Principal's Address: Speech Night 2010

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Principal's Address
Sydney Boys High School
at the Annual Prize Giving and Speech Night
Held on 16 February 2010

Special guests John Pilger, Director Sydney Region Dr. Phil Lambert, Education Director Bondi, Louise Ferguson, Ms Andrea Connell, Principal SGHS, distinguished guests, presenters, Old Boys, parents, staff and prize winners, welcome to High’s 126th Presentation Night.

The year 2009 was a very eventful one for High. Our ‘School Within a School’ culture was boosted by the creation of two libraries supervised by two Teacher Librarians. In its first year, the ‘senior’ or Macdonald Wing Library was conceived as a ‘cyber library’ to complement the Andrews Junior Library, but its popularity soon led to an expansion of its development beyond internet research. I want to thank our Librarians, Veronica Crothers and Suzanne Gordon for implementing the two library vision. By the middle of this year we hope to have both libraries fully operational, seating more than 220 students at once in research mode. The refurbishment of seven science laboratories and a prep room was a major project that we had to fight for but achieved after much negotiation with DET and DOC. Michael Kay and the science faculty put in a lot of effort to get the specifications right. The work was completed over the holidays and the rooms made available for student use on the first Thursday of this term. Bovis Lend Lease did a very professional job, thanks to Peter White and his team.

Our self-managed BER project, the Great Hall kitchen, which became an Assets Management Unit state funded project, was completed last Friday. We have now a fully operational commercial kitchen for school functions and commercial hirers. A & DR Illes Pty Ltd did a wonderful job in a heritage site, thanks to John Gavellas and his colleagues. Kim Jones and Richard Madeleine of JonesSonter took care of project management very professionally. Our 34m x 15m Covered Outdoor Learning Area was erected over the holidays to provide all weather protection for our cricket nets and winter recreation. The project has yet to have drainage, paving, fencing and landscaping issues resolved. The first two stages of our long awaited electrical upgrade were completed in 2009, the sub-station, cabling from the substation to a new main electrical switchboard, leaving only the under bore across Cleveland St. to connect us to much increased mains power. I am grateful for the Commonwealth and state funding that has revived our facilities. Our solar 6kw power plant was installed and commissioned, using the solar grant and a donation from the P & C. Students can now monitor our electricity production and consumption.

In 2009 our HSC academic outcomes did not reach the overall very high standard of 2008. We slipped from 7th to 9th in the league table but the consolation prize was that we ranked as the No 1 boys school, ahead of Sydney Grammar and North Sydney Boys. There were some fine individual performances, with first place in the HSC going to Bryant Apolonio in English Extenson 1 and 6th in English Advanced. Simon Cheng was first in Mathematics Extension 2 and ninth in Extension 1, while Yiming Cao was third in Mathematics Extension 2 and 7th in Extension 1. Sam Burnham ranked 4th in Studies of Religion 2-unit, a course only recently introduced at High but growing in popularity. David Fan earned 20th spot in English Advanced and 8th in English Extension 1.Thomas Wilson was 4th in Classical Greek Continuers and Extension, with Christian Katsikaros 5th in Classical Greek Extension. In music High had five Encore nominees in 2009.In terms of depth we had 33 ATARs at 99 or over, 155 at 90 or greater and a best guess ATAR average of 93.15. In value added terms, however, the class of 2009 showed the greatest improvement in overall HSC results compared to School Certificate composite scores ever seen since the new HSC began. Congratulations to all those teachers who worked so hard and cared so much to get the most out of so many of our students..

In co-curricular activities our results surpassed 2008. In debating our Year 11 Karl Cramp team won the state Premier’s Debating Challenge title. Antony Paul was selected in the NSW All Schools team which won the national competition in Adelaide. High won the GPS Chess Championship for the fourth consecutive year and our junior team won the Scots Invitational. Our Open Team were runners up in the NSW JCL competition. Our U-15 basketball team were undefeated in the CHS Knockout tournament, crushing Westfield Sports High in the final. The Open team was runner up to Westfield in the Knockout open final. Spencer Llewellyn was chosen in the Australian Schoolboys Basketball Team. In volleyball, our Open team completed a clean sweep, winning the GPS, Combined High Schools and All Schools Tournaments. Balraj Ougra was selected in the Australian Schoolboys Volleyball Team. Christopher Morrow was chosen in the U-17 NSW Schoolboys Team. In Target Rifle Shooting our team won the All Schools Tournament and followed this up by winning through to be GPS Co-Premiers for 2009. Athletics had a great year. At the GPS carnival the team scored two firsts and four seconds, its best result since 1979. Ivor Metcalfe won the U-14 high jump at the GPS and National Championships. Christopher Morrow won the U-17 GPS, All Schools and National Championships in high jump. High’s 12 years and 14 years relay teams both won gold at the CHS carnival. High won the Kippax Cup (highest boys point score) at the CHS carnival for the first time since 1989. In cross country, High had representative teams at the CHSSA in 14, 15 and 17 years, having won through from regional competition. With a silver and two bronze medals, the teams put in a solid all round effort. In swimming the U-13 years relay team won a silver medal at the CHSSA titles. Max Chien broke the GPS record by 8 seconds in the 15 years 200m. breast stroke..

We are proud of our achievements in nurturing scholar-sportsmen at High but all boys owe a great deal to the voluntary support they receive from a great many people..

The contribution of our parents to the programs running at High is critical. I want to acknowledge tonight the terrific work of Shane Brown and Simon Chan in school governance over the last six years.George and Christina Chow have helped so much with their financial expertise in the School Canteen and Basketball Committees. Tailoi Chan-Ling was the driving force behind the Sydney High Development Committee for several years. Kim Tong was a most significant person in the Rifle Committee’s survival and success over the last six years. Paul and Megan Eriksson gave great service to rugby and staff recruitment. To all of those parents and the many others who gave so freely of their time and expertise – thank you on behalf of the boys..

On this occasion each year I indulge in an unsolicited offering of advice for departing Year 12 prize winners. Louisa Lawson, mother of the iconic Australian poet, Henry Lawson, was forced to leave her husband in the bush and fend for herself in Sydney. She was a woman of great courage, vitality and strength of character. She conceived and published a women’s newspaper, ‘The Dawn’. She organised the first Woman’s Suffrage League in Sydney. She was a leading feminist in her day – not an easy thing to be in the Depression of the 1890s. She bid for and won a contract to supply mailbags to the Post Office and immediately invented a modification to the fastening strap on the postal bags which reduced handling time by two-thirds. Louisa is known for her political and social commentary but she also wrote poetry which she compiled and published herself in 1905 under the title “The Lonely Crossing’. Tonight I want to share one of her poems with you –‘A Friend in Need’..

Friends will quickly leave you,
Slight you and deceive you,
Or will not believe you
If you have a wrong.

Those who hurt will hate you,
Enemies will slate you,
And as crank disrate you
If you have a wrong.

But if you are righted
Those who coolly slighted
Will be so delighted!
Said so all along!

But you then can show them
That you would forego them,
As too well you know them
Since you’ve had a wrong.

But your friends, God bless them!
Take their hands and press them,
You’ll not have to guess them
If you’ve had a wrong.

I am persuaded that your involvement at High will have given you the self-confidence and discernment to shrug off the disapproval and social abandonment of uncommitted acquaintances and the slurs of those fashionably against you, when you face up to the troubles that will come your way. You will have the life skills and perception to cut through flattery and keenly sense hypocrisy and value good hearted sincerity and loyalty. You will have learnt what real friendship is through shared experience. So many High boys retain school friendships through university and vocational life. I trust that you will too. One or two good friends can sustain you through life. Congratulations to all prize winners and to those students and parents leaving us tonight.