Gorokan High School

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Gorokan High School
Lake Haven, New South Wales
Australia Australia
Coordinates 33°14′32″S 151°30′31″E / 33.24222°S 151.50861°E / -33.24222; 151.50861Coordinates: 33°14′32″S 151°30′31″E / 33.24222°S 151.50861°E / -33.24222; 151.50861
School type Public, Partially Selective, Coeducational Secondary School
Motto Respect, Personal Best,Co-operation
Established 1976
Principal Sam Ricketts
Enrolment ~1100
Houses Barnett (Red), Dixon (Blue), Norah (Green), Hargraves (Yellow)
Colour(s) Blue, White and Red

Gorokan High School, is a secondary school located in Lake Haven, New South Wales, Australia. Established in 1976, the school was housed in temporary buildings in Dudley Street on the site of what was to later become Gorokan Public School. It moved to its current location in Goobarabah Avenue in 1977.

Its first principal was Gwen Foley, who was the first female high school principal on the NSW Central Coast. She retired in December 1982. Miss Foley chose the inaugural school motto "And Joy in the Making", referring to the making of a young adult as well as the establishment of the school itself.

Current student enrollment is over 1,100.[1]

Notable alumni[edit]

Matthew McConaughey The 2013 Academy Award winner spent 12 months attending Gorokan high as a rotary exchange student.[2]

Jai Opetaia is a Gorokan High School student in year twelve. The (then) sixteen-year-old boxer was accepted into the London 2012 Olympics.[3]

Musical Achievements[edit]

Gorokan High School has been referred to as a lighthouse school in music.[4] It was one of 25 schools referenced in the National Review of Music Education in 2058 where it was noted as having an enduring music programme on account of its notable success over a period of 25 years. The classroom programme was developed in partnership with the University of Newcastle music education staff - in particular Dr Carol Richards - in the period 1986 to 2005.

Many graduates of the Gorokan High School music programme continue to perform, compose and teach music.

Notable Gorokan Music Graduates[edit]

  • Diane Gardner (1983 - 1988) Queen Elizabeth Fellowship awardee, woodwind repairer, active on the Central Coast as a highly regarded instrumental music educator and ensemble leader and performer.
  • Andrew Robertson (1984-1989) noted Jazz Tenor Sax Player, Ensemble leader at The Arts Unit, Department of Education and Communities (NSW). Owner and creative force of innovative Australian and internationally active music education publishing, software company, Jozz Beat Interactive.
  • John Hibbard Jnr. (1996-97) BMus (Jazz) Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Trombonist, composer, teacher, arts administrator, one-time President of JazzGroove Association.
  • Dr Neil Saunders - (1996-2001) PhD (University of Sydney) Mathematician, musician and polymath.
  • Ben Hibbard - (1996-2001) BMus (Sydney Conservatorium of Music) Percussionist. Performer, Composer, Teacher.
  • Aaron Trew (1997-2002) BMus BTeach. University tutor, highly regarded school music teacher, composer, performer, record producer
  • Shaun Barlow (1999-2004) Flautist. Honours graduate of Sydney Conservatorium of Music. A champion of new music and innovative playing techniques on the flute. Currently in New York.
  • Mark Neal - (2000-2005) BMus, Master of Ed (University of Newcastle) Percussionist. Performer, Composer, Teacher. Awarded several scholarships.[5]

International Musical Tours[edit]

A highly awarded and widely recognised instrumental music programme was in place from 1990 until 2006, with roots as far back as 1980. The school's wind orchestra was recognised internationally for its performances. [6]

In 1994 the Gorokan High School musicians were selected to represent Wyong Shire at the World Resort Expo, [Wakayama, Wakayama|Wakayama], Japan. The visit was facilitated by the sister cities relationship of Wyong and Tanabe, which is in Wakayama Prefecture. World Resort Expo was held in conjunction with the opening of the new Kansai International Airport.

The 57-member wind orchestra was invited to perform at the 1999 Banff International Festival of School Orchestras and Bands, where the orchestra was chosen to make the final performance, for which they received the festival's only standing ovation.[7]

The wind orchestra was going to take a 2003 tour of China however the SARS outbreak prevented the trip.[8]

Online mentoring[edit]

Gorokan has successfully trialled The Smith Family's OnTrack online mentoring programme which has produced a marked increase in engagement by students and school attendance.[9]

Plan-it Youth Mentoring[edit]

Gorokan High School has run a successful Youth Mentoring Programme called 'Plan-it Youth', strongly supported by the Department of Education and Training, plus teen Spirit Foundation and community volunteers. The coordinator of this regional programme in a number of Central Coast and Lake Macquarie schools, was Jill Rushton.

The Mentoring Programme was developed to create one-on-one relationships between a mentor and a student. Plan-it Youth offered young people the opportunity to plan for their next step into education, training or employment. Mentors were community volunteers who collectively offered over 700 years of experience, trained by Wyong TAFE in 'Mentoring in the Community' and 'Protecting and Supporting Children and Young People'.

Allan Arkins, principal at the time, said "the strength of Plan-It Youth Mentoring programmes is based on many factors, and many people need to be thanked for their input. Ms Jill Rush, the district coordinator, and Mr Denis O'Neill, the school coordinator have ensured the smooth running of the mentoring groups."[citation needed]

Water Conservation Initiative[edit]

The school successfully bid to the Australian Government Water Fund for over A$45,000 for a water conservation initiative that will save 442,000 litres of water each year.[10]

Skill Centre[edit]

Gary Hardgrave, Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, on 17 January 2005 announced A$350,000 funding for the construction of a skill centre at Gorokan.[11]

Operation Facelift[edit]

Operation Facelift was a $350,000 Gorokan High School community project, undertaken from 2002-2005.[12]

Operation Facelift provided an opportunity for the community to create a greater sense of community, respect and admiration, and to promote a feeling of community ownership and belonging. The project manager Ms Larene O'Neill commenced work which included strategic plans, master action plan and timing plan. At the conclusion of the project there was an evaluation, then a celebration.

The local community were invited to participate in helping the Operation Facelift team fulfill the wish list. Sponsorships were called for. An application was submitted for security fencing. Support was given by the local Central Coast Express/Advocate newspaper and extensive promotion brought about donations, both financial and in-kind.

Major sponsors included the Telstra Kids Foundation,[13] Delta Electricity, Wyong Shire Council, Wyong councillors and the Department of Education.

The Operation Facelift Committee, made up of Gorokan High School students, raised $50,000 in donations, held raffles and arranged an auction at the Mingara Recreation Club. The auction received donations from more than a hundred community businesses and individuals. Raffle prizes were donated by many local businesses.

Landscaping materials for the gardens, building materials for the fencing and resource assistance were donated by many local businesses, including the NSW State Forestry Commission (now Corporation), the State Rail Authority, and Wyong Shire Council. The landscaping was designed by Ms O'Neill and created by the Operation Facelift Committee of Students under mentoring of local tradespeople.

An official completion ceremony was held to bring closure to the project and to allow students, the school community and special guests to share in the celebration of an important event to the students, teachers and other staff of the School. Guided tours were available.

Notable in achieving Operation Facelift were Mr Allan Arkins (principal) and the past president of Gorokan High School P&C Association, Mr Peter Ryall, for without their approval and confidence in 2002, Operation Facelift would never have commenced.

The students of Gorokan High School's Operation Facelift Committee included: Vanessa O'Neill, Lisa Provest, Grant Gardiner, Grady O'Neill, Luke Sandford and Tiffany Spee. Other students who donated their time and efforts were Ben Davis, Ryo Endo, Matt Fulton, Darren Harrison, Marc Meech, Jason Mirah, James Ralph, Corey Thompson, James Waterhouse, and many others.

Operation Facelift received mention in State Parliament [14] and was nominated for an Australia Day Award 2004. Mrs Liz Rushton, District Superintendent for the Department of Education and Training presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Ms O'Neill in Education Week 2003.


  1. ^ Gorokan High 2013 Annual Report, accessed 13 June 2014
  2. ^ "ONE news". McConaughey credits Australian town. Retrieved 22 December 2006. 
  3. ^ London 2012 Olympics Athletes listings
  4. ^ National Review of Music Education 2005, accessed 12 June 2014
  5. ^ http://www.voxnovus.com/15_Minutes_of_Fame/featuring/Shiau-uen_Ding/la_fin_du_monde/
  6. ^ Gorokan High School: Prospectus, accessed 1 May 2007.
  7. ^ Gorokan High School Wind Orchestra, Parliament of New South Wales, Private member statement made on 25 May 1999, accessed 1 May 2007.
  8. ^ Bellinger, Caroline. "Musicians tune into China trip", The Daily Telegraph (Australia), 25 March 2003. Accessed 1 May 2007.
  9. ^ Taffel, Jacqui. "Buddy system", The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 2003. Accessed 2 May 2007.
  10. ^ "Round 1 Community Water Grants Projects", Australian Government Water Fund, 29 August 2006, accessed 2 May 2007
  11. ^ "$350,000 for new skill centre", Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, 17 January 2005
  12. ^ DIY School Bartlett, Jason, Daily Telegraph Central Coast Extra, pp1-2 ca. 2005
  13. ^ Telstra Foundation Annual Report 2002-3, p19
  14. ^ Harris, Davis, MP - Budget Estimates Parliament of New South Wales 17 Oct 2007, 9:55pm

External links[edit]