High Notes, Vol 5 No 12, April 30 2004
From the Principal
Welcome to term 2 to all staff and students. We are looking forward to another full term of learning and activities. There are several new members of staff relieving in teaching and leadership positions. I am sure you will support them in their new roles. Ms Crothers is leading a team of staff, students and parents that is preparing to promote our school at Schools Expo on May 15-16. We could still use more volunteers for various tasks on or before the day.
At this assembly last year I was concerned that the recently concluded war in Iraq was about to embroil Australia in a messy occupation, essentially unjustified unless weapons of mass destruction were to be discovered in Iraq. The invasion was also justified on the grounds that the cause of international war against terror would be advanced. I alluded to the cynical possibilities luring us to be involved in a war for 'regime change'- however desirable that may have been. Did we finally go to war for a free trade deal with the United States, a revival of wheat and live sheep sales to Iraq and a stabilisation of the oil price? Or was it all really a revenge invasion by Bush the Younger to finish off his father's war aims which we were seduced into joining because of our sycophantic support for the ANZUS Alliance? Much of what I feared then would happen, has happened since. The occupation has been messy and deadly. Law and order have not been restored. Military and civilian casualties continue to mount. The coalition forces are viewed by the people they sought to make free, as invaders, not liberators. Recent very serious terrorist attacks in Spain sparked a new crisis. This week the USA has had its worst casualties since the invasion. Flash points like Fallujah undermine any perception that the US and its allies are in control. Major military operations are being undertaken today. As the date for a transfer of political authority draws nearer, power groups in Iraq are flexing their muscles, trying to demonstrate to the people who should lead them. Afghanistan, the front line in the war on terror, has not been reconstructed by its 'liberators'. Iraq is not stable enough for serious reconstruction to begin. Without reconstruction, invaded societies become a breeding ground for terrorists. The world is irrefutably not freer of terrorism than before the invasion of Iraq. The players have changed but the game goes on - personal martyrdom through suicide bombing and larger scale attacks on soft targets in transport and public places. The tactics of Palestinian terror have been internationalised.
Political fall out in Australia has followed the startling turn of events in Spain. Only last week we were witness to an unseemly dispute about accounts of intelligence briefings made by experts who formulate Australia's Iraq policy and the likelihood of Saddam Hussein really having stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Clearly, the quality of the intelligence upon which our government relied to support its decision to join the 'coalition of the willing' was questionable. Now, the political dispute is about when to bring our service personnel home. We need to honour our commitments to our allies but also to act ethically and admit to our mistakes. As soon as possible, Iraqis need to be masters of their own destiny. As soon as is practicable, our personnel should return home. The complexities of getting involved in the affairs of another country are now only too apparent. Crises develop lives of their own and run their courses unpredictably. Such is the nature of warfare.
During today's assembly we turn our attention to our honour board with the names of those Old Boys of High who gave their lives in the service of their country. Beneath this long list of the lost we lay our wreaths of remembrance. Our thoughts turn to the millions who have died in wars. We hope that war will not touch us, our families, our
neighbours, our friends. Sadly, for many of us, this is not the case. Young men in the assembly might well consider how it would feel if they were the ones being asked to answer their country's call. It is the tragic waste of war that leaves the most lasting impression, as we imagine this afternoon the possible productive futures of those who never came home to grow old.
During the school vacation I exhort all of you here to do something on Anzac Day to commemorate the occasion. We will be represented again by our marching band and cadets. Our cadets are forming an honour guard in Hyde Park today for the Department of Education's Anzac Day service, with one of our students as master of ceremonies. I hope that a tradition of High involvement in Anzac Day has begun. Do not while away the day as a public holiday. Get involved and demonstrate a 21st century version of that spirit of collegial endeavour so wonderfully exhibited on April 25, 1915.
Donations to specific sports
ATTENTION SCHOOL FAMILY
If you require leave for your son please, apply in writing and address your application to the Principal Dr Jaggar stating the reason and length of time of the leave. Your son must then present this application to Dr Jaggar for permission for the leave. Please remember to apply before the leave and not after.
Remember at all times the Principal must verify all leave applications.
Check my timetable on http://neilwhitfield.tripod.com/tt.html Remember that I am also in on Wednesday and Thursday mornings, so sometimes classes that appear on Tuesday or Friday may be visited on those days instead. These two extra half days give me more flexibility to attend to the needs of any students who may want to see me (seniors especially). Remember, if you feel your English language is costing you marks in any subject, I may be able to help.
Make use of the website http://neilwhitfield.tripod.com/eslhelp.html "Twelve Steps to Better English page." You may find it solves your problems. This page is suitable for all students.
Now a couple of items I collected during the holidays, mainly for staff, interested parents and very advanced senior students.
"Grammar should be a friend, not an enemy" in The Guardian (Thursday April 15, 2004) is
not your average diatribe about the young not knowing Grammar, by which most often the
complainant has in mind a finite number of fetishes, or a hopeful belief in the virtues of
parsing and analysis. Colin Hall and Mark Pegrum quote some alarming statistics on linguistic
ignorance or naivety on the part of UK university students: for example, "Another clear advantage
of English is to be found in the fact that 'we only have one word for thing[s].' It seems to have
passed this observer by that - thanks to waves of invasion of England and subsequent waves of
invasion by England of everywhere else - English has
"Students' needs are at least threefold. Firstly, they need to know what their choices are and the social consequences these entail. Secondly, they need some access to a literate version of the language in which they can attain an accuracy and clarity of expression that will afford them the chance of being taken seriously by a wider, educated audience, whether their views concur with or differ from those typical of dominant discourses. Thirdly, they need to understand the differences and valorise the richness of language used in other contexts, whether among the kids on the next block or in "txt msgng" and chatrooms. There is a place for difference and standardisation; for badges of identity and clarity of communication; and for choosing appropriate modes at appropriate moments..."
I recommend this next one for advanced students, or anyone who values language and thought: http://www.apsanet.org/PS/march98/king.cfm "Battling the Six Evil Geniuses of Essay Writing" by Charles King, Georgetown University, USA.
http://neilwhitfield.tripod.com/week_1b.html Last Term's column.
From the Archives
It was lovely to see Colin Sherwood (class of 74) and author of Kings Cross Boy in the Sixties who came in to offer the Library's Old Boys Collection a copy of his cousin (class of 40) Charles Grimshaw's The Web of the World. As we were involved in our stocktake Colin was kind enough to photocopy the book for us. This photocopied book will be kept in the Archives.
Thanks also to Tony Sheldon,(class of 71), now a vet at the Surry Hills pet clinic for his
At present the Old Boys Collection is distributed throughout the Library but may be accessed through the computer system.
We will greatly miss our Archivist Mrs Suet Kumar who is on leave for two terms.
Attention Year 7 Parents
6:30pm Thursday, 13th May
in the Staff Common Room,
next to the main office.
Meet other parents, raise questions, make suggestions and get involved!
For further information:
Toni Lindeback 9314 0304,