Warrandyte welcoming change

Looking ahead to a bright future

I hope you were all lucky enough to attend our wonderful performance of ‘The Show Must Go On’ which ran over two nights in October, after our last meeting. It demonstrated not only an incredible display of talent, but the school’s commitment to bringing performing arts back to life over the coming years. Although the cast and crew were small, they certainly made up for it on the stage and behind the scenes. A special thank you to our Director, Gavin Andrew, Choreographer, Andrea, Vocal Coach, Aggi, and our own wonderful Antonella Bitta who made sure the needs of our students were well taken care of.

At our recent Curriculum Day and after school Staff Meetings, we have been setting the tone around our ethos of ‘Teaching & Learning Excellence’ and ‘High Expectations’. We are excited by the future vision our staff have collaboratively and collectively developed, and I share this with you below.

Our core priorities for the future centre around two simple things: learning and wellbeing. Ensuring every student are given the opportunities to learn in an environment that is supported by teaching and learning excellence and high expectations, is key. This will be well supported by the work we are about to undertake in several key areas including the development of our literacy, numeracy and pedagogy action plans for whole school improvement.

The wellbeing of each and every student is of equal importance, and I am extremely proud to announce that, from 2023, Warrandyte High School will be entering into a three-year partnership with ‘Real Schools’. As part of this partnership, our coach will be working with leadership, staff, students and parents on improving our school culture, building high expectations and a positive learning environment and embedding restorative practices across the school. Our vehicles to ensure this work is successful will predominantly be the collaborations of staff through our Professional Learning Communities which will see all staff working together, towards common goals. As part of this work, we are about to embark upon our whole-school understanding of our NAPLAN results from 2022 and take a close look at what our data is telling us about our students so this can inform planning for 2023.

Work is also currently being undertaken by staff in our ‘2023 Planning Committees’ which have seen all staff (both teaching and education support) contribute their thoughts and ideas around five key areas:

  1. Year 7/8 pastoral care-type program in 2023
  2. LEAP 2023 + Beyond
  3. Marketing for our Future
  4. Student & Staff Wellbeing and Engagement
  5. The Big Picture: Shaking things Up

There are three of these planning committees scheduled this term and the work will continue into the new year. The next part of this process, next year, will be to include the students and parents in the decisions we make about the future of Warrandyte High School.

With the building tender now announced, we had our first ‘start-up’ meeting a few weeks ago and are looking forward to our first official site-meeting on Thursday November 17.

This meeting will determine our starting date, which from all accounts, should not be too far away at all.

As our Year 12 students are now heading towards the end of their examination period, we look forward to celebrating their achievements at their Valedictory dinner on November 22. At the same time, we also look forward to introducing our newly re-developed ‘VCE and VCE VM Transition Program’ for all current Year 10 and 11 students. This program, commencing the week beginning November 21, is designed over two weeks to provide the opportunity for students to meet their (likely) 2023 teacher and get a head start on their 2023 VCE studies, setting the tone of high expectations.

Always so much happening in schools, and certainly never a dull moment!

Rachel Lynch, Principal


Recently the AFL Academy was lucky to be visited by Josh Growden aka The Kicking Consultant. Josh is a highly regarded specialist kicking coach based in Adelaide who whilst in Melbourne, spent a couple of hours with our AFL Academy students working on and refining their individual kicking technique.

Josh began as a player for the Greater Western Sydney Giants in the AFL, but when injury curtailed his budding AFL career, Josh travelled to the USA and became a punter for Louisiana State University in the American College Football system. He spent four years at LSU before returning to Australia to begin his coaching consultancy business. Josh worked on a number of elements of kicking with our students which included:

  • How to best hold the ball
  • Ball drop
  • Footwork and balance
  • Timing and leg swing mechanics
  • Ball to foot contact and follow through

Josh spent time with each individual in our program and filmed their technique so as to provide instant visual feedback to them. This was a fantastic learning tool for the students and the learnings for them can be applied to their future football endeavours. It was great to see the students engage so positively with Josh and they no doubt enjoyed hearing a different voice with different ideas!

To see some of Josh’s work and get more information on what he does he can be found on various social media platforms – just search for ‘The Kicking Consultant’. We thank Josh for the time spent and expertise he imparted on the WHS AFL Academy.

David Mackay
WHS AFL Academy Coach


by Antonella Bitta

After 2 long years in lockdown we were very lucky and excited to be able to organize a School Production here at Warrandyte High School.

The Theatre is an amazing space for people of all ages to come together and in this case, young people who for a while were cooped up in a closed and restrictive environment due to the virus were able to come together in an exciting manner.

Our School Production was a breath of fresh air; it gave everyone the opportunity to be transported into a wonderful world of theatrical magic. Citing our Producer, Gavin D. Andrew’s words: ‘The Show Must Go On….- Life in Lockdown’ was meant to be not a concert, not a musical but a Musical Revue/Romp with a theme that everyone could relate to’. In other words what it ‘attempted and succeeded to do, was allow people in the audience to reflect on the past two and a half years of a Covid affected society and the consequences it had and still has on all of us’.

With an original book by Gavin D. Andrew and music from shows like Hamilton, Seussical The Musical, Wicked, Spamalot, Matilda, Beautiful and Dear Evan Hansen plus the occasional rock parody, the 2022 Warrandyte High School Production really had something to offer for everyone. All the songs were magically brought to life by our wonderful choreographer: Andrea Houchen.

To make it all happen, the Show Must Go also needed a great team hence…..
A huge thank you goes to all the cast of ‘The Show Must Go On – Life in Lockdown” whose dedication and enthusiasm made it all possible!!!

Needless to say an extended thank you also goes to our crew members in the Bio Box and on stage who performed wonders with lighting and sound under the skillful direction of Cameron Mitchell.

Ultimately none of this would have happened if our Principal, Rachel Lynch, had not agreed to go ahead with this project nor if Gavin D. Andrew (the Show Director/Producer) had not so enthusiastically taken up the challenge. As Gavin said at the beginning of this wonderful adventure: “We cannot let Covid get the best of yet another group of Thespians” and so, the Show indeed did go on at Warrandyte High School in mid-October of this year.

The Show Must Go On

by Evie Patton, Year 7

Performing in The Show Must Go On at Warrandyte High School was an amazing experience! I’m so glad I got to be part of such an extraordinary show, and I got to share the experience with some of my closest friends – and of course, my brother.

We had so much fun performing. I especially loved performing in the full cast numbers and the small inside jokes that the wonderfully talented cast members shared. I loved blasting music in the dressing rooms as we were getting ready, mouthing all the songs extra dramatically backstage with my friends, and all the reassurance and endless hugs were the cherry on top.

This show was an experience I will proudly carry with me for the rest of my life, and I can’t wait to do more shows with Warrandyte High School!

From cast member, Curtis Konynenburg, Year 11:

Putting a full musical production together, complete with costumes, lighting, props and choreography is no small feat! 

But we did it!   The Show Must Go On – and it did!

I would like to thank Miss Bitta (producer), Gavin Andrew (director/producer) and Andrea Houchen (choreography), as it was with their amazing help we were able to make it happen.

It is incredible to think that in just weeks we had a dedicated team ready to push forward. 

I have gotten to know everyone really well, my fellow cast and crew and am so pleased we got this up and running!

Some of the most memorable moments for me include staging the ‘Revolting Children’ scene, where we made an absolute mess of the stage time and time again. 

It was a lot of work with the looming deadline of 10 weeks. We all invested long hours and extra time to make the show come alive. At times it certainly took its toll on us, however in the end it was always enjoyable for me and I hope for the rest of the cast as well.

After 2 years of Covid where restrictions didn’t allow school productions, this was an incredible opportunity to come together and enjoy a part of school life that had been missing for so long. 

International Students at WHS

We had a very successful homestay training session recently. Our current homestay families participated in this event.

Rachel, the Principal, started the training with the updated child safety policy and the I talked about the homestay policy and other updates. It is a mandatory annual training for all homestay families to ensure that they can provide high quality service for the international students.

I am very happy to see all our homestay families on site after two years of lockdown and I am expecting more students to join our Warrandyte community next year.
Thanks Rachel and Joanna for your participation and assistance.

Heidi Luo, International Student Coordinator

Mental Health Programs at WHS

by Christena Gazeas

Recently Year 8 boys positively participated in the Mancave Program. A preventative mental health and emotional intelligence program that empowers boys to become great men.

Their early intervention program focused on boys’ strengths rather than their deficits. The program provided our boys with an introduction into the emotional and social skills they need to lead flourishing lives for themselves, their relationships and their communities. The all day program had the cohort fully engaged as they experienced self-reflection, thought provoking issues, and physical challenges

While this was happening, on the same day, our Year 8 girls participated in the Tritactics: Personal Safety for Young Women program which focused on creating respectful relationships, conflict resolution and avoiding potentially harmful situations.

The program introduced ways to maximise the girls’ personal safety by assisting them to identify vulnerable situations both physical and emotional, while also recognising the actions used to prevent or defuse potentially harmful situations.

Wellbeing, social and emotional development is a priority at Warrandyte High School

Year 7 Maths – The Learning Excellence Accelerated Program (LEAP)

Year 7 Maths LEAP students are constantly engaging in challenging mathematical problem-solving tasks. A class of like-minded, academically strong students, our Maths LEAP students are always having their mathematical skills pushed and enriched.

Recently, for one of the LEAP tasks, the students worked in groups and designed a board game that incorporated directed numbers. The students rose to the challenge admirably!


by Katie Cook

As part of their studies in Units 3&4 VET Sport and Recreation, students recently attended a 3-day sailing camp at the Victorian Sailing School. Over the 3 days our students learnt basic skills to sail a small boat in controlled conditions.

The camp provided students with a practical experience in linking theory whilst also learning a new skill in sailing. Over the 3 days students had a great time and their skills improved dramatically.

It was terrific to see the students engaged in the experience and challenging themselves and their fellow crew to discover ways of making the sailing boat go faster or problem solving when they entered the ‘no go zone’ where there was no wind and the boat came to a stop.

This camp was also an opportunity for the students to celebrate their achievements in the VET Sport and Recreation course before completion of their exam and to develop independence. Students were required to self-cater and cook their own meals and to their teachers’ surprise, 2 minute noodles were not on the menu! It was fantastic to see the students working in their cabin groups to work out the food they required, shopping for themselves and then cooking and having to clean.

As part of the celebration students also got to challenge themselves and each other for 2hrs at Lazer Zone where in teams they faced off in a fierce battle of Lazer Tag and then had 2 hrs to play on the different games. The last night finished with a celebratory dinner where students were taken to dinner at groove train.

At all times the students were exemplary in their behaviour and how they presented themselves. The group has shared some great experiences together for which I am sure they will remember for a long time.

I also wish to thank Andrew Blair who attended the camp as another staff member. As the course comes to a finish and these students start to prepare for their end of year exam, I wish them all the very best and thank them for a great year.

Science – Learning Excellence Acceleration Program (LEAP)

During the recent Science topic of Forces, the Year 7 LEAP students have been completing many different experiments, testing and observing different forces. They have observed gravity, friction, Newton’s three laws, aerodynamics and levers to name a few.

Recently our awesome Science LEAP students designed and tested a prototype to save an egg from a 6m drop. With their knowledge of gravity, Newton’s three laws and aerodynamics, they were all able to save their egg from peril!

Also, as part of our study of Forces, students are designing and testing their own catapults to see who can launch a cotton wool ball the furthest. Students used their increasing knowledge of levers to assist them in obtaining the best launch.

It all happens in the WHS Science LEAP Program!

Kathryn Ball
Science Teacher

Eastern Metropolitan Regional and State Athletics

Recently, 2 students competed at the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Athletics Finals. Students progressed through to this event by winning individual events at the earlier divisional carnival.

Both students were prepared for an increase in competition and went into their events positive and willing to challenge themselves. At the end of the day, all students had competed to the best of their ability and represented the school with pride.

The best result for the day came from Josh Evans who won the 17 year old Javelin and now progresses through to the State Championships. Joel Denny in Year 7 also ran a fantastic 1500m coming 5th overall. Not only did both students perform to their best of their ability in their individual events but what also shone through was the encouragement and support they provided to each other.

All members of the Warrandyte High School community are very proud of the efforts of both Josh and Joel and we wish Josh the best of luck as he advances to the State Championships.

A massive congratulations to Josh Evans of Year 11 who competed in the recent state athletics carnival. Josh competed in the Under 17 Javelin coming 5th overall and throwing a personal best of 33.93m on the day.

A fantastic effort from Josh who had not thrown a Javelin competitively before. It was fantastic to see Josh representing the school with such pride and enthusiasm at such a high level.

Bushfire Alert Practice Drill

ON October 21, 2022, we participated in a whole school practice drill which involved firstly going into Bushfire Alert Mode and secondly, evacuating into our Shelter-In-Place building (our basketball stadium). 

This was done today as part of our ongoing commitment to refining our Emergency Management procedures. This followed out Term 3 On Site Evacuation Practice Drill which took place on 29 August 2022.

This is part of our ongoing commitment towards Emergency Management.

Where are they now? Profiles of Past Warrandyte High Students

Megan Fitzgerald attended Warrandyte High from 1995 to 2000. Both Megan and her younger brother, Tom, got involved with school musicals from the start of their time at Warrandyte, and as their talents progressed, starred in a number of productions. You can find them in many of the photos that adorn the theatre foyer. Meaghan’s parents also helped behind the scenes, being dedicated Warrandyte High supporters.

Claire Bloom

Do you have any enduring/favourite or funny memory/memories of your time at Warrandyte High?

The school musical was my absolute highlight every year. It was why I chose to go to Warrandyte High and I still feel proud and amazed at the high-quality musicals we achieved in a small school.

Do you recall some of your favourite subjects, and why you enjoyed them?

History with Mr Humphreys was a standout subject. “Humpers” was an incredibly enthusiastic and creative teacher. He made classes interactive and used multimedia at a time before we had computers in class. He instilled in us nerdy kids a sense of excitement about learning, encouraging us to feel excited about going on to uni and finding our niche.

What did you do after finishing school? 

When I got my ENTER (ATAR) score I was disappointed that it wouldn’t get me into my preferred course, Arts/Law at Monash. Thankfully, at the Monash Open Day I’d been given great advice by a law academic who told me that state school kids do better at uni because we’ve learned to self-motivate and that I would easily transfer into the double degree after a year of Arts. She was right, and my first year of Arts was a lovely year of making friends, adjusting to uni and learning for the sake of it, rather than for a career. I highly recommend the transfer path, if you’re uncertain what you want to do or don’t get where you want to be immediately.

Did you know what you wanted to do after leaving school? Was there a defining moment during your time at school when you realised what you wanted to do with your life?

I intended to be a vet or a musical theatre performer for the first half of high school. Then, in about year 9, I was being a smart-alec in class, arguing with the teacher. Mr Humphreys, who was filling in for our absent teacher and didn’t really know me at the time – asked me what I was going to be when I grew up. I told him I was going to be a vet and he said, “No you’re not, you’re going to be a lawyer.” That planted the idea in my mind and over time I realised that it made sense for me to pursue a career in something I enjoyed so much – arguing and being a smart-alec.

And what are you doing now and/or at the peak of your career? What was the journey?

I’m now a barrister at the Victorian Bar. I practise in medical negligence (damages claims when medical procedures go wrong), medical and legal professional misconduct (prosecutions of health practitioners or lawyers who misbehave) and coronial proceedings (investigations into preventable deaths).

What has/have been the highlights of your career to date?
A recent highlight was acting for Fitzroy Legal Service in an inquest relating to the death of an indigenous woman in prison. Our work in the case helped bring to light poor medical management of prisoners with substance use disorders and will, hopefully, bring about change that will reduce suffering for those people and prevent unnecessary harm.
I also gain great satisfaction from my work with women and children harmed during childbirth. It is satisfying to know that damages they receive will improve their lives and hoping that bringing proceedings on their behalf will improve processes and patient safety.

Was there any one thing or person that put you on the path to your success?
At WHS the biggest influence on my success was my maths teacher, Mr Hickman. He taught me that hard work pays off and that people will go out of their way to help you if they trust that you will make the most of what they offer. He helped me to negotiate a flexible arrangement for VCE, so that I could continue to do the school musical, my extra-curricular musical theatre and maintain my part-time job. He gave my best friend (the dux of our year level) and me extra help with our specialist maths work during spare periods in year 12. The faith he put in me that I was capable of doing well in a subject I often felt was beyond my capabilities was fundamental in building my confidence and resilience, which has often been needed in a challenging career. It also taught my friend and I that the best way to get ahead is by bringing good people up with you.

Were there things that your education/training did not prepare you for, and/or what would you recommend students look out for as they prepare to enter the world of work?
Coming from WHS into the legal profession I have, at times, been confronted by the ongoing “old boys/private school club” networking that goes on. It took me a long time to learn how to network my own way. For young people coming into the legal profession, I would say to take up any offers of insight or professional development that come your way. While there is still a frustrating element of old school privilege at work, there are a lot of people who are changing the way the system works and making sure people get ahead on merit, rather than connections.

Interests/achievements outside of work?

My 5 year old son and 13 year old step-daughter keep me very busy. But when I get time, I stay sane by gardening and reading novels.

If you could impart a word of wisdom, what would be your message to current students at Warrandyte High School?
You don’t need to follow a straight path to get where you want to be.




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Warrandyte Historical Society