High Notes, Vol 18 No 10, April 07 2017

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From the Principal

End of Term 1

As we draw to the end of a very eventful term one, I extend my thanks to all staff, parents, Old Boys and volunteers who have contributed so much to our school community. We exist to provide educative experiences for our boys and opportunities to serve for our staff. These last few weeks have tested us as a community and I believe everyone has acted professionally, in good faith and with grace and dignity. For Evan Higgins: [Life] “dies not, but endures with pain, / and slowly forms the firmer mind / Treasuring the look it cannot find / the words that are not heard again.”(Alfred Lord Tennyson – In Memoriam A.H.H). Have a restful break.

High Talent

Congratulations to Stephen Young (12R) on his selection into the NSW All Schools team to compete for the Pizzey Cup. This is a high honour for a tennis player at schoolboy level. Aidin Karahasan (SHS-2016) gained the Public Education Foundation Awards for NSW Higher School Certificate Excellence – an impressive honour.

Caught Doing the Right Thing!

I received this email from a commuter on Wednesday: “I never take it upon myself to contact a school to tell them about their students but one in particular stood out. This morning on my commute, a young man in shorts with a red backpack and a Union Jack flag umbrella restored my opinion in school-aged boys. This young man did not sit down at any part of the journey even though I had a spare seat next to me for 15 minutes. When other young men greeted him, their conversation was neither rowdy nor impolite and they were very well-mannered.Thank you for allowing these men as part of your school, they are doing a fine job in representing it”. Well done!

Anzac Day Assembly 2017

We held our assembly on Friday April 7 this year, as close as we could get to 25 April due to the intervening weeks being school holidays. My speech to the assembly is reprinted below:

"Distinguished guests: Bill Harrigan (Bondi-Waverley RSL), Ross Whittle (Maroubra RSL), and  Les Haggett, President of the National Servicemen’s Association; Old Boys, Commander Andrew Dale, Commander Viv Littlewood, Alf Tremain; staff and students, welcome to our  Anzac Day Assembly. This is our last opportunity before 25 April to commemorate our important national day. On this special occasion, we remember the sacrifice of our soldiers in World War 1, particularly in the Gallipoli campaign. It is also most appropriate to thank for their service the 3300 ADF personnel currently deployed overseas. Our contribution to the Afghanistan and Middle East maritime security force, includes 1550 personnel involved in Operation Slipper, while 830 people are deployed more broadly in the area. Border protection involves 400 service personnel in Operation Resolute, while 400 more serve as peace keepers in East Timor.  Australia continues to act in support of countries in our region who want peace. We have taken upon ourselves, as a middle power, to assist our Allies in their campaigns abroad and have been tasked to keep the peace in our immediate Pacific region.

"If you had been in the British Army in April 1917 you would have been preparing for the Battle of Arras, due to commence on April 9. The Canadians were to win a famous victory on Vimy Ridge during this battle. Having exhaustively recounted WW1 battles and missteps over the years at this assembly, I thought today to look at the contribution of one man in this formative period of our national history. A.B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson was born on a property near Orange in 1864. He was educated by a governess, then at a bush school in Binalong and from 1874, at Sydney Grammar School. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1886. His first poetry appeared in The Bulletin in 1885. He worked as a war correspondent during the Boer War and The Boxer Rebellion. In 1908 he moved to a property near Yass. He was commissioned in the AIF in October 1915 and fought in France, where he was wounded. He then served in Cairo. He rose to the rank of Major and was repatriated in 1919. His Collected Verse was first published in 1921

"In his poetry, ‘Banjo’ Paterson romanticised life in the bush, representing the bushman as a tough, independent, laconic and heroic underdog. His popularity as a balladeer was such that Angus & Robertson published Paterson’s poems in pocket editions for ‘men in the trenches’ in 1917, designed to fit in the tunic pockets of the Anzacs. The Anzacs read and recited poems such as Mulga Bill’s Bicycle or The Man From Snowy River as an antidote to the horror of life in the trenches and to sustain their spirits with stories from home. Through the widespread distribution and reading of his poetry in the army, Paterson had a strong influence on the self-image of the Australian soldier or “digger”.  The young nation, Australia, saw itself as an underdog, struggling for recognition from Britain and France. There was a characteristic hopeful spirit in the armed forces that carried men through four long years of war, despite the horrors they faced. It was poets like Paterson and CJ Dennis, with his The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke, who symbolised the character of our men in World War 1. It is commonplace to personify a country as a woman, typically a mother and then to apostrophise the figure.  In his poem “Song of Australia” Paterson uses this device in a section of the poem called “Song of the Australians in Action”. His lines don’t always scan and his rhyming is somewhat contrived, but he rises to the occasion in a couple of lines and captures the sentiment of those who served – the romantic volunteers.

For the honour of Australia, our Mother,
Side by side with our kin from over sea,
We have fought and we have tested one another,
And enrolled among the brotherhood are we.
There was never post of danger but we sought it
In the fighting, through the fire, and through the flood
There was never prize so costly but we bought it,
Though we paid for its purchase with our blood.

Was there any road too rough for us to travel?
Was there any path too far for us to tread?
You can track us by the blood drops on the gravel,
On the roads that we milestoned with our dead!

And for you, O our young and anxious mother,
O’er your great gains keeping watch and ward,
Neither fearing nor despising any other,
We will hold your possessions with the sword.

"If you remember one thing about World War 1 and the Anzacs who fought in it, it should be that they gave their innocence for their country. Their optimistic patriotism was eventually crushed by artillery, machine gun fire, wanton human sacrifice, disease and leadership blunders. Patriotism was never really expressed again in such terms as those used by Paterson and Englishman Rupert Brooke. World War 1 beat that sentiment out of our young men.

"This Anzac Day, as you watch our veterans marching, witness our marching band performing, or observe the faces of the flag-waving onlookers, spare a thought for those true believers who died with the vision of a proud, optimistic and free Australia in their minds."
Dr K A Jaggar

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