High Notes, Vol 16 No 4, February 20 2015

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From the Principal

High Talent
Congratulations to Brendan Kong on his selection in the Australian National Youth Ice Hockey Team to compete at the World Championships in Serbia. Great results by our boys at the Newington Short course carnival last Friday. James Luo won the U13 in 50m freestyle, butterfly and breaststroke; Christian Haddo won the U17 50m freestyle and the 4X50m medley relay with Andrew McNaughton, Max Menzel and Kim Kyne; Leonard Mah won the 18+ 50m freestyle and the 16 years boys won the 4 x 50 freestyle relay. Well done to all!

Early Bird Discount - Clarification
The early bird discount is available for students who were invoiced in December 2014 or later and doesn’t apply to students who were invoiced in October last year and subsequently came to Orientation Day and had the opportunity to pay everything on the day and obtain the discount.  Year 7 boys who were not made offers before Orientation Day are eligible for the discount. Students in Years 8-12 have the chance to make a saving by paying in full by next Friday, February 27.  I want to recognise and thank the hundreds of families who have already made the effort to pay early to allow the School to make the maximum use of their funds in the educational interests of their sons.

Student Awards Scheme – Assemblies
I was very proud to be able to award 669 students this week in recognition of their participation in High’s acclaimed Student Awards Scheme. The boys who earn awards have to demonstrate sustained and broad commitment to school life. Bronze medallions were awarded to 164 boys with silver, 171. Solid participation is indicated at the gold award level, with 127 boys qualifying.  By Year 10, boys should have earned a platinum medallion – 105 did so. There were 56 boys who earned a plaque. The usual end point for the scheme is School Trophy – the sixth level of the scheme. Thirty-four boys achieved this goal. An exceptional number of 11 boys have earned 180 extra points in their six years to reach the Nathan McDonnell Award, named after one of the first boys to earn a super tally of award scheme points.  A further 200 points were earned by Lokesh Sharma (SHS 2014) who became the second Joseph Coates Award recipient, following on from Shuming Wang (SHS 2013).

There are two dozen areas of activity recognised in the Awards Scheme, each being capped at a maximum of 35 points or less. There is only one activity that is not capped – school service.   For a sport, if requirements are satisfied, including all training sessions, competition matches and weights room/sprints attendance, 35 points can be awarded. There is a maximum of 10 as bonus points at the discretion of the Principal for boys who really excel in their contributions. Boys are involved in many diverse areas of school life – leadership, cadets, self-improvement, music, debating and community service – to name a few. I urge all boys to get involved in school life.

Presentation Night – 2015
In his occasional address, AFP Assistant Commissioner Tim Morris (SHS 1981), recounted his commitment to grasping every opportunity while he was at High. He participated in many activities and learned a lot about himself and how to relate to others. His flexibility and versatility were valuable attributes in his investigative work which has taken him to many countries. His career highlight was the Bali bombing investigation, for which he was honoured. Tim praised the education he had at High and reaffirmed the fundamental values of the school as important in his personal development. My address is reprinted below:

"Special guest, Assistant Commissioner Morris, Mr. Alex Greenwich (Member for Sydney), Mr Murat Dizdar (Executive Director, Public Schools NSW), Dr. Sylvia Corish (Director Public Schools NSW – Port Jackson), WO1 Paul Dunbavin ADF, Mr Vince Del Zio (CEO Sir Roden & Lady Cutler Foundation), Mr Brad Hall, Development Manager, School of Computer Science and Engineering, UNSW, Ms Andrea Connell (Principal of SGHS), School Council Life Governor Phil Lambert, guest presenters, particularly Living Treasure John Fraser, staff, parents, Old Boys, and prize winners – thank you all for joining us to share in the many achievements of High boys.

"In 2014 we had a focus on ‘empowering gifted boys’. We attempted to do this by ‘pulling weeds and planting flowers’. We used the results of school–based research into underachievement to implement a series of positive behaviours that might combat some of our motivation and volition issues at High. We tried to use the opportunities of extended blocks of teaching time to embed learning more effectively. Teachers integrated technology more with iPads using Airplay and ‘flipped classroom’ techniques. Students ran classes for their peers to build stronger knowledge bases and student confidence. We focussed on nurturing future-focussed vocational skills. Staff and students modelled collegial and cooperative activities that lifted the tone of the school. We pursued all round excellence vigorously!

"At the HSC, High boys exceeded every cohort target set. There were 641 band 6/E4s, 55 boys with ATARs at 99 or higher, 165 ATARs were 90 or above. We improved the average ATAR for 204 boys to 93.7. 80% of the cohort achieved 90 ATAR or higher. Just 7.8% of students earned ATARs below 80.

"Challenging target means were set for each course. Nineteen courses met them and 13 did not. Targets were also set for percentages of band 6/E4s for each course. Twenty courses achieved them and 12 did not. Our top three z scores were: PDHPE, engineering studies and Music 1. It was the second best cohort result since the new HSC began in 2001.

"Outstanding HSC results this year included Edric Wang, Christopher Chen, Weber Liu and James Pham scoring maximum ATARS of 99.95. In our HSC course top ten results, Paul Yu came first in 2-unit mathematics with Leonard Mah 5th. Both students were in Year 11. Xiao Jie Tang was equal second in engineering studies. In extension 2 mathematics, Robert Tan (3rd.) and Gideon Kwok (4th) did a great job. Norman Yang was 3rd in Chinese Continuers. William Yang had his body of work hung at ARTEXPRESS.  Shaleen Baranwal (Year 11), Steve Comninos,  Brendan Hancox, Riley Irwin, Madison Wu and Edric Wang were nominated for ENCORE in music.

"Edric was also awarded a bronze medal at the Physics Olympiad in Kazakhstan. Daniel Fang was the national winner of the UNSW Australia and NZ Economics Competition and Jack Zhou won the UNSW Australia and NZ Business Studies Competition.  Andrew Guang (Year 8) came first in Australia in the Junior Division of the National Geographic Australian Geography Competition. In the International Competition and Assessment for Schools competitions, Alan Loi was awarded the top score for NSW and ACT in Science, while Louis Shapiro (Year 9) achieved the highest score in NSW and ACT for the Writing Test.

"In debating, our Hume Barbour team secured the trophy for the third consecutive year and the 26th time since the competition began. Riley Irwin was ranked best speaker at the UNSW Competition and at the Commonwealth Day debate. Tushaar Garg won the Lawrence Campbell Competition for oratory, our first win since 1997. Max Koslowski and Thomas Shortridge represented NSW at the Dr Evatt National Competition and Andrew McNaughton, Thomas Nguyen and Thomas Shortridge won through to the national MUNA final.

"In sport, our open basketball team had a wonderful year. They were GPS Champions (a first for High). They beat Westfields Sports High to regain the CHS Knockout Champions trophy. They won the NSW Schools Championships. The team placed 3rd in Australia at the National Schools Basketball Competition.

"At the GPS Athletics Carnival Pete Upatising won the Open Long Jump, Lucas Wong won the U14 100m and was second in the 200m. The U14 Relay team won. At the CHS athletics carnival, our team retained the Kippax Cup by beating all boys’ schools – including sports high schools. Ben Nguyen won the 12 years long jump and Luke Schofield won the 15 years 3000m. At the CHS Cross Country Carnival High boys made history, winning gold in the 15s and 18s teams events.

"High won the All-Schools target Rifle shooting Championships. The Second Grade team won the GPS title again. Our sabre team won the Schools Teams National fencing competition.

"In rowing, at the CHS regatta, High retained the Peter Bond Cup for boys schools and also won the Rowing Association Trophy for highest point score overall. Roy Yi was named Champion Junior Rower and Steve Comninos and Sam Musgrave shared Champion Senior Rower with 3 gold medals each.

"High volleyball also made history this year winning all three age titles at the NSW All School Tournament. High first grade won the GPS Premiership for the 12th consecutive year. Second grade were champions. Our U15s won the NSW Junior Championships.

"Pinyan Gao (volleyball) and Steve Comninos (rowing) earned NSW CHSSA Blues. Bailey Musulin was selected as captain of the NSW U18 basketball team. James Siu (Year 8) was selected to represent Australia in the Singapore Cadet World Cup. Manson Luk (Year 9) won a gold medal at the Australian Taekwondo Championships. Edward Lin (Year 10) was selected to represent NSW in short-course speed ice skating. Sam Musgrave was selected in the U18 CHS rugby team and James Tinker the U16 team.

"Customarily on this occasion, I conclude by offering some unsolicited commentary as a parting gesture to our most recent Old Boys. Western democratic societies are showing signs of growing anxiety and social tension as a result of the rise of terrorism on a global scale.  We are struggling to come to terms with the Lindt Café siege, the Charlie Hebdo assassinations, the massacres by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the attack on students at a school in Peshawar.  The involvement of radicalised Australian youth in jihadist movements such as the ISIS Caliphate, perplexes us. The manner in which the world has become a village frightens us, because we can remain neither quarantined nor complacent in our prosperous and peaceful island continent.  As a nation we need to be careful not to react instinctively and simplistically towards these geopolitical events. They are explicable in terms of social evolution.

"The movement towards modernity is the most powerful and inexorable force in the world. The second most powerful force is reactionary resistance to modernity and the troubling individualism that it brings with it. The loss of kinship ties and local governance by an established religion, appears to many as though the core structure of life’s organisation is crumbling. Individualism is scary. Eli Sagan, in his powerful analysis, “Citizens & Cannibals:  the French Revolution, the struggle for modernity, and the origins of ideological terror” (2001), explains that when nations are attempting to establish a modern society, six outcomes are possible.  Stable democratic society is the ideal model which, thankfully, we have enjoyed in western democracies for so long.

"However, there are perverse forms of social organisation which can also develop out of the struggle, manifesting a deep ambivalence about modernity.  Anarchy, military despotism, conservative dictatorship, religious fundamentalism and ideological terror, represent incomplete and potentially unstable attempts at responding to the socio-political push towards modernity. All of these perversions currently exist as social organisations. These perverse forms usually develop when societies attempt to miss an evolutionary stage – such as moving from medievalism to modernity, without building the necessary institutions and political parties characteristic of early modern societies. The early modern phase, beginning in the 16th century, altered relationships between established religion and the state, subordinated the power of the military to the civilian government and created centralised, bureaucratic states. Some societies are just not ready yet for democracy as we know it.

"In our lucky country we are at a higher stage of development and yet still seem to be yearning for change. The Australian electorate is becoming impatient with its parties and its leaders.  This restlessness for a more sensitive, collaborative and nurturing polity, may well be a function of a societal move towards a post-modern narrative about the role of government. We might be responding to a moral push for a higher evolutionary stage in which we at last begin to enact the dream of 1789: equality before the law, in political rights and between the sexes; the liberty of all people from personal or economic slavery; and the operationalising of brotherhood expressed as social justice legislation.

"The third pillar of the French Revolution, ‘fraternité,’ needs to become integral to our view of a good society.  Middle class welfare must be wound back, the taxation system should be made more progressive to increase the burden on the wealthy; and the dominance of individualism needs to be mitigated by a stronger political will to meet social justice imperatives in education, health and welfare. We know we should be doing more in these policy areas but we don’t want to be hurt financially to pay for them. We wasted our mining boom windfall. We need a courageous leader with a clear vision of how ‘fraternité’ can be achieved and what we must do as a society to achieve this goal.

"You have experienced the psychological benefits of brotherhood at this school. Maybe members of the Class of 2014 will have a positive influence on our evolution towards a more just, collegial and caring society. I certainly hope so. Congratulations to all prize winners and I wish the Class of 2014 a fond farewell and good luck for you futures"
Dr K A Jaggar

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