High Notes, Vol 19 No 14, May 18 2018

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From the Principal

High Talent

It was a pleasing sight and a boost for our boys when High’s 1st and 2nd XV outlasted St Pius X in two see-sawing games of rugby at McKay last Saturday. The blustery conditions and intermittent rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of our lads. I do not often have the privilege of seeing a 1st on 1st rugby game in which High runs out victorious. Congratulations, boys! Well done to Sebastian Diaz (12M) who was selected in the NSWCIS basketball team.

Donor Generosity

I would like to acknowledge and thank Jane Petersen of the White Rabbit Gallery for her generous donation of 60 beautiful art books (White Rabbit catalogues “Big Bang”) to the school. The books will be used for class research and as awards for students in Visual Arts. Supporting the Arts is becoming increasingly important in a technology-driven world. We are most grateful.

Winter Sport Co-payments  

Invoices for participation in winter sports have been mailed. We again ask your support by paying them promptly All winter sports depend on a timely settling of invoiced co-payments to pay coaches. Parents are reminded that all programs have to meet their budgetary obligations and cannot do so without maximum support from everyone. Our sports are delivered at a fraction of their actual cost, being subsidised by parking revenues and ASF donations, along with the structural support and supervision provided by the school with assistance from the co-curricular support levy. Please attend to your son’s winter sports co-payment now.

Interpreting Year 12 Reports

All Year 12 boys should have their reports. For the first time during their high school life, the boys have an ATAR calculation based on their best ten units. However, not all parts of the course have been examined at this time. The full examination doesn’t happen until the Trial HSC in August. For example, English extension 1 only examines creative writing for this report. A limited number of topics have been completed in other courses, too. Despite these limitations, the May report is extremely important as a yard stick for possible HSC performance. Every year I would love to be proved wrong. Every year I would be glad to applaud students who do much better than the ATAR prediction from April. Inevitably, if nothing changes in the students, the predictions will be accurate. The first report in Year 12 is often a wakeup call for boys who have been coasting. The school also provides targeted coaching for students with weaknesses in the period up until the Trial. Students start to listen when we talk to them about study routines, life balance and focus. I hope parents will support us once again this year by impressing upon their sons how important it is from now on to get organised and work hard.

NAPLAN Tests

This week the NAPLAN tests were conducted in the traditional way. The trial of online delivery last year included our students. We found it to be clunky and quite a few students couldn’t log on. The idea was that the test would be personalised so that you could work your way through the levels to the most challenging test items. Not enough states were equipped to handle such a change. The roll-out of a nationwide online testing regime was canned. This year the value of the tests is under sharp attack from several directions, including Education Ministers. The future of NAPLAN is unclear. This year’s tests ran smoothly.

IDAHAT Assembly

My speech to the assembly is reprinted below.

"Special Guest, Nelson Tang (SHS-2015), staff, students, I welcome you to our third annual assembly to acknowledge and understand the issues surrounding discrimination against people who are have diverse sexual identities and orientations. Yesterday, May 17, was the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexism and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).   Way back in 1990, on May 17, the World Health Organisation removed the classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder.  The International Day against homophobia was established in 2004 to draw attention to the violence and discrimination suffered by LGBTIQ communities. This year 130 countries will celebrate this day.

"The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of the issue of discrimination in our society.  At High, we choose to hold a special assembly to mark this occasion because we believe in acknowledging and valuing diversity in all its forms.  We espouse fundamental values about providing opportunity for everyone to achieve personal bests and to strive towards excellence.  We need to operationalise our aspirations by standing up for diversity and against discrimination.  We believe everyone has a right to be themselves. We need to act in defence of individuality and not be bystanders when witnessing bullying or harassment. Call it out for what it is and ask the perpetrator to stop.

"Today we recognise that society is diverse in respect of sexuality, which manifests itself in discernible forms.  Hence, categories of individuals have been acknowledged as being different – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer – LGBTIQ.  We need to accept that these differences are real and need to be respected.

"Regrettably, in closed societies like villages, neighbourhoods and schools, social norms are established which fail to accommodate differences.  Discrimination and violence can be allowed to grow when organisations are not governed ethically and morally.  Outsiders and those who look or act outside the group norms are discriminated against or rejected.  Humans seem to have evolved as fiercely territorial and tribal.  Teasing and bullying are exercised by those who exploit differences from the norm.  We all need to be reminded of our better selves.  High has an active Equality Committee, acting as our collective social conscience.  Its members promote a culture of respectful relationships among our boys.  They are points of contact and potential advocate for those among us who feel that they are not able to express themselves as individuals in our micro society.  In our school, it is unacceptable to engage in any discriminatory discourse or action. 

"We need to look at the bigger picture of discrimination and verbal or cyber vilification.  Our school, as well as our society, needs to balance each person’s individual right to freedom of speech against the right of every student, staff member or visitor, to be free from discrimination, harassment and harm.  It is actually unlawful to ridicule a person severely because of their race, religion, sexuality or gender identity, by a public act.  Such an act is not just in class or in the playground but we extend it to social media and online behaviour.

"The LGBTIQ community holds the front line in the battle against discrimination.  It behoves us all to recognise and support their quest.  If they succeed, the knock on effect will be a more compassionate, just and cohesive society.  Our school is privileged and we like to think we are leading the way in promoting acceptance of diversity.  Let us look to improving our sensitivity to diversity as we find it and being respectful of each other’s rights to live without stress, harassment or vilification."
Dr K A Jaggar
Principal

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