Monday, 20 November 2017

‘ZEALOUS MUSIC’ @ ALEXANDER SCHOOL

Zela Margossian’s music is a reflection of her journey in life. Born in Beirut of Armenian heritage, Zela’s music bears influences from the rich and colourful cultures that she represents. During her years studying piano performance in Armenia, Zela developed a great passion for the unique Armenian ethno-jazz that she experienced in the lively local scene. After moving to Sydney, she embarked on a new journey of nurturing this passion and has been making her mark here as a blossoming composer and artist. Zela’s music is best described as a fusion of folk and jazz, particularly carrying influences from Armenian traditional music.”

This is how the ‘Sydney International Women’s Jazz Festival 2017’ describes the Zela Margossian Quintet that will perform on the evening of Thursday, 9th November. Mrs Margossian will be performing with a line-up of talented, multicultural musicians from Sydney who seamlessly combine their authentic sounds to create an exotic musical atmosphere that is sure to take you on an emotive and pleasurable journey.

The Armenian community of Sydney is lucky to have such a talented musician and we have been honoured to have her at Alexander school since her arrival. Mrs Zela Margossian-Gaspar joined our dedicated teaching staff in August 2008 and our music lessons have not been the same ever since! Her passion for music has inspired many students and her professionalism has helped produce many wonderful concerts and memorable performances.

The students look forward to her weekly music lessons and are captured by her ideas and suggestions to always move them to another level. This has been the key to her success and her drive to attain the best out of her students. The same is true of her students who do private piano lessons. Zela’s perfectionist yet gentle approach drives not only her students but also those around her to give their best.

While the community has witnessed her talent and wonderful performances at numerous events over the years, the parents of Alexander school have been fortunate to have her teach their children. Combined with Mrs Seta Keoshgerian, they have been a formidable team that is set to produce another wonderful cultural event next Sunday.

Therefore, a warm invitation is extended to members of our community to come along and enjoy a unique and exciting ‘Armenian Cultural Evening’. As you are aware, the event will take place on Sunday, 12th November 2017 in the Gemjian Hall.

3rd November, 2017
Manoug Demirjian


Monday, 23 October 2017

YEAR 6 TRIP TO BATHURST

On the 13th of September the Year 6 class went to Bathurst. Our first stop was Echo Point. First we went on the Scenic Railway. Everyone was nervous and excited at the same time. The ride was really steep and fun but unfortunately very short. Once we went out of the railway there was a really good view of mountains and trees. Then we walked on a walkway through the trees and bushes to go to the skyway. On the skyway we also saw the 3 sisters.


At the Bathurst Goldfields we were able to pan for gold. Some students were lucky and found gold like Christopher who had found four specks of gold. After the panning we met a husband and wife who told us about when they came to Bathurst. Then we were split into three groups. In these groups we were able to make damper, which was really yummy. We got the chance to make mud bricks and play games of the 1850s.

After checking into our accommodation and having dinner we participated in a Bush Dance. Here we met Simone who taught us some dances. Some dances we knew and some we had to learn. We all had a really fun time.

The next morning after breakfast we went to Hill End to do some more panning! It was very muddy and dirty. Our instructor Michelle told us how to pan for gold. This time it was a different technique. Later on it got extremely cold and started to snow. Our hands turned purple in the freezing water. We were all happy to hop back on the warm bus.

In the treasure hunt we first gathered around a table and a lady told us some facts about Hill End and its history. Then she gave us a worksheet with 12 questions on it and said whoever got the most right would get a little capsule of gold. We got into groups of 5 and went walking around a village looking for the answers for the questions. At the end our school got 9 out of 12 which is really good.

Next it was off to an underground mine. Here we met Eddie and Garry. Eddie lead us into the mine and at first it was a little dark but then our eyes got used to the dark and we saw more. Eddie showed us the places where the miners thought there would be gold. At the end we decided if we wanted to climb the ladder all way to the top of the mountain.



After, we went to a cattle and drone show. The caretaker of the animal's name was Steve. He told us about the different species of sheep and cows. Steve also called up a few volunteers for different activities. Anita got called up to milk a cow, Jessica got called to hold a very small and cute bunny and lastly Christopher got called up and got to feed some lambs.

That night we were to have a campfire. We didn’t really sit around a campfire because it was too cold but some Aboriginal people came and told us about their history and culture. Uncle Bill told us about different weapons and what they’re used for.


On the very last day we got up nice and early, had our breakfast and went to the hayride. We were then able to visit the animals in the nursery. Our last stop was Mount Piper Power Station we first went inside the building and met Leo. He told us about coal and energy. He then showed us a video which showed us what the turbine looked like. We then got inside the bus and he gave us a tour around the power station.  We all had a wonderful trip but we were all ready to return home.

By: Year 6



Monday, 7 August 2017

Debating News... 2 DEBATES = 2 WINS!

The Forest District Interschool Debating Competition’s second round of debates took place on Wednesday, 2nd August at John Colet school. In this debate we opposed the John Colet School. The topic was “There is no need for tests and exams”, and we were on the negative team. The negative team consisted of Kevork as first speaker, Christopher as second speaker, Lilit as third speaker and Anita was fourth speaker.

Our team was able to use strong arguments and well thought out rebuts, as to why we needed to conduct tests and exams. Kevork started his speech by defining the topic and putting forward a strong case line that “The first step to anything is tests or exams”. He used strong arguments and outlined numerous examples as to why doctors need to conduct tests, even from the day we are born, to check our health and development. He also stated that medicines need to be tested before they are prescribed to people, otherwise we will have dire consequences.

Second speaker Christopher was there and ready to rebut many of the points that the affirmative team put forward. He went on to inform us about the benefits of tests and exams and the important function they play before placing a product on the supermarket shelf. He argued that before someone becomes a pilot, driver or doctor, they need to show the skills to operate as they risk the safety and life of many people.

Lilit, our third speaker came out strong with a number of well thought out rebuts on the main points the opposition had raised and summed up her team’s case. Anita was our fourth speaker. Her role was to help with any rebuts if needed and to thank the adjudicators for rewarding us the win! She also thanked the John Colet school for hosting the event.

We like to take this opportunity and congratulate all the students for their effort so far. It is great team work, as every member of class contributes to the process. Our next debate is on Wednesday, 9th August, against the German International School. A win will secure our place in the finals.
Good luck debaters!


Monday, 19 June 2017

WE ARE CODING ANOTHER LANGUAGE @ ALEXANDER SCHOOL!

As a bilingual school, one may think learning two languages simultaneously is already a challenge in itself - specially if one is English and the other Armenian. However, for students at AGBU Alexander Primary School and right around Australia, one of the most important languages they may all need to learn is also the language of computer coding. It might sound strange, but language of coding or computer programming will soon be the most commonly understood in the world.

We all agree that computer software is a growing field and allows for a great job outlook as well as entrepreneurial potential. As such, coding skills are incredibly useful for today’s students to learn, but it’s not just due to job prospects. Since today’s most interesting tools and platforms can all be manipulated by coding, having coding skills is also a great jumping off point for greater independence creativity.

It’s hard to imagine a single career that doesn’t have a need for someone who can code. Everything that ‘just works’ has some type of code that makes it run. Coding is all around us. It is the language that makes things happen. Its meaning is functional and practical, as it achieves instant results. Much like traditional languages, coding is also limitless in its creative potential. There is no end to the ‘on-screen’ events that coding can instigate. In digital context then, coding is the language of everything.

That’s why more and more Australian students are coding. They see in coding the tools through which they can access a vast future of creativity and productivity. Coding and programming is no longer a hobby for the ‘computer whiz’ in their twenties, hunched over three monitors... not any more! The newest coders have just begun primary school!

With coding set to take the world by storm, it’s our duty as educators to prepare students for the future, for jobs that will eventuate in this area. Coding is the primary tool through which manufacturing jobs are being automated, so it is reasonably easy to predict that coding will play a much more important role in future curricula. This means that any forward-looking school should be seeking to develop models that can see coding become part of the school culture.

At Alexander school, we have set a high standard for ourselves, by trying to go above and beyond so that coding becomes a part of students’ everyday language. While the Digital Technologies component of the Australian Curriculum tries to cover this content in the later years of primary and across Years 9 and 10, it is still behind compared to other countries. For example, in the United Kingdom’s computing curriculum there has been a clear shift away from using technology to making it. In other words, since 2014 the UK has joined the coding ‘C’ with the three Rs.

Today, there are many resources for people to learn code. The Barbies and GI Joes of yesteryear have become tablets and smart phones. As I have stated in the past, gone are the days when we used computers at Alexander school to do ‘things differently’, the time has come for teachers to use the computer and other modern educational technology and do ‘different things’ in the classroom. The employees of the future need to be able to think outside the box and do different things in order to have a competitive edge over their counterparts. This is the reason why we are coding another language… because we simply have the means to deliver this at Alexander school! 
16th June, 2017
Manoug Demirjian

Thursday, 8 December 2016

COMMUNITY AND ROAD EDUCATION SCHEME

On 24th November Years 5-6 went to C.A.R.E.S. which stands for Community and Road Education Scheme. There were two police officers Senior Constable Cooper and Gould. Before we started, Matthew, Kevork, Samuel, Lilit and I rode down the hill in a small police mobile station. It was really awesome but the others came down with Mrs Dernee. We drove on the H.A.R.T course. This is where you learn to ride motorbikes. Once we got there we all sat down on benches. First, we learnt about how to check if our bike helmets were safe. We had to look at our helmets and see if we could find the Australian standard sticker because laboratories have tested these helmets for safety. We were told the European standard was not safe.


Senior Constable Gould got the bikes ready for us, making sure that they were the right size. Later Senior Constable Cooper got the people who could not ride a bike and taught them how to. The rest had to do an obstacle course. It was pretty hard but we did it. After a while we learnt to do signalling that indicates which way you are going. We also learnt that when you are at a stop sign you have to put your right arm out and look right, left and right. After that we ate our morning tea and played some games. When we finished Senior Constable Cooper took us in to watch some videos about bike safety. After that we ate lunch and played again. When we finished Senior Constable Cooper got the people who couldn’t ride a bike and still taught them how. Senior Constable Gould took the rest to the mini road. First we had a walk and talk around the mini road. Then after a few questions we rode our bikes on the mini road.

It was so much fun! When we came to a sign we had to follow the road rules that we had learnt. We had immense fun riding around round-a-bouts, stopping at ‘Stop’ and ‘Give Way’ signs and obeying all the rules. Unfortunately, eventually it had to end. We packed our bags and left. The students who didn’t get to ride in the police mobile van got to ride it up the hill. Overall it was the best excursion!

By Christopher


Saturday, 18 June 2016

FRIENDSHIP DAY

On Wednesday 15th of June, Year 6 went on a trip to the Kinma School for ‘Friendship Day’.

Our secretary, Mrs Boyadjian, took us to the Kinma School. There were a lot of students from different schools there. Some of the teachers and students introduced themselves and showed us around the school. They also told us where to sign in and put our bags.

After signing in they told us that we had to write our name on a piece of paper then fold it up and put it in a bowl. Then we put our bags in the hall and started to play.

A while later they called us into the hall. In the hall there were speeches and we were told why we were at their school and how ‘Friendship Day’ started.

After their speeches they told us to get into a circle. This is when they got the bowl out with all our names folded in it. Everybody had to pick out a name, but if it was someone from your school or someone you knew then you had to put it back and pick out a different one.

After everybody picked out a name and a name tag, each person had to decorate the name tag for the person they chose from the hat. After everybody had decorated the name tag for somebody else, we had to go and find that person, meeting new friends along the way.

Then it was question time. This was when some students from the Kinma School asked each of the schools some questions.

After all of the questions were asked it was time for morning tea. For morning tea we had veggies with dip, fruit and sweets. It was very yummy!!! We then played for about 10 minutes.

When morning tea ended, it was time for a bushwalk. On the bushwalk we went past the stream. On the bushwalk there was clay on the ground and we got to hold it and mould it.  There was an Aboriginal rock which was shaped like a boat, and this rock was used as a Birthing place by the Aboriginal people. At the end of the bushwalk they gave us a small box to put our clay in.

After we washed our hands and put our boxes full of clay near our bags, then it was time for lunch. For lunch we had spaghetti Bolognese. It was really yummy too!!! When we finished our food we were able to play. We played for a long time.

During lunch some of the students helped a teacher get the wool and clipboards, so anyone who wanted to, could make friendship bracelets. There were a couple of students who taught us how to make two different types of friendship bracelets. We made the friendship bracelets for about half an hour.

When it was time to go, everyone got their bags and clay creations. We waited at the basketball court to be picked up.

When we got to school we told our class what we did there and we also taught them how to make two different types of friendship bracelets.

So that is the end of our trip to the Kinma school.

By Talia

BILINGUAL EDUCATION

Many physiological studies have shown that the brains of bilingual people operate differently to single language speakers, and in fact that learning a second language is a great asset to the cognitive process. Experts say, that children who learn a second language beginning in early childhood can benefit from increased critical thinking skills, memory and flexibility of the mind.

University of Queensland bilingual education expert Dr Simone Smala says other benefits of bilingualism include a slower mental decline, a better appreciation of other cultures and increased job prospects. However, despite the benefits, the proportion of students in Australia studying a second language is low compared with other countries. While the government has tried to push and encourage the learning of languages up to the senior years of high school, unfortunately speaking a second language is a skill that isn’t valued by the majority of Australians.

We do know that children who learn languages early have a lot of advantages. For example, there’s an interdependent relationship with English literacy development for children who learn languages early. There is also a greater meta-linguistic awareness, which basically just means the engagement with a second language makes even very young children a lot more aware of language, of its different roles, the structure of sentences and so on.

We also find that there is an increased mental processing capacity through the engagement with a second language, which leads to a better memory and better control over information processing. For example, children become better at ignoring not so important facts and focusing on the important things.

In general, there are many advantages to being bilingual. One interesting benefit, based on many research studies, is that knowing a second language can slow down mental decline later in life. We can also see long term benefits in the way that it’s easier to learn more languages if you have learned a second one early in life. Knowing a second language also instils a general appreciation of other cultures and better intercultural understanding.

What we are starting to see now is that most industrialised nations are training their citizens well in English, so their citizens become fully bilingual. Monolingual English speakers might soon be the only monolingual speakers in the world and might be competing for jobs with people who can speak English as a second language well, but also have another language.

Manoug Demirjian

Saturday, 4 June 2016

BRIGHTER FUTURE IN OUR ‘YEAR OF GROWTH’

In our ‘Year of Growth’, we are moving towards a much ‘brighter’ future thanks to the installation of new lights throughout the school! For over 25 years the florescent lights in the classrooms and administration building have been serving our needs, but over the last few years they have been a cause for concern, as they were starting to become a maintenance and safety issue. The old plastic on these florescent units were at times so brittle that they fell apart during routine maintenance. Some of the units were not working at all, not to mention the fact that they were not even switched on at most times, to simply avoid the constant buzzing annoyance and sound coming out of them.

Thanks to the support and foresight of the School Board the issue was resolved and a plan of action was put in place for this major and costly capital project. The issue was not a simple replacement of the lighting units, but a plan for the future with a more robust, modern and environmentally friendly system that will serve the needs of the school well into the future. Therefore, the solution to replace 106 light fittings required careful research and planning. Once again, it was one of our graduates who came in to assist and ‘serve’ the school they graduated from in the year 2000. Our graduate of the new millennium, Garen Manoukian, the owner and proprietor of ‘Impedanz Electrical’, recommended the installation of the latest LED light tubes that not only use 50% less energy than the florescent equivalent but also last much longer with potentially zero maintenance. The fittings are also placed in a full metal chassis with screws in the end caps, making them much safer and robust.
The new lights have now been installed in two classrooms that were affected the most. The Board has also used this opportunity to apply a new and fresh coat of ceiling paint, which was done during the holiday period. The rest of the lights will be installed during the next term break. The ceilings will also be painted in the process, allowing our students to be invited into a much brighter, safer and environmentally friendly classrooms.

On behalf of the students and teachers, I like to take this opportunity and thank all Board members for their support. It is gratifying to know that we have members who are not willing to compromise the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff at any cost. For this, we also like to acknowledge our business partners and sponsors who continue to support the school. Without their financial input it would not be possible to implement these type of capital projects, which in this case is anticipated to be over $11,000.

Manoug Demirjian

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

USING TECHNOLOGY EFFECTIVELY

Technology is everywhere we look, and it seems like everything is being enhanced and improved in its capabilities. Electronic, computer and communications technologies in particular are constantly expanding both in capabilities and applications. Not only has the range of technologies changed, but it has also widened access to knowledge to such an extent that students as well as others now have to accept the fact that they need to be lifelong learners. It has been said - ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn’. It is also true to say that - ‘Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event’. Encouraging students to learn how to learn is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of education.

At Alexander school, members of staff are constantly looking for ways to use technology innovatively and effectively. Undoubtedly, ever since the introduction of the Laptops and the Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) in all our classrooms, major changes have taken place in the way we teach or bring information and knowledge to our students. They have in fact become an integral part of our teaching and learning. These changes have been complemented by the fast internet access and the school network system, including the wireless environment. As a result, the world has been brought to the forefront of our classrooms, greatly benefiting the learning resources now available at our fingertips.

As I have stated in the past, gone are the days when we used computers at Alexander school to do ‘things differently’, the time has come for teachers to use the computer and other modern educational technology and do ‘different things’ in the classroom.

The employees of the future need to be able to think outside the box and do different things in order to have a competitive edge over their counterparts. For this reason it was important that few years ago we were able to embrace the idea of using Goggle Apps for Education to empower our students - the next generation of administrators, CEOs, and technocrats, to give them the knowledge base that will enable them to become masters of their fields. It is proclaimed that modern technology has the power to change the ‘content, pedagogy and effects’ of education on the future generation. Schools and educators have a vital role to play in this. Students enjoy and demonstrate the joy of learning when they become ‘co-constructors of knowledge’ rather than one expert telling them what they know. Students of the 21st Century should be critical thinkers rather than mere ‘empty barrels’ waiting to accept deposits from their teachers.

Google Apps for Education has helped us achieve this as a set of flexible, customizable tools that provides opportunities for students and teachers to work more effectively in a collaborative environment. This comprehensive, cost-effective solution which is entirely browser-based, has made it easier for students to work from any computer connected to the internet, without having to purchase expensive software to communicate or do their homework. This example of ‘Cloud’ computing has recently been extended and complemented in our school environment through another computing giant, Microsoft.

Since the start of term, all new computers have been installed with Microsoft Office 365 for Education. The cloud based version of the full MS Office package, with the latest and familiar tools to help students and educators better communicate, collaborate and achieve more. Together with the Office apps for Education, they help to create dynamic learning experiences in and outside of the classroom. This has been another great and exciting step forward in our ‘Year of Growth’.

Manoug Demirjian

Saturday, 14 May 2016

MOTHERS’ DAY ASSEMBLY

It was gratifying to see so many of our mothers and grandmothers at our special Mothers’ Day Assembly. It certainly brought a sparkle to the eyes of all the students as they performed to one of the most important person in our lives - our mothers!


The stage came to life with the colourful displays and the projections on the big screen. It was evident that the children enjoyed the beautiful songs, poetry and dance. Their reciting of great poetry and readings of love showed their affection towards their mothers. While the students informed us what they would do ‘if they had a million dollars’, we know that no amount of money would have secured the love that was being generated by our students towards their mothers.

We were all fulfilled by their performances thanks to the guidance of our wonderful teachers who had prepared them so well, over a short period of time.

Thank you to the P&C and all the parents who contributed to the afternoon tea following the special assembly. Once again thank you to all who came along and enjoyed the occasion and in turn congratulated all our Mothers for their untiring work and support.