High Notes, Vol 16 No 12, May 01 2015

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From the Principal

Capital Punishment
The executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran this week have focussed the nation’s attention on human rights issues surrounding crime and punishment. Irrespective of the moral question of state sanctioned killing, two immediate consequences follow. The men concerned have no opportunity to continue to try and live purposeful and redemptive lives, even if one’s constrained by prison walls. Their extended families have had to endure years of suspenseful suffering and now grief at their violent passing. Their choices to maintain contact with incarcerated relatives have also been denied them. Ripple effects on many others result from capital punishment as a state policy. Sadly, they extend to us here in the High community.  

High Talent
Congratulations to Sunny Xu (Sydney East Volleyball captain at the Inter Regional Carnival) and Kevin Robinson of Year 12 who were selected in the NSW CHS volleyball team. Well done to Oscar Dumas (Year 9) who has been selected in the NSW U16 basketball team. Congratulations also to our representatives at the CIS Swimming Championships: James Luo (Year 8), Allen Guo (Year 9), Kevin Guo (Year 10), Kalem Best, Andrew McNaughton and Max Menzel (Year 11), and Ian Lai, Dominic Mah and Sam Musgrove (Year 12).

Invoices for Summer Activities Co-payments
Families have had invoices posted for term 1 activities. Despite these charges, most activities are heavily subsidised from school funds, particularly in direct grants from school funds, provision of MICs, teacher supervision, WHS compliance costs, first aid costs and parking allocation support. Co-payments are used primarily for the provision of coaching. In basketball alone, a team of over 50 people delivers the program! We have staff, students, Old Boys, parents and volunteers working to make your son’s school experiences more enjoyable. It would be appreciated if you could make your co-payments promptly. Thank you.

Anzac Day Commemorative Assembly
Ciaran Farrell, Vishal Karnamadakala, and Chanum Torres (Year 11) delivered their interesting and varied perspectives on the significance of Anzac Day. The boys related values and dispositions lauded during these painful historical events to their experiences and those of others in a contemporary context. The idea of the Anzac spirit informing personal and national behaviour demonstrated the social and personal relevance of this day of commemoration and reflection. My address is reprinted below:

"Distinguished guests, Old Boys, staff and students, welcome to High’s Anzac Day Assembly. I acknowledge this morning the Gadigal people of the Eora nation as the custodians of the land on which we meet and pay my respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to any Aboriginal people here today. We welcome again representatives from our local RSL sub-branches Ross Whittle (SHS 1967) from Maroubra RSL, and Old Boys Alf Tremain (SHS 1957) and Commander Andrew Dale RAN (SHS 1965).

"It is appropriate on this centenary of Anzac Day to reflect on the service of Australia’s men and women in air combat missions in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government. We wish our recent deployment of training personnel to Iraq a safe return. Our thoughts are also with those who serve still in Operation Highroad in Afghanistan to train, advise and assist. We honour those who served in Operation Slipper in Afghanistan which has been completed. The campaign extended from October, 2001 until December 31, 2014 at a cost of 41 Australians dead and 256 wounded. We commemorate also the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II in the hope that world peace can last 100 years and longer.

"On the centenary of Anzac Day, the symbol of Gallipoli as Australia’s crucible of nationhood and test of manhood on an international stage, retains its importance in Australian culture.  “Gallipoli is a country of the mind” for historian Les Carlyon and possibly for most Australians, but increasingly for young Australians, it is also a place of pilgrimage, where they try to connect physically to the context and the ideals of our Australia in 1915. It’s as though we are in search of what unites us when our nation is under strain. In daunting terrain, pursuing a hopeless cause for the interests of another country, and fighting an enemy they knew nothing about, young men far from home, distinguished themselves with courage, mateship, sacrifice, loyalty and patriotism.  We are right to focus on the human side of what was a military mess.

"Strangest of all is the war aim given by Kitchener to Hamilton for which Australia suffered 28,000 casualties during eight months of bitter fighting. Essentially, Hamilton was sent to the Dardanelles with a force of 75,000 to support the British Fleet in its attempt to force a passage through to Constantinople. If the heights on the peninsula were taken artillery could be established to bombard the forts protecting the straits, allowing a safer passage for a renewed naval attack.  Ironically, the mines laid by the Turks in the waters of the straits were much more of a problem to the navy than were the forts.

"The same heights and ridges – Achi Baba, Mal Tepe, Chunuk Bair and Hill 971 - gave the Turkish forces great opportunities for defence.  At Cape Helles a direct assault could be assisted by a naval bombardment from three sides but the very limiting factor was there was also no room to manoeuvre. The element of surprise was lost due to the extended naval engagement; the enemy was dug in; there was not enough artillery, mortars, hand grenades or ammunition supplied for the attackers. Hamilton had been given less than six weeks to prepare.

"During the extended naval attack on the Dardanelles, one month before the landings at Gallipoli, German military expert Von Sanders had been called in by the Turks to organise the defence of the peninsula. He realised early that a landing somewhere on the peninsula was going to be successful. His strategy was to counter attack in force. He protected the coastline in the areas most likely to be attacked with units of men in platoon or company strength only, holding nearly three divisions in reserve to counter the strongest attack, wherever it might be mounted.

"On April 25, initial successes by the Anzacs in achieving objectives, such as the promontory at Gaba Tepe, were short lived as Turkish reserves were mobilised for a counter attack. Failing a rapid concentration of forces in the areas where the Allied attack had succeeded on the first day, the campaign was, from a strategic perspective, doomed.

"What followed in the agonising next 8 months has been documented vividly, particularly this year in great diaries, books, motion pictures and made for television dramas. One hundred years later, the values and attitudes that continue to define us as Australians are celebrated on Anzac Day as an unequivocal national day of remembrance and reflection about what we were, what we have retained and what we’ve become as a nation."
Dr K A Jaggar

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