High Notes, Vol 23 No 31, October 14 2022

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From the Principal

Welcome back for Term 4

As we return to commence our HSC examinations, I want to wish all of Year 12 the best of luck in the coming month of intense and stressful effort. In welcoming back staff and students from all academic years, I trust that you recharged your batteries during the Term 3 break and are ready to take on the various challenges ahead. We are entering a new phase in our response to the pandemic, commencing next Monday. As mandatory self-isolation for positive COVID cases is phased out, we will rely on the common sense and good judgement of students and parents to decide not to come to school if a student is unwell, due to COVID or any other illness. The Department of Education’s Student Behaviour Policy and Procedures is to be implemented from the first day of Term 4. There will be some procedural changes and we will be developing a School Behaviour Support and Management Plan to align our practice with the goals of the Student Behaviour Strategy.

Staff Changes

Sarah Kim is filling in for John Prorellis as Head Teacher Administration for two weeks and Hannah Jackson is relieving HT Sport for two weeks while Steve Marcos is on leave.

High Talent

At the recent NSW All-Schools Track and Field Championships, Max Russell (11T) earned a silver medal for the 17 years 3000m (8.47.93). He won gold in the 17 years 2000m steeplechase with a time of 6.08.35. Congratulations, Max!  Joseph Britton (10S) was selected into the Public Schools State Drama Ensemble – Well done, Joseph!

Foundation Day Assembly

Old Boys, parents and students celebrated the School’s Foundation on October 1, 1883, at our traditional assembly on Tuesday. Our Prefect Interns took the Prefect’s Pledge, committing themselves to the service of the school. Rob Middleton spoke on behalf of Old Boys about leadership in a new context of international interconnectivity when facing global challenges. My address is reprinted below:

"Special guest Rob Middleton, School Captain of 1972, Mr Geoff Denyer, Deputy Principal Sydney Girls High School, Mr Alex Feldman Chair of Sydney High School Foundation Ltd, Mr Dennis Briggs OBU Delegate and Life Governor, Life Governors Mr Phil Lambert and Dr George Lewkovitz, Professor Minas Coroneo AO, Order of Australia recipients, Former High Student Leaders, Sydney Girls High School Student Leaders, staff and students, welcome to our 139th Foundation Day Assembly held on Gadigal land. We are here to connect with our cultural values, honour those who helped build them and endorse the candidature of the Prefect Interns who will renew them. This year we welcome back Old Boys who graduated 50 years ago or more and try to connect to their context in relation to ours. Much has changed but more has endured.

"In 1972, as in 2022, there were momentous events. As the war in Vietnam dragged on, Richard Nixon took a diplomatic initiative of historical importance with his eight-day visit to China. He and Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT 1 in Moscow, effectively limiting the proliferation of nuclear missiles. Apollo 17 landed and Gene Cernan became the 11th and last man to walk on the Moon.  Australian of the Year, Shane Gould won three gold medals at the Munich Olympics, which were tragically tarnished by the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and officials at the hands of Black September Terrorists. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was set up on the lawns of old Parliament House and is still there, awaiting recognition for the voices of First Nations people in government. Gough Whitlam became the first Labor Prime Minister since the defeat of Ben Chifley in 1949.  Notorious No. 96 made its debut on television. The HP 35 scientific calculator was launched. Then, like now, there were troubling international wars, acts of terror, sporting highlights, leadership changes, great technical innovation and expanding popular culture.

"At High that year, Principal Murray Callaghan discussed the weakening of the trinity of influence on young men (home, church, school) and lamented the rise of competing influences coming from ‘communication media’ and the cynical behaviour of adults. The influence of social media has grown geometrically since then. There is a lessening of respect among youth for adults and their institutions due to exposures of corrupt and immoral behaviour among their leadership. Callaghan reaffirmed the School’s core purpose of striving for excellence in the face of change and challenge. We remain committed to that purpose today.

"Jack Lang was invited to the School and spoke to the combined 4th to 6th forms from both schools. An iconic figure from the Labor Left, he spoke of his hard childhood as going ‘through the fire’ which forged his political goals of providing for ‘the betterment of the poor and the uplifting of the underdog’. He impressed his young audience. The McDonald Wing was opened on March 17, 1972 by the Governor, Sir Roden Cutler. He and the then NSW Opposition Leader Pat Hills addressed the School.

"In cricket that year, our guest today Con Pavlidis, represented in the first XI while Rob Middleton captained the second XI as a bowling all-rounder with a useful contribution of 10 wickets at 15.3.  High rowed into 4th place at the Head of the River, having led for much of the race.  The first XV were co-premiers in GPS rugby. Inspired by Jim Demetriou, they beat Joeys at Hunters Hill for the first time in the history of the School.  The 1972 cohort had their triumphs and disappointments just as our boys have this year in various sports and activities. Their leadership called for more commitment from boys to participate in and enjoy what the school had to offer.  He averred that ’a school is only as good as the present members make it’. Today, our leaders make similar pleas to our boys not to miss out on very valuable opportunities to learn, train, share and strive with their schoolmates in common causes.  It is so characteristic for our Old Boy visitors to reminisce fondly about shared experiences that shaped their lives while attending High.

"In 1972, Rob Middleton was School Captain, Robert Parr, Vice-Captain and Peter Carlisle, Senior Prefect. They were the custodians of their day of the leadership values and examples of generations of High students. Today, we bear witness to a new cohort of student leaders as they take the Prefect’s Pledge. These Prefect Interns have had to qualify against performance benchmarks in their journey through High thus far. They have had to show lived experience of leadership. They have had to meet academic prerequisites. They have had to represent their school in two GPS sports in their final two years of school. They have had to reach at least platinum level in the Student Awards Scheme and need to score at least 100 points in each of Years 11 and 12. They have had to comply with standards in terms of school uniform, behaviour and punctuality. They have had an opportunity to compose an online personal statement of why they would like to lead. They have faced an electoral college consisting of their peers in Years 10 and 11, the outgoing Prefects and the staff. They have been elected by their school community. They have had leadership training and been assigned specific roles. These representatives are ready for the tasks ahead.

"Today, we celebrate our founding as a school to prepare young men for tertiary study and as an institution that enlarges character through opportunities to pursue excellence. It has influenced character development through its culture of camaraderie. The young men being inducted are worthy bearers of the High traditions of leadership by example, across areas of school life. I offer my congratulations to them and remind them to preserve the best examples from the past while adding their own initiatives to the enhance the leadership culture of the School."
Dr K A Jaggar

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