Glenaeon Newsletter May 28, 2020

Concentrated Meaning: Poetry as a Script for Living in this Coronavirus Time

Andrew Hill, Head of School

Welcome Back


How wonderful to have everyone back at school! The campuses feel alive again as our buildings and grounds resonate with youthful voices and laughter. We have a lot to catch up on, and much to be aware of as we both enjoy the company of all our students while keeping our strict hygiene controls in place. Thank you to all parents for your patience and perseverance though this very challenging time. We have much to look forward to as we return to normal schooling, and normal life. This week is also Reconciliation Week and we posted our own Glenaeon Acknowledgement of Country to mark this significant moment in the year. See School news below.

Poetry as a Script for Living in this Coronavirus Time

Sometime last year I was commiserating with a colleague in the staffroom about a pile of work that we both had still to do when it was already dark and late. Without thinking I just said:

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

They are the final lines of Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, a poem taught to me and my class in Year 8 at Normanhurst Boys High by an American exchange teacher. They express exactly the frustration and exhaustion of knowing there is a pile of work still to do before rest.

Earlier in the day I was returning from driving a friend to the airport when I watched an enormous and perfect rainbow gradually stretch across Mascot and all points east. It was a magnificent sight which made me feel happy, and into my mind came the opening line of Wordsworth’s sonnet:

My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky…,

The two moments on the same day reminded me of the very special power of poetry. Some things just need special words, and I needed them then. And how we need them now!!  I was reminded today of how much we need the boost that poetic words can bring as I read Vicki Laveau-Harvie in The Guardian (UK) describing her own feelings during COVID-19 time:

Walking home recently under grey skies, I stopped to watch the afternoon light fail. I could have looked at my phone for comfort, but I found myself instead listening to Shakespeare spooling through my mind, words not remembered since school but intact, beautiful, despairing:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time.

This was a gift. I breathed easier, bathed in the vitality of poetry, the saturation of meaning that gives it weight. The aptness. I needed this…

We all need it Vicki, and the power of a short and simple poem to uplift, to inspire, to heal a tired heart, is one of life’s mysteries. She calls poetry “concentrated meaning”, a good phrase to capture its intensity, and its power to transform difficulties like the coronavirus world which is having such an impact on our mental health and wellbeing:

Poetry may be the antidote to what many of us feel: we are glued to screens, numb with fear, lost in elastic expanses of time. Poetry’s density can steady us. It contains worlds.

Yes, worlds, and a script for living. At last, a mention of the power of poetry to help us through the coronavirus time.

Poetry is alive and well at Glenaeon. A Glenaeon education is also an education in the spoken word, in living poetry. From nursery rhymes in Kindergarten, through action verses and poems, ballads and narrative poetry, right up to Shakespeare and beyond in High school, poetry is learned by heart and spoken aloud, to experience its power and cadence.

We don’t just do poetry as an outcome in the subject of English, to tick off the Poetry Outcome in each stage of the English syllabus. Poetry for us is “concentrated meaning”, and learned by heart so that it becomes a gift for each student to carry through life.

Sadly, often today poetry is something to analyse for meaning, something to deconstruct and just to read, not speak out loud. Who then remembers those precious words and carries their power through life?

A few years ago the writer and columnist Nikki Gemmel wrote a piece in The Australian bemoaning the loss of learning poetry by heart:

My kids don't learn poetry by heart in their Aussie schools. In London they were forced to, for an annual, compulsory, school-wide competition. Five-year-olds were reciting mostly nursery rhymes but the older kids were diving into Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Lear. It was wonderful to witness. The sheer skill of it; the way their little minds would absorb the poem's rhythm, beauty, narrative muscularity. I wish they'd do something similar here…

Well Nikki, they do at Glenaeon. Here poetry is alive and well, and learnt by heart. The cadences can soothe our fears, give a voice to our deepest feelings, and a warmth to our hearts. In this coronavirus time, poetry with its concentrated meaning can give us nothing less than a script for living.

Hangout for the Homeless

Thank you to everyone who supported this project of a sleep out in support of homeless people last Saturday evening, and there are very many of you. It was intended as a small, humble project to remind us to think about others who are doing it tough in the pandemic, rather than a fund raising project as such. The main aim was to encourage some participation, and sleeping slightly rough was a simple gesture of solidarity with the homeless. With a signup fee of $5, I thought if we raised even $150 that would also be a great contribution to the cause.

The total raised so far this morning is $2,319. What an astonishing result! Special thanks to teachers who really challenged students our high school students to get behind the appeal, and did they ever do that!

My warmest thanks to all the many parents who donated, and/or slept rough on Saturday night, as a contribution to this very vulnerable community in our midst. We hope to stay in touch with Kids Under Cover and hear more of their good work.

Kids Under Cover is an organisation that helps prevent young people ending up on the streets in the first place. They work to support young people at risk of becoming homeless by providing simple accommodation close to the family home where the young person can be separate but secure. Space makes all the difference. They build and provide simple, small structures that are flat packed and can be erected in a day to provide studio accommodation in a back yard. They provide scholarships to get the young person back into education and the workforce. Over the past 25 years they have built hundreds of studios across Australia and assisted nearly 2,000 young people.

National Reconciliation Week

#InThisTogether2020 #NRW2020

COVID-19 Latest updates

Parents can find the latest information regarding COVID-19 news and announcements on GLO.
For non-parents in our community, you can access COVID-19 information via our website.


2020 Annual Giving Campaign - Keep Kids in the Classroom

This week, we launched our Annual Giving campaign.  We are aiming to raise $100,000 to help keep students in the classroom with donations to the COVID-19 Bursary Scholarship Fund.  COVID-19 has affected a significant number of our families. For those in the community who can afford to assist, we respectfully ask for your kind support. Donations can now be made online or by credit card over the phone, EFT or cheque. Please contact Clare Gordon if you can help.  Your gift will make a big difference. All donations of $2 and over are fully Tax Deductible.

K-2 Glenaeon Introductory Webinar Wednesday 3 June 8pm

COVID-19 saw the cancellation of our 2020 Open Day and school tours at all three campuses. In their place, we have been running introductory webinars for parents where participants get to meet our Head of School, Andrew Hill, view a presentation, and ask questions in a Q&A session with our Deputy Heads via Zoom. The next Introductory Webinar is scheduled for Wednesday 3 June at 8pm and will provide a focus on our K-Year 2 Castlecrag campus offering and Kindy entry. If you have friends who are looking for a great school for their children, please suggest that they come along. Guests can register their interest by clicking on this link or by contacting our Enrolments Registrar, Chandra Kennedy.


GlenXers tie the knot

We have some very joyful, happy news to share. Two graduates from Glenaeon have married.  Alumni Mary Parsch (Class of 1998) and Takeaki Totsuka (Class of 1995) have tied the knot. The pair wed on 21st March. Takeaki is the brother of Glenaeon’s Head of Department (Science) Yura Totsuka. The wedding was initially planned to be held at the Castelcrag campus, but had to be adapted when COVID-19 struck.  With only love in the air, the wedding took place with the couple, two witnesses and a celebrant present. They then moved to our beautiful Castlecrag school campus garden for the official photos.

On behalf of the entire Glenaeon community we congratulate the happy couple and wish them a lifetime of good health, happiness and prosperity. The garden looked so beautiful thanks to Glenaeon’s long-standing gardener Lindsay who has known the Parsch family for a long time.  

Are there any other GlenX weddings for the history books? Share your story with us via 

Thank you from Kangaroo Island

It was lovely to receive this special thank you card from the Kangaroo Island Koala and Wildlife Rescue Centre last week in recognition of all the supportive work undertaken by our Community. Thank you to all the students, parents, staff and volunteers who gave up their time to help with knitting, crafting and making cards.  Big thank you to Handwork Teacher Elizabeth Ellean for all her work to coordinate this wonderful effort.

Glenaeon Private Bus service update

Please be advised that all Glenaeon Private bus services are now running. Bus bookings for the remainder of Term 2, 2020 Glenaeon School Buses are now open.  Please click on GLO 's Charter Bus Bookings Page and follow the TryBooking link to make your booking. Here you will find route information, and charges for the month of June. There will be no charges for the bus in May. If your student hasn't ridden the bus this year, you must register with reception before using the bus service. For inquiries not answered on GLO please email reception at your campus. Thank you.

Photo/Video Parental Permission form

By now you will have received the 2020 annual Photo/Video consent form sent to all Parents /Carers to sign and return. It is a requirement of all schools to comply with the Privacy Act, and we highly respect the personal decision of Parents to allow or not allow the school to publish their childs photos/video in our various publications. The form is in electronic format,  and we ask that you review the form, complete, sign and submit by 29 MAY. If your child is aged 15 years and over, they too will need to sign the form. Thank you for your support and understanding. 

First Day back Excitement

Last Monday - the first full day back for the whole K - 2 campus - was a kaleidoscope of activity and excitement. Children were thrilled to see each other again, and the playground at lunchtime was a moving picture of climbing, swinging, digging, laughing, running, jumping and cubby building. It really was the 'Giant's Garden' that Andrew Hill wrote about last week!

Little Kindy enjoys the rain

The water pond fills during rain, something to which Little Kindy always looks forward to. They don their gumboots, rain pants and coats to head out and cart some water, creating water flows and pools of their own.

A Tale of Two Rivers in the Kindergartens

Big and Little Kindy create worlds of sand and water in the sandpit together. On this occasion starting rivers from either end - aiming to dig and pour enough water to join them together and let it flow as one long river! Many buckets and spades later, they had success! Teamwork, planning and perseverance results in an immense amount of fun being had as they come back together again. The rain is no deterrent!

Class 2 – Creating Words with Wool

Class 2 children have been busy creating words with wool as a new way to practice their sight words. Class teacher Lucy Armstrong gave each child a set of sight words unique to them, and the students then manipulated the wool to spell out the words. Words are the building blocks for language development and when combined with wool, gives students some gross motor fun to experience real hands-on learning!


Gardening with Class 2

Class 2 enthusiastically helped to collect wheelbarrow-loads of natural matter from around the campus to the compost, taking turns to move the big loads in teams. Once there, it is unloaded and tipped onto the compost and celebrated with a good jump by the children on it's springy top! The children have learned so much about the importance of recycling as much natural material as we can on campus, including plants, food scraps and paper. At Castlecrag we have a very small carbon footprint, as all of our recycling and reusing that the children are involved in make a huge difference. Gardening Teacher Sandra Frain was glad to have her larger troupe of helpers back on campus!

Class 2 Stories of Light

Class Two have begun their 'Stories of Light' Main Lesson with teacher Lucy Armstrong. They practise their literacy skills - writing, spelling and grammar - through the beautiful tales of animals and their adventures. Artist Julia Byrne created this beautiful drawing as an inspiration for today's Main Lesson work, which is drawn on the board in chalk by Lucy, and then created by the children in their own books. This is followed by one sentence written from the story.

Class 3's Evie lets her hair hang down, then chops it off

After growing her hair for over a year in preparation, Evie from Class 3 cut her 50cm locks last week and donated it to Variety's Hair with Heart charity to be made into a wig for children in need.  Evie's Mum explains, "Evie was very excited leading up to the big chop and to put her plan in place to wear a disguise for her first day back at school with short hair. Class teacher Roger welcomed 'Frank' to Class 3 and 'Frank' had a lot of fun with the new hair style." The wigs are given to children in need, but Variety also provides assistance to other children in many ways eg wheelchairs, camps, therapy. See website for more details  Good on you Evie for giving up your hair and doing something amazing to help others. Glenaeon is proud of you!

Year 8 students draw guitars

Hendrix, Knopfler, Page and Clapton all started somewhere! Here, our Year 8 Music students are currently learning all about the guitar. Students recently created these very beautiful drawings of guitars, naming all the parts of the instrument.

Year 10 subject selections: Visual Arts with Alisan Smotlak

Year 10 students are about to make their subjects selections for HSC Year 11 and 12. There is much to consider, so we thought we’d interview some of our wonderful school Teachers for their views on subject selection. Alisan Smotlak B.A (Vis Arts) B. ED (Vis Arts) BA. Int Design, has been a Teacher for 25 years and a Teacher at Glenaeon for the past 20 years, the last two years as Head of Department (Visual Arts).

Why should students pick Visual Arts?
Visual Arts allows the student to gain wide perspectives of the world, have the opportunity for self-expression, mental focus, and the shared human experience of artistic enjoyment in appreciation of, and gaining skills in, many different materials.

What will studying Visual Arts teach me?
The student learns to become a liberal thinker, understand and engage about ideas and the world. Creating works empowers the individual to realise their strengths in decision making and tangible completions.

What is the number one reason why students choose to study Visual Arts?
The reasons why students enrol into Visual Arts are varied. Many times they choose it to ‘take a break from the bookwork courses’, or want to engage in artistic pursuits in University. My students have directly been accepted into university using their Body of Work as part of their portfolio eg. National Art School, COFA, NIDA Costume Design, Architectural Degrees. Even if they are not planning on pursuing art, they enjoy the challenge that art-making provides.

What makes this subject such a great one to study in HSC? What makes it so interesting?
The visual arts course allows the interests of the student to be at the fore of their studies. There are no set textbooks that you have to start and finish. The topics are led often by the students’ interests. There is lots of excitement watching artworks develop, serious conversations and a sense of autonomy over learning.

Why are you passionate about this subject?
I have lived and breathed art from a very young age. I have never not had art in my life, in either making, looking or educating. Everyday there is something new to discover in either techniques, materials, ideas. It is always so fulfilling to see students and parents at the end of the HSC year, display their work proudly, stand back and be in awe of what they have achieved. There are always a lot of smiles and happiness in the art room.

How can this subject help students beyond their school years?
To stand in front of an artwork when it’s difficult to know where to go next, and then contemplate, experiment, question, and then discover the next solution, is a tool that will live with you and assist you in the many decisions life gives you. There is always an answer and always hope if you have ambition and experience to work to achieve a solution in whatever aspect of your life.

What differentiates Glenaeon’s teaching approach in THIS SUBJECT to other schools?
Each year the student group is looked at very carefully and the topics that are studied are tailored to them. The groups are often between 8-12 students max, which allows for a very personal connection for every student. The personal approach allows the student to gain a great deal of confidence in their abilities and the group is always very supportive of each individual. As we have a median size group, the opportunity for multiple art making and viewing excursions is highly valued. A strength is Yr 11 and 12 are taught by two teachers. This give the opportunity for one teacher to focus on theory and the other on practical. This benefits the students to keep the subject delineated and focussed in the two different areas, whilst allowing the opportunity to have two teachers following their art making. This creates a very supportive environment as the students always have someone to talk to. Both teachers have been engaged with the school for 20 years each having their own children educated here. Both teachers are involved in other aspects of the school – one in a Guardian and Outdoor Education role and one in creative aspects of the school- musicals and exhibitions. This gives the teachers a broader connection to the school and supports the students’ awareness of the integration that an Art teacher has within the whole school. The HSC students also have their own independent working spaces on the ‘mezzanine’ where they can leave their work permanently and work on it at any time, very much envied by other schools.

Anything else you wish to add that will excite Year 10s about the choices they are about to make?
Art, above all subjects, is an opportunity to really explore materials and develop ideas of what you are really passionate about.  Where the boundaries, are what you create. It will build your self-confidence, and help you learn to articulate your ideas about life in general. It’s a place of activity and rewards that are tangible, in a world where so much exists in the ‘cloud’, it’s wonderful to be able to create something with your hands and have a real sense of achievement.

Alisan shares, “Glenaeon has given me a wide scope to invest my energies into many creative endeavours, I have taught many amazing students, and there are quite a few who I am still in contact with (even from my first HSC group in 1994) I have made life-long friends and on a daily basis richly fulfilled with the diversity of events that our school presents. I have lived near Manly all my life and hence I am very connected to the water. The sounds of the waves, the storms and the wind being near the coast is very important. It is always changing, full of energy and very unpredictable. My other great love is visiting galleries and performances. I was fortunate to have grandparents and my mother who bestowed on me the love of the art world, music, ballet, books and visual arts. My father was always industrious and worked with his hands. These combinations have had a profound impact on what I do.  I will always be involved in the arts in some way and I encourage Year 10s to seriously consider continuing their study of Visual Arts courses at Glenaeon in Year 11 and 12.

Year 10 subject selections: Biology with Dr Stanley Tang

Our spotlight on subject selections for Year 11 & 12 continues.  This story looks at Biology with Dr Stanley Tang...

Perhaps the COVID-19 global pandemic has peaked your child’s interest in joining the health care sector, or maybe they dream of saving marine wildlife?  Studying biology, whether for the career-path ahead, or because it feeds the soul, is a great subject choice. Our biology teacher, Dr Stanley Tang has a Master of Teaching (secondary Mathematics and Science) from the University of Sydney, a Doctor of Philosophy in Conservation Genetics and a Master of Applied Science (Zoology) from James Cook University and has been a Teacher at Glenaeon for the past two years. He also discovered the largest of the two remaining populations of the Black-throated Finch in the centre of the Adani Coal Mine. Stanley is a former volunteer at the Society of Conservation Biology (Sydney chapter) and was on the NSW Young Scientist Awards 2019 organisation committee for the Science Teachers Association of NSW. Now teaching full time, Stanley is committed to his students, studying birds and photography and thinks biology at Glenaeon is a truly exciting subject.

“The science of biology is mainly studying about life. It provides an in-depth, scientific understanding of the variations in the structures and functions of organisms, as well as the effects of the environment on living things. Biology also explores reproduction, inheritance patterns, the causes of genetic variation, and how they are applied in biotechnology and medical fields.

“At Glenaeon, doing biology means you will have many opportunities to work in the field with experts. Some great learning activities we have done in the past include bird banding, rock pool biodiversity research, invertebrate surveys, nocturnal spot-lighting and various genetic and medical workshops in university laboratories.”

Northern Beaches Art Prize - now open

This year's Northern Beaches Art Prize (formerly Warringah Art Prize) is adapting to current times of social isolation during COVID-19 and is being hosted online. 

The 2020 art prize invites artists and designers to submit digital artwork in the format of a digital postcard that responds to the theme Postcards from the Home, drawing on experiences and emotions connected to home isolation during COVID-19. Works can be across any art practice that is photographed and submitted as a simple postcard. 

The award is open to all level of artists and designers, from hobbyists to professionals. Free to enter.

The exhibition will include 60 chosen artworks, across Open and Youth categories, providing a snapshot of what 'home' means in the year 2020. 

For more information go to:

The Gentle Cafe - reminder

A reminder that the Gentle Cafe at our Middle Cove campus remains closed until further notice. 


Accessing the School Calendar

Important dates are listed on the school calendar which can be accessed here: or via GLO.

Alternatively you can find it on the Glenaeon website via the Quicklinks (scroll to the bottom of the homepage on the desktop, and if on a mobile device, the Quicklinks menu will appear in the top left hand corner - click on the down arrow and select "Calendar")

27 MAY-3 JUNE is National Reconciliation Week

#NRW2020 #InThisTogether2020

Friday June 5 is World Environment Day

This year's World Environment Day theme is biodiversity. Check out the link to find out more. 


#ForNature #WorldEnvironmentDay #WED2020

Glenaeon Newsletter Publishing Schedule 2020

The Community Noticeboard is a space where members of our community can share notices with others in the community. Please note that these listings are not official Glenaeon events or notifications but we are sharing them as a service to our community. If you would like to make a submission, please email

See attached for the publishing schedule dates for 2020. Inclusion cannot be guaranteed. Please note there is a strict deadline of 5pm the day before publication, but it will help if you send your content in ahead of deadline. Your submission may be edited for clarity and length. Images should be provided in jpg format landscape size (800x533 pixels).


Download the 2020 Newsletter Publishing Schedule

Grassroots Eco Store – Winter treats!

A beautiful array of winter inspired items are available as King Winter comes to town again! Australian made, woollen clothing, Fair Trade alpaca hand warmers and beanies as well as cards, songs and stories especially for the season of winter. Come in, have a look and feel the warmth or see what's new on Instagram grassroots_ecostore. Thank you for shopping locally at Grassroots Eco Store - a portion of every sale goes to Glenaeon.
See you soon!
0416 035 173

Opening Hours 29 May – 11 June
Monday: 8.30am–9.30am
Tuesday: 8.30am–9.30am
Wednesday: 8.30am–9.30am and 2.30–3.30pm
Thursday: 8.30am–9.30am
Friday: 2.30pm–3.30pm (later by request)


Warrah's Organic Food Co-op now offering home delivery

Warrah Farm is now offering home delivery.

Warrah Biodynamic Farm in Sydney’s North-West, grows a wide range of certified biodynamic and organic seasonal produce, picked daily for sale to the public in the Warrah Farm Shop and for supplying Co-op boxes to Hubs around Sydney. Warrah grown produce is supplemented by fresh produce and other goods supplied by other certified organic producers. We endeavour to provide products that are from boutique goods producers.


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Calling Practising Australian Artists