2021 Term 4 Week 9   |   01.12.2021

TAS Talks Term 4 Week 9

01. From the Principal


After a year that has required flexibility, resilience and a large amount of good humour and optimism from us all, it is truly wonderful to be finishing term this week with Junior School Speech Day, Middle School final assembly and Middle and Senior School Speech Day. It is wonderful to welcome parents and families back on-site and also, as we are now so used to doing, to stream these occasions to those unable to be with us for these celebrations.

Every member of the TAS community rose to the challenges of this year and at this time I would particularly like to thank the staff for the fortitude they showed this year and their never-failing care and support for the students.

As usual at the end of the year, there are some key staff changes I would like to advise you of for 2022.

Miss Chloe Prado leaves TAS after four years teaching French to take up a position at Gordonstoun School in Scotland. We wish Chloe all the best in her travels and future endeavours.

Mrs Seonia Wark will return to her role as Director of Studies and we will be joined by Mr Ray Pearson from St Peter’s College Adelaide as Deputy Principal.

Mr Mark Harrison will step down from Head of Middle School with Mr Luke Polson taking over as the new Head of Middle School.

Mrs Gillian Downes will continue as Assistant Director of Studies and Mrs Alex Murray will continue as Acting co-ordinator of English.

Mr Angus Murray will step down from his position as Officer Commanding Cadets and Mr Johnathon Woodbridge will take over in this role.

Further information on the 2022 school year will be sent prior to Christmas and I will write to you again in January with updates and news in advance of the new school year.

I would like to wish you all a peaceful and joy-filled festive season and I look forward to welcoming students back next year for an exciting and busy year.


Dr Rachel Horton


Thursday 2 DecemberSpeech Day – Gymnasium (9.30am)

Live Stream https://youtu.be/iGVmrfxdt2g

Term 1 2022
Wednesday 26 JanuaryAustralia Day Holiday
Thursday 27 JanuaryStaff Day
Friday 28 JanuaryStaff Day
Monday 31 JanuaryStaff Day / Boarders Return
Tuesday 1 FebruaryClasses Resume


Shomme and Raah



Sam Smith (Year 11), has an opportunity for you to contribute to a fantastic cause, while also getting started on your Christmas shopping list. Sam has written and published a children’s book with a message of acceptance and believing that anything is possible. Shomme and Raah is available to purchase using the Trybooking option below, with all proceeds going to Kids In Need Association (KIN), a charity supporting children with serious illnesses and disabilities. This is a wonderful endeavour from Sam so please support him if you can.    https://www.trybooking.com/BVSMP

02. From the P&F


Christmas Pudding Collection

Please remember to collect your Christmas Pudding orders this week by contacting School Reception.  


End of Year Events – Tonight at the Wicklow Hotel 

End of year P&F drinks and dinner will be held tonight at the Wicklow Hotel from 6:00pm. Please join us if you are in Armidale and free.  


P&F Meeting 

Thank you to all who attended the recent P&F meeting at the Whitebull Hotel. It was a great way to close out the year and we look forward to an active 2022.  


Contact the P&F Executive

If you have anything you would like to raise with the P&F Executive, please send us an email on pandf@as.edu.au 

Wishing everyone a happy & healthy festive season with family. 


Mr Paul Gaddes
P&F President

03. Wellbeing

A Moment with Mack

A Moment with Mack - Part 8 and 9 Pro-social domain and Full Circle

My apologies for the regular readers, if you noticed – yes I did manage to miss the deadline for TAS Talks last week! For those of you who haven’t noticed…. carry on….
This week we are exploring the Pro-Social Domain and also finishing the term with a ‘Full Circle’ summary of the Self-Reg articles over the term.

Pro-social Domain
When we refer to the Pro-Social Domain we are thinking here about empathy. This is perhaps the most emotionally charged of all domains for parents, as we all want to be raising children who care for others.

Be prepared….. the dominant or ‘classical’ view of human nature is about to be turned on its head! The classical view of raising children is “spare the rod and spoil the child”, this presumes that children need to be ‘disciplined’ into learning how to be kind to others.

The Self-Reg view is that empathy is actually a reflexive behaviour. What does this mean? It means that even babies have ‘affiliative’ behaviours – a baby will cry if it hears another baby crying…. A baby will spontaneously seek to soothe it’s caregiver if he sees that his caregiver is upset. A slightly older toddler will naturally try to soothe a younger sibling or baby. These are natural, intrinsic behaviours that we see in all children.

We see it at the neural-hormonal level. What is this fancy new term? Neural-hormones are naturally occurring and the most well-known in this domain is ‘oxytocin’. This hormone has been thoroughly studied and is commonly known as the ‘love’ hormone. What does this do? It promotes synchronicity in hormones and the nervous system between the baby and the caregiver. If we take another look at the brain, you will see that the hypothalamus (this is a critical part of the safety system) is also involved in the synthesis of oxytocin. This is also between parents and children, between couples and close friends – hence its name the ‘love’ hormone.

So, we are now seeing that the stress system is primed for social engagement as the first level responder to stress and stressful situations. What does this mean? It means that humans, from a very young age, are primed to connect and regulate through connection (remember that we are ‘blue toothed’) . What neuroscience is finding, is for children who show signs of conduct disorder (seem to disregard basic social standards and rules), we see abnormalities in cortisol levels (this is the stress hormone) – either too much, or too little. This is getting science-y isn’t it! In other words, it is not that the child lacks the roots of empathy, it’s that something has blocked, or is interfering with these natural drives and instincts for empathy.

So, what could be getting in the way…? In Self-Reg this is when we need to consider all 5 domains and the stressors that may be overloading the child’s system. For this article, we are shining a spotlight on the pro-social domain. So what could some of the stressors in the pro-social domain be? One of the main ones could be someone else’s stress. What does this mean? It simply means, for a child to learn how they are supposed to behave, they need to regulate someone else – so they need to be able to deal with the other person’s stress. This is a difficult thing to do! So for a child who is already in a heightened state of stress, because of the ‘blue tooth’ factor, they can get tipped over by someone else who is also in a high state of stress, simply because they can’t handle it! Their natural empathy shuts down because of this sudden stress overload and they go into ‘fight or flight’ (red brain) response. This then results in behaviour that looks like they are being selfish, non-responsive, or other types of self-protecting behaviours. What this means is, if we can remain calm, if we can stay regulated in the midst of another person’s anxiety or stressful situation, we get rewarded! This reward is through pro-social behaviour – the other person returns to calm. It is almost like magic – or a gift! Can you see how this can be difficult for kids who are, for many reasons in all 5 domains, already experiencing a heightened stress load, why being able to handle another person’s stress can be so difficult?

So, as we’ve been learning through the other domains, we need to learn to be curious and ask Why? and Why Now? “what was it about Johnny that I found so difficult?” “Why was it so stressful for me?”. We want the child (and you) to start to think about what the stress was about other people’s behaviour? What did they (you) find difficult and reframe what may be going on for the other person… Are they hungry? Are they feeling anxious? Are they angry? Are they tired?
So if you, or your child, or a child you are caring for, are having difficulties in the pro-social domain, it pays to take a moment and reflect upon what are the stressors for this child – why? and why now?

Full Circle

As I have been at pains to point out, Self-Reg is a lifelong journey. Self-Reg is not something that can be mastered or completed, it is a way of living and a framework in which to be curious and to consider your and other’s experiences. It enables you to PAUSE and use ‘soft eyes’ when considering what may be going on for you, or another person.

Self-Reg is science-based and relies on what is happening within the brain and nervous system that may show up in behaviour that is ‘difficult’ or ‘challenging’.
Stress is to be considered as units of energy – energy being used up, and time it takes to recharge. Really, we are the human version of a ‘smart phone’ – you need to consider the obvious things that deplete our batteries – obvious stressors such as work, parenting and relationships…. or is it the hidden stressors like the open apps that are quietly depleting our battery without us noticing…. such as health issues, sleep deprivation, poor diet and lack of exercise? What are the things that recharge your battery? Notice that you need recharge daily…? Why and Why now…?

To find out more, please take the time to explore Dr Stuart Shanker at the Mehrit Centre on https://self-reg.ca/ These articles have been the culmination of 6 months of study and Dr Shanker’s book “Self-Reg How to help you child (and you) break the stress cycle and successfully engage with life”.

Stay tuned for workshops in 2022.

Have a great break and let’s all hope that 2022 is a more settled and gentler year.


Ms Alix Goudge
School Counsellor

04. From the Head of Middle School


Almost – it’s close, now

This will arrive after you’ve seen us, I think – I’m hoping that as many of you as possible can see us. It’s been a long time coming, this ability of yours to visit us on ‘your children’s turf’, and they’re as excited as we are that you can come to us. My goodness, it’s been a strange semester, but the time has come that everyone can go home to regroup and be ready to return in 2022 to as normal a year as possible. The pace here is not frantic or feverish, but it is fast. As I write this we’ve embarked on our second day of Activities Week and your children are – everywhere, actually. Yesterday one group was ‘doing damper’ on the far side of the school dam, while another was virtual ‘shooting’ on the near side but these activities occurred after there’d been a mass exodus to Echidna Gully for morning sessions. So, all in all I’m very pleased to report that pretty much everything for all year groups is busy, that your children are well, though from the looks on faces especially, they’re tired, too. And we are tired alongside them! Such tiredness is not entirely attributable to the continuing nature of activities – it’s more the manifestation of a year just ‘done’. The good news is that we’ve days to go and, on this note, I hope all goes well for everyone!

Academic work has ceased – ‘loose ends are being tied up’: Year 6 Bush Skills, Year 7 Rangers and Year 8 Cadet activities blend with practices for music, awards and performances in preparation for the final Middle (on Wednesday) School Assembly and also the School’s Speech Day (this coming Thursday). Of course, boarding students have already begun the clean-up in their houses. Further, my strong advice to all is that this clean up extends to all students as the academic area needs a thorough clean up as well. Having said this mind you, we’re looking good as our people have been tidying up ‘bits and pieces’ for more than a week now. So, while general activities have ceased, they’re all replaced by new ones in preparation for the Christmas break.

If you are unable to see us in person, you’ll still be able to do so on screen as we’ll live stream Middle and Senior School events. The end is nigh – on behalf of all, I want to thank all staff for their support of your children not only during the term’s, but the year’s final school week! These people are deserving of a long, restful holiday break. There’s no other description for it – the combined organisation of the week by all staff members has been excellent – no mean achievement especially considering the weather conditions: today is wet – still.

In between damper, Christmas Card-making, cooking and skills’ games, Robyn Frost and I have able to get much-needed work done on our Final Assembly arrangements. We’ve even still been interviewing possible enrolments for 2022 – as recently as last week, actually. Things are looking good, I reckon. But, I’m sorry you’ve now been flooded from Gunnedah out – Dorothea McKellar ‘penned’ this climate of ours right, didn’t she.

Final word

Despite a COVID-curious interlude, 2021 has been ‘full’ and I take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of us. Overall, it’s been very productive year, and we’ve only been able to achieve what we have because of amazingly hard-working staff, boys and girls all of whom have been accommodating. Of course, there have been occasions when, for whatever reason, ‘things’ have been tricky, but these situations have been managed well enough and all they do is confirm that we’re normal. To be perfect all the time is almost impossible – especially when we remind ourselves that we’re dealing with young adolescents.

We’re just about to embark on the year’s longest holiday break: whatever it is you do and wherever it is you go, I hope your time with family and friends is productive, restful, and safe. Be of good cheer and have a happy break ‘from the grind’.

Good wishes to all – now, and always.


Mark Harrison
Head of Middle School

05. From the Head of Junior School



Just before the end of the year, we should not be surprised to find that some of our students jumped up for the challenge to join the 19 for 19, an opportunity to raise funds for charity. William Cooper-Fillios hung in there to achieve the distance of 21.5 km, a huge effort alongside his Mum, Melanie. With Tom Loxley, Eva and Casper Cook joining in as well, it was another fantastic example of the achievements our young people can attain when they put their minds to it. Well done to all.

And our netballers were also successful at the ADNA Awards night – congratulations to Izzie Glover and Sophie Banister for receiving the Encouragement Award for Primary players – a mighty fine achievement.

End of the Year – Time to Celebrate

The end of the year has finally arrived and for those of you who were able to join us today at our annual Speech Day, we hope you had a fantastic time. The team effort was massive. So, while hoping not to overlook anyone, I thank all that were involved in the organisation of Speech Day for their wonderful support. From the Administrative staff that manned the fortress, to the IT and Music Departments for accessorising the proceedings, to all our teaching staff for their planning and preparation, we all know it is not a simple task to put an event such as this together.

Much has been said about Mrs Sandra Lasker and her capacity to get things done. I simply don’t know what we would do if she were not at the helm….directing us along the way? Her humour and tolerance is legendary and we thank her, in particular, for what has been a traditionally busy time of the year.

And finally this year…..

And finally this year, from all the staff in Junior School, we thank you for your amazing support throughout what has been (as you may have head me say once or twice was) a challenging but very successful year. Our children have been happy and productive. They have succeeded in so many ways that we thought may not have been possible and it is because of the collaborative efforts of us all.

While I am not wishing another couple of years upon us like the last two, we have learnt much from the experience and gained a lot from it. As I said today, the view from the top of the tree is usually worth the climb…

Have a wonderful holiday and I look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.

Happy Birthday

Many Junior School Students celebrate a birthday between now and the first edition of TAS Talks next year so happy birthday to the following students:
Lara Thavapalasundaram, Leo Thavapalasundaram, Byron Ahern, Azooz Al Naji, Fatimah Alkadi, Cooper Lacey, Gabe Lees, Theo Lees, Hugh Blackwell, Evelyn Brownlie, Jack Maitz, Artie Rylands, Lachie Chiu, Max Dennison, Morrie Rylands, Patrick Kim, Duncan Klabe, Humjot Sandhu, Hasadi Kodagoda Arachchige, Ellie Chiu, Elizabeth Collins, Rhidima Das, Wilbur Drain, Arabella Hodges, Oliver Maxwell, Sienna Nelson-Straub, Sansa Ranawake, Lachlan McDowell, Oliver Robb, Daniel Mo and Bronte Polson.


Mr Ian Lloyd
Head of Junior School

Term 1 2022
Wednesday 26 JanuaryAustralia Day Holiday
Thursday 27 JanuaryStaff Day
Friday 28 JanuaryStaff Day
Monday 31 JanuaryStaff Day / Boarders Return
Tuesday 1 FebruaryClasses Resume

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