site to collect and analyse soil and other samples, including ancient olive stones. All significant finds were professionally photographed and meticulously recorded.

We used a range of excavation equipment including pickaxes, hoes, small picks, trowels, hand shovels and brushes. There was also a lot of wheelbarrowing buckets of earth from the loci (the areas being excavated) down to the dump site.

We finished each day at 3pm and returned to our accommodation where we then had to wash all the finds of the day so that a team of experts could examine them. After dinner the Macquarie University staff presented lectures on the history of Khirbet el-Rai and surrounding archaeological sites, numismatics (the study of coinage) and scientific dating methods.

On the weekends we visited a number of other archaeological sites, many of which were UNESCO world heritage listed. Some examples included Qumran (where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered); Masada; Caesarea and the Crusader port of Acre.

After teaching Ancient History in the classroom for many years it was a privilege to experience what it is really like to be part of a team investigating an archaeological site. Although textbooks and other teaching materials can be very useful, nothing beats first-hand experience. Being part of the archaeological team at Khirbet el-Rai helped me to gain a deeper understanding of this fascinating part of the ancient world and a personal and practical appreciation of the archaeological process which I can now share with my present and future students.

John de Bres

The dig site

The Science Laboratory
Uncovering and recording a pottery vessel



International Women’s Day

Madeline and I were offered the great opportunity to attend the International Women’s Day conference held at the NSW Parliament House. We met inspiring women MPs, community leaders and entrepreneurs who shared detailed stories about their life experiences and provided advice on how to tackle challenges in order to attain our aspirations and achieve our goals.

We heard from three women who worked in a variety of fields, but particularly in male-dominated occupations. Renita Lee: Senior Manager Capital Works Program, Natasha Akib: founder of Digital StoryTellers and Vanessa Harcourt: executive chef at the Parliament House  The speakers emphasised the importance of female-representation in these workforces and talked about their own personal experiences. They inspired us to break stereotypical gender norms and to not be afraid to work in male-dominated workforces such as engineering and construction. Afterwards, we were taken to the Legislative Assembly Chamber and personally, I found it very dry. Once we left, we then went to the Legislative Council Chamber and had the opportunity to sit in the actual chamber and discuss what we had learnt throughout the conference. Overall, it was an amazing experience and I am very thankful for being chosen to represent Fort Street 😀

Chelsea Hoang Year 11

Year 11 Chemistry excursion to ANSTO

Year 11 Chemistry excursion to ANSTO

“ANSTO is one of Australia’s largest public research organisations and is widely recognised as an international player in the field of nuclear science and technology.” – ANSTO

On the 2nd of March, Year 11 Chemistry students were privileged to travel to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in Lucas Heights. There, we did Nuclear Activities with our educational guides which provided valuable insight and assistance for our Depth Study assessment task.
First we went to the Discovery Centre and we learnt about nuclear isotopes and nuclear chemistry. We used a scintillation counter to measure the radiation and it was very interesting to see how lots of objects that people used to use such as an old radium watch still emit radiation. We also experimented with different materials and their ability to stop different types of radiation. I am pleased to report that we were not exposed to much radiation during our trip.
After a short break, students of Fort Street High School said goodbye to their mobile phones and other technological devices with photographic ability as we boarded a bus bound for the Nuclear Reactor. We were entering Federal land, which is in a different state to NSW. At the OPAL research reactor, we were shown the important roles Australia’s research reactor has in creating nuclear medicines. Nuclear medicine is a pioneering field in medicine with huge potential for the future to treat many diseases such as cancer. We finished our trip with lunch at the ANSTO cafe where we enjoyed a variety of foods that scientists would eat such as fish and chips.
Overall, this experience was hugely educational and I would like to express my thanks to the Fort Street Science Faculty and the educational staff at ANSTO for their valuable support and organisation for this excursion.

Bowen Cheng Year 11

Sports Update

Sports Update

Open Boys Tennis

Fort Street’s Opens Boys Tennis team comprehensively won their first round matchup against Marsden High School at Cowells Lane Tennis Courts in Ermington 5-1.

Led by Karan Bhasin the boys will now play Cherrybrook Technology High School in the next round. Well done boys.

German Exchange school visit

German Exchange school visit

Sixteen students and two teachers from our sister school, the Georg Büchner Gymnasium, arrived in Sydney last Saturday night.  They are staying with Fort Street host families for two weeks and have a big program of sightseeing in Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

The group was welcomed at Fort Street on Monday 2 March by Juliette McMurray and the chamber choir before attending classes with their host brothers and sisters.


Kristina Reynolds – Languages

This month on SchoolTV – Happiness & Gratitude

Happiness is a term that captures a huge variety of positive emotions such as humour, serenity, optimism, joy, pride, inspiration, love and hope. Happiness means different things, to different people and is essential to your understanding of emotional literacy. Throughout history, philosophers, religious writers and poets have pondered on the meaning of happiness and how it might be achieved. In the last few decades, scientists and psychologists have researched this further by studying a field of science called positive psychology.

The result of this research suggests there is a strong correlation between gratitude and greater happiness. Practising gratitude helps you shift your focus to positive memories or experiences, noticing the good in your life. Over time, this will re-wire your brain to create new neural pathways, increasing your state of happiness and overall wellbeing.

In this edition of SchoolTV, parents and care-givers will learn how to achieve happiness and the benefits of practising gratitude. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this month’s edition, and we always welcome your feedback.

If you do have any concerns about the wellbeing of your child, please contact the school for further information or seek medical or professional help.

Here is the link to this month’s edition

Rebecca Cameron

Deputy Principal – Years 8, 10 & 12


Schools Spectacular

Schools Spectacular




Applications are now open for the 2020 Schools Spectacular
Click HERE to find out more and apply.

Schools and individuals can apply for a range of categories including choir, dance, drama, Aboriginal Ensemble, Featured Instrumentalist, Featured Dancer, Featured Ensemble, Featured Artist, D’Arts Ensemble and SpecFest Entertainment.

Schools Spectacular 2020 – Creative Team – Behind the Scenes Program 2020
The Schools Spectacular Creative Team invite interested NSW Public School Teachers to apply to spend three days with the Creative Team and experience the process of creating the 2020 Schools Spectacular show.

The team work collaboratively to form ideas, select music, design concepts and create visual elements of the show. We are looking for individuals with experience in music, dance, drama or other production elements to get a behind the scenes experience and contribute to the development of the show.
The lock-up will run from Wednesday 25 March to Friday 27 March 2020 and be held at an inspirational venue in Sydney. Applicants will need to be available for all three days.

Applications for the Creative Team – Behind the Scenes Program close Monday 9 March 2020 at 5:00pm

Please note: Successful applicants will need to arrange their own accommodation in Sydney and organise transport to and from the inspirational Sydney venue. The Arts Unit will cover the cost of a casual for the three days.


Sydney Southeast Symphonic Winds 2020

Applications are now open for Sydney Southeast Symphonic Winds (formerly the Sydney Region Band) for 2020. We are a representative Department of Education concert band with a yearly intake of around 100 students from Public Schools in NSW – years 5-8. 2020 will be the 27th year of this exciting initiative, and is sure to be the best yet!

Entry is by audition, which will be held in Weeks 1 & 2, Term 2 – between May 1-6. Successful students will participate in a 3-day residential camp, a number of after school rehearsals and major performances at venues including the Sydney Town Hall.

Entries close Thursday 9th April.

Further details can be found here: Sydney Southeast Symphonic Winds Information 2020


Musica Viva – Strike a Chord (National Chamber Music Championship)

More information on the Strike a Chord competition can be found here


Student applications are now open for the 2020 NSW State Music Camps

Talented music students join together for one week each year to receive expert tutelage and develop their performance skills. Participants rehearse and perform high quality repertoire culminating in a concert for families and friends on the final night of the camp.

Musical activities at camp include participation in a major ensemble (symphony orchestra, symphonic bands, vocal ensembles, stage band) as well as a number of elective ensembles and activities. Elective activities include brass and woodwind ensembles, jazz improvisation, composition, music theatre, percussion ensemble and more.

The camp is residential so all students stay at the camp site for the week.

Camp dates for 2020

Junior Music Camp (open to students in Years 5-8): Sunday 19 July – Friday 24 July

Senior Music Camp (open to students in Years 8-12): Sunday 28 June – Friday 3 July

For further information and to apply please visit our website


Instruments for sale

Are you looking to buy or sell an instrument?  The music instrument depository is a new Facebook page that could help:




Fort Fest 2020 is coming!

Sunday, 30 August 10:30 – 4pm
The Fort Street High School festival, or “Fort Fest”, is held every two years.
Traditionally, Fort Fest is an opportunity for students, parents & teachers to work together outside of the classroom to create a wonderful sense of community, and of course to raise money for the school. As with most school fetes and festivals, Fort Fest relies on the enthusiasm and generosity of all those involved. We are keenly aware of the many challenging situations that the world is currently facing and can’t predict the future, but we hope this event and it’s very organising will help to strengthen existing community ties and forge new ones.
We will discuss at the next P&C meeting (March 11th 7:30pm School Library) what project or projects will specifically benefit from funds raised at this year’s Fest. In 2018 we raised $20000 for the Library Refurbishment and made a donation of $30000 to this project.

How can you get involved?
We would love to hear from people who are interested in the following roles:
Volunteer Manager
Sponsorship Manager
Student Stall Manager
Publicity Manager
Entertainment Manager
Decorations Manager

For more information keep an eye out for emails and in Mercurius, or contact us at

We can’t wait to work with all of you on this year’s fest!

Focus Item – March 11th 6:30pm School Library
The P&C is delighted to host a presentation from Head Teacher English at Fort Street High School; Noah Melser on March 11th 6:30pm ( just before the P&C General Meeting ).
As English is the only compulsory HSC subject this is a topic that is relevant to all students and we hope parents will attend and hear about how this subject is taught at Fort Street High School. Please bring along any general questions you may have related to this topic. Light refreshments ( tea, coffee, biscuits) will be available.

Year 7 Welcome
The P&C are delighted to invite all the Year 7 families to join us for the Year 7 Welcome Evening on Friday April 3rd, 6.30 PM at The Patio, Petersham Bowling Club, 77 Brighton Street, Petersham
All children are welcome to play in the outdoor area. Food and Drinks are available at the Bar inside the Club

This is an informal social event for all the year 7 families to get to know each other.
If you have any questions about this, please email Alison at

We are on the lookout for parents and carers who may be interested in helping us apply for grants for school projects or anyone with innovative ideas on how to raise funds from outside the school community. Please email us at if you are interested in this.

Staying Current with P&C Activities
If you would like to be informed about P&C events and meetings or would like to know how you can get involved, please subscribe to our mailing list at or join our Facebook group at There are photos from the Library Opening to view on the Facebook page for those who couldn’t attend.

Fort Street High School P&C Executive

UNSW Information Evenings

UNSW Information Evenings

Year 12 Medicine Information Evening

Interested in pursuing a career in Medicine?

Our Year 12 Medicine Information Evening is an event not to be missed!
On the night students will receive a general overview of the UNSW Medicine degree from staff and students in the Faculty of Medicine as well as detailed information on our application and admissions process for 2021.

Students are encouraged to register as soon as possible as places are limited.

Date: Wednesday, 18 March 2020
Time: 6:30pm – 7:30pm
Venue: Leighton Hall, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Kensington Campus



Year 10 Subject Selection Evenings 

Our popular Year 10 Subject Selection Evenings are back in April and May. These events regularly reach capacity, so make sure your students register early.



Experience UNSW Built Environment Workshops

We’re excited to invite your students to the Experience UNSW Built Environment Workshops, held in April!

Designed for students in Years 10 -12, these workshops incorporate Design, Architecture, Planning and Construction to solve a real-world challenge. The workshop aims to investigate better solutions to enhance the lives of children and elderly living in a city.



Experience UNSW Business Day

We’re excited to invite your students to the Experience UNSW Business Day, on Friday, 17 April 2020!

This event has been specifically designed for Year 12 students and will allow them to take part in interactive workshops, network with clubs and societies and get answers to their questions about life at UNSW.