Getting Real with Real Schools and  Embracing Differences

As a Principal, I watch, learn and study a lot about human behaviour – particularly that of our young people. As a mum of three teenage children, I certainly also learn a lot from them about human behaviour – particularly about the words that naturally form part of their vernacular. Words that are picked up in the school yard, the footy field and at their part time jobs. Words I hear not only in my home, but words I also hear at my place of work. I’ve learnt that young people mostly don’t set out to upset others with their words, but it is their lack of understanding about the flippant comments, that seem to roll of their tongue so easily, that can have the most lasting impact. The words that sometimes our young people don’t even think about before letting out of their mouths. Lately, one of my favourite quotes keeps coming to mind: ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’.

You only need to open the daily newspaper to read about young people in our schools and they way that they are coping, or not coping with life. The pockets of youth who are seemingly without respect and little regard for others, including their peers. While there is no doubt some young people make choices every day to demonstrate poor behaviours, I do challenge this notion and put to you that there are many young people who, in fact, do the exact opposite. I put to you that there are many young people – young people who I see each and every day as I walk our school grounds – who demonstrate mountains of respect, care and empathy for each other. It is such a shame that the small few however, always have the loudest voice. Over the past five weeks of Term 3, Warrandyte High School has been doing a lot of work around helping our young people understand the impacts of their words, and actions, and how they make other people feel. We are helping our young people understand the impact they can have – both positive and negative – through the simple things they say and the simple things they do.

Our three-year partnership with Real Schools is going a long way to support us on this journey, and many of you may have discussed with your children a recent visit with our expert facilitator, Cassie Kitani into many of our classrooms. I challenge our parents to ask your children what it is they think has the most impact on others – both negative and positive. How do your children make other students feel? Students today are more outspoken and expressive than ever before and in some instances it’s done to be respectful and informative, but in others it’s to be offensive or disparaging. Either way, the words that come out of the mouths of our students can have long-lasting impacts.

We are encouraging all of our students to monitor their own behaviour, while our staff model respect and acceptance of others in the classroom so that diversity is seen as a strength and not only a difference. We are encouraging all of our students to embrace diversity through an understanding and acceptance of race, ethnicity, experience, age, language, religious or political affiliations, sexual orientation, gender, physical ability and physical appearance. We are asking all of our students to consider the words that come out of their mouths and the way they might make others feel.

We are aiming to build a community of learners that models respect and accepts differences and during our most recent curriculum day, we discussed a range of ways to help our young people do this, and it is important that this is shared with our community – especially our parents, so that we can continue to be on the same page and encourage open and honest dialogue about this.

We have developed a ‘Respectful Language Action Plan’ to help overcome some of the challenges students face when respectfully communicating with each other. We are hopeful that by ensuring an immediate response, followed with educating our students that we can have a more orderly classroom environment for all students. An important part of this process is to restore the harm that is caused as a result of inappropriate language use, through restorative conversations with our young people and ensuring that we put in place preventative and pro-active measures. An excellent example of this has been a recent visit by a brilliant speaker from an organisation called ‘Shout Out’. You can read all about him in this edition of our newsletter.


Meet Ollie, Whiskas, Purr & The Kitten Club

Ollie is an adorable medium Groodle (Golden Retriever x Poodle) who craves attention from everyone he meets. Ollie is a delightful goofball brimming with energy, yet remarkably calm when surrounded by kids. As a therapy dog, Ollie works as part of the Department of Education’s ‘Canine Comprehension Program’ and has been working with a group of students at Warrandyte High School once a week. Students are really enjoying learning about Ollie, and the support he can bring people.
Mrs. Lynch also introduced somew new pets to WHS a few weeks ago – her tank of eight lovely new fish including Whiskers, Purr and ‘The Kitten Club’!

Trails of Discovery

Warrandyte High School is extremely excited to be introducing our community to the new and exciting program ‘Trails of Discovery’ in 2024. In coming weeks our ‘Trails of Discovery Video’ will be made available to parents/carers and students explaining this program and what it will provide for our students. Our staff have recently begun the early stages of planning for this program in 2024 and we look forward to sharing our Inquiry-Based Model with you. The program will give all students in Years 7-10 the opportunity to undertake an additional two hours of learning in a trail of their choice. The selection process will be part of the subject selection process which will be occurring in the next few weeks for all of our students in Years 7-10. Students will select their top three preferences from a list of nine trails including the following:

  • The Art Box
  • Lights, Camera Action
  • Top of Your Game: AFL
  • Top of Your Game: Basketball
  • STEM: Invent & Create
  • The Power of Words
  • Pay it Forward
  • Beyond the Classroom
  • Tech Savvy

Every student will follow one trail for the year, and the program will be run vertically allowing students to develop friendships with students from other year levels. The other fantastic component of this program is that it will strengthen student agency in the classroom as students will be the core drivers of the program and what they want to learn and create. Look out for the upcoming video on our socials and on Compass.

Your uniform, your say

Our whole-school uniform review continues and we are now at the stage of presenting to School Council after working with our current and prospective suppliers. Our students have been an integral part of our decision-making process and I thank all members of our Student Voice Council for working so hard to decide on items they felt best represented the results of the Uniform Survey conducted earlier this year. Once we have met with School Council to discuss our options, we will be in a position to make the important decision as to what our uniform will look like from 2024 and beyond. It is important for parents/carers to note that we will not be expecting our current students to have all of the new school uniform items. There will be a three-year phasing out period of any items that are no longer on the uniform list!

Term 3… far!

This edition of our ‘Gang Gang’ will provide you with some entertaining reading about a range of recent events, but some other great events that our students have been involved with include our VCE-VM students’ weekly FUNdraisers for Warrandyte Neighbourhood House (including hot chocolate, waffles, fairly floss and popcorn!), our Year 9 students have been working hard in Taking the Challenge and recently had the Police Incursion discussing risk-taking behaviour and our Year 10 students headed out to METEC for their safe driving course. Always lots happening here at Warrandyte High School!

International Student Recruitment Trip

I reported in our last Gang Gang that I was travelling to Vietnam and Cambodia during the July school holidays. This trip was an important part of our International Student program and involved six other Principal delegates from around Victoria. The purpose of the trip was to attend Education Fairs in the main cities in Vietnam and Cambodia, promoting not only the Victorian Government Education system, but most importantly, promoting Warrandyte High School as a school of choice for students looking to come and study in Australia. We also visited many Education Agencies, discussing with them the various programs that make our schools unique to engender interest from families looking to relocate their children to Australia to complete their secondary schooling. It was a fantastic trip, and I am confident that it will result in an increase in international student enrolments for our school. I thank our School Council for their support of the trip also.

Capital Works Project Update

Constructive Group have now completed our incredible Capital Works Project which has seen the complete refurbishment of our Art/Technology precinct and the development of two brilliant new court yards and landscaping for our students to enjoy. During our recent curriculum day, our staff all lent a hand in the afternoon to being the huge task of moving furniture and materials into the new spaces so that we can finally start running classes in them. The pictures say a thousand words and we can’t wait to move everything else in and have all of our Art/Technology classes up and running again in this incredible new space!

Compass Updates

To help our parents stay up to date with their child’s behaviour at school, we have recently changed the way we report our Compass Chronicle entries. Whether it be a grey/yellow post to report inappropriate behaviours or a green post to congratulate a student on demonstrating excellent behaviour – these posts are now visible to parents. This will ensure the three-way partnership between WHS-the student-and the family is strengthened. Please contact your child’s Year Level Leader if you have any questions about this.


Our school is conducting a survey to find out what parents / caregivers / guardians think of our school. The Parent / Caregiver / Guardian Opinion Survey is an annual survey offered by the Department of Education that is designed to assist schools in gaining an understanding of families’ perceptions of school climate, student behavior, and student engagement. The survey is optional, but we encourage all families to participate. Our school will use the survey results to help inform and direct future school planning and improvement strategies. 

All families are invited to participate in the survey.

The Parent / Caregiver / Guardian Opinion Survey will be open from Monday 7 August to Friday 8 September 2023. You should have now received an email from our Principal, Rachel Lynch, inviting you to complete this survey. If you have not received this email, please be sure to contact the main office.

The survey will be conducted online, only takes 20 minutes to complete, and can be accessed at any convenient time within the survey period on desktop computers, laptops, tablets or smartphones. The online survey will be available in English and 10 other languages including Arabic, Greek, Hakha Chin, Hindi, Japanese, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese, Somali, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

Results of the Parent/Caregiver/Guardian Opinion Survey will be reported directly to School Council and will also be published in the 2023 Annual Report to the School Community in April/May next year. Your opinion certainly does mater to us, and we use information and data collated from this survey to continually improve our practices

Please call the school office if you have any questions about this survey.

Rachel Lynch

Guest diversity speaker Kano Ravalji

Recently, we had Kano Ravalji from Shout Out Speakers presenting at WHS and sharing his experiences around diversity to the years 7 to 10 cohorts.
Kano migrated from India to Australia at the age of 7. Now an advocate of diversity and multiculturalism, Kano is keen to inspire young people to become comfortable with themselves by sharing his journey and learnings from years of battling what has felt like two different identities. Aside from public speaking, Kano also mentors Year 12 VCE students in leadership roles, has worked on multiple youth-led social media projects and hopes to use his energetic and humorous personality to deliver speeches, host events, conduct interviews and promote peace and positivity wherever he goes.

We will be using his experiences in classes to raise more awareness around Respect and Diversity in our WHS community in the coming weeks.

State Cross Country

A huge congratulations to Joel Denny (Year 8) and Dillon Vidanapathirana (Year 12) for competing at the state cross country event. These 2 students progressed through division and regional competitions to compete against the best cross-country runners in government schools from the entire state. Both students had fantastic runs with Joel coming 6th in the state for the 14-year-old boys and Dillon coming 8th in the 17–20-year-old boys multi class. Their dedication to their training and perseverance to always give their best is a true testament to them. Warrandyte High School are very proud of your efforts and excellence in representing the school.

In addition, Joel Denny competed in the Victorian All Schools Cross Country Championships. This competition is open to all students from all schools and is used to select the students to represent Victoria at the Australian Cross Country Championships. Joel competed in the U15 year age group running 4km in 13:12 finishing 15th out of 115 competitors. From this result Joel has been selected to represent Victoria at the Australian Cross Country Championships being held in Canberra. At this competition Joel will be competing against the best runners in the country. This is a fantastic achievement and a true testament to Joel and his dedication to continually challenge himself and to excel. We congratulate Joel on his achievements and wish him all the very best.

Student Digital Safety Workshops

Recently, each student in Years 7 – 10 attended the following workshops run by the Optus Digital Thumbprint Program. Optus Digital Thumbprint is endorsed by the eSafety Commissioner as a Trusted eSafety Provider.

YEAR 7 – Cyber Security

With 1:4 social media accounts getting hacked weekly, the year 7 students learnt the importance of having strong and protecting their passwords. They learnt how to create a strong password and how to enable privacy settings on their social media accounts.

YEAR 8 – Cyber Bullying

Students explore the importance of respectful relationships online through scenarios based on real life events and are asked to consider their behaviour and impact when interacting online. Young people discuss consent online, image-based abuse, and the tools they have to positively support themselves and their peers.

YEAR 9 – Digital Identity – Your Personal Brand

Students gained knowledge of the importance of having a positive digital brand and how to manage it so it can impact future opportunities in a constructive way. They examined their social media profiles and posts through the lens of a future boss in the process of hiring them for employment and discussed ways to help maintain a positive and respectful online presence.

YEAR 10 – Digital Balance – Ways to make technology work for you.

Students explored the positive uses of technology on wellbeing and how to take steps to improve digital wellbeing through streamlining what our devices can do for us, and ways to use technology to help be more efficient in our study time.

TAKE THE QUIZ Digital Balance Quiz – Digital Balance Quiz (

Information links:
eSafety Commissioner – Australian Government ESafety Commissioner
Scamwatch – National anti-scam centre – Protection form Scams etc – Australian Cyber security Centre – How to protect your devices

Fiona Keech Adolescent Health Nurse – WHS each Monday & Tuesday C7

Young People, Alcohol and Secondary Supply 

The legal drinking age in Victoria is 18 years of age. Depending on the situation, someone under the age of 18, a minor, may be allowed on licensed premises but under no circumstances is the supply of liquor to persons under 18 years of age for consumption on licensed premises permitted. Australia’s drinking guidelines recommend anyone under 18 should not drink. For young people up until the age of 25 drinking alcohol can affect how the brain develops. This includes areas of the brain associated with attention, memory, and decision-making abilities. Delaying drinking alcohol as long as possible can help reduce these harms.

Supplying alcohol to young people

It is an offence for a person to supply alcohol to a minor in a private home without parental consent. A parent or legal guardian may give verbal or written consent for a person to supply alcohol to their child.
A person who supplies alcohol to a minor without a parent’s consent could be subject to the same penalty faced by licensees who supply alcohol to minors in licensed venues, as well as potentially other legal convictions if injury or harm occur while the young person is alcohol affected.

Secondary supply of Alcohol.

Secondary supply is a legal term used to describe an adult providing alcohol to someone under 18 (supplying or buying it for them).

This is the most common way that young people obtain alcohol.

In Australia, it’s illegal to serve alcohol in a private home to anyone under 18, unless you’re the young person’s parent or guardian or, you have written or verbal permission from their parent/guardian. 

Fiona Keech  
Adolescent Health Nurse @ WHS Mondays & Tuesdays  

Eltham Fun Run

The Eltham Fun Run/walk is a local event that proudly supports the Pat Cronin Foundation and their campaign to end the coward punch. It will take place on Sunday the 26th of November and starts and finishes at the Eltham Leisure Centre. The event includes various race categories that caters for all ages and abilities with a 10km run, 5km run and a 5km walk. There will also be food stalls, a ninja warrior course and many more activities on the day for everyone to enjoy.

We believe that encouraging the participation of students and their families in this event will not only contribute to the success of the fundraiser but also foster a sense of community and promote healthy, active lifestyles among our school communities.

Register as a Walker/Runner: Lace up your running shoes and join us on the day of the event. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned runner or a beginner—this event is open to all fitness levels. There is a 5km and 10km run event along with 5km walk.

Eltham Leisure Centre
40 Brougham Street, Eltham VIC 3095
P: 03 9439 2266 M: 0408 169 353