Mercurius issue 6 – May 2020 - 26 May 2020
Principal’s Report

Principal’s Report

Dear Fortians, Parents and Carers,

Home learning is over!

On Monday May 25, staff waited eagerly for all students to return to full time face-to-face teaching and learning, we were excited to have just over 96% of all Fortians on site for day one. It was wonderful to see how much our students enjoyed being back on campus with their teachers and peers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in our community for the wonderful way we have worked together during the COVID-19 isolation period.

Thank you to our parents and caregivers for demonstrating astonishing patience and understanding during the home learning period. We are so lucky to have a great partnership between parents and teachers at our school. Thank you to the staff at Fort Street. I am so proud of the outstanding effort, amazing flexibility and creativity our staff demonstrated over this period. The workload teachers have endured over the home learning period has been enormous, yet they embraced the challenge and overcame many obstacles to provide continuity of learning for our students.

Most importantly, an enormous thank you to our students! They have shown that children can be more resilient than we realise. Most students adapted very quickly to the changes to their learning environment.


At this time I would like to highlight the outstanding efforts of our Instrumental Music Program Coordinator, Matt Manchester. Throughout the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, Matt has ensured continuity of the program, as it has undergone a rapid digital transformation. He has worked with conductors, staff and the parent committee to curate a program featuring online learning for all ensembles, a ‘Smart Music’ online practice tool, a student mentoring program, and many other activities to increase learning outcomes for students. Matt also holds weekly “open door” meetings for students and parents to ensure the continued engagement of the IMP’s 340-plus musicians.

As a leading music educator, Matt has been invited to share his ideas and newfound technologies outside of the school, notably with a forum of band and orchestral conductors, who represent both public and private education sectors from around NSW. Matt and his team now face fresh challenges as students return to school.

I would like to thank Matt for his incredible leadership and adaptability during such a difficult time for the arts, in addition to going above and beyond his duty – all in the interests of the students. Matt’s leadership has assisted our extraordinary IMP students to continue with their musical development, whilst remaining connected with each other and their ensemble leaders, in what is a great achievement for the IMP community. Whilst the challenges are far from over and we await further advice regarding when face to face ensembles can resume, I am confident that the IMP program is now more resilient than ever and will continue to be a leading force of life at the Fort.

Moving Forward: 

As we enter this new phase of schooling we need to learn to live with COVID-19. The school is serious about the health and safety of all members of our school community and will follow the Department of Education and NSW Health recommendations, whilst being mindful to ensure school is seen as a safe and happy place and not cause undue stress and anxiety for our students.

Student attendance: 

All students should attend school every day from Monday 25 May 2020 unless they are unwell. If you have a concern about sending your child to school please contact the school.

All students need to be at school on time each day.  Sick students must not attend school. Please notify the school of any absences.

Reporting and Assessment: 

Year 12 reports have been published to the Sentral Portal and all other year groups will receive a Semester 1 report either at the end of this term or early in Term 3. This Semester 1 report will look slightly different to previous reports. Some amendments have been made to assessment schedules. Year 12 schedules have been published and all other year groups are being published this week.

School Activities: 

Whilst regular classes have resumed, the organisation for some school activities has changed:

  • Assemblies and year meetings are cancelled until further notice
  • Scripture has been cancelled until further notice and has been replaced with a 30 minute wellbeing session
  • Extra-curricular activities will hopefully commence later this term, at this stage no external providers are allowed on site
  • Sport will continue under the latest guidelines from NSW Health and the Department of Education. Tuesday sport has been integrated throughout the day separating Years 8, 9 and 10 so that we can maximise space and equipment on site for the remainder of Term 2
  • All areas of the playground are open
  • The library will be open for use and for borrowing

Hygiene Supplies: 

The school now receives additional cleaning, all classrooms and learning spaces have hand sanitiser and disinfectant available. Students will be encouraged to clean down their desks at the end of each class. Students are encouraged to use their own water bottle and avoid using the school bubblers.

The School Canteen

The canteen is open five days a week and we would encourage as many students as possible to order online. Online orders can be placed via

Maintenance and Project work


While students and staff continued to engage in teaching and learning more intensely than ever, the school has been a hive of activity getting on with as many works as possible whilst few people have been on site. Below is a list of some of the maintenance and project works that have been taking place during the students’ physical absence from school:

  • All-weather outdoor volleyball court behind the oval has been completed
  • Lighting upgrade in the hall has been completed
  • Cricket nets upgrade has commenced and is in almost completed – the retaining wall has been repaired and recapped and the concrete slab has been laid and will be ready within a week for the synthetic grass to be installed
  • Separate unisex change rooms have been added to the already refurbished gym change rooms
  • The loose outdoor pavers in the fountain quad have been replaced and the soft fall around the tree roots in this area has also been repaired
  • Extensive tree maintenance has been undertaken around the entire school site with a particular focus on building clearance and dead wood removal
  • The tiered flooring has been removed from W25 in preparation for the new multi-purpose flexible learning space
  • New bitumen has been laid in many areas around the school including outside the IMP cottage, in the upper Kilgour Quad and outside the Wilkins and Kilgour Buildings facing Parramatta Rd.
  • The old learning centre has been cleared, painted and recarpeted and Iain Wallace our school archivist has begun the transformation of this space into the new Fort Street Museum.

School improvements continue to be a priority and as always the staff will work closely with the student and parent body to target the areas you see as a priority at Fort Street. Please contact the school P&C or student representative council (SRC) if you would like to see a particular initiative worked on in the school.


Coronavirus – The Transition Back

Coronavirus – The Transition Back

SPECIAL REPORT: Coronavirus – The Transition Back

As lockdown restrictions are slowly being lifted to varying degrees, we enter a time of transition and adjustment. The circumstances of this situation have significantly impacted us all. For some it has been an opportunity to reflect on what is important, whilst others have embraced the opportunity to learn new things.

Many young people may be excited at the prospect of restrictions being lifted; others may feel mixed emotions. Reactions will differ depending on how well they cope with stress and change. Keeping a check on your child’s mental health and wellbeing as they adjust to new routines, will be vitally important.

There is still a lot of uncertainty ahead of us, so focusing on the things you can control or enjoy doing or even value, can help establish predictability and familiarity for the whole family. Adult carers need to provide young people with reassurance by acknowledging any concerns and fears they may have at this time. Consider this to be a normal reaction, however it may be best to focus more on their feelings and emotions, rather than the practicalities at this stage.

In this Special Report, we share a few ideas to help ease this time of transition and adjustment. 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

Duke of Edinburgh

Duke of Edinburgh

The inaugural Duke of Ed newsletter for Term 2 2020 is now available and can be accessed below. This has been put together by Madeleine  (Year 11), Jason  (Year 11), Angelica (Year 11), Doreen (Year 11), Emily (Year 12) and Carmen (Year 12) who are Gold participants in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and members of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award leadership team. It includes ideas for award activities at home during COVID-19, updates on adventurous journey requirements, and stories of Fortians participating in the award.

DoE Issue 1


Reflection on Anzac Day 2020

Reflection on Anzac Day 2020

I am currently a member of the Australian Air League (AAL) Riverwood Squadron. The AAL is a uniform youth organisation which encourages an interest in aviation as a career or as a hobby for youths from ages 8 and above. Members of the AAL take part in fun and interesting activities on Friday nights whilst also learning important life skills such as leadership, discipline, self-confidence and teamwork. Some of the fun activities at Riverwood Squadron include camps, the Duke of Edinburgh Award program, air show visits, performances at community festivals and marching band.

In the spirit of this year’s Anzac Day, especially during this difficult period, I would like to present my reflection on what the Day means to me.


I’ve never fought in a war, and I hope and pray that I will never know what it’s like to be surrounded by gunfire or explosions, or witness anyone die by violent and unnatural causes. Living in Australia where I have taken safety, comfort and freedom for granted makes it very difficult to convey my opinion on Anzac Day. I ask myself, what does Anzac Day mean to me physically, psychologically and emotionally?

Prior to joining the Australian Air League (AAL) circa 2011, Anzac Day was just another school-free day at home watching the Sydney Anzac Day March live on television. Upon joining the AAL, I participated in the Anzac Day March for the first time at the tender age of eight years old and have been a regular participant since. I proudly accompanied the bands holding a number card and noticed the masses of people lined on both sides of George Street clapping on the veterans, enthusiastically waving flags and holding up ‘Thank you for your service’ posters. Anzac Day for eight-year-old me was just an annual ‘celebration’  for those brave soldiers.

On the 25th April 1915, the first wave of Anzacs landed in Gallipoli, one hundred and five years later we continue to salute their supreme sacrifice in a society of peace and freedom. Our own life is the most precious gift we have and to risk that, for whatever reason, is a sacrifice that demands respect. I regularly overhear people complaining about having to do something trivial and inconvenient, and someone else replying, ‘Oh poor you, I couldn’t imagine anything worse’.

When it comes to war, I really cannot imagine anything worse.

Life and blood were spent, used, and sacrificed – for us. Anzac Day for me is a reflection on the necessity and reality of war. All that loss, its ultimate futility and realising it’s the last resort that we, as a society, should do our utmost to avoid. In the end, no side really wins, just who loses less.

At Anzac or Remembrance ceremonies, it is traditional for a veteran, historian or other dignitary to provide an address which reflects on a particular aspect of war and conflict. I always get intense emotions when I hear stories and experiences of individual soldiers. For me, Anzac Day is, therefore, a really personal, intimate and deep day of reflection and remembrance. I also commend all those who contributed to the home front, supplying material and moral support to the Australians serving overseas. The sacrifices made by families who cared for their loved ones who returned home with physical injuries and mental illness should also be remembered. For them, the effects of the war often lasted for decades, with little recognition.

The only conflict which my relatives had participated in was the Vietnam War. The emotions, stories and effects from this conflict are comparable to those from the Anzac era. My lucky relatives returned home alive, but still suffer the severe psychological trauma from their experiences. I always get chills and goosebumps when I hear those horrific first-hand accounts of the reality of war. I can appreciate the number of families similar to mine who have had veteran relatives with their war experience.

For my generation, popular culture has been a large influence on our ideals and view on society and traditions. One strain in popular culture tends to romanticise war, reflected in a film like Gallipoli (1981) in which war is something of an adventure and should be supported by all young men. But in recent decades, awareness of the brutality of war, the resultant PTSD and even suicide among veterans has grown. On a popular level, this new awareness is reflected in films like Platoon (1986) and 1917 (2019).

In this time of pandemic, world leaders including our Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Queen Elizabeth II and the US President Donald Trump have been referring to ‘the war on Covid-19’. Such dramatic talk underlines the scale of the pandemic, the deaths it threatens, the sacrifices it will require of us all. Only a ‘war’ puts people’s ordinary life on hold, to forgo football, and to even shut schools temporarily. This has resulted in a very different and novel Anzac Day experience. Traditional and patriotic services were forcibly and unfortunately cancelled. My family, with many others, conducted Light The Dawn Service ceremonies in the solidarity of balconies, driveways and backyards, with the same levels of solemnity and respect as the past services we have attended. This personal and intimate Anzac Day has emphasised the terrible, large-scale and isolated nature of war – which all of us in a way experienced on the 25th April 2020 in our very own ‘war-time experience’.



Having been in the AAL for nine years and now a Sergeant, I highly recommend the organisation to all Fortians. The AAL is not just about aviation and marching, but a great way to make great friendships and experience things you never would be able to at school. If you are interested in joining or want to find out more information, please feel free to come and talk to me or contact me via email at .

A Vinculo Terrae! (Free from the bonds of the Earth!)

By Peter Tran, Year 10



Uniform Shop
Thank you to everyone who completed our uniform shop survey in April. 60 of 61 respondents answered yes to the question “Do you think parents and carers should have the option to purchase the school uniform online?”
As notified this week, all uniform items can now be ordered online at and we will continue to deliver to students in class.  Making the uniform shop available online has been a necessary step to allow the P&C to continue to safely provide the uniform shop service to the school and remain within department of education guidelines.

We would like to thank our uniform shop manager Gladys Ko for helping the P&C with this transition and for all the work she has done in particular over the past month in continuing to provide the uniform shop service to the school community in these challenging circumstances.
We are doing our best to keep the Uniform page on the school website current so please check there for changes to the service.

Planned P&C Events and Meetings
The P&C Federation have provided an update on the situation with P&C virtual meetings and this can be viewed here:

We will provide further information as the term progresses, but we are hopeful that we will be able to convene a meeting of some composition before the end of term two.

Staying Up to Date
If you would like to be informed about P&C activities or would like to know how you can get involved, 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

Welcome to Term 2.

Please click on the youtube link below to watch my video message to all IMP members and parents.

Thanks for your support!
Thanks to all IMP members and families for your support during this very difficult time. The IMP has not broken stride throughout this crisis, transitioning to online learning immediately, and continuing to engage students with work designed to have us ready to hit the ground running when we are able to return.
Arts Bites
The Arts Unit has a new initiative called Arts Bites
There are loads of fantastic videos relevant to IMP musicians.
You may see some familiar Arts Unit and IMP faces in these videos.
IMP members might be interested in participating in:




University early entry  programs

University early entry programs

Year 12 students are busy applying for a variety of early-entry programs. These allow students to receive a university offer based on their Preliminary course results combined with evidence of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities in years 11 and 12 and their responses to questions about their chosen degree program and career aspirations. The Careers Adviser works with students to assist them in these applications. This year, due to covid-19 circumstances, more Fortians are applying for these early-entry programs than in past years and we wish all students every success in their applications. Parents and students are encouraged to contact the Careers Adviser, Ms Salisbury, if you have any questions about university admission, scholarships, early-entry programs and cadetships.

UAC Educational Access Schemes additions

UAC Educational Access Schemes additions

Update to EAS

We are adding two new disadvantages to Educational Access Schemes (EAS) in 2020 to help students whose families have been disadvantaged financially by the impact of COVID-19. More information is on our EAS page:


F01K – Job Keeper

This will be granted to applicants who can show that their parent(s)/guardian(s) are in receipt of the Job Keeper allowance for a period of at least three months.

Applicants will have to provide the letters that each employee (parent/guardian) will receive from their employer.

F01S – Job Seeker

This will be granted to applicants who can show that their parent(s)/guardian(s) are in receipt of the Job Seeker allowance for a period of at least three months from March 2020 onwards.

Applicants will have to provide their parent(s)/guardian(s) Centrelink statement showing this payment (as is the case with F01D [family tax benefit] currently).

These disadvantages will be available for selection from 1 August 2020.

If a student has already applied, they will be able to add these disadvantages to their existing application from 1 August 2020.

As is the case with all EAS disadvantages, it is for each Institution to decide on the weighting they place on these new disadvantages and allocate adjustments/places accordingly


University of Wollongong HSC Subject Support

University of Wollongong HSC Subject Support

Students studying for their HSC in 2020 are faced with unprecedented challenges. The University of Wollongong (UOW) is committed to providing additional resources and assistance to help students successfully complete their final year of schooling and transition to tertiary study.

With over 30 FREE subject-specific online sessions, the HSC Subject Support Series is designed to help students improve their knowledge and understanding of key subject content and discover what HSC exam markers and assessors are looking for. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and receive tips and strategies directly from education professionals with years of experience.

More informations and registration here:

Premier’s Reading Challenge

Premier’s Reading Challenge

For the 2021 Premier’s Reading Challenge you can read up to 10 personal choice books (the limit is usually 5).

Add your first 5 Choice books by using the Add Choice Books tab on the page where you access your Student Reading Record.
Add your next 5 Choice books by searching for these ID codes in the Add Choice Books tab on the page where you access your Student Reading Record.
685957 2020 Bonus choice book 1
685958 2020 Bonus choice book 2
685959 2020 Bonus choice book 3
685960 2020 Bonus choice book 4
685961 2020 Bonus choice book 5

More details can be found at this link:

Rowena Penniment
Teacher Librarian