High Notes, Vol 18 No 16, June 02 2017

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From the Principal

High Talent

Congratulations to our opens Basketball team who have again qualified for the last eight in the CHS Knockout competition. The boys will fight out the quarter finals in Terrigal later in the year. Congratulations to Nathan Trinh (11R), who will be performing with the Sydney Youth Orchestra at an ABC concert in late June. Stephen Young (12R) was an integral member of the New South Wales Pizzey Cup tennis team which won the National Schools Teams event. Our Age Champions from the School Athletics carnival were: Joshua Suto (12 years), Rowan Tan (13 years), Felix Cao (14 years), Sudaraka Pieris (15 years), Andrew Chang (16 years), Open was a tie David Chen and Nicholas Katsilis. Well done and congratulations to all boys and to the carnival organiser Kurt Rich and Wayne Baldock. James Siu (11M) asserted his dominance in the sabre by winning gold at the Individual Schools Championships last weekend. Good job, James!

Interpreting Year 10 Reports

Boys in Year 10 have had their reports handed out after consultation with the Principal. 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-five boys are attempting stage 6 courses which are assessed on stage 6 criteria. Some stage 5 electives like Commerce, robotics and film making are infused with stage 6 concepts and content. The MOOCS elective can only be calculated as the average of the rest of the scores because it is a mastery-based elective. 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.  Please bear in mind the possible impacts of these changed contexts when discussing the report with your son. Quiz him about his three electives and how he is engaging with them.

Sorry Day Assembly

Mr Mark Scott, Secretary of the Department of Education, opened the Na Ngara gallery in McDonald Wing. My speech to the assembly is reprinted below.

"Distinguished guests, Mark Scott, Secretary of the Department of Education, Rod Megahey, relieving Executive Director Ultimo Operations Directorate, Geoff Andrews, Chairman of the Sydney High School Foundation, Paul Almond, President of the Old Boys Union, contributing artists and consultants, staff and students, welcome to our Sorry Day Assembly and launch of the Na Ngara indigenous art collection.

"Next week it will be 25 years since the High Court upheld the principle of native title, validated by a traditional connection to tribal land.  The Mabo decision was a legal way of recognising the fact of dispossession of indigenous people.  In December of 1992, Paul Keating’s Redfern Speech gave political recognition to the genesis of the problem being non-aboriginal Australians who “took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life.” Non-aboriginal Australians showed their ignorance and prejudice in their treatment of indigenous people.  As human beings we failed “to imagine these things being done to us”. By December 1993 a Commonwealth Native Title Tribunal was established under the Native Title Act to confront dispossession and find a way to return to indigenous people land that had always been theirs.

"A social justice spin-off from this legislation was a public exposure of the policy of assimilation and the forced removal of children from their families.  The report of the subsequent judicial inquiry was handed down in 1997.  ‘Bringing them home’ accused white society of gross violations of the human rights of indigenous people.  The policy amounted to attempted genocide in practice – communities and cultures were the targets. A year after this report was tabled, May 26 1998 the first National Sorry Day was held. It has been held annually ever since.

"Since that celebration small steps have been taken on the path to reconciliation. There has evolved a social conscience consensus regarding indigenous land title rights.  The pace of that journey was quickened by Kevin Rudd’s apology speech to parliament on February 13, 2008.  He apologised on behalf of the Australian Government for a long list of specific acts of mistreatment.  The apology was offered as part of a process of healing for our nation. Thus, the original foundation of the celebration of Sorry Day last Friday, was the official recognition of the wrong done to indigenous people. The occasion asks us to share the steps towards healing for the stolen generations, so many of whom live among us in contemporary Australian society. At High, we have been celebrating a shift in our national disposition towards reconciliation since 2012, when we believed the National Day deserved a special assembly to highlight its significance.

"After saying sorry, the next step is to be sorry – to show in some way contrition and a positive action of restoration. It is time to honour the unrecognised cultural achievement of indigenous Australians. Given that indigenous art is the permanent thread establishing their continuous culture for around 40,000 years, it seemed appropriate to us to connect aboriginal art to our place.

"Back in 1947, the inaugural Ethel Killip Memorial Prize was presented to the Dux of 4th Year.  The prize was established by the P & C Ladies Auxiliary to commemorate the work done by the Principal’s wife in establishing that committee.  The interest on an investment of 600 pounds would fund a prize for 15 years.  Thereafter, the capital was to be used for the benefit of the school (as decided by the Principal, Deputy Principal and President of the P & C).

"In 1962, the capital of the fund became available and a decision was made to purchase artworks for the new library (now called the K.J. Andrews Library) within the Killip Wing (then under construction).  The first idea was to buy reproductions, but a parent with two sons at High, Mrs Kampfner, argued that purchasing original artworks would be a better use of the capital.  Mrs Kampfner was better known as Judy Cassab, a renowned artist. She chose and purchased nine original artworks on behalf of the school and donated a painting of her own.  They hung in the library for many years.  A tribute to Judy Cassab herself can be seen today in the collection of her works displayed in McDonald Wing, most of which were kindly donated to the school by her family after her passing in 2015.

"During my time as Principal, the library became an unsuitable place for displaying the collection as the wall spaces were required for book shelving to house a growing collection.  Some paintings were in storage. To secure and preserve the collection, it was relocated to the Boardroom. Once the works were catalogued and evaluated by an art dealer, it was found that several were deteriorating and in need of conservation.  A decision was taken to sell three artworks.  The proceeds from the sale resulted in a fund of $80,000 that became the Ethel Killip Memorial Trust on June 29, 2006. Since then the Sydney High School Foundation has been the Trustee of the Fund, which grew to more than $115,000. The terms of the Trust Deed allowed for the purchase of artworks should the value of the fund exceed $100k.

"With the national curriculum having an emphasis on indigenous art, it was decided to begin an indigenous art collection at our school.  We began with a Bancroft given to the school in 2002.  A sub-committee of the SHS Foundation was tasked with sourcing indigenous artworks that would support the study of art in the national curriculum. A number of purchases were made and multiple works given to us on loan by Simon Chan, parent of an Old Boy. The gallery of artworks to be officially opened today is called Na Ngara – ‘listen, think and learn’. Aboriginal art was used as a frame for cultural narratives that have endured over the millennia. We have frames to begin conversations and inspire reflections about indigenous struggles for equality. I commend the gallery to you."
Dr K A Jaggar

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