High Notes, Vol 19 No 17, June 08 2018

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From the Relieving Principal

Dr Jaggar is on Long Service Leave and it is my privilege to be School Principal in his absence.

High Talent

It was my pleasure to watch the Year 12 Eastside team win the Eastside Debating Competition on Friday evening. Congratulations to them.

As many of you would have heard, ex pupil Daniel Arzani, has been selected to represent Australia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. He is the youngest ever player selected to join the Socceroos. In 2013, Daniel left Sydney Boys High to attend the elite sports academy Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra. In a recent media interview, his father cited a conversation with Dr Jaggar where he said Daniel's two goals were to wear the green and gold for Football Australia and to become a neurosurgeon. Dr Jaggar’s sagely advice to concentrate on one or the other has paid off indeed. We will definitely be watching and cheering Daniel's progress at the World Cup.

Music Camp Concert

I was trying to think of superlatives to describe the music camp concert on Wednesday and I couldn’t think of one that was suitably apt. To see the students perform the musical pieces that they had been working on during the camp was a real privilege. To see the talent of the boys – many of whom were obviously playing with very little sleep over the last few days, was uplifting. The finale which comprised all 170 students and Ms Kim playing Baba Yetu left me speechless. A huge thanks is owed to the coaches and most of all to Ms Kim and Ms Miller who have put endless hours of time and energy into the planning and the smooth running of the camp.

Year 10 Reports

Last weekend I read all the Year 10 reports. Please remember that the report is much more than a series of grades and rank orders. I encourage you to take the time to read the report very carefully with your son.  Your son should write down a list of targets for improvement so that he can either keep up his excellent performance or show an improvement in semester two.

This is the first senior school report received by your son and so it is very important that he is honing the work and study habits that are required for future academic success.

Parents should be aware that there are changes to the way the rank order is calculated in Year 10. HDs (6 points) and credits (3 points) etc…are no longer added together to form the scores on which the rank order is based. We use individual marks supplied by teachers. We calculate ATAR equivalent scores for those marks based on twelve units (six subjects). PE is not included in the calculations as it is a practical course only in Year 10. PASS elective scores are counted. Rank order variations can be large between Years 9 and 10 for these and other reasons. For example, boys take on additional electives which do not have to include history or geography. Sixty + boys are attempting stage 6 courses as accelerated students and they are assessed on stage 6 criteria which are more rigorous. Sometimes they spend more time than they should on their accelerated course and get their time management out of balance. Some stage 5 electives like commerce, robotics and film making are infused with stage 6 concepts and content. The online elective can only be calculated as the average of the rest of the scores because it is a mastery-based elective. That calculation may lower a student’s rank. Science is delivered in a series of modules – chemistry, biology and physics. Some boys are much more engaged with one science module rather than another.

Regrettably, some boys switch off in subjects they are not planning to pursue in Year 11.These subjects can be electives that they just picked for enjoyment because they had already decided on their Year 11 courses. Please bear in mind the possible impacts on ranking in the cohort of these changed contexts when discussing the report with your son. Quiz him about his three electives and how he is engaging with them. Out of respect for his teacher and the other students in his class, your son should focus in every classroom, every day. Please encourage him to take all his subjects seriously until the end of Year 10.

2018 Sorry Day Speech

On Monday we held our fifth Sorry Day assembly. My speech is printed below.

"Today we hold our Sorry Day Assembly to mark ten years since PM Rudd’s Apology to the Stolen Generations. It’s our fifth Sorry Day Assembly at Sydney Boys High School.

"At his recent Sydney Writers Festival appearance, two times Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott, spoke about the ‘deeply qualified and conditional sorry of PM Rudd’. It was an apology, which only said sorry for the Stolen Generations – just one of the injustices experienced by Indigenous Australians. Furthermore, he said that by dwelling too much on sorry we are in danger of focussing on guilt and victimhood instead of addressing power and agency. He asked us to consider how we will ever move forward as a nation if we are still at the sorry stage.

"So today I will not be dwelling on the many, many wrong doings that have been experienced by the indigenous peoples of this land. Instead I would like to tell you about just a few of the many, many indigenous and non-indigenous Australians who have performed acts of resilience or who are engaged in efforts to close the gap. These are people who understand that saying sorry is just a small part of a proper apology.

"William Barak was the last elder of the Wurundjeri clan. Whilst the government policies of the late nineteenth century forced Indigenous Australians into missions and reserves, he led his people to Coranderrk.  Whilst the reserves created a system of dependence and reliance on hand outs, at Coranderrk Indigenous Australians were successfully growing and selling wheat, hops and crafts to the markets of Melbourne. Barak worked tirelessly to try and keep Coranderrk open in order to show the success that came with affording Aboriginal Australians opportunities to prove their abilities. When his efforts failed, he used his latter years to create unique artworks illustrating traditional indigenous life and first encounters with Europeans.

"William Cooper worked tirelessly as an activist most of his life and his legacy is very much alive today. He organised the first ever Day of Mourning protest on 26th January to highlight the inappropriateness of celebrating a national day on a date that also marks the seizure of land and the consequential devastating effects for Indigenous Australians.   From its beginning in 1938 with 100 indigenous protesters this movement has grown to thousands of indigenous and non-indigenous people who rallied this year to Change the Date.

"Mary Montgomery Bennet spent most of her adult life working with aborigines mainly as an educator for indigenous children who were barred from schools. Her progressive views on the equality of peoples and particularly on the mistreatment of indigenous women put her in conflict with many leading Australians of her time.  This was seen most clearly in the 1930s with her continued opposition to A O Neville, so called Chief Protector of Aborigines, whose assimilation policy led directly to the Stolen Generations.

"One of the many stolen generations was Lowitja O’Donoghue. She was two when she was removed from her mother and did not see her again until she was 35.  O’Donoghue, the first indigenous woman to receive the Order of Australia award spent her life in public affairs on behalf of the welfare of Aboriginal people.

"Associate Professor Kelvin Kong is an ear nose and throat consultant who has said that it breaks his heart to see the disparities in health care that exist in Australia. Ear disease is a particularly prevalent problem in Indigenous communities and Dr Kong, who is based in Newcastle, spends many weeks of the year in Broome performing consultations and surgery in the remote Kimberley.

"SBHS Old Boy Jack Manning Bancroft is the Founder of AIME, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience. Jack started his mentoring program with 25 Indigenous students in Redfern and now supports 4500 Indigenous high school students across Australia.  It’s now proven that Indigenous young people who complete the AIME program finish school and transition through to University, employment and further training at almost the same rate as every other Australian.

"Khushaal Vyas (class of 2014) who worked with Teela Reid to produce Yindyamarra and Sherman Du (also of class of 2014) who made the documentary that accompanied the project. Yindyamarra takes UNSW Law students out to regional NSW to engage them in volunteering work in the community. By doing so it aims to expose law students to indigenous people and their lives so that they can have a better understanding when they themselves are policy makers.

"I encourage you to use this Sorry Day as an opportunity to reflect upon the positive work of these outstanding individuals. It would be remarkable to think that one of you might be a leader in the field of closing the gap. It would be wonderful to think that some of you will actively engage with programs to achieve reconciliation. It would be heartening to think that all of you will become more informed about the current state of affairs for Aboriginal Australians. Then maybe together we can move our nation beyond the sorry stage in the spirit of a true apology."
Rachel Powell
Relieving Principal

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