High Notes, Vol 17 No 37, November 25 2016

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From the Principal

High Talent
Congratulations to the Open High Basketball for their great win in the Raschke Cup last Saturday. A radical re-arrangement of the offense surprised our opposition teams in a come-from-behind victory on the day. Congratulations to Dharmesh Sharma (11S) who was equal first in NSW in the Australian Geography Competition and was invited to Geography’s Big Week Out, a series of challenging tasks for geographers and a selection camp for the Australian Team (4 students) to compete at the 14th International Geography Olympiad to be held in Belgrade in August, 2017.

Orientation Day 2016
Thank you to Sharon Kearns and her staff, teachers, students and parent volunteers who worked so well together to make the orientation / enrolment process as smooth and efficient as possible. The enrolment processes were completed in record time thanks to the smooth organisation and hard work of the SASS staff. They had to process 217 new students. The Great Hall was full for the assembly at the new time of 3:45. Many new students and their parents were shown around the school by Prefects. These boys also did a wonderful job assisting the SASS staff in the Common Room as they processed applications. Volunteers who attended the various activity stalls in the courtyard did a great job too, as did the parents who gave up their time. Thank you also to the P & C volunteers, organised again by Dora Shapiro for providing refreshments. Mr Aldous organised the day very efficiently again. Thank you to everyone involved. I have included my speech to the gathering of new parents as a reminder to everyone, of our educational philosophy and character building values and programs.

"Good afternoon and welcome to High’s Orientation Day for students joining us in 2017. Let me begin by congratulating you all on qualifying for a place at High, either by way of a test in Year 7 or by application and interview for Years 8, 9 and 11. I am also pleased by your decision to accept the offer. I am confident that your time with us will be as challenging, engaging and rewarding as it has been for numerous boys before you. As your Principal, it is a constant source of motivation and pride for me to be associated with such talented people and their able parents. High is a great place in which to work and learn.

"A number of speakers will inform you about aspects of school life. You have a great many forms and booklets, either in your enrolment package mailed to you, or in your satchel given to you today. It is all too much to take in all at once. I urge you to retain all the information from these sources and to carefully consider it all before the first day of school next year.

"I have recorded my thoughts on what differentiates the educational experience at High in a green pamphlet that you should have received in your enrolment package. The document is by way of the School Prospectus, so you know what we stand for, where we are headed and what we are trying to do to get there. In addition, on our school website, www.sydneyboyshigh.com  under the main menu on the navigation bar, if you select; About/ Introduction/Principal’s Message, you can peruse my Vision Statement for the school for 2015-2017. In it I outline the educational philosophy which drives the programs and experiences we design and implement for your sons. I also sketch the framework for the three-year plan that we commenced last year and the objectives we hope to realise next year.

"Our values are published in; About/Organisation/ School Values. The full text of the School Plan can be viewed on the website if you select About/ Organisation/School Planning. We are here to teach students, not subjects separated into siIos. Kids are important, not content. We want to build character through engagement and collaborative effort. Our ethos is founded on nurturing the scholar-sportsman. Our organisation is rather complicated. Our two organisation charts are published at About/Organisation. I am very proud of our Student Awards Scheme. Our students have participated fully in this scheme since 2001. The names of the highly-involved boys are proudly recorded for posterity on Honour Boards here in the Great Hall. The details about this scheme are also published on our website at www.sydneyboyshigh.com/wellbeing/award-scheme I urge you and your son to read these web pages before school commences next year to familiarise yourselves with the school and its activities and to know how your son’s participation is valued and recognised. Our Good Discipline and Effective Learning Policy is published in a white pamphlet for your perusal. Our extensive wellbeing programs can be found on the navigation bar under ‘Wellbeing’.

"The strength of our school lies in the quality of the people who comprise it – students, staff, parents, Old Boys. As a leading selective school, High brings together intelligent and energetic people with multifaceted gifts. We provide a meeting place for like minds and hearts.  Having a sense of belonging and a feeling of commitment to the culture of a school, helps sustain and motivate students to strive for high level outcomes in academics, sport and other activities. Our school prizes the good all-rounder. Students who fully engage with the school culture generally maximise their potential in all areas of school life and have happier dispositions. They also tend to become successful adults.

"As bright, committed and no less energetic parents join together in the interests of supporting their sons while at High, innovative, professional and creative ideas are injected into school governance and management. As new parents, our Parent Mentor Program is there to help you transition into the high community. I welcome your future involvement in the governance of the school.

The Welcome to New Parents Evening is scheduled for Tuesday 7 February 2017 at 6pm in the Great Hall – the day after the school swimming carnival. I urge you to attend this important occasion. Year 9 new enrolments have special orientation activities organised for them right at the beginning of next year. Please make sure your son attends these information sessions.

"Our staff is dedicated to teaching gifted students and specialise in meeting the needs of learners who are becoming more autonomous and independent at earlier stages in life than their age peers. To have a coherent strategy for our programs we need to tie them to a theoretical model for cognitive, physical, social and personal development. A decade ago, the school was divided into two in order to design appropriate policies and programs for two growth stages and to provide more intimacy in administration.

"Our educational philosophy in the Junior School is based around a discourse of personal development. The total curriculum is driven by Francois Gagné’s differentiated model for transforming giftedness into talent, by positively impacting on those environmental and intrapersonal catalysts which affect the developmental process of informal and formal learning and practising. Personal development is as much about building character as it is about exercising IQ. EQ out predicts IQ by a factor of two when it comes to success in life after school.

"In the senior school, we see the individual student as becoming more independent, as an agent involved in his own learning, and our programs are built around the discourse of academic achievement. In addition to the structured transformation of gifts into talents, we add Albert Ziegler’s Actiotope Model of giftedness development. An actiotope is an action system that encompasses both the individual and the surrounding environment – each modifying the other. Achieving excellence for senior boys comes as a result of their self-organisation and self-adaptation within a highly complex system of teaching, learning and socialising. They affect it as much as it affects them. Senior school learning is a mutually sustaining actiotope comprising the teacher, the students, the parents and the peer groups. It’s a culture of co-evolution that we are keen to create.

"This structured development of learning and practice, seen through the lens of educational theory, helps to transforms gifts in the intellectual, creative, socio-affective and sensorimotor domains, into systematically developed skills, in the fields of: academics, the Arts, business, leisure, social action, sports and technology.

"Our approach to personal development - helping boys ‘to become’- is integrated and involves every program we have in the school. We have subject acceleration as a key feature of our gifted education policy, along with competitions, debating, performance music, chess, leadership, social justice and community service.

"We are planning to commence construction of our major project – a joint building comprising a tiered theatre and examination centre with SGHS – during 2017. I urge you to contribute to the Sydney High School Building Fund. Your sons will benefit directly in a couple of years from the fund-raising efforts of past and current parents. Your generosity will also become a legacy for future cohorts of High boys to enjoy. We are seeking your commitment to the school today by paying in full the contributions, levies and tax deductible donations and receiving the Orientation Day discount listed on the total enrolment form letter. I extend a warm welcome to you all. High is an exciting and challenging place in which to work and learn."
Dr K A Jaggar

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