Mercurius issue 4 – March 2020 - 23 Mar 2020
Principal’s Report

Principal’s Report

Dear Fortians, Parents and Carers,

I would like to thank the huge number of parents who participated in the online survey around Community Preparedness for Online Learning. Fort Street families appear to be in a very good situation to make this transition smoothly. Most classroom teachers already use Google classroom and teachers have prepared students for what this will look like in a remote learning environment. More information about learning from home is detailed later in this report.

I would like to thank the P&C for their acknowledgment and thanks to school staff for their extra work and efforts during these challenging times. Three beautiful hampers were delivered to staffrooms on Monday 23rd for staff to enjoy.

Congratulations to our staff members of the week over the last fortnight – Ken Gillespie (Languages teacher) and Fran Triolo (front office).

Year 7 SRC members were elected last week, congratulations to Joyce Zhu, Eleanor Alonso Zhu, Alexa Salmon, Eva Yuan​, Joe McGee, David Sun, Daniel Sun and Christian Burger.

Last weekend the German exchange students went home after a fortnight in Sydney including two days in classes at the Fort; I would like to thank the generous families for hosting these students.

Mathematics Faculty

I am pleased to announce that the school has appointed through merit selection a new Maths Head Teacher. Mr Ali Razzaghi will commence at Fort Street next term. Mr Razzaghi is a very experienced Mathematics teacher with 7 years’ experience as a Mathematics Head Teacher at Turramurra High School. He is currently Head Teacher of Secondary Studies at Lindfield Learning College.

It is with great sadness that we will farewell Ms Krcic, one of our Maths Teachers who has been at the Fort for the past 6 years. Ms Krcic will be leaving us at the end of this term to take up her new position as Head Teacher Mathematics at Birrong Girls High School.

Suspension of NAPLAN 2020 and HSC Advice

I am sure most parents are aware by now that NAPLAN 2020 has been cancelled. As for the HSC, The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) is having a Board Meeting this Tuesday. They will be reporting to students, parents and teachers after that meeting hopefully providing some clearer direction around the implications school closures may have on the HSC. As this information is released I will share it with the school community. In the meantime assessments for Year 12 continue as normal and teachers are already preparing to modify tasks to suit remote assessment in the event of a school closure.

Year 12 Exams

I would like to commend our Year 12 students for their attendance at exams last week. These exams will continue as scheduled this week. Students are being encouraged to use hand sanitiser as they enter the room, desks have been spaced out considerably and desks are being wiped down with disinfectant after each exam.

Learning from home

I would like to thank parents and students for their patience and support as we have dealt with the evolving situation regarding the operation of schools.

The following information has been provided by the Department of Education:

  • Schools will remain open and operational until the end of Term 1. A decision will be made about Term 2 closer to the end of the April school holidays
  • Parents and caregivers are encouraged to keep students at home. Schools will provide supervision for children of essential workers
  • We will move be moving to a learning from home model from 24 March 2020
  • Face-to-face lessons will not be conducted under the learning from home model. Teachers will provide on-line learning packages for all students. Students who attend school will be supervised during normal school hours to complete the same on-line learning packages as the students who are learning from home.

On-line learning packages will be provided through Google Classrooms for Fortians from Tuesday. Students have been using Google Classrooms at school for some time and will be familiar with this process.

Year 11 and 12 students will continue to work according to their current school timetable. Whilst regular school hours will still be expected there will be a modified timetable published for students in Years 7-10. All students will have scheduled times to contact their teachers and they will be supported in their learning from home. Students will continue to have access to their teachers and fellow classmates through email, Google classroom and other platforms. Parents will also be invited into these forums so that they can see what the work expectations are and also so that they can monitor the progress that their child is making. Teachers will be monitoring the progress of individual students and providing feedback to them.

Although teaching and learning instructions will be disseminated using technology this does not mean that all learning will be taking place online. Students will also be required to participate in practical, creative and hand writing activities. Fort Street is also working on a plan to monitor remotely the emotional and mental wellbeing of students as well as their participation in physical activity.

Students and parents will have received via email on Monday 23 March 2020, the FSHS Student Guide and FSHS Parent Guide to remote learning.

New ‘Learning from Home’ Hub

The Department of Education has recently launched a ‘Learning from home’ Hub on the Department’s website which provides information and resources for teachers and parents to support students learning from home.


SPECIAL REPORT: Coronavirus – a guide for parents

Coronavirus is an evolving international health concern. Around the world, people are being affected in many ways. Individuals of all ages from numerous nationalities are being diagnosed with the virus –– it doesn’t discriminate. Although children are considered at lower risk of infection, they are not immune to the multitude of news reports regularly seen or heard in the media.

This epidemic is a cause for great concern to parents, but it is also very worrying to young people. Many are wondering how best to discuss this epidemic in a way that will be reassuring to kids without making them feel more worried than what they may be already. Parents should not avoid such a discussion with their kids. Not talking about something can often make them worry more.

Although most children will have already heard about the coronavirus, it is important for parents and care-givers to take this opportunity to convey the facts about it and set the emotional tone. This may help kids feel more informed and reassured. Involving them and encouraging self-efficacy can also give them a sense of control and purpose.

In this Special Report, parents and caregivers will be provided with some guidelines on how best to approach this topic whilst still ensuring the wellbeing of their child. We hope you take time to reflect on the information offered in this Special Report, and as always, we 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 your special report

NSW State Library visit

NSW State Library visit

During our visit to the NSW State Library we were graciously welcomed and informed about the task we were set to complete. After settling down we were given the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the other students. A large amount of time was dedicated to choosing artworks and going into depth about their history and meaning. Despite this there was still time to mingle with the other students present and enjoy our free food. After our artworks were chosen and our task was outlined we had time to venture into the library and learn about its history. We were also able to visit one of the stacks and see numerous historical documents such as the architectural plans for the Sydney Opera House.


This painting was painted in 1952 by Roland Wakelin, who was a central figure in the movement towards modernism in Australian art. The painting depicts the view of The Rocks and the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Observatory Hill. The pallet that Wakelin uses gives the painting a very natural feel, which is juxtaposed by the more earthy and muted colours of The Rocks. The view is almost the same as it is today, largely due to the efforts of the green bans, led by Jack Mundey, which preserved the 19th century sandstone structures that the area was named after.






The painting I chose was created by artist and writer Alice Muskett in 1902. I was drawn to this piece due to its palette as well as its seemingly deeper meaning than what was documented. It idealistically depicts a notorious slum located in The Rocks prior to its destruction. It communicates a sense of community and loss through the use of shadows, colour and positioning of the figures. The piece’s themes are timeless, commenting on the government’s decisions and their impacts on the people. Thus, its meaning still holds relevance today.


Year 11 Recreation of Tutankhamun’s Tomb 

Year 11 Recreation of Tutankhamun’s Tomb 

On Thursday the 19th of March, Mr de Bres took his Year 11 Ancient History class to recreate Tutankhamun’s tomb in the Rowe Quad and to explore what items were found during Howard Carter’s excavation of the tomb. Students brought tape measures and masking tape to measure and mark out the dimensions of each room in the tomb system and created a life-sized floor plan of the structure. They then presented Fact Files documenting the artefacts discovered, including decorative pieces like the Pharaoh’s burnished gold face mask; falcon-shaped pectoral; scarab beetle brooch; ivory head rest; Senet board game; ceremonial chariots; weapons such as bows and arrows and personal items like the Pharaoh’s linen gloves.

Ben was appointed the Director of Antiquities for the day. Chelsea played an integral role in preparing the area to be mapped out, along with Christina, Mary, Luca, Sora and Marley who all taped the dimensions of the rooms on the ground. Some problems we encountered were that the concrete area was not quite big enough to fit the entire tomb’s dimensions and the grassed area made it difficult to put masking tape down in places. As a result the decision was made to reduce the length of the tomb stairway to be representative of 16 steps, rather than the actual length. We also had to use students in the class as distance markers several times when it was necessary to measure a length of over 5m. Despite the slightly challenging circumstances, our class thoroughly enjoyed this educational exercise and learning more about the physical dimensions and exquisite contents of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Ben Alpert, Marley Donald and Chelsea Hoang (Year 11)


Year 7 History Excursion to Cockatoo Island

Year 7 History Excursion to Cockatoo Island

Arriving at Cockatoo Island

On Friday the 6th March we visited Cockatoo Island with our teachers Mr de Bres and Mr Galvin. It was a truly exciting experience and we learned a lot about the history of the island and about the convicts who were imprisoned there in the early days. We met at school and took a train to Circular Quay, from where we travelled all the way to the island on a ferry – the views were stunning!

We learned that in the old days Aboriginal women used the Island as a place to give birth. Later, convicts were sent there, generally after their second offence. The conditions at Cockatoo Island were atrocious – cramped living spaces and poor hygiene (rats and bats) truly made living there hard. If the convicts acted against the rules they could be given up to 28 days solitary confinement in a small, damp sandstone cell. Our tour guide told us stories about convicts who had tried to escape, but only one actually succeeded. These stories captivated us and for a moment in time we were transported back to another world, unaware that we existed in 2020. We also learned that the Island had housed a girl’s reformatory school and that through much of the twentieth century it had been an important place for making and fixing naval boats.

All in all, the Cockatoo Island excursion was entertaining and informative and we would certainly like to go on another excursion like this one. The excursion taught us about the different stages of Cockatoo Island’s history and we also loved the beautiful views along the way.

Anika Sinha and Hannah Chan (70)



Duke of Ed at Fort Street High School in these challenging times

Duke of Ed at Fort Street High School in these challenging times

Congratulations to Fort St Gold Awardees!

Congratulations to Jamie Kwon (Year 12) and Danny Lai (Fortian 2019), the school’s latest recipients of the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Jamie and Danny received their certificates at separate ceremonies on Wednesday 11 March from NSW Governor The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC. Her Excellency spoke movingly at both ceremonies about the hard work that Duke of Edinburgh’s Award participants put into their award and the difference that it makes to their communities. She also talked about the value that the community places on award recipients because of their dedication.  I also spoke at Danny’s morning ceremony on behalf of Award Leaders (Duke of Edinburgh Award Leader’s Speech) about my journey doing the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and my challenge to Gold awardees to continue to embrace opportunities and help their communities. Ms Salisbury represented Fort Street at Jamie’s afternoon ceremony.


Expedition update

Unfortunately the Silver expedition has been postponed and the Gold expeditions are also likely to be postponed because of the COVID-19 virus. The Silver expedition has been rescheduled to 2nd-7th November – although if the COVID-19 outbreak has not been resolved by then, the expedition will be cancelled. Given that this will be at the end of students’ Silver award journeys, only students who have finished or almost finished the other components of their Silver award program will be able to attend the expedition.  If students have turned 16, and have finished all the components of their award program except the expedition, then I can help them start their Gold award program for all their other sections early, and finish the expedition for their Silver award when it is rescheduled. The Bronze expedition in late term 3 is currently unaffected. Ms Jenkyn will provide more information about the timing of Silver and Gold expeditions via email and the Google Classrooms when available.

Changes to Duke of Ed activities

Many students’ Duke of Ed activities will likely need to change due to widespread closure of normal activities. Don’t forget that you can count activities done at home as part of your award program.

For skill, practice of your instrument, work at home on an art portfolio, coding a game, cooking for the family and learning a new language are all examples of activities that can be done at home that you can count for your Duke of Ed. You can ask any relevant teacher to be your assessor for these activities, including your year adviser, Ms Jenkyn or me. Make sure you take photos of your progress and upload them to your log as evidence of completion of your activities.

For your physical recreation, the school runs a number of sporting clubs including the before-school running club and numerous lunchtime clubs that are still in place. If the school is shut, then students are encouraged to complete a personal fitness program such as jogging, walking, cycling or cross training. You can ask a PE teacher or the Sports Coordinator to be your assessor in this instance. I recommend using an app such as MapMyRun or photos to provide evidence of the completion of your activities, and upload your screenshots to your Duke of Ed log.

Service will be one of the most challenging sections to complete as social distancing measures become more widespread. While some activities have been cancelled, other Fort St service opportunities are still going. The school’s Student 2 Student reading program with the Smith Family will likely continue to run, and students can talk to Ms Maddox for more information about this important program.

For Bronze students who had previously chosen Service as a major section, you can email Ms Page or me to change your major to another section.

I encourage you to consider registering with your local community aid organisation to see how you can help neighbours at risk. If you are aware of neighbours who need help with particular issues such as shopping, gardening or walking the dog, this can be a great form of service in these times.

Another option is virtual volunteering. Students could consider registering with one of the virtual volunteering opportunities covered in Do Something Near You, such as:

– transcribing historical collections for the Australian Museum

– online volunteering with the United Nations

– Penguin Watch

Wrap with Love is another great service you can do at home, where you can knit squares and wraps for blankets which are distributed to needy people in Australia and overseas.

You can ask any teacher who you know to assess you for your volunteering. Don’t forget to include some evidence such as screenshots or photos in your logs.​

If you need to change your Duke of Ed activities, simply:

– create the new activities in the online record book – you can create up to 3 activities for each section as the situation changes.

– complete a new participant award plan If the school is still open, then ask the teacher to sign it. If not, then email the teacher you want to assess you and ask their permission. Forward the email from the teacher to Ms Page so she can approve the new activity.

– if you have a new assessor outside the school, they need to complete the Volunteer Code of Conduct and Appendix 11 paperwork. Electronic copies of these forms are available in the Google Classrooms. These can either be printed and completed by hand and given/scanned & emailed to Ms Page or the electronic versions can be emailed to assessors and completed versions emailed to Ms Page. Ms Page’s email address is

– you can backdate your logs to the time you were registered in your current award level.

Feel free to email me if you have any specific questions about your Duke of Ed program.

Don’t forget that even though times are challenging and social distancing is becoming more common, that in many ways this makes it even more important to look after your fitness and community and continue to learn through Duke of Ed.

Caroline Jerrems – Fort St Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Coordinator







Engadine Wetlands Excursion

Engadine Wetlands Excursion

On the 11th of March, the Geography students of year 8 were privileged to have the opportunity to go on an excursion to Engadine to study the constructed wetlands that were built to protect the Royal National Park. While there, we made observations of our surroundings and performed various tests of water quality.

We met at Central Station at 8:30 and soon boarded the train to Engadine. Mr Chapman was the best dressed on the train. When we arrived at Engadine we stopped at Preston park and heard from Mr. Chapman about various sources of pollution from the surrounding built environment and how these pollutants affect the environment.

We then studied the constructed wetlands. We tested the water quality and learned about the purpose of the Engadine Wetlands. I found it really interesting how the wetlands have been constructed to process stormwater and protect the Royal National Park from pollutants.

The best part of the excursion however, was most definitely our bushwalk from Heathcote station to Karloo Pools. The bushwalk was a 4.5km track that was surrounded by incredible views and lush bushland. At the end of the bushwalk we were met with the unreal sight of Karloo Pools where we had lunch. As soon as we arrived everyone had their shoes and socks off and were enjoying the cold, fresh water. After being told we were not allowed to swim our only choice was to pretend to fall in. After an hour at the pools we started the bushwalk back. At the end of the bushwalk we all collapsed on the ground and then caught the train back home.

Overall the excursion was amazing and we all had a great time. A big thanks to Mr Chapman and Mr Van de Hoek for making the whole excursion run so smoothly and helping us with our understanding of the importance of water. A special shout out to everyone who had to wade through the stream to find they were sharing the water with freshwater eels.

Rhys Miers Year 8

Thank you hampers from the P&C

Thank you hampers from the P&C

Thank you to the P&C for these beautiful hampers that were given in appreciation of the extra work and effort that staff are undertaking in these challenging times.  They were delivered to the staffrooms on Monday and were enjoyed by many.  Thank you!



April General Meeting Cancelled
As has been notified to the school community, the April general meeting has been cancelled. The P&C will continue to support the school where it can and will continue to work on improving our processes and taking actions where necessary and possible.

Kindness and Gratitude
In these challenging times it is worth remembering the importance of caring for each other and showing appreciation and gratitude for the things that we do have. With this in mind, the P&C would like to thank the group of 22 Chinese and Korean Year 9 parents who on March 11th took the initiative of purchasing and donating 198 bottles of hand sanitizer to the school. This helped to protect staff and students alike and was a very thoughtful and kind action. The Department of Education’s restrictions on hand sanitizer in schools have now ended, so schools are able to source and then distribute hand sanitizer in the school community.

Year 7 Welcome Cancelled
Unfortunately we also have to cancel the Year 7 welcome that was organised for Friday April 3rd, 6.30 PM at Petersham Bowling Club. Year 7 parents and carers will receive a more detailed email about this.

Planned P&C Events and Meetings
As the COVID-19 situation unfolds and the year progresses we will provide updates on previously planned events and meetings.

Staying Up to Date
If you would like to be informed about P&C activities, please subscribe to our mailing list at or join our Facebook group at 
As always our email address is

Take care
Fort Street High School P&C

Instrumental Music Program

Instrumental Music Program


For information on Schools Spectacular please click on the following link:


Imagine hearing your music played by the Australian Youth Orchestra or the Queensland Youth Orchestras and broadcast at venues around Australia! If you are a budding composer or musician then the Fanfare Competition is an exciting opportunity for you.

The Fanfare Competition is open to young people aged 12-21 years, to compose a 30 second composition and submit a score and recording online. Selected participants will work with mentor composers Nicholas Vines and Lyle Chan to develop their ideas and attend a live recording session with the Australian Youth Orchestra at Trackdown Studios or participate in a concert event with the Queensland Youth Orchestras at QPAC.

NEW: 2020 Open Fanfare! If you enter the 2020 Fanfare Competition you could be select for Open Fanfare 2020! Artology is partnering with the Queensland Youth Orchestras (QYO) and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) to extend the opportunities for Fanfare entrants. In short, anyone entering Fanfare in 2020 will have the opportunity to be selected to have their composition workshopped and performed at a special concert event at QPAC. You will attend two intensive workshop sessions in Brisbane with mentor composers prior to the concert.

The competition is looking for works that have ‘something to say’ and draw attention. You don’t need to have a strong musical background – your work just needs to draw attention for the intended use of cueing audiences to take their seats at performance venues.

2020 DEADLINE: 5pm, Monday 1 June 2020.

Permier’s Reading Challenge

Permier’s Reading Challenge