St Marys Senior High School

Mente Manuque

Telephone02 9623 8333

FAQs for students new to our school

Our Student Mentors over the years have reflected on when they started school, and have come up with the following frequently asked questions (FAQs) for students new to our school community.

We thank them for their help in identifying things to know - and for providing their answers!


What do I wear to the first day of school?

Anything in dress code. You don't need to wear the white polo shirt with the school crest. ~ Heliana and Jordan


What do I bring on my first day of school?

A small bag with a pencil case and a small book. Plus some water and food - everything else will be provided to you.


What is the dress code?

You should wear clothes that are plain green, grey, black, yellow and/or white.

You should wear appropriate pants/skirt as well as closed in shoes and a sleeved shirt that covers all of your torso.

Things not to wear include:

  • No blue (including blue jeans)
  • No red
  • No patterns (including stripes or spots)
  • No big logos or brands
  • No tops with thin straps
  • No super short clothes
  • No offensive material
  • No ripped clothing
  • No see through clothing


What happens if I am not dressed appropriately for school?

A teacher will record that you are not in dress code - and if this happens regularly, they may send you to the front office where one of the Deputy Principals will give you a note for the day. Records are kept about students who are repeatedly needing to be reminded about dress code and contact home may need to be made. 


What should I wear on a formal dress code day?

These days are special days in the school year when we wear our formal dress code. An example of one of these days is our Academic Assembly in February. 

Our formal dress code includes the school white polo shirt (with the school crest on it), appropriate pants/skirt and closed in shoes.


How is SMSHS different to other schools?

It is a school with a more adult learning environment, meaning that you are considered responsible for your choices, your actions and your decisions. People are very supportive and approachable - and actively seeking assistance helps ensure that you get it. Our school has an individual and independent learning environment, with students supported by very helpful and committed teachers. It is important to stay focused on your goals and draw on the support available to reach them. 


What do we call our teachers?

We call our teachers by their first names. This is something you may take a little while to get comfortable with, but it is a feature of the mutual respect everyone has for each other at SMSHS.


What is the school motto?

"Mente Manuque" which means With mind and hand. 


What is our school spirit like?

Our school spirit is encouraging, motivating and supportive, often filled with friendly, healthy competition. 


What are the bell times on a normal school day?

Period 1 - 8.20 am - 9.32 am

Period 2 - 9.32 am - 10.44 am

Recess - 10.44 am - 11.14 am

Period 3 - 11.14 am - 12.26 pm

Period 4 - 12.26 pm - 1.38 pm

Lunch - 1.38 pm - 2.08 pm

Period 5 - 2.08 pm - 3.20 pm


What are Period 0 bell times?

The bell times on a Period 0 day are slightly different to our normal bell times as they are arranged to let whole courses do tests in the MPC/Hall.

If you don't have a test during a Period 0, you can come to school to start Period 1 at 9.30 am on days with these bell times. You have your normal scheduled lessons on this day - the lessons are just a bit shorter.

Bell times on a Period 0 day are:

Period 0 - 8.20 am - 9.30 am

Period 1 - 9.30 am - 10.30 am

Period 2 - 10.30 am - 11.30 am

Recess - 11.30 am - 12.00 pm

Period 3 - 12.00 pm - 12.55 pm

Period 4 - 12.55 pm - 1.50 pm

Lunch - 1.50 pm - 2.20 pm

Period 5 - 2.20 pm - 3.20 pm


How can I keep myself up-to-date?

  • Check your emails - and read the newsletters sent each fortnight.
  • Check the school's Facebook page.
  • Check the SRC Facebook and Instagram pages.
  • Check the various faculty pages including the Careers Facebook and Instagram pages (Facebook is "Opportunity Knocks" and Instagram is _opportunity.now_) and the sport Facebook group (SMSHS Sports updates).
  • Check your assessment booklets.
  • Check the noticeboards around the school.
  • Join Google Classrooms as your teachers let you know about them.


How do I get the most out of my two years at SMSHS?

Take every opportunity on offer - get involved in clubs, volunteer to help out, talk to everyone, and draw on the advice of your teachers.

If you have a talent, show it off in the various groups and be as outgoing as you can. Some students say their biggest regret is not getting as involved as possible. 


Should I be scared about not being able to make new friends?

Absolutely not. Everyone is in the same boat as you, as not many people will know each other. Starting at SMSHS is an opportunity to introduce yourself to others and even if you don't make many friends on the first day of school, you will along the way because the environment at our school is super welcoming and friendly. 


How can I make friends?

Sometimes it can be as simple as when you go to a new class, talking to the person you sit next to. Or it may be sitting next to the person sitting alone.

If you see something you like about or on someone, tell them.

Joining clubs and teams also helps to make new friends who like things you like.

The Caf is a good place to meet people and a place to get food.


Why should I join clubs and teams?

It is a great way to meet new people.

It is a good way to give back to the community in groups like the Amnesty Group.

Being involved in clubs can help develop your skills and this can be useful when you are in Year 12 and you are applying to universities for early entry or applying for scholarships.


What are some ways to get involved?

There are lots of opportunities so it is important to check your emails and listen to announcements in Cluster Meetings. There may also be posts on Facebook, on Instagram and in the newsletter.

You can also find out about different clubs during our Orientation Week Pop Up Display - or check with Leah in the DP's Office as she coordinates all the clubs in the school.

You can ask your Cluster SRC Representatives or any of the School Captains for their help as well.


What are some of the clubs at our school?

These are just some of the clubs at our school:

  • KPOP Club
  • KDC
  • Anime Club
  • Gentlemen's Society
  • Amnesty Group
  • Book Club
  • Bring It On Dance
  • Volleyball Club
  • Futsal Club
  • FatFish
  • MSA


When are all team/sport tryouts?

Announcements about tryouts and important dates will be made in Cluster Meetings. You can also ask the PE staff and join the sports Facebook page. Announcements are also made via emails, in the newsletter and on Skoolbag where possible. 


What leadership opportunities are available at SMSHS?

You are able to run for the Student Representative Council, with elections for Year 11 reps happening in Week 5 of Term 1.

There are also a number of other leadership roles in our school community, including:

  • Library Leaders
  • Club Leaders
  • School Captains (in Year 12)
  • Student Mentors
  • Peer Tutors
  • Sports Leaders


Where can you find food?

The Caf is our school canteen. There are also lots of food options at The Village. 


How do I find my way around the school?

You can always ask someone for help, including a Student Mentor, a teacher or another student. There is also a map of the school in your school diary and this can help you to find faculty staffrooms and key areas of the school. 


What are the places I should know in our school?

All of your classrooms, the MPC, the Lecture Theatre, the library, the front office and the Learning Centre. 


What are my boundaries within the school?

You can sit in numerous areas around the school but in general, the car park areas are out of bounds unless you are quickly getting something out of your car. 


Can I leave the school grounds during the day?

You can leave the school premises during lessons when you don't have a scheduled class and during recess and lunch - but you must be back in time for your next class. 


Which car park can students with their driver's licence park in?

The car park for students to use is closest to Ripples and is near the back of the Caf. The application forms to drive to school are on the tables near the front office and once they are filled out, you return them to the front office. 


How do I get to and from St Marys station?

It is important to walk on the footpath when walking to and from the station - and if you arrive between 8am and 8.15 am, you will just be able to walk with everyone else making their way to school. This will be the path you follow each day. It is always great to walk with someone where possible and stick to the routes that students at our school use. 


What do I do if I need to go to the bathroom during class time?

Most teachers just want you to let them know where you are going - and most people duck out quickly and come back. However, it is always best to follow your teacher's advice. 


How do I read and understand my timetable?

Your Mentor Teachers and Student Mentors will help you to read your timetable. There are codes for each of your subjects and your teachers as well as long room numbers.


Do I have to sign in late/sign out early?

If you miss any class time by coming late or leaving early, you need to sign in/out near Leah's office in the front office. Your parent/carer will also need to explain your absence within seven days so that the explanation is added to our school records.

However, if you come late and/or leave early and don't have a scheduled class, you don't necessarily need to sign in/out. For example:

  • If you don't have a class Period 1, you can arrive at school and go straight to your Period 2 lesson without signing in late.
  • If you don't have a class Period 5, you can leave school early without signing out.
  • If you don't have a class during Periods 2, 3 or 4, you can leave the school and return without signing in/out.


What should I do if I have been absent from school?

Any absence from school has to be explained within seven days of the absence.

Your parent/carer can explain your absence in a range of ways, including providing a note to the front office, writing an email to the school email address, or ringing the school directly


Which teacher do I see for technology issues / internet / set up of devices?

Matt Topp is the Head Teacher of Computing and the Computing Coordinator. His office is upstairs in the Tech Centre and he runs information sessions in O Week for all of Year 11 that helps to get everyone connected. 


Where do I go for an Opal Card?

You normally apply for an Opal Card online but if you have any questions you can go to the front office. Concession cards will arrive during the year and these are picked up from the front office once they arrive. 


Do I have to attend formal assemblies?

Yes. These are special events which allow us to recognise the achievements of out students and inspire us to do our best. 


How do I print/photocopy at school - and where?

You are able to add money to your printing account in the front office. You can then use your credit to print in the Tech Centre, the library and the Learning Centre - and you can photocopy in the Tech Centre and library as well. 


Where can I get study resources?

You don't need to buy a book pack at SMSHS - you pay a textbook fee and get to borrow your textbooks from the library at the start of each year. You return these books at the end of your course and when you are finished school.

You may choose to buy extra books to help you, or you can always borrow materials from the library. The librarians are very experienced and will help support you with lots of parts of your studies.

You can use different devices to take notes at SMSHS or you may prefer to take notes in books or on loose leaf paper. Each of your teachers will give you advice about this when you start each of your courses.

There are lots of facilities to help you at SMSHS, including the Learning Centre which is a study hub with a kitchen, fridge and air con. The Caf also has lots of affordable food and a relaxed environment where you can work with friends. 


Do I need to bring my student ID card?

Yes. Everyone is given a student ID card at the start of the year. This is a good form of ID and is also important when you want to borrow books from the library. 


What is the purpose of Mentor and Cluster?

Mentor is a compulsory pastoral care program that helps you to learn about SMSHS as well as to support you throughout your Year 11 studies. It helps us to complete the Life Ready Program, a mandatory component of every student's HSC studies.

Cluster Meetings are almost like year meetings in that they help to keep you informed about school events and general school information. They also allow for discussions about things connected to school. Your Cluster is like what other schools might call a house group.

Both of these allow you to meet and interact with new students and teachers, as well as helping you to find a way to express yourself. 


How do I hand in assessment tasks?

Most tasks have to be printed to be handed in. They also need to have a pink school cover sheet attached. These are found in the trays near the front office as well as in the Learning Centre and the library. The cover sheet has a receipt at the bottom of it, which the teacher signs and returns to you as proof that the task was handed in.

Other guidelines about handing in tasks are provided in your school assessment booklet and in each subject assessment booklet which you get at the start of Year 11. Your class teachers will go over the requirements of each task and faculty with you. 


What can I do during lessons when I don't have a scheduled class?

These “free” periods or “study” periods are times when you can study and ask for extra help and assistance. For example, you can get help from Peer Tutors and teachers in the Learning Centre, or from the library staff in the school library.

If you have these lessons at the start or end of a day, you can choose to do your study at home and come to school late OR leave school early. 


Where are good places to study?

The Learning Centre and the library are good places and have computers and printers for your assessments and course work. There are also activities such as playing cards to take a break and the Learning Centre also has microwaves. You can also work in the open area in the Tech Centre. 


Where can I get help for my school work and subjects?

You can get help from the Learning Centre from teachers and students alike. There are teachers who work there every lesson and students who volunteer to be Peer Tutors.

You can also ask your teachers who are experts in their subject area to help you at any time they are free.

There are also research tutors in the Library as well as books and online resources.

Some courses run tutorials for free outside of school hours, normally after school but sometimes before school. 


What subjects should I choose?

Choose subjects that you will enjoy as these will likely help you in your future career.

If you know what you want to do for the future, then pick the subjects that will aid you in reaching your goals. These will likely be subjects you enjoy.

If you don’t know what to do, pick the subjects you enjoy the most or a wide variety of subjects in each area to keep your options open.

You can also talk to your teachers and your Student Adviser for help in making your decisions. 


Where can I change my subjects?

You can change your subjects for a limited time early in Term 1 by checking in with the staff in the Library - and it is great to get advice from our Careers Adviser about this as well, and her office is also in the Library!


Where can I go when I am struggling? For academic, financial and/or wellbeing support?

There are lots of sources of support at SMSHS:

  • You can see a Student Mentor to get their advice.
  • You can see your Mentor Teacher.
  • You can see your Student Adviser.
  • You can see the staff in the Learning Centre, including the School Counsellors and Learning Support Teachers.
  • You can see your Deputy Principal in the front office.


Does Year 11 matter?

Yes. While the marks you get in Year 11 don't count towards your HSC result or your ATAR, it is good to do the best you can to set yourself up to do well in Year 12 and to decide if you are doing the right mix of subjects. Also, your reports in Year 11 can help with your applications for early entry to university and different scholarship opportunities.