Hands on Learning activity: Environmental art

We have supplied some ideas for activities at home to help you keep learning and practicing your skills. Please keep in mind that in HoL we encourage initiative, but normally you are supervised by staff with skills and this may or may not be available at home. Please ask your parent/guardian first before starting this activity. Reminder: To keep this activity safe don’t forget to practice social distancing when you are walking to your local park. Please click here for the HOL@home Safety Analysis template

Create an artwork in or around your garden with what you can find and email it to Penny @ pennys@fitzroyhs.vic.edu.au.

With the different tones in the Australian forest, and changing autumn season, it’s great to be able to find
different colour pallets and materials to create a masterpiece. Or work with stones and rock or mud. This
simply takes time, patience and creativity and you’ll be amazed by what you can do and how you will feel.


• Whatever materials you can find in your own garden or neighbourhood. As a principle try to only use things that have already fallen and detached, rather than picking things from living plants.

• Think of a good space or background for your finished work – is that simply a cleared piece of earth, or another plant, or even a tree or its bark.


• creativity
• resourcefulness
• patience
• camera (or phone) to take pictures


• Dependent on the area you live in and the materials you use, a thin pair of gloves to protect from soil bacteria is recommended.


• From sourcing resources to full creation this could take anywhere from one hour to half a day.

Step 1
First of all start with some image searches to get your creativity flowing with the endless possibilities before you. Simply Google search ‘environmental art’ or for amazing artists such as Andy Goldsworthy. Try YouTube as well.

Step 2
Start planning what kind of design you’d like to work on and maybe do some sketches. Or you could simply go outside and see where you’d like to do create your work and the materials you have to work with. Here you need patience as sometimes your original ideas may not work so you need to be adaptable and resilient.

Step 3
Clear the space you want to work in. Think of how you want your background to work, and what will compare and contrast to the materials you’re using. Patiently start creating and adapt to your materials and the conditions.

Step 4
The beauty of this work is that you have to be willing to let it go – it’s not a permanent structure. Take a picture of your completed work and think of how you want to frame this too – big background or not. Then share it with others and walk away. You may want to see or record how it changes over time.

Mental Health – what teachers should look for

Andrew Fuller

Some young people have been living an online lifestyle for years. This means that while some kids are thriving without the pressures of attending school, others are unravelling & facing mental health concerns during challenging times.

Teachers have been asking about the signs that might indicate they should be more concerned about a young person’s mental health. While I have written about this in my books, here is a brief guide.

Teachers should keep a look out for young people (and one another) at this time &

consider getting help from a mental health professional if available. Being sensitive to possible warning signs is especially important when most contact happens online or remotely.

If you feel concerned about someone, it is always better to be proactive. Saying something along the lines of, ‘You seem a bit (insert what you’ve observed) & I’ve been feeling a bit worried about you. Do you think I should be worried about you?” usually starts the conversation.


What’s fairly normal

Some worries are common in times of uncertainty. Everyone is on heightened alert.

People often feel exhausted. This is why lessening the emphasis on assessment for school students is recommended.

Signs that might give you more concern

In each of these areas it is important to compare the signs with the person’s usual level of functioning.

– Looping worries that don’t get anywhere towards an action or solution.

– Increased restlessness & agitation such as

  pacing, trembling, shaking, rapid speech, tics

  or hair pulling or twisting.

  • Feelings of being completely overwhelmed, dread & disempowered.

Sadness and Depression

What’s fairly normal

Some glum & sad times are expected. Missing friends & missing freedoms is a process of partial grieving for them and for a lifestyle.

 Signs that might give you more concern

– Not doing some things they would usually  


– Changes in appetite or weight

– Feeling that life is pointless

– More sullen and morose

– Talking about themselves in denigrating ways

– Crying

– Talking about death or loss more readily.


What’s fairly normal

Some disturbance of sleep is usual at these times. Some may have more vivid dreams & may feel disturbed by them (talking to them about their dreams will help).

Signs that might give you more concern

– Alterations in their usual pattern

– Waking up after brief sleeps & not being able

  to get back to sleep

– Over-sleeping & avoidance

– Not being able to relax or sleep at the end of

  the day.

– Children coming into parent’s beds in the middle of the night more often.


What’s fairly normal

People are hearing a lot more than usual about

threats, infections and illness so some wariness as well as a focus on physical health is expected.

Signs that might give you more concern

– Repetitive activities that seem not to make sense.

– Excessive handwashing or disinfecting that seems excessive or obsessive.

– Fears of contamination or a sense of impending illness or death that seems out of order with their current level of risk.

– Unrealistic fears that they may contaminate others.

– A sense that they are either ‘immune’ from viruses or that they are responsible for them.


What’s fairly normal

Covid-19 takes ‘stranger-danger’ to an entirely different level. At these times small events can trigger major responses.

Signs that might give you more concern

  • -Dramatically increased startle response

-Total avoidance of interactions with family members despite low or no risk.

-Feeling terrified or overwhelmed by circumstances

– Having an unshakable & unrealistic dread of the future.


What’s fairly normal

Grumpiness & some snappiness is usual.

Young people often express their fears & stresses behaviourally & tend to do so towards those they know and love best of all.

Signs that might give you more concern

-Self–directed anger or self- harm.

– Temper outbursts that occur erratically and persist for long periods of time.

– Violent acts.

– Smouldering resentments, vendettas or

   stand-over tactics aimed at controlling others

– No remorse or insight into others’ feelings after they have had an outburst.

– Outbursts where they lash out, hit or hurt

   others or damage valuable items.

– Anger is escalating or they seem unable to

  control or contain their level of anger.


What’s fairly normal

Being cooped up together for extended periods can heighten tensions in the best of families & relationships. Flare-ups & heated exchanges could occur. Some households may be on edge & yelling & stressful inter-changes may intensify.

Signs that might give you more concern

-Fearfulness or trepidation about specific people

– Appearing more guarded or unwilling to speak in case they could be overheard.

– You feel worried or uncomfortable on their behalf.

-You feel they are keeping a secret.

-Increased rate of pacifying behaviours- rubbing of neck, biting nails, playing with hair,

rubbing temples or covering their mouth.

– Art works or writings that contain uncharacteristically aggressive or death- focused imagery (be especially alert to drawings that show armless figures, disproportionate sizes of people in drawings, jagged teeth or distorted mouths)

– Signs of injuries.

– Bruising especially on the inner sides of arms/

– Unusual use of sexual terms or imagery.

Assessment Summary

Any assessment needs to occur in the context of a baseline. I use three general rules of thumb in making an assessment of risk:

1.Is the person substantially different from how they usually present to me?

2.Is there change apparent in different settings or contexts? For example a child who glum at home but cheers up when with friends is usually less concerning than none who is sad across both settings.

3.How worried do I feel? While we need to careful not to project our fears onto others, you are attuned to people. If you are worried on someone’s behalf it is almost always wise to assume that there is something to worry about.

Andrew is the author of ‘Tricky Teens’, ‘Your Best life at Any Age’ and ‘Tricky Kids’.

COVID-19: List of resources



Family Wellbeing


PRIMARY SCHOOL – General & Wellbeing

Stress & Anxiety

Social Stories

SECONDARY SCHOOL – General & Wellbeing

Apps & online programs to support mental health & wellbeing


Primary – Special Needs Specific

Social Stories and/or Visuals

Secondary – Special Needs Specific

Sue Larkey – Schedules: The Number One Strategy for Students with Autism in these Uncertain Times

Remote Learning – Term 2

Following advice from the Victorian Government on Tuesday 7 April, Fitzroy High School will be moving to remote and flexible learning from Term 2 (beginning with a pupil-free day on Tuesday 7 April).

This is a step all Victorian government schools are taking to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This means that all students who can learn at home must learn from home. This is a very clear directive from the Victorian Government based on the advice of the Chief Health Officer.

We will continue to offer limited on-site learning for those students who need to access this, including for students on days when they are not able to be supervised at home and no other arrangements can be made.  We will provide further information about this shortly.

The Department’s latest advice on coronavirus can be found athttps://www.education.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

It is important that we work together and support each other during this challenging time. We will be in touch with staff and parents and carers shortly with further details of what remote and flexible learning will look like at our school.

In the meantime, you might find it useful to look at the Department’s Learning from Home website. It provides resources and guidance for teachers and parents and carers. https://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/department/Pages/learningfromhome.aspx

Regards, Linda Mitchell (Principal)

Reordering and landscaping of FHS garden beds

The school’s staff, students, school council, City of Yarra and members of the local community have been involved for a number of years in an ongoing project to improve the school’s garden beds.

What are the objectives of this reordering and landscaping program?

To create much improved: amenity, biodiversity, representation of indigenous plants, teaching spaces and generally peaceful and welcoming precincts for staff and students to enjoy.

One of the specific objectives of the program is to provide the school with four, of the nine, Ecological Vegetation Communities (EVC) within the City of Yarra.

A further specific objective is to provide additional habitat for local fauna thereby further increasing the biodiversity of the school grounds.

What are the educational advantages from this garden beds program?

To support, expand and enhance the overall Education for Sustainability (EfS) objectives of the school, including involvement of: all teachers and students, particularly the VCAL teachers and students, with formal and informal links to the curriculum, the local community (they have already been involved with the tangential Community Compost Bins Project), parents and School Council. For a number of years the school has taken part in the ‘Resource Smart Schools – Sustainability Victoria’ Program and this reordering of the school’s garden beds adds to the school’s sustainability credentials via this program.

It is apposite to look at the ‘…three focus areas’ of the school’s ‘EfS policy’ outlined in that school document. It states that they are:

• curriculum;

• management of school resources;

• management of school grounds.

To achieve the objectives of EfS, Fitzroy High School will address all three focus areas in ways that are meaningful to the students, teachers, school council and the whole school community.”

It is also interesting to note that in a major report titled ‘Ecological Education at Fitzroy High School: a Report of Research Conclusions and Recommendations’ compiled by Alicia Flynn in November 2018, she outlines three things that are essential for ecological education. They are: ‘Learning with other species’, ‘Learning with materials’ and ‘Learning with other places’.

From Alicia’s report it is possible to conclude that enhanced FHS gardens would provide an opportunity for students who participated in any inquiry using garden spaces to relish the opportunity to learn in such a diverse multispecies community and precinct. The teachers and other adults who participate would also benefit by experiencing a sense of space, calm, fun and ‘a different relationship with students and learning’. 

Therefore it is possible to say that in addition to the direct educational advantages outlined above, an enhancement of the general health and well being of staff and students flows from the improved ambience of the school’s surrounds.      

What has already been achieved?

The earliest stage of the garden bed program took place a few years ago when the garden area facing Falconer Street – the gateway to the school’s main entrance, was reordered with garden beds of indigenous plants and the provision of timber surrounds and seating areas. The beauty, sustainability and utility of this first step of the program was recognised with the school gaining an environment award from the City of Yarra.

Some work on a new and revamped program took place in 2018. The first stage of this program, ‘The Escarpment Shrubland’, involved the complete reordering of the area in the south-east corner of the school, adjacent to the Michael Street driveway. Many of the unsuitable existing trees, shrubs and grasses in this area were removed, the ground was tilled and suitably mulched, and many new plants were established in the landscaped garden.

In 2019 it was hoped that another stage, and a more ambitious part of the program would be reached. The gardens on both sides of the ‘Corridor Area’, running north-south between the main building and science block, was to be reordered in a similar way to that of the first stage outlined above. Unfortunately the maintenance and painting work on the timber windows on the western side of the main building took precedence. It was not possible to guarantee that the newly established gardens, adjacent to the main building, would not be impacted by the machinery or scaffolding that was required to complete this work.

What is planned for future years?

The garden and landscaping of this ‘Corridor Area’ will now take place in 2020.

Further stages of the whole program are planned for coming years and in particular the creation of a ‘sensory garden’ which is likely to be located on the eastern side of the school; existing garden areas would be suitable for this part of the program. In 2018, the outline of possible approaches that could be used in creating a sensory garden was provided to the School’s Council by an interested parent, Ms Tonya Slee, who was a member, at that stage, of the ‘Master Plan Subcommittee’ of FHS Council

The stages of garden reordering outlined above have been under the oversight of the school principal, Linda Mitchell and member of the Buildings and Environments Subcommittee of FHS Council using the plans, principles and guidelines provided to the school by Ms Jenny Harrington of the Victorian Indigenous Nursery Corporation.

The School Council endorses this program and does so in the knowledge that it has already provided many aesthetic and educational benefits for staff, students, the school’s neighbours and members of the school community, and will continue to do so for many years to come.

It has always been a major aim of this program to create model gardens that will create additional resources for teachers and students and the local community to enjoy. 

How can you help?

The school has already raised over $1000 to support the purchasing of plants, mulch and general landscaping.

In the future, when we can all assemble again, we will have at least one school ‘Maintenance Day’ where we will work on the school’s garden beds.

Roger Smith

Community Representative and Convenor of Buildings and Environments Subcommittee of FHS Council  



Setting Career Foundations

Term 2 is in full swing with all students experiencing a remote classroom setting through virtual engagement. As a career educator, as tough as this may be to adjust for some students, I feel that it is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate what remote working looks and feels like to which many if not all will experience through their career at some stage. 

The impact of remote learning on career conversations: 

With all students working through their studies using virtual and online communication tools, the career department has also been communicating with students over the telephone and Google Meet. Sessions are completed via telephone unless a parent is present, in which case Google Meet with video can be used. The school will continually monitor this as the situation progresses. 

Year 9 

My Career Insights program testing has been pulled back due to the impact of COVID-19. The program will still go ahead; however, the careers team are working closely with Year 9 coordinators to make sure that students are in the right learning space to complete the assessment. The CEAV who complete the profile interviews are equipped to complete virtual sessions to which parent consent forms will be circulated in the next week. Students are still predicted to unpack the profile starting in June. For further information for parents on My Careers Insights, click here.    

Year 10

Students are encouraged to revisit their Morrisby Report, as a part of their My Career Insights program they completed in Year 9 as well as their career action plan. Students can log back in and review this at Morrisby.com, if they are having difficulty accessing their profile, send an email to tysond@fitzroy.vic.edu.au 

Year 11

All students are still able to organise a virtual session both online through the career session booking app. You can access it here. 

Year 12

With the current impact of COVID-19 playing, it’s course across the nation on all Year 12 students, the Australasian Conference of Tertiary Admissions Centres (ACTAC) (which is the national body that oversees VTAC) has issued a statement on the 27th of April regarding the impact on tertiary entries for 2021. You can find the full statement here. Essentially they have listed that the effect of COVID-19 will be accommodated in this year’s ATAR. We will still work individually with students through the VTAC period to ensure that each student who feels they need to apply for a SEAS application in light of another circumstance impacted by COVID-19 can do so. 

Higher Education providers are holding virtual open days and experiences for students to gain as much of an insight as they can before the application process. They are also working to make all admissions requirements live on their websites by August in correlation with the VTAC opening.   

Virtual Open Day & Pathway Information 

There are several virtual open days that both students and parents can register for to understand the courses available better and experience campus in the lead up to VTAC preferences. Many Victorian and National providers will be involved. 

 Here are a list of virtual open days that are being held in May: 

TIS Virtual Careers Expo – Powered By Torrens University (7th & 8th of May)   

VCE & Beyond – Powered by InspirEd (10th of June – 14th of June) 

Education USA Australia – Virtual Fair (May 7th) – For students looking to gain access to American Colleges. You can also find more information out about sitting a SAT with the impact of COVID-19 here. 

Year 13 Expo – Powered by Youthsense – (May 18th – 22nd)

1. Click this link: https://year13.com.au/account/verify/school/YEIQQRAP

2. Fill out your details

3. Click Attending Expo

4. Complete your skills forecast and career plan

Wellbeing Support

Dear School Community,

In addition to the message sent via Compass on Wednesday March 25 in relation to the provision of school’s Wellbeing and Engagement services if/when working remotely to support learning and wellbeing continuity, please find below some tips to assist families:

Students who have existing appointments with a member of the well-being team are welcome to have a phone session.  This will need to be scheduled and arranged directly with either Linda, Jamie or Jo via email. 

Students/ parents are also welcome to email if they have any concerns about their child’s wellbeing during school working hours 8.30am – 4.30pm Monday to Friday, where further support/ information can be provided in more specific contexts. 

Tips for Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety
As the number of coronavirus cases rise across Australia, the level of anxiety within the community is increasing. Feelings of worry and uncertainty can be expected. It is important that we learn to manage our stress before it turns to more severe anxiety and panic (APS, 2020).

This following information outlines some useful strategies which can help both adults and children cope with the stress or anxiety experienced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

 Listen to the child and acknowledge any fears. Reassure the child that, given widespread media attention on COVID-19, it is understandable that they are worried about what is happening and how it could impact their lives.
 Normalise the child’s feelings. Let the child know that media exposure or hearing adults talk about worrying events such as COVID-19 might lead to heightened feelings of fear and apprehension, that this is normal, and such feelings will subside. Provide perspective.
 Respond to incorrect information or assumptions. Explain how information can be distorted when it is passed from one person to the next, as in the game known as ‘Chinese Whispers’ or ‘Broken telephone’
 Know the facts. Don’t speculate — keep up to date. Inform the child or your class about what is happening in a way that does not promote further anxiety. Refer to the Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus
(COVID-19) resources.

Learn the facts
Constant media coverage about the coronavirus can keep us in a heightened state of anxiety. Try to limit related media exposure and instead seek out factual information from reliable sources such as the Australian Government’s health alert or other trusted organisations such as the World Health Organization (APS, 2020).

Practise self-care
To help encourage a positive frame of mind, it is important to look after yourself. Everybody practises self-care differently with some examples including:
 Maintaining good social connections and communicating openly with family and friends
 Making time for activities and hobbies you enjoy
 Keeping up a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep and avoiding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope with stress
 Practising relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to give your body a chance to settle and readjust to a calm state.

Tips for talking with children about the coronavirus
Children will inevitably pick up on the concerns and anxiety of others, whether this is through listening and observing what is happening at home or at school. It is important that they can speak to you about their own concerns.

Answer their questions
Do not be afraid to talk about the coronavirus with children. Given the extensive media coverage and the increasing number of people wearing face masks in public, it is not surprising that some children are already aware of the virus. 
You can do this by:
 Speaking to them about coronavirus in a calm manner
 Asking them what they already know about the virus so you can clarify any misunderstandings they may have
 Letting them know that it is normal to experience some anxiety when new and stressful situations arise
 Giving them a sense of control by explaining what they can do to stay safe (e.g., wash their hands regularly, stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing)
 Not overwhelming them with unnecessary information (e.g., death rates) as this can increase their anxiety
 Reassure them that coronavirus is less common and severe in children compared to adults
 Allowing regular contact (e.g., by phone) with people they may worry about, such as grandparents, to reassure them that they are okay.

Talk about how they are feeling
Explain to your child that it is normal to feel worried about getting sick. Listen to your child’s concerns and reassure them that you are there to help them with whatever may arise in the future. It is important to model calmness when discussing the coronavirus with children and not alarm them with any concerns you may have about it. Children will look to you for cues on how to manage their own worries so it is important to stay calm and manage your own anxieties before bringing up the subject with them and answering their questions.

Limit media exposure
It is important to monitor children’s exposure to media reports about the coronavirus as frequent exposure can increase their level of fear and anxiety. Try to be with your child when they are watching, listening or reading the news so you are able to address any questions or concerns they may have.

Further Resources to Assist Parents and Carers to Communicate and Support their Child:
Please find some further helpful resources below:
Lifemind Australia has established accessible links to vital connections and resources which are designed to support the mental health and wellbeing of those experiencing an indirect or direct impact from COVID-19.
Emerging Minds has a helpful video, factsheets and many tips to guide your discussion.

Top Class: Theatre Studies Filming Invitation

Last year, I completed the VCE subject Theatre Studies, achieving a high score in my final monologue examination. Students were required to perform an interpretation from an assortment of prescribed monologues, as either an Actor/Director or Designer. I selected the character of Elizabeth Appleyard from Tom Wright’s adaptation of Picnic At Hanging Rock, set in the early 1900s. I created an abstract representation of the world of the play and theme of nature through my ‘clocklike’ arranged set design.

In late January, I was invited to audition for Top Class Season of Excellence 2020. This is an opportunity for twenty five outstanding students across Victoria to showcase their monologue to future Theatre Studies students, teachers and the general public. Early February, myself and Tallulah Thornton – Lawrence were officially chosen to perform in the show, although the performance itself was cancelled because of Covid-19.

Subsequently, Drama Victoria has chosen myself and six other performers to be filmed as an educational resource for schools across Victoria.

I am extremely grateful for these opportunities and has proved to me that hard work really does pay off.

Matilda Komene, Year 12

Private singing, piano or acting classes online

Private singing, piano or acting classes online with professional actor and singer Belinda Jenkin.

Are you wanting to learn a new skill or continue practising while at home? 

I am a graduate of NIDA 2015 (DMT) and Musical Theatre CAP21, New York.

My professional musical theatre tour was recently postponed due to our current circumstances so I am offering affordable online private classes for any of your performing arts needs.

I teach piano, singing, musical theatre, acting for stage and screen and songwriting to all ages.

I can also assist you with VCE subjects such as VCE contemporary voice, VCE Music theory, VCE Drama (monologue preparation, performance and theory) and VCE Theatre Studies.

Feel free to contact me if you would like a lesson anytime! You are also more than welcome to pass on my details if you know anyone else who might be interested in lessons during this time or in the future!

PHONE: 0402292048


EMAIL: belinda.janejenkin@gmail.com

For more information about me:


Performing credits include: Eleanor, Summer Heights High (ABC), Jade, in the new television comedy Metro Sexual(Nine Network), Magnormos’ Anyone Can Whistle, HouseWarming, Until Tomorrow, Prick the Musical, Motor-Mouth Loves Suck Face, Gilligan’s Island the Musical, Chronic, Salty Theatre’s Top Gun the Musical, the Toronto production of People Suck, presented at Theatre Works and most recently the Australian tour of 50 Shades! The Musical Parody (DVE).

Writing credits include: several cabarets, as well as musical collaborationswith William Hannagan such as the Apocalyptic Song Cycle Until Tomorrowand HouseWarming the Musical. HouseWarming was presented at The New York Musical Theatre Festival, New York in 2014. Then under the new name The Gathering it had its professional Melbourne season at fortyfivedownstairs with the support of The City of Melbourne.