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Cairns State High School > Calendar and news > Principal's blog
May 15
Week 4 What's going well? What's of concern? Suggestion? Message for Mr Zilm?

Bus transport

Loves School bus to Redlynch recently change their route.  They now go the very long way and arrive half an hour later through Whitfield and Brinsmead.  The other bus it goes through Freshwater still goes all the way down to Redlands but refuses to take children past Jade restaurant at the freshwater roundabout.  [Edited content] Chris can you help us advocate to love is via the government agency to improve their service?

Chris’ response: Sure thing. The best thing we can both do is contact the Department of Transport as they manage the school bus runs, especially as you have already attempted to seek support from the company.

Problems on the bus or with any bus service need to be addressed with the bus company first.

Concerns about post on facebook

At 10am today, 11 May, the Cairns High posted on its facebook page a post saying:
"Cairns State High School supporting SU QLD. [love emoji]"
and asking people to click on a link to donate money to a teacher who is participating in a fundraising cycle for the Scripture Union.
I object to this post in the strongest possible terms.  It is inappropriate and should be taken down. 
If people want to support a christian organisation, that is a personal choice but it is not the school's role to advocate for fundraising for christian organisations, or indeed for any religious organisation.
I choose to send my children to a State school because I support secular education. 
The school's role in this kind of advocacy for any religious organisation is just wrong.

Chris’ response: Thanks for your comment. The post supports a teacher doing fund raising for Scripture Union which employs our chaplain and the chaplains in many schools. Donating is completely voluntary. Some families actively support the chaplaincy services in school, regularly donate so people are made aware of the option. This service is approved by a majority vote at P&C every funding cycle. The post and the activity are in line with the DET Chaplaincy in Schools policy. Making a donation is a choice.

May 08
Feedback from Week 3

Would it be possible to instruct the students in what to do if someone is ill during an assembly or a formal procession.  A student in Year 11 fainted or had a seizure behind my daughter during the Anzac day parade last week and she tried to get the attention of a teacher (?) at the end of the line but felt admonished for doing this during the minute of silence.  I think the teacher was not aware of what was actually occurring and may not have had full vision of the event.  She is a timid girl and whilst I told her that she did the right thing to persist to get the teachers attention - I think that all the students need to know what the emergency procedure would be and when to act.  Maybe they are taught this but I am not aware of it.

Principal’s reply: It was certainly a massive concern for everyone but I can tell you that your daughter stepping up was a great thing to do – and lots of the students really showed their care and compassion. The good news is that the lad is fine! The ambulance paramedics wrote me an email that afternoon praising the care and manners of our kids.

Making sure that we include this emergent situation when we brief the students is a positive suggestion and we have incorporated this into next year’s process.


We moved our eldest daughter from (a private school) to CSH. Best thing we ever did. She was depressed by the clicky groups that ignored her endlessly. Now she jumps in the car after school with the biggest smile telling me all about her fabulous day. Can't wait to switch our youngest now for next year. Your school is truly the best in Cairns. Thank you so much for the great work.

Principal’s reply: I am glad she is enjoying being here. I jump into my car every morning too! An amazing place for certain.


Thank you for the new cleaner look for the weekly communique - I find it easier to read.

Principal’s reply: Thanks for the feedback. I think we are getting our communication right!


Thank you very much to all the teachers who gave Parent-Teacher interviews. I understand that it's a big effort to be ready for them, and to do them. I appreciate your effort. Thank you.
Thank you, also, for the numerous extra-curricular/offsite activities my son can participate in.

Principal’s reply: I am sure teachers appreciate this acknowledgement. And our teachers are an excellent professional team. I am constantly amazed at the commitment and energy of my staff.


Math' teacher of year 8 are excellent

Principal’s reply: Now that will make them happy. Is there a %, ratio or an algorithm you can use to express your thoughts?


All Good

Principal’s reply: We are all working hard to make Cairns High an even greater place to be every day.

P.S. Have a great Eurovision Week!


May 02
Year 11, Neil Josen Delos Reyes's ANZAC Day poem

So to my father, I say goodbye

by Neil Josen Delos Reyes
I was a child, I didn’t understand,
He was a hero, he risked his life often.
Why did he have to go and leave me?
So to my father, I say goodbye, then I cry.
I was a school boy, I think I had learned,
He was doing his job for his fellowmen
Why didn’t he just stay with us, safe and sound?
So to my father, I say goodbye, then I smile.
He was a military man, I finally understand,
Now retired, but loved by his fellowmen
Why didn’t I give him the respect he deserved?
So to my father, I say goodbye, then he smiles.
I was a hero, I risked my life, and now am pained.
He was sympathetically surprised, he didn’t understand
Why did I have to go and leave him?
So to my father, I say goodbye, then he cries.
April 28
parent feedback Week 2

Disaster has struck and the word document with the actual comments has been deleted after I cdma up with totally brilliant responses but here are the issues and my responses in a nutshell:

1. Loves Bus: employing a security guard or putting a teacher on duty to fix drivers going over intersection and blovcking traffic.

My repsonse: We will look into the security guard idea and work with traffic polikce to increase presence.

2. Enrolling siblings of POE students

My response: We cannot plan with unknowns and by taking one, taking all, we would have to blovk out other spots from POEs for students with talent so that just would not be fair. I get that it is difficult having only one of perhaps three or four children in the school, but the options we have are limited.

3. Open forum: Thanks for providing.

My response: You are welcome!

4. Inclusion of a reading at ANZAC Day​ at school (3 submissions)

Including a reading or a prayer is not against DET policy and has been a tradition in the school. The Chaplaincy policy says nothing about it and Religious Instruction in schools alludes to this issue in the opening statement which basically says one religion should not be favoured over another. The solution is to review the ANZAC Day commoration and either strike it from the program or include readings and prayers from other faiths. The current inclusion does resemble every service I attended in Cairns in ANZAC Day organised by various branches of the RSL.

What do we do with the NZ National Anthem?

April 28
A beautiful ANZAC poem By Kelly Barrett
For the Souls Who Are Now Lost
By Kelly Barrett
Blood soaks a battle field
A land lost in time
A day left in screams
Lost beyond the tears of sorrow
Screams of agony
Traumatised forever;
Shell shocked
Minds never the same
Trench bound forever
For the lives of justice are kept
By the deathly hallow which awaits
He delivers their doom
Bullets flying
Plunging into the living souls
Of the people who are now gone
Wanted back, lost and never found
Tears from back home
For a life never to be lived again
Lost in the dark shadows of war
Forever a longing in heart
Blood flowers, blooming
Resembling the lost soldiers
That made this country proud
Forever lost to heaven
Remembered to this very day
Lost souls remembered on this special day
To make sure that the bravery in those that are dead
And the few that are living is never lost
To make sure that the loving hearts
That saved us from destruction
Are forever in our mind and hearts
To keep the spirit of ANZAC within us

April 24
Sexting and its serious consequences

Research shows that young people experience ‘disinhibition’ when using social media and this has seen the rise of cyber-bullying and digital footprints that portray individuals less than desirably. Young people do/say things online that they would not probably do in real time and then there is also the effect of desensitizing. Sexually explicit material has become more accessible and the objectification of men and women is rife online. Images and opinions can be shared rapidly with multitudes of people - many unknown to the originator. It is a very real concern and we all need to be vigilant.

Sexting is not a new topic but a very serious one for schools, friendship groups and families….And it is an issue in our school too.

What is it?

Sexting is a crime under Australian Federal pornography laws when it involves people under 18, and it’s a crime for anyone who harasses people of any age. It’s not clear how much sexting is being carried out in Australia by young people but it’s believed to be increasing.  In the first five months of 2013, police in Queensland charged 240 children, aged between 10 and 17, for producing and distributing child pornography.

What can happen?

The psychological harm can be damaging and severe for the victim of sexting, especially where images have been transmitted without consent.
Consequences for the young person can include things such as reduced self-esteem and self-image, isolating behaviours, truancy or avoidance of school, eating disorders and serious self-harm. No known suicides have occurred in Australia as a result of sexting. However there have been known cases overseas, where children have taken their own lives as a consequence of being bullied and shamed when sexting related material has been placed in the public domain.

What do families of school children need to do?

·         Talk seriously with boys and girls about the issue. It is happening. This is an issue for all children. Don’t assume otherwise if though we want to believe our kids cannot be involved.
·         Model respect for women and men. Reject objectification of women and men.
·         Be aware of your child’s online behaviours. Be a ‘friend’ on Facebook.
·         Limit the access to the internet to daylight hours.
·         Supervise internet use.  Never let your young child use the internet unsupervised in their bedroom.
·         Make sure the data plan for your child has a filter and block sharing websites.
·         Ban your child from Instagram, snapchat and other social media sites which can have online predators and unfiltered content.
·         Report concerns about behaviour to the police, block and report users to the owner of the social media platform, report it to school with screen captures.
·         Ask your telco for a print out of sites visited and data use.
Social media is not the place to choose to place your trust. It is can be as equally good as it can be evil.

What happens to people involved in sexting at our school?

The school’s network blocks social networking sites and applies strong filters designed to protect students from cyber-bullying. When students log on, there is a new shortcut which students can use to report cyber-bullying.
It doesn’t matter if your child was the first, the last, or one of many, who posted, sent, liked, made comments or hassled someone online or to their face or near them because they saw or thought they saw a picture of them that was inappropriate, they are involved. With access to mobile phones with data and even free wifi, this becomes an issue for all of us. Sometimes I wish mobile phones had never been invented and I have seriously considered banning them altogether at school.
If it is happening to your child, if your child sees it or hears about it, it must be reported.
Cyber bullying is detailed in our ‘Responsible Behaviour and Wellbeing plan’ as a method of bullying using technology, such as email, mobile phones, chat rooms and social networking sites to bully verbally, socially or psychologically.
Threats, rumours, blogs, nasty comments and even ‘liking’ the comments of others is cyber-bullying.
Students are asked to consider the following questions:
  • Are you currently receiving text messages, emails, msn messages, or reading blogs about you that were menacing, harassing or caused offence to you?
  • Do you have a print out of the messages?
  • Has this happened more than once?
  • Do you know EXACTLY who this person is, and know where they go to school?
  • Would you like these messages to stop?
If the answer is yes to each of these questions then students are asked to see their Year Level Deputy Principal.

What does the school do?

1.       We refer all instances of sexting or rumours or online sexual harassment to the police.
2.       We inform parents. Students then must show parents what they have been involved in.
3.       We gather evidence. Screen shots, IP addresses, names and other relevant information is obtained through our system.
4.       We use reflective practices and record all information on the student’s personal record One School.
5.       Consequences detailed in the school’s behaviour plan including suspensions and exclusion may be applied.
April 21
Term Two Week One, 2017

Valued Traditions

ANZAC Day for many defines those qualities which have underpinned the Australian identity for a century. This year, in the school’s Centenary year, we reflect on those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for peace and freedom. On Monday all grades will participate in an ANZAC Commemoration ceremony during the morning. Students at Cairns High highly value these opportunities to participate in formally recognising the bravery and commitment of the men and women who have served in all conflicts.
Learning will be as normal for the remainder of the day. It is a normal school day with attendance compulsory.
Morgan Lui, School Captain, Danny Johnson and Ella Cowan (Vice Captains) and Carrie-Lee Garcia (Indigenous Prefect) will be representing the school at Dawn Services at Edge Hill and on the Esplanade. Danny and Ella will also take a key role in the Ecumenical Service at St Monica’s in the morning.

Governor’s Visit

On Tuesday we were pleased to host His Excellency, the Honourable Paul de Jersey, AC, the Governor of Queensland and Mrs de Jersey. He attended a Year 7 parade and gave a lovely speech about the school and its place in history. He expressed his delight at the performance given by our Strings Ensemble, saying that it was the best school performance he had witnessed. Equally impressed was he by the respect shown by Year 7, the articulate Senior IB Chemistry students who he met as they did titration experiments and the thoughtfulness of the Year 12 Legal Studies class. Mrs de Jersey very much appreciated the interaction with the students, whom she found lovely.  I hope we have the opportunity to host His Excellency and Mrs de Jersey again.
Latest Innovations
Our current Year 9 students will be the first to experience the new Senior Assessment and Tertiary Entrance system in Queensland. This will mean a range of new ‘General’ and ‘Applied’ subjects which will be used to calculate an ATAR score which is used for university entrance.
At present we are working on the release of our ‘NEW YEAR 10’ which will serve as a preparation program for ATAR or IB programs. I am excited by the opportunities we will embrace in the form of new subjects and opportunities such as VET Certificate courses being offered from Year 10. Expect more news over the coming weeks as we finalise our plans and provide Year 9s with the information as it is developed.

International Baccalaureate

Year 10 students are reminded that the IB Intention to Participate forms and deposits are due Tuesday 2 May.

High standards and expectations

Now that Term 1 has concluded and students have received their progress reports, it is important to reflect on them and review how well each student is developing. During the break I have examined every single report. I was pleased to be able to send congratulatory messages to hundreds of students who are on track to not only pass, but achieve the highest standards.
I have clear expectations that students should strive to achieve their best. For me, the most important elements on a report card are the Effort and Behaviour categories. If a student is working at Excellent or Very Good level, yet achieving a ‘D’, then I appreciate that the s/he is doing everything they can to achieve and we need to work together to support that student or guide them to a pathway where they can find success.
In the most senior years, Year 11 and 12, where a student chooses their course, develops a plan for the future and is working toward it, I would expect that they themselves would not be happy with even a ‘Satisfactory’ standard for Effort and Behaviour. I believe it is fair to expect a student to be engaged at ’Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ levels. I am surprised and disappointed when I see ‘Needs Attention’ or even more so when ‘Unsatisfactory’ rears its ugly head. This week I have been interviewing students to get to know what challenges they are facing or in some cases formally engage in a process which may lead to enrolment being cancelled. The approach I employ very much puts responsibility to the student to examine options and implement those reasonable strategies to engage at the level which will lead to success.
March 31
Communique Week 10, Term One

Happy Easter!

School holidays are a time to take a breath and reflect on the term that has gone before us.

Cairns State High School is such an amazing place and Term One has not let us down. Every day I see energetic and committed teachers heading off to classes to be greeted by enthusiastic young people ready to learn. I thank parents and carers for their support of the children and our high standards of uniform, behaviour and engagement. We have high expectations of every child. To be the best you can be means setting goals and working hard to achieve them. This, along with our focus on Wellbeing, is seeing improvement in achievement, attendance and behaviour levels. Students are proud to belong to Cairns High; so are staff – and so am I.

I wish everyone a very enjoyable Easter break! See you on Tuesday 18th April for the first day of Term 2 for all grades, 7 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

What we’ve achieved so far:

  • Welcomed hundreds of new students to our fantastic school;
  • Inducted Year 12 and year leaders;
  • Held a 30 Year memorial service in the community for those affected by the 1987 bus crash;
  • Won the Science and Engineering challenge;
  • Started QCST focus sessions;
  • Introduced the Centenary Cap into the school uniform for 2017;
  • Launched the official history of the first 100 years of Cairns High;
  • Planned the Open Day and Supper club for September; 
  • Launched a Principal’s twitter and now online blog (on the school website under the News tab); 
  • Started our Clontarf Academy;
  • Hosted international groups;
  • Joined Advance CaIrns;
  • Cancelled and then re-scheduled the Musical, Mary Poppins;
  • Held a successful Year 6 information night and started the enrolment process for 2018;
  • Introduced ‘Ready to Learn’ improving communication regarding use of laptops, ending home early concerns about achieving work by deadlines and all the positives you can imagine;
  • Surveys and feedback providing constant looping for students, staff and parents;
  • Focused on improving the teaching of writing;
  • Held a ‘Bullying No Way’ Day and launched our new Anti-Bullying policy;
  • Enjoyed highly interesting Junior and Intermediate Formal Parades;
  • Shaved for a Cure;
  • Laughed our heads off at the Comedy Improv night;
  • Smashed the CISSA competition;
  • Went in a range of competitions like the Young Newsreader (and picked up a second place);
  • Year 9 and year 12 camps;
  • Further developed student wellbeing programs in 7 and 8. Formulated a new plan for 9 and 10 to start Term 2;
  • Conducted a ‘Health Check’ to examine our progress in Term 1;
  • Endorsed a new Responsible Behaviour and Wellbeing Plan and 2017-2020 Strategic Plan.
  • And much much more….


Writing is a Life Skill

Writing is a key focus across our school under the Explicit Improvement Agenda for 2017. You may have had an experience where you have tried to support your child in their writing of assessments or homework and are unsure about how to help.

Word choice.JPG

The Six Traits of Writing supporting students to improve their writing will help your child to improve their writing.

Nominate a Batonbearer

Nominations are now open for local representatives to carry the Queen’s Baton in Cairns in the lead-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The Queen's Baton will arrive in Cairns on 15 March 2018 and will stay in the region for three days. Across Australia, approximately 3800 batonbearers are needed to share the dream of the ‘Friendly Games’ as part of the QBR. Batonbearers are people of all abilities who inspire others to be great. Batonbearers will represent a community with pride and showcase to the world the region’s natural beauty and vibrant community. Nominations can be made at

BYOx Day Loan Program

Cairns State High School is an eLearning school which means that all students are required to have a laptop ready to learn in every class. This does not mean that a laptop will be used every lesson but when learning can be enhanced through use of eLearning it is our school’s expectation that all students should have the opportunity to access this learning tool.

We understand that for some families a laptop may be too expensive and we provide a day loan program for students to collect a laptop every morning from the Library before school and return to the Library at the end of the school day. The process for accessing this program is as follows:

  • Complete the BYOx Day Loan application
  • Submit form with fully refundable deposit of $50
  • Once approved collect laptop from the Library Help Desk

There are also occasions when a student laptop may be under repair and our school provides day loan laptops to ensure that students are able to engage in classes until their device is repaired. The process for accessing this program is as follows:

Parent/Carer writes a note explaining that laptop is being repaired with expected duration of repair period (up to 2 weeks)

Student presents the note to Student Services before school where they are issued a Laptop Under Repair Slip

Student presents slip to Library Help Desk and is issued with a laptop

Should the repair take longer than 2 weeks another note needs to be submitted to Student Services

Parent/Carer feedback now forms part of my blog whicvh is located in the news section of the school web site:

Parent survey tool

You can feedback issues of your own or send a shout out to a teacher who is doing a great job.

Follow Mr Zilm on Twitter

Follow me on Twitter using @CairnsSHSZilmy and see how many Selfies I can take in a day!

Jump on the link:

Mr Chris Zilm
Executive Principal
Follow me on Twitter: #CairnsSHSZilmy



March 31
Parent/Carer Feedback
Hello! Wow I am so impressed by the changes at CSHS.  The communication, transparency and modelling school values is such a welcome change.  Mr. Zilm is certainly transformational.  I have noticed profound changes in my son's attitude and disposition to school, and amongst the staff I come into contact with.

CZ Response: Thank you for the positive feedback and your perspective on awards night (which you did not wish to see published).

I love that we get emails letting us know what major homework/assignments are due, otherwise I would have no idea as my boys always say they have none...! Also the early intervention, and the good news emails are great, I finally feel I know what is going on with their school work!

CZ Response: Thank you for the feedback. We are refreshing the approach and taking a range of comments on board. Having good communication is critical to genuine school-home partnership.

Hello, Lately I have been not getting the weekly communique emails from the school and I would like you to please send it to me so I can read it to know what is happening in the school. Thank you.

CZ Response: Our communications and marketing team will look at why this has happened. We have now switched to the email list for the newsletter so maybe it has not been updated.

It would be great if you could review the timetabling of block exam subjects so that as much as possible students don't have two intensive subjects on the same day. This term yr 11 chemistry and maths B were on the same day, with my daughter having no exams on the Monday. It would seem more suitable to separate these exams or put maths A and chemistry on the same day as there is less likelihood of overlap. This would help students achieve their potential in the subjects and reduce stress levels.

CZ Response: We try a number of arrangements to get exams done in a short time frame. It’s all about balance and maximising conditions. We take your feedback on board.

I just want to express my concern about the pick-up zone as well as the way some students are crossing the road recklessly. In particular, some students are crossing Sheridan Street without using the designated crossing which puts them in a very dangerous situation. Considering the amount of tourists we have it makes it even more dangerous, as they have learnt different road rules from around the world. Is it a possibility to have a police officer waiting around the pickup zone at least once a while?  I have seen that there are very disrespectful parents who don't give way to bus drivers or move their cars to the front of the pickup zone creating congestion. If the police are involved in this case and starting to fine the drivers, eventually they will learn their lesson. I have seen this practice successfully implemented in bigger public schools. In my opinion this is a disaster waiting to happen. Hopefully the school can find a solution for this before someone gets severely injured.

CZ Response: We regularly request this of police but it is not possible for them to commit. The issue of road safety is an important one for everyone to pay attention to. I will ensure that students are reminded of our expectations. We will also keep trying to strengthen our relationship with traffic police.

Parent survey tool

You can feedback issues of your own or send a shout out to a teacher who is doing a great job.


March 29
RAW is life

​Today I took my Year 7 RAW class down the esplanade for a walk. Wow - it was hot. Luckily we had planned to stop by an ice cream specialist or two to see how the local economy could be supported. That made life bearable for sure.

What happened along the way is almost the most important thing we have done all term. Students learned about being from Cairns High and how to behave in public. They also chatted about things they were pleased about in the term. A bit of time on the playground and then buying an ice cream was all fun but also about responsibility.

Again, I could not be prouder of our kids. Theyw ere terrific.

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