Navigating a Successful Start to the School Year: Essential Back-to-School Tips for Students

Author: Paul Horvath, Head of Teaching and Learning

The first day of school is fast approaching, and our school is a hive of activity and preparation. While many of our HSC students have remained actively engaged in their learning journey over the holidays, most students will have been enjoying a break and recharging for the year ahead! Beginning the year in a positive and productive way is crucial to a successful academic journey in 2024. Having your uniform, books and resources all organised is, of course, important. But perhaps most important is to have a positive mindset about your ability to achieve. Our core values of Courage, Authenticity, Respect and Empathy help all of our community, particularly our students, to foster a growth mindset and help ensure the academic journey of 2024 is exciting and adventurous for all! Below are some tips and hopes for you for the year ahead:


Be courageous. Be courageous in your approach to new opportunities. Be courageous in setting lofty goals and having high expectations of yourself. Be courageous in not fearing failure! Be brave in getting involved and trying new things. Embrace the wide range of academic, co-curricular and sports options on offer. You never know what new skill you will learn, new friends you might meet, and new passions you might develop. The opportunities are there for you—be fearless in your efforts and applications.


One of history’s great writers—Oscar Wilde—wrote, ‘Be yourself; everyone else is taken’. Just linger on that for a moment … it is such a simple quote but offers real profundity. In 2024, be your authentic self. You have your own personality, talents, strengths and weaknesses that contribute to the diverse tapestry that makes up our school community. Be authentic in your relationships with yourself and others. Take the time to know yourself—to learn about you—and be willing to challenge what you learn about yourself and to grow from your learning.

Respect—Diverse Minds, Inclusive Hearts

Be respectful. Our school community comprises a wonderfully diverse range of people. Aligned with part of the original history of Ngarigo land, these diverse people come together to learn and collaborate. Respect is the key to creating a positive and inclusive environment and recognising and appreciating the differences that not only make each of us unique but make our school the very special place it is! Approach each day with an open mind and a willingness to be challenged in your learning. Be ready to be respectful in your interactions. Whether it is opening the door for others, waiting until the end of the performance to enter the Snowy Shed, standing to greet visitors to class or the school, listening to the views of others in discussions, courteous, polite, respectful behaviour is expected in our school.

Empathy—Cultivate Curiosity

Be empathetic. A strong community is one where the individual is able to both understand and share the feelings of others. Ours is a community where this is not only expected but lived. Be empathetic by starting school with a curious mindset. Ask questions and seek to understand the reasons behind others’ actions or opinions. Curiosity is a powerful tool for building empathy as it drives a genuine desire to know more about others. And knowing more helps us to value the experience of others. We each and all have a role in ensuring that every person in our school has positive experiences. Be positive in your role in doing this—be prepared to think beyond your own needs to consider those of others.

At Snowy Mountains Grammar School, the principles of Courage, Authenticity, Respect and Empathy underpin our learning and expectations. Exhibit courage by embracing new opportunities, maintain authenticity in your actions, foster an environment of respect that acknowledges diversity, and cultivate empathy through a genuine curiosity about others. Embrace the opportunities that our school offers.